Coronavirus: Global death toll reaches 150,000, says Reuters tally

Total confirmed cases globally reaches 2.1 million, says Johns Hopkins University

A nurse tends to a patient in the intensive care unit of the Covid-19 department of the Policlinic of Tor Vergata in Rome on Friday. Photograph: Mauro Scrobogna/LaPresse via AP

A nurse tends to a patient in the intensive care unit of the Covid-19 department of the Policlinic of Tor Vergata in Rome on Friday. Photograph: Mauro Scrobogna/LaPresse via AP

 

The number of deaths worldwide linked to coronavirus reached 150,000 on Friday, according to a Reuters tally.

The first death came in the central Chinese city of Wuhan on January 9th. It took 83 days for the first 50,000 deaths to be recorded and just eight more for the toll to climb to 100,000. It took another eight days to go from 100,000 to 150,000.

The death toll is still far short of the so-called Spanish flu, which began in 1918 and is estimated to have killed more than 20 million people by the time it petered out in 1920.

The virus, also known as Covid-19, is believed to have emerged in a Wuhan market where wild animals were sold before quickly spreading around the world. Much remains to be determined about it, scientists say, including just how lethal it is.

In many countries, official data includes only deaths reported in hospitals, not those in homes or nursing homes.

The United States has recorded the most confirmed cases of Covid-19, the respiratory illness caused by the virus, with more than 680,000 detected infections. Spain is in second place with around 188,000 cases, followed by Italy at 172,434.

The total number of confirmed cases globally has reached at least 2,158,250, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The United Nations has warned the pandemic risked turning into a child rights crisis.

Residents wearing face masks buy vegetables at a market in Shenyang in China’s northeastern Liaoning province on April 17th, 2020. Photograph: STR/AFP via Getty Images.
Residents wearing face masks buy vegetables at a market in Shenyang in China’s northeastern Liaoning province on April 17th, 2020. Photograph: STR/AFP via Getty Images.

Europe

The official gazette in Spain has published a government order for the country’s 17 autonomous regions to unify the criteria on counting the dead in the coronavirus pandemic.

The government says it is following World Health Organisation (WHO) guidance and insists on counting only those who die having tested positive for the virus, whether or not they showed symptoms and no matter where they died.

That figure on Thursday rose above 19,000, with more than 188,000 infections, but the accounting system leaves out patients who died with symptoms but were not tested.

Deaths in Italy rose by 575 on Friday, up from 525 the day before, while the number of new cases declined slightly and scientists warned that infections were now mainly happening among family members.

The daily tally of new cases stood at 3,493, down from a previous 3,786, with both deaths and infections extending the broadly stable situation in place over the last 12 days.

This plateau is considerably lower than the peaks reached around the end of March, but the downtrend has not proceeded as was widely hoped in a country that has been in lockdown for almost six weeks.

The official death toll since the outbreak came to light on February 21st has risen to 22,745, the Civil Protection Agency said, the second highest in the world after that of the United States. However, the Italian authorities acknowledge that the true number of fatalities is much higher.

France’s registered death toll from coronavirus infections neared 19,000 on Friday, but most data provided further indications that the spread of the disease was slowing after a one-month-old national lockdown, officials said.

The number of ICU patients, at 6,027, was at its lowest since April 1 and down more than 1,000 from its April 8th peak of 7,148. Before Covid-19 started to spread, France had 5,000 hospital beds equipped with ventilation gear.

At 18,681, the number of deaths was up 4.2 per cent over 24 hours, though the rate of increase decelerated for the second day running.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in France was barely up (plus 0.4 per cent) at 109,252.

In Germany, health minister Jens Spahn says the outbreak in the country has become “manageable”, with new data showing the rate of new infections has slowed significantly.

He said the the increase in Covid-19 cases is not exponential any more, but linear. Figures released by the Robert Koch Institute, show the number of people infected by every person with Covid-19 has fallen to 0.7, from over one just a few days ago. Mr Spahn noted that since April 12th, the country has had more people recovered from Covid-19 than active cases.

