WHO warns two million virus deaths possible as Europe clamps down

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WHO warns two million virus deaths possible as Europe clamps down

Friday, September 25, 2020

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MADRID,Spain(AFP)—The World Health Organization warned Friday that coronavirus deaths could more than double to two million if infection-fighting measures are not kept up, as Europe tightened the screws faced with mounting cases and the US crossed another bleak milestone.

Global deaths had reached 985,707 according to an AFP tally around 1800 GMT Friday, from more than 32.3 million cases.

The hardest-hit US crossed seven million cases -- more than a fifth of the global total despite accounting for only four percent of the world population.

"One million is a terrible number and we need to reflect on that before we start considering a second million," the WHO's emergencies director Michael Ryan told reporters when asked how much higher deaths could mount.

But he added: "Are we prepared collectively to do what it takes to avoid that number?

"If we don't take those actions... yes, we will be looking at that number and sadly much higher."

The WHO warning came as Spanish officials expanded a lockdown in and around Madrid on Friday to cover one million people.

Madrid's health authority said new rules largely banning tens of thousands from leaving their districts -- in addition to the 850,000 already living under similar restrictions -- would be enforced from Monday.

Across Europe, new spikes were springing up, with Poland and France the latest to register record figures.

France's daily cases soared past 16,000 for the first time in a stark indicator of the virus's resurgence, and the French government faced protests from the hospitality industry as it prepares tough new restrictions.

Across the Channel, British authorities announced restrictions now extending to one-quarter of the country's population, while two supermarket chains said they were rationing purchases of certain goods to clamp down on panic buying.

Moscow ordered vulnerable residents to avoid infection by staying at home, while Israel ratcheted up its lockdown by stopping people from taking flights out of the country.

And in Brazil, the coronavirus fallout for Rio de Janeiro's world-famous carnival grew as organisers postponed street parties in February indefinitely, a day after the official parades were scrapped.


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