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Coronavirus: Death toll passes 100,000 in the US, cases surge in India and signs of a second wave in South Korea

The once-unthinkable milestone in the US means more Americans have died with the virus than were killed in the Vietnam and Korean wars combined.
Nick Perry, Associated Press

The death toll from coronavirus has risen above 100,000 in the US, while there were also record numbers getting sick in India and worrying signs of a resurgence in South Korea.

The once-unthinkable milestone in the US means more Americans have died with the virus than were killed in the Vietnam and Korean wars combined.

"It's a striking reminder of how dangerous this virus can be," said Josh Michaud, associate director of global health policy with the Kaiser Family Foundation in Washington.

India, home to more than 1.3 billion people, reported more than 6,500 new infections on Thursday as cases continued to rapidly rise. The surge comes as the nation's two-month-old lockdown is set to end on Sunday.

South Korea reported 79 new cases, its biggest daily jump in more than 50 days, and a big setback for a nation that has been held up as a model for containment.

South Korean health officials warned the resurgence is getting harder to track and social distancing and other steps need to be taken.

Most new cases were from the Seoul metropolitan area, where about half of the nation's 51 million people live.

Some countries are seeing improvements. New cases in Spain and Italy have fallen steadily for two months, China reported just two new cases on Thursday, both from abroad, and New Zealand has reported no new infections for six days and has just eight active cases.

But the situation in many countries underscores the difficulty in reopening economies.

In the US, Las Vegas casinos and Walt Disney World have made plans to reopen, and crowds of unmasked Americans are expected to swarm beaches over the summer months. Public health officials predict a resurgence by the autumn.

Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, issued a stern warning after watching video of Memorial Day crowds gathered at a pool party in Missouri.

"We have a situation in which you see that type of crowding with no mask and people interacting. That's not prudent, and that's inviting a situation that could get out of control," he said.

Worldwide, the virus has infected more than 5.6 million people and killed over 350,000, with the US having the most confirmed cases and deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Europe has recorded about 170,000 deaths.

The true death toll from the virus is widely believed to be significantly higher, with experts saying many victims died without being tested.

Early on, President Donald Trump downplayed the severity of the virus, likening it to flu, and predicted the US would not reach 100,000 deaths.

"I think we'll be substantially under that number," he said on April 10. Ten days later, he said: "We're going toward 50,000 or 60,000 people." Ten days after that: "We're probably heading to 60,000, 70,000."

Critics have said deaths spiked because he was slow to respond, but he has contended on Twitter that it could have been 20 times higher without his actions. He has urged states to reopen their economies after months of stay-at-home restrictions.

In hard-hit Brazil, the virus has been spreading into indigenous lands and this week two virus deaths were registered in the Xingu area, one of the biggest reserves in the world.

Those who died were from the Kayapo indigenous group. The community's leader, Megaron, said he wants President Jair Bolsonaro and other officials to stop loggers, miners and fishermen from illegally entering the territory, incursions he believes have sped up the spread of the virus.

But Mr Bolsonaro is a strong critic of environmentalist groups and non-profit organisations that work with indigenous people. He also contends there has been an overreaction to the virus and argues against lockdowns ordered by local officials, saying the economic disruption will kill more than the virus.

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