As a second wave of coronavirus infection sweeps across Europe and cases continue to surge globally, the World Health Organisation revealed a daunting new record for the ongoing pandemic.
The global tally of 1,998,897 infections was "the highest number of reported cases in a single week since the beginning of the epidemic", the WHO announced.
While India reported its lowest daily total in weeks with 75,083 cases on Tuesday, the nation made the largest contribution to the daunting week’s total, consistently reporting the highest tally of daily cases anywhere in the world as a dense population and often rudimentary healthcare infrastructure hamper attempts to control the pandemic.
For the US, another grim milestone was reached on Tuesday (local time). The virus-ravaged nation, which has had a record total of 6.9 million infections, officially reached 200,000 deaths – more than 60,000 more than any other country.
Six months ago, the US’s top infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci predicted such a total and was met with widespread skepticism. Now it is a daunting reality.
"The idea of 200,000 deaths is really very sobering, and in some respects, stunning,” he told CNN on Tuesday.
The United State’s current 200,541 deaths have played the biggest contribution in edging the global death toll to a disturbing one million deaths. It currently sits at 966,970, according to Johns Hopkins data, and it won’t be long until the world registers a million COVID-19 deaths.
Meanwhile British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has apologised to businesses saying, “I’m sorry, this will hurt” as he announced the tightening of restrictions overnight.
BREAKING: World Health Organisation says the past week saw the highest number of reported coronavirus cases in a single week since the pandemic began.— The Spectator Index (@spectatorindex) September 22, 2020
Europe’s most death-affected country remains the UK with 41,951. While the country’s daily death toll remains low at the moment, it will inevitably shoot up in the coming weeks as a rapidly growing second wave of infection in the UK shows no signs of slowing down.
Top health officials predicted on Monday the UK in just four weeks could record 50,000 cases a day and more than 200 daily deaths.
Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance called for a rapid and sufficient government response to help curtail a rapidly surging second wave witnessed in several European countries including France and Spain.
New restrictions as UK reaches ‘dangerous turning point’
On Tuesday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson introduced new restrictions on the nation, however appeared reluctant to introduce widespread stringent measures as its severely-battered economy struggles on.
The PM told people to work from home where possible and ordered bars and restaurants to close early to tackle a fast-spreading second wave of COVID-19 with new restrictions likely lasting six months.
Just weeks after urging people to start returning to workplaces, Mr Johnson advised office workers to stay at home if they could.
“With regret I have to report that, as in Spain and France and many other countries, we are at a dangerous turning point,” Mr Johnson said in parliament.
He ordered all pubs, bars, restaurants and other hospitality sites to close at 10pm from Thursday with only table service allowed.
"I am sorry this will hurt many businesses just getting back on their feet," he said.
Masks will be required in more settings, there will be tougher enforcement of rules and the military could be brought in to help free up the police, Mr Johnson said.
Schools and universities are to stay open.
Businesses breaking COVID laws face penalties of up to 10,000 pounds ($A17,740) or even closure while individuals may be fined 200 pounds for not wearing a mask when required.
The British PM said it was frustrating for the law-abiding majority to see a few "brazenly defying the rules".
Asked in parliament why Britain's figures were worse than Germany and Italy, Mr Johnson said there was an “important difference” between the UK and others.
“Our country is a freedom-loving country... It is very difficult to ask the British population uniformly to obey guidelines in the way that is necessary."
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