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Agencies
April 6, 2020

Near 1,100 die in US in one day

Top Story

A
Agencies
April 6, 2020

WASHINGTON: The total number of global fatalities from the coronavirus pandemic soared past 69,000 on Saturday as US President Donald Trump warned of tough days ahead.

As confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States surpassed 333,000 with more than 9,550 deaths. In the last 24 hours, 1,084 people died in the States; however, there was some encouraging news in Italy and Spain. Europe continues to bear the brunt of the epidemic; however, accounting for over 45,000 of the worldwide deaths, and Britain reported a new daily high in fatalities i.e. 621.

There are now more than 1.27 million confirmed coronavirus cases around the world and there have been more than 69,000 deaths since the virus emerged in China late last year.

Billions of people are living under some form of lockdown. Roughly, half the planet is confined at home with schools and businesses closed, at huge cost to the global economy. Speaking at a White House briefing, Trump said the United States was entering "a time that’s going to be very horrendous" with "some really bad numbers."

"This will probably be the toughest week," he said. "There will be a lot of death." At the same time, Trump said the US cannot remain shut down forever. "Mitigation does work but again, we’re not going to destroy our country," he said. "I’ve said it from the beginning — the cure cannot be worse than the problem. "At a certain point some hard decisions are going to have to be made." Trump doubled down on his support for a drug that is still being tested to treat the coronavirus, saying he might take the medicine himself and encouraging others with doctor approval to do the same. At his daily press briefing, Trump also chided some states for requesting more ventilators from the federal government than he said they needed.

Trump’s optimistic comments on Saturday about the benefits of anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, reflected his tendency to put a positive spin on an issues even as data was still being gathered.

“I may take it,” Trump said. “I’ll have to ask my doctors about that, but I may take it.” Trump has been tested twice for the coronavirus, according to theWhite House, and both times the results were negative.

The European Commission said this week that the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine treating COVID-19 had not been proven.

Pandemic-hit Italy cheered on Saturday after seeing its number of intensive care cases for coronavirus drop for the first time — from 4,068 on Friday to 3,994 on Saturday. Spain, which is under a near-total lockdown, saw a second successive daily fall in coronavirus-related deaths with 809 fatalities.

The total number of deaths in Spain now stands at 11,744, second only to Italy. Although the number of new cases also slowed, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced an extension of the country’s lockdown until April 25.

The coronavirus death toll in New York State rose to 4,159, the governor said Sunday, up from 3,565 a day prior.

The spike by 594 deaths showed a slight decrease in the day-to-day number of lives lost compared to the previous day. It was the first time the day-over-day toll had dropped -- on Saturday it hit a record of 630 deaths in 24 hours -- but Governor Andrew Cuomo told journalists it was too early to tell whether that was a "blip."

The peak of the pandemic in New York -- the US area hardest hit thus far by the fast-spreading virus -- could arrive over the next week, Cuomo said, though he cautioned it was still unclear if the apex would be a point or a plateau.

"We could be on that plateau right now," Cuomo said at his daily briefing. "We won´t know for the next few days, does it go up, does it go down."

The state has now reported 122,031 positive cases of COVID-19, which has much of the United States under stay-at-home orders.

New York City remains the nation´s epicenter but the governor warned over the weekend that nearby hotspots were emerging on Long Island and in the neighboring state New Jersey.

UK deaths from the coronavirus could rise to between about 7,000 and 20,000 under measures taken to slow the spread of the virus, Neil Ferguson, a professor at Imperial College in London who has helped shape the government’s response, said on Sunday.

“We had an exponentially growing curve of infections which we interrupted at a certain time,” the epidemiologist told the BBC’s Andrew Marr program.

“We don’t have the ability right now to measure how many people have been infected, that will come with antibody tests, and so we are making statistical estimates of that and those are subject to a certain degree of uncertainty.

“We think it could be anywhere between about 7,000 or so up to a little over 20,000.” The death toll in Iran from the outbreak of the new coronavirus has reached 3,603, health ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said in a statement broadcast live on state TV on Sunday.

One hundred and fifty one people have died in the past twenty four hours, he said. The Islamic Republic, the Middle Eastern country worst-hit by the epidemic, now has a total of 58,226 infections, Jahanpur said.

Iran’s president said on Sunday “low-risk” economic activities would resume from April 11 in the country. “Under the supervision of the health ministry, all those low-risk economic activities will resume from Saturday,” President Hassan Rouhani said in a televised meeting, adding that “those activities will resume in Tehran from April 18”.

In a related development, China has sold nearly four billion masks to foreign countries since March, officials said Sunday, as they tried to stem widespread fears over the quality of medical exports.

Despite Chinese cases dwindling, Beijing has encouraged factories to increase production of medical supplies as the pandemic kills over 60,000 globally and parts of the world face a protective equipment shortage.

China has exported 3.86 billion masks, 37.5 million pieces of protective clothing, 16,000 ventilators and 2.84 million COVID-19 testing kits since March 1, customs official Jin Hai said, with orders to more than 50 countries.

She added the country´s medical supply exports were valued at 10.2 billion Yuan ($1.4 billion). However numerous nations -- including the Netherlands, the Philippines, Croatia, Turkey and Spain -- have complained about substandard or faulty medical products shipped from China.

Last week, the Dutch government recalled 600,000 masks out of a Chinese shipment of 1.3 million that did not meet quality standards.

China said the manufacturer "stated clearly that (the masks) are non-surgical."

Spain also rejected thousands of rapid test kits sent by an unauthorised Chinese company after it found that they were unreliable last week. Chinese officials hit back on Sunday at media reports over defective medical supplies, saying that they "did not reflect the full facts".

"In reality there are various factors, such as China having different standards and different usage habits to other countries. Even improper use can lead to doubts over quality," said Jiang Fan, an official with the Ministry of Commerce.

Pope Francis called for courage in the face of the coronavirus pandemic as he delivered Palm Sunday mass by livestream instead of before Saint Peter´s Square crowds.

The Vatican is abandoning centuries of tradition and refraining from public celebrations of the official start of the Catholic world´s Holy Week.

Pope Francis called the pandemic a tragedy on Sunday that must be faced with courage and hope. "Today, in the tragedy of a pandemic, in the face of the many false securities that have now crumbled, in the face of so many hopes betrayed, in the sense of abandonment that weighs upon our hearts, Jesus says to each one of us: ´Courage, open your heart to my love´," the pope said.

Turkey Sunday said working youth, including seasonal agricultural labor, will be exempted from a confinement order imposed as part of tougher measures against the coronavirus outbreak.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday issued a mandatory confinement order for everyone aged under 20 starting from midnight, in the latest series of measures taken nationwide.