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 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.
As deaths from the virus passed 51,000 globally, despite almost half of humanity living in some form of lockdown, teaching hospitals from Sweden to Italy said that unless countries cooperated to ensure a steady supply, the critically ill would soon be deprived of essential medicines.
Hospitals needed protective gear and ventilators but also drugs to treat intensive care patients, the European University Hospital Alliance said in a letter to governments. Stocks of muscle relaxants, sedatives and painkillers were likely to run out in two days at the hardest-hit hospitals and in two weeks at others, they said.
"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 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.
The head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said on Thursday that there had been a "near exponential growth" in new cases.
The secretary general of the United Nations, António Guterres, called for a global and coordinated response to the pandemic. "Only by coming together will we be able to face down the Covid-19 pandemic and its shattering consequences," Guterres wrote in the Guardian, saying the world faced a challenge of unprecedented magnitude.
France reported 471 hospital deaths in past 24 hours, a slight fall on previous days, but announced that 884 people had died in old people's homes since the crisis began, bringing its total tally to 5,307.
Vladimir Putin ordered most Russians to stay away from their workplaces until the end of the month.
Australia announced free childcare for six months to help keep businesses operating, as data on new infections suggested its infection rate was falling.
Rodrigo Duterte, president of the Philippines, told security forces they should shoot dead anyone causing "trouble" in locked-down areas.
Police in France have carried out 5.8m checks and issued 359,000 fines to people breaking confinement rules, the interior minister, Christophe Castaner, said.
France called for hundreds of billions of dollars in aid and a debt moratorium for developing countries, particularly in Africa, to help them deal with crisis.
The pro-independence leader of Catalonia, the region of Spain hardest hit by the coronavirus after Madrid, has sought help from the Spanish army.
The consequences for the global economy have been dramatic. The US announced on Thursday that 6.65 million workers had filed for unemployment benefits last week, double the number registered the previous week and by far the highest ever recorded. Economists have said US job losses could surge to the previously unimaginable range of between 10 and 20 million in April.
Spain also reported its biggest ever monthly increase in unemployment, registering a jump of 302,265 in jobless claims last month after imposing its nationwide lockdown on 14 March. The French finance minister, Bruno Le Maire, urged European countries to "go further and act more strongly" to help each other's economies recover.
The president of the European commission, Ursula von der Leyen, told Italy in an open letter published in La Repubblica newspaper that EU member states were ready to help it deal with the crisis after initially focusing on "their own home problems".
The commission proposed a bloc-wide guarantee that could raise 100bn euros to aid national unemployment schemes.