COVID-19: The pace of death

COVID-19

The pace of death

Coronavirus-related fatalities continue to pile up as the world passes half a million deaths. More than 4,700 people are dying each day, based on an average from June 1 to 27.

0 hours - 0 deaths

0 hours - 0 deaths

The death toll from COVID-19 reached half a million people on June 28, according to a Reuters tally, a grim milestone for the global pandemic that seems to be resurgent in some countries even as other regions are still grappling with the first wave.

The respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus has been particularly dangerous for the elderly, although other adults and children are also among the 500,000 fatalities and more than 10 million reported cases.

On average, more than 4,700 people are dying around the world from COVID-19-linked illness every 24 hours, according to Reuters calculations based on an average from June 1 to 27.

That equates to 196 people per hour, or one person every 18 seconds. In the time it takes to watch a 90-minute soccer match, 293 people would have died on average.

Someone is dying every
18 seconds

from coronavirus related issues,

based on an average from June 1 to 27.

That's 0 people
since you have been looking at the page

While the overall rate of death has flattened in recent weeks, health experts have expressed concerns about record numbers of new cases in countries like the United States, India and Brazil, as well as new outbreaks in parts of Asia.

Past a peak

About one-quarter of all the deaths so far have been in the United States, though fatalities in Brazil and India are rising rapidly, the Reuters data shows.

Daily deaths - 7-day rolling average

6,000

Mid.

East

North

America

Africa

4,000

Latin America,

Caribbean

2,000

Europe

Asia

0

Feb.

March

April

May

June

6,000

Middle

East

North

America

Africa

4,000

Latin America,

Caribbean

2,000

Europe

Asia

0

Feb.

March

April

May

June

6,000

North

America

Middle

East

Africa

4,000

Latin America,

Caribbean

2,000

Europe

Asia

0

Feb.

March

April

May

June

6,000

Mid.

East

North

America

Africa

4,000

Latin America,

Caribbean

2,000

Europe

Asia

0

Feb.

March

April

May

June

The first recorded death was on Jan. 9, a 61-year-old man from the Chinese city of Wuhan who was a regular shopper at a wet market that has been identified as the source of the outbreak.

In just five months, the total number of deaths linked to COVID-19 is now equal to the number of people who die annually from malaria, one of the most deadly infectious diseases.

The death rate averages out to 78,000 per month, compared with 64,000 AIDS-related deaths and 36,000 malaria deaths, according to 2018 figures from the World Health Organization.

The seven-day rolling average for deaths stood at more than 4,800 per day on June 27, down from a peak of almost 7,400 per day on April 19.

Many countries have begun to lift their lockdown restrictions and allow businesses to reopen, hoping to revive struggling economies and lower unemployment rates. But some governments have had to pull back on reopening amid fears of a second wave of infections.

A shifting epicentre

In the United States, the epicentre of the outbreak was originally around New York. But the number of new cases in that state has now declined each week for 10 straight weeks, whereas new hot spots have emerged in the U.S. South and West. The governor of Texas recently decided to halt the state’s reopening after a surge in infections and hospitalisations.

Globally, data from a Reuters tally shows how the share of deaths by region has shifted over time, from Asia to the Middle East, Europe and North America, and then to Latin America.

Share of daily deaths - percentage

Africa

100

Middle

East

80

North

America

Latin America,

Caribbean

60

Asia

40

Europe

20

0

Feb.

March

April

May

June

Africa

100

Middle

East

80

North

America

Latin America,

Caribbean

60

Asia

40

Europe

20

0

Feb.

March

April

May

June

Africa

100

Middle

East

80

North

America

Latin America,

Caribbean

60

Asia

40

Europe

20

0

Feb.

March

April

May

June

Africa

100

Middle

East

80

North

America

Latin America,

Caribbean

60

Asia

40

Europe

20

0

Feb.

March

April

May

June

The victims

The high number of deaths has led to changes to traditional and religious burial rites around the world, with morgues and funeral businesses overwhelmed and loved ones often barred from bidding farewell in person.

In Israel, the custom of washing the bodies of Muslim deceased is not permitted, and instead of being shrouded in cloth, they must be wrapped in a plastic body bag. The Jewish tradition of Shiva where people go to the home of mourning relatives for seven days has also been disrupted.

In Italy, Catholics have been buried without funerals or a blessing from a priest. In New York, city crematories were working overtime, burning bodies into the night as officials scouted for temporary interment sites.

In Iraq, former militiamen have dropped their guns to instead dig graves for coronavirus victims at a specially-created cemetery. They have learned how to conduct Christian, as well as Muslim, burials.

Members of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) check a grave before burial at new Wadi Al-Salam cemetery in Najaf, Iraq on 25 May, 2020. REUTERS/Alaa al-Marjani

Elderly at risk

Public health experts are looking at how demographics affect the death rates in different regions. Some European countries with older populations have reported higher fatality rates, for instance.

An April report by the EU Centers for Disease Control looked at over 300,000 cases in 20 countries and found that about 46% of all fatalities were over the age of 80.

In Indonesia, hundreds of children are believed to have died, a development health officials have attributed to malnutrition, anemia and inadequate child health facilities.

Health experts caution that the official data likely does not tell the full story, with many believing that both cases and deaths have likely been underreported in some countries.

Graphics by Manas Sharma, Simon Scarr and Gurman Bhatia.

Writing by Cate Cadell and Jane Wardell.

Sources

Local state agencies; Local media; Reuters Research