Coronavirus: Global cases surpass 1 million, with more than 51,000 deaths and half of humanity in confinement

An elderly woman at a Palestinian nursing home in the Israeli-occupied West Bank holds up a coronavirus model.
PHOTO: Reuters

WASHINGTON - Global coronavirus cases surpassed 1 million on Thursday (April 2) with more than 51,000 deaths as the pandemic further exploded in the United States and the death toll climbed in Spain and Italy, according to a tally by a US university.

At the same time, according to an AFP calculation, more than 3.9 billion people, or half of the world's population, are now being called on to stay in their homes to combat Covid-19.

The virus has killed more than 51,000 globally with the largest number of deaths in Italy, followed by Spain and the United States, Johns Hopkins University's Centre for System Science and Engineering reported.

It said more than 200,000 people had recovered from the disease, more than 75,000 of them in China where the virus was first recorded late last year.

The first 100,000 cases were reported in around 55 days and the first 500,000 in 76 days, according to a Reuters tally based on official records.

Cases doubled to one million within the past eight days, Reuters’ data showed.

As the pandemic has spread around the world, governments have closed factories and businesses, grounded airlines and ordered hundreds of millions of people to stay at home to try to slow the contagion.

The lockdown measures – which include compulsory or recommended confinement, curfews and quarantines – are in place in more than 90 countries and territories, said AFP.

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The introduction of a curfew in Thailand, which takes effect on Friday, pushes the number facing lockdown measures past half of the global population of 7.8 billion.

Some 2.78 billion residents of 49 countries and territories are currently subject to obligatory confinement at home.

In Europe, the likes of Britain, France, Italy and Spain are under restrictions. In Asia, similar rules apply to India, Nepal and Sri Lanka among others. Large parts of the US are under some kind of lockdown and even relatively isolated New Zealand has not been spared.

Large parts of the US are under some kind of lockdown and even relatively isolated New Zealand has not been spared.

Although Covid-19 arrived in Africa later than other regions, countries as distant as Morocco and South Africa have begun to take action.

Eritrea joined the list on Thursday, ordering its citizens to remain in their homes for 21 days.

In most places, people are still able to get out of the house to make vital purchases, such as food or medicine or to go to work, though residents are encouraged to work from home if possible.

In at least 10 other countries, totalling 600 million people, governments are urging residents to stay at home, but without introducing any coercive measures such as fines or arrests.

This is the case in Germany, Canada, Mexico and Iran among others.

At least 26 other nations or territories, accounting for some 500 million inhabitants, have introduced curfews, obliging people to stay at home throughout the evening and night. This method is much used in African countries including Kenya, Egypt and Mali and Latin American nations including Chile, Panama and Puerto Rico.

In at least seven countries, the governments have focused on the main population centres. Bans are now in place on anyone leaving or entering the Saudi Arabian cities of Riyadh, Medina and Mecca. Finland has introduced similar rules for Helsinki and DR Congo for Kinshasa. These restrictions cover over 30 million residents.

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