News World Five infections a second: Coronavirus spreading with unprecedented speed

Five infections a second: Coronavirus spreading with unprecedented speed

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The coronavirus has infected 286 people in every minute of this past week.

In no other seven-day period since the start of the pandemic has there been so many new cases around the world – 2,884,604 to be exact.

In fact, the World Health Organisation says this past week has been the shortest period with the largest increase in new cases.

It said the virus has spread exponentially between October 19 and 25, with nearly half (1.33 million) of new cases being recorded in Europe.

There was at least one European with the virus who died every minute that week.

By Sunday, France had the highest number of new infections after reporting more than 200,000 new cases.

The next day, French hospitals admitted 1307 people with the virus – the largest single-day increase in hospital admissions since April 2.

In another grim milestone, the death toll in France increased by 523 on Wednesday (Australian time), marking the biggest one-day spike in fatalities since April 22.

Twenty one European countries experienced an increase in both the number of people put in an intensive care unit and the overall number of hospital admissions in the past week.

Even with infections and fatalities “increasing exponentially” across Europe, the ratio between deaths and cases is considered “relatively low”, the WHO said in its weekly epidemiological update.

North and South America overtook Europe for the region with the highest death count after almost 17,000 people died last week.

COVID-19 cases were highest in the United States, Brazil and Argentina.

Spread across these three countries were more than 686,000 (78 per cent) of the 880,000 new infections, and 11,390 (67 per cent) of the 17,000 new deaths recorded in North and South America.

Not all trends identified by the WHO involved increases.

The past five weeks have included a continued decline in new cases and deaths in south-east Asia, with the largest decline recorded in the seven days to Sunday.

In India, where the coronavirus is infecting the highest number of people and taking the most lives, cases and deaths are on the decline.

So is the case for Indonesia, Myanmar, Maldives and Bhutan.

Back home in Australia, there were 116 new cases and one new death reported to the WHO during the grim record-breaking week.

In its latest press briefing, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “we are at a critical juncture in this pandemic”.

“We urge leaders to take immediate action, to prevent further unnecessary deaths, essential health services from collapsing and schools shutting again,” he said.

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