SYDNEY / BEIJING (Reuters) – The death toll from COVID-19 hit half a million people on Sunday. This emerges from a Reuters balance sheet. This is a major milestone for the global pandemic, which appears to be reappearing in some countries, although other regions are still struggling with the first wave.
FILE PHOTO: A burning pyre of a man who died from coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is considered another to be cremated on June 3, 2020 at a crematorium in New Delhi, India. REUTERS / Danish Siddiqui
The respiratory disease caused by the new corona virus was particularly dangerous for the elderly, although other adults and children are among the 500,000 deaths and more than 10 million reported cases.
While the overall death rate has declined in recent weeks, health experts have raised concerns about the record number of new cases in countries such as the United States, India and Brazil, and new outbreaks in parts of Asia.
According to Reuters calculations, based on an average from June 1 to June 27, more than 4,700 people die every 24 hours from a disease associated with COVID-19.
This corresponds to 196 people per hour or one person every 18 seconds. (To view an interactive Reuters program, open this link in an external browser: tmsnrt.rs/2VqS5PS)
About a quarter of all deaths have occurred in the United States so far, according to Reuters data. The recent increase in cases has been most pronounced in a handful of southern and western states that reopened earlier and more aggressively.
The number of cases in Latin America on Sunday exceeded those diagnosed in Europe and made the region the second most affected by the pandemic after North America.
The first death from the new virus was on January 9, a 61-year-old man from the Chinese city of Wuhan who regularly bought from a damp market that was identified as the cause of the outbreak.
In just five months, the number of COVID-19 fatalities has exceeded the number of people who die each year from malaria, one of the deadliest infectious diseases.
According to the World Health Organization in 2018, the average mortality rate is 78,000 per month, compared to 64,000 AIDS deaths and 36,000 malaria deaths.
CHANGE OF BURIAL RITES
The high number of deaths has led to changes in traditional and religious funeral rites around the world. Mortuaries and funeral directors are overwhelmed and relatives are often not allowed to say goodbye personally.
In Israel, the custom of washing the bodies of deceased people is not allowed, and instead of being wrapped in cloth, they must be wrapped in a plastic bag. The Shiva Jewish tradition, in which people go to grieving relatives for seven days, was also disrupted.
In Italy, Catholics were buried without funerals or the blessing of a priest. In New York, the city’s crematoriums once worked overtime and burned corpses until late at night when officials were looking for temporary burial sites.
In Iraq, former militiamen dropped their guns to dig graves for coronavirus victims in a specially created cemetery instead. You learned how to conduct both Christian and Muslim burials.
ELDER AT RISK
Public health experts are studying how demography affects mortality rates in different regions. For example, some European countries with older populations have reported higher death rates.
A April report by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control examined more than 300,000 cases in 20 countries and found that around 46% of all deaths were older than 80 years.
Hundreds of children are said to have died in Indonesia, a development that health officials have attributed to malnutrition, anemia and inadequate health facilities for children.
Health experts warn that official data is unlikely to tell the full story, and many believe that in some countries, both cases and deaths are unlikely to be adequately reported.
(FIGURE: Tracking the spread of the novel corona virus – here)
Reporting by Jane Wardell in Sydney and Cate Cadell in Beijing; Edited by Tiffany Wu and Daniel Wallis