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Virus death toll passes one million

World

The number of people worldwide who have died from complications with COVID-19 has topped one million, according to data compiled by US researchers.

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More than 33.2 million cases of the virus have been recorded worldwide since the beginning of the pandemic nine months ago, figures gathered by Johns Hopkins University show.

The virus death toll passed 600,000 in June.

The true number of cases is likely to be higher due to the existence of undetected cases.

In the United States, which has the highest number of deaths and cases of any country, more than 205,000 people have died and more than 7.1 million have contracted the disease, according to the data.

Relative to the number of inhabitants, however, the number of deaths is higher in some European countries than in the US.

According to the university’s data, around 63 people per 100,000 inhabitants have died in the US, while the figure is slightly higher in Britain, and in Spain there have been 67 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants.

More than 142,000 people have died in Brazil and more than 95,000 in India.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said one million deaths was “a mind-numbing figure”.

“We must never lose sight of each and every individual life,” he said in a video statement.

“We can overcome this challenge but we must learn from the mistakes. Responsible leadership matters, science matters, co-operation matters and misinformation kills.”

The virus first appeared in late 2019 in patients hospitalised in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the first death was reported on January 11.

By the time authorities locked down the city nearly two weeks later, millions of travellers had come and gone.

Today, nearly 5000 COVID-19 deaths are reported around the globe each day.

The toll so far exceeds annual deaths from AIDS, which last year killed 690,000 people worldwide, and is now is approaching the 1.5 million global deaths each year from tuberculosis, which regularly kills more people than any other infectious disease.

For all its lethality, the virus has claimed far fewer lives than the so-called Spanish flu, which killed an estimated 40 million to 50 million worldwide in two years, just over a century ago.

When COVID-19 overwhelmed cemeteries in the Italian province of Bergamo earlier this year, Reverend Mario Carminati opened his church to the dead, lining up 80 coffins in the centre aisle.

After an army convoy carted them to a crematory, another 80 arrived. Then 80 more.

Eventually the crisis receded and the world’s attention moved on but the pandemic’s grasp endures. In August, Carminati buried his 34-year-old nephew.

“This thing should make us all reflect. The problem is that we think we’re all immortal,” he said.

-with AAP

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