Australia’s second-largest city, Melbourne on Sunday imposed a curfew to halt the spread of coronavirus, even as cases recorded worldwide topped 18 million on Monday with the virus continuing its march.
Six months after the World Health Organization declared a global emergency, the virus has killed more than 687,000 people since it first emerged in China late last year.
Fresh clusters have been reported in countries that had previously brought their outbreaks under control, forcing governments to reimpose lockdown measures despite worries over further economic fallout.
Australia’s Victoria state imposed fresh, sweeping restrictions on Sunday, including a curfew in Melbourne for the next six weeks, a ban on wedding gatherings, and an order that schools and universities go back online in the coming days.
Many other parts of the world are struggling with much bigger outbreaks.
Health authorities in South Africa, where a surge in cases had been expected after the gradual loosening of a strict lockdown, reported that infections exceeded the half-million mark.
Meanwhile, Latin America and the Caribbean passed another milestone on Sunday as fatalities in the region climbed to more than 200,000, with Brazil and Mexico accounting for nearly three-quarters.
Iran, battling the Middle East’s deadliest outbreak reported its highest single-day infection count in nearly a month, warning that most of its provinces have been hit by a resurgence of the disease.
Mexico overtook Britain to become the third hardest-hit country in virus deaths — after Brazil and United States — with more than 46,600 fatal cases. The US has now tallied more than 4.6 million cases and 154,793 deaths.
In Europe, where many countries had hoped their outbreaks had been brought under control, Norway recorded its first virus death in two weeks and Switzerland reported its case numbers had crept up again.
Despite the resurgence, Europe has seen demonstrations against coronavirus curbs.
Thousands protested in Berlin over the weekend urging “a day of freedom” from the restrictions, with some demonstrators dubbing the pandemic “the biggest conspiracy theory”.