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Coronavirus death toll passes 600,000 with 43% in Western Hemisphere

By
Allen Cone
Brazilian accountant Tercio Galdino, 66, and his wife, Alicea Galdino, walk down Leme beach wearing protective suits to avoid contamination with coronaviruses in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Friday. Tercio who has a chronic lung disease, made the helmets at home the same shape as those of astronauts and the suits are the same as those of health professionals. Photo by Antonio Lacerda/EPA-EFE
Brazilian accountant Tercio Galdino, 66, and his wife, Alicea Galdino, walk down Leme beach wearing protective suits to avoid contamination with coronaviruses in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Friday. Tercio who has a chronic lung disease, made the helmets at home the same shape as those of astronauts and the suits are the same as those of health professionals. Photo by Antonio Lacerda/EPA-EFE

July 19 (UPI) -- The coronavirus outbreak, which began in mainland China and spread to Europe, has become most deadly in the Western Hemisphere.

Although only 1 billion of the world's 7.8 billion population live in the Western Hemisphere, 43% of the deaths have occurred in the Americas.

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On Saturday, the total death toll passed 600,000 as cases have risen above 14 million. The mortality rate worldwide was 4.2%, including 3.7% in the United States and thee other Western Hemisphere nations, 3.8% in Brazil, 11.5% in Mexico and 3.7% in Peru.

With 263,002 deaths through Saturday, four Western Hemisphere nations are in the top 10: No. 1 U.S. with 142,877, No. 2 Brazil with 78,817, No. 4 Mexico with 38,310 and No. 10 Peru with 12,998. Further down the list is Chile in 15th with 8,445.

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Elsewhere, Europe holds four places in the top 10 after as many as six. Britain heads the list in third with 45,300 through Sunday, followed by No. 5 Italy with 35,045, No. 6 France with 30,152, No. 7 Spain with 28,420. Three others nations at one time were in the top ten -- Belgium is now 11th, Germany 13th and Netherlands 17th.

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Two Asian nations are in the top 10 -- India in eighth with 26,951 and Iran 10th with 14,188. mainland China has continually slid and is now 23rd with 4,634 and no deaths since late April.

Unlike Europe and most of Asia, the situation has been worsening in Latin America, including Brazil, Mexico and Peru.

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Brazil frequently leads the world in daily deaths, including 885 on Saturday as well as 26,549 cases. On May 1, there were only 6,410 deaths.

With more than 2 million cases, the nation's hospitals are struggling to deal with the disease. And officials believe the number is even higher.

"We've had many days with a 100 percent of ICU beds occupation," Andrea von Zuben, director of the Municipal Health Vigilance Department, told Al Jazeera. "For around 10 days, some people had to wait to get an ICU bed. They all could get medical care, but had to wait for vacancy."

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Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro has been in self-isolation and tested positive for a second time Thursday.

Bolsonaro, who has downplayed the seriousness of the epidemic and disdains restrictions, has insisted the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine has minimized his symptoms. But studies don't support its effectiveness.

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Mexico also has had exponential rises in deaths and cases

The nation, which had 1,859 deaths on May 1, reported 578 deaths late Saturday. In addition, it reported 7,615 cases for a total of 338,913 in seventh place.

Restrictions on non-essential travel at U.S. land borders with Canada and Mexico will be extended through Aug. 21 from later this month.

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf announced the 30-day extension on Twitter that "close collaboration with our neighbors has allowed us to respond to #COVID19 in a North American approach and slow the travel-related spread of the virus."

Canada has controlled the outbreak, reporting only 9 deaths for a total of 8,848 in 14th place and 330 cases for a total of 109,999.

Most of the 195,199 deaths in North America have occurred in the United States, Mexico and Canada. Guatemala is fourth with 1,449.

In South America, Peru's situation has been worsening. The nation reported 199 deaths and 3,963 cases Saturday. Its daily death record was 206 on June 11.

On May 1, there were 1,124 deaths.

In South America, there have been 116,575 deaths.

The virus also has been largely contained in Asia, which has 79,792 deaths, including 13,63 Sunday.

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They include 209 in Iran, just 12 from the record, and India, which reported 675 Sunday.

India continually has been setting records in cases -- with a high of 39,135Sunday.

The second-most populous country in the world had 1,223 deaths on May 1.

Mainland China, the most populous country, has reported only a few new cases daily, mostly contracted from outside the country, including 16 Sunday.

Urumqi, the capital of China's far western region of Xinjiang with 3.5 million people, has been under lockdown since Thursday after the first case in 150 days was reported. On Friday, 17 more cases reported since Thursday and another 11 through Saturday.

Outside mainland China, Hong Kong has recorded its highest one-day increase in cases since the pandemic began, 108, including 83 local and 25 imported. The territory's Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced new restrictions to contain the spread.

In all, Hong Kong has reported 1,777 confirmed cases and 12 deaths with a population of 7.45 million, according to China's Health Ministry.

Japan also has reported a spike in cases. On Sunday, it reported 510 cases after reporting 660 cases on Saturday -- the highest since 743 on April 11 -- for a total near 25,400.

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Last week, Hong Kong Disneyland was shut down again. The nation's death toll is 985 with no increase on either Saturday or Sunday.

South Korea also has kept its death count down -- 294 with one reported Sunday -- through widespread testing. In all, the nation has reported 13,711 cases, including 39 more Sunday.

Europe has experienced a drastic reduction in cases and deaths. In all Europe has had nearly 200,000 deaths -- 199,085 -- and nearly 2.7 million cases

On Sunday, the nations reported only 11,461 cases and 196 deaths, including 27 in Britain, and none in Belgium and Germany. Spain and France didn't report any data over the weekend.

Britain's daily high was 1,172 and Italy's was 919.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Saturday it is his "strong and sincere hope that we will be able to review the outstanding restrictions and allow a more significant return to normality from November at the earliest - possibly in time for Christmas."

On Aug 1, companies would have the discretion to bring staff back to the office, in a move that would "give people hope and give businesses confidence."

But Chief medical officer Chris Whitty told a House of Lords committee: "Distancing remains an important part of this mix and how it is interpreted in different environments has evolved, but it has not gone away. [It] needs to continue for a long period of time."

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France's Prime Minister Jean Castex announced Saturday masks will be made mandatory in closed public spaces starting this week after a rise in infections over the last weeks. French President Emmanuel Macron originally announced the mandate would start Aug. 1.

Russia has the fourth-most cases, including an additional 6,109 Sunday, as well as 95 deaths in 11th place.

In Oceania, there have been 122 deaths in Australia and 22 in New Zealand. In one week, Australia's toll has increased by 14.

Victoria recorded 636 new virus infections and three more deaths Sunday. Premier Daniel Andrews announced masks would be mandatory in Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire starting Wednesday night.

"I wouldn't call wearing a mask as an alternative, I'd call it a really important additional measure," Brett Sutton, the state's chief health officer, said Sunday. "It is something that can potentially avoid needing to go to different restrictions. We should do it, it's going to be a benefit."

New Zealand's last fatality was on May 28.

Deaths continue to surge in Africa, going from 5,215 six weeks ago to 14,996, including 279 Saturday. South Africa leads with 4,948, including 144 more Sunday, followed by Egypt with 4,259, including a rise of 63.

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