Sept. 18 (UPI) -- The global tally of coronavirus cases surpassed 30 million Thursday as the World Health Organization warned COVID-19 was surging again in Europe.
According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, 314,834 people were diagnosed with the coronavirus in the past 24 hours to cross the 30 million milestone.
The United States still leads the world with more than 6.6 million infections, but India, which leapfrogged Brazil earlier this month into second place, was quickly catching up.
On Friday, India's Ministry of Health reported 96,424 cases over the previous 24 hours, lifting its total to 5.2 million. In eight of the last nine days, India has recorded more than 90,000 infections, including a record 97,894 infections reported Thursday.
Cases have also been on the rise in Europe. Dr. Hans Kluge, regional director of WHO in Europe, warned during a virtual news conference Thursday that at 300,000 patients, the weekly case tally in the region has surpassed previous highs seen during a March peak.
"We do have a very serious situation unfolding before us," he said.
Lockdown measures of the spring and early summer paid dividends with cases hitting an all-time low in June, he said. But over the past two weeks, more than half of European countries reported a greater than 10% increase in cases, with seven of those countries experiencing a more than two-fold increase.
"The September case numbers should serve as a wake-up call for all of us," he said.
Kluge noted that the jump reflects an increase in testing but said that it also shows the coronavirus is spreading at "alarming rates" throughout the region, with the largest proportion of infections concentrated among those between the ages of 25 and 49.
Since the pandemic began late last year, Europe has diagnosed 4.8 million people with COVID-19 and has suffered a death toll of more than 226,000.
Kluge said that the case numbers only show a portion of the pandemic's consequences.
"The impact on our mental health, economies, livelihoods and society has been monumental," he said.
Once the epicenter of the virus, Europe had been able to stabilize infections and Kluge called for renewed regional cooperation and an amplified collective effort by all European nations. He warned that the virus has been "merciless whenever partisanship and disinformation prevailed."
"Where the pandemic goes from here is in our hands," he said. "We have fought it back before and we can fight it back again."