Global coronavirus infections near 500,000 as Spanish death toll tops 4,000
The number of cases in Italy and the United States appear poised to surpass China, where the pandemic began.
Worldwide coronavirus infections are set to top half a million people as Spain’s death toll climbs to more than 4,000.
Italy and the United States appear poised to surpass China, where the pandemic began, while healthcare systems in Europe and New York buckle under the weight of caring for seriously ill victims of Covid-19.
Spain has become the country in Europe where the outbreak is spreading the fastest. Spain’s Health Ministry reported 8,578 new infections and 655 deaths on Thursday, bringing the total cases to 56,188 and more than 4,000 fatalities – second only to Italy’s death toll of 7,503.
Faced with the exponential spread of the pandemic, the US Senate has passed a 2.2 trillion dollar (£1.83 trillion) economic rescue package steering aid to businesses, workers and healthcare systems. Millions of Americans hoped the measure would give them a lifeline as they lost jobs, income and childcare due to the social-distancing rules needed to slow the spread of the virus.
He said: “The time to act was actually more than a month ago or two months ago. We squandered the first window of opportunity … this is a second opportunity, which we should not squander and do everything to suppress and control this virus.”
In the United States, where virus deaths passed 1,050 and some 70,000 people were infected, a fierce political battle raged between those demanding urgent action for a months-long siege against the pandemic, like New York governor Andrew Cuomo, and President Donald Trump.
Joe Biden, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, said: “I’d like to say, let’s get back to work next Friday. That’d be wonderful. But it can’t be arbitrary.”
New York has emerged as a global virus hotspot and the governor says infections are doubling nearly every few days. The city’s convention centre is being turned into a temporary hospital and the state has hit 280 deaths, according to a count by Johns Hopkins University.
European Union leaders are convening for their third summit in three weeks as they battle to contain the spread of coronavirus and manage the havoc the disease is wreaking on their 27 economies. As the number of deaths in Europe soared over 12,000, Spain prolonged a state of emergency that will allow it to impose broader lockdowns while French President Emmanuel Macron launched “Operation Resilience”, a military-backed response to combat the pandemic.
France began evacuating infected citizens from the hotspot of Alsace using a special high-speed train that its health minister called a “first in Europe”. Around 20 patients were being taken from Strasbourg to hospitals in the Pays-de-la-Loire and other regions.