Russian president Vladimir Putin is prodding top officials to move faster to prepare for a surge in coronavirus cases.

Speaking on a conference call with federal official and regional governors, he told them to “act faster and more energetically” to secure ventilators, protective gear and other essential supplies.

He warned Russia is yet to see a peak of infections, adding Moscow was the first to face soaring numbers of infections and “the problem is spreading into the regions”. Russia has registered 32,008 coronavirus cases and 273 deaths.

Americas

In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday reported 661,712 cases of new coronavirus, an increase of 29,164 cases from its previous count, and said that the number of deaths had risen by 1,978 to 33,049.

The CDC reported its tally of cases of the respiratory illness known as Covid-19, caused by a new coronavirus, as of April 16th, compared with its count a day earlier. The CDC figures do not necessarily reflect cases reported by individual states.

Earlier, president Donald Trump unveiled a set of guidelines for reopening the US economy, comprising of three phases, but ultimately deferred to governors on when and how to return the states to normal.

A report has identified numerous New York state nursing homes where multiple patients died over the past few weeks.

Nineteen of the state’s nursing homes have each had at least 20 deaths linked to the pandemic, the report said.

One Brooklyn home was listed as having 55 deaths. Four homes, in the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island, were listed as having more than 40.

The report’s release came after days of reports about homes so stricken by the virus that bodies had to be stacked inside storage rooms while families struggled to get information about isolated loved ones.

Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro is leading people “to the slaughterhouse” with his criminally irresponsible handling of coronavirus, the country’s former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has said. Brazil’s Covid-19 death toll has hit 1,924.

Canada’s confirmed cases rose to 30,670 from 28,899 on April 16th while deaths increased to 1,250, up from 1,048, public health agency data has shown.

Asia

In South Korea, authorities say they are continuing to see a rise in patients who test positive for coronavirus for a second time after being diagnosed as recovered. However, the risk of transmissions from such cases so far appears to be low.

Jeong Eun-kyeong, director of the country’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, said at least 163 people have tested positive again after their initial release from hospital, accounting for more than 2 per cent of the country’s 7,829 recoveries.

She said the patients on average were 13.5 days removed from their release when they tested positive again, although the longest gap was 35 days.

None of the patients were in serious condition although 61 were exhibiting mild symptoms. Officials are monitoring about 300 people who contacted the patients but have so far detected no transmissions.

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe says more social distancing is needed after he declared a state of emergency in Tokyo and other urban areas 10 days ago.

Mr Abe expanded the month-long state of emergency to all of Japan on Thursday in a bid to reduce movement of people ahead of “golden week” holidays. He said Tokyo set a record of 201 daily increase of cases for a total of almost 3,000, calling the situation “severe”.

He said social interactions were reduced by 60 per cent in central Tokyo and 70 per cent in Osaka but fell short of an 80 per cent target needed to slow the spread to a manageable level.

A third Japanese cabinet official tested positive for the virus, after the country expanded its state of emergency.

Iran’s death toll has risen by 89 in the past 24 hours to reach 4,958. The total number of cases of infection reached 79,494, of which 3,563 were in critical condition. A parliamentary report released earlier this week said the coronavirus death toll might be almost double the figures announced by the health ministry, and the number of infections eight to 10 times more.

Malaysia has reported 69 new cases, the lowest daily increase since the government imposed curbs on movement and business on March 18th, taking the cumulative total to 5,251 cases. Two new deaths, brings their total to 86.

Worshippers around Pakistan have defied a ban on gatherings by attending Friday prayers at mosques, despite the deployment of police and government warnings that people could become infected.

Among those defying the ban was a radical cleric at the Taliban-linked Red Mosque in the capital, Islamabad. Police are expected to file cases against prayer leaders who allow worshippers to gather in their mosques as the number of cases in the country increases. Figures released on Friday brought national totals to 7,025 cases and 135 deaths.

