Global emergency efforts ratcheted up as death toll soars towards 15,000 - GulfToday

Global emergency efforts ratcheted up as death toll soars towards 15,000


Workers queue as they prepare to get on a special train before departing to Shenzhen, in Yichang in China. AFP

Global emergency efforts to slow the coronavirus pandemic ratcheted up on Monday with more nations and cities imposing extraordinary lockdowns, as the death toll soared towards 15,000.

From Germany banning gatherings of more than two people, New Zealand announcing a four-week lockdown and Hong Kong shutting its borders to all non-residents, the new round of containment efforts highlighted a deepening sense of panic around the world.


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The Tokyo Olympics slated for July also looked increasingly likely to be postponed, with Canada announcing it would not send athletes to Japan then and Australia saying it was preparing for a one-year delay.

In the United States, President Donald Trump ordered thousands of emergency hospital beds to be set up at coronavirus hotspots as a trillion-dollar economic rescue package crashed in the Senate.

"We're at war, in a true sense we're at war," Trump said.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced a closure of all non-essential factories in a late-night TV address on Saturday.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte speaks to the media. File photo

The death toll from the virus surged to more than 14,400, according to an AFP tally on Sunday, with Europe the epicentre.

Italy's world-worst toll from the pandemic approached 5,500 with another 651 deaths reported on Sunday, a day after it surpassed China with the highest number of fatalities.

European nations continued to choke people movement, with Greece on Monday morning to follow Italy, Spain and France in imposing a nationwide lockdown.

sanitize Customers purchase bottles of hand sanitizer as a precautionary step.

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday announced the ban on gatherings of more than two people. She did so while in quarantine herself because she had met an infected doctor.

Like in Europe and elsewhere around the globe, the lockdowns have decimated the tourism industry.

"That was heartbreaking. We have made a huge investment preparing for a successful tourism season," hotel owner Tamriko Sikharulidze told AFP in Tbilisi after Georgia declared a state of emergency over the weekend.

Pope plea

Police patrolled the deserted streets of Rome on the weekend, while checks were carried out on Italian beaches after local officials complained people were defying isolation orders by catching some time in the sun.


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In his weekly prayer, streamed online to avoid attracting crowds, the Pope urged all Italians to follow isolation measures "for the good of us all."

Spain's prime minister said he would ask parliament to extend a 15-day state of emergency, which bars people from leaving home unless absolutely essential, until April 11.

Spain recorded close to 400 new fatalities Sunday, bringing the total to 1,720, suggesting the lockdown was failing to be effective. Opera star Placido Domingo said he had tested positive.

Residents across France, where the death toll jumped to 674, remained shut in their homes.

Medical workers in overalls attend to a patient under intensive care at the Gemelli hospital in Rome.  File/AFP

A curfew was imposed in some regions and the mayor of Paris called for even more drastic confinement measures in a city under lockdown.

Britain inched towards similar measures as Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned the country was a couple of weeks behind registering similar numbers to Italy.

Great Depression fears

In the United States, more than a third of Americans were under various forms of lockdown, including in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, but the number of infections in the country has continued to climb.

Highlighting the desperation inside the world's biggest economy, the mayor of New York said his city was just 10 days away from running out of ventilators.

Agence France-Presse

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