Coronavirus deaths top 150,000 in worst-hit US

Coronavirus deaths top 150,000 in worst-hit US

The United States marked a grim milestone on Wednesday when its coronavirus deaths topped 150,000 -- far exceeding the toll in any other pandemic-hit nation.

Brazil is second to the US in terms of cases and fatalities, and also reported a sobering figure as it surpassed 90,000 deaths.

Nations around the globe, even those that believed they had largely curbed the disease, are seeing a rise in cases that are damaging economies and forcing protection measures that have disrupted all aspects of life.

Even with efforts in place to contain the virus, COVID-19 has killed more than 661,000 people around the world and total infections are approaching 17 million. 

- US not included -

The EU is due Thursday to update its list of countries approved for travel to the European bloc, which it reviews every two weeks. The United States was not on the list and is not expected to be included.

On Wednesday alone the country recorded 1,267 new deaths in the past 24 hours and notched more than 68,000 new daily cases, with southern and western states particularly hard-hit -- especially Florida, where more than 6,300 people have died.

The EU's safe list does, however, include Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay.

The bloc is expected to announce that Algeria is being removed from the list after a resurgence of coronavirus.

Meanwhile several countries in Europe have slapped restrictions on travel to and from Spain, while officials in Europe ramp up a spat over the seriousness of the current outbreak. 

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, fresh from announcing quarantine for travelers returning from Spain, suggested the rest of Europe could be facing a second wave -- despite his own country's dismal figures.

France's health minister hit back on Wednesday, saying his country was categorically not in a second wave. 

"Clusters are emerging, we have warning signs from certain hospitals that have seen a trend of increasing admission," Olivier Veran said, adding: "We are testing a lot more." 

Spain, one of the countries hit hardest by the pandemic, insists it is a safe destination and was critical of Britain's blanket quarantine, which includes islands without significant outbreaks.

Brazil also wants visitors back, and on Wednesday reopened travel to foreigners arriving by plane, hoping to revive its lockdown-devastated tourism industry.

Brazil closed its air borders to non-residents on March 30, at a time when the virus was just taking hold in South America.

As a whole, Latin America's biggest economy is facing a record contraction of 9.1 percent this year, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Australia posts record cases

Australia on Thursday reported a record number of new coronavirus infections and its deadliest day of the pandemic so far following a spike in cases at elderly care homes.

Days after authorities expressed hope that a Melbourne lockdown -- now in its third week -- was bringing persistent outbreaks under control, the surge is a potent warning that the country's initial success in managing COVID-19 can quickly unravel.

Thirteen deaths and 723 positive tests were reported in the southeastern state of Victoria alone, well beyond the previous nationwide record of 549 cases set on Monday.

Premier Daniel Andrews indicated the leap, was in part, linked to a surge in cases in aged care homes.

Most of those who died were aged in their 70s-90s.

At one of the worst-hit facilities, Epping Gardens, an ambulance was seen Wednesday taking away the body of one of the deceased residents.

Health workers rolled other masked residents on stretchers to waiting ambulances for transfer to hospital.

The rest of the country remained on high alert as three new cases were reported in Queensland and several schools in Sydney were shuttered overnight amid growing fears that the country's largest city may also be tipping toward an uncontrollable outbreak.

New South Wales reported 18 new cases, roughly in line with previous days.

Australia has been one of the most successful countries in containing the pandemic, with most states and territories reporting few or no new cases in recent weeks.

But Melbourne has had thousands of new infections since mid-June, an outbreak initially blamed on security bungles at hotels where returning international travellers were under mandatory quarantine.

The government has now extended some of Melbourne's lockdown measures to surrounding cities and deployed disaster-relief teams to elderly care homes in the city.

Those teams -- which usually tackle earthquakes and other disasters overseas -- include doctors, nurses, paramedics and logistics experts.

Australia has recorded over 16,000 COVID-19 cases and 189 deaths, in a population of 25 million.

Peru passes 400,000 coronavirus cases

Peru on Wednesday passed 400,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, the health ministry said, after the largest daily increase in infections for more than six weeks. 

Nearly 19,000 people have died as a result of the disease nationwide, and the country has recorded more COVID-19 cases than anywhere in Latin America except for Brazil and Mexico. 

There were 204 additional deaths in the last 24 hours and 5,678 infections over the same period -- the highest daily number of new cases since June 12.

Peru began lifting a nationwide lockdown on July 1 for most regions of the country, including the capital Lima.