Indonesia has reported 407 new coronavirus cases, taking the total number of cases to 5,923 and surpassing the Philippines as the country with the highest number of infections in south-east Asia.

China’s economy shrank 6.8 per cent in the three months of 2020, the country’s first such contraction on record and a stark sign of the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The news came as Chinese authorities revised the death toll in Wuhan, the hardest hit city and where the virus first emerged, up by 50 per cent, to 3,869 from 2,579.

Citing the number of patients who had died at home before reaching hospital, as well as late and inaccurate reporting, the city’s task force on virus prevention and control said: “Every loss of life during the epidemic is not just a source of sorrow for their family, but for the city as well. We would like to send our sincere sympathies to the family members.”

The economic contraction, reported by China’s National Bureau of Statistics on Friday, comes after months of paralysis as the country went into lockdown to contain the virus, which emerged in central Hubei province in December. While much of the rest of the world grapples with the virus, China appears to have overcome the worst of it. On Friday, it reported 26 new confirmed cases, the lowest daily total in two weeks.

Accusations

As Beijing struggles to restart the economy, it also faces accusations it suppressed vital information about the outbreak in the initial stages, allowing the virus to spread. US officials have also accused China of obscuring the real number of infections and deaths.

On Thursday, Chinese leader Xi Jinping hit back in a phone call with Russian president Vladimir Putin. Speaking after US president Donald Trump criticised China for not sharing data more quickly, the two sides emphasised the “counter-productiveness” of such accusations.

Without referring directly to the White House, Mr Xi said politicising the pandemic was “detrimental to international cooperation”, according to state-run news agency Xinhua. The agency reported that Mr Putin said “attempts by some people to smear China” were “unacceptable”.

Washington has said it is investigating the origins of the coronavirus, including the possibility it escaped from a laboratory in Wuhan, close to a seafood market where the first cluster of cases was reported.

China has reported more than 3,000 deaths and 80,000 infections from the coronavirus. They’ve closed its borders to almost all foreigners arriving from abroad and limited international flights.

A Covid-19 coronavirus isolation centre at the Sani Abacha stadium in Kano, Nigeria. The centre is being built with donations from Kano-born Aliko Dangote, a Nigerian businessman and philanthropist and Africa’s richest man. File photograph: Getty Images
A Covid-19 coronavirus isolation centre at the Sani Abacha stadium in Kano, Nigeria. The centre is being built with donations from Kano-born Aliko Dangote, a Nigerian businessman and philanthropist and Africa’s richest man. File photograph: Getty Images

Africa

Tanzania has started three days of national prayers, announced by the president, to seek divine intervention for the country to be spared from the deadly impact of coronavirus

John Magufuli previously said the government will not ban religious gatherings because the virus will be combated by faith.

Four people have died and 88 have been confirmed infected by the virus in Tanzania.

The coronavirus pandemic could kill 300,000 people in Africa this year, even with assertive government measures to limit social interactions, according to the United Nations economic commission for Africa.

Overcrowded slums with no access to water coupled with fragile health-care systems make the continent especially vulnerable to the disease, the Addis Ababa-based body said in a report on Friday. Countries across the continent have implemented measures from nationwide lockdowns, in which people are only allowed to leave their homes to buy food and medicine, to suspending schools, prohibiting public gatherings and halting all travel.

The United Nations report on Africa presents four scenarios and shows that zero interventions - a worst-case scenario - would lead to the death of as many as 3.3 million people in a continent with a population of 1.3 billion. “How African countries respond to the Covid-19 crisis in the coming weeks will affect the trajectory of national epidemics across the continent,” it said.

The virus has killed 962 people in Africa so far, however, the pace of contagion has picked up with the number of cases more than doubling to 18,333 in two weeks, according to data from the Africa centres for disease control and prevention.

Oceania

New Zealand recorded its lowest ever number of coronavirus cases, with just eight people found to be infected. – Agencies