WASHINGTON - Brazil become the country with the fourth-largest number of coronavirus infections in the world, surpassing Spain and Italy.
Overnight, the South American country had more than 15,000 confirmed new cases, bringing the total to more than 235,000 Sunday, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally. Health experts say the real number of cases could be higher because many people have not been tested.
With the death toll approaching 16,000, Brazil ranks sixth in the world for coronavirus-related deaths. Mexico and Ecuador also have seen a spike of new cases, prompting the World Health Organization to declare the Americas the new center of the pandemic.
Russia is another hotspot, recording about 10,000 new confirmed cases a day for at least the past 10 consecutive days in May. But officials said Sunday the spread is being stabilized across the country.
Russia’s chief sanitary doctor, Anna Popova, told Rossiya 1 TV channel in an interview that the progress has been achieved due to Russians’ careful attention to their health.
Russia has reported 281,752 confirmed coronavirus cases and 2,631 COVID-19-linked fatalities.
New hotspots are emerging in Africa, especially Nigeria, drawing attention to the dangers of inaction.
Spain and Italy, two European countries that were at the center of the world’s coronavirus outbreak in March, are now gradually returning to normal after about two months under lockdown and no reports of new infections. The daily number of people dying of COVID-19 in those two countries also is declining.
A lockdown remains in place for Spain’s two largest cities, Madrid and Barcelona, as the government seeks to prevent resurgence of infections.
Italy has relaxed some of the coronavirus restrictions and is moving toward the next phase to reopen more businesses. Officials say tourists will be allowed into the country beginning June 3.
Britain, which has the third-highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases and the second-highest number of COVID-19-related deaths worldwide, also is preparing to reopen. The government said it has hired nearly all of the contact tracers it plans to employ to trace the virus’ spread when the country eases lockdown measures.
Britain was on track to develop a coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson quashed that hope Sunday.
“There remains a very long way to go, and I must be frank that a vaccine might not come to fruition,” Johnson wrote in a British newspaper.
The number of cases globally continues to rise and has reached close to 4.7 million Sunday with more than 314.000 deaths. But after weeks of lockdowns that have ravaged the global economy and affected people’s material and mental health, even the countries where the spread continues have begun easing some restrictions.
The United States, the world’s leader in the number of COVID-19 infections and deaths, with nearly 1.5 million confirmed cases and close to 90,000 deaths, is gradually easing restrictions, albeit at a different pace in different regions.
On Monday, U.S. President Donald Trump is set to hold discussions with several state governors as well as restaurant executives and industry leaders on conditions for reopening. He is also expected to announce support of farmers and other members of the food chain industries who helped ensure a steady food supply during the lockdowns.
Elsewhere in the world, Turkey is relaxing coronavirus guidelines. Citizens older than 65, who are the most vulnerable to the coronavirus, were allowed to leave their homes for six hours on Sunday, after weeks under a strict lockdown.
In Thailand, malls were reopened Sunday for the first time since March and New Zealand has reopened restaurants and cinemas. Both countries have reported no new cases in recent days but are watching for a possible resurgence of infections.
As a precaution, Thailand on Saturday extended a ban on international passenger flights until the end of June.
India has extended its lockdown by two more weeks as the virus continues to spread, the fourth extension since the end of March, but the government has promised new guidelines in the near future with a view to reopen some economic activities.
The country of 1.3 billion people Sunday had about 95,000 coronavirus cases and slightly more than 3.000 deaths.
China, where the virus originated last year in the central city of Wuhan, and was later contained, has seen a resurgence of new cases in the northeast. The authorities have quarantined about 8,000 people in the province of Jilin.
Health officials worldwide are warning of a possible new wave of infections in the fall.