Reuters

The World Health Organization reported a record increase in global coronavirus cases on Friday, with the total rising by 292,527.

The biggest increases were from the United States, Brazil, India and South Africa, according to a daily report. Deaths rose by 6,812. The four countries have dominated global headlines with large outbreaks. 

Coronavirus testing India Kolkata

A healthcare worker wearing personal protective equipment takes swab from a woman to test for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Kolkata, India, on 23rd July. PICTURE: Reuters/Rupak De Chowdhuri

The previous WHO record for new cases was 284,196 on 24th July. Deaths rose by 9,753 on 24th July, the second largest one-day increase ever. Deaths have been averaging 5,200 a day in July, up from an average of 4,600 a day in June.

Nearly 40 countries have reported record single-day increases in coronavirus infections over the last week, around double the number that did so the previous week, according to a Reuters tally showing a pick-up in the pandemic in every region of the world. 

Cases have been on the rise also in Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, Bolivia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Bulgaria, Belgium, Uzbekistan and Israel, among others.

Last week, cases in Latin America for the first time surpassed the combined infections in the United States and Canada, a Reuters tally showed. Infections are surging in Brazil, which is second in the world behind the United States in cases and deaths. 

Globally there are over 17.4 million infections and nearly 675,000 deaths, according to a Reuters tally.

On Friday, World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that the global coronavirus outbreak is the sort of disaster whose effects will last far into the future.

"The pandemic is a once-in-a-century health crisis, the effects of which will be felt for decades to come," Tedros told a meeting of the WHO's emergency committee, according to remarks released by the agency.

The pandemic has killed more than 670,000 people since emerging in Wuhan, China, with more than 17 million cases diagnosed. 

The United States, Brazil, Mexico and Britain have been particularly hard hit in recent weeks by the disease COVID-19, as their governments have struggled to come up with an effective response.

Economies have been been hit by lockdown restrictions introduced to restrict its spread, while many regions are fearful of a second wave.

Meanwhile, more than around 150 pharmaceutical companies are working on vaccines, although their first use cannot be expected until early 2021, the World Health Organization said last week

Although knowledge about the new virus has advanced, many questions remained unanswered and populations remain vulnerable, Tedros said on Friday.

"Early results from serology [antibody] studies are painting a consistent picture: most of the world’s people remain susceptible to this virus, even in areas that have experienced severe outbreaks," he said.

"Many countries that believed they were past the worst are now grappling with new outbreaks. Some that were less affected in the earliest weeks are now seeing escalating numbers of cases and deaths."

- with CECILE MANTOVANI, Geneva, Switzerland.