Coronavirus worldwide tally reaches more than 40 million

Fall surge of COVID-19 has arrived, doctors say

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases around the world surpassed 40 million Monday, according to Johns Hopkins University of Medicine.

More than 1.1 million confirmed virus deaths have been reported. The U.S., India and Brazil are reporting by far the highest numbers of cases — 8.1 million, 7.5 million and 5.2 million, respectively — although the global increase in recent weeks has been driven by a surge in Europe, which has seen more than 240,000 confirmed virus deaths in the pandemic so far.

Last week, the World Health Organization said Europe reported a record weekly high of nearly 700,000 cases and said the region was responsible for about one-third of cases globally. Britain, France, Russia and Spain account for about half of all new cases in the region, and countries including Belgium and the Czech Republic are facing more intense outbreaks now than they did in the spring.

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WHO said the new measures being taken across Europe are “absolutely essential” in stopping COVID-19 from overwhelming its hospitals. Those include new requirements on mask-wearing in Italy and Switzerland, closing schools in Northern Ireland and the Czech Republic, closing restaurants and bars in Belgium, implementing a 9 p.m. curfew in France and having targeted limited lockdowns in parts of the U.K.

The agency said several European cities could soon see their intensive care units overwhelmed and warned that governments and citizens should take all necessary measures to slow the spread of the virus, including bolstering testing and contact tracing, wearing face masks and following social distancing measures.

WHO has previously estimated about 1 in 10 of the world’s population — about 780 million people — have been infected with COVID-19, more than 20 times the official number of cases. That suggests most of the world’s population is still susceptible to the virus.

The U.N. health agency said it hopes there might be enough data to determine if any of the COVID-19 vaccines now being tested are effective by the end of the year. But it warned that first-generation vaccines are unlikely to provide complete protection and that it could take at least two years to bring the pandemic under control.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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