Global coronavirus cases rose by more than 400,000 for the first time late on Friday, a record one-day increase as much of Europe enacts new restrictions to curb the outbreak.
Europe, which successfully tamped down the first surge of infections, has emerged as the new coronavirus epicentre in recent weeks and is reporting on average 140,000 cases a day over the past week.
As a region, Europe is reporting more daily cases than India, Brazil and the United States combined.
Europe is currently reporting a million new infections about every nine days and has reported more than 6.3 million cases since the pandemic began.
Major European countries – United Kingdom, France, Russia, Netherlands and Spain — accounted for about half of Europe’s new cases in the week to Oct. 18, according to a tally.
The Czech Republic has also shifted schools to distance learning and plans to call up thousands of medical students. Hospitals are cutting non-urgent medical procedures to free up beds.
Polish health officials have warned the country is on the brink of a disaster as a record 6,526 new coronavirus infections and 116 deaths were reported this week. Poland is ramping up training for nurses and considering creating military field hospitals.
In the United States, which has the largest total number of cases and deaths in the world, new infections are edging higher along with the most hospitalized COVID-19 patients since early September.
Efforts to develop a vaccine hit snags, with Johnson & Johnson pausing its trial after an unexplained illness in a study participant. AstraZeneca’s U.S. trial has remained on hold for more than a month.
Russia, which recorded a record daily increase in cases, has meanwhile granted regulatory approval to a second vaccine.
France is reporting the highest seven-day average of new cases in Europe with 19,425 infections per day followed by the United Kingdom, Russia, Spain and Netherlands in worst affected European countries. Several European countries are closing schools, cancelling elective surgeries and enlisting student medics as the authorities face a COVID-19 resurgence.
Russia is moving students to online learning and Northern Ireland is closing schools for two weeks and restaurants for four.
In Spain, authorities in Catalonia ordered bars and restaurants to close for 15 days and limited the numbers of people allowed in shops.