World Health Organization reports largest ever single-day increase in cases across globe

Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) leave with a patient at Hialeah Hospital where the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients are treated, in Hialeah, Florida, July 29, 2020.

Marco Bello | Reuters

Almost 300,000 new coronavirus cases were reported to the World Health Organization over the last 24 hours, marking the largest single-day increase ever, the agency said Friday.

More than half the 292,527 new cases reported on Thursday came from the Americas, which had 171,946 cases, according to data from the WHO. Southeast Asia reported the second-highest number of cases, with 60,113 reported infections, followed by Europe, with 25,241, according to the WHO.

Globally, the virus has infected more than 17 million people and killed at least 668,910 since it emerged almost seven months ago, according to the WHO data. 

The U.S. has the worst outbreak in the world, with more than 4 million cases and at least 152,075 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. On Thursday, new coronavirus cases in the U.S. jumped by more than 67,000, a day after topping 70,000 for the first time in almost a week, Hopkins data shows. 

Last week, WHO officials warned there is no going back to the “old normal” as the coronavirus pandemic accelerates in the United States and poorer, developing countries.

“It’s completely understandable that people want to get on with their lives, but we will not be going back to the old normal,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a news conference from the agency’s Geneva headquarters on July 23. 

Even though cases are high in the U.S. and other parts of the world, there’s still a chance to bring the virus under control, they said. 

The WHO recommends that people wear masks as a way to slow the spread of the virus. Scientists say the virus can spread through respiratory droplets that pass when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Studies suggest the masks may serve as a helpful barrier to spreading infection. 

The agency also recommends people wash their hands regularly, maintain their distance from others and avoid going to crowded places. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention, but call by telephone in advance if possible and follow the directions of your local health authority, the WHO said.

Earlier in the day, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said the coronavirus is so contagious it likely won’t ever completely go away.

“I do not believe it would disappear, because it’s such a highly transmissible virus,” Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told a House select subcommittee hearing on containing the coronavirus outbreak. However, Fauci has previously said it’s possible world leaders and public health officials could work to bring the pandemic down to “low levels.” 

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates. 

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