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Coronavirus: WHO reports record rise of more than 259,000 new cases

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By Euronews  with AP
Covid-19 patients are being treated at the Tshwane District Hospital in Pretoria, South Africa, Friday July 10, 2020.
Covid-19 patients are being treated at the Tshwane District Hospital in Pretoria, South Africa, Friday July 10, 2020.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Jerome Delay

A record worldwide increase of more than 259,000 new COVID-19 cases was reported on Saturday, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said.

The global death toll also passed the 600,000 threshold, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.

The highest jumps in new confirmed infections were observed in the US, Brazil, India and South Africa.

The Americas remain the epicentre of the pandemic, accounting for more than half of the world's 14 million infections.

The US and Brazil are the most severely-hit countries with Washington reporting a new record increase of more than 74,000 new cases on Saturday, bringing the total to over 3.5 million. More than 140,000 people have also lost their lives to the virus in the US.

Infections are soaring in U.S. states like Florida, Texas, Arizona, fueled by the haphazard lifting of lockdowns and the resistance of some Americans to wearing masks.

The virus has also accelerated in Brazil and India where more than 2 million and 1 million cases have been reported respectively.

A record 24-hour surge of 38,902 new cases has taken India’s coronavirus total to 1,077,618 with the Health Ministry on Sunday also reporting 543 additional deaths for a total of 26,816.

South Africa is now the fifth most-afflicted country in the world with more than 350,800 cases, which accounts for more than half of the total infections recorded on the African continent.

According to the WHO, there has been a 27 per cent increase in the number of COVID-19 confirmed cases in the African region in the week ending July 14. The vast majority — 76 per cent — were reported in South Africa.

"The simple fact is that many South Africans are sitting ducks because they cannot comply with World Health Organization protocols on improved hygiene and social distancing," the foundation of former South African archbishop and Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu and his wife, Leah, warned in a statement. 

Several European countries have meanwhile imposed lockdown measures in some parts fo the country following localised surges.

In Spain, four million people in the region of Catalonia have been asked to stay at home and avoid gatherings of more than 10 people. Neighbour Portugal has extended a local lockdown in parts of Lisbon.

In the UK, Europe's most heavily-impacted country, face coverings are mandatory in shops and public transport. 

French people will also be obliged to wear face masks in indoor public places from next week.