Spain awoke to its third week under near-total lockdown on Sunday, as the government met to approve a strengthening of measures and the coronavirus death toll rose by a record 838 cases overnight to 6,528. Second only to Italy in fatalities, Spain also saw infections rise to 78,797 from 72,248 the day before. Prime minister Pedro Sanchez, in a televised address to the nation on Saturday night, announced that all non-essential workers must stay at home for two weeks, the latest government measure in the fight against coronavirus.
He said workers would receive their usual salaries but would have to make up lost hours at a later date. The measure would last from March 30th to April 9th. Worldwide coronavirus infections have surpassed the 660,000 mark, with more than 30,000 deaths as new cases, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
Latest figures from the UK’s department of health show that 1,228 people in the UK have now died from coronavirus, up 209 from Saturday.
The department said that as of Sunday morning, a total of 127,737 have been tested: 108,215 were negative while 19,522 people tested positive.
Deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries told a Downing Street press conference that it could be six months or longer before the country gets back to normal from the coronavirus pandemic, with reviews of lockdown measures every three weeks.
Cabinet minister Michael Gove acknowledged the scale of the “sacrifice” the public is taking but said he could not make “an accurate prediction” on how long it must be endured. The coronavirus lockdown will be in place for a “significant period” and could last longer if people do not stick to the rules, Mr Gove said. His warning came after prime minister Boris Johnson wrote to every household with a warning he could impose stricter measures. But Mr Gove declined to say what the tougher rules could look like with the public confined to their homes for all but essential travel and for once-daily exercise.
The death toll in Italy climbed by 756 to 10,779, the Civil Protection Agency said on Sunday, the second successive fall in the daily rate.
The number of fatalities, by far the highest of any country in the world, account for more than a third of all deaths from the infectious virus worldwide.
Italy’s largest daily toll was registered on Friday, when 919 people died. There were 889 deaths on Saturday.
The total number of confirmed cases in Italy rose on Sunday to 97,689 from a previous 92,472, the lowest daily rise in new cases since Wednesday.
Of those infected nationwide, 13,030 had fully recovered on Sunday, compared with 12,384 the day before.
Lombardy, the hardest hit Italian region, reported a rise in deaths of around 416 on Sunday.
French health authorities reported 292 new deaths from the coronavirus on Sunday, up 13 per cent on the previous day and taking the total to 2,606 since March 1st.
The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Germany has risen to 52,547 and 389 people have died of the disease, statistics from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Sunday. Cases rose by 3,965 compared with the previous day while the death toll climbed by 64, the tally showed. RKI said that the data did not show the complete picture as it did not receive any readings from the regional states Baden-Wuerttemberg, Hesse and Saarland. Germany is unlikely to see an easing of restrictions before April 20th as cases in Europe’s biggest economy are doubling every five-and-a-half days, German chancellor Angela Merkel said in her weekly podcast. Meanwhile in France, the number of cases has risen to 37,575 while there have been 2,314 deaths.
Deaths in the US from coronavirus could reach 200,000 with millions of cases, the government’s top infectious diseases expert warned on Sunday. Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, estimated in an interview with CNN that the pandemic could cause between 100,000 and 200,000 deaths in the US.
US president Donald Trump has considered then abandoned ordering a quarantine for the coronavirus hotspots of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Mr Trump announced in a tweet that the quarantine, which it was unclear if he had the power to order, would not go ahead and a travel advisory would be issued instead. The advisory urged residents of the three states to avoid all but essential travel for two weeks. The US leads the world in reported cases with more than 115,000. There were roughly 1,900 deaths recorded by Saturday. All 50 states have reported some cases of the virus but New York has the most, with over 52,000 positive tests for the illness and more than 700 deaths. About 7,300 people were in New York hospitals on Saturday night, including about 1,800 in intensive care.
Australians were asked on Sunday to further isolate themselves from the public to keep the coronavirus from spreading even as authorities said the rate of daily infections has halved in recent days. Government officials said that public gatherings must be restricted to two people and Australians should stay inside unless shopping for essentials, exercising, going to work or medical care. Those over 70 should self-isolate themselves. There were 3,978 confirmed cases in Australia as of late on Sunday, chief medical officer Brendan Murphy said slightly higher than official health ministry data showing 3,966 cases and an increase of 331 over a 24-hour period. Sixteen deaths were attributable to the virus.
