Asia surpassed 10 million Covid-19 cases on Saturday, the second biggest regional tally in the world. In another grim milestone, the US broke its daily record for new coronavirus infections on Friday, reporting 84,218 new cases due to outbreaks in virtually every part of the country.

Behind only Latin America, Asia accounts for about one-fourth of the global caseload of 42.1 million of the virus. With over 163,000 deaths, the region accounts for some 14% of the global Covid-19 toll.

Within the region, South Asia led by India is the worst affected, with nearly 21% of the reported global coronavirus cases and 12% of deaths. This contrasts with countries like China and New Zealand that have crushed infections and Japan.

Bangladesh is Asia’s second worst-hit country, with nearly 400,000 cases. But daily infections have slowed to 1,453, less than 40% of the July peak.

In the US, the spike in cases comes less than two weeks before the election on November 3 and is hitting battleground states such as Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. On Thursday, the US reported a near-record 76,195 new cases.

The previous record was 77,299 new cases on July 16. At the time, hospitalisations for Covid-19 patients hit 47,000 and two weeks later deaths rose to an average of 1,200 per day.

Earlier, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned of an “exponential” rise in infections threatening health systems’ ability to cope. WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said “too many countries are seeing an exponential increase in Covid-19 cases and that is now leading to hospitals and intensive care units running close to or above capacity – and we’re still only in October”.

Expect to live with Covid till mid-2021, says Macron

France will have to live with the coronavirus at least until next summer, President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday.

Macron said there were no plans at this stage to reduce curfews aimed at preventing the virus spreading. “When I listen to scientists I see that projections are for at best until next summer,” he said, adding it was too early to say if France was headed towards lockdowns.

France reported 41,622 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday and will break through the 1,000,000 cumulative tally on Friday.

Poland’s president tests positive for coronavirus

Poland’s President Andrzej Duda has tested positive for coronavirus but is feeling well, his spokesman said on Saturday. Duda’s diagnosis comes amid a huge surge in confirmed new cases of Covid-19 and virus-related deaths in Poland, a nation that saw only very low infection rates in the spring.

His spokesman, Blazej Spychalski, said on Twitter that the 48-year-old conservative leader was tested the day before and his result was positive. He said the president is in isolation.

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