Global COVID-19 cases surpass 6mn, death toll tops 368,000

Global COVID-19 cases surpass 6mn, death toll tops 368,000

New York (Agencies): Confirmed coronavirus cases across the world on Sunday jumped past six million.


The overall US death toll has topped 103,000 out of more than 1.7 million cases of the virus.

In Brazil — the epicentre of South America's outbreak with nearly 500,000 confirmed cases, lagging only behind the United States — disagreement among leaders over lockdown measures has hampered efforts to slow the virus as the number of fatalities in the country nears 30,000.

As the global death toll from the pandemic surpassed 368,000, US President Donald Trump's decision to permanently cut funding to the World Health Organisation has been broadly criticised.

"Now is the time for enhanced cooperation and common solutions," the European Union said in a statement, adding: "Actions that weaken international results must be avoided."

Trump initially suspended funding to the WHO last month, accusing it of not doing enough to curb the early spread of the virus and being too lenient with China, where COVID-19 emerged late last year.

On Friday he moved to make that decision permanent in a major blow to the agency. The US is the WHO's biggest contributor, supplying $400 million last year.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn said the "disappointing" decision was a setback for global health, while Chancellor Angela Merkel declined to attend an in-person G7 summit that Trump had suggested he would host.

Lockdowns ease

As the virus progresses at different speeds around the globe, there has been pressure in many countries to lift crippling lockdowns, despite experts' warnings of a possible second wave of infections.

In Britain, which is set to begin lifting its lockdown on Monday, senior advisors to the government warned that it was moving too quickly.

"COVID-19 spreading too fast to lift lockdown in England," tweeted Jeremy Farrar, a member of the government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies.

India said Saturday it would begin relaxing the world's biggest lockdown in stages from early June, even as it marked another record daily rise in infections.

Iran meanwhile announced that collective prayers would resume in mosques, despite infections ticking back upwards in the Middle East's hardest-hit country.

Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque compound — the third-holiest site in Islam after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia — reopened to worshippers on Sunday.

With infection numbers falling in many of Europe's most affected countries, the push to restart economies was gaining steam.

Italy's Leaning Tower of Pisa reopened on Saturday, while in Paris, parks and the famed Galeries Lafayette department store flung open their doors.

In Austria, hotels and cinemas were allowed to take in customers, provided they wear masks.

Across the Atlantic, the US capital Washington resumed outdoor dining, while on the West Coast, restaurants and hair salons in Los Angeles reopened.

New York City, the worst-hit American city with about 21,500 coronavirus deaths, is on track to begin reopening the week of June 8.

Global sport has also started to rev back into action, with Austria announcing it will host Formula One's delayed season-opener on July 5, and the NBA eyeing a July 31 return.

Britain approved the return of domestic competitive sport on June 1 — with no fans present — while South Africa has given a provisional green light for training to resume.