New Zealand has reported its first death from Covid-19. Health authorities said Sunday the victim was a woman in her 70s. She was admitted to a west coast hospital last week with what they initially thought was flu, and hospital staff did not wear full protective equipment. As a result, 21 members of staff have been put in self-isolation for two weeks. The country has reported 514 cases of Covid-19. Last Wednesday, New Zealanders began a strict four-week lockdown.
The rising number of imported coronavirus cases in China have raised the possibility that the country will undergo a second wave of infections, a spokesman of the country’s health authority said on Sunday. “China already has an accumulated total of 693 cases entering from overseas, which means the possibility of a new round of infections remains relatively big,” said Mi Feng of the National Health Commission. China reported 45 new cases of coronavirus on Saturday, all but one of which were patients diagnosed after entering the country from overseas. The city at the centre of China’s coronavirus outbreak has reopened tube trains and long-distance train services in another step towards ending restrictions that confined millions of people to their homes. Passengers in Wuhan in the central province of Hubei had to wear masks and be checked for fever after service resumed Saturday, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. It said signs were posted telling passengers to sit with empty seats between them.
Indian prime minister Narendra Modi asked the nation’s poor for forgiveness on Sunday, as the economic and human toll from his 21-day nationwide lockdown deepens and criticism mounts about a lack of adequate planning ahead the decision. Mr Modi on Tuesday announced a three week-lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus. But, the decision has particularly stung millions of
India’s poor, leaving many hungry and forcing tens of thousands of jobless migrant labourers to walk hundreds of kilometres from cities to their native villages. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in India rose to 979 on Sunday, including 25 deaths.
The coronavirus pandemic is not keeping Swedes at home. The Swedish authorities have advised the public to practise social distancing and to work from home, if possible, and urged those over age 70 to self-isolate as a precaution. “Sweden is an outlier on the European scene, at least,” said Johan Giesecke, the country’s former chief epidemiologist and now adviser to the Swedish Health Agency, a government body. “And I think that’s good.” Prime minister Stefan Lofven, warning of “many tough weeks and months ahead,” announced Friday that as of Sunday, gatherings would be limited to 50 people instead of 500. The government said weddings, funerals and Easter celebrations would be affected. For now, the Swedish government maintains that citizens can be trusted to exercise responsibility for the greater good and will stay at home if they experience any Covid-19 symptoms.
Tokyo has confirmed 68 new coronavirus cases, a record daily increase, public broadcaster NHK reported on Sunday. Infections in Japan have climbed to more than 1,700, with 55 deaths as of early Sunday, excluding those from a cruise ship quarantined last month, NHK said. Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike has asked the tens of millions of people in the city and surrounding regions to avoid non-essential, non-urgent outings until April 12th, particularly this weekend.
The wife of Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau has said that she has recovered from being ill with Covid-19. “I am feeling so much better,” Sophie Gregoire Trudeau said in a statement on social media. She said she received the clearance from her doctor and Ottawa Public Health. Mr Trudeau’s office announced on March 12th that she had tested positive for coronavirus after she fell ill after returning from a trip to London. The prime minister and his family have been in self isolation at home since then. He and their three children did not show symptoms. Canada has more than 5,616 confirmed coronavirus cases, including 61 deaths. About 445 people have recovered.
Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro has staked out the most deliberately dismissive position of any major world leader, calling the coronavirus pandemic a momentary, minor problem and saying strong measures to contain it are unnecessary. Mr Bolsonaro called it “a little flu” and said state governors’ aggressive measures to halt the disease were crimes. Mr Bolsonaro said he feels Brazilians’ natural immunity will protect the nation. “The Brazilian needs to be studied. He doesn’t catch anything. You see a guy jumping into sewage, diving in, right? Nothing happens to him. I think a lot of people were already infected in Brazil, weeks or months ago, and they already have the antibodies that help it not proliferate,” Mr Bolsonaro said. “I’m hopeful that’s really a reality.”– Reuters, PA, Bloomberg