NEW YORK • The United States set a record for coronavirus cases on Saturday, with more than five million people now infected with the disease.
With one out of every 66 residents infected, the US leads the world in Covid-19 cases.
The country has recorded more than 160,000 deaths, nearly a quarter of the world's total.
The grim milestone comes as US President Donald Trump signed executive orders to provide economic relief to Americans hurt by the pandemic after the White House failed to reach a deal with Congress.
Last Friday, the US Labour Department reported that US employment growth slowed considerably last month, underscoring an urgent need for additional government aid.
Dr Anthony Fauci, the US government's top infectious disease expert, last Wednesday said there could be at least one vaccine that works and is safe by the year end.
But Mr Trump offered a more optimistic view, saying it was possible the US would have a coronavirus vaccine by the time of the Nov 3 presidential election.
Brazil, the second worst-hit nation in the pandemic, topped three million infections and 100,000 deaths on Saturday.
In Europe, infections are also rising in some countries. Ukraine yesterday reported another 1,199 new cases with 18 deaths, after a record spike of 1,489 registered infections the previous day. Neighbouring Hungary, which has depicted itself as a relatively safer zone, reported 43 new cases, the highest since May.
Germany's number of new cases fell to the lowest in a week at 707, but its reproduction factor - or R value, a lagging indicator - rose to 1.32, the highest in three weeks, meaning 100 infected people are estimated to spread the disease to about 132 others.
The authorities may again turn stricter following outbreaks among harvest workers, at a canning company, and among returning travellers.
With one out of every 66 residents infected, the US leads the world in Covid-19 cases. The country has recorded more than 160,000 deaths, nearly a quarter of the world's total.
In France, masks became mandatory outdoors from today on the busiest streets of Paris. The spread of the virus accelerated in the country last week, infecting increasingly younger people. The scientific council advising the government called on France's 20 biggest cities to prepare for a potential new wave of confinements.
Over in Iran, new cases dipped to a two-month low of 2,020, bringing total infections to 326,712. The death toll climbed to 18,427 with 163 more fatalities.
But the figures come at the end of a long weekend and public holiday in the country during which many Iranians travelled across provinces, in what could cause a surge in infections in the coming weeks.
Vietnam's health ministry yesterday reported just two new infections, down from 21 a day earlier, in an early indication that the country may have got its Danang outbreak under control.