Coronavirus: Italy’s death toll passes 10,000
World round-up: Fatalities surge in UK while Spain reports 832 further deaths
Don Marcello Crotti, blesses the coffins with Don Mario Carminati in the San Giuseppe church in Seriate, Italy. Photograph: Antonio Calanni/AP
Italy’s coronavirus deaths surpassed 10,000 on Saturday with 889 new fatalities in the last 24 hours, health authorities said. New cases rose marginally to 5,974, bringing the total count of patients in the country to 92,472.
On Friday, 919 people died from the virus, also known as Covid-19, a record daily tally worldwide.
Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte is set to prolong a near-total lockdown for two weeks beyond the current April 3rd deadline, the Corriere della Sera newspaper reported. Some minimal exceptions are being discussed for companies, the newspaper said, adding that the return to normality will in any case happen only gradually. Education minister Lucia Azzolina has already said schools will not reopen early next month as initially planned.
Mr Conte told a news conference that he had approved a new €4.7 billion package of measures to help those worst hit, including shopping vouchers and food packages.
Lombardy, the region around Milan which is at the epicentre of Italy’s outbreak, reported 542 deaths on Saturday and 2,117 new cases, according Lombardy’s top health official Giulio Gallera.
The UK has said 1,019 people have died after testing positive for coronavirus by 5pm on Friday, a rise of 260 on the total 24 hours earlier.
A total of 120,776 people had been tested for coronavirus in the UK as of 9am on Saturday, the department of health said, with 17,089 positive results.
The jump in coronavirus-related deaths in the UK from 759 to 1,019 is an increase of 260 – by far its biggest day-on-day rise in the number of deaths since the outbreak began. It means the total number of deaths is 34 per cent higher than the equivalent figure on Friday. The total number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK now stands at 17,089, as of 9am on Saturday. One week ago, on March 21st, the total stood at 5,018.
On Saturday, Stephen Powis the medical director of National Health Service England, warned the public against complacency and said everyone had to play their part in hindering the spread of the virus. “If [the death toll] is less than 20,000... that would be a good result though every death is a tragedy, but we should not be complacent about that,” he said at a news conference in Downing Street.
British prime minister Boris Johnson has said he will continue commanding the response to the coronavirus pandemic while isolating in Downing Street after testing positive for the disease. Two of his key lieutenants will also remain in self-isolation on Saturday, after health secretary Matt Hancock also confirmed he has Covid-19 and Prof Chris Whitty exhibited symptoms.
Spain’s coronavirus death toll rose by 832 cases overnight to 5,690, the health ministry said on Saturday, marking a new high in the daily rise in fatalities. The total number of those infected rose to 72,248 from 64,059 on Friday. Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez on Saturday announced stricter lockdown measures that will force all non-essential workers to stay at home for the next two weeks. The move will be approved at a cabinet meeting on Sunday and last until April 9th.
French health authorities reported 319 new deaths from the coronavirus on Saturday, up 16 per cent on the previous day and taking the total to 2,314, as the government scrambled to increase the number of intensive care beds nationwide.
The daily government tally only accounts for those dying in hospital but authorities say they will be able to compile data on deaths in retirement homes from next week, which is likely to result in a big increase in registered fatalities.
The number of known cases of infection rose to 37,575 on Saturday from 32,964 a day earlier, the health authority said.
The US now has more than 120,000 confirmed cases, the highest figure in the world, while more than 2,000 have died. New York governor Andrew Cuomo said on Saturday the number of cases in the state had increased to 52,318 with 728 deaths.
US president Donald Trump said on Saturday he was considering imposing a quarantine on New York, New Jersey and Connecticut but Mr Cuomo dubbed the anti-American and said he would not co-operate.
German chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff said the country will not loosen its restrictions on public life before April 20th. German authorities closed non-essential shops and banned gatherings of more than two people in public at the beginning of the week. Schools, bars, restaurants and clubs are also closed. Dr Merkel’s chief of staff Helge Braun told the daily Tagesspiegel “the older and the sick will have to reduce their contacts for significantly longer”. Germany has recorded more than 50,000 cases of the new coronavirus, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University, with 351 deaths – a lower death rate than in many other countries.
The Netherlands reported 93 deaths from the new coronavirus to take its total to 639 while another 1,159 cases of the virus were confirmed, both smaller rises than a day earlier. “If this line continues, it will be possible to conclude in a few days whether the [social distancing] measures taken are working,” the Netherlands National Institute for Health (RIVM) said on Saturday in its daily update. The country has confirmed a total of 9,762 cases of the virus, the RIVM said. The Dutch authorities have been criticised for their relatively slow response to the pandemic.
Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe on Saturday promised an unprecedented package of steps to cushion the world’s third-biggest economy from the coronavirus pandemic, saying the country was close to a national emergency as infections surged. Mr Abe said the “huge, powerful” measures will include fiscal stimulus, monetary steps and tax breaks for companies, though the details have not been finalized. Infections in Japan have climbed to more than 1,500, with 52 deaths, excluding those from a cruise ship quarantined last month, according to public broadcaster NHK. Officials confirmed a further 60 cases in Tokyo and on Saturday announced 57 new coronavirus cases at a centre for the disabled in Chiba prefecture near the capital, NHK said.The Olympic Games, due to be held in Tokyo this summer has been postponed until next year.
India needs at least 38 million masks and 6.2 million pieces of personal protective equipment as it confronts the spread of coronavirus, and has approached hundreds of companies to secure supplies quickly, according to a report by the country’s investment agency seen by Reuters. India, with 873 recorded cases of coronavirus and 19 deaths, took strong steps this week to curb the spread of the illness, with authorities concerned the healthcare system could be overwhelmed if the disease becomes rampant in the country of 1.3 billion. Prime minister Narendra Modi ordered everyone on Tuesday to stay at home for three weeks.
China’s authorities plan stronger steps to revive an economy hit by the spread of coronavirus, as the nation on Saturday reported no new locally transmitted infections for the previous day. The ruling Communist Party’s Politburo said on Friday it would step up macroeconomic policy adjustments and pursue more proactive fiscal policy, state media reported. With the world’s second-biggest economy expected to shrink for the first time in four decades this quarter, China is set to unleash hundreds of billions of dollars in stimulus. The Politburo called for expanding the budget deficit, issuing more local and national bonds, guiding interest rates lower, delaying loan repayments, reducing supply-chain bottlenecks and boosting consumption.
South Korea reported 146 new coronavirus cases on Friday, the highest number in a week, its disease control agency said on Saturday, with the country suffering a rise in imported cases from Europe and the United States during recent days. The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) did not say how many of Friday’s new cases were imported as it was still investigating. The daily tally brought the country’s total infections to 9,478 according to the KCDC. The death toll rose by five to 144. The country has reported similar daily numbers for the past two weeks, down from a high of over 900 in late February.
Turkey halted all intercity trains and limited domestic flights on Saturday as part of measures to contain a fast-growing coronavirus outbreak, as the number of cases jumped by a third in a day to 5,698, with 92 dead.
Iran’s health infrastructure is strong and ready to cope with a possible escalation in coronavirus cases, president Hassan Rouhani said Saturday on state TV. Iran is among the few countries worldwide severely affected by the pandemic. On Friday, the health ministry reported a death toll of 2,378 and total confirmed infections at 32,332.
Russia will close its borders on Monday, a government order published on Saturday said. The measure will apply to all vehicle, rail and pedestrian checkpoints, as well as maritime borders.
Russia has already stopped all international flights. Russian diplomats and drivers of freight trucks, among others, will be exempt. The country has so far reported 1,264 coronavirus cases. –Reuters, Bloomberg and PA