Virus advances worldwide
THE Covid-19 pandemic advanced yesterday after the US and Europe reported soaring new cases, prompting a scramble in some regions to set up additional hospital beds and replenish much-needed medical supplies.
Italy announced its biggest dayto-day increase of infections, which rose by 6 600 with nearly 800 new fatalities. The country’s total death toll of more than 4825 has surpassed the number of deaths in China, where the first cases emerged late last year.
In the US, where multiple states have ordered residents to stay indoors, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the government was “literally scouring the globe looking for medical supplies”. Health-care workers countrywide sought donations of protective equipment. Staff at a Detroit hospital began creating home-made face masks for workers.
Even rural hospitals were strained as people increasingly felt the pandemic closing in. In Washington, negotiators from Congress and the White House resumed top-level talks on a ballooning $1 trillion-plus (R17 trillion) economic rescue package, urged by President Donald Trump to strike a deal to steady a nation thoroughly upended by the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump continued to strike a confident tone about the nation’s ability to defeat the pandemic soon, even as health leaders nationwide acknowledged that the US was nowhere near the peak for the outbreak.
“We are going to be celebrating a great victory in the not too distant future,” he said.
The contagion is starting to be felt in US cities far from major metropolitan areas, including places that have resisted drastic shutdown measures.
About 150 countries now have confirmed cases, and deaths have been reported in more than 30 American states. There are now more than 300 000 confirmed cases worldwide, according to a running tally by Johns Hopkins University.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough.
For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organisation, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks.
In Italy, local authorities in the hard-hit northern regions have been pleading with the national government to enact stricter measures.
Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte told the nation he was tightening a lockdown and shutting down all production facilities except those providing essential goods and services. He cautioned citizens to be calm and patient, saying there was no alternative.
Russia’s Defence Ministry said it was ready to fly mobile medical teams and disinfection equipment to Italy, and a plane delivered 100 tons of supplies from China to the Czech Republic as part of a Nato programme.
Behind China and Italy, Spain now has the third-highest number of infections worldwide, followed by the US.
Spanish health authorities have acknowledged that some intensive care units in the hardest-hit areas are close to their limit.
The army was building a field hospital with 5 500 beds in a convention centre in Madrid, where hotels are being turned into wards for patients without serious breathing problems.
Colombia reported its first death from Covid-19 on Saturday. The patient was a taxi driver, 58, who had driven tourists from Italy, authorities said, adding that he had previous health issues, including diabetes.
President Iván Duque has prohibited all non-resident foreigners from entering the country and has decreed a mandatory quarantine starting tomorrow. Colombia has confirmed 210 cases of the coronavirus.
Lockdowns and curfews continue across the globe in a bid to contain the spread of infections before health-care systems are overwhelmed.
WORKERS, in protective suits, spray disinfectant on a road in a bid to prevent the spread of coronavirus in Jakarta, Indonesia, yesterday.