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Global COVID-19 death toll passes three million as pandemic shows no sign of slowing down

The global COVID-19 death toll passed three million on Saturday as the pandemic continues to speed up despite vaccination campaigns, leading countries like India to impose new lockdowns to fight spiraling infection numbers. It is the latest grim milestone after the novel coronavirus surfaced in central China in December 2019. It infected over 139 million people, leaving billions more under crippling lockdowns and ravaging the global economy.

According to an AFP tally, an average of more than 12,000 deaths was recorded globally every day in the past week, shooting the overall toll past three million on Saturday.

For comparison, three million people are more than the population of Jamaica or Armenia and three times the Iran-Iraq war’s death toll, which raged from 1980-1988.

And the pandemic is showing no sign of slowing down: the 829,596 new infections reported worldwide on Friday is the highest number yet, according to AFP’s tally.

The daily average of 731,000 cases registered over the last week is also close to being a record.


India’s capital New Delhi went into a weekend lockdown Saturday as the world’s second-most populous nation recorded 234,000 new cases and 1,341 deaths.

India now has three times the daily cases of the United States, the world’s worst-hit nation, and families are clamoring for drugs and hospital beds.

In this aerial picture taken on 16 April 2021, relatives and friends gather to bury the dead bodies of coronavirus victims at a graveyard in New Delhi.

AFP via Getty Images

Hopes that South Asian countries might have seen the worst of the pandemic have been dashed, with India recording over two million new cases this month alone and Bangladesh and Pakistan imposing further shutdowns.

Udaya Regmi of the International Red Cross said the “truly frightening” South Asian surge was a “wake-up call to the world”. “Vaccines must be available to everyone, everywhere, rich and poor, to overcome this terrible pandemic,” Mr. Regmi added.

Richer countries that have waged mass inoculation efforts have seen their virus numbers plummet. Britain, which has given 60 percent of the population at least one vaccination dose, now records around 30 deaths daily – down from 1,200 in late January.

Olympic fears

Thailand recorded its fourth consecutive day of more than 1,000 new cases on Saturday, with spiraling infections linked to a nightlife district of the capital Bangkok earlier this month.

Alcohol sales will be banned in Bangkok restaurants from Sunday, while entertainment venues will be shuttered nationwide for two weeks.

In Japan, rising virus cases have stoked speculation that the Olympic Games – postponed last year due to the pandemic – could be canceled.

In his first meeting with US President Joe Biden, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said his government was listening to experts and doing its “utmost” to prepare for the Tokyo games in July. The virus continues to impact events elsewhere in the world. In Brazil, the country with the third-highest death toll globally, night shifts have been added to several cemeteries as diggers work around the clock to bury the dead.

Relatives attend a COVID-19 victim’s burial at the Nossa Senhora Aparecida cemetery in Manaus, Amazon state, Brazil, on 15 April 2021.

AFP via Getty Images

One of these is Vila Formosa, the largest cemetery in Latin America and a showcase of the lethal cost of the pandemic in Brazil, where more than 365,000 people have died from COVID-19.

“We try not to get upset in our work, but it is sad; it is a lot of people,” one of the gravediggers there said after a long shift.

Despite the high infection rate, the government of Brazil’s most populous state, Sao Paulo, announced it would allow businesses and places of worship to reopen from Sunday.

Cautious Optimism’ in Europe

But there was better news in Europe, where some countries are easing their lockdowns in response to fatigue, falling infection numbers, and progress with vaccinations.

Italy announced Friday it will ease coronavirus restrictions for schools and restaurants from 26 April.

Expressing “cautious optimism”, Prime Minister Mario Draghi said his government took a “calculated risk”.

Italy will also allow up to a thousand spectators at outdoor events from 1 May, when it eases its stadium fan ban in regions less affected by the coronavirus.

People drink in the street in the Soho area of London on 16 April 2021, following step two of the government’s roadmap out of England’s third lockdown.

AFP via Getty Images

In more good news for Britons after the partial reopening of society this week, Germany removed the United Kingdom from the list of risk zones for coronavirus infections, meaning that travelers will no longer need to quarantine upon arrival.

Spain meanwhile extended the mandatory quarantine of passengers arriving from 12 countries in South America and Africa, including Brazil and South Africa, over concerns about more transmissible variants.

Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

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