Tuesday 19 Jan 2021

Covid: India crosses 150,000 mark

With 150,114 deaths thus far due to the disease, India is only the third country, after the United States and Brazil, to cross the 150,000 mark.

| JANUARY 06, 2021, 10:11 PM IST

India’s death toll due to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) reached 150,114 on Wednesday as the Ministry of health and family welfare (MoHFW) reported that the country had recorded 264 new Covid-19 related fatalities in the last 24 hours. This makes India only the third country to have recorded more than 150,000 deaths due to Covid-19, after the United States and Brazil. Incidentally, these are also the three countries with the highest Covid-19 caseload in the world, with the US on top, followed by India and Brazil respectively.

Here’s a look at the number of deaths due to Covid-19 in some of the world’s other worst-hit countries:

United States of America: The Covid-19 situation in the US has turned grim, despite vaccination drives against the pandemic being carried out. There were more than 3,900 deaths in the previous 24 hours, a new daily record, the Johns Hopkins University said. According to the university’s coronavirus tracker, US’ caseload of Covid-19 currently stands at 21,045,468 of which 357,166 cases have resulted in deaths.

Brazil: The South American nation is yet to approve a vaccine against Covid-19, even as its caseload has mounted to 7,810,440, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker. Brazil is nearing 200,000 Covid-19 deaths and its current toll stands at 197,732, the tracker shows.

Mexico: Though Mexico is not even among the top 10 countries with highest Covid-19 cases, it’s death toll is the fourth-highest in the world. The Johns Hopkins University tracker shows that Mexico has thus far recorded 128,822 deaths in a national tally of 1,466,490.

Russia: The world’s largest country also has the fourth-highest caseload of Covid-19. Russia, which last August, claimed to have developed the world’s first vaccine against Covid-19, called Sputnik V, has a death toll of 58,706, in a national tally of 3,250,713, according to Johns Hopkins.

United Kingdom: Currently in the middle of another national lockdown, the United Kingdom has a Covid-19 caseload of 2,782,709, the fifth-highest in the world. 76,428 of these cases have resulted in deaths, the Johns Hopkins’ tracker shows.

France and Italy: Among the world’s worst-hit countries, both France and Italy have death tolls lower than that of the UK. While Italy has reported 76,329 deaths in a national tally of 2,181,619, France stands at 66,417 deaths out of a caseload of 2,737,884, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker.

Covid yet to reach these places in the world… and might never

For all of its virulence, for all the breathtaking speed with which it spread seemingly everywhere around the globe, there are places still where Covid-19 has not reached, and might never.

The Pacific is home to the world’s largest cluster of Covid-free nations. In the distant archipelago of the Cook Islands, coronavirus has been a spectre that never emerged from the shadows.

In the early months of the outbreak, schools were closed on Rarotonga - the most populous island - and social distancing encouraged in public places. Relaxed after a handful of weeks, the measures were the closest the Cooks would get to experiencing living with the virus.

“No matter how prepared we may think we are,” Glenda Tuaine said from Rarotonga, “we have been in a safe bubble here devoid of the real impact and devastation Covid-19 can and does have on communities.”

Tourism contributes over two-thirds of the Cooks Islands nominal gross domestic product. So when the government shuttered borders to international travellers in mid-March, the impact was swift and pronounced.

“The moment we closed our borders, it hit our people in the pocket,” prime minister Mark Brown said.

Since then, the economy has been propped up by a government relief package that’s kept workers in jobs and a fraction of commercial activity ticking along in the absence of vital tourist dollars.

Despite, or because of, the hardship, Brown argues a stronger community spirit has emerged. “People taking care of each other, looking out for their neighbours, their relations, sharing food they have grown: the creativity of our people has re-emerged with a vengeance.”

Across the Pacific, keeping the virus out has required, essentially, keeping borders resolutely shut.

Tonga has stopped almost all movement in and out of the kingdom, and has avoided the virus, as has Kiribati, Niue, Nauru and Tuvalu.

Enforced isolation helps. Two of the only places on earth not connected by aviation - the airstrip-less islands of Tokelau (a New Zealand dependency) and Pitcairn Island (a British territory) - are also Covid-free.

In Koror, the largest city in the western Pacific archipelago of Palau, remaining Covid-free after a year is regarded as a combination of luck, fortified by the early decision to close borders. The country has even received 2800 doses of the Moderna vaccine, courtesy of the United States, and has ambitions to effectively vaccinate its entire population by mid-year.

But being isolated for the duration of the pandemic has made Decherong anxious to “get off the rock” when he can.

“Living on a beautiful island has many perks but it is definitely nice to just get away for a bit every once in a while. But, if anything, the isolation has forced me to re-explore or revisit places that I have long forgotten or not made time to see on the island.

“Maintaining a positive outlook will get me through the isolation. I do hope that family members wishing to come home may be able to do so sooner rather than later.”

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