The novel coronavirus pandemic hit a new milestone as the number of worldwide confirmed cases surpassed 5 million, with Latin America’s infections surging as the crisis eases in Europe and the United States.
Data compiled by Johns Hopkins University put the number of cases at more than 5,001,000 on Thursday, Deutsche press agency (dpa) reported.
The United States has the highest caseload at more than 1,551,000 with Russia following behind.
Brazil, where the first Latin American case was reported back in February, rounds out the third spot with infections soaring, according to the tally by US researchers.
Brazil recorded almost 20,000 new cases in a single day, it was announced on Wednesday, underscoring that in parts of the world the outbreak is far from having peaked.
The pandemic has claimed the lives of 328,000 people, according to Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins, although the true number is thought to be higher due to variations in how countries count their dead and testing shortages in some places.
“We still have a long way to go in the Covid-19 pandemic,” World Health Organization (WHO) director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a briefing in Geneva on Wednesday.
Some 106,000 new cases were reported globally over a 24 hour period, he noted, the most in a single day since the outbreak began in China late last year.
The WHO says that Africa could be months away from the worst of its outbreak and concern remains high for developing countries and vulnerable communities across the globe.
Meanwhile, countries that have managed to contain new infections are on guard for a possible second wave as coronavirus-induced restrictions on business and public life are relaxed.
The virus originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December. On March 11, WHO declared the outbreak a global pandemic. The epicenter of the virus has since shifted from China to Europe to the Americas.