World

Grim milestone as coronavirus infections top 5 million worldwide

Burial workers at the Park cemetery in Manaus, Brazil (AAP) Source: Fotoarena/Sipa USA

Global infections from the novel coronavirus passed five million as cases surged in Latin America, while the US and China kept up their blame game over the pandemic.

The milestone comes after known cases of Covid-19 doubled in just one month, according to AFP data collected from official sources, with the death toll now topping 328,000 worldwide.  

While many hard-hit European countries have significantly curbed the contagion, Latin America is becoming a new hotspot with cases on the rise. 

Brazil logged the third-highest number of cases in the world after the US and Russia. 

Peru, Mexico and Chile have also seen steady increases in infections, with nurses in Lima warning that the health system is on the brink of collapse after cases and deaths tripled over the past three weeks. 

"It's like a horror film," Miguel Armas, a nurse at the Hipolito Unanue hospital in the capital Lima, said.

"Inside it seems like a cemetery given all the bodies. Patients are dying in their chairs (or) in their wheelchairs." 

People infected with Covid-19 disease wait for an available bed, outside a public hospital in Lima, Peru (AAP)
People infected with Covid-19 disease wait for an available bed, outside a public hospital in Lima, Peru (AAP)
AP

In Brazil, far-right President Jair Bolsonaro continues to scorn experts' advice on curbing the contagion as he presses regional governors to end stay-at-home measures. 

And like US President Donald Trump, he has promoted the use of anti-malaria drugs against the virus despite studies showing they have no benefit and could have dangerous side effects.

China's 'victory' 

President Trump, for his part, insists the US is "Transitioning back to Greatness" as states reopen at different speeds.

His optimism was in sharp contrast to the bleak health situation in the country, which leads the world in cases and deaths.

While daily death tolls are no longer on a steady incline, the losses are still punishing with more than 1,500 additional fatalities reported in 24 hours on Wednesday, bringing the total number in the US to more than 93,400.

On the economic front, the latest figures out of the US showed the rate of unemployment slowing, but the total number of jobs lost since mid-March stood at an eye-watering 38.6 million. 

President Trump wants to "Transition to Greatness" (AAP)
President Trump wants to "Transition to Greatness" (AAP)
AP

President Trump, who is desperate to boost his political fortunes ahead of November elections, has also doubled down on his finger-pointing at China, who he blamed for "this mass Worldwide killing". 

Beijing hit back, warning it would retaliate if the US goes forward with a sanctions threat.

Republican US Senators proposed legislation last week that would empower Mr Trump to slap sanctions on China if Beijing does not give a "full accounting" for the outbreak that emerged in Wuhan late last year.

"It is neither responsible nor moral to cover up one's own problems by blaming others," said China's parliament spokesman Zhang Yesui.

We "will make a firm response and take countermeasures based on the deliberation of these bills", he said. 

Despite criticism of its initial handling of the virus, Beijing is determined to project a narrative of strength and success in reining in its own outbreak and coming to the aid of countries who have been hit far harder. 

Domestic cases are now down to a trickle, according to its official figures. 

In the latest symbol of normalisation, the country held an opening ceremony yesterday for its biggest political event of the year, the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), after months of delay over health concerns. 

Analysts say the gathering's sessions will officially start today and be a chance for the party to reaffirm its "victory" over the virus.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits.

Testing for coronavirus is now widely available across Australia. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

The federal government's coronavirus tracing app COVIDSafe is available for download from your phone's app store. SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments.

News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus

Source AFP - SBS

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