The number of new cases of coronavirus rose by almost 260,000 in 24 hours – the largest single-day increase since the pandemic began, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Saturday.
According to WHO, this is the first time the number of new daily infections has surpassed a quarter of a million.
The biggest increases were in the US, Brazil, India and South Africa.
The global death toll from coronavirus also rose by 7,360 – the largest daily increase since 10 May.
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The previous record rise in new confirmed cases was recorded by WHO just one day earlier.
The total number of confirmed cases of coronavirus passed 14 million on Saturday, with over 600,000 recorded deaths, according to the tally kept by US-based Johns Hopkins University.
What is happening in the US?
Cases are surging in several US states, particularly in southern states that were initially reluctant to enforce lockdowns or mandate the wearing of masks. Florida, Texas and Arizona have seen particularly high surges.
Florida is currently the epicentre of the US epidemic. The state recorded more than 10,000 new infections and 90 more deaths on Saturday, bringing its total number of cases to more than 337,000 and its death toll to more than 5,000.
In recent weeks, hospitals across the state had also warned that their ICUs were at capacity and that they were unable to accept any new patients.
Measures to stem the spread of the virus, including wearing masks, have become highly politicised in the US.
The US’s top infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci urged state and local leaders on Friday to be “forceful” in making sure people wore masks, although President Donald Trump later said he would not mandate mask-wearing on a national level.
Which other countries are seeing surges?
In Brazil, where the coronavirus and measures to contain it have been highly politicised, cases continue to surge – although WHO announced earlier this week that cases were no longer increasing exponentially.
Scientists have also warned that India could still be months away from the peak of its outbreak – despite the country already having the third-highest number of confirmed cases. Hospitals in the worst-hit cities, including Mumbai and Bangalore, have been overwhelmed with patients.
India recorded another 34,884 infections in a 24-hour period on Saturday, and another 671 deaths linked to coronavirus.
And South Africa, which saw one of the largest single-day rises in cases, has the highest number of confirmed infections on the African continent.
What’s happening in Europe?
Western European countries, which have managed to largely contain the spread of the virus, are now beginning to reopen their borders and businesses.
However, there are localised surges across Spain – the worst being in the country’s north-eastern Catalonia region.
The region has again recorded a daily increase in confirmed cases of more than 1,000, and about four million people in ??Barcelona, ??La Noguera and El Segrià have been ordered to stay at home for 15 days.
Among the measures imposed are a ban on public or private meetings of more than 10 people, a ban on visits to nursing homes, and the closure of gyms and nightclubs.
Spain only ended its tough national lockdown about four weeks ago and was hoping to kick-start the economy, particularly with tourism numbers.
The streets of Barcelona were reported emptier on Saturday, although some residents may have defied orders and headed off in cars for second homes.
Neighbouring France is now considering closing borders with Spain in response to the surge.
When asked whether a closure of borders could be possible, new Prime Minister Jean Castex said: “We are monitoring this very closely, here in particular, because it is a real issue that we also need to discuss with the Spanish authorities.”
The French border was only reopened to general citizens on 21 June.
How are the EU’s plans for coronavirus relief going?
On Saturday, discussions in Brussels over a huge post-coronavirus economic recovery plan ground on.
The second day of talks received mixed reviews. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said talks were deadlocked but Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said he thought they were going in the right direction.
Some “frugal” northern nations like the Netherlands and Sweden have balked at the €750bn ($857bn; £680bn) package, arguing it should be loans not grants.
A revised plan would tone down the level of grants but there appears to be a long way to go.
The talks are now going into a third day on Sunday.
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Europe beckons for South African rugby after Kiwi snub
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Jul 20 – World Cup-winning Springbok Schalk Brits believes the future of South African rugby lies in Europe after New Zealand said there was no room for sides from the republic in Super Rugby.
“All of this jet lag and flying across different time zones just does not work,” said the hooker who retired after the triumphant 2019 World Cup campaign.
