Global deaths from the coronavirus pandemic topped a quarter-million on Monday, mostly in the US and Europe even as both regions slowly moved away from lockdown and world leaders raised billions towards a vaccine.
An AFP tally of official figures showed that Europe is the hardest-hit continent with around 145,000 fatalities, and the United States recorded close to 68,700 — together accounting for more than 85 percent of global fatalities.
An internal government estimate in Washington forecast an even worsening number of fatalities for the country. It said the daily COVID-19 death toll could double by the end of May.
In Europe, though, governments believe they have passed the peak of the disease with deaths in the continent’s worst affected countries having dropped as a result of nearly two months of confinement.
Restaurants in Italy partially reopened and Germans queued for haircuts in a Europe edging gingerly out of lockdown.
Half of the planet has been under orders to shelter in place, and much of the world remained cautious even as countries from India to Nigeria sought to ease restrictions so that businesses can remain afloat and workers earn a wage after the pandemic-induced economic crash.
“Today is wonderful,” Lagos fruit and vegetable vendor Adewale Oluwa said, opening his stall in Africa’s largest city after a five-week lockdown.