Two million infected worldwide but virus has ‘certainly not peaked’

Nearly two million people globally have been infected and more than 119,200 have died, but the coronavirus pandemic has “certainly” not yet peaked, the World Health Organisation says.

Apr 15, 2020, updated Apr 15, 2020
Pedestrians wearing masks due to the coronavirus outbreak in Boston. (Photo: AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Pedestrians wearing masks due to the coronavirus outbreak in Boston. (Photo: AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Spain and Austria have allowed partial returns to work but the UK, France and India extended coronavirus lockdowns to curb the most serious pandemic in a century.

The epicentre has moved from China, where the virus first emerged in December, to the US which now has the highest death toll at 23,568.

The World Health Organisation said the number of new cases was easing in some parts of Europe, including Italy and Spain, but outbreaks were growing in Britain and Turkey.

“The overall world outbreak, 90 per cent of cases are coming from Europe and the United States of America. So we are certainly not seeing the peak yet,” WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris told a briefing in Geneva on Tuesday.

In Spain, restrictions have helped to slow a spiralling death rate that reached its peak in early April.

The overnight death toll rose to 567 on Tuesday from 517 a day earlier, but the country reported its lowest increase in new cases since March 18. Total deaths climbed to 18,056.

Some activities, including construction and manufacturing, were allowed to restart. Shops, bars and public spaces are to stay closed until at least April 26.

Italy, which has the world’s second-highest death toll of 20,465, maintained tight restrictions on movement. Denmark will reopen day care centres and schools for children in first to fifth grade on April 15.

Thousands of shops across Austria reopened on Tuesday, but the Government said it was “not out of the woods” yet.

Austria acted early in its outbreak to close schools, bars, theatres, restaurants, non-essential shops and other gathering places about four weeks ago. It has told the public to stay home and work from there if possible.

Austria has reported 368 deaths in total, fewer than some larger European countries have been suffering each day.

Britain, where the Government has come under criticism for its slow approach to testing and for not getting protective equipment to the frontlines, has the fifth-highest death toll globally and a senior government adviser says the country risks becoming the worst-hit in Europe.

The death toll in British hospitals rose to 11,329 on Monday and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said there would be no easing of lockdown measures when they are reviewed this week.

The government has had to defend its response to the outbreak amid questions about whether Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who fell ill with the virus and was briefly in intensive care, was too slow to impose a lockdown.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday extended a virtual lockdown to May 11.

India extended its nationwide lockdown until May 3 as the number of coronavirus cases crossed 10,000.

Russia might need to call in the army to help tackle the crisis, President Vladimir Putin said on Monday. Moscow warned that the capital may run out of hospital beds in coming weeks.

China’s northeastern border province of Heilongjiang saw 79 new cases of imported coronavirus cases on Monday, all Chinese citizens travelling back from Russia, state media said.

As of Tuesday, China had reported 82,249 coronavirus cases and 3,341 deaths. There were no deaths in the past 24 hours.

US President Donald Trump, who had predicted a return to work after Easter, defended his response to the coronavirus.

He said he did not intend to fire the leading US health expert, who said that earlier intervention could have saved more lives.

At a contentious briefing with reporters, Trump lashed out at media coverage and said he had the ultimate authority to re-open the economy.

“The President of the United States calls the shots,” Trump said.

-AAP and agencies

Local News Matters
Copyright © 2024 InQueensland.
All rights reserved.
Privacy Policy