Worldwide confirmed coronavirus cases hit the 10 million mark Sunday as the infection rate in parts of the U.S., Latin America and India continue to rise.
While concern in the U.S. has focused on big states like Texas, Arizona and Florida reporting thousands of new cases a day, rural states are also seeing infection surges, including in Kansas, where livestock outnumber people.
The U.S. handling of the outbreak has drawn concern from abroad. The European Union seems almost certain to bar Americans from travelling to the bloc in the short term as it draws up new travel rules to be announced shortly.
The infection surges prompted Vice-President Mike Pence to call off campaign events in Florida and Arizona, although he will still travel to those states and to Texas this week to meet with their Republican governors. Those three governors have come under criticism for aggressively reopening their economies after virus lockdowns despite increasing infections in their states.
A beach is seen closed due to COVID-19 in Miami on Sunday. (Joe Cavaretta /South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)
After confirmed daily infections in the U.S. hit an all-time high of 40,000 on Friday, Texas and Florida reversed course and closed down bars in their states again. Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey reversed himself and allowed cities and counties to require face masks in public even though he hasn’t been seen wearing one.
Arizona health officials reported 3,858 more confirmed coronavirus cases on Sunday, the most reported in a single day in the state so far. The Arizona Department of Health Services also reported nine additional deaths, pushing the state’s documented COVID-19 totals to nearly 74,000 cases and 1,588 known deaths.
“This is not a sprint, this is a marathon,” said Dr. Lisa Goldberg, director of the emergency department of Tucson Medical Center in Arizona. “In fact, it’s an ultra-marathon.”
WATCH | Why U.S. COVID-19 surge is not a surprise:
Director of the Harvard Global Health Institute Dr. Ashish Jha says several U.S. states at the centre of a new surge in COVID-19 cases took measures to ease lockdown restrictions against the official advice of the White House. 6:48
U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar stressed that “the window is closing” for the U.S. to take action to effectively curb the coronavirus.
Azar pointed to a recent spike in infections, particularly in the South. He said people have “to act responsibly” by social distancing and wearing face masks, especially “in these hot zones.”
Speaking on NBC and CNN, Azar argued that the U.S. is in a better position than two months ago in fighting the virus because it is conducting more testing and has therapeutics available to treat COVID-19.
But he acknowledged that hospitalizations and deaths could increase in the next few weeks.
Hand sanitizer and cleaning spray are seen inside a church in New York City on Sunday. (Eduardo Munoz/Reuters)
Globally, confirmed COVID-19 cases passed the 10 million mark and confirmed deaths neared half a million, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University, with the U.S., Brazil, Russia and India having the most cases.
The U.S. has more than 2.5 million cases and the highest virus death toll in the world at more than 125,000.
Experts say all those figures significantly undercount the true toll of the pandemic, due to limited testing and missed mild cases. U.S. government experts last week estimated the U.S. alone could have had 20 million cases.
What’s happening with COVID-19 in Canada
The decision by WestJet and Air Canada to relax on-board physical distancing policies next month is under fire from those who worry about the health implications. The two airlines plan to allow customers to book seats adjacent to each other, starting on July 1.
Sarah Antonio, a Toronto resident with a ticket for a WestJet flight to Vancouver on July 8, said she assumed the airline “would want to take our safety more seriously.”
Antonio said she and her husband are going on a business trip they were supposed to take in March but chose to delay because of the pandemic. She said the main reason they felt comfortable booking the flight now was because WestJet said explicitly during the ticket-booking process that the middle seat would be empty.
A worker wipes down pews at Mary Queen of the World Cathedral in Montreal on Sunday. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)
NDP MP Niki Ashton said the same physical distancing rules that apply throughout Canada should also apply on airplanes.
As of 4 p.m. ET on Sunday, Canada had 103,211 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 66,152 of the cases as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 8,568.
What’s happening around the world
In Europe, voters in Poland and France wore masks and observed social distancing as they went to the polls for virus-delayed elections.
Swiss authorities ordered 300 people into quarantine after a “superspreader” outbreak of coronavirus at a Zurich nightclub, and Britain’s government is considering whether a local lockdown is needed for the central English city of Leicester amid reports about a spike in COVID-19 among its Asian community. It would be Britain’s first local lockdown.
Italy was honouring its dead later Sunday with an evening Requiem concert in hard-hit Bergamo province. The ceremony in the one-time epicentre of the European outbreak came a day after Italy registered the lowest daily tally of COVID-19 deaths in nearly four months: eight.
European leaders were taking no chances in tamping down new clusters. German authorities renewed a lockdown in a western region of about 500,000 people after about 1,300 slaughterhouse workers tested positive.
People wearing face masks observe mandatory social distancing as they wait in line to cast their votes in Poland’s presidential election in Warsaw on Sunday. (Czarek Sokolowski/The Associated Press)
In Asia, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his country must focus on bolstering the economy as it exits lockdowns, even as the number of coronavirus cases still keep on climbing. On Sunday, India reported an additional 19,906 confirmed cases, taking its total to nearly 529,000 with 16,095 deaths. The pandemic has exposed wide inequalities in India, with public hospitals being overwhelmed by virus cases while the rich get expert treatment in private hospitals.
China reported 17 new cases, all but three of them from domestic transmission in Beijing. But authorities say a campaign to conduct tests on employees at hair and beauty salons across the city has found no positive cases so far.
Health worker checks the body temperature of residents in Mumbai on Sunday. (Rafiq Maqbool/The Associated Press)
In the Americas, the number of cases in Latin America and the Caribbean has more than tripled from 690,000 one month ago to about 2.5 million.
While some smaller countries — such as Costa Rica, Cuba, Uruguay and Paraguay — appear to have tamed their outbreaks by reacting more swiftly and comprehensively, regional heavyweights Brazil and Mexico are hitting record numbers of daily cases as their respective populist governments went against scientific opinion and downplayed the threat of the virus, continuing to hold political rallies and resisting lockdowns.
Health workers perform a COVID-19 test on a referee prior to a soccer match in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday. (Buda Mendes/Getty Images)
Africa‘s confirmed cases of COVID-19 continued to climb to a new high of more than 371,000, including 9,484 deaths, according to figures released Sunday by the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
South Africa has more than a third of the continent’s cases. It reported 7,210 new cases on Sunday, its highest single daily increase to date.
A statement from Health Minister Zwelini Mkhize says South Africa now has 131,800 confirmed cases, including 2,413 deaths for a mortality rate of 1.8 per cent.