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Poonam Singh

Washington: The total number of global COVID-19 cases has topped 72.2 million, while the deaths have surged to more than 1.61 million, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

The University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed that the current global caseload and death toll stood at 72,201,716 and 1,611,758, respectively, in its latest update on Monday.

The US is the worst-hit country with the world's highest number of cases and deaths at 16,246,771 and 299,163, respectively, according to the CSSE.

India comes in second place in terms of cases at 9,857,029, while the country's death toll soared to 143,019.

The other countries with more than a million confirmed cases are Brazil (6,901,952), Russia (2,629,699), France (2,430,612), the UK (1,854,490), Italy (1,843,712), Turkey (1,836,728), Spain (1,730,575), Argentina (1,498,160), Colombia (1,425,774), Germany (1,338,491), Mexico (1,250,044), Poland (1,135,676) and Iran (1,108,269), the CSSE figures showed.

Brazil currently accounts for the second highest number of fatalities at 181,402.

The countries with a death toll above 20,000 are Mexico (113,953), Italy (64,520), the UK (64,267), France (58,015), Iran (52,196), Spain (47,624), Russia (46,404), Argentina (40,766), Colombia (39,053), Peru (36,544), South Africa (23,276), Poland (22,864) and Germany (21,935).

Covid death toll in Africa nears 56k; cases top 2.36mn

The death toll from the Covid-19 pandemic in the African continent has reached 55,989, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said.

The Africa CDC said that the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Africa has reached 2,361,271 as of Sunday afternoon, Xinhua news agency reported.

A total of 2,004,985 people infected with Covid-19 have recovered across the continent so far, according to the continental disease control and prevention agency.

The most affected African countries in terms of the number of positive cases include South Africa, Morocco, and Egypt, figures from the Africa CDC showed.

The southern Africa region is the most affected region both in terms of the number of confirmed positive cases as well as the number of deaths, it was noted.

The Northern Africa region is the second most affected region, according to the Africa CDC.

South Africa currently has the most Covid-19 cases, which hit 852,965. The country also has the highest number of deaths related to Covid-19, at 23,106.

Morocco comes next with 397,597 confirmed cases and 6,589 deaths, followed by Egypt with 121,089 confirmed cases and 6,898 deaths, the Africa CDC said.

France sees slowdown in new Covid cases

Another 11,533 people in France tested positive for Covid-19 in a 24-hour span, the lowest daily tally this week, while more patients were admitted to hospital, ending a week-long decline in coronavirus-related hospitalisation, official data showed on Sunday.

The number of daily new infections fell by 2,414 compared to Saturday. France's cumulative number of confirmed Covid-19 cases now stands at nearly 2.38 million, Xinhua news agency reported.

Another 150 people died from the disease in the 24 hours, bringing the total fatalities in France to 57,911 since the beginning of the pandemic, official data showed.

After reporting a downtrend since mid-November, the number of Covid-19 patients in hospital increased by 259 to 25,239, including 2,871 serious cases that need life support, a single-day rise of 10.

On Tuesday (December 15), France is expected to enter the second phase of easing lockdown rules. A curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. will replace the country-wide confinement introduced in late October.

Russia adds 28,080 new Covid-19 cases

Russia has recorded 28,080 more Covid-19 cases over the past 24 hours, slightly down from 28,137 a day earlier, the country's coronavirus response centre said on Sunday.

The national tally of Covid-19 cases has increased to 2,653,928, including 46,941 deaths and 2,106,235 recoveries, the centre said, Xinhua news agency reported.

Moscow, the country's worst-hit region, reported 6,425 new cases over the past day, bringing the city's total to 692,210.

Over 82.6 million Covid-19 tests have been conducted across the country.

A large-scale vaccination programme has been carried out for over a week in Moscow, and the rest of the country has made preparations for mass injections.

UK records another 18,447 Covid cases with 144 deaths

Another 18,447 people in Britain have tested positive for Covid-19, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases in the country to 1,849,403, according to official figures released on Sunday.

The coronavirus-related deaths in Britain rose by 144 to 64,170, the data showed, Xinhua news agency reported.

Earlier Sunday, NHS (National Health Service) Providers, which represents health trusts in England, urged British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a letter to exercise "extreme caution" when reviewing the coronavirus tiers system.

NHS chiefs said that areas which need to be moved into the highest Tier 3 should be done so "as soon as this is needed, without any delay".

Germany to impose stricter lockdown as Covid cases rise

many will go into stricter lockdown from Wednesday, closing non-essential shops and limiting the size of private gatherings, Chancellor Angela Merkel and regional leaders agreed on Sunday.

The tighter restrictive measures, which will be effective until January 10, were in response to an "exponential growth" in the number of Covid-19 cases in Germany, according to a policy paper, Xinhua news agency reported.

"Today is the day to do what is necessary," Merkel told journalists in Berlin on Sunday.

Starting from Wednesday, most retail stores will be closed except for those covering daily or holiday needs, such as supermarkets, pharmacies, banks and Christmas tree shops. Schools and daycare centres will also be closed. Companies will be asked to take work-from-home solutions.

Private gatherings will be limited to a maximum of five people from two households, excluding children up to the age of 14. From December 24 to 26, meetings with another four people who go beyond one's own household but from the closest family circle should be permitted.

There will be a nationwide ban on fireworks sales and public outdoor gatherings on New Year's Eve. Drinking alcoholic beverages in public places will also be prohibited.

(With IANS Inputs)

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