A man being tested for symptoms of the coronavirus. File/AFP
US deaths from the coronavirus pandemic have topped 1,000, in another grim milestone for a global outbreak that is taking lives and wreaking havoc on economies and established routines of ordinary life.
In a recognition of the scale of the threat, the US Senate late on Wednesday passed an unparalleled $2.2 trillion economic rescue package steering aid to businesses, workers and health care systems.
The Senate's Republican majority leader, Mitch McConnell, was expected to speak on the Senate floor shortly about the agreement.
The unanimous vote came despite misgivings on both sides about whether it goes too far or not far enough and capped days of difficult negotiations as Washington confronted a national challenge unlike it has ever faced. The 880-page measure is the largest economic relief bill in US history.
Worldwide, the death toll climbed past 21,000, according to a running count kept by Johns Hopkins University. The number of dead in the US rose to 1,041 as of late Wednesday, with nearly 70,000 infections.
Spain's death toll has risen past 3,400, eclipsing that of China where the virus was first detected in December, after a one-day spike of 700 fatalities. Spain's count is now second only to that of Italy, with over 7,500 deaths. Lidia Perera, a nurse at Madrid's 1,000-bed Hospital de la Paz, said more workers were desperately needed. "We are collapsing," Perera said.
The Spanish parliament voted to allow the government extend strict stay-at-home rules and business closings until April 11.
Such measures are becoming increasingly common in the US, where New York is the current epicenter of the domestic outbreak, accounting for more than 30,000 cases and close to 300 deaths, most of them in New York City.
Public health officials in the city hunted down beds and medical equipment and put out a call for more doctors and nurses for fear the number of sick will explode in a matter of weeks, overwhelming hospitals as has happened in Italy and Spain.
A makeshift morgue was set up outside Bellevue Hospital, and the city's police, their ranks dwindling as more fall ill, were told to patrol nearly empty streets to enforce social distancing.
In Washington, President Donald Trump has called for Americans to dedicate themselves for 15 days to social distancing, including staying home from work and closing bars and restaurants to help try to stall the spread of the disease.
Yet, he's also grumbled that "our country wasn’t built to be shut down” and vowed not to allow "the cure be worse than the problem” - apparently concerned that the the outbreak's devastating effects on financial markets and employment will harm his chances for re-election later this year.
It aims to cushion the economic blow from a pandemic that has killed more than 660 people in the United States and sickened more than 50,000, shuttered thousands of businesses, thrown millions out of work and led states to order 100 million people to stay at home.
US Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said the fiscal stimulus package, expected to be worth $2 trillion, had been agreed upon and would be put to a vote later on Wednesday.
More than 570 people have been infected with the coronavirus across China and Wuhan, the city at the centre of the outbreak, has been placed under effective quarantine.
Trump, in a rare Oval Office address to the nation on Wednesday night, said the month-long restriction on travel would begin late on Friday, at midnight. After days of playing down the coronavirus threat, he blamed Europe for not acting quickly enough to address the "foreign virus” and claimed that US clusters were "seeded” by European travellers.
He had been scheduled to re-emerge on Friday after a week of recovery and working remotely, but said he would remain at home because he still had a high temperature — one of the symptoms.
The Department of Dhafra Hospitals affiliated to the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company “Seha” opens today “Monday” the screening centre for covid-19 in Madinat Zayed, next to Madinat Zayed Council in Al Dhafra Region. The centre’s daily capacity reaches up to 300 people.
The ministry also announced that 19 cases fully recovered from the coronavirus, after receiving treatment.