Global coronavirus cases have passed the 10 million mark as concerns mount over dangerous resurgences of the disease in several countries, most prominent among them the US, where infections are rising in 29 of 50 states.
The pandemic has claimed almost 500,000 lives worldwide in seven months. The US vice-president, Mike Pence claimed “remarkable progress” in the Trump administration’s chaotic fight against the disease, despite some states reporting record numbers of new infections.
Meanwhile, China imposed a strict lockdown on nearly half a million people in a province surrounding the capital, Beijing, to contain a fresh coronavirus cluster as authorities warned the outbreak was still “severe and complicated”.
Health officials said on Sunday that Anxin county – about 90 miles (150km) from Beijing – would be “fully enclosed and controlled”, the same strict measures that were imposed at the height of the pandemic in Wuhan earlier this year.
Beijing, which has increased its coronavirus testing efforts, had so far tested about a third of the Chinese capital’s population, a city official said on Sunday, as authorities attempted to control an outbreak stemming from a wholesale market in mid-June.
Cases have also emerged in neighbouring Hebei province in recent weeks.
In Israel, which has also seen a recent resurgence, a panel advising the national security council on the coronavirus outbreak warned that the country had “lost control of the pandemic” as the number of new cases rose.
Most concern, however, remained focused on the situation in the US, which reported 44,000 new cases by 4pm on Friday, its biggest daily increase in the pandemic. Five states reported record numbers of infections, and Pence called off campaign events in Florida and Arizona for this coming week.
He told a briefing by the White House’s coronavirus taskforce on Friday that he would be visiting Florida, Texas and Arizona to receive a ground report on the rising numbers of cases.
The Republican governors of the three states have been criticised for pushing for aggressive reopening after lockdowns.
The coronavirus resurgence in the US has led to concern from abroad. The European Union seems almost certain to bar Americans from traveling to EU countries in the short term as it draws up new travel rules to be announced shortly.
North America, Latin America and Europe each account for about 25% of cases, and Asia and the Middle East 11% and 9% respectively, according to a Reuters tally compiled from government reports.
The new peaks emerging in numerous countries have underlined the continuing threat the disease poses as countries ease restrictions on lockdown-weary populations and try to jumpstart their stricken economies.
The first cases of coronavirus were confirmed on 10 January in Wuhan, China before infections and fatalities surged in Europe, then the US and later Russia.