Global coronavirus cases are expected to tip over 10 million on Sunday, marking a major milestone in the spread of the disease that has so far killed almost 500,000 people in seven months.
The figure is roughly double the number of severe influenza illnesses recorded annually, according to the World Health Organisation.
The milestone approaches as many hard-hit countries are easing lockdowns, while making extensive alterations to work and social life that could last for a year or more until a vaccine becomes available, if it ever does.
Some countries are experiencing a resurgence in infections, including the United States, which reported 44,000 news cases to 4pm Friday, its biggest daily increase in the pandemic. Its previous biggest increase was on Thursday, when it recorded 40,000 cases.
Lockdowns have been reinstated in several countries, including parts of the US. Texas – one of the earliest states to return to business – reimposed some restrictions. Bars – which were open at up to 50% capacity – must close again, restaurants must reduce from 75% to 50% capacity and rafting operations must close. Harris County, which includes Houston, moved to its highest Covid-19 threat level, signalling a “severe and uncontrolled” outbreak.