Bangkok Post

Covid-19 could kill 2 mil­lion


- Infectious Diseases · Health Conditions · Geneva · World Health Organization · World Health Organization · Australia · Japan · Yoshihide Suga · Tokyo · Scott Morrison · United Nations General Assembly · United Nations · Brazil · Rio de Janeiro · Rio de Janeiro · United States of America · Spain · Madrid · United Kingdom · Moscow · Israel · France · Marseille

>>GENEVA: Coro­n­avirus deaths could more than dou­ble to two mil­lion with­out col­lec­tive ac­tion against the pan­demic, the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO) has warned, as Aus­tralia’s prime min­is­ter urged any na­tion that de­vel­ops a vac­cine to share it with the world.

The num­ber of cases world­wide has soared past 32 mil­lion, with deaths ap­proach­ing one mil­lion, the global econ­omy dev­as­tated, and ma­jor cul­tural and sports events dis­rupted.

But de­spite the pan­demic show­ing no signs of slow­ing, Ja­pan’s new prime min­is­ter Yoshi­hide Suga struck a de­fi­ant note on Fri­day, say­ing his coun­try was de­ter­mined to hold the post­poned Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

“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 when asked how high the death toll could go.

“Are we pre­pared col­lec­tively to do what it takes to avoid that num­ber? If we don’t take those ac­tions... yes, we will be look­ing at that num­ber and sadly much higher.”

The pan­demic has spurred world­wide ef­forts to de­velop a vac­cine to help de­feat Covid-19, as well as ef­forts to try to en­sure fair and wide­spread dis­tri­bu­tion.

“Who­ever finds the vac­cine must share it... This is a global re­spon­si­bil­ity and it’s a moral re­spon­si­bil­ity,” Aus­tralian Prime Min­is­ter Scott Mor­ri­son said Fri­day in a mes­sage to the vir­tual UN Gen­eral Assem­bly.

“Some might see short-term ad­van­tage or even profit, but I as­sure you... hu­man­ity will have a very long mem­ory and be a very, very se­vere judge.”

With­out a vac­cine or ef­fec­tive treat­ment, so­cial dis­tanc­ing and lock­downs re­main among the few op­tions for gov­ern­ments to curb the spread of the virus, mak­ing large gath­er­ings like spec­ta­tor sports and mu­sic con­certs highly risky.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics, post­poned for a year, were the big­gest such ca­su­alty.

“In the sum­mer of next year, Ja­pan is de­ter­mined to host the Tokyo Olympic and Par­a­lympic Games as proof that hu­man­ity has de­feated the pan­demic,” Mr Suga told the UN Gen­eral Assem­bly in a video mes­sage.

But with con­tin­ued spikes world­wide, there are con­cerns about whether the event will be pos­si­ble even next year if the pan­demic is not un­der con­trol.

In a fur­ther illustrati­on of the im­pact of the virus, au­thor­i­ties in Brazil — which has the world’s sec­ond-high­est death toll — in­def­i­nitely post­poned Rio de Janeiro’s car­ni­val.

And just 1,000 fans a day are be­ing al­lowed at the French Open, with or­gan­is­ers of one of the world’s big­gest ten­nis events say­ing it means “mil­lions of eu­ros up in smoke”.

The WHO warn­ing came as the United States, the hard­est-hit na­tion in the world, crossed seven mil­lion cases — more than a fifth of the global to­tal de­spite ac­count­ing for only 4% of the world pop­u­la­tion.

Many Euro­pean na­tions, mean­while, are strug­gling with new waves of in­fec­tions.

Spain ex­panded a lock­down in and around the cap­i­tal Madrid to cover one mil­lion peo­ple from Mon­day.

In Bri­tain, au­thor­i­ties an­nounced re­stric­tions now ex­tend­ing to a quar­ter of the pop­u­la­tion, while two su­per­mar­ket chains said they were ra­tioning pur­chases of cer­tain goods to clamp down on panic buy­ing.

Moscow or­dered vul­ner­a­ble res­i­dents of the Rus­sian cap­i­tal to avoid in­fec­tion by stay­ing at home, while Is­rael tight­ened its lock­down by stop­ping peo­ple from tak­ing flights out of the coun­try.

France re­ported record fig­ures — daily cases soared past 16,000 for the first time on Thurs­day. But moves by the au­thor­i­ties to con­tain the virus are not pop­u­lar with many be­cause of their painful eco­nomic toll.

Mar­seille bar and restau­rant own­ers gath­ered out­side the city’s com­mer­cial court­house to demon­strate against forced clo­sures start­ing Sun­day evening.

“To­day, I get zero eu­ros, zero eu­ros,” said Sam, a night­club man­ager. “I have (to pay) rent be­cause I’m not lucky enough to be a land­lord.”

 ??  ?? WA­TER­ING GRAVES: An em­ployee is seen at the Vila For­mosa ceme­tery, in the out­skirts of Sao Paulo, Brazil on Fri­day, amid the new coro­n­avirus pan­demic. Brazil now has the world’s sec­ond high­est death toll af­ter the US.
WA­TER­ING GRAVES: An em­ployee is seen at the Vila For­mosa ceme­tery, in the out­skirts of Sao Paulo, Brazil on Fri­day, amid the new coro­n­avirus pan­demic. Brazil now has the world’s sec­ond high­est death toll af­ter the US.

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