The United States has been told areas may slowly reopen by the end of the month if Americans continue to distance themselves, as the British Prime Minister remained in hospital for coronavirus treatment and the original COVID-19 epicentre finally lifted its lockdown.
Worldwide, more than 1.3 million people have been confirmed infected and over 75,000 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The United States
US Surgeon General Jerome Adams said overnight that if Americans continue to practice social distancing for the rest of April, “we will be able to get back to some sense of normalcy.”
“I want the American people to know there is a light at the end of this tunnel, and we feel confident that if we keep doing the right thing for the rest of this month, that we can start to slowly reopen in some places,” he said on the US ABC‘s ‘Good Morning America’.
His comments come as New York City’s death toll eclipsed the number of those killed in the September 11, World Trade Centre attacks in 2001.
At least 3202 people have died in New York from COVID-19, according to the count released by the city.
The deadliest terror attack on US soil killed 2753 people in the city and 2977 overall, when hijacked planes slammed into the twin towers, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field.
New York state has also recorded 731 new coronavirus deaths, its biggest one-day jump yet, for a statewide toll of nearly 5500, Governor Andrew Cuomo said.
“Behind every one of those numbers is an individual. There’s a family, there’s a mother, there’s a father, there’s a sister, there’s a brother. So a lot of pain again today for many New Yorkers,” he said.
But in an encouraging sign, Cuomo reported that hospital admissions and the number of those receiving breathing tubes are dropping, indicating that measures taken to force people to keep their distance from one another are succeeding.
And alarming as the one-day increase in deaths might sound, the governor said that’s a “lagging indicator,” reflecting severely ill people who had been hospitalised before this week.
Over the past several days, in fact, the number of deaths in New York appeared to be leveling off.
“You see that plateauing — that’s because of what we are doing. If we don’t do what we are doing, that is a much different curve,” he said.
“So social distancing is working.”
Across the US, the death toll neared 12,000, with around 380,000 confirmed infections.
That positivity has also been enough to see stocks rise once again on Wall Street after a big rally the day before. The S&P 500 was up nearly 2.5 per cent at 2am AEST (midday local time).
In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains in intensive care with the virus.
The 55-year-old Johnson, the world’s first head of government known to have fallen ill with the virus, was in stable condition and conscious at London’s St Thomas’ Hospital hospital.
He has been receiving oxygen but was not on a ventilator, said his spokesman James Slack.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab was designated to run the country in the meantime.
Deaths in Britain rose to nearly 6159, after a one-day increase of 786.
“We’re desperately hoping that Boris can make the speediest possible recovery,” said Cabinet minister Michael Gove, who is among scores of British officials in self-isolation.
In some European hot spots, as in New York, authorities saw signs that the outbreak was turning a corner, based on slowdowns in new deaths and hospitalisations.
In Spain, new deaths Tuesday rose to 743 and infections climbed by 5400 after five days of declines, but the increases were believed to reflect a weekend backlog.
In Italy, the hardest-hit country of all, with over 16,500 deaths, authorities appealed to people ahead of Easter weekend not to lower their guard and to abide by a lockdown now in its fifth week, even as new cases dropped to a level not seen since the early weeks of the outbreak.
“Finally it seems we are beginning to see a lessening of new cases” after a plateau, said Giovanni Rezza, director of the infectious-disease division of Italy’s national health institute.
New cases were also slowing in France and Portugal. To keep up social distancing, Paris banned daytime jogging just as warm spring weather settled in.
Elsewhere around the world, there were contrasting developments.
Chinese authorities lifted the lockdown on Wuhan after 76 days, allowing residents to travel in and out of the industrial city of 11 million where the worldwide outbreak began.
China, which officially recorded more than 82,000 infections and over 3300 deaths, listed no new cases overnight, though the country’s figures are regarded with suspicion by some public health experts.
In Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared a month-long state of emergency in Tokyo and six other prefectures because of a spike of infections in the country with the world’s oldest population.
The order will close hostess bars and other night entertainment.
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