The global total today approached 30 million COVID-19 cases, as cases in India continued to accelerate and flare-ups in Europe prompted targeted measures.

In addition, World Health Organization (WHO) officials warned of the impact on healthcare workers, part of the observance of World Patient Safety Day. The global total climbed to 29,976,621 cases, and 942,758 people have died from their infections, according to the Johns Hopkins online dashboard.

Heavy impact on health workers

At a media briefing today, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, said a key to keeping patients safe is keeping healthcare workers safe. He said about 14% of COVID-19 cases reported to the WHO are among healthcare workers and that, in some countries, the proportion is as high as 35%.

He noted, though, that data are limited, and it’s often not clear if health workers were exposed on the job or in their communities. And to mark this year’s observance, he said the WHO launched a charter on healthcare worker safety that it invites countries, hospitals, clinics, and partners to endorse. The charter urges groups to take five actions, some of which include developing national programs for worker health and safety and protecting them from physical and biological hazards.

Also during today’s briefing, WHO officials fielded questions about conflicting messages yesterday in the United States on vaccine delivery and mask use. Mike Ryan, MD, who directs the WHO’s health emergencies program, said it’s important for all countries and entities to provide a consistent message between science and government, Reuters reported.

He added that the evolving science and the complex task of relaying data to the public is a challenge and can lead to confusion, and he warned against groups turning the issues into a political football.

India surge strengthens

In India, which has the world’s second most cases, officials reported another record daily high, of 97,894 cases. Over the past few weeks, India—the world’s second most populous country behind China—has had the most daily cases in the world.

Yesterday the Indian Medical Association unveiled a list of 2,238 doctors who have been infected with COVID-19, including 382 who died, the Anadolu Agency reported. The group demanded that doctors who died be considered martyrs and criticized the government for not doing more for health workers during the pandemic.

In other global developments:

  • Today Austria, which has seen cases rise since June and accelerate recently, scaled back its private indoor gathering limit to 10.
  • The Czech Republic yesterday reported a record daily high of 2,139 cases and is thought to be the country with the third fastest-growing resurgence in Europe, behind Spain and France.
  • A Red Cross survey from Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Pakistan found that half of those polled blame specific groups for spreading COVID-19. The groups include foreigners, those attending worship ceremonies, and people not wearing masks or following distancing rules.

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