Biggest daily increases in coronavirus cases recorded worldwide over weekend

People wearing face masks to help protect against the spread of the coronavirus in South Korea Credit: Ahn Young-joon/AP/PA

The world saw the largest daily increases yet in coronavirus cases over the weekend - with more than 183,000 cases in 24 hours.

Despite clear progress in containing the virus in some regions, especially those that saw early outbreaks, globally the number of new virus cases has soared in recent days.

In Brazil, Iraq, India and the United States, hospitals are scrambling to cope.

Nearly nine million people have been infected and more than 468,000 people have died, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

On Sunday, the World Health Organisation reported the largest single-day increase in coronavirus cases by its count, at more than 183,000 new cases in the latest 24 hours.

Brazil tallied 54,771 and the US was next at 36,617, the UN health agency said. India reported more than 15,400.

Experts say the actual numbers are much higher, given limits to testing and the presumed large share of asymptomatic cases.

Meanwhile infections slowed in China and South Korea, suggesting progress in stemming their newest outbreaks.

Credit: PA Graphics

In a grim reminder of the pandemic’s ubiquitous reach, Philippine officials said on Monday that Saudi Arabia’s king had asked that the remains of 282 Filipino workers who perished in recent months in the oil-rich kingdom be repatriated within three days.

They died of varied causes but virus restrictions have delayed the repatriations.

Labour Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the Philippine government asked that a deadline be extended and that the bodies of about 50 Filipinos who died of Covid-19 be buried in Saudi Arabia.

The Philippines has reported more than 30,000 infections and 1,169 deaths, among the highest in south-east Asia, and is struggling to help bring home tens of thousands of Filipinos who have lost their work worldwide due to coronavirus lockdowns and economic downturns.

In Iraq, masked workers were setting up makeshift coronavirus wards in Baghdad’s vast exhibition grounds as a long-dreaded spike in infections strained its overstretched hospitals, battered by years of conflict and poor infrastructure.

Workers set up a field hospital to treat patients with Covid-19 in Baghdad, Iraq. Credit: AP

Even in Germany, where efforts to minimise the spread have been largely successful, the R number has shot up to 2.88 on Sunday - up from 1.79 just a day previously.

This figure is based on a four-day average, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), and is mainly related to local outbreaks.

The RKI pinpoints the outbreak in northern Germany, where the number of workers infected in a coronavirus outbreak at a slaughterhouse recently rose to 1,029.

"Since case numbers in Germany are generally low, these local outbreaks have a relatively strong influence on the value of the Covid-19," the RKI stated in its daily report.

"Further developments need to be monitored closely during the upcoming days, especially in regard to whether case numbers are increasing outside of outbreak contexts."

Outbreaks have also been reported in meat factories in the UK, with 158 members of staff at a poultry preparation factory in Anglesey, Wales testing positive.

An outbreak has been confirmed at a Yorkshire meat factory in Kirklees, owned by Asda.

An outbreak has been reported at a meat factor in Germany. Credit: AP

Experts say rising cases globally reflect multiple factors including more testing and spreading infections.

More than two-thirds of the new deaths were reported in the Americas.

Still, in east Asia there were signs of progress as South Korea reported 17 new cases, the first time its daily increase fell to under 20 in nearly a month.

The country has been reporting 40 to 50 new cases per day in the past few weeks, amid increased public activity, eased attitudes on social distancing and an uptick in imported cases.

Elsewhere in Asia, Beijing’s increase was in single digits for the first time in eight days. It reported nine cases.

Even in New Zealand, which earlier said it had eliminated local transmissions of the virus, two new cases were reported on Monday among infected people arriving from India and Pakistan.

The country of five million people now has nine active cases after having none at all earlier this month.