June 15, 2020 / 11:01 PM / a month ago

Global coronavirus cases reach over 8 million as outbreak expands in Latin America

FILE PHOTO: A woman carries a bag after shopping as the city hall eases restrictions and allows commerce to open amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, June 11, 2020. REUTERS/Amanda Perobelli/File Photo

(Reuters) - Global cases of the novel coronavirus reached over 8 million on Monday, as infections surge in Latin America and the United States and China grapple with fresh outbreaks.

The United States still leads the world with the highest number of infections, about 2 million or 25% of all reported cases. However, the outbreak is growing fastest in Latin America, which now accounts for 21% of all cases, according to a Reuters tally.

Brazil’s COVID-19 cases and deaths have surged to make it the No.2 hot spot in the world.

The first case was reported in China in early January and it took until early May to reach 4 million cases. It has taken just five weeks to double to 8 million cases, according to a Reuters tally.

Global deaths stand at over 434,000 and have doubled in seven weeks.

Although Brazil’s official death toll from the pandemic has risen to nearly 44,000, the true impact is likely far greater than the data show, health experts said, citing a lack of widespread testing in Latin America’s largest country.

In the United States, which has over 116,000 deaths, testing is still ramping up months after the start of the outbreak.

After cases declined in much of the United States for weeks, many areas are now reporting record new cases and hospitalizations. Fears of a second wave in hard-hit states - or a failure to get a grip on the first wave in some others - have led health experts to plead with the public to wear masks, avoid large gatherings and maintain social distance.

China is also grappling with a resurgence of the virus just as its economy is trying to recover from shutdowns earlier this year. After nearly two months with no new infections, the capital Beijing has seen a spike in cases linked to the biggest wholesale food market in Asia.

Reporting by Christine Chan in New York; Writing by Lisa Shumaker; Editing by David Gregorio and Grant McCool

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