The coronavirus pandemic is “accelerating” after a record number of infections were recorded in just one day, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned.
The global health body said more than 150,000 cases of COVID-19 were reported on Thursday - the highest since the pandemic began.
In a media briefing on Friday, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said nearly half of the newly reported cases were in the Americas, with significant numbers also in south Asia and the Middle East.
Tedros told a virtual press briefing: “The pandemic is accelerating.
"The world is in a new and dangerous phase ... the virus is still spreading fast, it is still deadly, and most people are still susceptible.
“Many people are understandably fed up with being at home (and) countries are understandably eager to open up their societies.”
But Tedros noted how measures such as social distancing, mask wearing and hand-washing are still critical.
He said the toll would be especially great on refugees in particular, of whom more than 80% live in mostly developing nations.
He added: “We have a shared duty to everything we can to prevent, detect and respond to the transmission of COVID-19 detected among refugees in hospitals.”
It comes after a new Reuters tally showed more than 8.53 million people have been infected by coronavirus globally, with the worldwide death toll now at 453,834.
The US has the worst outbreak in the world, with 2.1 million Americans infected and at least 118,435 who have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.
On Thursday, California, North Carolina and a string of US cities mandated or urged mandatory mask use to get a grip on spiraling coronavirus cases as at least six states set daily records.
A month after many governors reopened their economies, a growing number are adopting U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance that masks are essential to prevent community spread.
Between them, Florida and California posted more than 7,000 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, with Oklahoma reporting its second day of record coronavirus cases.
The increased concerns came amid suggestions from Donald Trump in an explosive interview with the Wall Street Journal that China may have intentionally spread the virus, though he added he thought it was unlikely.
In south Asia, according to the Xinhua news agency, the total number of fatalities in Pakistan reached 3,093 on Thursday, as the number of positive cases reached 160,118.
In India, 334 new deaths and 12,881 positive cases were reported during the past 24 hours, taking the death toll to 12,237 and new cases of infection to 366,946.
Bangladesh reported 3,803 new cases, taking the total cases to 102,292, with 1,343 deaths.
Meanwhile in the UK, the “R rate” has remained between 0.7 and 0.9 for the nation as a whole, the government has confirmed.
The R range is higher in some regions, with London seeing a rate of between 0.7 and 1, and between 0.8 and 1 in the Midlands.
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