Lockdown strategy hailed as Spain, Italy death toll fall

Tuesday, April 7th, 2020 00:00 |
An Indonesian medical team takes a swab from a man to test for the COVID-19 in Depok, yesterday. Photo/AFP

Rome, Monday

New coronavirus infections and deaths have fallen in Spain and Italy in recent days, suggesting lockdowns are working. 

Italy’s daily death toll was at its lowest in more than two weeks and its infection curve was finally on a downward slope.

In Spain, new deaths dropped for the third straight day. But the optimism was tempered by Britain’s jump in virus deaths that outpaced the daily toll in Italy.

Angelo Borrelli, the head of Italy’s Civil Protection agency said there were 525 deaths in the 24-hour period, the lowest such figure in the country since 427 deaths were registered on March 19. 

In Spain, the government declared Monday a fourth consecutive drop in the number of coronavirus-related deaths with 637 over the past 24 hours, the lowest number in nearly two weeks.

Globally, Covid-19 cases stood at 1,288,37, with 70,482 deaths on Monday, according to Johns Hopkins University tally.

The coronavirus threatened Americans with their hardest week in memory on Monday, and put Britain’s prime minister in hospital, despite early signs that some of Europe’s hardest-hit countries may be turning a corner.

Japan announced an imminent state of emergency and a trillion-dollar stimulus package, after the US surgeon general compared the likely impact of the epidemic in the week ahead to 9/11.

But it was a more mixed picture in Europe, where countries already ravaged by deadly Covid-19 outbreaks reported lower numbers of new infections and, in Austria and Italy, began thinking about easing lockdown restrictions. 

In London, virus-stricken Prime Minister Boris Johnson  remained in hospital Monday but was in “good spirits” after being admitted for tests for “persistent” coronavirus symptoms. This came as Queen Elizabeth II delivered a rare emergency address urging Britain to “remain united and resolute”.

Saddest week

The new coronavirus has reached almost every corner of the planet, confining nearly half of humanity to their homes and turning life upside down for billions on a deadly march that has claimed over 70,000 lives.

“This is going to be the saddest week of most Americans, quite frankly,” US Surgeon General Jerome Adams said. 

In Tokyo, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said hospitals face a “critical situation” and an emergency could be declared as early as Tuesday. 

“We’re currently seeing rapid increases of new infections particularly in urban areas like Tokyo and Osaka,” he said.

But there was hope in parts of Europe.

“The curve has started its descent and the number of deaths has started to drop,” said top Italian health official Silvio Brusaferro, adding the next phase could be a gradual easing of a strict month-long lockdown.

But there was little indication of a let-up in the United States, where the death toll approached 10,000 and authorities warned worse was around the corner. There were 337,933 cases in the US on Monday. -AFP

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