Coronavirus deaths could more than double to two million without collective action against the pandemic, the World Health Organisation has warned, as Australia’s prime minister urged any nation that develops a vaccine to share it with the world.
The novel coronavirus has killed at least 9,93,438 people since the outbreak emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 1100 GMT on Saturday.
At least 3,26,22,490 cases of coronavirus have been registered. Of these, at least 2,23,60,200 are now considered recovered.
On Friday, 9,050 new deaths and 3,25,900 new cases were recorded worldwide.
Based on latest reports, the countries with the most new deaths were Argentina with 3,901 — a sharp increase due to a change in its counting method — followed by India with 1,089 and the United States with 887.
The United States is the worst-hit country with 2,03,782 deaths from 70,33,925 cases. At least 27,27,335 people have been declared recovered.
After the US, the hardest-hit countries are Brazil with 1,40,537 deaths from 46,89,613 cases, India with 93,379 deaths from 59,03,932 cases, Mexico with 75,844 deaths from 7,20,858 cases, and Britain 41,936 deaths from 4,23,236 cases.
Latin America and the Caribbean overall have 3,38,254 deaths from 90,95,347 cases, Europe 2,29,335 deaths from 51,99,762 infections, and the United States and Canada 2,13,075 deaths from 71,84,066 cases.
Asia reported 1,32,856 deaths from 77,62,046 cases, the Middle East 44,120 deaths from 19,02,535 cases, Africa 34,853 deaths from 14,47,328 cases, and Oceania 945 deaths from 31,410 cases.
But despite the pandemic showing no signs of slowing, Japan’s new prime minister Yoshihide Suga struck a defiant note Friday, saying his country was determined to hold the postponed Tokyo Olympics in 2021.
‘One million is a terrible number and we need to reflect on that before we start considering a second million,’ the WHO’s emergencies director Michael Ryan told reporters on Friday when asked how high the death toll could go.
‘Are we prepared collectively to do what it takes to avoid that number?
‘If we don’t take those actions... yes, we will be looking at that number and sadly much higher.’
The pandemic has spurred worldwide efforts to develop a vaccine to help defeat COVID-19, as well as efforts to try to ensure fair and widespread distribution.
‘Whoever finds the vaccine must share it... This is a global responsibility and it’s a moral responsibility,’ Australian prime minister Scott Morrison said Friday in a message to the virtual UN General Assembly.
‘Some might see short-term advantage or even profit, but I assure you... humanity will have a very long memory and be a very, very severe judge.’
Without a vaccine or effective treatment, social distancing and lockdowns remain among the few options for governments to curb the spread of the virus, making large gatherings like spectator sports and music concerts highly risky.
The WHO warning came as the United States, the hardest-hit nation in the world, crossed seven million cases — more than a fifth of the global total despite accounting for only four per cent of the world population.
Many European nations, meanwhile, are struggling with new waves of infections.
Spain expanded a lockdown in and around the capital Madrid to cover one million people from Monday.
In Britain, authorities announced restrictions now extending to a quarter of the population, while two supermarket chains said they were rationing purchases of certain goods to clamp down on panic buying.
Moscow, meanwhile, ordered vulnerable residents of the Russian capital to avoid infection by staying at home, while Israel tightened its lockdown by stopping people from taking flights out of the country.
France reported record figures — daily cases soared past 16,000 for the first time on Thursday. But moves by the authorities to contain the virus are not popular with many because of their painful economic toll.
Marseille bar and restaurant owners gathered outside the city’s commercial courthouse to demonstrate against forced closures starting Sunday evening.
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