Coronavirus: Over 7,000 UK deaths in total, up 938 in a day
Pandemic claims in excess of 82,000 dead worldwide while deaths and infections taper in Italy, Spain
A UK government public health campaign in Piccadilly Circus as the death toll climbs. Photograph: Reuters
A total of 7,097 patients have died in hospital after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 5pm on Tuesday, the Department of Health said, up by 938 from 6,159 the day before.
But the number of new infections and hospital admissions in Britain was beginning to show signs of flattening, said National Health Service medical director Stephen Powis.
While British prime minister Boris Johnson is out of action, the country is entering what scientists say is the deadliest phase of the outbreak and the government is grappling with the question of when to lift the lockdown.
“We are beginning to see the benefits I believe but the really critical thing is that we have to continue following instructions – we have to continue following social distancing, because if we don’t the virus will start to spread again,” said Mr Powis.
Meanwhile, in the United States president Donald Trump has threatened to withhold money pledged to the World Health Organisation over its handling of coronavirus, as he accused the global body of being “very China-centric”, writes Washington Correspondent Suzanne Lynch.
“They called it wrong,” he said of the coronavirus that has claimed tens of thousands of lives across the world.
“They didn’t see it, how do you not see it? They didn’t see it. They didn’t report it. If they did see it, they must have seen it, but they didn’t report.”
Noting that America pays “the biggest portion” of funding to the health body, he highlighted the fact that the organisation criticised his decision to ban flights from China in January.
“They actually criticised and disagreed with my travel ban,” he said at the White House coronavirus briefing on Tuesday evening. “They seem to be very China-centric. We have to look into that.”
Later in the briefing he said he had not made any final decision on whether to withhold funding.
“I mean, I’m not saying I’m going to do it . . . I said we’re going to look at it. We’re going to investigate it. But we will look at ending funding,” he said. But earlier in the day he had attacked the organisation on Twitter.
The most recent figures available suggest that the US contributed just over €459 million to the WHO in 2017. The Geneva-based body has an annual budget of approximately €4.5 billion.
Mr Trump was speaking as the number of deaths from coronavirus in the United States continued to rise, with more than 340,000 cases and over 12,000 deaths now reported across the country.
New York registered its biggest single-day increase in deaths on Tuesday, with 731 people dying from the virus, bringing the total number of deaths in America’s hardest-hit state to just under 5,500.
The pandemic has infected more than 1.4 million people worldwide and more than 82,000 deaths have been recorded.
The number of confirmed cases in India has crossed the 5,000 mark, with 149 deaths. Although the cases are spread over roughly 40 per cent of India’s districts, they are concentrated in the densely populated urban centres. Mumbai is the worst affected.
India’s strategy is focused on identifying “containment zones” where efforts would be targeted on restricting the virus “within a defined geographic area” to break the chain of transmission. But officials say the next week would be pivotal. India has only conducted 121,271 tests, but is likely to scale this up in the coming days. The country has put its entire population, one-fifth of the worlds’, under lockdown until April 14th.
The number of cases in Belarus, one of the few European countries that has not gone into lockdown, has surpassed 1,000. The country’s health officials reported 205 new cases on Wednesday, which brought the total to 1,066, with 13 deaths.
The Dutch public health institute has reported 147 more deaths in the outbreak, bringing the country’s toll to 2,248.
The increase on Wednesday was smaller than a day earlier when the toll rose by 234 victims. The totals on Tuesday are the highest of each week of the crisis, with health authorities reporting cases from the weekend.
The number of people who tested positive rose by 969 to 20,549, although the number of infections is likely higher because not everyone with symptoms is tested. The government has announced plans to ramp up testing and explore the use of mobile apps to track infected people and their contacts.
Lithuania says it will restrict public movement and impose lockdown on major cities during Easter weekend to prevent spread of the virus.
Prime minister Saulius Skvernelis says Lithuanian cities and towns will be closed for non-residents from Friday night until Monday night. The only exceptions apply to medical, emergency services staff and the military.
Citizens will be allowed out for funerals, sudden medical situations and if they live and work in different municipalities.
The country of three million has reported 15 deaths and 912 confirmed Covid-19 cases.
Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike says the Japanese capital has a record 144 new confirmed cases, bringing the total to 1,339 on Wednesday, one day after a state of emergency was declared in the region.
Prime minister Shinzo Abe declared a month-long state of emergency in Tokyo and six other hard-hit prefectures to bolster the fight against the virus. Mr Abe said he was expecting widespread compliance despite the lack of legal penalties for violating social distancing and other measures.
However, on Wednesday rush-hour trains were still crowded and shops were open as usual.
Ms Koike said that “asking for the residents to use self-restraint and stay home is not enough. We should restrict use of cluster-causing facilities”.
Japan has 4,257 confirmed cases and 92 deaths.
The Czech Republic’s health minister says the number of infected people in the country surpassed 5,000.
Health minister Adam Vojtech says there were 5,033 cases and 91 people have died.
The day-to-day increase reached 195 on Tuesday, the second lowest in more than a week. Health officials predicted about 11,000 Czechs will be infected by the end of April.
The government has already relaxed some restrictions on individual outdoor sports activities this week and allowed some stores to reopen on Thursday.
Spain’s health ministry has reported 757 more deaths and 6,180 new confirmed infections.
Both figures were slightly higher than Tuesday’s, when the first increase in five days was explained by a backlog of test results and fatalities that had gone unreported over the weekend.
But doubts about the statistics are being heard louder as fresh data starts to emerge.
Authorities have already acknowledged that a scarcity of testing kits and a bottleneck in the number of tests that laboratories can conduct on a daily basis are giving an underestimated contagion tally, which rose to 146,000 on Wednesday.
A nationwide survey of 30,000 households has been launched to figure out what is the more approximate extent of the epidemic beyond hospitals and nursing homes.
Health Minister Salvador Illa said on Tuesday that his department can only account for those who die and were tested. There have been few instances of postmortem testing.
To rein in the data divide, Spain’s justice ministry issued an order on Wednesday requiring more than 4,000 civil registries across the country to provide new and revised data.
The number of fatalities caused by the virus in Spain rose to 14,555 on Wednesday, said the health ministry. The daily increase as a percentage of the total death toll was 5.5 per cent, down from 5.7 per cent the day before, when 743 people died. The overall detected cases in the country rose to 146,690 from 140,510 on Tuesday, it added.
In Italy the Lombardy province of Lodi is offering a glimmer of hope for how the rest of Italy might overcome the pandemic and make its way out of the lockdown as calls to emergency lines return to pre-outbreak levels.
In recent weeks, the province, which has a population of about 230,000, has seen a sustained decline in the rate of new infections, with total cases by Monday reaching 2,278, a rise of 23 since Sunday.
“The first few days were very brutal, characterised by a significant number of patients with breathing difficulties,” said Stefano Paglia, the chief of the emergency unit at Codogno and Lodi city hospital.
In province of Bergamo, north of Milan, as of Monday there were 9,815 confirmed coronavirus cases, while the death toll in March was 2,060, according to official figures.
Across Italy, the curve of new cases is flattening, with 1,941 new infections registered on Monday, the lowest day-to-day rise in a week. Italy’s lockdown is due to expire on April 13th. However restrictions are expected to be extended.
Italy’s southern regions have so far managed to stave off a surge in infections. – Additional reporting from Agencies