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The number of confirmed coronavirus infections globally has surpassed 16 million and has grown by more than one million in the space of just four days.
The acceleration of the pandemic is being driven primarily by hotspots like the U.S., Brazil, and India but public health experts are also concerned about spikes in cases in countries that previously appeared to have the spread of COVID-19 under control.
In the past 24 hours, both the U.S. and Brazil have reported 55,000 new infections while India has topped 50,000 infections in one day for the first time. But it is fresh spikes in places like China, Australia, and Europe that point to the extreme difficulty of keeping coronavirus under control.
In China, the National Health Authority reported 61 new cases on Monday, the highest daily increase since March. Forty-one of the new cases are located in the north-western province of Xinjiang, but authorities have not revealed the origin of the outbreak there.
Of the 61 new cases, 57 were domestic transmissions, which is the highest total of such cases since March 6.
Across the border in Hong Kong, city officials have re-imposed strict lockdown measures after another spike in infections. The city recorded its highest daily total of infections Monday with 145 new cases, marking the seventh straight day with more than 100 new infections. As a result, the authorities have banned public gatherings of more than two people, forced restaurants to close, and made mask-wearing mandatory in public.
The restrictions will come into effect on Wednesday and will be in place for at least a week, Carrie Lam’s government said Monday.
Elsewhere in Asia, North Korea reported what it claims to be its first case of coronavirus at the weekend, while Vietnam has shut down the city of Da Nang to tourists after three residents tested positive for the coronavirus — the country’s first cases of community transmission since April.
Authorities in Da Nang announced Monday they were evacuating 80,000 tourists from the city over the next four days.
Australia, which just a few weeks ago appeared to have successfully contained the spread of the coronavirus, recorded its highest ever daily total of new infections on Monday.
The vast majority of the new infections — 532 — and all the deaths — 6 — came from Victoria, which has been under lockdown restrictions for three weeks but has continued to see infections rise. Neighboring New South Wales reported just 17 new infections, with 8 of those were returned travelers in quarantine.
Victoria’s premier Daniel Andrews urged people not to travel to work if at all possible, saying more restrictions could be put in place if infection rates continue to rise.
In Europe, one of the hardest hit regions in the early days of the pandemic, there have been several new spikes, including one in Belgium, which has seen a sharp increase in the national number of infections and a 500% week-on-week spike in the city of Antwerp.
Belgium’s coronavirus advisory committee will meet Monday to decide whether or not to implement local lockdown measures.
In Spain, a similar spike in infections in three regions led the U.K. to impose a 14-day quarantine on all travelers returning from Spain. France has also warned its citizens not to travel to one of the affected regions.
The announcements have been met with an angry response in Madrid, with foreign minister Arancha González Laya saying: “Spain is a safe country.”
Cover: A woman waits for her turn as a medical worker collects the nasal swab sample of another for COVID-19 test at a government health center in Hyderabad, India, Monday, July 27, 2020. India is the third hardest-hit country by the pandemic in the world after the United States and Brazil. (AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A.)