Global toll rises to 3.23 lakh

Brazil sees record virus deaths as pandemic surges in Latin America

Agence France-Presse . Paris | Published: 23:55, May 20,2020


The novel coronavirus has killed at least 323,370 people since the outbreak first emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 1100 GMT on Wednesday.

At least 4,910,110 cases of coronavirus have been registered in 196 countries and territories. Of these, at least 1,813,300 are now considered recovered.

Many countries are testing only symptomatic or the most serious cases. 

The United States has the highest number of deaths overall with 91,938 from 1,528,661 cases. At least 289,392 people have been declared recovered. 

Britain has the second highest toll overall, with 35,341 deaths from 248,818 cases.  It is followed by Italy with 32,169 deaths and 226,699 cases, France with 28,022 deaths and 180,809 infections and Spain with 27,778 fatalities for 232,037 cases.

France revised down its toll on Tuesday after changing the way it recorded nursing-home fatalities.

China has to date declared 4,634 deaths and 82,965 cases. It has 78,244 recovered cases. 

Europe has a total of 168,725 deaths from 1,938,946 cases, the United States and Canada have 97,949 deaths and 1,607,773 cases, Latin America and the Caribbean have 32,386 deaths and 578,921 cases, Asia has 12,879 deaths and 384,874 cases, the Middle East has 8,384 deaths and 299,734 cases, Africa has 2,919 deaths from 91,443 cases, and Oceania 128 deaths from 8,426 cases. 

Brazil has seen a record number of coronavirus deaths as the pandemic that has swept across the world begins to hit Latin America with its full force.

After Asia, Europe and North America, Latin America has seen coronavirus infections surge in recent days and now accounts for about 580,000 of the world’s nearly five million confirmed cases.

Brazil has been hardest-hit in the region, rising to the third-highest number of cases in the world, as Peru, Mexico and Chile also see steady increases in infections.

Health officials in Brazil reported 1,179 new coronavirus deaths on Tuesday, the first time the daily toll exceeded 1,000, but far-right president Jair Bolsonaro remains bitterly opposed to lockdowns, having described them as unnecessary over a ‘little flu’.

With the outbreak in the world’s sixth-largest country expected to accelerate until early June, many Brazilians are deeply worried about the next few weeks.

Chile is also suffering from a sharp rise in cases and on Tuesday deployed soldiers on the outskirts of its locked-down capital Santiago after clashes with protesters angry about food shortages and job losses.

‘People don’t have work, they don’t have money and they don’t have food,’ said Monica Sepulveda, a 46-year-old unemployed security guard from El Bosque, a working class neighbourhood where residents armed with clubs and stones clashed with riot police.

There were worrying signs in Argentina too, with authorities in the second city Cordoba having to backtrack on easing lockdown measures following a sharp spike in infections.

Experts have been warning for weeks of the devastating impact the pandemic is set to have as it moves from northern countries to the less-developed south.

In Africa, the pandemic is still in its ‘early days’, UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres warned, calling for ‘global solidarity’ with the continent.

‘The pandemic threatens African progress,’ he said. 

Europe is meanwhile hoping the worst is behind it, with the number of new cases and deaths on a steady decline after the continent suffered nearly 170,000 fatalities from the pandemic.

Lockdown measures in place for weeks are being eased and officials are scrambling to try to save the summer tourism season, which is crucial for Europe’s economies.

European Union tourism ministers were set to hold a virtual meeting Wednesday and authorities in Greece were to announce plans for reopening the country to travel.

Russia reported its highest daily death toll to date, registering 135 fatalities, but also saw the number of active virus cases drop for the first time.

The country has the second-highest number of total cases but with 2,972 deaths so far its mortality rate is relatively low and officials have been moving to ease lockdown measures as the rate of new infections falls.

US president Donald Trump is especially keen to reopen businesses ahead of an election due in November, and his treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin warned the American economy risks suffering ‘permanent damage’ the longer the lockdown continues.

Trump again lashed out at China Wednesday over the coronavirus pandemic, blaming Beijing for ‘mass Worldwide killing.’

The early morning tweet, which also referred to an unidentified ‘wacko in China,’ was the latest heated rhetoric from the White House, where Trump is making attacks on Beijing a centrepiece of his November reelection bid.

‘It was the ‘incompetence of China’, and nothing else, that did this mass Worldwide killing,’ the president tweeted.

Since first emerging in central China late last year, the virus has transformed life and business around the world with its impact felt in multiple ways, from once-busy city centres falling silent to significant environmental changes.

British prime minister Boris Johnson said Wednesday the country will have 25,000 virus tracing staff recruited by June so the country can ‘make progress’ in its strategy to keep easing the nationwide lockdown.

The government is under pressure to get the recruits in place to operate alongside a smartphone tracing app to allow large-scale testing and tracing tactics to start next month.

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