Spain, France and the UK reported their highest daily death tolls from coronavirus on Tuesday as the number of fatalities in the US passed those in China.
Spain registered 849 fatalities related to coronavirus overnight – the highest number in 24 hours since the epidemic started.
The health ministry said the death toll rose to 8,189 on Tuesday from 7,340 on Monday, while the number of cases rose to 94,417 on Tuesday from 85,195.
Spain is Europe’s second worst-hit country after Italy and its government is preparing new measures on Tuesday to help households and exempt small firms from social security payments.
Health emergency chief Fernando Simon, who tested positive for the virus on Monday, said in a video news conference, Spain was unlikely to need further restrictive measures, besides those already announced.
French health authorities reported 499 new deaths on Tuesday, taking the total to 3,523, an increase of 17 per cent in the past 24 hours.
It was the third consecutive day that the rate of deaths accelerated in France, which is now in its third week of lockdown to try to slow the spread of the virus.
The daily government tally only accounts for those dying in hospital but authorities say they will very soon be able to compile data on deaths in retirement homes, which is likely to result in a big increase in registered fatalities.
State health agency director Jerome Salomon told a news conference that the number of cases had risen to 52,128, a rise of 17 per cent in 24 hours, probably due to the fact that France has been ramping up testing
Mr Salomon said 5,565 people were in a serious condition needing life support, up 9 per cent compared to Monday, a rate of increase slightly slower compared to previous days. The health system is struggling to cope with the pace of the outbreak.
France has increased the number of beds in intensive care units from 5,000 to about 10,000 since the start of the crisis and it is scrambling to reach 14,500.
The UK reported a further 381 deaths from coronavirus on Tuesday. As of 5pm on Monday a total of 1,789 patients had died in hospital after testing positive for coronavirus, the country’s department of health said.
The number of confirmed cases rose by 14 per cent to 25,150 as of 8am on Tuesday, the department said.
The official figures from the department differ from the totals announced by the individual countries on Tuesday afternoon. NHS England recorded a further 367 deaths while six more fatalities were reported in Northern Ireland, seven in Wales and 13 in Scotland.
A 13-year-old boy with no apparent underlying health conditions was among those who died, his family said. Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab from Brixton, south London, died in hospital in the early hours of Monday.
A 19-year-old with no underlying health conditions also died in England.
The number of deaths in Italy climbed by 837 to 12,428, the Civil Protection Agency said on Tuesday, with the daily tally rising, albeit slightly, for a second day running. The number of new cases was broadly steady, growing by 4,053 against 4,050 on Monday, and bringing total infections since the outbreak came to light on February 21st to 105,792.
The US is the country with the most reported infections and its death toll has passed the 3,305 recorded in China. The number of people in New York who have tested positive for the virus increased by more than 9,000 from a day earlier to 75,795, with deaths rising by 27 per cent to 1,550, state governor Andrew Cuomo said on Tuesday.
“The virus is more powerful, more dangerous than we expected,” Mr Cuomo told a daily news briefing. “We’re still going up the mountain, the main battle is on top of the mountain.”
“This is going to be a long-term battle and we cannot let down our guard,” said Takeshi Kasai, the WHO’s regional director for the Western Pacific. “We need every country to keep responding according to their local situation.”
Belgian authorities said a 12-year-old girl had died from the virus, by far the youngest among more than 700 victims in the country. National crisis centre spokesman Emmanuel Andre said it is “an emotionally difficult moment, because it involves a child, and it has also upset the medical and scientific community”. “We are thinking of her family and friends. It is an event that is very rare, but one which upsets us greatly.” – Agencies