GENEVA - Global deaths from Covid-19 have surpassed 600,000 as the US, South Africa and Australia struggle to hold down rising rates of the infection.

The United States tops the list with 140,119 deaths according to data from Johns Hopkins University, followed by 78,772 in Brazil and 45,358 in the United Kingdom and 38,888 in Mexico, where a surge in cases have frustrated plans to reopen the economy.

The number of confirmed infections worldwide has passed 14.2 million, of which 3.7 million are in the United States.

There are over 2,000,000 in Brazil and more than a million in India, while experts believe the true numbers around the world are higher because of testing shortages and data collection issues in some nations. While the US leads global infections, South Africa now ranks as the fifth worst-hit country in the pandemic with 350,879 cases — roughly half of all those confirmed on the African continent. Its struggles are a sign of trouble to come for nations with even fewer healthcare resources.

The World Health Organisation on Saturday again reported a single-day record of new infections with 259,848.

Australia
People in Melbourne must now wear masks when leaving their homes as Victoria, Australia’s second most-populous state, marked two weeks of triple-digit increases in new coronavirus infections on Sunday. Melbournians not wearing face coverings will be fined A$200 (€122.50), said Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews. Victoria, which has forced nearly 5 million people into a partial six-week lockdown on July 9th, reported 363 new cases of the coronavirus on Sunday, after 217 cases the previous day. “We’re going to be wearing masks in Victoria and potentially in other parts of the country for a very long time,” Mr Andrews told a televised briefing. Australia has recorded about 11,800 coronavirus cases, a fraction of what has been seen in other countries or even some US states, but an outbreak of community transmission in Victoria has been growing, prompting authorities to impose stricter social distancing measures.

Three deaths from the Covid-19 disease were reported in Victoria on Sunday, bringing the total to 38 and raising Australia’s death toll to 122. Victoria became the first state in Australia, a country of a loose federal system, to require masks for part of its population. New South Wales (NSW), the most populous state that had moved to relax its social distancing guidelines earlier this month, has since moved to restrict again some social mingling as cases have been growing. On Sunday, NSW reported 18 new infections, its highest in three months. The transmission rate in the state is higher than in Victoria, causing concerns.

South Africa
South Africa now trails the US, Brazil, and India — all far more populous countries — in the number of infections, surpassing Peru, after health authorities announced 13,285 new cases. South Africa’s new coronavirus epicentre, Gauteng province, hosts the cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria and a quarter of the country’s population of 57 million, with many poor people living in crowded conditions in the middle of a frosty Southern Hemisphere winter.

“The simple fact is that many South Africans are sitting ducks because they cannot comply with World Health Organisation protocols on improved hygiene and social distancing,” the foundation of former South African archbishop and Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu and his wife, Leah, warned in a statement.(FA)