COVID-19 Death Toll Hits 500,000 Worldwide

COVID-19 Death Toll Hits 500,000 Worldwide

June 29, 2020, 9:21 a.m.

The number of coronavirus cases around the world has topped a grim milestone of 10 million. Cases are surging in southern and western US states.

More than 500,000 people worldwide have now lost their lives as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins University in the US. Since the virus emerged in China late last year, there have been more than 10 million cases, Johns Hopkins reports.

Half the world's cases have been in the US and Europe, but Covid-19 is now rapidly growing in the Americas. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University in the United States said the number of cases passed 10 million on Sunday.

In the US, the daily tally of new confirmed cases totaled 42,597 on Saturday. It's the second straight day the figure has exceeded 40,000.

Analyses by ABC News and others show the number of cases is sharply on the rise in 31 states, especially in Florida, Texas, California and Arizona.

At the Texas Medical Center in Houston, intensive care units have been at capacity for about a week. Local media are reporting that people are being asked to wait for several hours before being treated.

US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar described the current situation as "very serious" during his TV appearances. He asked state authorities to take measures promptly.

The virus is also affecting South Asia and Africa, where it is not expected to peak until the end of July. Outbreaks are still spreading in many parts of the world, with one million new cases recorded in the last six days.

The US has reported a total of 2.5 million cases and 125,000 deaths with Covid-19 so far - more than any other country.

US states that emerged from lockdown in recent weeks - notably in the south - have been reporting record increases in new infections.

The spike has led officials in Texas, Florida and other states to tighten restrictions on business again.

Statistics from several countries have shown that people from black and Asian ethnic groups are more likely to be severely affected by the virus than white people.

The country with the second-highest number of recorded cases is Brazil, with a total of 1.3 million, and deaths in excess of 57,000.

Despite a wave of new infections, the state of Rio de Janeiro has said it will allow football stadiums to reopen to fans from 10 July - initially at one-third capacity.

On Sunday China has imposed a strict lockdown near Beijing to curb a fresh outbreak. Nearly half a million people will be barred from travelling in and out of Anxin county in the province of Hebei.

In the UK - the country with the greatest number of deaths in Western Europe - the government has said it could impose its first local lockdown following a surge in new cases in the English city of Leicester

The spread of coronavirus infections has taken a "swift and very dangerous turn" in the US state of Texas, Governor Greg Abbott has warned.

"Over just the past few weeks, the daily number of cases have gone from an average of about 2,000, to more than 5,000," Mr Abbott said on Sunday.

Several southern and western states have recorded a surge in cases after lockdown restrictions were eased. The number of reported infections in the US has now surpassed 2.5 million.

Over 125,000 Covid-19 patients are confirmed to have died nationwide - more than in any other country.

US Vice-President Mike Pence said that Texas would be issued additional Covid-19 testing kits for as long was necessary.

The vice-president also urged Texans to wear masks "wherever its indicated", saying "we know from experience, it will slow the spread of the coronavirus".

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was speaking at a joint news conference with Governor Abbott on Sunday, said that a nationwide mandate to wear face coverings was "definitely long overdue".

"We have the worst record of any country in the world," she added.

In the Texas state capital of Austin, a requirement to wear face coverings in some circumstances in order to help mitigate the spread of the virus led to demonstrations on the city's streets by people objecting to the measure.

On Sunday, Arizona also recorded a record daily increase of more than 3,800 cases. Hundreds of people reportedly travelled to rivers in the state to escape the hot weather.

The reported increases in infections in southern and western states come after moves in recent weeks to re-open businesses, resulting in people from other areas pouring in.

Responding to the level of new cases, Mr Abbott last week told bars to close and limited restaurants' indoor seating capacity to 50%. Restaurants had previously been allowed to operate at 75% capacity, and bars at 50%.

In the Texan town of Galena Park, east of Houston, the mayor imposed an overnight curfew on Saturday and warned that hospitals could soon be overwhelmed.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has also re-imposed restrictions, ordering bars in the state to stop serving alcohol on their premises.

Health officials estimate the true number of cases is likely to be 10 times higher than the confirmed total. The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has said that up to 20 million Americans may have been infected.

The surge in cases was being driven by young people - those aged between 18 and 34 - testing positive, especially in the south and west of the US, said the head of the CDC, Dr Robert Redfield.

Source: BBC/NHK

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