The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire)
Covid-19 infections start
● Russia, Indonesia and South Africa see cases hit 1,000 mark
Asurge in coronavirus infections has made the US the hardesthit nation in the world amid warnings that the pandemic is accelerating in cities like New York, Chicago and Detroit.
The update came as a record $2.2 trillion (£1.8 trillion) emergency package neared final approval by Congress to help millions of newly-unemployed Americans and struggling companies.
The situation in countries with more fragile healthcare systems grew more dire yesterday. Russia, Indonesia and South Africa all passed the 1,000-infection mark and South Africa began a three-week lockdown.
India launched a massive programme to help feed day labourers after a lockdown of its 1.3 billion people put them out of work.
In France, a 16-year-old student became the country’s youngest person to die from the virus. Her sister said she was admitted to hospital on Monday after developing a “slight cough” last week, and she died on Tuesday in hospital in Paris.
France has reported more than 1,600 deaths and 29,000 infections, and yesterday extended its nationwide confinement measures for another two weeks until April 15.
The US has more than 85,000 confirmed cases, and Italy is set to pass China’s 81,782 infections. The three countries account for 46% of the world’s nearly 540,000 infections and more than half its acknowledged deaths.
Analysts warned that all infection figures could be low for varying reasons.
“China numbers can’t be trusted because the government lies,” said American political scientist Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group thinktank. “US numbers can’t be trusted because the government can’t produce enough tests.”
Italian epidemiologists warn that the country’s numbers could be up to five times higher than reported – although two weeks into a lockdown the daily increase seems to be slowing, at least in northern Italy.
Spain’s cases rose by 7,800 yesterday to 64,059, with its 4,858 deaths up by 769.
The day-on-day increase of infections is slightly lower for the first time since a rapid rise in early March. There was an 8,500 increase on Thursday. Spain has the second-highest tally in Europe and fourth in the world.
Spain’s struggling health service has 9,444 workers infected with Covid-19, a figure Amnesty International said is the highest among countries affected by the outbreak.
The worldwide death toll climbed to more than 24,000, according to Johns Hopkins University, but more than 124,000 people have recovered, about half in China.
New York State, the epicentre of the US outbreak, reported 100 more deaths in one day – 30% of the US total.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said that tally will rise soon as critically ill patients who have been on ventilators for days succumb.
“The government can’t produce enough tests”
White House coronavirus response co-ordinator Deborah Birx said counties around Chicago and Detroit are seeing a rapid increase in cases.
Russian authorities ramped up testing this week after widespread criticism.
India’s stay-home order threw out of work rickshaw drivers, fruit sellers, cleaners and others whose daily earnings fuel the economy. The government announced an £18 billion plan to deliver monthly rations to 800 million people.
In China the National Health Commission reported 55 new cases, 54 of them imported infections.
In a phone call yesterday, Chinese leader Xi Jinping told US president Donald Trump that China “understands the United States’ current predicament over the Covid-19 outbreak and stands ready to provide support within its capacity”.
The two countries should “work together to boost co-operation in epidemic control and other fields, and develop a relationship of non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win co-operation”, he said.