US cases dip as WHO notes global surge

It's not clear sign if a dip in US COVID-19 cases is a result of reduced reporting during a holiday.
It's not clear sign if a dip in US COVID-19 cases is a result of reduced reporting during a holiday.

The United States has dipped under 50,000 new daily infections for the first time in four days, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University, but experts fear celebrations for the country's Independence Day weekend may exacerbate its surging coronavirus outbreak.

Johns Hopkins on Sunday counted 45,300 new coronavirus infections reported on Saturday in the US after three days in which the daily count reached as high as 54,500 new cases.

The lower figure does not mean the situation in the US is improving, it could be due to reduced reporting during a holiday.

The United States has the most infections and virus-related deaths in the world, with 2.8 million cases and nearly 130,000 dead, according to the university.

Worldwide, nearly 11.3 million people have been infected and more than 531,000 have died, with outbreaks surging in India, South Africa, Pakistan, Brazil and several other Latin American countries.

In a first, South Africa on Sunday reported more than 10,000 new confirmed cases in a single day.

In another worrying sign, the World Health Organisation said member states reported more than 212,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 around the world on Saturday, the highest single-day increase since the start of the pandemic.

The Geneva-based organisation said more than 60 per cent of the confirmed cases reports it received were in the Americas.

Faced with rising infections, many US communities cancelled parades and fireworks and cautioned people against hosting large gatherings.

In Britain, pubs and barbers reopened on Saturday for the first time in months.

It did not overwhelm emergency services as many had feared, but one senior police officer said on Sunday it was "crystal clear" that drunk people struggled, or ignored, social distancing rules.

Rafal Liszewski, a store manager in central London, voiced concerns about the swelling crowds on Saturday.

"Quickly everything got out of control and by 8-9pm it was a proper street party with people dancing and drinking," he said.

"Barely anyone was wearing masks and nobody respected social distancing... to be honest, with that many people on one street, it was physically impossible."

In Australia and northeast Spain, authorities ordered lockdowns for specific counties or communities to stomp out local outbreaks.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Sunday that more wide-ranging measures may be necessary to slow the spread of the coronavirus as infections numbers climb fast in the country.

He said the cabinet would meet again on Monday to consider reimposing anti-virus restrictions across Israel.

In the Bolivian city of Cochabamba, the relatives of one apparent virus victim left his coffin in the street for hours to protest the difficulties in having him buried.

Police Colonel Ivan Rojas said the demand "is collapsing the police personnel and funeral workers" in the city of 630,000 people.

Australian Associated Press