Bolivia's interim president became the latest world leader to test positive for the coronavirus, as India and the United States notched yet another record-breaking surge of cases while global infections and fatalities continued their relentless rise.
Covid-19 has now claimed more than 550,000 lives across the planet, and infected more than 12 million people since it first emerged in China in late 2019 -- among them Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and now Bolivia's Jeanine Anez.
In a video on Twitter Anez said she was "fine" and would continue working from isolation.
India recorded 26,506 new cases of the disease, the highest jump so far, in the last 24 hours pushing its infection tally to 793,802, according to the Union health ministry yesterday.
The country has recorded more than two lakh cases since July 1 and has witnessed over 20,000 infections every day since July 3. The ministry reported 25,000 new infections on Thursday and 25,724 new cases on Wednesday.
The death toll in the last 24 hours till yesterday morning mounted to 21,604 with 475 new fatalities. The Indian government continued to maintain that there is no community transmission of the virus yet in the country.
Rajesh Bhushan, Officer on Special Duty in the health ministry, had said on Thursday that "Even today, the health minister (Harsh Vardhan) clearly said that India has not reached the stage of community transmission. In some geographical areas, there have been localised outbreaks."
The number of recoveries from Covid-19 yesterday stood at 4,95,51, while there are 2,76,685 active cases of the infection across the country, the updated data said. "Thus, around 62.42 percent of patients have recovered so far," an official said.
West Bengal reported the highest one-day jump of 1,088 cases taking the state's tally to 25,911 while the death toll stood at 854 with a record 27 deaths in the last 24 hours.
In view of the rise in the cases, West Bengal authorities clamped a week-long strict lockdown in all the containment zones, which are areas with high caseloads, across the state since Thursday in a bid to contain the spread of Covid-19.
With 2,187 fresh coronavirus cases, Delhi's infection tally stood at 1,07,051 and the death toll mounted to 3,258.
The United States recorded 65,551 new cases in last 24 hours-- a new high, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The country, the hardest-hit in the world by the pandemic, has a total caseload of more than 3.1 million, with 133,195 deaths.
"We're in a very difficult, challenging period right now," top US infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci said. US President Donald Trump, who has publicly disagreed with Fauci, has downplayed the spike.
Hong Kong will close all schools after a spike in locally transmitted coronavirus infections, the city's education minister said yesterday.
Schools will close from Monday, bringing forward the start of the summer holidays, Kevin Yeung said, after the city recorded an "exponential growth" of locally transmitted cases in the past few days.
Australia will slash the number of returning citizens allowed into the country by half as it struggles to contain a worsening outbreak in its second-largest city Melbourne. From Monday, only 4,000 Australian citizens or permanent residents will be allowed back each day.
Meanwhile thousands of angry Serbians protested for a third day against the government's handling of the crisis -- though the demonstrations remained largely peaceful after two nights of violence.
And, in a potentially worrying discovery, scientists in Italy said there was "strong evidence" that Covid-19 positive mothers can pass the virus on to their unborn children.
The pandemic could push 45 million people from the middle classes into poverty in already economically troubled Latin America and the Caribbean, the United Nations warned.