The Malta Independent 8 April 2020, Wednesday

85% of new infections, deaths coming from Europe and US - United Nations

Associated Press Tuesday, 24 March 2020, 13:03 Last update: about 14 days ago

Infections and deaths globally from the coronavirus are expected to increase “considerably” when global figures are published later Tuesday, the World Health Organization said.

Overnight reporting showed 85% of the new cases are being reported in Europe and the United States, said Dr. Margaret Harris, a WHO spokeswoman.

On Monday, WHO counted more than 334,000 total cases globally. Harris said “but in fact the outbreak is accelerating very rapidly and the case numbers we received overnight will put that up considerably.”

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Spain began storing bodies in an ice rink converted into a makeshift morgue, as virus deaths rose in the country.

As virus deaths mounted and Americans hoped for some economic relief from their divided government, health officials and leaders warned that the world was entering a critical period that would determine just how deeply the pandemic slices through their nations.

While Chinese authorities said they would finally end a two-month lockdown in hard-hit Hubei province where the coronavirus outbreak first began, nations in Europe, North America and elsewhere pressed harder to enforce the stay-at-home restrictions placed on 1.5 billion people worldwide.

Those measures could significantly impact the trajectory that the virus will take as it spreads across the world.

“We are not helpless bystanders,” said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, noting that it took 67 days to reach 100,000 cases worldwide but just four days to go from 200,000 to 300,000. “We can change the trajectory of this pandemic.”

One viral social media video showed Italian mayors, sometimes profanely, berating their fellow citizens for not staying inside.

On Capitol Hill, a nearly $2 trillion plan that would prop up businesses and send checks to American households has stalled in Washington for days, but officials said they expect to reach a deal later Tuesday. Democrats have argued that it was tilted too much toward corporations rather than helping American workers and health care providers.

It appears that it will be soon that the U.S., which has more than 46,000 infections and 530 deaths, overtakes hard-hit Italy in the number of infections. Authorities say the U.S. is on track to eventually overtake China's nearly 82,000 infections and how soon that happens depends on how seriously Americans take the state-at-home restrictions.

In New York, now one of the world's biggest virus hot spots, authorities rushed to set up the thousands of hospital beds they will need in just weeks to protect the city's 8.4 million people. More than 12,000 people have tested positive in the city and 125 have died. A state-wide lockdown took effect Monday.

The mayor warned that the city's hospitals are just 10 days away from shortages in basic supplies, while the state's governor announced plans to convert a New York City convention center into a hospital.

“This is going to get much worse before it gets better,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tightened all travel restrictions, demanding that people do not visit family members or friends and stick with only the people they live with.

Nearly 384,000 people worldwide have been infected and more than 16,500 have died from the virus, according to by Johns Hopkins University.

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