The number of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases crossed the 5-million mark on Wednesday, according to a compilation of figures by Worldometer, as the pandemic continued to devastate the globe where close to 325,000 people have now died due to it and millions more find themselves unemployed and at the risk of poverty.
The latest million took 12 days, compared to 11 days that it took for the number to go from three to four million infections. Several countries, particularly the ones that were the hardest hit in early April such as Italy and Spain, have crossed their peaks and are reopening slowly, but officials have warned of a second wave that it may lead to.
The total number of infections is now equivalent to the population of New Zealand.
Also on Wednesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) expressed concern about the rising number of new coronavirus cases in poor countries, even as many rich nations have begun emerging from lockdown.
The global health body said 106,000 new cases of infections of the coronavirus had been recorded in the past 24 hours, the most in a single day since the outbreak began.
“We still have a long way to go in this pandemic,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference. “We are very concerned about rising cases in low and middle income countries.”
Data of fatality and recovery rates on Worldometer suggests that globally, the deadliest stage of the current phase may have passed. On Wednesday, the fatality rate was 14.23% and the recovery rate was 85.77%. Such low proportion of deaths and high proportion of recoveries were last seen before March 24.
Brazil, Russia and India are emerging as the new hot spots of the disease. The US, where lockdown protocols have been less strict than most nations, added 20,289 cases on Tuesday to remain on top of the list of countries recording new cases.
In less than five months since the disease was first reported - local media in China’s Wuhan wrote about a mystery respiratory illness on December 31 - much of the world has now come to terms with a new reality in which social distancing is compulsory, masks are increasingly mandatory and much of leisure activities - travelling, dining out and events such as concerts and sport - may be too dangerous till researchers find a vaccine.