More than five million people worldwide have contracted the coronavirus, according to data compiled by The New York Times.
That figure is just one measure of the pandemic’s global toll. Its persistent rise — the number passed four million less than two weeks ago — reflects not just pathogen’s pernicious spread but also increases in testing.
The average number of daily new cases worldwide over the past week was more than 91,000, higher than ever, even as the average weekly number of fatalities has been decreasing. All told, more than 329,000 people have died.
The case count has been fueled in part by the still-growing number of infections in the United States, which has the largest number in the world, and far-reaching outbreaks in large countries like Russia and Brazil. Countries in South America, including Chile, Colombia and Peru, are reporting increases in cases, and some nations around the world are seeing their tallies of confirmed infections double every week or two.
Even with the increases, the total numbers of infections and deaths, representing cases in at least 177 countries, are virtually certain to be undercounts because of flawed screenings, political denial and asymptomatic patients who can spread the virus.
Still, there is reason for guarded optimism in some regions. Conditions appear to be improving, or at least stabilizing, in parts of Western Europe and the United States, and some governments were cautiously easing lockdown restrictions.
Denmark, for instance, has taken steps toward normalcy and reported decreasing numbers of new cases. Some of the most devastated countries in Europe, including France, Italy and the United Kingdom, have also reported improving figures.
The grave economic damage of the pandemic and the resulting lockdowns is also coming into focus. On Thursday, the United States reported that another 2.4 million people had filed for unemployment benefits last week, bringing the country’s nine-week total to more than 38 million. One country after another has declared itself in recession.