The number of reported coronavirus cases topped 25 million worldwide Sunday, according to Johns Hopkins University data, as India registered a record 78,761 new cases in the previous 24 hours — the highest single-day spike in the world since the pandemic began.
India, the world's second-most populous country, exceeded the 77,299 cases recorded in the United States on July 16, a tally of official data by Reuters showed. With around 3.54 million recorded infections, India, a country of around 1.3 billion people, is behind only the U.S. and Brazil in the total number of cases, and it now has the fastest-growing daily coronavirus caseload in the world.
Globally, the somber milestone of 25,009,250 cases was reached Sunday, according to the Johns Hopkins data. More than 840,000 people worldwide have died from the virus.
But despite surging case numbers in India, the government has been pushing for a return to normalcy to lessen the economic pain of the pandemic after a strict lockdown imposed in March.
The country will reopen underground train networks and allow sports and religious events in a limited manner beginning next month.
Meanwhile, in South Korea, which was praised for its early handling of the pandemic, a countrywide lockdown is back on the cards as infections continue to spike.
On Sunday, it reported its 17th consecutive day of triple-digit rises in coronavirus infections, but the 299 new infections was the lowest number of new daily cases in four days since a spike of 441 cases on Thursday.
To stave off the outbreak, the country has strengthened its social distancing rules until at least Sept. 8, after which the government will re-evaluate to decide whether it needs to ramp up the measures even further.
Health Minister Park Neung Hoo said Saturday that elevating restrictions to level 3, the highest level of social distancing, would be the country's "last card," as it would result in "tremendous damage" to the livelihoods of South Koreans.
Jeong Eun Kyung, the head of the country's centers for disease control, has also warned that failing to curb and control the virus would lead to a "massive scale pandemic" in South Korea.
France is also dealing with what its health ministry described as "exponential" progression of the epidemic following a spike Friday, when the country registered its highest number of cases since March.
On Saturday, the health ministry reported 5,453 new cases, a significant drop from the 7,379 it reported Friday.
The spike came as the world's greatest cycling race, the Tour de France, kicked off in Nice on Saturday.
Under new rules, entire teams can be excluded from the race if two riders from the same outfit test positive within seven days. Fans have also been told not to approach riders for selfies and to always wear masks.
A day earlier, authorities in Paris mandated that face coverings must be worn in all public places in the city.