News ID: 267026
Published: 1013 GMT March 22, 2020

Over 335,000 infected globally, deaths top 14,600 as coronavirus spread gains momentum

Over 335,000 infected globally, deaths top 14,600 as coronavirus spread gains momentum
ALESSANDRA TARANTINO/AP

International Desk

The spread of the new coronavirus across the world continued gaining momentum on Sunday as global cases exceeded 335,000 and deaths top 14,600, according to worldometers.info.

The virus also continued claiming more lives on the same day as Italy’s daily death toll rose to 651, Spain’s overall deaths soared to 1,700, France’s fatalities hit 674, number of victims in the US amounted to 400 and that of Turkey increased to 30.

 

Internal travel banned

 

Italy banned travel within the country on Sunday in yet another attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus, with data showing a further 651 people had died from the disease, lifting the number of fatalities to 5,476, Reuters reported.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced late on Saturday he would freeze all non-essential business activity after previous measures failed to peg back the contagion, which emerged a month ago in the wealthy north before slowly advancing southwards.

Full details of Conte’s order have yet to be released, but anticipating the new block, the interior and health ministries said people had to stay where they were, unless urgent business or health reasons forced them to move to another town or region.

Italy has registered more deaths than any other country in the world, while the number of confirmed cases is second only to China, with the tally rising by 5,560 to 59,138 on Sunday, the Civil Protection Agency said.

However, offering a ray of hope, the latest figures represented an improvement on Saturday, when the death toll rose by 793 and new cases increased by 6,557.

“We don’t want to get over enthusiastic or overestimate a trend, but compared to yesterday there is a slight drop in the figures,” said Franco Locatelli, the head of Italy’s top Health Council, which advises the government.

“We must not lower our guard, we must continue with the measures taken and respect the government’s instructions,” he told a news conference.

 

French death toll

 

France’s coronavirus death toll rose by 112 on Sunday to 674, senior health official Jerome Salomon said, with the number of confirmed infections increased by 1,559 to 16,018.

 

One in three should stay at home

 

Nearly one in three Americans was ordered to stay home on Sunday to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic as Ohio and Louisiana became the latest states to enact broad lockdowns.

The two states join New York, California, Illinois, Connecticut and New Jersey, home to 100 million Americans combined, as cases nationwide top 33,000 with more than 400 dead, according to a Reuters tally. (Graphic: tmsnrt.rs/2w7hX9T)

“Every piece of evidence that I can lay my hands on indicates that we’re at an absolutely crucial time in this war and what we do now will make all the difference in the world,” said Ohio Governor Mike DeWine. “What we do now will slow this invader. It will slow this invader so our health care system ... will have time to treat casualties.”

Ohio has 351 cases and three deaths while Louisiana has 837 cases and 20 deaths, several in a senior care facility. Louisiana has the third highest number of cases per capita and saw a 10-fold increase in cases in the past week, Governor John Bel Edwards said.

Ohio’s order will go into effect at midnight on Monday and stay in effect until April 6. Louisiana’s order goes into effect 5 p.m. CT Monday (2000 GMT) and lasts through April 12.

The mayor of New York City, the epicenter of the nation’s coronavirus epidemic, on Sunday described the outbreak as the biggest domestic crisis since the Great Depression and called for the US military to mobilize to help keep the healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed.

“If we don’t get more ventilators in the next 10 days people will die who don’t have to die,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio, as the nation’s most populous city saw COVID-19 cases top 9,600 and deaths climbed to 63.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo urged the federal government to take over acquisition of medical supplies so states do not have to compete with each other for desperately needed resources. He also repeated a request for the Army Corps of Engineers to build temporary hospitals.

Help is not coming quickly enough, Cuomo said.

“Time matters, minutes count, and this is literally a matter of life and death,” he said. “At the same time, there is not going to be chaos, there is not going to be anarchy. Life is going to go on. Different. But life is going to go on.”

Cuomo gave New York City officials 24 hours to come up with a plan to deal with residents still congregating in parks and other places and not practicing social distancing. He noted 53 percent of the cases in New York are between the ages of 18 and 49 and 40 percent to 80 percent of state residents may contract coronavirus.

“It’s insensitive, arrogant, self-destructive ... and it has to stop, and it has to stop now,” he said. “This is not a joke and I’m not kidding.”

 

Greatest crisis ‘since Great Depression’

 

“This is going to be the greatest crisis domestically since the Great Depression,” de Blasio told CNN, referring to the economic crisis of the 1930s. “This is why we need a full-scale mobilization of the American military.”

Texas Governor Greg Abbot lamented the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) available for health workers. He said they were seeing delivery dates in July.

