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Coronavirus: Global cases pass 22m as new surges emerge in France, Spain

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More than 22.22 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 780,431 have died, according to a Reuters tally. Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.

In France, the health ministry reported 3,776 new confirmed coronavirus infections on Wednesday, bringing the total to 225,043, with the daily tally going beyond the 3,000 threshold for the third time in five days.

The seven-day moving average of the case count, which smoothes out daily reporting irregularities, is now at 2,621, going beyond the 2,500 threshold for the first time since April 19th, when France was in the midst of a strict lockdown to contain the virus.

Spain reported 3,715 new coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours, the health ministry said on Wednesday, marking a new daily record since the country came out of a strict lockdown in late June.

Madrid bore the brunt of the increase, logging 1,535 new cases, followed by the Basque Country and Aragon regions with around 470 new infections each.

Fourteen people died across Spain in the same period, down from 21 the previous day. In the past seven days, 131 people have died from the virus, the ministry said.

Cumulative cases, which include antibody tests on patients who may have already recovered, rose to 370,867.

Highest total

Despite mandatory use of masks across the country, EU data show Spain has the highest total tally of cases in western Europe as well as the highest incidence of cases per 100,000 people in the past 14 days.

Scrambling to control the outbreak, regional authorities have begun to reimpose restrictions on nightlife and public transport that had been lifted weeks ago when infections had slowed to a trickle.

Health ministry officials have attributed the sharp rise in cases to increased testing, and repeatedly said the country is not yet experiencing a second wave of the epidemic.

Madrid, Catalonia and the Basque Country have all launched mass screening programmes in a bid to identify and isolate asymptomatic carriers of the virus.

On Monday, the health ministry said it was monitoring 1,019 active clusters of the virus, defined as three or more linked cases spread across different households.

Social gatherings were behind some 43 per cent of the clusters, with workplace infections linked to around 20 per cent, the ministry said.

Rest of world

In the United States, New York city’s positive Covid-19 test rate fell to the lowest since the pandemic began in March. Florida, one of the US Sun Belt states coping with a summer surge, also showed signs that its outbreak is easing.

Greece and Ireland moved to tighten rules after a jump in coronavirus cases. The United Kingdom is looking at testing people for Covid-19 at airports, and Finland reinstated border controls.

The death toll in Iran surpassed 20,000 while the UAE reported a jump in cases. South Korea is targeting an unco-operative religious sect that may be spreading the disease.

Hong Kong reported the lowest number of new coronavirus infections since an outbreak that started last month turned into its worst ever. The numbers reinforced hopes that stringent city-wide containment measures can be eased.

The city has also seen a decline in the share of cases with unknown origins over the past week, signalling that untraceable infections are dwindling. The Asian financial hub reported 23 new local virus cases on Wednesday, of which only eight had untraceable origins. – Agencies

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