“We have got so many South Africans playing in Europe and it would be awesome to see them in action here for European clubs.”
With New Zealand favouring a trans-Tasman Super Rugby competition, South Africa Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux will address the media Tuesday about the way forward.
There has been no rugby in South Africa since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic, which claimed 5,033 lives by late Sunday, the most in an African country.
Here, AFP Sport looks at the possibilities for the world champions Springboks and Super Rugby teams the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers.
There has been speculation that the six-round annual tournament will be cut to four matches with New Zealand and Australia playing in South Africa only every second year.
That would be a huge blow for SA Rugby coffers as the century-old rivalry with the All Blacks makes them a huge drawcard.
South Africa might consider abandoning the Championship and pursuing a suggestion by former All Blacks Justin Marshall and Jeff Wilson for three-Test tours between the great rivals.
“British and Irish Lions tours are so successful because we look forward to them,” noted another ex-All Black, John Kirwan. The same could be said of an All Blacks-Springboks series.
Should South African franchises move north, would the Springboks follow suit and apply to join England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales in a ‘Seven Nations’ championship?
Having the world champions on board would surely excite the organisers and costs would be greatly reduced if the Springboks played their three away matches on consecutive weekends.
England, Ireland, France and Wales, in particular, would bring freshness for rugby followers, who have not rushed to the turnstiles for Championship visits by Australia and Argentina.
Ask the SA Rugby treasurer for his ‘dream’ line-up and he would surely say a multi-Test tour by the All Blacks and participation in the ‘Seven Nations’.
Although not official yet, the reality is that New Zealand want to play some Australian sides and the Pacific Islands in a new competition while excluding South Africa and Argentina.
The original version, a Super 10 between 1993 and 1995, was a superb competition, but constant tinkering and expansion has led to waning interest in a difficult-to-follow event.
Even those supporting the Golden Lions of South Africa could not have derived too much satisfaction from a 94-7 thrashing of Japanese visitors the Sunwolves three years ago.
South Africa sides often battled with time differences in Australasia — New Zealand is 11 hours ahead of the republic — and were weary after four-match tours.
Pro14 chief executive Martin Anayi says he would welcome Super Rugby ‘rejects’ the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers into an expanded edition.
“The tournament works well but could be even better if we added some South African teams,” he said, referring to a competition that also includes Irish, Italian, Scottish and Welsh teams.
But there may be no room for the two current South African Pro14 participants, the Cheetahs and Kings, who have experienced very different fortunes.
While the Cheetahs have been competitive, the Kings won just four of 55 matches in three seasons with some of the losing margins embarrassing.
The domestic competition has survived constant format changes to remain the vital ‘nursery’ from which Springboks emerge.
First staged in 1892, it was the bedrock of South African rugby until the dawn of professionalism after the 1995 Rugby World Cup.
As Test and Super Rugby fixtures took up an increasing amount of the season, the Currie Cup often battled for calendar space.
But it survived and this year could feature the four Super Rugby sides plus the Cheetahs, Kings, Griquas and Pumas, if play is possible amid the coronavirus.
Kenya records highest number of deaths from Covid-19
Kenya’s coronavirus cases rise to 13,771 after 418 more infections
Kenya on Monday reported 418 more Covid-19 infections, raising the country’s tally to 13,771 since the virus was first confirmed on March 13.
Health Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Rashid Aman also reported four more deaths, raising the toll to 238. He rectified an earlier report about 19 deaths in a single day, which would have been the highest number ever recorded in Kenya.
The 418 new patients were found following the testing of 2,474 samples in the last 24 hours.
Four hundred and eight of them were Kenyans and 10 foreigners while male patients numbered 263 and female patients 155.
Dr Aman also announced that 494 patients had been discharged, raising the country’s total number of recoveries to 5,616.
Of the recovered patients, 465 were under home care and the rest in hospitals.
More to follow