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Covid-19: Global deaths cross two million

AFP
Filed on January 15, 2021 | Last updated on January 15, 2021 at 11.09 pm
Reuters

With vaccination drives still in their infancy, many countries are doubling down on virus restrictions.

Total confirmed deaths from Covid-19 around the world passed two million on Friday, according to a count by AFP.

As on Friday, 2,000,066 people have died of the virus since it first emerged in China in late 2019, according to the count based on official figures provided by authorities.

The grim milestone comes as countries around the globe battle rising infections, despite the gradual rollout of vaccination campaigns.

In total, 93,321,070 cases of the virus have been confirmed worldwide since the start of the pandemic, according to the AFP count.

Europe is the continent where the health crisis has proved most deadly, with 650,560 fatalities to date.

Latin America and the Caribbean have recorded 542,410 deaths, while the United States and Canada have counted 407,090.

The individual countries that have suffered the highest death tolls are the United States (389,581), Brazil (207,095), India (151,918), Mexico (137,916), Britain (87,295) and Italy (81,325).

These six countries alone make up more than half of the global death toll.

Pfizer-BioNTech said on Friday deliveries of its leading coronavirus vaccine to Europe will be delayed in the weeks ahead, hampering the rollout as global deaths from the pandemic closed in on two million.

The announcement that Pfizer-BioNTech shots would be delayed for up to a month during work to boost capacity at the US company’s plant in Puurs, Belgium was met with dismay by many EU members. The soaring number of fatalities is matched by the spread of infections, with Europe recording 30,003,905 cases, nearly a third of the worldwide total, according to an AFP tally based on official statistics.

With cases still mounting and vaccination drives still in their infancy, many countries are doubling down on virus restrictions.

Portugal entered a fresh lockdown Friday while Britain began requiring negative tests for entry, and new curbs on populations were announced from Italy to Brazil and Lebanon. Brazil’s northern Amazonas state announced a curfew from seven pm to six am as the health system is pushed to breaking point in the state capital Manaus. and remaining in force for at least two weeks.

Brazil’s northern Amazonas state also announced a curfew from seven pm to six am as the health system is pushed to breaking point in the state capital Manaus.

Global health experts were expected on Friday to issue recommendations to stem the spread of this variant and other new strains, which the WHO called “worrying”.

“When you first met almost a year ago, just 557 cases of the disease we now call Covid-19 had been reported to the WHO,” director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told Thursday’s emergency meeting in Geneva, which had been brought forward two weeks.

Scientists see large-scale vaccination as the way out of the crisis but 95 percent of doses so far administered have been limited to just 10 countries, according to the WHO.

Progress on administering vaccines has often been slow.

India’s mammoth immunisation programme will begin on Saturday. In the United States around 10 million people have received a first shot.

In Africa, Senegal said it would launch vaccinations by the end of March and Nigeria announced it would have 10 million vaccine doses by the end of the same month.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation with 200 million people, has officially reported 104,000 Covid-19 cases, of which 1,382 have been fatal. But the figures are believed to fall short of the real toll.

US policymakers are focused on addressing the economic damage from the pandemic, with President-elect Joe Biden unveiling a proposal for a $1.9 trillion relief package aimed at revitalising the world’s largest economy.

He aims to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, help struggling state and local governments, safely reopen schools, boost the vaccination campaign and raise the size of stimulus cheques.

“In this moment of crisis... we cannot afford inaction,” Biden said.





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