Americans have been warned to brace for the “hardest and the saddest week” of their lives as the nation’s coronavirus death toll jumped to three times the number of 9/11 fatalities.
US Surgeon-General Jerome Adams said the coming days would be “the hardest and the saddest week of most Americans’ lives“ because of the pandemic.
The September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the US claimed 2900 lives.
However, there was a slight glimmer of hope in New York City, the US epicentre of the pandemic, with Governor Andrew Cuomo saying that daily deaths had dropped slightly, along with intensive care admissions and the number of patients who needed breathing tubes inserted.
Still, he warned that it was “too early to tell” the significance of those numbers.
But Dr Adams told Fox News that the coming days were likely to impact Americans across the whole country.
He also predicted it would hit lives like the shock 1941 Japanese attack on the Pear Harbor naval base in Hawaii. The raid killed 2403 Americans.
“This is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment, only it’s not going to be localised,“ Dr Adams said.
“It’s going to be happening all over the country. And I want America to understand that.”
Dr Adams also called on US state governors to impose stricter home quarantine measures.
Mr Adams told “Fox News Sunday” that “this is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment”.
He wants to make clear that “it’s going to be happening all over the country. And I want America to understand that”.
New York City, the US epicentre of the pandemic, saw a glimmer of hope, with Gov Andrew Cuomo saying that the number of daily deaths had dropped slightly, along with intensive care admissions and the number of patients who need breathing tubes inserted.
Still, he warned that it was “too early to tell” the significance of those numbers.
Coronavirus could become seasonal
Dr Anthony Fauci says there a very good chance the new coronavirus “will assume a seasonal nature” because it is unlikely to be under control globally.
Dr Fauci is director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He says the virus is unlikely to be completely eradicated from the planet this year.
That means the US could see the “beginning of a resurgence” during the next flu season.
Dr Fauci says the prospect of a resurgence is the reason the US is working so hard to get its preparedness “better than it was”. He says that includes working to develop a vaccine and conducting clinical trials on therapeutic interventions.
Queen addresses Britons
As of Sunday, Britain has recorded 4934 virus deaths overall among 47,806 cases. Those coming down with the virus in the UK include Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the health secretary, England’s chief medical official and Prince Charles, heir to the throne.
There are wide fears that Mr Johnson’s Conservative government did not take the virus seriously enough at first and that spring weather will tempt Britons and others to break social distancing rules.
In an address to the nation to be televised later Sunday (local time), Queen Elizabeth II appealed to Britons to exercise self-discipline in “an increasingly challenging time”.
The 93-year-old monarch said the pandemic had caused enormous disruptions, bringing grief, financial difficulties and daunting challenges to everybody. It is only the fourth time since her reign began in 1953 that she has given such an address.
“I hope in the years to come, everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge,” she said in pre-released remarks.
“And those who come after us will say that the Britons of this generation were as strong as any.”
The chief medical officer for Scotland meanwhile has apologised for ignoring her own policy and visiting her second home despite government advice to stay home to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Photos of Dr Catherine Calderwood appeared in The Scottish Sun on Saturday. Police gave her a warning and she is facing calls to resign.
Pope Francis celebrates Palm Sunday
At the Vatican, Pope Francis celebrated Mass and blessed palms for Palm Sunday in a near-empty St Peter’s Basilica. Usually tens of thousands of faithful would have crowded the square outside to attend a papal Mass.
Holy Thursday and Easter services will be held the same way
Italians have proven not immune to lure of the good weather, even though the country has the world’s highest coronavirus death toll at more than 15,000.
Top Italian officials took to national television after photos were published showing huge crowds out shopping in Naples, Rome, Genoa and even the hard-hit Veneto city of Padua.
Lombardy vice governor Fabrizio Sala said mobile phone data showed 38 percent of the region’s people were out and about – the highest figure since March 20.
Italy meanwhile has registered its lowest day-to-day increase in deaths of patients with the coronavirus in more than two weeks.
Angelo Borrelli, the head of the national Civil Protection agency, said on Sunday (local time)there were 525 deaths in the 24-hour period since Saturday evening. That’s the lowest such figure since 427 deaths were registered on March 19.
Italy has a total of 15,887 deaths and nearly 130,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Spain starting to see ‘light at the end of the tunnel’
Spain announced 6023 confirmed new infections Sunday, taking its national tally to 130,759 but down from an increase of 7,026 infections in the previous day.
Spain’s confirmed new virus deaths dropped for the third straight day, to 674 – the first time daily deaths have fallen below 800 in the past week.
