More than 500,000 people have officially died of COVID-19 in the European Union, according to a tally compiled by AFP as of Wednesday, with the situation appearing to improve in the worst-hit countries.
The grim milestone was reached late Tuesday; by 1200 GMT on Wednesday the death toll stood at 501,531 from 20,548,666 cases.
The European Union includes some of the world’s worst-hit countries in the pandemic that broke out in the region early last year -- in Italy.
But recent trends point to improvements across the 27-member bloc.
During the seven-day period of February 3-9, the EU as a whole recorded an average daily of 103,250 new infections, which was 16 percent down on the previous week.
The average number of deaths each day was 3,137, or seven percent fewer.
Among the member states hardest hit by the pandemic, Spain showed the steepest decrease in new cases, with a drop of 31 percent to a daily average of 21,945.
By comparison, the figures for Germany were 9,120 (down 20 percent), 19,348 for France (-7 percent), 2,795 for Sweden (-4 percent). In Italy the situation was stable with an average of 12,012 new cases per day.
Sweden’s death rate saw the steepest drop, down 53 percent for an average of 53 deaths per day. Germany’s toll was down 16 percent at 596, Italy’s down 9 percent at 380 and France’s down 7 percent at 416. Spain, on the other hand, has seen its average daily death toll rise 8 percent to 465.
Outside of the EU, Britain saw its daily average caseload shrink 27 percent to 17,075. The average daily death toll also decreased, by 26 percent to 834.
On Wednesday as of 1200 GMT, Britain -- the world’s fifth hardest-hit country in overall deaths -- had recorded 113,850 fatalities from 3,972,148 infections; France had 80,147 deaths from 3,360,235 cases; Spain 63,061 deaths from 3,005,487 cases; Italy 92,002 deaths from 2,655,319; Germany 62,969 deaths from 2,299,996 cases and Sweden 12,188 deaths from 596,174 cases.
Overall in Europe’s 52 countries and territories, 34,902,124 cases have been recorded as of Wednesday.
With 785,106 fatalities, the region is the world’s worst hit, followed by Latin America and the Caribbean region with 624,952 deaths and the US and Canada with 489,091.
For the 52-nation region, the seven days of February 3-9 saw a daily average of 157,255 new cases, a decrease of 15 percent over January 27-February 2.
The average daily death toll also decreased, by 11 percent to 4,832.