The coronavirus pandemic has passed a grim new milestone, with more than 200,000 people worldwide now dead from the virus. There are more than 2.8 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to John Hopkins University figures.It comes after the number of fatalities in the US passed 50,000, with Americans enduring the world’s deadliest outbreak.Five countries,…

Coronavirus: Global COVID-19 death toll passes 200,000

The coronavirus pandemic has passed a grim new milestone, with more than 200,000 people worldwide now dead from the virus.

There are more than 2.8 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to John Hopkins University figures.

It comes after the number of fatalities in the US passed 50,000, with Americans enduring the world’s deadliest outbreak.

Five countries, including the UK, Italy, Spain, France and the US, have reported death tolls above 20,000, although the true figure is estimated to be higher.

It comes as the World Health Organisation warns patients who have recovered from the virus may not be protected against reinfection.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that while most of the epidemics in Western Europe appeared to be stabilising, for many countries the disease was just getting started.

“And some (countries) that were affected early in the pandemic are now starting to see a resurgence in cases,” he said.

Singapore, for example, has seen a renewed surge in infections despite winning initial praise for its success in containing the virus.

READ MORE: Follow the latest virus news updates

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo says he will authorise independent pharmacies to carry out tests for COVID-19. He said he would also expand screening for antibodies at four hospitals, starting with essential workers. The state of New York alone has recorded more than 16,000 deaths.

Australia’s death toll reached 81 on Saturday with the deaths of two people — one in Tasmania and another in Sydney’s west.

The latest victim in Tasmania is a 90-year-old man who died at the Mersey Community Hospital in Latrobe.

Nine of Tasmania’s deaths have been in the northwest, where an outbreak has been responsible for the majority of the island’s 208 cases.

Twelve new cases confirmed in NSW include a worker at a Blue Mountains aged care home, prompting concerns of another outbreak.

Australia’s total confirmed cases now stands at 6694, a relatively modest increase on 6565 a week ago.

At the peak of the crisis at the end of March, cases were rising by more than 200 a day.

COUNTRIES PIN HOPES ON ANTIBODY TESTS

Many governments have rushed to buy millions of antibody tests as they plan their virus exit strategy.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the tests a “game changer” and ordered 3.5 million home tests from various Chinese companies.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo also announced a massive rollout of antibody testing in his virus-ravaged state this week.

But Australia’s Health Department last month said “point of care” tests that detected antibodies were yet to be rigorously tested by the Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA).

“Many countries are now testing for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies at the population level or in specific groups, such as health workers, close contacts of known cases, or within households,” the WHO said.

“WHO supports these studies, as they are critical for understanding the extent of – and risk factors associated with – infection.

“These studies will provide data on the percentage of people with detectable COVID-19 antibodies, but most are not designed to determine whether those people are immune to secondary infections.”

The head of the WHO’s emergencies program, Dr Mike Ryan, has previously said there is “lots of uncertainty” surrounding antibody tests.

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