World virus deaths top 800,000 as nations ramp up measures

A community health officer helps sanitation workers to put on personal protective equipment (PPE) at the coronavirus treatment center of Fourah Bay College in Freetown, Sierra Leone July 2, 2020. REUTERS-Cooper Inveen

The global death toll from the new coronavirus has surpassed 800,000, according to an AFP count on Saturday, with numerous countries ramping up restrictions in an effort to battle an eruption of new cases.

Western Europe, particularly Spain, Italy, Germany and France, has been hit with infection levels not seen in many months, sparking fears of a fully-fledged second wave.

And in Asia, South Korea became the latest country to announce it would boost restrictions to try to stem a new outbreak, after largely bringing the virus under control.

Across the world, the number of deaths has doubled to just over 800,000 since June 6, with 100,000 fatalities in the last 17 days alone, while more than 23 million cases have been reported.

Latin America is the region the most affected, while more than half the global fatalities have been reported in the hardest-hit United States, Brazil, Mexico and India.

Two years

The surging numbers come after the UN health agency said Friday that the world should be able to rein in the pandemic in less than two years.

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus sought to draw favourable comparisons with the flu pandemic of 1918 which cost the lives of as many as 50 million people.

“We have a disadvantage of globalisation, closeness, connectedness, but an advantage of better technology, so we hope to finish this pandemic before less than two years,” he said.

“(By) utilising the available tools to the maximum and hoping that we can have additional tools like vaccines, I think we can finish it in a shorter time than the 1918 flu.”

The WHO also recommended children over 12 years old now wear masks in the same situations as adults as the use of face coverings helps stop the virus spread.

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