One million new cases were recorded in only six days, according to the AFP count, just as countries start to unwind punishing lockdowns that have devastated their economies and thrown millions out of work.
The worldwide death toll from the disease that first emerged in China about six months ago is also nearing 500,000 as fears grow of a full-blown second wave.
The United States, the hardest hit country, has surpassed 2.5 million cases alone, as efforts to reopen the world’s economic powerhouse were set back by a jump in new infections in states such as Florida.
Infections are also up in some other parts of the world that have reopened, with Europe now registering over 2.6 million, according to the AFP tally based on official sources.
– ‘Severe and complicated’ –
China on Sunday imposed a strict lockdown on nearly half a million people in a province surrounding Beijing to contain a fresh coronavirus cluster.
Beijing city official Xu Hejian told reporters that the situation was “severe and complicated,” warning that the city needed to continue tracing the spread of the virus.
The tension between reopening battered economies — efforts pushed in the US by President Donald Trump — and public health is a source of debate in nearly every country.