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Worldwide coronavirus cases hit 4 million

Coronavirus around the world: May 9, 2020
Coronavirus around the world: May 9, 2020.

Over four million people have now become infected with the novel coronavirus, according to official reports and tallies, as the pandemic continues to envelop the globe and countries like Russia and Brazil become new hotspots.

Over 277,000 people have also died from the virus, according to cumulative government data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

The milestone comes less than two weeks after worldwide cases exceeded three million, which also came 12 days after the two-million mark — suggesting the pandemic is continuing at a steady pace with no sign of levelling off anytime soon.

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The United States remains the country with the most cases, at 1.3 million, accounting for just under a third of the worldwide tally. The country is continuing to post high daily case counts, though the numbers have remained relatively steady for over a month.

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Cases have also been rising steadily in the United Kingdom, with recent daily spikes around 6,000 new cases late this week. Over 216,000 cases have been reported there. Canada is also reporting similar numbers each day, growing past 67,000 cases on Saturday.

But while those countries plateau, others are exploding.

Coronavirus outbreak: WHO says world must work hard to prepare for the next pandemic
Coronavirus outbreak: WHO says world must work hard to prepare for the next pandemic

Russia has been reporting 10,000 new cases per day for a week now. Its total cases have ballooned to over 198,000, making it the fifth most infected country in the world.

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At 1,827 reported deaths, however, its official death rate is one of the lowest in the world. Yet increasing transparency from some health ministries are indicating the actual death toll could be much higher, experts suggested to the Moscow Times on Friday.

Brazil has also started to match Russia’s daily counts and is now closing in on 150,000 cases, with over 10,000 deaths so far.

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While Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed concern over the growing outbreak in his country — extending lockdown measures and threatening harsh punishments for those who break them — Brazil’s leader Jair Bolsonaro has continually played down the threat of the virus and shown little concern for its victims.

When asked about the growing number of deaths in his country last week, Bolsonaro replied, “So what? I’m sorry, but what do you want me to do,” according to a Reuters report.

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Cases have also ramped up in Latin America and South Asia, with countries like Mexico, Peru, Pakistan and India seeing their daily case counts spike recently.

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Coronavirus outbreak: WHO advises countries to be cautious when reopening society, as ‘risk’ remains

Some of these recent outbreaks have affected countries’ reopening plans, both locally and federally. In South Korea, which has seen a recent uptick in cases after days reporting single-digit numbers, officials imposed a month-long shutdown of nightclubs and suggested school closures could be extended.

Bolsonaro, meanwhile, asked Brazil’s high court to rein in local governments imposing more restrictions than he would like.

Countries once seen as hotspots like Italy, France and Spain are still reporting over a thousand cases a day, making reopening a tricky prospect. In Italy, which is on track to slowly remerge from widespread lockdowns, the government vowed legal action against a province seeking to ease restrictions faster than the country as a whole.

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Despite its high daily case counts, the U.S. is continuing with its patchwork approach to reopening, allowing state governors to declare what restrictions to lift and when after meeting federal guidelines on testing and case reports.

Yet the Associated Press has found many governors are ignoring those guidelines while reopening, including those in Alabama, Nebraska and Utah. Other states, such as Illinois and Minnesota, are staying closed despite meeting the federal criteria.

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Most of Canada’s provinces have also announced or enacted plans to reopen, though some — like Quebec and Saskatchewan — have been forced to roll them back as local outbreaks emerge.

—With files from the Associated Press