More than three quarters of a million people have died across the globe as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, according to the latest data.
The grim milestone comes just 46 days after half a million fatalities were recorded by Baltimore's Johns Hopkins University, which puts the global total for cases as more than 20 million.
More than 40 per cent of the deaths are divided between three nations in the Americas - the USA, Brazil and Mexico - which rank first, second and third for total virus-related fatalities respectively.
Latin America and the Caribbean currently leads for the number of fatalities in the last week, with 18,600 recorded. The figure puts them ahead of the US and Canada on more than 8,000, Asia with more than 7,800, Africa with almost 2,700 and Europe with almost 2,600.
The real global rate however is believed to be far higher, with each country deploying its own testing regimes and definitions to identify those who have died after contracting the virus.
It comes as the World Health Organisation (WHO) downplayed the danger of the coronavirus latching on to food packaging and urged people not to be afraid of the virus entering the food chain.
The reassurance follows concern that an outbreak in New Zealand, where borders have been tightly restricted, could have been carried into the country on packaging.
Two cities in China said they had found traces of the coronavirus in imported frozen food and on food packaging, raising fears that contaminated food shipments might cause new outbreaks.
“People should not fear food, or food packaging or processing or delivery of food,” WHO head of emergencies programme Mike Ryan told a briefing in Geneva. “There is no evidence that food or the food chain is participating in transmission of this virus. And people should feel comfortable and safe.”
WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove said China had tested hundreds of thousands of packages and “found very, very few, less than 10” proving positive for the virus.
Additional reporting by agencies
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