Active Covid-19 cases in Pakistan top 12,000
807 more people affected, 11 die of coronavirus
Another 807 people tested positive for the coronavirus which also claimed 11 more lives during the past 24 hours, showed the latest data released by National Command and Operation Centre on Saturday morning.
These figures came after the country reported 20 more deaths and 1,708 new cases a day earlier, which represented the highest daily count in terms of infections during the last three months.
It means the total number of officially recorded coronavirus cases in the country has climbed to 332,993 with the death toll reaching 6,806.
The regional distribution of the coronavirus cases is given as: Sindh 145,475, Punjab 104,016, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 39,458, Islamabad 19,818, Balochistan 15,896, Gilgit-Baltistan 4,248 and Azad Kashmir 4,082.
In this scenario, the number of active cases is also on the rise with the country currently having 12,121 coronavirus patients with 838 of them receiving treatment in hospitals.
Meanwhile, 669 of these hospitalised patients are in intensive care units due to their critical condition. Moreover, 100 of them have been placed on ventilators.
On the other hand, the number of people fully recovering from the infection increased to 314,066 as another 539 were tested negative after going through isolation or treatment in hospitals.
Hence, a total of 320,872 cases have so far closed [deaths + number of people recovering from infection] in the country.
Also on Friday, the officials administered 32,933 tests in different parts of the country as part of the strategy to identify the people being infected by the virus. Hence, the overall number of tests conducted in Pakistan since the outbreak of the pandemic has reached 4,431,225.
US passes nine million cases as infections spike
The United States passed nine million reported coronavirus cases on Friday and broke its own record for daily new infections for the second day in a row, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University, as Covid-19 surges days before the country chooses its next president.
The US, which has seen a resurgence of its outbreak since mid-October, has now notched up 9,034,295 cases, according to a real-time count by the Baltimore-based school.
On Friday the country set a record for new daily infections of more than 94,000 in 24 hours, breaking the record of 91,000 it had set just one day earlier.
With the virus spreading most rampantly in the Midwest and the South, hospitals are also filling up again, stretching the health care system just as the nation heads in to flu season.
"We are not ready for this wave," Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University school of public health, warned on ABC's Good Morning America on Thursday.
Authorities in El Paso, Texas, imposed a curfew this week to protect "overwhelmed" health care workers and began setting up field hospitals.
But a judge's attempt to shut down non-essential businesses in the city has been challenged by the mayor and the state's attorney general, the Washington Post reported.
Midwestern state Wisconsin has also set up a field hospital in recent weeks, and hospital workers in Missouri were sounding warning bells as cases there rise.
Hospitals in the western state of Utah were preparing to ration care by as early as next week as patients flood their ICUs, according to local media.
- 'Utterly disqualifying' -
The pattern of the pandemic so far shows that hospitalizations usually begin to rise several weeks after infections, and deaths a few weeks after that.
More than 229,000 people have died of the virus in the US since the pandemic began, the Hopkins tally showed as of Friday, with the daily number of deaths creeping steadily upwards in recent weeks also -- though at present it remains below peak levels.
For months public health officials have been warning of a surge in cases as cooler fall weather settles over the US, driving more people indoors.
As the weather changes, New York and other parts of the northeast, which were the epicenter of the US outbreak in the spring but largely controlled the virus over the summer, were reporting a worrying rise.
Some epidemiologists believe that Covid-19 spreads more easily in drier, cool air.
Rural areas, which in the spring appeared to be getting off lightly compared to crowded cities, were also facing spikes with states like North Dakota charting one of the steepest rises in recent weeks.
The state is so overwhelmed that earlier this month it told residents they have to do their own contact tracing, local media reported.
With four days to go until the election, Donald Trump was battling to hold on to the White House against challenger Joe Biden, who has slammed the president's virus response.
"It is as severe an indictment of a president's record as one can possibly imagine, and it is utterly disqualifying," Biden said Friday as the toll passed nine million.
Trump downplays the virus even as the toll has been accelerating once more, holding a slew of rallies with little social distancing or mask use.
He has repeatedly told supporters that the country is "rounding the curve" on Covid infections.
But Americans, wary of crowded polling booths on Election Day as the virus spreads, are voting early in record numbers.
Clashes in Barcelona
Protesters clashed with police in central Barcelona on Friday after hundreds gathered to demonstrate against new coronavirus restrictions, including a curfew and a ban on leaving the city over the holiday weekend.
A spokesman for the Mossos d'Esquadra regional police told AFP up to 700 protesters attended the rally which later turned violent when a group of some 50 people "began throwing dangerous objects" at police, prompting them to try and break up the crowd.
An AFPTV correspondent in the central Plaza Sant Jaume saw scores of demonstrators wearing face masks, many chanting "freedom", hurling rocks and crowd control barriers at police in full riot gear as the surrounding streets filled with smoke from burning barricades.
Sirens wailed throughout the city centre as police sought to disperse the protesters with batons and firefighters hosed down fires in several large wheelie bins.
Twenty police officers were injured in the clashes and twelve people were arrested, the regional police said on Twitter.
At least two establishments were looted and several police vehicles damaged, it added.
A protest in the northern Spanish city of Burgos also turned violent when several dozen young protestors began throwing bottles and stones at police and torching rubbish bins, the Diario de Burgos news website reported.
"What's happening in Burgos tonight only brings more pain and destruction. Anger won't get us out of here," tweeted Francisco Igea, number two in the Castilla y Leon region.
Despite the many restrictions imposed in Spain since July, when the number of cases began rising again, infections have spiralled with the virus claiming more than 35,000 lives and infecting more than 1.1 million people.
Almost all of Spain's regions have imposed border closures in the hope of avoiding a new lockdown, but in Catalonia, where bars and restaurants have been closed since mid-October, the authorities have imposed extra restrictions.
Residents have been barred from leaving towns and cities over the weekend with police on Friday checking drivers on the main roads leading out of Barcelona.
With inputs from AFP.