Younten Tshedup 

Covid-19 has claimed more than a million (M) lives as of yesterday, according to the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) in the US.

Data from the university show that some 1,000,555 people across the world have now died from the virus with over 33M confirmed cases and more than 23M recoveries.

The road to 1M confirmed deaths started in December last year, when doctors in central Chinese city of Wuhan reported a discovery of a ‘pneumonia of unknown cause’. The first death from Covid-19 came after 12 days following the announcement of the discovery. Within a month, the death toll reached 131.

However, according to international media, experts have cautioned that the figure could be probably much higher.

Calling it an “agonizing milestone”, United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, said, “It’s a mind-numbing figure. Yet we must never lose sight of each and every individual life. They were fathers and mothers, wives and husbands, brothers and sisters, friends and colleagues. The pain has been multiplied by the savageness of this disease.”

He said that with no probable end in sight to the spread of the virus, it was crucial that the international community learn from the mistakes made in the first 10 months of the pandemic. “Responsible leadership matters,” he said. “Science matters. Cooperation matters and misinformation kills.”

World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Director General Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus said that the 1M Covid-19 deaths marks a “difficult moment for the world”. He urged countries to “bridge national boundaries” to fight back against the virus.

Experts say that the death toll from the pandemic is expected to rise further as the outbreak continues to accelerate in many countries around the world. Europe is witnessing a resurgence of the disease after lockdowns were lifted.

India crossed 6M cases on Monday and is closing in on the US. The virus has been spreading fast in India, with the country recording about 90,000 confirmed cases a day earlier this month.

Meanwhile, back at home, the country is 20 cases shy of hitting the 300 confirmed cases mark. Although the number of cases has surged following a local transmission in Phuentsholing, the rate of recovery remains high for the country.

With 210 people considered recovered, the Covid-19 recovery rate for Bhutan stands at 75 percent as of yesterday. There are 70 people with an active infection at the isolation facilities.

A major achievement for the country so far has been in maintaining zero deaths from the pandemic.

Preventing mortality due to Covid-19 remains one of the main objectives of the government with the increasing cases both within and outside the country.

An up-front reason for this achievement according to experts was the age group of those who are infected. The epidemiological data shows that risk of severe disease, complication and death from Covid-19 is higher in elderly people.

Besides the lone 65-year-old patient (apart from the American tourist) who was released from the isolation ward on September 1 after testing negative twice within 24 hours, all the Covid-19 positive cases in the country have been relatively young so far.

Among others, stringent health protocols put in place including mandatory isolation of individuals upon testing positive have proven effective. Also, a person is declared recovered only after testing negative on multiple occasions. Anyone arriving in the country from aborad is mandatorily quarantined for 21 days.   

Health ministry’s reinforcement of its three Ts – Testing, Tracing and Treatment – strategy has also contributed to an effective containment and preventing further spread of the virus, officials said.

However, experts have cautioned that with the high recovery rate and zero death, the residents must not become complacent. In the event of community transmission and larger outbreaks, all age groups including children and elderlies would be infected.

This would mean the probability of having severe cases would increase and there could be unfortunate mortalities.