Globally, there were more than 3.5 million new cases of coronavirus on Monday, and nearly a quarter of a million deaths, according to a Reuters report, related to experts who fear substantial underreporting, even as fatalities and new cases decrease.
North America and European countries, where growth rates are declining, were still responsible for most of the new infections reported in recent days.
But the number of cases has increased from smaller bases in Latin America, Africa and Russia, and experts were concerned that the general data is far behind the real impact of the pandemic.
Worldwide, there were 74,779 new cases in the last 24 hours, according to the Reuters census based on official government data, bringing the total number of cases to about 3.52 million.
That compares to about 3 million to 5 million cases of serious illness caused annually by seasonal flu, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), but lags far behind the Spanish flu, which started in 1918 and infected an estimated 500 million people.
“We still have to be skeptical about the numbers we get,” Peter Collignon, an infectious disease physician and microbiologist at Canberra Hospital, told Reuters. “That’s a huge problem.”
“The mortality rate is also 10 times higher than with flu in all age groups.”
Cases can cause only mild symptoms and not everyone with symptoms is tested, while most countries only record hospital deaths, meaning many deaths in residential and nursing homes have not yet been recorded.
The number of deaths from Covid-19, the disease caused by the new virus, was 246,920. The first death was reported on January 10 in Wuhan, China, after the virus emerged there in December.
The daily number of new cases worldwide was in the range of 2% – 3% in the past week, from a peak of about 13% in mid-March, prompting many countries to relax and paralyze the lockdown measures that have disrupted the companies the global economy.
However, the easing of restrictions has proved controversial as experts debate the best strategy to ensure there is no major “second wave” outbreak.
“We could easily have a second or a third wave because many places are not immune,” said Collignon, noting that the world was lacking herd immunity, requiring about 60 percent of the population to recover of the disease.
Health officials have also expressed concern about the rising number of cases in countries where there is a shortage of testing and a lack of medical facilities.
While the number of new cases dropped to a peak of 104,495 in a single day last week, it still stands at around 75,000 to 90,000 cases per day worldwide.
In the United States, about half of the country’s state governors partially reopened their economies over the weekend, while others, including New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, said the move was premature.
In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who fought against Covid-19 last month, said the country was over the top, but it was too early to ease lockdown.
Even in countries where disease suppression is considered successful, such as Australia and New Zealand, where new infections have been registered in low single digits for weeks, officials have been cautious.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has predicted curbs will be lifted completely after widespread public acceptance of a mobile phone tracking app and higher levels of testing.
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