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Coronavirus in 'new and dangerous phase' as cases hit record daily high

After the WHO warned the pandemic was "worsening" in early June, COVID-19 cases have continued to rise.

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Coronavirus cases around the world continue to rise.

James Martin/CNET
For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO and CDC websites.

The World Health Organization recorded 183,020 new cases of coronavirus on Sunday, the largest increase in a single day since the beginning of the pandemic. The growing case numbers are driven largely by two countries: the US and Brazil. 

Coronavirus cases have been steadily increasing over the last three weeks and have now reached 8.7 million since the start of the pandemic. On June 8, the WHO announced that the pandemic was "worsening," with more than 130,000 new cases recorded that day. The US and Brazil were the major contributors to the trend. In the weeks since then, new cases have only continued to increase. 

On Friday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the world was in a "new and dangerous phase" and called for all countries to "focus on the basics."

"We call on all countries and all people to exercise extreme vigilance," he said. 

The 153rd coronavirus situation report, prepared by the WHO on Sunday, showed Brazil's confirmed cases had increased by 54,771 that day, taking the country's total to over 1 million. The US reported 36,617 new cases the same day, pushing the US past 2.2 million in all.

A total of 4,743 deaths worldwide were reported Sunday, including 1,206 in Brazil and 690 in the US.

Brazil's total death toll is near 50,000, while the US is approaching 120,000 deaths. Worldwide, more than 461,000 people have died due to coronavirus. 

At a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday night, President Donald Trump called coronavirus testing a "double-edged sword." He said the US had tested 25 million people but also suggested that he'd told his administration to "slow the testing down" because "when you do testing to that extent ... you're going to find more cases."

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro told CNN on Sunday that Trump was being "tongue-in-cheek" when he made the comment. 

It is true that testing uncovers more cases, but testing is critical to the COVID-19 response. Large-scale testing has been identified, by the WHO and other public health groups, as highly important to flattening the epidemic curve and preventing deaths. Testing also helps countries in lockdown to reopen and allows public health officials to trace cases, preventing further spread of the disease.  

The WHO report also highlighted the need for Europe to prepare for the fall

"In the past month the number of European countries showing significant increases in cumulative incidence has more than tripled, from 6 to 21 countries," Hans Henri Kluge, the WHO regional director for Europe, said during a briefing Thursday. "Preparing for the autumn is a priority now at the WHO Regional office for Europe."

"We are not out of the woods," he said.