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3,656 deaths: US hits daily record for COVID cases, hospitalizations, fatalities

Europe becomes world’s first region to pass 500,000 virus deaths, joining US as epicenter of pandemic again

Dr. Thuan Ong, center, speaks about his coronavirus patients before receiving a COVID-19 vaccination in Seattle, Washington, December 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Dr. Thuan Ong, center, speaks about his coronavirus patients before receiving a COVID-19 vaccination in Seattle, Washington, December 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

The US has once again broken its record for the most COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths in a single day.

The US recorded more than 234,000 new cases on Wednesday, surpassing the previous record of 233,133 cases recorded last Friday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

The nation also recorded 3,656 deaths on Wednesday, surpassing the previous record of 3,306 set Friday. The total death toll in the US stood at more than 307,500 people, according to the Johns Hopkins data.

The number of hospitalizations continued to surpass the figure from the previous day, with 113,090  patients hospitalized for COVID-19 on Wednesday. This included another record of 21,936 patients in intensive care.

Meanwhile, Europe became the first region in the world on Thursday to pass the milestone of 500,000 coronavirus deaths, according to an AFP tally based on official sources.

The 52 countries and territories of the European region counted at least 500,069 deaths — ahead of Latin America and the Caribbean on 477,404, the United States and Canada (321,287), Asia (208,149), the Middle East (85,895) and Africa (57,423).

Medical workers in a COVID-19 intensive care unit in Tuscany, Italy, December 17, 2020. (Alberto Pizzoli/AFP)

Europe has once again become the epicenter of the pandemic since October — alongside the United States — after having already been the focus of global attention in March and April.

Almost 37,000 people have died in Europe over the past seven days, the highest weekly toll since the start of the pandemic.

On Tuesday, 6,800 deaths were recorded in 24 hours — the highest-ever figure.

Five countries account for more than half of the deaths in Europe: Italy (66,537 deaths), the United Kingdom (65,520), France (59,361), Russia (49,151) and Spain (48,596).

Belgium remains the country with the highest number of deaths in relation to its population, with 158 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, followed by Italy (110), Bosnia-Herzegovina (107), Slovenia and Northern Macedonia (105).

The European countries with the most new deaths over the last seven days are Italy (4,798 deaths), Russia (3,846), Germany (3,495), the United Kingdom (2,954), Poland (2,754) and France (2,713).

However, the spread seems now to be slowing: the average number of new daily cases is almost stable compared to the previous week.

The grim milestone in Europe comes a day after the World Health Organization warned of a “high risk” of a resurgence in the region at the beginning of 2021.

Worldwide, at least 1.65 million people have died from COVID-19 and more than 74 million cases have been diagnosed, according to AFP’s count.

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