“We are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said.
At week when millions of Spaniards typically go on holiday, data suggested most were following lockdown regulations.
Transport authorities on Sunday reported an 85 percent decrease in long-distance public transport and an 80 percent drop in the use of private vehicles compared to a normal day.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has also published an editorial in several European newspapers to press for his proposed “new Marshall Plan” for Europe to act together in sharing the burden of the coronavirus crisis.
Mr Sánchez wrote Sunday that European Union members must do all they can to help their hardest hit partners recover from the financial and economic impacts of the pandemic. If not, he said “we will fail as a union”.
The global toll
Worldwide, more than 1.2 million people have been confirmed infected and more than 65,000 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The true numbers are certainly much higher, due to limited testing, different ways nations count the dead and deliberate under-reporting by some governments.
Almost 250,000 people have recovered from the virus, which is spread by microscopic droplets from coughs or sneezes.
The World Health Organization says 95 percent of the known coronavirus deaths in Europe have been in people over 60.
The rapid spread of the virus in the United States has prompted a chaotic scramble for desperately needed medical equipment and protective gear, prompting intense squabbling between the states and the federal government.
New York Gov Cuomo praised China for sending 1000 ventilators, while President Donald Trump claimed that states are making inflated requests for supplies.
In mixed messages, Mr Trump warned that the country could be headed into its toughest weeks yet and see many deaths but also said he’s eager to get the US economy back on track.
The number of people infected in the US has soared to more than 312,000 as the fatalities climbed past 8,500.
Democratic National Convention may need to be virtual
Former Vice President Joe Biden says the Democratic National Convention that has already been delayed until August may need to be held virtually.
Mr Biden said on ABC’s “This Week” it may not be possible to put tens of thousands of people in one place.
Mr Biden has a commanding lead in delegates and needs to clinch his party’s presidential nomination as the coronavirus’ spread continues to reshape the race for the White House.
Mr Biden says he plans to wear a mask in public. That conforms with federal guidelines that Americans use face coverings in public places. But it contradicts President Donald Trump, who says he’s choosing not do that.
“He may not like how he looks in a mask, but the truth of the matter is that follow the science,” Mr Biden said.
Canada to still import N95 masks
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s confident Canada will still be able to import N95 protective masks from the US despite an export ban. He plans to speak to US President Donald Trump in the coming days.
Mr Trump has said he will block exports of the masks from the United States to ensure they are available in the US for use during the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Trudeau notes Canada supplies the US with many supplies including pulp for surgical-grade N95 masks, test kits and gloves. Canadian nurses also work in the US.
Mr Trudeau says it would be harmful to both nations if the flow of those goods and services stopped.
Swedish King orders public to ‘stay home at Easter’
King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden has asked the country to “stay home at Easter”, during a rare televised address to the nation.
Speaking from the remote Stenhammar Palace where the 73-year-old monarch is self-isolating, the King paid tribute to healthcare workers battling the outbreak that has now claimed 401 lives in the Scandinavian nation.
The King said staying home was “a small sacrifice” and urged people to act responsibly.
Morocco to release more than 5000 prisoners
Morocco’s Ministry of Justice has said King Mohammed VI ordered the release of 5,654 prisoners across the North African country’s prisons in an effort to limit the spread of coronavirus.
The prisoners were all deemed to be low-risk and granted the royal pardon. They were selected on the basis of age, health condition, the length of detention, as well as good conduct.
No cases of the new coronavirus have been identified in Moroccan prisons so far.
Former Libyan PM dies
Former Libyan Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril has died in the Egyptian capital of Cairo from COVID-19.
The announcement was made on his official Facebook on Sunday (local time). He was 67. Jibril tested positive for the new coronavirus late in March.
Jibril was a senior Gadhafi economic adviser and protege to Seif al-Islam, son and presumed heir to Libya’s longtime ruler Moammar Gadhafi.
Coronavirus: what you need to know
How is coronavirus transmitted?
The human coronavirus is only spread from someone infected with COVID-19 to another. This occurs through close contact with an infected person through contaminated droplets spread by coughing or sneezing, or by contact with contaminated hands or surfaces.
How can I protect myself and my family?
World Health Organisation and NSW Health both recommend basic hygiene practices as the best way to protect yourself from coronavirus.
Good hygiene includes:
Clean your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitiser;
Cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with tissue or your elbow;
Avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms;
Apply safe food practices; and
Stay home if you are sick.
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