Europe, US plunge into darkest days over corona

Trump reverses New York lockdown threat

30 March, 2020 12:00 AM printer

MADRID: The global coronavirus death toll surged past 30,000 over the weekend as Europe and the United States endured their darkest days of the crisis, reports AFP.

A back-flip from US President Donald Trump on quarantining New York highlighted the panic and confusion across many parts of the world in trying to contain the pandemic, which has seen more than a third of humanity placed under unprecedented lockdowns.

More than 30,800 deaths had been reported worldwide by Sunday, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally, as the virus continued to leave a devastating imprint on nearly every aspect of society: wiping out millions of jobs, overwhelming healthcare services and draining national treasuries. Europe alone accounted for more than 20,000 fatalities, where hardest-hit Italy and Spain each reported more than 800 dead in one day. Pablo Rodriguez, a radiologist at a Madrid hospital, described the influx of patients as “a total tsunami”.

“It’s like going to the front line in a war,” he said. Officials in some countries have warned that the worst is yet to come.

But in the Chinese city of Wuhan where the virus first struck late last year, officials took tentative steps back towards normality, partially reopening it after more than two months of near-total isolation for its 11 million residents.

Trump decided late Saturday against imposing a broad lockdown on New York and its neighbours after a strong pushback from local political leaders and warnings of the panic it could spark.

“A quarantine will not be necessary,” Trump tweeted, about eight hours after he stunned the New York metropolitan region—the epicentre of the US outbreak—with a proposal to place it under quarantine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, however, asked area residents not to travel except for essential purposes.

Trump’s reversal came on the same day the US death toll topped 2,100, more than doubling in just three days. Of the fatalities, more than a quarter were in New York City.

Health officials say they fear New York may follow the deadly path charted by Italy, with health professionals exhausted and hospitals desperately short of protective equipment and ventilators.


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