Global coronavirus death toll passes one million

More than one million people have died from coronavirus, according to an AFP toll, after the deadly disease emerged less than a year ago in China and swept around the globe.

The pandemic has ravaged the world’s economy, inflamed geopolitical tensions and upended lives, from Indian slums and Brazil’s jungles to America’s biggest city New York.

Sports, live entertainment and international travel ground to a halt as fans, audiences and tourists were forced to stay at home, kept inside by strict measures imposed to curb the virus’s spread.

Drastic controls that put half of humanity — more than four billion people — under some form of lockdown by April at first slowed its pace, but since restrictions were eased cases have soared again.

On Sunday 2230 GMT the disease had claimed 1,000,009 victims from 33,018,877 recorded infections, according to an AFP tally using official sources.

The United States has the highest death toll with more than 200,000 fatalities followed by Brazil, India, Mexico and Britain.

For Italian truck driver Carlo Chiodi those grim figures include both his parents, who he says he lost within days of each other.

“What I have a hard time accepting is that I saw my father walking out of the house, getting into the ambulance, and all I could say to him was ‘goodbye’,” said Chiodi, 50.

“I regret not saying ‘I love you’ and I regret not hugging him. That still hurts me,” he told AFP.

With scientists still racing to find a working vaccine, governments are again forced into an uneasy balancing act: Virus controls slow the spread of the disease, but they hurt already reeling economies and businesses.

The IMF earlier this year warned that the economic upheaval could cause a “crisis like no other” as the world’s GDP collapsed.

Europe, hit hard by the first wave, is now facing another surge in cases, with Paris, London and Madrid all forced to introduce controls to slow infections threatening to overload hospitals.

Masks and social distancing in shops, cafes and public transport are now part of everyday life in many cities.

Mid-September saw a record rise in cases in most regions and the World Health Organization has warned virus deaths could even double to two million without more global collective action.

“One million is a terrible number and we need to reflect on that before we start considering a second million,” the WHO’s emergencies director Michael Ryan told reporters on Friday.

“Are we prepared collectively to do what it takes to avoid that number?” (AFP Bureaus / Simon MALFATTO)

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