Latin American coronavirus deaths overtake North American fatalities

People wearing face masks queue to take a PCR test that detects the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, in Santo Domingo, on July 13, 2020. (AFP Photo)

The number of deaths from the coronavirus in Latin America has exceeded the figure for North America for the first time since the start of the pandemic, a Reuters count showed on Monday.

had by Monday seen at least 144,680 deaths so far, compared to 143,847 deaths in - comprising Canada and the United States - according to Reuters figures, which are based on official counts.

The first confirmed cases of the virus in the Americas came within a day of each other in late February, first in Canada and then the United States and Mexico.

Initially, the United States and Canada suffered a more rapid escalation in reported case numbers.

However, Latin America struggled to contain the spread of the virus once it left the more affluent neighborhoods where it was first detected, usually in those who had traveled abroad. A problematic combination of widespread poverty, informal labor, and poor healthcare, particularly in remote areas, contributed to the spread.

The leaders of the region's two most populated countries, Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro and Mexico's Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, initially dismissed the severity of the virus.

The United States remains the individual country with the most overall deaths - 135,055 - followed by Brazil at 72,100.

Mexico and Peru are among the 10 nations with the highest number of deaths globally, while Chile, Colombia and Ecuador have also all suffered more than 5,000 deaths.

The world's infections surpassed 13 million on Monday, according to a Reuters count, another grim milestone in the spread of the disease that has killed more than half a million people in seven months. The tally shows the disease is accelerating fastest in Latin America.

The first case was reported in China in early January and it took three months for one million cases to be confirmed globally. It took just five days to reach 13 million from the 12 million registered on July 8.

The number of coronavirus infections to date is around triple the number of severe influenza cases confirmed each year around the globe, according to the World Health Organization.

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