A man weeps as his father is buried in New Delhi, India. PHOTO/REUTERS
The number of people who have died worldwide in the Covid-19 pandemic has surpassed three million, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The milestone comes the day after the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) warned the world was "approaching the highest rate of infection" so far.
India – experiencing a second wave – recorded more than 230,000 new cases on Saturday alone.
More than 140 million cases have been recorded since the pandemic began.
WHO chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned on Friday that "cases and deaths are continuing to increase at worrying rates".
He added that "globally, the number of new cases per week has nearly doubled over the past two months".
The US, India and Brazil – the countries with the most recorded infections – have accounted for more than a million deaths between them, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Last week saw an average of 12,000 deaths a day reported around the world, according to news agency AFP.
However, official figures worldwide may not fully reflect the true number in many countries.
Up until a few weeks ago, India appeared to have the pandemic relatively under control. Cases had been below 20,000 a day for much of January and February – a low figure in a country of more than a 1.3 billion people.
But then infections began to rise rapidly: Saturday saw a record set for the third day in a row, with more than 234,000 cases reported.
Bryanna Danas, 14, pays her respects at the burial site of her father, Gregory Blanks, 50, who died from complications from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), following his funeral at San Felipe Community Cemetery in San Felipe, Texas, US, January 26, 2021. REUTERS/Callaghan O\’Hare
Brazil – which has recorded the third highest number of cases and, at 368,749, the second highest number of deaths – is still struggling to control the outbreak.
Canada has also reported a recent rise, registering more cases per million than the US over the last week – the first time this has happened since the pandemic began.
Papua New Guinea has also been highlighted as a cause for concern. The World Health Organization head, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, noted "the potential for a much larger epidemic" in the Pacific nation following a sharp increase in cases.
He added that the country – which has received 140,000 vaccine doses through Australia and the Covax scheme – is a "perfect example of why vaccine equity is so important".
More than 860 million doses of coronavirus vaccines have been administered, in 165 countries worldwide.
Those with high vaccination rates, such as the UK and Israel, have seen their numbers of new infections drop sharply.
A leading Israeli doctor said this week he believed Israel – where more than half the population has been vaccinated – may be close to reaching "herd immunity".
While Israel has distributed 119 doses per 100 people, just 2.81 doses per 100 have been given in the Palestinian territories, recent data from Our World in Data at Oxford University showed.
But many more countries are still waiting for their first shipments to arrive.
Scientists are also worried about how effective the current jabs will be against fast-spreading new variants of the disease.
Professor Adam Finn, a member of the UK\’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), said he expected a "gradual erosion" of vaccine protection as the virus evolves, but immunity from vaccines "won\’t just disappear".