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Number of worldwide confirmed Covid-19 cases passes 40 million

More than 1.1 million deaths have been recorded involving coronavirus.

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Europe is currently seeing a rise in cases (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Europe is currently seeing a rise in cases (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Europe is currently seeing a rise in cases (Andrew Milligan/PA)

The number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 across the planet has passed 40 million, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.

The milestone was passed early on Monday according to the US university, which collates reporting from around the world.

The actual figure is likely to be far higher as testing has been variable and many people have had no symptoms.

To date, more than 1.1 million confirmed virus deaths have been reported, although experts also believe that number is lower than the actual total.

The US, India and Brazil are reporting by far the highest numbers of cases — 8.1 million, 7.5 million and 5.2 million respectively — although the global increase in recent weeks has been driven by a surge in Europe, which has seen over 240,000 confirmed deaths in the pandemic so far.

Last week, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said Europe had a reported a record weekly high of nearly 700,000 cases and said the region was responsible for about a third of cases globally.

Britain, France, Russia and Spain account for about half of all new cases in the region, and countries like Belgium and the Czech Republic are facing more intense outbreaks now than they did in the spring.

The WHO said the new measures being taken across Europe are “absolutely essential” in stopping Covid-19 from overwhelming its hospitals.

Those include new requirements on mask-wearing in Italy and Switzerland, closing schools in Northern Ireland and the Czech Republic, closing restaurants and bars in Belgium, implementing a 9pm curfew in France and having targeted limited lockdowns in England.

The agency said several European cities could soon see their intensive care units overwhelmed and warned that governments and citizens should take all necessary measures to slow the spread of the virus, including bolstering testing and contact tracing, wearing face masks and following social distancing measures.

The WHO has previously estimated about one in 10 of the world’s population — about 780 million people — has been infected with Covid-19, more than 20 times the official number of cases.

The UN health agency said it hopes there might be enough data to determine if any of the Covid-19 vaccines now being tested are effective by the end of the year.

But it warned that first-generation vaccines are unlikely to provide complete protection and that it could take at least two years to bring the pandemic under control.

PA


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