Mexico, Peru each top half a million virus cases

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A mural paying tribute to frontline workers in Zapopan, state of Jalisco, Mexico

Lima (AFP) - Countries in coronavirus epicenter Latin America reported troubling new statistics on Thursday, with Mexico and Peru both surpassing half a million confirmed infections.

Mexico has 505,293 cases overall after registering 7,371 new infections in 24 hours, the Ministry of Health said. There have been 55,293 deaths, making it the hardest-hit country in the region after Brazil in terms of fatalities.

Infections in Peru have been on the rise since a national lockdown was lifted on July 1, prompting the government on Wednesday to reinstate a Sunday curfew, ban social gatherings and enforce mandatory lockdown in more provinces.

The country has now confirmed 507,996 cases, with a record of 9,441 infections in the last 24 hours, Vice Minister of Health Luis Suarez told a press conference.

There have been 25,648 deaths, he said, a figure that includes 3,658 fatalities from previous weeks now confirmed to be COVID-related.

There were also a record 277 deaths in the last 24 hours.

Colombia, the fourth most affected country in the region, on Thursday reported 433,805 confirmed virus cases.

Deaths have climbed to 14,145, adding 308 fatalities after tabulating data from across the country over the past 10 days, authorities said.

About a third of Colombia's cases are in the capital Bogota, where several areas are under strict confinement orders.

Latin America and the Caribbean is the hardest-hit region of the world by the coronavirus pandemic, with more than 5.8 million cases and nearly a third of the world's 750,000 deaths.