Global coronavirus cases surpass 3.5 million amid underreporting fears
SYDNEY (Reuters) – Global coronavirus cases surpassed 3.5 million on Monday and deaths neared a quarter of a million, according to a Reuters tally, concerning experts who fear substantial underreporting even as the rate of fatalities and new cases slows. North America and European countries, where growth rates are easing, still accounted for most of the new infections reported in recent days. But case numbers were rising from smaller bases in Latin America, Africa and Russia, and experts expressed concern that the overall data falls well short of the true impact of the pandemic. Globally, there were 74,779 new cases over the past 24 hours, according to the Reuters tally that is based on official government data, taking total cases to around 3.52 million. That compares with around 3 million to 5 million cases of severe illness caused annually by seasonal influenza, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), but falls far short of the Spanish flu, which began in 1918 and infected an estimated 500 million people. “We still have to be skeptical about the numbers we get,” Peter Collignon, an infectious diseases physician and microbiologist at Canberra Hospital, told Reuters. “That’s a huge problem.” “The mortality rate is also 10 times higher than for influenza in all age groups.” Cases may cause only mild symptoms and not everyone with symptoms is tested, while most countries only record hospital deaths, meaning many deaths in private homes and nursing homes have not yet been included.Deaths related to COVID-19, the disease caused by the new virus, stood at 246,920. The first death was reported on Jan. 10 in Wuhan, China, after the virus emerged there in December.