The World Health Organization delivered a grave warning that the global pandemic is accelerating as the new daily coronavirus cases in the United States soared past 50,000 for the first time Wednesday.
Restaurants, bars and beaches in the world's worst-hit nation closed from California to Florida, as states reeling from yet another surge in the deadly virus braced for Independence Day festivities.
Global infections have hit their highest level in the past week, WHO data showed, with chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus saying new cases topped "160,000 on every single day."
Data provided by the UN health agency for the seven days from June 25-July 1 showed the highest number of new daily cases ever recorded came on June 28, when over 189,500 new cases were registered worldwide.
The grim milestone came as India's infections surpassed 600,000 yesterday, with 17,834 deaths, as authorities battled to contain the pandemic while easing lockdown rules, officials and the health ministry said.
WHO's Middle East head, Ahmed al-Mandhari, said in an online press conference that the region was at a decisive moment in the fight against the coronavirus, with cases surging as countries ease lockdown measures, reports AFP.
"We are at a critical threshold in our region," he said. According to figures published by the global health body on Wednesday, the 22 countries from Morocco to Pakistan had recorded 1,077,706 novel coronavirus cases and 24,973 deaths.
Over 80 percent of all deaths in the Mideast were reported in five countries -- Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia -- according to the WHO.
With more than 52,000 new Covid-19 cases in the United States alone in the past 24 hours, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally, several US states imposed 14-day quarantines on visitors in the buildup to the long weekend's July 4 celebrations.
President Donald Trump reiterated his belief that the contagion will "at some point... sort of just disappear, I hope."
And Brazil -- which has suffered the most deaths globally for the last week, and is the second-worst affected country overall -- was excluded entirely. It topped 60,000 total fatalities Wednesday, after suffering 1,000 deaths in just 24 hours.
The European Union hopes relaxing restrictions on countries from Algeria to Uruguay will breathe life into its tourism sector, choked by a ban on non-essential travel since mid-March.
According to the United Nations, the coronavirus crisis could cost global tourism and related sectors from $1.2 to $3.3 trillion in lost revenue.