Globally, cases rose to more than 12 million on Wednesday, with 548,799 deaths according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.
The United States continues to be the hardest hit country reporting more than 60,000 new cases on Wednesday, the biggest increase ever reported by a country in a single day.
It was also the second day in a row that US deaths climbed by more than 900 in a day, the highest levels seen since early June. The US now has 3,051,427 confirmed cases and recorded 132,256 deaths.
Brazil’s death toll also continued to climb – nearing 68,000 on Wednesday – the second-most in the world. The populous South American country has recorded 1,713,160 cases.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who has downplayed the severity of Covid-19 for months and has now tested positive, is turning himself into a test case live before millions of people as he swallows hydroxychloroquine pills on Facebook.
A string of studies in Britain and the United States, as well as by the World Health Organisation, have found anti-malaria drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine ineffective against Covid-19 and sometimes deadly because of their adverse side effects on the heart.
India has reported the third highest number of cases in the world with 742,417 infections and the death toll has topped 20,000.
Follow all the latest updates below.
Call for mass testing of taxi drivers, airport arrivals and NHS staff
Taxi drivers, people arriving at airports and NHS staff could be subject to mass coronavirus testing in efforts to identify asymptomatic people and their contacts, Jeremy Hunt has suggested.
The former health secretary said certain groups within the population, as well as people in particular parts of the country, could be tested to try to better track infections.
Speaking yesterday during an online conversation with Prof Sir Simon Wessely, the Royal Society of Medicine president, he said: “I think looking at healthcare staff, looking at taxi drivers is another group, airport arrivals is another group. I think we need to think about mass testing amongst groups of the population as well as parts of the country like Leicester and so on, as our best way of finding out where the asymptomatics are and feeding them into the system so that their contacts can be isolated.”
Australian city wakes to another lockdown as more state borders close
Five million Australians in the country’s second largest city Melbourne woke up under strict stay-at-home rules on Thursday as authorities struggled to contain the outbreak in the city.
Three Australian states have imposed a hard border lockdown with the southern state of Victoria, of which Melbourne is the capital, after a surge in infections in recent days.
Victoria on Wednesday reported 134 new infections, down on the previous day’s record increase but well above the rate of other states.
Other states and territories have recorded few or zero cases in recent weeks and are continuing to reopen their economies.
The state of Queensland on Thursday said it would tighten its border by banning non-residents from Victoria entering the state from Friday noon, ahead of opening its borders to people of other states and territories.
Read more: Dystopia greets us again in Melbourne with its closed borders and rationed toilet paper
Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa ‘may have contributed to spike’
A controversial campaign rally held by President Donald Trump in Tulsa, Oklahoma, last month likely contributed to a rise in the number of cases there, a top local health official said on Wednesday.
Tulsa has confirmed hundreds of new cases over the past two days, said Dr.Bruce Dart, health director for the city and county.
Asked by a reporter if Mr Trump’s campaign event at the Bank of Oklahoma Center on June 20 could be responsible for that surge, he said: “In the past few days, we’ve had almost 500 cases. And we know we had several large events a little over two weeks ago, which is about right. So I guess we just connect the dots,” Dr Dart said, apparently referring to the rally and accompanying protests.
Dr Dart cautioned that several more days of results would be needed to determine if the spike represented a trend.
White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said she had not seen data to support Dr Dart’s conclusions.
“There were no health precautions to speak of as thousands looted, rioted and protested in the streets and the media reported that it did not lead to a rise in coronavirus cases,” Mr Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said.
Brazilian President turns himself into test case for hydroxychloroquine
After months of touting an unproven anti-malaria drug as a treatment for the new coronavirus, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is turning himself into a test case live before millions of people as he swallows hydroxychloroquine pills on social media and encourages others to do the same.
Mr Bolsonaro said this week that he tested positive for the virus but already felt better thanks to hydroxychloroquine. Hours later he shared a video of himself gulping down what he said was his third dose.
“I trust hydroxychloroquine,” he said, smiling. “And you?”
On Wednesday, he was again extolling the drug’s benefits on Facebook, and claimed that his political opponents were rooting against it.
Governor of Venezuelan hotspot seeking treatment
The governor of the Venezuelan state of Zulia, which President Nicolas Maduro has identified as a coronavirus hotspot, has checked into a clinic to seek treatment for respiratory trouble, three sources familiar with the situation said on Wednesday.
Omar Prieto was admitted on Tuesday night to a private clinic near Zulia’s capital of Maracaibo where he is receiving preventative treatment while he awaits the results of a Covid-19 test, according to two of the sources.
A positive test result would underscore the severity of the outbreak in Zulia, which borders neighbouring Colombia, and signal that high-ranking officials in Mr Maduro’s government are at risk in the pandemic.
Zulia has been among states hardest hit by Venezuela’s crumbling power and water services, hampering efforts to maintain basic sanitation even in hospitals.
Officials say many of the cases originated in a sprawling food market known as the Maracaibo Flea Market that has long been known for its overcrowding and poor sanitation.
Bob Marley song reimagined to raise money for Unicef fund
Members of Bob Marley’s family have reimagined the late reggae star’s song One Love to raise money for Unicef’s coronavirus fund.
Tuff Gong International, the label and recording studio founded by Marley in the 1970s, and global record company Amplified Music will release the recording on July 17.
Proceeds from the song will go to Reimagine, Unicef’s global campaign to prevent the Covid-19 pandemic from becoming a lasting crisis for children.
Originally recorded in 1977 by Bob Marley And The Wailers, the new version of One Love features Marley’s daughter Cedella, son Stephen and grandson Skip, as well as musicians from conflict zones and children living in vulnerable communities.
Read more: Aftershock of Covid-19 forces millions of children into begging, child labour and early marriages
Attenborough appeals for donations to save charity behind zoos
Veteran broadcaster and naturalist David Attenborough has appealed for donations to save the conservation charity behind two leading British zoos, London and Whipsnade, which has been hammered financially by the pandemic.
The short video clip, which will air on British television on Thursday, draws attention to the scientific work of the Zoological Society of London and features images of animals both in the two zoos and their native habitats.
“The Zoological Society of London has made an outstanding contribution to conservation and our understanding of wildlife for 200 years,” said Attenborough, noting that the two zoos are home to over 20,000 animals, some of them endangered.
“The national institution is now itself at risk of extinction,” said Attenborough, 94, who is famed worldwide for his documentaries on the natural world.
The ZSL has lost vital income after the pandemic forced its zoos to close for the first time since WWII, he said, urging people to make donations via the link zsl.org/justgiving.