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  • The number of confirmed coronavirus cases around the world soared past one million.

    The number of confirmed coronavirus cases around the world soared past one million. | Photo: AFP

Published 2 April 2020
Opinion

Despite more than half the planet imposing some form of lockdown, the virus already claimed thousands of lives in the last few weeks.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases around the world soared past one million Thursday and deaths topped 50,000, while the United States reported the highest daily death toll so far of any country.

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Despite more than half the planet imposing some form of lockdown, the virus claimed thousands more lives, with the US, Spain and Britain seeing the highest number of daily fatalities yet.

In hard-hit Spain, the death toll rose to more than 10,000 on Thursday after a record 950 people died overnight, but health officials were encouraged by a slowdown in daily increases in infections and deaths.

Spain also has shed jobs at a record pace since it went into lockdown to fight the new coronavirus, social security data showed on Thursday, with some 900,000 workers having lost their jobs since mid-March.

The situation in the United States was no different, when in the midst of the crisis caused by COVID-19, weekly jobless claims jumped to a record 10 million in the last two weeks of March, the U.S. Labor Department said in a statement Thursday.

COVID-19 is currently spreading the most rapidly in the United States, where there have been 243,453 infections and 5,926 deaths, according to the last tally by Johns Hopkins University.

The US saw 1,169 deaths in 24 hours, the highest one-day toll recorded in any country since the global pandemic began. The grim record was previously held by Italy, where 969 people died on March 27.

In Italy, the death toll climbed to 13,915 on Thursday. But it was the fourth consecutive day in which the number of new cases stayed within a range of 4,050-4,782, seeming to confirm government hopes that the epidemic had hit a plateau.

In Russia, President Vladimir Putin prolonged until April 30 a paid non-working period across the country, just a week after the Kremlin said there was no epidemic.

On the other hand, there has been particular concern about the spread of the virus in countries that were already struggling with insecurity and weakened health systems such as Latin America, Africa or countries like Iran and Iraq.

In the latter, three doctors involved in the testing, a health ministry official and a senior political official said there were thousands of cases of COVID-19, many times more than it has publicly reported. The health ministry denied it.

In Ecuador local sources said it was being built a “special camp” for coronavirus victims in the country’s largest city, Guayaquil, where more than 80 people have died.

Finally, in Brazil, the most affected country of Latin America, the President, Jair Bolsonaro, further played down the pandemic, telling church ministers it is “not all it’s being made out to be” and denying that any hospital in the country had reached full capacity, which has generated the discontent and anguish of all Brazilians.

The first 100,000 cases worldwide of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus, were reported in around 55 days and the first 500,000 in 76 days, according to a Reuters tally based on official records.

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