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US virus deaths pass 150,000 as nations battle rising toll


US states are reporting record jumps in virus deaths, as European countries ramp up restrictions and the global death toll passes 660,000.

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California, Florida and Texas have reported record increases in COVID-19 deaths for a second day in a row, as total deaths surpassed 150,000, according to a Reuters tally.

California had 185 fatalities in the last 24 hours and Florida reported 217 new deaths.

Texas had at least 311 deaths with some counties yet to report. Only two other states, New York and New Jersey, have ever reported more than 300 deaths in a single day.

US deaths rose by at least 1367 on Wednesday with some counties and states yet to report, the highest since May 27. Cases rose by 62,000 to a total of 4.4 million.

The three states – the most populous in the country representing 27 per cent of the US population – have the largest outbreaks, eclipsing the previous US epicentres of New York and New Jersey.

Coronavirus deaths are rising in 27 states, up from 23 states a week ago, according to a Reuters analysis of deaths the past two weeks compared with the prior two weeks.

Cases continue to rise by large amounts in California, Florida and Texas.

California reported over 11,600 new cases on Wednesday, bringing its total to over 485,000, the highest in the nation. Florida is in second place with 451,000 cases and followed by Texas at about 420,000.

North Carolina also had a record increase in deaths on Wednesday, rising by 42, according to a Reuters tally of county data. The number of hospitalised COVID-19 patients was also a record high.

Total US deaths surpassed 150,000 on Wednesday, the highest level in the world and rising at the fastest rate since early June.

Nationally, COVID-19 deaths have risen for three weeks in a row while the number of new cases week-over-week recently fell for the first time since June.

Rising toll in Brazil, Europe

Brazil’s coronavirus outbreak has set daily records with both 69,074 new confirmed cases and 1595 related deaths, as the world’s second-worst outbreak accelerates toward the milestone of 100,000 lives cut short.

Brazil is the country worst hit by COVID-19 outside of the United States in both death toll and case count, with more than 2.5 million confirmed cases and 90,134 deaths since the pandemic began, according to ministry data.

More than 16.83 million people have been reported to be infected by the coronavirus globally and 660,997​ have died.

Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were detected in China in December 2019.

Several European countries ramped up restrictions on Wednesday in a bid to contain their own rising coronavirus infections.

Italy has extended its state of emergency, testing for returning travellers has started in Germany and Britain’s largest tour operator extended its suspension of trips to Spain.

Dutch authorities bucked the trend, with the government announcing on Wednesday it will not advise the public to wear masks because the evidence of their effectiveness was unclear.

“Because from a medical perspective there is no proven effectiveness of masks, the cabinet has decided that there will be no national obligation for wearing non-medical masks,” Minister for Medical Care Tamara van Ark said.

Meanwhile, Israel’s Health Ministry on Wednesday confirmed a daily record of 2104 new coronavirus cases – the highest number the country has recorded over 24 hours.

In mid-May the daily caseload had hovered in the double digits but following the lifting of restrictions numbers in Israel have since skyrocketed.

The number of new coronavirus infections in France rose by 1392 on Wednesday – the highest daily tally in a month – taking the country’s total number of confirmed cases to 185,196.

French health authorities said that, leaving aside the continuous decline of people in ICU units, all COVID-19 indicators showed “an increase of the viral circulation”.

The reproduction rate, on an upward trend since the beginning of the month, is now “higher than 1.3”, which marks a rise over 24 hours, they said.

-with AAP

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