US coronavirus death toll reaches 150,000 - by far highest in the world

29 July 2020, 21:52

File photo: People with and without masks wait in the line outside the Nike store
File photo: People with and without masks wait in the line outside the Nike store. Picture: Getty

By Megan White

The death toll from coronavirus in the US has reached 150,000 - by the far the highest in the world, according to the tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.

The milestone comes amid signs that the nation's outbreak is beginning to stabilise in the South but is rising in the Mid-west, fuelled largely by people visiting bars, restaurants and gyms again.

The surge has been accompanied by a burgeoning outbreak of misinformation and conspiracy theories about supposed cures and the effectiveness of masks.

Brazil has the second highest toll with over 88,000 deaths, followed by the UK at 46,000.

Johns Hopkins put the nation's confirmed infections at nearly 4.4 million, also the highest in the world, though the real numbers in the US and around the globe are believed to be higher because of limits on testing and the many mild cases that have gone undetected or unreported.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said 45,961 people had died in hospitals, care homes and the wider community after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 5pm on Tuesday, up by 83 from the day before.

Coronavirus in numbers: UK confirmed deaths at 45,961

The new figures came as Ireland reached its lowest number of Covid-19 hospitalisations since March, the acting chief medical officer said.

There are eight confirmed cases undergoing treatment.

Ireland has driven down its rate of infection with an early lockdown, widespread testing and largely good compliance with social distancing advice.

On Tuesday, the president of Belarus, who has previously dismissed concerns about coronavirus, says he has tested positive for Covid-19 and is asymptomatic.

Alexander Lukashenko made the announcement at a meeting with security officials, the state news agency Belta reported. He had previously referred to concerns about coronavirus as "psychosis".

He said: "Today you are meeting with a person who managed to survive the coronavirus on his feet. Doctors made such a conclusion yesterday: asymptomatic."

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Belarus took no comprehensive measures against coronavirus such as lockdowns or ordering social distancing.

The country has about 67,000 confirmed cases of infection and 543 reported deaths.

Vietnam locked down its third-largest city for two weeks after 15 cases of Covid-19 were found in a hospital, the government said.

Public transport into and out of the central city of Da Nang was cancelled on Tuesday.

Over the weekend, thousands of mostly Vietnamese tourists had to end their summer holidays in the popular beach destination.

The lockdown has dealt a hard blow to the city's tourism industry, which was just being revived after earlier coronavirus cases mostly subsided at the end of April.

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Earlier on Wednesday, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said he "cannot rule out" that other countries could be included under the UK's quarantine measures.

Mr Shapps made the comment to reporters as he returned to the UK having cut short a family holiday to Spain.

It follows the UK Government's decision to require travellers from the country to isolate for 14 days on their return to the UK following a rise in Covid-19 cases.

Mr Shapps will now need to isolate as a result of the restrictions being imposed.

He said: "We absolutely have to act the moment we get the information and that's exactly what happened with Spain as we saw and as we've seen over the weekend where there was over 6,100 cases - the highest since the peak in March over there.

"It was the right thing to do and it's why the whole of the UK did (it) at the same time.

"I can't therefore rule out other countries having to go into the quarantine as well."