World records as many cases in one week as first five months of pandemic

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The pictures tell one side of the world’s struggle against COVID-19, with images of patients dying outside hospitals, and crematoriums and graveyards full, with no more room for the dead.

The statistics tell an equally sobering story, more than 16 months on from the first case of coronavirus.

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According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there were as many new infections of COVID-19 globally last week as there were during the entire first five months of the pandemic.

For nine weeks in a row, the number of cases worldwide has reached a new high and for six weeks in a row the number of deaths has eclipsed the week prior.

Second, third and fourth waves of the virus in countries like India, Brazil and Iran are contributing heavily towards those grim figures. India in particular has seen its healthcare system collapse under the weight of infections as patients are turned away from hospitals because of oxygen shortages.

But as the world watches on and help flows to countries most in need, there are a number of new hotspots worth paying attention to including Canada, Sri Lanka and Turkey.

Alarm bells ringing in densely populated Sri Lanka

India is not the only South Asian nation where COVID-19 breakouts have caused panic and chaos.

In Sri Lanka daily infections hit a record on Saturday, with authorities imposing further curbs on movement and activities in parts of the island nation.

The sharp rise in cases has prompted authorities to ban public gatherings and lock down several areas from Sunday.

The number of daily infections, which remained at a couple of hundred just before the traditional new year on April 14, has shot up to a record 1699 as of Saturday.

Since the Sinhala and Tamil New Year, Sri Lanka has reported 89 virus deaths, bringing the country’s toll to 687.

“We could face an India-type crisis very soon unless we arrest the current trend of infections,” said chief epidemiologist Sudath Samaraweera.

A charity cricket match in Sri Lanka aimed at raising money to help fight the coronavirus pandemic was cancelled on Sunday as a former Test captain tested positive, the country’s governing body for the sport said.

But the country is going ahead with the two-match Test series against Bangladesh without spectators.

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