Trump extends federal social distancing rules until April 30

Tuesday, March 31st, 2020 00:00 |
Medical staff push a coronavirus patient on a stretcher towards a French army medical helicopter in Strasbourg, on March 30, 2020, to be evacuated to a German hospital. Photo/AFP

Washington, Monday

President Donald Trump has said federal coronavirus guidelines such as social distancing will be extended across the US until at least April 30.

He had previously suggested that they could be relaxed as early as Easter, which falls in mid-April.

“The highest point of the death rate is likely to hit in two weeks,” Trump had said.

He appeared to be referring to peak infection rates that experts fear could overwhelm hospitals.

In Europe, the coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 25,000 people.  Spain confirmed another 812 deaths in 24 hours from the coronavirus on Monday, a slight decline on the previous day’s toll, bringing the total number of deaths to 7,340.

The growth in the number of new confirmed cases also slowed, posting a one-day rise of eight per cent to 85,195, according to the health ministry, compared to a 20-percent rise on Wednesday.

However, Spain has now joined the US and Italy in having more cases than China, where the virus first appeared in December and which had confirmed 81,439 cases as of Sunday evening.

In Italy, there was some encouraging news as the daily death toll­—at 756 in the last 24 hours—fell for the third day running.

A prominent Italian scientist said on Monday that the country’s measures to halt coronavirus contagion do not seem to be working and it should change its strategy by setting up centers to separate people with suspected symptoms from their families.

Italy, which has suffered the world’s highest death toll from coronavirus, has been in nationwide lockdown for about three weeks, but in the last three days new infections have continued.

Andrea Crisanti, professor of microbiology at Padua University, said many of these new cases are probably people who are being infected by fellow family members at home.

Rouhani’s response

Iran’s official coronavirus death toll reached 2,757 on Monday and the number of infections crossed 40,000, as President Hassan Rouhani’s political opponents slammed his response to the outbreak.

Iran has been scrambling to contain Covid-19’s spread since it reported its first cases on February 19.

In the US, White House medical adviser Dr Anthony Fauci had earlier warned that the virus could kill up to 200,000 Americans.

He said it was “entirely conceivable” that millions of Americans could eventually be infected. The US now has more than 140,000 confirmed cases.

As of Sunday evening, 2,493 deaths had been recorded in the country in relation to Covid-19, according to figures collated by Johns Hopkins University.

Speaking during a Coronavirus Task Force press briefing at the White House late Sunday, Trump said measures such as social distancing were “the way you win”, adding that the US “will be well on our way to recovery” by June.

Suggesting that the “peak” of death rates in the US was likely to hit in two weeks, Trump said that “nothing would be worse than declaring victory before victory is won.” -AFP and BBC

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