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Poonam Singh

Washington: The total number of global Covid-19 cases has surpassed the 74 million mark, while the deaths have surged to more than 1.64 million, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

In its latest update on Thursday, the University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed that the current global caseload and death toll stood at 74,158,470 and 1,647,873, respectively.

The US is the worst-hit country with the world's highest number of cases and deaths at 16,959,267 and 307,291, respectively, according to the CSSE.

India comes in second place in terms of cases at 9,932,547, while the country's death toll soared to 144,096.

The other countries with more than a million confirmed cases are Brazil (7,040,608), Russia (2,708,940), France (2,465,126), Turkey (1,928,165), the UK (1,918,736), Italy (1,888,144), Spain (1,773,290), Argentina (1,517,046), Colombia (1,456,599), Germany (1,407,803), Mexico (1,277,499), Poland (1,159,901) and Iran (1,131,077), the CSSE figures showed.

Brazil currently accounts for the second highest number of fatalities at 183,735.

The countries with a death toll above 20,000 are Mexico (115,769), Italy (66,537), the UK (65,618), France (59,472), Iran (52,883), Spain (48,596), Russia (47,994), Argentina (41,365), Colombia (39,560), Peru (36,754), Poland (23,914), Germany (23,865) and South Africa (23,827).

Brazil launches Covid-19 vaccination campaign

The Brazilian government has launched a campaign to raise awareness about the importance of getting vaccinated against the novel coronavirus since the country currently accounts for the world's third highest infection tally and the second largest death toll.

"Today we are launching a communication campaign in two phases," Xinhua news agency quoted Secretary of Health Surveillance Arnaldo Medeiros as saying while presenting the National Covid-19 Vaccination Plan at the presidential headquarters here on Wednesday.

The campaign aims to reassure the population about the safety of Covid-19 vaccines approved by national health regulator Anvisa, he said.

The first phase "intends to enlighten the population about the efficacy of the vaccines the country is going to use, as well as our operational capacity to distribute them", Medeiros noted.

"The second phase will occur during vaccination and will serve to summon the groups to be vaccinated to the vaccination points," he added.

Officials have designed an app that can be downloaded to smartphones for easy consultation as part of the campaign.

"You can download the application for free," said Medeiros, adding "what we want is an immunized Brazil".

The plan will prioritise some 50 million people considered to be in high-risk groups, such as the elderly and healthcare workers.

UK records another 25,161 coronavirus cases, 612 deaths

Another 25,161 people in Britain have tested positive for Covid-19, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases in the country to 1,913,277, according to official figures released on Wednesday.

The coronavirus-related deaths in Britain rose by 612 to 65,520, the data showed, Xinhua news agency reported.

Earlier on Wednesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged Britons to keep Christmas celebrations "short" and "small" to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus over the festive period.

Despite a surge in coronavirus cases, the British government has maintained its previous decision to relax restriction rules for Christmas, between December 23 to 27, allowing up to three households to get together in homes and places of worship in England.

US continues to see soaring Covid cases, hospitalisations

While the start of US Covid-19 vaccination campaign this week has brought hope to the public, cases and hospitalisations continue to soar across the country.

The US started its Covid-19 vaccine rollout nationwide on Monday as death toll of the pandemic topped 300,000.

US federal officials leading the vaccine effort said earlier this week that they expect 20 million people to get the first of two required doses by the end of the year, Xinhua reported.

Frontline health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities are the first groups to get the vaccine, based on recommendations of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The immunization campaign is expected to expand in the days ahead. In the meantime, however, the US has averaged about 211,000 new coronavirus cases every day.

On Tuesday the country reported 201,776 new cases and nearly 3,000 deaths from Covid-19, according to data updated by the CDC on Wednesday.

The country also recorded all-time high Covid-19 hospitalizations, with 112,816 cases as of Tuesday, the 10th day in a row breaking the previous day's record, according to The COVID Tracking Project.

Strained hospitals across the country continue to see a surge of patients and their available bed numbers dwindle.

(With IANS Inputs)

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