Healthcare workers comfort the wife of Esteban, a male nurse that died of the coronavirus in Leganes, near Madrid, on Saturday. AFP
Medical personnel move a deceased patient to a refrigerated truck serving as make shift morgues at Brooklyn. AFP
The global death toll from the virus surged past 106,000 on Saturday, with the United States quickly becoming the epicentre of the pandemic that first emerged in China late last year.
Britain’s COVID-19 death toll neared 10,000 on Saturday after health officials reported another 917 hospital deaths, while one senior minister said Prime Minister Boris Johnson will need time off as he recovers from being seriously ill with the virus. Britain has now reported 9,875 deaths from the coronavirus pandemic, the fifth highest national number globally.
Around the world, meanwhile, European countries used roadblocks, drones, helicopters, mounted patrols and the threat of fines to keep people from traveling over Easter weekend. And with infections and deaths slowing in Italy, Spain and other places on the Continent, governments took tentative steps toward loosening the weeks-long shutdowns.
Glorious weather across Europe posed an extra test of people’s discipline.
Emergency medical technicians asses a young woman experiencing coronavirus symptoms in Maryland. AFP
“Don’t do silly things,” said Domenico Arcuri, Italy’s special commissioner for the virus emergency. “Don’t go out, continue to behave responsibly as you have done until today, use your head and your sense of responsibility.”
Italian authorities set up roadblocks around Milan to discourage people from going on holiday trips. British police kept a close watch on gatherings in parks and at the seaside on what was set to be the hottest day of the year. France deployed some 160,000 police, including officers on horseback who patrolled beaches and parks.
“It’s useless to pack your bags for a vacation,” the Paris police headquarters tweeted.
The outbreak’s center of gravity has long since shifted from China to Europe and the United States, which now has by far the largest number of confirmed cases, with more than half a million, and a death toll higher than Italy’s count of nearly 19,500, according to the tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.
Medical personnel move a deceased patient to a refrigerated truck serving as make shift morgues in New York. AFP
About half the deaths in the US are in the New York metropolitan area, where hospitalisations are nevertheless slowing and other indicators suggest lockdowns and social distancing are "flattening the curve” of infections and staving off the doomsday scenarios of just a week or two ago.
New York state on Saturday reported 783 more deaths, for a total over 8,600. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the daily number of deaths is stabilising "but stabilising at a horrific rate.”
"What do we do now? We stay the course," said Cuomo, who like other leaders has warned that relaxing restrictions too soon could enable the virus to come back with a vengeance.
With authorities warning that the crisis in New York is far from over, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city's 1.1 million-student school system will remain closed for the rest of the academic year. But Cuomo said the decision is up to him, and no such determination has been made.
Nearly 300 inmates at the Cook County Jail have tested positive for the virus, and two have died. In Wisconsin, health officials expect to see an increase in coronavirus cases after thousands of people went to the polls during Wisconsin’s presidential primary Tuesday.
Michigan's governor extended her state’s stay-at-home order with new provisions: People with multiple homes may no longer travel between them.
Shortages of critical equipment led to fierce competition among buyers from Europe, the US and elsewhere. A regional leader in Paris described the scramble to find masks a “worldwide treasure hunt.” Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned that New York could run out of ventilators in six days.
More than 8.53 million people have been reported infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 453,834 have died, a Reuters tally showed as of 1326 GMT on Friday.
At the climax of Holy Week for the planet's two billion-plus Christians, congregations were shuttered at home to avoid spreading the pathogen that has infected at least 1.7 million worldwide.
Like millions of other Britons, the prime minister will be able to have a trim and a tipple on Saturday, when the country takes its biggest step yet out of coronavirus lockdown with the reopening in England of restaurants, pubs and hairdressers, along with secular and sacred venues including cinemas and church.
Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in December 2019.
The joint military forces, the ministry said in a statement on Facebook, also detained civilian members of Sudan’s ruling council and ministers in Hamdok’s transitional government.
The agreement signed on February 29, 2020 between Washington and the Taliban — which excluded Ghani's government in Kabul — paved the way for the US to end its longest war.