Covid-19 around the world: India’s soars past 1m cases, Brazil reaches 2m as US cases surge.

India’s cases of novel coronavirus crossed the million mark, the health ministry data showed on Friday, as infections spread out into the smaller towns and the countryside following the lifting of a vast lockdown. Only the United States and Brazil have a higher number of cases.

India

A medical officer distributes masks to the residents in Jammu, India. Photograph: Jaipal Singh/ EPA

A medical officer distributes masks to the residents in Jammu, India. Photograph: Jaipal Singh/ EPA

A surge of 34.956 new cases in India in the past 24 hours took the national total to 1,003,832. The Health Ministry also reported a record number of 687 deaths for a total of 25,602, adding that 635,757 people have recovered and the recovery rate was continuing to improve at 63 per cent. The grim milestone comes at a time when several Indian states are imposing focused lockdowns to stem the outbreak amid frantic efforts by local governments to protect the economy. So far, three states — Maharashtra, Delhi and Tamil Nadu — have accounted for more than half of total cases. But in India’s vast countryside, which is much less prepared and with weaker health care, the pandemic is clearly growing. The continuing surge has forced authorities to reinstate lockdowns in some cities and states.

US

Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, speaking in Wilmington this week. Photograph: Kriston Jae Bethel/The New York Times

Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, speaking in Wilmington this week. Photograph: Kriston Jae Bethel/The New York Times

Democratic officials have instructed senators, members of Congress and party delegates not to physically attend their national convention this summer, a sign of the ever-shrinking aspirations for their big campaign event in the face of a surge in coronavirus cases in the United States.

The directive, issued Thursday, ensures that little will happen at the convention site in Milwaukee beyond speeches from former vice president Joe Biden, his vice-presidential nominee and a handful of other top party leaders. The remainder of the events – state delegation meetings, parties, voting on the party platform and on Biden’s nomination – will happen virtually or not at all.

“We have been working closely with state and local public health officials, as well as epidemiologists, and have come to the hard decision that members of Congress should not plan to travel to Milwaukee,“ Chasseny Lewis, a senior adviser to the convention committee, wrote in an email to congressional aides. “No delegates will travel to Milwaukee, and Caucus and Council meetings will take place virtually.”

The United States reported at least 70,000 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday, a record daily increase for the seventh time this month, according to a Reuters tally. US deaths are also rising and have recently reached the highest levels since early June, led by Arizona, California, Florida and Texas, according to the tally. More than half of all states –30 out of 50 – have reported record one-day increases in cases this month. Infections are rising in almost all states, based on a Reuters analysis of cases the past two week compared with the prior two weeks. Florida reported a record increase of more than 15,000 new Covid-19 cases in 24 hours on Sunday, as the Trump administration renewed its push for schools to reopen. If Florida were a country, it would rank fourth in the world for the most new cases in a day behind the United States, Brazil and India, according to a Reuters analysis.

The Democrat convention announcement came on the evening when Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, would have been delivering his acceptance speech for the nomination, underscoring how profoundly the coronavirus has upended the campaign. Earlier this year, shortly after the spread of the virus shut down many states across the country, the Democratic National Committee postponed its event by a month.

Traditionally, conventions have marked the start of the heated autumn campaign season, giving parties a chance to energise their supporters and sway undecided voters with days of pageantry and largely uninterrupted media coverage.

Party officials have been consulting regularly with doctors and epidemiologists and say they are following the recommendations of the medical establishment. Their decision comes as president Donald Trump has made clear he wants the Republican convention to go on. Party officials moved it to Jacksonville, Florida, from Charlotte because North Carolina state officials said they would have to abide by social distancing rules.

On Thursday, the Republican National Committee announced new details about the convention, confirming a New York Times report this week that the party was planning to shift some events to take place outdoors. Ronna McDaniel, the committee’s chairwoman, said that “a number of indoor and outdoor venues” in Jacksonville would be used, including the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, where the indoor programme had been scheduled to take place, as well as several other locations. For the first three days of the convention, attendance will be limited to regular delegates, while a broader group will be allowed on the final day when Trump accepts the party’s nomination.

Many top Republicans are skipping the event, flouting Mr Trump’s desire for an elaborate event attended by large crowds.

Brazil

An aerial view of Vila Formosa cemetery as open graves are being prepared on Thursday amid the coronavirus pandemic in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Photograph: Alexandre Schneider/Getty Images

An aerial view of Vila Formosa cemetery as open graves are being prepared on Thursday amid the coronavirus pandemic in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Photograph: Alexandre Schneider/Getty Images

Brazil on Thursday passed the 2 million confirmed coronavirus cases mark, with little sign that the rate of increase is slowing as anger grows over president Jair Bolsonaro’s handling of the outbreak.

Just 27 days have passed since Brazil, which has the world’s second-largest outbreak after the United States, reached one million cases. In recent weeks, there have been nearly 40,000 confirmed new cases per day, according to government figures.

By contrast, 43 days passed between 1 million and 2 million confirmed cases in the United States, where the spread of Covid-19 eased briefly in May before accelerating again in June, according to a Reuters tally.

On Thursday, confirmed cases in Brazil totaled 2,012,151, while deaths numbered 76,688.

Brazil, the largest country in Latin America, is home to around 210 million people – roughly two-thirds the size of the US population.

In both countries, contagion has exploded as the virus has gained steam in new areas far from the largest cities. A patchwork of state and city responses has held up poorly in Brazil in the absence of a tightly coordinated policy from the federal government.

Despite the rapid spread of the virus, Mr Bolsonaro, a far-right former army captain, has pressured local governments to lift lockdown restrictions.

Mr Bolsonaro, who tested positive for the virus last week, has played down its health risks and fought against social distancing orders, calling their economic effects worse than the disease itself. Under pressure, many governors and mayors have loosened restrictions in recent weeks, fueling bigger outbreaks.

In some big cities such as Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, where the outbreak first emerged in Brazil, new daily cases have stabilised and even begun to decline slowly. However, that has been offset by worsening outbreaks in other regions.

Among the states with the fastest growing outbreaks are Rio Grande do Sul and Parana in southern Brazil, which had kept a lid on their outbreaks early on.

“The disease has evolved not only over time, but also over geographies,” said Roberto Medronho, a professor of medicine at Rio de Janeiro Federal University. “We still have not reached the peak in Brazil because of these successive epidemics occurring in various regions.”

He said models show the next million cases in Brazil may come more slowly, as there are now fewer untouched corners of the country. By the end of July or first half of August, Medronho said new daily cases could begin to decline nationally.

However, public health experts are raising alarms about the worsening outlook in southern Brazil, which has the coldest weather during the southern hemisphere winter, now under way, and a population that skews older than the rest of the country. – Reuters/New York Times

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