Coronavirus infections in India soared past five million on Wednesday, as a WHO envoy warned the pandemic was "still at the beginning".
Global cases are rapidly approaching 30 million, with more than 935,000 known Covid-19 deaths, the global economy devastated and nations struggling to contain outbreaks.
India, home to 1.3 billion people, has reported some of the highest daily case jumps in the world recently, as a World Health Organisation special envoy described the global pandemic situation as "horrible" and "grotesque".
"It's much worse than any of the science fiction about pandemics," David Nabarro told British MPs on Tuesday.
"This is really serious – we're not even in the middle of it yet. We're still at the beginning of it."
The spread of the virus has accelerated in some of the most populous parts of the world such as India, where the latest million infections were detected over just 11 days.
And some experts have warned that the total number of cases could be far higher in the vast nation, which has been easing one of the world's strictest lockdowns recently despite the surge to help its reeling economy.
"People have lost their fear or are too tired (of) being cautious. They want to be out and earn a living right now," said Jayant Surana, a New Delhi-based entrepreneur. "Everything has now been left to god's will."
The United States remains the worst-hit nation in the world in terms of both infections and deaths.
Many European countries had started to ease their restrictions after largely bringing outbreaks under control, but are faced with worrying spikes in infections again.
Denmark on Tuesday announced new restrictions, including shorter hours for bars and restaurants, new face mask requirements, and reduced crowds at football matches.
Referring to Europe, WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan warned it was time to "stop looking for unicorns" and take hard decisions to protect the most vulnerable with a potentially deadly winter approaching.
That came as airlines ramped up pressure on the European Union to coordinate virus measures, demanding an end to quarantine "chaos" and access to reliable and quick testing. (AFP)
India's cases surge in 'worse than sci-fi' pandemic
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