Confirmed cases of Covid-19 around the world have passed more than a million as the disease continued to surge in the US and top teaching hospitals across Europe warned that they would run out of vital drugs for intensive care patients within two weeks.
According to a tally by Johns Hopkins University released on Thursday, at least 1,000,036 infections have been recorded after cases doubled in the past eight days. It took 75 days to log the first 500,000 cases around the world.
Around 22% of total cases were reported in the United States, while Italy and Spain have each reported 11% of global cases. China, where the virus emerged in December, accounts for 8% of total cases.
The global fatality rate has now risen above 5% of all reported cases, with the UK, the US and Spain among countries reporting a spike in fatalities in recent days.
“It is extremely worrying that overworked and often less experienced nurses and doctors in training, drafted to fill the gaps, have to use products and dosages that they are not used to,” the group wrote on behalf of hospitals in Austria, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden and Spain.
Spain, which has reported the highest number of deaths in the world after Italy, posted another record single-day death toll of 950, and a total of 110,238 cases. It said, however, that the rates of new infections and deaths continued a downward trend.
The data showed that the curve had stabilised and the epidemic had entered a “slowdown” phase, said the health minister, Salvador Illa, reporting an 8% increase in new cases from Wednesday to Thursday – consistent with recent days, and well down on the first half of March, when cases were increasing by about 20% a day.
The infection rate in Italy, which on Thursday reported 760 new deaths, bringing its total to 13,915, and a total of 115,242 cases including deaths, recovered and current cases, has also slowed. The number of new daily cases is now rising by about 3% compared with highs of 15% during the early phase of the emergency.
The US now accounts for almost a quarter of reported global infections. “We’re going to have a couple of weeks, starting pretty much now, but especially a few days from now, that are going to be horrific,” said Donald Trump, who was criticised for initially playing down the virus but has stepped up containment efforts in recent days.
According to the Johns Hopkins University tracker, the coronavirus pandemic has infected more than 980,000 people and killed more than 50,000. The head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said on Thursday that there had been a “near exponential growth” in new cases.