A health worker checks the body temperature of a resident, as others await their turn during a free medical checkup in a slum in Mumbai, India. Picture: Rafiq Maqbool/AP
A health worker checks the body temperature of a resident, as others await their turn during a free medical checkup in a slum in Mumbai, India. Picture: Rafiq Maqbool/AP

Global coronavirus death toll surpasses 500 000; confirmed cases top 10 million

By Jane Wardell And Cate Cadell Time of article published Jun 29, 2020

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Sydney/ Beijing - The death toll from

Covid-19 surpassed half a million people on Sunday, according to

a Reuters tally, a grim milestone for the global pandemic that

seems to be resurgent in some countries even as other regions

are still grappling with the first wave.

The respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus has

been particularly dangerous for the elderly, although other

adults and children are also among the 501,000 fatalities and

10.1 million reported cases.

While the overall rate of death has flattened in recent

weeks, health experts have expressed concerns about record

numbers of new cases in countries like the United States, India

and Brazil, as well as new outbreaks in parts of Asia.

More than 4,700 people are dying every 24 hours from

Covid-19-linked illness, according to Reuters calculations based

on an average from June 1 to 27.

That equates to 196 people per hour, or one person every 18


A barber wears a protective face shield and gloves to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, as he shaves the beard of a customer at a local barber shop in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia. Picture: Amr Nabil/AP

About one-quarter of all the deaths so far have been in the

United States, the Reuters data shows. The recent surge in cases

has been most pronounced in a handful of Southern and Western

states that reopened earlier and more aggressively. U.S.

officials on Sunday reported around 44,700 new cases and 508

additional deaths.

Case numbers are also growing swiftly in Latin America, on

Sunday surpassing those diagnosed in Europe, making the region

the second most affected by the pandemic, after North America.

On the other side of the world, Australian officials were

considering reimposing social distancing measures in some

regions on Monday after reporting the biggest one-day rise in

infections in more than two months.

The first recorded death from the new virus was on Jan. 9, a

61-year-old man from the Chinese city of Wuhan who was a regular

shopper at a wet market that has been identified as the source

of the outbreak.

In just five months, the Covid-19 death toll has overtaken

the number of people who die annually from malaria, one of the

most deadly infectious diseases.

The death rate averages out to 78,000 per month, compared

with 64,000 Aids-related deaths and 36,000 malaria deaths,

according to 2018 figures from the World Health Organization.

The high number of deaths has led to changes to traditional

and religious burial rites around the world, with morgues and

funeral businesses overwhelmed and loved ones often barred from

bidding farewell in person.

In Israel, the custom of washing the bodies of Muslim

deceased is not permitted, and instead of being shrouded in

cloth, they must be wrapped in a plastic body bag. The Jewish

tradition of Shiva where people go to the home of mourning

relatives for seven days has also been disrupted.

In Italy, Catholics have been buried without funerals or a

blessing from a priest. In New York, city crematories were at

one point working overtime, burning bodies into the night as

officials scouted for temporary interment sites.

In Iraq, former militiamen have dropped their guns to

instead dig graves for coronavirus victims at a specially

created cemetery. They have learned how to conduct Christian, as

well as Muslim, burials.


Public health experts are looking at how demographics affect

the death rates in different regions. Some European countries

with older populations have reported higher fatality rates, for


An April report by the European Centre for Disease

Prevention and Control looked at more than 300,000 cases in 20

countries and found that about 46% of all fatalities were over

the age of 80.

In Indonesia, hundreds of children are believed to have

died, a development health officials have attributed to

malnutrition, anemia and inadequate child health facilities.

Health experts caution that the official data likely does

not tell the full story, with many believing that both cases and

deaths have likely been underreported in some countries.


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