The World Health Organisation (WHO) recorded two consecutive record daily increases in coronavirus cases across the globe on Friday and Saturday.
The latest daily figures, released on Saturday, recorded 259,848 new cases in 24 hours—the highest in a single day. The previous WHO record for new cases was 237,743, the number reached on Friday.
The number of deaths reported was 7,360—the biggest one-day increase since 10 May.
It shows that, as governments ease lockdown restrictions and talk about returning to normality, the pandemic is still raging.
The biggest increases reported were from the United States, Brazil, India and South Africa.
In the US, researchers at the Johns Hopkins University say there are 70,000 new cases a day. The virus is surging across the south and west. The government’s Centers For Disease Control and Prevention forecasts that 170,000 people in the US could have died of Covid-19 by 8 August.
Yet President Donald Trump has resisted lockdown measures in the interests of keeping businesses open. Trump also reportedly wants to block money to fund state-run testing and tracing, apparently so that fewer cases are recorded.
The spread of the virus has the biggest impact on the poorest and working class people. Black and Latinx people, disproportionately represented in low paid, unsafe jobs, are three times as likely to be infected as white people. They are twice as likely to die from the virus.
It’s a similar picture in Brazil, where there have been over two million recorded virus cases. Far right president Jair Bolsonaro complained that lockdown measures “suffocated” the country’s economy.
Meanwhile lockdowns are being reimposed in countries across the world—including in places that supposedly managed the first wave of the coronavirus outbreak well.
In Israel, right wing prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu declared a “major outbreak” on Friday as the number of cases passed 10,000 for the first time.
Netanyahu had initially congratulated himself on his handling of coronavirus, and eased lockdown measures. The number of cases then surged.
Now, rather than impose a full lockdown again, Netanyahu’s government has come up with a complicated set of rules designed to keep businesses running.
Shops will be told to close, but only on weekends. Gatherings of ten people indoors, and 20 people outdoors will be banned, except for in workplaces. Restrictions on movement and beaches are also set to be imposed, but not until Friday of next week.
In Barcelona, the Catalan government told people to stay at home unless “strictly necessary” to go out after cases there tripled in the past week.
New virus cases are rising in several other countries including Iran, Japan and Hong Kong. The scale of the pandemic warns of the catastrophic consequences of easing lockdowns and returning to “normality” in the interests of business.