Brazil and Mexico reported record daily coronavirus death tolls as governments in Latin America battled to fortify their defences against the pandemic with fresh lockdown orders and curfews.
In Europe where countries have been emerging from lockdowns, the European Central Bank was expected to beef up its plans to help virus-battered economies and Britain was hosting a summit to raise funds for a global vaccine alliance.
But as European countries moved to reopen their borders, South and Central America cemented their places as the new hotspots in the pandemic, while Iran -- the hardest-hit country in the Middle East -- announced a surge in infections.
Mexico on Wednesday announced more than 1,000 coronavirus deaths in a day for the first time, while Brazil, the region's worst-hit country, reported a record 1,349 daily deaths.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has staunchly opposed lockdowns but many local authorities have defied him and, with the crisis deepening, a vast section of Bahia state was placed under curfew.
In Chile, the government said it was extending a three-week shutdown of the capital Santiago after a new record for daily deaths.
And in Peru, the second worst-hit country in Latin America, desperate residents were lining up to buy oxygen tanks for their loved ones.
"We haven't found oxygen yet," said Lady Savalla in the capital Lima.
"I'm worried about my mom more than anything else, because she's going to need a lot of oxygen and the hospital doesn't have enough."
STRUGGLE TO RESTART ECONOMIES
Since emerging in China late last year, the new coronavirus has infected nearly 6.5 million people, killed more than 386,000 and wreaked havoc on the global economy as millions were forced into lockdown.
The virus was on the rise again in Iran, which reported 3,574 new infections yesterday, its highest daily toll since the outbreak began in February and the fourth straight day of a caseload over 3,000.
While hoping the worst of the health crisis has passed, Europe is struggling to restart its stalled economies without sparking a second wave of infections.
Governors of the European Central Bank were set to meet yesterday with analysts expecting them to boost the 750 billion euro ($839 billion) Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme (PEPP) decided in March by a further 500 billion euros.
An increase in the emergency bond-buying scheme would send a clear signal of support to European governments, especially for hard-hit countries like Italy, Spain and France, reports AFP.
After easing national lockdowns in recent weeks, European nations are now reopening their borders, with Austria set to scrap entry checks at its frontiers except for with Italy.
Spain said it would reopen land borders with France and Portugal on June 22, after Italy opened its borders to European travellers Wednesday.
RISK OF SPREAD AT US PROTESTS
Europe is anxious to save its summer tourism season, though experts have warned that travel restrictions will be needed around the world in some form until a vaccine is found.
China, meanwhile, said that foreign airlines blocked from operating in the country over virus fears would be allowed to resume limited flights, apparently easing a row with Washington following US plans to ban Chinese carriers.
The United States remains the hardest-hit nation in the world, with 1.85 million infections and more than 107,000 deaths, and there are fears that the ongoing wave of protests in the country over racism and police brutality could fuel the spread of the virus.
India's cases reached 216,919 after 9,304 new cases were reported over the previous day, the health ministry said. The densely packed cities of Delhi and Mumbai are seeing a spike in infections as the government lifts a lockdown imposed in March.
Hospitals in Armenia can no longer cope with the number of coronavirus patients, the country's prime minister warned yesterday.
Nikol Pashinyan, who has himself tested positive, said there could be as many as 20,000 people infected but showing no symptoms in the country, which has so far registered 11,221 cases and 176 deaths.
The director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said yesterday Africa needs to triple its coronavirus testing in the coming months "to move ahead of the curve" as more countries ease lockdown measures.
The continent has so far conducted 3.4 million tests, a figure that director Dr John Nkengasong told journalists he wants to see climb to 10 million "in the next two or three months".