Australia recorded its biggest one-day rise in Covid-19 deaths yesterday although a slowdown in new cases gave hope that a second wave of new infections in the state of Victoria may have peaked.
Nineteen people had died from the virus, all in Victoria, in the past 24 hours, a national daily record. However only 337 people had been diagnosed with Covid-19 across the country, the lowest one-day rise since July 29, officials said.
"This is an agonising day for the members for the 19 families who have lost a loved one to Covid-19 today," Michael Kidd, Australia's deputy chief medical officer, told reporters.
"We are now seeing the first promising signs of a significant decline in the number of cases."
The slowdown in cases comes more than a month after the nearly 5 million residents of Melbourne, the capital of Victoria, were told to stay home, and a week after most businesses in the country's second-largest city were ordered to close in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus.
With about 21,000 Covid-19 cases and 314 deaths, Australia has still recorded fewer infections and fatalities than many other developed nations. Outside the two largest states of Victoria and New South Wales, the virus has been effectively eliminated.
Globally, 20 million cases have been officially registered. The death toll is more than 731,500 worldwide since the coronavirus emerged in China last December, according to a running tally from official sources compiled by AFP.
India yesterday reported more than 1,000 new deaths, the most the country has recorded in a single day since the pandemic began.
The new toll put India's total at 44,386 deaths, trailing only the United States, Brazil, Mexico and Britain.
The country has also reported more confirmed new cases than any other in the world for six consecutive days, including 62,000 yesterday.
MASKS IN HEATWAVE PARIS
Face masks became compulsory in tourist hotspots in Paris yesterday amid warnings of a resurgence of cases.
The requirement came as France along with much of Western Europe sweltered in a heatwave, with temperatures soaring above 35 degrees Celsius (95 F).
The blistering heat sent crowds flocking to beaches at the weekend despite health warnings about the risk of infection.
In Berlin, thousands of children returned to school yesterday after the summer break, sporting masks which are compulsory in common areas like school courtyards. Schools in some other German regions also reopened, though with differing rules on masks.
"No child forgot their masks this morning, so we see everything is back to normal," said Domenica Acri, headmistress of the Carl Orff primary school in Berlin.
In Pakistan, all restaurants and parks were allowed to reopen yesterday, as well theatres, cinemas and public transport, after the country saw a drop in new cases for several weeks.
The United States is by far the worst-hit country with nearly 163,000 deaths. On Sunday, it reached the extraordinary milestone of five million cases, according to according to John Hopkins University.
President Donald Trump's Democratic opponent in the presidential election, Joe Biden, tweeted that five million coronavirus cases was "a number that boggles the mind and breaks the heart."
GRIM MILESTONE FOR BRAZIL
After the US, Brazil has the most cases, and on Saturday it became the second country to pass 100,000 fatalities.
President Jair Bolsonaro has played down the coronavirus from the beginning, dismissing it as a "little flu," questioning the lockdowns ordered by some state governors and saying their economic impact could be "more deadly than the virus."
Following the news of the latest milestone, Brazil's most widely viewed TV network Globo criticised Bolsonaro's handling of the crisis, asking "Has the president of the republic done his duty?"
In Peru, indigenous people armed with spears and angry over what they consider government neglect of their communities in the pandemic assaulted a settlement for oil workers deep in the Amazon, triggering a clash with police that left three natives dead, the government said Sunday.
In Spain, top-flight football club Atletico Madrid on Sunday reported two positive coronavirus tests, just four days before they face Germany's Leipzig for a place in the Champions League semi-finals.
It was not revealed whether the two positive cases involved players or backroom staff.
Atletico said UEFA as well as the Spanish and Portuguese football and health authorities have been informed and that a fresh round of tests will be carried out on the squad and support team.