A record global rise in daily coronavirus cases has been recorded by the World Health Organisation, as the Covid-19 pandemic intensifies throughout much of North and South America.
The latest figures from the WHO show that 212,326 cases have been confirmed across the world in the 24 hours up to 2pm on 4 July.
The largest increases were reported in the US, Brazil and India – taking the cumulative total past the previous record of 189,077, set on June 28.
More than 11 million cases have now been recorded globally since the beginning of the pandemic.
The WHO warned more than a month ago that the epicentre of the pandemic had shifted to the Americas, where the rate of infection has been accelerating for weeks.
In the US, a further 53,213 new infections were recorded in the past 24 hours, bringing the country’s caseload to 2,817,620, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
The number of daily new cases has rarely fallen below 20,000 since April, with a number of states reporting flare-ups at the same time as others were bringing their outbreaks under control.
In Brazil, a total of 48,105 cases were confirmed in the 24 hours up to 4 July. The country has reported 1,539,081 infections to date.
Covid-19 deaths in the country are expected to reach 125,000 by 4 August, according to estimates from the University of Washington.
President Jair Bolsonaro has been widely criticised for dismissing the virus as a “little flu” and attending mass political rallies where he shook hands and held babies – disregarding social distancing measures to limit the spread of the virus.
He has angered science communities for recommending unproven drug treatments such as the antimalarial drug chloroquine.
South Africa has also emerged as a growing hotspot, as the pandemic picks up speed in parts of Africa.
Confirmed cases in the country have climbed to more than 177,000, with a record 9,063 reported in the most recent 24-hour period.
Around 30 per cent of cases are in Gauteng province, home of Johannesburg and the capital, Pretoria, as the country loosens lockdown measures under economic pressure.
Russia also marked a milestone on Saturday as the country’s death toll rose above 10,000. The national coronavirus taskforce reported 6,632 new infections, raising the total for the outbreak to 674,515.
Russia’s caseload is the world’s third largest behind the US and Brazil, but its reported deaths are lower than many other countries. Officials have denied speculation that the figures are being manipulated.