UK, US death toll rises as Trump backs away from NY lockdown

Monday, March 30th, 2020 00:00 |
Health worker helps a patient wear a face mask at a Covid-19 testing centre in Paris on Saturday. France has recorded more than 2,000 deaths. Photo/AFP

No kiss the bride... 

Palestinian newly-weds Mohamed abu Daga and his wife Israa wear protective masks during a photo-shoot at a studio after their wedding in the southern Gaza Strip at the weekend. The Palestinian government has declared a ban on tourists visiting cities to stem coronavirus spread. AFP

Rome, Sunday

The coronavirus death toll shot past 20,000 in Europe on Saturday, with Italy and Spain each reporting more than 800 dead in one day, as US President Donald Trump pulled back on putting the hard-hit New York region under lockdown.

Up to a third of the world’s population is under lockdown as the virus leaves devastating imprint on nearly every aspect of society: wiping out millions of jobs, straining health care services and weighing heavily on national treasuries for years to come.

Globally, the death toll on Sunday stood at 31,700, with 678,720 confirmed cases, according to Johns Hopkins University tally. Officials in some countries say the worst still lies ahead. 

Italy on Saturday announced 889 new deaths, pushing it past the 10,000 mark.

Spain, which has the world’s second-highest death toll, recorded 838 deaths in the past 24 hours, bring the country’s deaths to 6,528. 

But in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus outbreak first struck, officials took tentative steps back toward normality, partly reopening the city after more than two months of near total isolation.

Not necessary

Trump decided late Saturday against imposing a broad lockdown on New York and its neighbours after a strong pushback from local political leaders and warnings of the panic it could spark.

“A quarantine will not be necessary,” Trump tweeted, about eight hours after he stunned the New York metropolitan region, the epicentre of the US coronavirus outbreak, with a proposal to place it under quarantine.

Instead, he asked federal authorities to issue a “strong Travel Advisory” against movement to and from the area.

Trump’s reversal came on the same day the US death toll topped 2,100, more than doubling in just three days. Of the 2,147 deaths, more than a quarter—672—were in New York City.

Health officials say they fear New York may follow the deadly path charted by Italy, with health professionals exhausted and hospitals desperately short of protective equipment and ventilators. 

The United States now has the highest number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the world, at 124,686. 

Russia, which has reported relatively low levels of the virus, said it would close its borders Monday in an attempt to slow the pandemic’s spread.

In France, which has seen more than 2,000 deaths, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe warned the “battle” was just beginning.

The British toll passed 1,000 on Saturday. Elsewhere, Iran announced 139 more deaths and India sealed off a dozen Punjab villages that had been visited by a guru now known to be infected and a possible “super-spreader”.  -AFP

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