ISLAMABAD: The United States surpassed Italy on Saturday to become the country with the highest number of recorded coronavirus deaths, reporting more than 19,600 fatalities since the outbreak began, while the overall death toll in the world crossed 108,000 with over 5,500 new deaths.
The grim milestone was reached as President Donald Trump mulled over when the country, which has registered more than half a million infections, might begin to see a return to normality.
According to latest international media reports, Italy has come down to second position with death toll of 19,468, followed Spain with 16,353, France with 13,832 and Britain with 8,975 deaths. There have been more than 1,765,500 reported infections with over 400,000 recoveries.
The United States has seen its highest death tolls to date in the epidemic with roughly 2,000 deaths a day reported for the last four days in a row, a plurality of them in and around New York City.
Public health experts have warned that the US death toll could surge to 200,000 over the summer if unprecedented stay-at-home orders that have closed businesses and kept most Americans indoors are lifted after 30 days. Most of the present restrictions on public life, however, including school closures and emergency orders keeping non-essential workers largely confined to their homes, flow from powers vested in state governors, not the president.
Nonetheless, Trump has said he wants life to return to normal as soon as possible and that the sweeping restrictions on movement aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 disease caused by the novel coronavirus carry their own economic and public-health cost.
“I’m going to have to make a decision, and I ... hope to God that it’s the right decision,” he told reporters on Friday. “It’s the biggest decision I’ve ever had to make.”
Trump, who is seeking re-election in November, said the facts would determine the next move. Asked what metrics he would use to make his judgment, he pointed at his forehead: “The metrics right here, that’s my metrics.”
There are more than one hundred Pakistanis among the 8,000 people who have died of the coronavirus in the New York region, officials said. The week ending on Friday has been the deadliest so far as the death toll across the United States almost doubled during this period.
“Information collected from hospitals, funeral homes and families indicate that more than 100 Pakistanis have died of this virus in the New York-New Jersey region,” said Pakistan’s Consul General Ayesha Ali.
“Some Pakistanis have also died in other states,” said Pakistan Embassy’s spokesperson Zoobia Masood. “We are still collecting information about how this disease has affected the Pakistani-American community.”
Dr Sarfraz Memon, a Pakistani-American physician who recently received the US National Institutes of Health’s 2019 Clinical Centre CEO Award for patient care, said that living in congested cities like New York and using public transport further increases the risk of getting infected with viruses and bacteria.
He noted that people in large cities had the habit of eating out and “our desi restaurants often suffer from extreme uncleanliness, which adversely impacts those who eat there”.
Dr Memon pointed out that “our community tends to be sceptical of science” and often ignores preventive measures, such as social distancing. “We also find recommendations from health officials harsh and unnecessary,” he added.
Dr Memon said that scientists and researchers across the globe were working tirelessly to find a cure to this disease but it will still take “12 to 18 months to find a safe and dependable SAR-Co2 vaccine”.
Meanwhile, Pakistan's Embassy strongly refuted claims that over hundred Pakistani Americans died of coronavirus in the New York.
“We have seen media reports on the number of Pakistani American deaths on account of COVID-19 infections in the US,” the embassy spokesperson said. "There are no formally confirmed figures available from any official source in the US"
"These are guesstimates being informally quoted by community sources and some funeral home. Such figures cannot there be authenticated," the statement sent out by the embassy spokesperson said.
It added that the embassy has no reports from even informal ones of any Pakistani American deaths from our consulates in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Houston.
Meanwhile, Britain on Saturday announced another 917 deaths of people testing positive for coronavirus, bringing the country´s total toll close to 10,000.
The number of new infections from the disease climbed by 5,234, leaving Britain with 78,991 confirmed COVID-19 cases, the health ministry said in its daily update.
Italy recorded 619 more deaths in a single day, bringing the country's total death toll to 19,468.
The total number of infections in Italy surpassed 150,000, international media reported.
France reported a lower daily death toll, declaring a "plateau" was reached, albeit at a very high level.
Top French health official Jerome Salomon said 353 more people had died in hospitals and 290 in nursing homes, bringing the total death toll to 13,832. A day earlier, 554 had died in hospitals and 433 in nursing homes.
Spain registered a fall in its daily death toll from the new coronavirus for a third consecutive day on Saturday with 510 people dying, the government said. It was the smallest daily increase since March 23 in Spain, which is suffering one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in the world
India´s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to extend the world´s biggest pandemic lockdown for two weeks, state ministers said after talks Saturday on the growing fallout in the country.
The three week lockdown is due to end Tuesday. But with the death toll rising, several chief ministers from India´s 29 states and territories have been pressing Modi to prolong restrictions for the 1.3 billion population.
India has so far reported about 8,500 cases and 288 deaths. But the government says there is no community transmission. As many as 1,035 cases were reported in the country overnight.
Iran on Saturday reported 125 new deaths from the novel coronavirus, raising the overall toll in the Middle East´s worst-hit country to 4,357.
Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour told a news conference that 1,837 new infections had been confirmed in the past 24 hours, taking the total to 70,029.
Iran has carried out 251,703 tests for the virus so far, he added. Of those admitted to hospital, 41,947 have recovered and been discharged, while 3,987 are in a critical condition.
Canada confirmed 1,316 new coronavirus cases, raising the total toll to 22,559, according to data by the country's Public Health Agency.
It recorded 69 more deaths, taking the total death toll to 600.
Turkey recorded 95 deaths, raising the total death toll to 1,101 with 5,138 new coronavirus cases confirmed, according to Turkey's health minister.
Turkey's total number of coronavirus cases now stands at 52,167.
The Swiss death toll from the new coronavirus has reached 831, the country's public health ministry has said, rising from 805 people on Friday.
The number of confirmed cases also increased to 24,900 from 24,308, it said.
Forty-three people were detained by police in the Belgian capital on Saturday when rioting broke out following a fatal accident between a police vehicle and a young man on a scooter, authorities said.
The unrest began on Friday night when a police patrol in Anderlecht, a district of Brussels, attempted to stop a 19-year-old driving on a scooter.
The police gave chase, but the scooter collided head on with a second police vehicle killing the scooter driver on the spot.
After several incidents on Friday, riot police spent several hours on Saturday dispersing young protesters who had gathered following a call on social media.
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