According to data from Javins Hopkins University, the global death toll from COVID-19 has crossed one million, but the World Health Organization (WHO) says the number is probably underestimated and the actual number is much higher.
Data from the JHU on Tuesday showed that 1,000,555 people worldwide are now infected with the virus.
COVID-19 was first reported in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, when doctors began noticing that people with a mysterious new form of pneumonia were becoming seriously ill. Despite border closures and arrests, the virus spread worldwide and the WHO declared the outbreak a pandemic in March.
“If anything, the numbers currently being reported probably indicate an underestimation of the number of people who have contracted or died from COVID-19,” WHO’s top emergency expert Mike Ryan told a briefing in Geneva on Monday.
“When you count anything, you can’t count it perfectly, but I can assure you that the current numbers underestimate the true number of COVID,” he said.
The United States reported the highest number of deaths – 205,031 – followed by Brazil (142,058), India (95,542), Mexico (76,430) and the United Kingdom (42,090).
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says the world has reached a “painful milestone” with many deaths.
“We should never lose every life,” he wrote on Twitter. “While the hunt for the vaccine – affordable and accessible to all – continues, let’s honor their memory by working together to defeat this virus”.
One million lives have been wiped out (because we have no handle on additional deaths worldwide). A million life stories, a million voices, a million minds with their own hopes for the future, a million people other than you or I may have a chance turn.
– Dr. Nahid Bhadelia (ha Badelia MD) September 29, 2020
The death toll is likely to rise further as the outbreak intensifies in many countries of the world, including the United States.
The number of new COVID-19 cases in 27 of the country’s 50 states rose for two consecutive weeks and reached a six – week high of 316,000 in the seven days ending Sept. 27, according to state Reuters analysis and county data.
Dr Anthony Fauzi, the country’s top epidemiologist, told ABC News that the country was “not in a good place”.
“Some states have (a) increased cases and some states have started showing some increase in hospitalization. And, I hope not, but we can start seeing an increase in deaths.”
We all want this epidemic to end — we are sick and tired of it. But the virus does not make us sick.
– Dr. Tom Frieden (rDrTomFrieden) September 28, 2020
Meanwhile, India, which crossed six million cases on Monday, is closing in on the US. The virus initially infected the country’s major cities of Mumbai and New Delhi, which has now spread to rural areas, where health systems are unable to cope with the influx of patients.
Europe is also seeing a resurgence of the disease after lifting lockdowns and urging governments to get people back to work. Authorities are now revising that advice and imposing new regulations to reduce the spread of the virus, but have faced resistance from some quarters. In the UK, the government has introduced heavy fines for violators.
“If you look at the success stories – in places like Vietnam there were only 300 cases and zero deaths in the first case, South Korea, Thailand and New Zealand – there was a lot of public engagement and cooperation,” Sanjay Senanayake, an associate professor, told Al Jazeera about infectious diseases at the Australian National University. “Now in growing places, we are seeing protests and outrage about government policies about lockdowns and wearing masks, so public engagement is really crucial to getting this right.”
In Southeast Asia, Indonesia and the Philippines were particularly severely affected, but Malaysia, which had initial success in suppressing the disease, did not spread elsewhere in the country in its Borneo province of Sabah. Nearly a million people in Sabah are now in a two-week lockdown.
Myanmar, which is campaigning for the November elections, is also struggling to recover from a disease it thought was under its control.
The cases there doubled in a week and caused more than 250 deaths in the country. David Mathison, an independent researcher and expert on Myanmar in neighboring Chiang Mai, Thailand, said he was concerned that “complacency” had probably contributed to the wave of cases and that hospitals could be confronted.
“The public health care system in Myanmar is very bad. If this second wave continues, the system will sink completely, and the ability to respond not only in Yangon but also in rural areas will be very challenging,” he told Al Jazeera.
Experts say tests and contact tracing are important to control the disease, with the WHO announcing on Monday that 120 million rapid diagnostic tests for the virus will be made available to low- and middle-income countries over the next six months.
Director-General Tedros Adhanam Ghebreas told a news conference in Geneva that the tests would give reliable results in just 15 minutes.
Total coronavirus cases worldwide have crossed 33 million, with nearly 23 million recovered.