Parents wearing face masks to protect against the coronavirus take photos of students as they pose for a group photo at the…
Parents wearing face masks to protect against the coronavirus take photos of students as they pose for a group photo at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, July 18, 2020.

For the second day in a row, the World Health Organization (WHO) on Saturday reported a record increase in coronavirus cases worldwide, with nearly 260,000 new cases in 24 hours. The previous record, on Friday, recorded nearly 238,000 cases.

As of Saturday evening, WHO tallied just more than 593,000 deaths from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. That is an increase of more than 7,300, the largest one-day increase since mid-May. The daily death total had been averaging about 4,800 in July.

The biggest increases were from: the United States, with nearly 72,000 cases; Brazil, with nearly 45,500 cases; India, with nearly 35,000 and nearly 14,000 in South Africa.

In Brazil, South America’s hardest-hit country, President Jair Bolsonaro said Saturday that measure to curb the spread of the virus are suffocating the economy.

Bolsonaro, who has tested positive for the virus, said in a statement that Brazil’s economy is expected to shrink 6.4 percent this year.

In China, where the global pandemic began in December, officials in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang province, have entered a “wartime mode” Saturday, with gatherings suspended and visits restricted. More than 600 flights, about 80 percent of the typical daily total, at Urumpqi’s airport were canceled.

Xinjiang, where most of China’s Uighur ethnic minority lives, had been able to avoid most of the pandemic. As of Saturday, the region reported 40 cases, which included 23 asymptomatic cases. Nearly 270 people were under medical observation, according to the regional health commission.

"The epidemic situation is generally controllable," Rui Baoling, director of the disease control and prevention center in Urumqi, was quoted as saying to state media.

In Iran, the Middle East’s hardest-hit country, President Hassan Rouhani said Saturday that as many as 25 million Iranians may be infected with the coronavirus. Saturday's official confirmed infections stand at nearly 272,000, with deaths at nearly 14,000.

The figure Rouhani cited, an estimate from a health ministry report, would amount to more than 30 percent of Iran’s population.

For the next week, the capital, Tehran, will be under restrictions including banning religious and cultural functions, closing boarding schools, cafes, indoor pools, amusement parks and zoos. And starting Sunday, the southwestern Khuzestan province will be under a three-day lockdown.

One of the province’s 22 cities and towns, Behbahan, was the scene of economic protests Thursday.

On Saturday, Canada told the Toronto Blue Jays the team will have to play its home games elsewhere. The federal government said Major League Baseball’s plan to use Rogers Centre runs the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

The Canadian government extended the closure of its border with the U.S. until August 21 for nonessential travel. The team had hoped for an exemption to the 14-day quarantine mandated for anyone entering Canada, making it difficult for the team to cross back and forth across the border for games.

The city and province governments had agreed, but the federal government balked as coronavirus cases in the U.S. soar.

“There were serious risks if we proceeded with the regular-season proposal of the MLB and the Jays and therefore we concluded it was not in the national interest,” Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said, according to the Associated Press. “I get that some people will be disappointed, but this decision can’t be taken as a fan. It is taken on behalf of the health and safety of Canadians.”

The Blue Jays are to have their home opener July 29 and will need a place to play by then. Options include is spring training base in Florida. Florida reported more than 10,300 new coronavirus cases Saturday, according to the Florida Department of Health. 

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