Global coronavirus deaths top 750,000

PARIS: The coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 750,000 people worldwide since it first emerged in China in December, according to an AFP tally compiled from official sources at 1210 GMT on Thursday.

A total of 750,003 deaths have been recorded, out of 20,667,684 cases across the globe. Latin America and the Caribbean were the hardest hit region with 228,572 fatalities. Almost half of the deaths reported worldwide were in the four worst hit countries: the United States (166,038), Brazil (104,201), Mexico (54,666) and India (47,033).

In total, the number of people killed by the virus has doubled since June 2, while 100,000 people have died in the last 17 days alone. In Latin America and the Caribbean, more than 18,600 deaths have occurred in the past week, ahead of Canada and the United States at over 8,000, Asia at 7,800, Africa with nearly 2,700 and Europe with almost 2,600.

Overall, Oceania has been the least affected in terms of deaths with just under 400 for 24,000 infections. And of almost 1.1 million people confirmed infected in Africa, so far just over 24,000 have died.

Meanwhile, the British government faced criticism on Thursday after education officials downgraded more than a third of pupils’ final grades in a system devised after the coronavirus pandemic led to cancelled exams.

Although the newly released results for 18-year-olds showed record-high grades and more students accepted to university courses, exam boards downgraded nearly 40 percent of pupils’ grades in England.

Pupils across Britain were unable to sit summer exams as planned due to the Covid-19 lockdown and instead have received a moderated grade based on an assessment by their school or teacher.

But the system, brought in to ensure the marks were not significantly higher than in previous years, could now see thousands fail to get predicted grades and miss out on university offers. “While there has been an overall increase in top grades, we are very concerned that this disguises a great deal of volatility among the results at school and student level,” Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said.

“We have received heartbreaking feedback from school leaders about grades being pulled down in a way that they feel to be utterly unfair and unfathomable. “We are now calling on the government and the exam regulator Ofqual to review the situation as a matter of urgency — and we would warn them against simply digging in their heels and insisting all is well.”

In Scotland, which published its results last week, the devolved government on Tuesday said it would scrap the moderation process after complaints that it had hit poorest pupils’ marks hardest.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, who is responsible for schooling in England only, has ruled out further changes to the grading system there despite the widely anticipated backlash. Ahead of the results he announced pupils would be able to use mock exam results as the basis for an appeal and that they could also choose to sit exams in the autumn instead.


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