Worldwide coronavirus death toll passes two million milestone

15 January 2021, 18:24 | Updated: 15 January 2021, 18:59

More than two million people worldwide have now died after contracting coronavirus
More than two million people worldwide have now died after contracting coronavirus. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

More than two million people globally have now died with Covid, roughly one year after the virus was first detected in Wuhan, the latest figures show.

Data compiled by Johns Hopkins University shows the worldwide coronavirus death toll passed the threshold on Friday.

A Covid-19 dashboard put together by the US university - based in Baltimore, Maryland - currently shows a figure of 2,000,905.

It also says more than 93 million people across the globe have contracted Covid-19.

The grim milestone was reached just over one year after the virus was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan and as vaccines are rolled out around the world in a campaign to defeat it.

Read more: UK to close all travel corridors from Monday, Boris Johnson announces

Read more: UK records another 1,280 deaths as cases rise by more than 55,000

PM: All travel corridors will close due to risk of new Covid strains

The current worldwide death toll is roughly equal to the populations of Brussels, Mecca, Minsk or Vienna.

While it is based on figures supplied by government agencies around the world, the real toll is believed to be significantly higher, in part because of inadequate testing and the many fatalities that were inaccurately attributed to other causes, especially early in the outbreak.

It took eight months to hit one million deaths, but less than four more months to reach Friday's milestone.

"Behind this terrible number are names and faces - the smile that will now only be a memory, the seat forever empty at the dinner table, the room that echoes with the silence of a loved one," UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said.

He added that the toll "has been made worse by the absence of a global coordinated effort".

"Science has succeeded, but solidarity has failed," he said.

Read more: UK bans flights from Brazil, Portugal and 14 other nations over variant

Read more: Brazil Covid strain: What is the new variant? Have flights been stopped?

Virologist brands travel ban 'too little too late'

It comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the UK will be closing all its travel corridors from 4am on Monday.

The move ends the quarantine exemption for arrivals from selected nations and means people must provide evidence of a negative test from within the previous 72 hours before being let into the country.

It means arrivals from every destination will need to self-isolate for 10 days, or receive a negative result from a Covid-19 test taken at least five days after they enter Britain.

The UK leader said the policy was being introduced "to protect us against the risk from as-yet-unidentified strains".

Writing on Twitter as the announcement was made, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said travel restrictions were being tightened as it is "impossible" for scientists to react quickly to where new variants are emerging.

Listen & subscribe: Global Player | Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify