Global coronavirus deaths exceed 1 million marks: AFP Tally

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More than a million deaths from the novel coronavirus have been registered worldwide.

Paris, France:

The global number of deaths from the new coronavirus, which emerged in China less than a year ago and has spread around the world, exceeded one million on Sunday.

The pandemic has devastated the global economy, sparked geopolitical tensions and changed lives, from Indian slums and Brazil’s jungles to America’s largest city, New York.

World sports, live entertainment and international travel stalled as fans, audiences and tourists were forced to stay home and kept indoors by strict measures to contain the spread of the virus.

Drastic controls that closed half of humanity – more than four billion people – in some form by April initially slowed their pace, but cases have skyrocketed again since restrictions were relaxed.

On Sunday, 2230 GMT, the disease had claimed 1,000,009 victims out of 33,018,877 registered infections, using official sources, according to an AFP tally.

The United States has the highest death toll with more than 200,000 deaths, followed by Brazil, India, Mexico and the UK.

For the Italian truck driver Carlo Chiodi, his dismal numbers include his two parents, whom he claims to have lost within a few days.

“I find it hard to accept that I saw my father go out of the house and get into the ambulance and all I could say to him was goodbye,” said Chiodi, 50.

“I regret not saying ‘I love you’ and I regret not having hugged him. That still hurts me,” he told AFP.

With scientists still searching for a working vaccine, governments are once again forced into an uncomfortable balancing act: virus controls slow the spread of the disease, but are already harming volatile economies and businesses.

The IMF warned earlier this year that economic upheaval could cause “a crisis like no other” as global GDP collapses.

Europe, which was badly hit by the first wave, is now facing a renewed surge in cases. Paris, London and Madrid are all being forced to put in place controls for slow cases that threaten to overload hospitals.

Masks and social distancing in shops, cafes and public transport are part of everyday life in many cities today.

There was record spike in cases in most regions in mid-September, and the World Health Organization warned that without further global collective action, the virus death toll could even double to two million.

“A million is a terrible number and we need to think about it before we think about a second million,” WHO Emergency Director Michael Ryan told reporters on Friday.

“Are we ready together to do whatever we can to avoid this number?

Wake up to Covid-19

The SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes the disease known as Covid-19, first appeared in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, ground zero of the outbreak.

How it got there is still unclear, but scientists believe it came from bats and could be transmitted to humans via another mammal.

Wuhan was shut down in January when other countries looked in disbelief at China’s draconian controls, despite doing business as usual.

By March 11, the virus had appeared in over 100 countries and the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a pandemic and expressed concern about the “alarming inaction”.

Patrick Vogt, a family doctor in Mulhouse, a city that became the epicenter of the outbreak in France in March, said he realized the coronavirus was everywhere when doctors got sick and some died.

“We saw people in our practice who had really big breathing problems, young and not so young, who were exhausted,” he said. “We didn’t have any therapeutic solutions.”

Frustrations, protests

The virus hasn’t spared the rich or famous this year either.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson spent a week in hospital. Madonna tested positive after touring France, as did Tom Hanks and his wife, who recovered and returned to Los Angeles after being quarantined in Australia.

The Tokyo Olympics, Rio’s famous Carnival, and the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca are among the major events postponed or disrupted by the pandemic. Premier League football has restarted, but with empty stadiums. The French Open tennis tournament limits its audience to 1,000 per day.

Israel is completely on lockdown again and Moscow’s vulnerable people have been ordered to stay at home.

As restrictions tighten, protests and anger mount as companies worry about their survival and individuals become frustrated with their jobs and families at another round of lockdowns.

Anti-lockdown protesters and police officers clashed in central London on Saturday as officials dispersed the thousands at a demonstration.

“This is the last straw – we’ve gotten back on our feet,” said Patrick Labourrasse, a restaurant owner in Aix-en-Provence, a French town near Marseille that is once again forced to close bars and restaurants.

However, along with the turbulence, there is some hope.

The IMF says the economic outlook looks better now than it did in June, although it remains “very challenging”.

It is crucial that nine vaccine candidates are in final phase clinical trials. Some hope some will be rolled out over the next year, although questions still remain about how and when they will be distributed around the world.

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