Bangkok Post

Trump drops idea to lock down New York

Global virus death toll surpasses 30,000


WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump decided late on Saturday against imposing a broad lockdown on New York and its neighbours after a strong pushback from local political leaders and warnings of the panic it could spark.

“A quarantine will not be necessary,” Mr Trump tweeted, about eight hours after he stunned the New York metropolit­an region — the epicentre of the US outbreak — with a proposal to place it under quarantine.

The Centers for Disease Control, however, asked residents not to travel except for essential purposes.

Mr Trump’s reversal came on the same day the US death toll topped 2,100, more than doubling in just three days. Of the fatalities, more than a quarter were in New York City.

Health officials say they fear New York may follow the deadly path charted by Italy, with health profession­als exhausted and hospitals desperatel­y short of protective equipment and ventilator­s.

“It’s abysmal,” said Andrew, a psychiatry resident in a New York hospital who spoke on condition his name be changed.

He is now quarantine­d at home with a likely case of the virus himself.

“There’s not enough money, there aren’t enough tests, there’s not enough personal protective equipment for people who are dealing with this... in the hospital who are getting huge exposure to the virus,” he said in an interview punctuated by coughs.

The United States now has the highest number of confirmed Covid19 infections globally with more than 124,000 cases, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.

One of the fatalities announced Saturday was that of a Chicago infant who was younger than one year old, marking an extremely rare case of juvenile death in the global pandemic.

Meanwhile, the coronaviru­s death toll shot past 20,000 in Europe on Saturday with Italy and Spain each reporting more than 800 deaths in one day.

Up to one-third of the world’s population is under lockdown as the virus leaves its devastatin­g imprint on nearly every aspect of society: wiping out millions of jobs, straining healthcare services and weighing heavily on national treasuries for years to come.

Globally, the death toll has stormed past 30,000 and officials in some countries say the worst still lies ahead.

But in Wuhan, where the virus first struck late last year, officials took tentative steps back towards normality, partially reopening it after more than two months of near-total isolation for its 11 million residents.

European nations have been harder hit than the US on a per capita basis with over 20,000 deaths — around half in Italy alone.

Spain, with the world’s second-highest toll, added 832 deaths on Saturday for a total of 5,812.

Madrid toughened a nationwide lockdown, halting all non-essential activities, though officials said the country seemed to be nearing a peak.

Russia said it would close its borders today despite low levels of the virus.

More than 664,000 cases of the novel coronaviru­s have been officially recorded around the world since the outbreak began late last year, according to the Johns Hopkins tracker.

Variations in testing regimes — and delays in providing sufficient tests in some countries — mean the true number is likely far higher.

In France, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe warned the “battle” was just beginning.

Elsewhere, Iran announced 139 more deaths, and India sealed a dozen villages that had been visited by a guru now known to be infected and a possible “super-spreader”.

 ?? AFP ?? Priest Don Marcello gives a blessing to the coffins of deceased people inside the church of San Giuseppe in Seriate, Italy on Saturday.
AFP Priest Don Marcello gives a blessing to the coffins of deceased people inside the church of San Giuseppe in Seriate, Italy on Saturday.

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