Coronavirus Global Death Toll Hits 20,000 As Over Half of Fatalities Are in Italy and Spain

The COVID-19 virus has claimed more than 20,000 lives across the globe, as of Wednesday, according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University.

The virus, which was first reported in Wuhan, a city in China's Hubei province, has infected more than 451,000 people, while nearly 112,000 have recovered. China has more than 81,600 cases, with around 3,200 fatalities and nearly 73,000 recoveries. With more infections now reported outside China than within, the country claims the outbreak has been largely contained.

Following a slight dip in new fatalities on Monday, Italy's death toll doubled that of China on Wednesday. The country reported around 6,820 deaths, while China has nearly 3,200.

The total fatalities in the U.S. surged past 800 on Wednesday, making it the fifth largest death toll outside China. Most of the deaths in the U.S. have been in New York, which has seen at least 265 fatalities, while Washington state has reported at least 134.

Italy has more deaths than any other country and remains the worst-hit nation outside China, with nearly 69,200 confirmed cases. However, the country also reports the second highest number of recoveries outside China, after Iran. Italy has seen more than 8,300 people recover from infection.

Spain's death toll has also overtaken that of China, with 738 new fatalities recorded on Wednesday, Reuters reports, bringing its total to at least 3,434 deaths.

Madrid's skating rink has reportedly been made into a makeshift morgue, while dozens have died in nursing homes across the country. Spain began its 11th day of a 15-day lockdown on Wednesday, which is likely to be extended to 30 days, Reuters reports.

Schools, bars, restaurants and most shops are closed, while social gatherings are banned and residents are required to remain in their homes.

"We have achieved a near total reduction in social contact," the director of Spain's health emergency coordination center, Fernando Simón, said at a press conference Wednesday.

Spain is near the peak of the outbreak, Simón added, with the country reporting more than 47,600 confirmed cases on Wednesday.

"If we are not already at the peak, we are very close," he said. "I cannot say that we have reached it." He added it would be "counterproductive" to think about easing restrictions in the country anytime soon, the Associated Press reports.

Cemetery in Lombardy, Italy, coronavirus, March 2020
A man wearing a face mask touches the coffin of a deceased relative during a funeral ceremony at the entrance of the small cemetery of Bolgare, Lombardy, on March 23, 2020. Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person, the World Health Organization (WHO) advises. Getty Images

The outbreak also devastated Iran, which has the third highest death toll outside China and the fourth highest in the world. The virus has killed at least 2,077 people in Iran, while more than 27,000 cases have been confirmed in the country, as of Wednesday. Iran also has the highest number of recoveries outside China, with more than 9,600 having recovered from infection.

France has more than a thousand fatalities, with its death toll at 1,100 on Wednesday. It has the third highest number of deaths in Europe and the fourth highest outside China. Over 22,600 people have been infected in the country.

Data on COVID-19 cases is from Johns Hopkins University unless otherwise stated.

The graphics below, provided by Statista, illustrate the recovery curve compared to the infection curve of the virus, and the spread of the COVID-19 virus across the world

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • If you feel unwell (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and call local health authorities in advance.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
    Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing. Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it.
  • Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.