Virus: Spain death toll sur­passes China

Pretoria News - - WORLD - |

THE death toll in Spain from the coro­n­avirus shot up by more than 700 yes­ter­day, sur­pass­ing China and is now sec­ond only to Italy as the pan­demic spread rapidly in Europe.

In In­dia, the world’s largest democ­racy, the govern­ment put its 1.3 bil­lion peo­ple on lock­down, while US law­mak­ers fi­nally agreed on a mas­sive $2 tril­lion (R34.8 tril­lion) do­mes­tic aid pack­age, which buoyed stock mar­kets around the world.

Spain recorded a record daily in­crease of 738 deaths, push­ing it to 3 434 over­all and past China’s 3 285, the min­istry of health said. The coun­try’s in­fec­tions rose by 20% to 47 610, and more than 5 000 have re­cov­ered.

In usu­ally bustling Barcelona, peo­ple walk­ing around with blan­kets, mat­tresses or tents punc­tu­ated the eerie empti­ness. One of Spain’s home­less said they feel more aban­doned than ever as ev­ery­one else iso­lates at home. “It is as if there has been a nu­clear ex­plo­sion and (peo­ple) are all shel­ter­ing in the bunker. Only us, the home­less, are left out­side,” said 36-year-old Gana, who uses only one name.

Spain’s health sys­tem is over­whelmed, with ho­tels be­ing con­verted into hos­pi­tals and a Madrid ice rink be­ing used as a tem­po­rary mor­tu­ary. Law­mak­ers were set to ex­tend the coun­try’s lock­down for two more weeks to April 12.

Span­ish me­dia re­ported that 23 res­i­dents of a Madrid re­tire­ment home died from Covid-19 or symp­toms re­lated to the virus. The home’s man­age­ment said it had been plead­ing for more staff and sup­plies, in­clud­ing virus tests, af­ter 55 of its work­ers had been forced to take med­i­cal leave.

More than 6 400 of the coun­try’s med­i­cal work­ers have been in­fected in over­bur­dened hos­pi­tals and in­ten­sive care units, ac­count­ing for roughly 13% of Spain’s cases, the Health Min­istry said.

In­dia, where the mas­sive lock­down is un­der way, has only about 450 cases due to lim­ited test­ing, but Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi warned that if he didn’t act now, it could set the coun­try back decades.

His un­prece­dented move is aimed at keep­ing the virus from over­whelm­ing its frag­ile health­care sys­tem, as it has done in parts of Europe and threat­ens to do in US hotspots like New York. Ev­ery­thing but es­sen­tial ser­vices like su­per­mar­kets were closed. Nor­mally busy rail­way sta­tions in New Delhi were de­serted and streets were eer­ily si­lent. “Delhi looks like a ghost town,” said Nis­hank Gupta, a lawyer. “I have never seen the city so quiet be­fore.”

Italy has been the hard­est-hit na­tion in Europe with more than 69 000 in­fec­tions and 6 800 deaths. Au­thor­i­ties are in­ves­ti­gat­ing if a hotly con­tested Cham­pi­ons League soccer game in Mi­lan in Fe­bru­ary poured rocket fuel on the cri­sis that is over­whelm­ing Ital­ian hos­pi­tals. Ital­ian doc­tors are be­ing forced to choose who will re­ceive des­per­ately needed ven­ti­la­tors and who won’t.

Germany’s par­lia­ment was set to ap­prove a series of mea­sures that will al­low the govern­ment to of­fer aid to­talling more than €1 tril­lion (R18.8 tril­lion) for the coun­try of 83 mil­lion peo­ple.

In the US, in­fec­tions were climb­ing rapidly and had passed the 55 000 mark, with deaths at more than 800. Top White House aide Eric Ue­land an­nounced the mas­sive eco­nomic agree­ment in a Capi­tol hall­way shortly af­ter mid­night, af­ter days of hag­gling.

Re­lief that US politi­cians have reached a deal on eco­nomic sup­port pushed world stock mar­kets up yes­ter­day. In­dexes in Europe and Asia rose a day af­ter the Dow Jones In­dus­trial Aver­age had its best day since 1933.

With Amer­i­cans’ lives and liveli­hoods hang­ing in the bal­ance, US pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said he “would love to have the coun­try opened up and just rar­ing to go by Easter.” But that state­ment sharply con­tra­dicted health of­fi­cials’ calls for stricter re­stric­tions on pub­lic in­ter­ac­tions. Sci­en­tists and other politi­cians in the US have warned that the worst is yet to come.

New York Gov­er­nor An­drew Cuomo said his state’s in­fec­tions are dou­bling ev­ery three days, threat­en­ing to swamp the city’s in­ten­sive care units much quicker than ex­perts had ex­pected. The state has 26 000 in­fec­tions and more than 200 deaths. “One of the fore­cast­ers said to me: ‘We were look­ing at a freight train com­ing across the coun­try’,” the gov­er­nor said. “We’re now look­ing at a bul­let train.”

More than 428 000 peo­ple world­wide have been in­fected by the virus and more than 19 000 have died, ac­cord­ing to Johns Hop­kins Univer­sity. Over­all, more than 109 000 have re­cov­ered.

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