WASHINGTON, D.C.: The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported the largest single-day increase in coronavirus cases, as United States President Donald Trump proposed hosting world leaders for the annual Group of Seven (G7) summit as a sign of “normalization.”
The WHO said on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila) that more than 106,000 virus cases had been reported — the most in a single day since the outbreak erupted in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December.
The United Nations body’s chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said he was “very concerned” about the situation in low- and middle-income nations.
Latin America has seen infections surge in recent days and, in some cases, countries have reinstated lockdown measures that had been eased.
Brazil has been hardest hit, logging the third highest number of cases in the world. Peru, Mexico and Chile have also seen steady increases in infections.
Health officials in Brazil reported 1,179 new coronavirus deaths in a single day, although far-right President Jair Bolsonaro remains bitterly opposed to lockdowns, having described them as unnecessary over a “little flu.”
With the outbreak in the world’s sixth largest country expected to accelerate until early June, Bolsonaro has refused to accept experts’ advice, pressing regional governors to end stay-at-home measures.
Like Trump, he has promoted the use of anti-malaria drugs against the virus despite studies showing they have no benefit and could have dangerous side effects.
Trump, determined to reignite the troubled US economy ahead of his reelection bid in November, on Wednesday said the country was “Transitioning back to Greatness” and announced he could host June’s G7 summit at a presidential retreat, instead of holding it as a virtual gathering.
“I am considering rescheduling the G7, on the same or similar date, in Washington, D.C., at the legendary Camp David,” he said on Twitter.
G7 countries — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the US — take turns organizing the annual summit.
French President Emmanuel Macron’s office said he would attend if “health conditions allow,” while German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she would “wait and see what happens.”
With a global death toll of more than 325,000 and nearly 5 million people infected, governments around the world are desperately hoping for a vaccine that would allow them to dispense with the lockdowns that have hammered their economies.
There was encouraging news on that front Wednesday, as experiments on monkeys offered hope that humans can develop immunity to the virus.
Researchers reported progress from one study that looked at a prototype vaccine and another on whether infection with coronavirus confers protection against reexposure.
“We demonstrate in rhesus macaques that prototype vaccines protected against SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) infection and that SARS-CoV-2 infection protected against re-exposure,” said senior author Dan Barouch of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.