Global Covid-19 infections shoot past 12 million mark

More than 12 million coronavirus infections have now been recorded across the world, over half of it in the United States and Latin America, according to an AFP tally of official data on Thursday.

At least 12,063,425 cases and 549,451 deaths have been recorded, with the number of infections doubling since May 31. About half of those who caught the virus have recovered.

With at least 3,055,100 infections and over 132,300 deaths, the US continues to be the worst-affected country, with Brazil second having registered 1,713,160 cases and 67,964 deaths.

In the US, health authorities from Oklahoma said President Donald Trump’s rally and other mass events in Tulsa last month “more than likely” contributed to a local surge in cases.

Tulsa has seen record daily new Covid-19 cases this week, including 266 on Wednesday. Pressed on whether this explosion in new infections was due to Trump’s June 20 meeting, Tulsa health department director Bruce Dart said it was “more than likely” that “significant events in the past few weeks” contributed.

Trump, meanwhile, threatened to hold back federal money if school districts don’t bring their students back in the fall.

In Africa, the pandemic is reaching “full speed”, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention chief said, after a South African official said a single province is preparing 1.5 million gravesites.

Just a day after cases across Africa surpassed the half-million mark, the total was over 522,000, with more than 12,000 deaths. South Africa has the most confirmed cases with over 224,000.

In Australia, Victoria state recorded 165 new cases in the past 24 hours, as an outbreak at a Melbourne high school became the state’s largest cluster.

British pharmacy giant Boots and UK department store group John Lewis said on Thursday they would axe at least 5,300 jobs, despite government efforts to safeguard employment during the coronavirus pandemic.

US-owned Boots said it would shed more than 4,000 roles after Britain’s lockdown slashed sales.

John Lewis meanwhile said it did not plan to reopen eight stores forced to shut because of the lockdown, affecting 1,300 jobs.

But striking a confident note, the government on Thursday allowed live music, art and theatre shows in the open, besides permitting gyms and pools to reopen, saying “huge progress” was made in tackling the coronavirus pandemic.

As on Thursday, the UK had recorded 44.602 deaths and 287,004 positive cases, but daily and weekly rise in new infections and deaths have been dwindling, allowing for more economic sectors and areas of public life to reopen from later this month.

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