In­dia puts its 1.3 bil­lion peo­ple on lock­down as grim scenes hit Spain

Miami Herald - - THE VIRUS CRISIS - BY ADAM GELLER AND DAVID RIS­ING As­so­ci­ated Press

As coro­n­avirus deaths and in­fec­tions surged in Europe and the U.S. on Tuesday, In­dia, with 1.3 bil­lion peo­ple, or one-sixth of the Earth’s pop­u­la­tion, or­dered the big­gest lock­down in the world. A flicker of hope that Italy might be turn­ing the corner faded af­ter of­fi­cials re­ported an in­crease in new cases and deaths. And Spain had so many bod­ies it com­man­deered an ice rink to store them.

More than 400,000 peo­ple world­wide have been in­fected and over 18,500 have died, ac­cord­ing to Johns Hop­kins Univer­sity.

With in­fec­tions in the U.S. ex­ceed­ing 50,000, in­clud­ing more than 690 deaths, pub­lic-health ex­perts have warned that failing to main­tain so­cial dis­tanc­ing would bal­loon in­fec­tions to the point the health­care sys­tem would be over­whelmed and many more would die.

In one of the out­break’s first celebrity deaths, Ter­homes rence McNally, the Tony­win­ning play­wright whose cred­its in­cluded “Kiss of the Spi­der Woman,” “Rag­time,” “Love! Valour! Com­pas­sion!” and “Mas­ter Class,” died in Sara­sota of com­pli­ca­tions from the virus at age 81, his rep­re­sen­ta­tive said. McNally was a lung-cancer sur­vivor who lived with chronic in­flam­ma­tory lung dis­ease.

Los An­ge­les County re­ported what might be the first con­firmed U.S. death of a child from the new coro­n­avirus. County pub­lic-health direc­tor Bar­bara Fer­rer said it’s a “dev­as­tat­ing re­minder that COVID-19 in­fects peo­ple of all ages.” The child lived in the Mo­jave Desert city of Lan­caster north of Los An­ge­les, but other de­tails weren’t im­me­di­ately re­leased.

Spain, mean­while, reg­is­tered a record one-day in­crease of nearly 6,600 new in­fec­tions and a leap of more than 500 in the death toll, to al­most 2,700. The coun­try started stor­ing bod­ies in an ice rink con­verted to a morgue un­til they could be buried or cre­mated. Also, army troops dis­in­fect­ing nurs­ing

dis­cov­ered el­derly peo­ple liv­ing amid the corpses of sus­pected coro­n­avirus vic­tims. Pros­e­cu­tors opened an in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Spain’s in­te­rior min­is­ter said po­lice have ar­rested more than 900 peo­ple for de­fy­ing the govern­ment’s or­der to stay home.

As health­care work­ers worked around the clock, they also strug­gled with scarce sup­plies.

“All over the coun­try, you see ex­am­ples of work­ers in­vent­ing home­made suits us­ing plas­tics,” said Olga Me­di­ano, a lung spe­cial­ist at a hospi­tal in Guadala­jara, a city out­side Madrid. “The pro­tec­tive suits are fun­da­men­tal be­cause without health work­ers we won’t be able to do any­thing.”

Rel­a­tives of el­derly peo­ple and re­tire­ment-home work­ers were fear­ful.

“We live in an­guish. We have no in­for­ma­tion what­so­ever,” said Es­ther Navarro, whose 97-year-old mother has Alzheimer’s and is at a home in Madrid.

In Italy, a jump in the num­ber of new deaths and cases over the last 24 hours dashed hopes fed by two days of de­clines. The 743 deaths re­ported Tuesday pushed Italy’s toll past 6,800, by far the high­est of any coun­try.

“Woe to whoever lets down the guard,” Health Min­is­ter Roberto Sper­anza said. “Now, more than ever, the com­mit­ment of ev­ery­one is needed.”

In a dis­tinct shift in the cri­sis, some 85% of new in­fec­tions are com­ing from Europe and the United States. Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties said they would fi­nally end the two-month lock­down in hard-hit Hubei prov­ince, where the out­break be­gan.

World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion spokes­woman Mar­garet Har­ris said cases around the world are ex­pected to in­crease “con­sid­er­ably.”

In Bri­tain, con­fu­sion rip­pled through the coun­try af­ter Prime Min­is­ter Boris John­son or­dered a three­week halt to all nonessen­tial ac­tiv­ity.

The govern­ment told most stores to close, banned gath­er­ings of three or more peo­ple and said ev­ery­one apart from es­sen­tial work­ers should leave home only to buy food and medicine or to ex­er­cise. But pho­tos showed crowded trains on some Lon­don sub­way lines.

Lon­don Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted: “Ig­nor­ing these rules means more lives lost.”

For most peo­ple, the virus causes only mild or mod­er­ate symp­toms, such as fever or cough­ing. But for some older adults and peo­ple with ex­ist­ing health prob­lems, it can cause more se­vere ill­ness, in­clud­ing pneu­mo­nia. More than 100,000 peo­ple have re­cov­ered.

Else­where around the world, In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi de­creed a “to­tal lock­down” of the coun­try for 21 days. In­dia has re­ported about 500 cases.

“To save In­dia and ev­ery In­dian, there will be a to­tal ban on ven­tur­ing out of your homes,” Modi said.

Neigh­bor­ing Pak­istan or­dered its rail­ways shut down as in­fec­tions climbed past 900.

The Philip­pine Congress ap­proved a bill declar­ing a na­tional emer­gency and au­tho­riz­ing Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte to launch a huge pro­gram and tap pri­vate hos­pi­tals and ships to help as the out­break starts to take hold. The coun­try re­ported more than 550 cases.

In con­trast to other Euro­pean coun­tries, Germany of­fered some hope that it has flat­tened the ex­po­nen­tial spread of the virus, which has in­fected some 30,000 peo­ple. The death toll was rel­a­tively low at about 130, and Germany has even taken in pa­tients from France and Italy for treat­ment.

Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel’s govern­ment ap­proved a mas­sive aid pack­age to counter the eco­nomic fall­out, of­fer­ing more than $1.1 tril­lion to tide over small com­pa­nies and en­trepreneur­s and pump cap­i­tal into big­ger com­pa­nies.

SPAIN STARTED STOR­ING BOD­IES IN AN ICE RINK UN­TIL THEY COULD BE BURIED OR CRE­MATED. ALSO, ARMY TROOPS DIS­IN­FECT­ING NURS­ING HOMES DIS­COV­ERED EL­DERLY PEO­PLE LIV­ING AMID THE CORPSES OF SUS­PECTED VIRUS VIC­TIMS.

CAR­LOS AL­VAREZ Getty Images

Mil­i­tary mem­bers take bod­ies for cold stor­age at the Pala­cio de Hielo ice rink on Tuesday in Madrid. Spain reg­is­tered a record one-day in­crease of nearly 6,600 new in­fec­tions and a leap of more than 500 in the death toll, to al­most 2,700.

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