15 May 2020

Covid-19: Global deaths top 300,000 as cases near 4.5 million

3:43 pm on 15 May 2020

Global deaths linked to the Covid-19 coronavirus passed 300,000 on Thursday, while reported cases of the virus are approaching 4.5 million, according to a Reuters tally.

Access to the Gare de l Est train station in Paris is controlled by police officers and SNCF railway security agents on 14 May. They request certificates to move at peak hours, and maintain a distance of one metre.

Photo: AFP / Mathieu Menard / Hans Lucas

About half the fatalities have been reported by the United States, the United Kingdom and Italy.

The first death linked to the disease was reported on 10 January in Wuhan, China. It took 91 days for the death toll to pass 100,000 and a further 16 days to reach 200,000, according to the Reuters tally of official reports from governments.

It took 19 days to go from 200,000 to 300,000 deaths.

By comparison, an estimated 400,000 people die annually from malaria, one of the world's most deadly infectious diseases.

The United States has reported more than 85,000 deaths from the new coronavirus, while the United Kingdom and Italy have reported over 30,000 fatalities each.

While the current trajectory of Covid-19 falls far short of the 1918 Spanish flu, which infected an estimated 500 million people, killing at least 10 percent of patients, public health experts worry the available data is underplaying the true impact of the pandemic.


A vaccine to counter the new coronavirus could be approved in about a year in an "optimistic" scenario, an agency which approves medicines for the European Union said.

France's cumulative coronavirus death toll edged back above Spain's as the health ministry reported an increase of 351, to 27,425, in the past 24 hours.

Doctors in France and northern Italy, one of the areas hardest hit by Covid-19, reported spikes in cases of a rare inflammatory syndrome in young children that appears similar to one reported in the United States, Britain and Spain.

Russia on Thursday reported 9974 new confirmed cases, its lowest daily rise in nearly two weeks, bringing its nationwide tally to 252,245.

The French government unveiled a €1.3 billion investment plan for the country's tourism sector, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus crisis and the resulting shutdown in tourist attractions and hotels.

Hungary's government could retract the emergency powers it installed in late June, depending on the evolution of the pandemic.


In the United States, more than 1.4 million people had been infected and 84,958 had died, according to a Reuters tally, as of 10.17pm GMT on Thursday.

US President Donald Trump said he was mobilizing the US military to distribute a vaccine when one became available and would focus first on older Americans.

President Donald Trump at a Covid-19 media conference in the Rose Garden of the White House on 11 May 2020 in Washington, DC.

US President Donald Trump Photo: AFP / Getty Images

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidelines to help schools and workplaces determine whether they were ready to open for business. It provided six "decision trees" to cover yes-or-no scenarios.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled new measures to support hard-hit sectors, including $C470 million for fisheries and the partial reopening of some national parks.

Asia Pacific

China said it would step up testing to prevent a rebound of the epidemic that killed more than 4600 in its mainland territories.

Workers stand next to Wuhan residents wearing face masks waiting in a line to be tested of COVID-19 in a neighborhood in Wuhan, in China's central Hubei province on May 15, 2020.

Wuhan residents waiting to be tested for Covid-19. The emergence of new cases after weeks without fresh infections prompted a campaign to test all 11 million residents in the city where the virus first emerged. Photo: AFP / Hector RETAMAL

South Korean health authorities said they would revise their practice of publicising travel routes of coronavirus patients due to fears of backlash against clubgoers and discrimination against members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe lifted a state of emergency in large parts of the country on Thursday but said it would remain in place in Tokyo until the Covid-19 coronavirus was contained.

India aggressively pushed a state-backed contact tracing app, raising fears of Chinese-style methods of high-tech social control.

Health groups asked India to rescind Gilead's patents for Covid-19 drug remdesivir so it could be distributed more fairly to patients worldwide, particularly in poorer nations.

Japan has begun treating severely ill patients with remdesivir, a health ministry official said, just days after giving it emergency approval.

Covid-19 has been detected in one of the southern Bangladesh camps that are home to more than a million Rohingya refugees, as humanitarian groups warned the infection could devastate the crowded settlement.

Vietnam has mounted an all-out effort to save its most critically ill patient, a British pilot. With aggressive testing and a mass, centralised quarantine programme, it has reported just 288 cases and no deaths.

Malaysia will ease a ban on mass prayers in mosques, starting from Friday and ahead of this month's Eid festival.

Middle East and Africa

Armenia extended a state of emergency until 13 June after the number of new daily infections began rising at the end of April.

Burundi is expelling the national head of the World Health Organisation and three members of his team during a presidential election campaign that has gone ahead despite health risks from the coronavirus pandemic.

Sierra Leone is weathering a dramatic crunch in mining revenue as restrictions hurt companies' ability to export gold and diamonds and access essential supplies.

Economic fallout

Global equity benchmarks gained late on Thursday, US time, with safe-haven bonds also rising as investors shrugged off disappointing US jobs data and took comfort in the possibility of states re-opening after lockdowns and fuelling an economic recovery.

More global coordination is necessary to fight the twin threat of the coronavirus crisis and climate change, a top official from central bank umbrella group, the Bank for International Settlements, said.

Iran's oil exports have sunk to a record low as the Covid-19 pandemic compounds the impact of US sanctions already limiting shipments.

The Bank of Japan's governor said he saw no need to take interest rates deeper into negative territory now.