“That’s not going to work. We need delivery dates tomorrow,” Abbott said at a briefing. “We have ready money today for anybody who can sell us PPE. We’ll cut you a check on the spot.”

Around the globe, billions are adapting to a new reality. Several South American nations are taking measures to try to stay ahead of the contagion, as global cases exceeded 325,000 and deaths top 14,000.

The lockdown affecting large segments of the American public is likely to last 10 to 12 weeks, or until early June, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Sunday.

Lawmakers in Washington are nearing a deal that could pump a record $1 trillion into the economy to limit the economic damage from the coronavirus and will vote on the bill Monday.

Speaking on “Fox News Sunday,” Mnuchin said the package would give an average U.S. family of four a one-time payment of $3,000.

Republican US Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky on Sunday became the first member of the Senate to announce he had tested positive for coronavirus. At least two members of the House of Representatives previously said they tested positive.

 

Medical crisis

 

De Blasio said New York City is not getting needed medical supplies from the federal government to contend with the rapid spread of the sometimes deadly illness.

 

Spain's deaths

 

Spain’s death toll from coronavirus soared to 1,720 on Sunday from 1,326 the day before, according to latest data from the Health Ministry.

The one-day rise in deaths of 394 was higher than the previous day’s increase of 324. Spain is grappling with Europe’s second-worst coronavirus outbreak.

The number of registered cases in the country rose to 28,572 on Sunday from 24,926 in the previous tally announced on Saturday, the official data showed.

Of those, 2,575 people have been cured of the virus, while 1,785 are hospitalized in intensive care units.

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Saturday that the government would do whatever was needed to combat the pandemic and warned that “the worst is yet to come”.

The Spanish government wants to extend for another 15 days a 15-day state of emergency it imposed on March 14 to try to curb the spread of the coronavirus, multiple Spanish media outlets reported on Sunday.

 

Turkey’s toll

 

Turkey’s death toll from coronavirus increased by nine to 30 on Sunday as the number of confirmed cases rose by 289 to 1,256, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.

He said a total of 20,345 tests had been carried out.

 

Syria’s first case

 

Syria on Sunday confirmed its first case of coronavirus, in a person who had come from abroad.

Health Minister Nizar al-Yaziji told state media “necessary measures” had been taken regarding the 20 year-old woman, who he said would be quarantined for 14 days and given medical checks.

 

Merkel quarantined

 

German chancellor Angela Merkel went into quarantine on Sunday after coming into contact with a coronavirus-infected doctor shortly after announcing more curbs on social interaction to slow the spread of the disease.

Merkel, 65, will continue her work from home and will submit to repeated tests over the next few days, her spokesman said in a statement, adding it was too soon for a conclusive test yet.

Merkel had on Friday afternoon received a vaccine shot against pneumococcus, a pneumonia-causing bacteria, from a doctor who later tested positive for coronavirus, according to the statement.

Merkel earlier on Sunday said in a televised press briefing that Germany would ban public meetings of more than two people, amid a raft of further measures.

“The great aim is to gain time in the fight against the virus,” she said, citing an agreement between the federal government and regional states.

For at least the next two weeks, people will not be allowed to form groups of three or more in public unless they live together in the same household, or the gathering is work-related, she added.

Restaurants can only serve patrons via takeaway, while a large number of other businesses must close.

Regional states in Germany had previously taken differing approaches in the fight against the virus. Bavaria and smaller Saarland had gone furthest, imposing restrictions to keep people inside their homes save for a number of work-related exceptions.

“We are reducing public life and social interaction further and we are making sure to impose the same rules in principle across Germany,” Merkel said.

 

Bolsonaro’s denial

 

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro denied the country’s healthcare system will collapse next month, contradicting his own health minister as the number of deaths in the country jumped 39 percent and confirmed cases topped 1,500.

The latest health ministry figures on Sunday show that the death toll from coronavirus in Brazil rose to at least 25 from 18 the day before, a rise of 39 percent, and the number of confirmed cases now stands at 1,546, up from 1,128.

In an interview with CNN Brasil on Saturday night, Bolsonaro also expressed his frustration with several states’ measures to essentially shut down commerce and restrict people’s movement, saying they have gone too far and are damaging the economy.

“I think Mandetta was exaggerating,” Bolsonaro told CNN Brasil, referring to the health minister, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, who said on Friday that Brazil’s fragile healthcare system will collapse under the weight of coronavirus by the end of April.

Bolsonaro said “collapse” was the wrong choice of words.

“What we’re doing is lengthening the infection curve. I don’t believe in a collapse,” he said.

Bolsonaro tweeted on Sunday that the government is distributing around 10 million coronavirus tests, half of which have been dispatched this month.

 

   
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