US coronavirus deaths increased by more than 25,000 in July and cases doubled in 19 states during the month, according to official figures, dealing a crushing blow to hopes of quickly reopening the economy.
The US recorded about 1.9 million new cases in July, bringing the number of infections to 4.5 million, for an increase of 69 per cent. Deaths in July increased by 20 per cent to nearly 154,000.
The biggest increases were in Florida, with more than 310,000 new cases, followed by California and Texas with about 260,000 each. Cases in all three states doubled in June.
Cases also more than doubled in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia, according to the tally.
Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York had the lowest increases, with cases increasing by 8 per cent or less.
The US shattered single-day global records when it reported more than 77,000 new cases on July 16. During July, 33 US states had one-day record increases in cases and 19 set records for their increase in deaths in 24 hours.
After a rapid acceleration in cases, the outbreak appears to be stabilising in Arizona, Florida and Texas. Health officials are now concerned the outbreak has migrated to the Midwest because of summer travel.
The news that more states could be hard hit by the virus comes a day after the US reported that gross domestic product collapsed at a 32.9 per cent annualised rate in the second quarter, the nation's worst economic performance since the Great Depression.
In Europe, fears of a second wave of the pandemic have caused British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to postpone planned measures to ease the country’s lockdown as coronavirus cases began to the rise for the first time since May.
The government is scrapping plans to allow venues such as casinos, bowling alleys and skating rinks to open from Saturday. A plan to allow a limited number of fans back into sports stadiums is on hold.
Mr Johnson said the measures will be reviewed after two weeks.
He said a rule requiring face coverings worn in shops and on public transit will be extended to museums, galleries, cinemas and places of worship, warning that he would come down hard on employers who did not make workplaces Covid-secure.
In Italy, which had Europe’s worst early outbreak of the virus, the president called on people to behave responsibly. The right to freedom doesn't mean people have the 'right' to behave in a way that spreads coronavirus and causes others to fall ill, President Sergio Mattarella said on Friday.
"Learning to live with the virus until there is a vaccine does not mean behaving as if the virus has disappeared, " he added.
In South Korea, which has been praised for its effective handling of the pandemic, the elderly leader of a secretive sect at the centre of the country's coronavirus outbreak was arrested on Saturday for allegedly hindering the government's effort to contain the epidemic.
Lee Man-hee, 88, head of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, is accused of giving inaccurate records of church gatherings and false lists of its members to health authorities.
Meanwhile, doctors in the Philippines have called on the government to impose a strict lockdown in the capital Manila to support the struggling health system after the World Health Organisation recorded a record daily rise in coronavirus cases on Friday.