World struggles as confirmed COVID-19 cases pass 40 million

LONDON (AP) — The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the planet has passed 40 million.

The milestone was passed early yesterday according to Johns Hopkins University, which collates reporting from around the world. The actual worldwide figure of COVID-19 cases is likely to be far higher, as testing has been variable, many people have had no symptoms and some governments have concealed the true number of cases. To date, more than 1.1 million confirmed virus deaths have been reported.

The United States (US), Brazil and India are reporting the highest numbers of cases, although the increase in recent weeks has been driven by a surge in Europe.

The continent has seen over 240,000 confirmed virus deaths so far.

Last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Europe had a reported a record weekly high of nearly 700,000 cases and said that the region was responsible for about a third of cases globally. Britain, France, Russia and Spain account for about half of all new cases in the region.

FILE – In this Oct. 2, 2020, file photo, restaurant owners clang spoons and casseroles at a demonstration against restaurant and bar closures in Marseille, southern France. Photo: AP

WHO said new measures being taken across Europe — including new requirements on mask-wearing in Italy and Switzerland, the closure of restaurants in Northern Ireland and Belgium, a night-time curfew in France and targetted limited lockdowns in parts of the United Kingdom (UK) — are “absolutely essential” to stop COVID-19 from overwhelming hospitals.

The agency said several European cities could soon see their intensive care units overwhelmed and warned that governments and citizens should take all necessary measures to slow the virus’ spread, including bolstering testing and contact tracing, wearing face masks and following social distancing measures.