The number of coronavirus infections rose above 30 million today as cases of the disease continue to increase sharply around the world.
The global caseload jumped by about 300,000 to reach 30,043,000 by 9am, according to the tracking website worldometer.info, passing yet another grim milestone in the pandemic.
India is the latest epicentre and today reported a world record in new coronavirus infections with 97,894 cases in the past 24 hours, pushing its total above five million — second only to the United States.
The world’s second most populous country has been reporting more new daily cases than the US since mid-August and accounts for just over 16 per cent of global known cases.
At the current rate of infection, India is expected to surpass the 6.6 million reported cases in the US within weeks.
In America, President Donald Trump became embroiled in a new row with one of his top health chiefs last night as he continued to insist a vaccine could be announced as soon as next month, in time for November’s election.
That was dismissed by Robert Redfield, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), who told a US Senate committee a vaccine was unlikely to be ready until mid to late 2021.
“He misunderstood the question, probably,” the President told reporters at the White House.
“We will be ready at a faster pace than he said,” Mr Trump said of Mr Redfield’s estimate. “Based on what I’m hearing, results are very good.”
Much of Europe is in the grip of a second wave of infections, although death rates remain far lower than they were at the peak of the crisis.
France reported new 9,784 confirmed cases yesterday, its highest since the disease started to spread at the end of the winter.
Deaths increased by 46 to 31,045, the third highest rise since July but still a fraction of the 1,437 record on April 14.
South Africa, meanwhile, is moving to reopen its borders to international visitors as its figures improve.
In an address to the nation, President Cyril Ramaphosa said international travel would “gradually and cautiously” resume from next month.
“We have withstood the coronavirus storm,” he said. “It is time to move to what will become our new normal for as long as the coronavirus is with us.”