The world’s coronavirus death toll nears one million, with the US, Brazil and India making up nearly half of the total, according to Johns Hopkins University, which is tracking the disease globally.
But the number is likely to be much higher as testing rates in many countries remain low, with virus-related deaths not being recorded.
In addition, the university is reporting that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases around the world has passed 33 million.
US authorities could see an explosion of Covid-19 cases in the fall and winter months. The country has the highest number of confirmed infections, with 7.1 million, followed by India, with nearly 6.1 million, and Brazil, with 4.7 million. The UK has seen nearly 42,000 deaths, and cases have been rising by an average of more than 5,500 a day.
These latest global statistics come nearly 10 months after news began to emerge about mysterious cases of viral pneumonia in Wuhan, China.
However, researchers admit the COVID deaths figure is only an estimate. Different countries report deaths in different ways, and in some nations critics accuse health authorities of missing or even deliberately under-counting the true death toll.
Moreover, testing is far from universal. Countries around the world may well be missing deaths that were the direct result of the virus because officials did not know a person had contracted the illness.
More restrictions hoping to slow down infections
Tight restrictions have been expanded in the Spanish capital, Madrid, and its surrounding areas, affecting one million residents. From Monday, people will not be able to leave their area unless to go to school or work, public parks will close and opening hours will be restricted. More than 31,000 people are confirmed to have died with the virus since the pandemic reached Spain, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University. However, the true death toll may be higher as some fatalities may not have been counted at the beginning of the pandemic.
In France, bars in Paris and 11 other areas will have to remain closed between 10:00pm and 06:00 am, and there is a ban on festive or recreational events including wedding receptions, students’ parties and organised gatherings in hired locations. Last week, France recorded its highest number of cases since lockdown restrictions were eased. However, the Finance Minister said the government had no plan to order a new nationwide lockdown to contain a resurgence in infections.
Cafes and bars in the Belgian capital Brussels will have to close by 11:00 pm while other businesses selling food and drink will have to shut at 10:00 pm. Despite its small population of around 11.5 million people, Belgium has been badly hit by the pandemic, with more than 114,000 cases and almost 10,000 deaths. The country has recorded more than 167 cases per 100,000 people over the past two weeks
In Germany, a spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel said the growing number of new cases was “highly worrying”. German tabloid Bild reported that Merkel told her party’s senior members that numbers could reach 19,200 per day by Christmas if current trends continue. Germany is currently seeing around 2,000 new cases per day. While Germany has recorded more than 286,000 coronavirus cases so far, its death toll of 9,465 is far lower than figures seen in other major European countries, including the UK, France and Spain.
The full extent of the coronavirus pandemic in Mexico may not be known for several years, a senior health official has said. Mexico currently has the world’s fourth-highest number of coronavirus fatalities, with 76,430 deaths. The country has also registered more than 730,000 cases, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University. However, Mexico only counts people who died after receiving a positive result for coronavirus and testing figures in the country remain low, the Associated Press news agency reports.
India’s health ministry has confirmed that COVID positive cases have surpassed six million. India has been consistently averaging around 95,000 cases per day, partly due to increased testing in many states. In addition, the country is gradually reopening—shopping centres, metro stations and markets are crowded again—bringing increased risk of infection spreading fast in new clusters. Experts say the situation may get worse because of the upcoming festive season especially during the festival of Diwali when people go out to shop.
There is a real worry that infection rates of COVID-19 in Tunisia are getting out of control with nearly 1,000 new cases being recorded per day, and more people getting hospitalised. The government has now issued new measures, with threats to shutdown businesses that flout the rules. Cafes and tea halls are now banned from serving hookahs, or water-pipe tobacco. Restaurants and nightclubs must use natural ventilation by keeping windows and doors open, and apply physical distancing rules. Celebrations at home or in wedding halls may only use 30% of the space capacity. The Tunisian authorities have also warned of the potential for special measures to be applied to high-risk areas with partial two-week lockdowns.