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Health officials in Italy reported 6,153 new COVID-19 infections, pushing the global total to more than 510,108 people, based on a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.
Considered the epicenter of the virus’ outbreak in Europe, Italy now has 80,539 cases as of Thursday early afternoon – inching closer to China’s tally of at least 81,782 infections.
Italy’s Civil Protection Agency reported an additional 662 deaths on Thursday, bringing the country’s death toll to 8,165, which remains the highest in the world.
While China – where the new coronavirus was first detected late last year – remains the country with the highest tally, both Italy and the United States are on track to surpass it.
The virus has killed at least 22,993 people around the world while more than 120,000 have recovered.
According to Johns Hopkins University, the United States has seen at least 75,233 coronavirus infections nationwide, with the majority of those cases detected in New York state.
At least 1,070 people in the U.S. have died from the virus and nearly 620 people have recovered nationwide.
In the U.S., an unprecedented $2.2 trillion economic rescue package to help businesses, hospitals, and ordinary Americans make it through the crisis cleared the Senate and is expected to be voted on in the House on Friday. The plan would dispense checks of $1,200 per adult and $500 per child.
Since the outbreak, at least 2.8 billion people, or more than one-third of the Earth’s population, have been placed under severe travel restrictions or near lockdowns.
Spain – which implemented a state of emergency earlier this month, has become the country in Europe where the outbreak is spreading the fastest. On Thursday, the health ministry reported nearly 8,600 new infections and 655 deaths. With more than 4,145 fatalities, it is second only to Italy’s death toll of 8,165.
Health Minister Salvador Illa sought to assure Spaniards that government measures to slow the virus were working, telling Parliament that the rises had been smaller than in previous days and “indicate a changing trend that brings us to think that we are entering a phase of stabilization.”
China’s cases have slowed, with only 67 new cases reported, all recent arrivals.
In India, where the country’s 1.3 billion people are under orders to stay at home, untold numbers of them are now out of work, and many families have been left struggling to eat.
“Our first concern is food, not the virus,” said Suresh Kumar, 60, a bicycle rickshaw rider in New Delhi. He said he has a family of six who relies on his daily earnings of just 300 rupees, or about $4. “I don’t know how I will manage.”
India, which has the world’s second-highest number of people living in extreme poverty, has seen more than 700 cases of coronavirus.
South Africa planned to lockdown at midnight. The country recorded more than 900 cases of CVOID-19 as of Thursday afternoon, the highest on the continent.
The head of the World Health Organization, however, has scolded world leaders for wasting precious time in the fight against the virus.
“The time to act was actually more than a month ago or two months ago,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Wednesday. “We squandered the first window of opportunity ... This is a second opportunity, which we should not squander and do everything to suppress and control this virus.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.