A million and more | THE DAILY TRIBUNE | KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

A million and more

Beijing/New

York Global cases of the new coronavirus have shot past 1 million with more than 53,000 fatalities, a Reuters tally showed yesterday, as death tolls kept soaring in the United States and western Europe while the world economy spiralled disastrously.

Just in the previous day, there were 6,095 new deaths - nearly double all fatalities in China, where the COVID-19 disease originated. In a list based on officially-reported data, Italy leads with 13,915 deaths, followed by Spain with 10,935 deaths.

But the United States was becoming the new epicentre, with 243,635 cases - by far the most of any nation - and 5,887 deaths. Outside the West, China’s epidemic has stabilised after draconian containment measures and it was planning to mourn its “martyrs” on Saturday with a three-minute silence.

The outbreak in badly-hit Iran still raged while it sparred with traditional foe the United States on the geopolitical stage. With Europe accounting for more than half of cases around the world, France and Britain were also struggling to prop up health services under massive strain.

Though the official figures were shocking enough, health experts and even some governments acknowledge they do not capture the full spread of the virus. It often goes undetected in people with minor symptoms or none at all.

With airlines largely grounded, businesses closed, layoffs mounting and millions of people at home under lockdowns, the economic fallout was shaping into worse than the 2008 financial crisis. Rather, comparisons were being drawn with such traumatic periods as World War Two or the 1930s Global Depression.

While prosperous Western nations are reeling, there is concern about potentially far worse impact in nations already struggling with poverty, insecurity and weak health systems. In Iraq, three doctors involved in the testing, a health ministry official and a senior political official said there were thousands of cases of COVID-19, many times more than publicly reported.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro further played down the pandemic, saying it is “not all it’s being made out to be” and denying that any hospital had reached full capacity.

But with his closest aides refusing to support his plan to relax coronavirus rules to keep the economy going, according to sources with knowledge of the dispute, Bolsonaro was looking increasingly isolated.

Though there was little cause for cheer anywhere, one positive offshoot of the crisis has been a massive drop in pollution. One expert said carbon dioxide emissions could fall this year by the largest amount since World War Two.