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Up to 200K deaths foreseen in the US as Spain, Italy demand help

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

The coronavirus outbreak could kill up to 200,000 Americans, the US government’s top infectious-disease expert has warned.

The coronavirus outbreak could kill up to 200,000 Americans, the US government's top infectious-disease expert has warned, as authorities urged people in and around the nation's deadliest hot spot, New York City, to limit their travel to contain the scourge.

In the US and Canada

Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, made the dire prediction on CNN's "State of the Union", adding that millions in the US could become infected.

As of Sunday morning, the US had about 125,000 infections and 2200 deaths, according to the running tally kept by Johns Hopkins University, though the true number of cases is thought to be higher, because of testing shortages and mild cases that may have gone unrecognised or unreported.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is nevertheless confident the US economy will recover strongly by fall even with the coronavirus outbreak.

Mr Mnuchin said on "Fox News Sunday" that President Donald Trump won't lift national guidelines urging people to stay home and nonessential businesses to shutter until he has confidence that COVID-19 is controlled.

He added that a decision whether to reopen the nation back for business as early as Easter will be a health decision not an economic one.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Mr Trump shouldn't be rushing to reopen schools and businesses amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The top Democrat in Congress says the government should be "taking every precaution" and that there needs to be more testing for the virus in place to determine if areas currently showing fewer infections are truly at lower risk.

The government last week reported 3.3 million new weekly unemployment claims, four times the previous record.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said he's hopeful the US $2.2 trillion stimulus package will be enough to see the country through the coronavirus pandemic.

In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he will continue to self-isolate at home even though his wife has recovered from the coronavirus.

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Mr Trudeau says although he was careful, he will remain in isolation for now because he was in the same home as someone who tested positive.

Sophie Trudeau received clearance from her doctor and Ottawa Public Health yesterday.

In Europe

Around the world, doctors have been forced to make tough choices about which patients to save with their limited breathing machines, and Spain and Italy have demanded more help as they fight still-surging infections in the continent's worst crisis since World War II.

Spain and Italy alone account for more than half of the world's death toll, and are still seeing over 800 deaths a day each.

Experts say that virus toll numbers across the world are being seriously under-represented because of limited testing and political decisions about which bodies to count. 

Unlike the US, France and Italy do not count deaths that take place at home or in nursing homes, even though nursing homes are known coronavirus incubators around the world.

''Europe must demonstrate that it is able to respond to this historic call,'' Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte said.

"I will fight until the last drop of sweat, until the last gram of energy, to obtain a strong, vigorous, cohesive European response."

Poland's main opposition candidate in the presidential election has called for a boycott of the planned May 10 vote out of concern for the nation's health amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Malgorzata Kidawa-Blonska of the pro-European Civic Platform party said she was suspending her campaign in order to send a strong signal to the ruling team that the election should be postponed. She appealed to other candidates to follow suit.

Lockdown conditions deepen

President Donald Trump backtracked on a threat to quarantine New York and neighbouring states amid criticism and questions about the legality of such a move.

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But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a travel advisory urging all residents of New York City and others in New York state, New Jersey and Connecticut to avoid all non-essential travel for 14 days.

Those measures, however, do not stack up to restrictions in place elsewhere.

Parisians are fined if they try to leave the city, while South Africans can't buy liquor and Serbians are upset over a ban on walking their dog. In Italy, burials are being held with only one family member.

Spain moved to tighten its lockdown and ban all non-essential work as it hit another daily record of 838 dead. The country's overall official toll was more than 6500.

The economic impact

The crisis is pummelling world economies and putting huge strains on national health care systems. 

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has called for a more vigorous response from the 27-nation European Union.

"It is the most difficult moment for the EU since its foundation and it has to be ready to rise to the challenge," he said.

Spain, Italy, France and six other EU members have asked the union to share the burden by issuing European debt, dubbed coronabonds, to help fight the virus, but the idea has met resistance from Germany and the Netherlands.

European countries have also resisted sharing masks with their neighbours for fear that they, too, will need them in mass quantities soon. Many countries have turned to China, where the outbreak is easing, flying in cargo planes to get protective medical equipment.

Infections continue to spread

Worldwide infections have now surpassed 680,000, according to Johns Hopkins. The United States leads the world in reported cases, but five other countries have higher death tolls: Italy, Spain, China, Iran and France. Italy has more than 10,000 deaths, the most of any country.

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Egypt shut its beaches as cases in the Mideast surpassed 50,000. Police in the Philippines stepped up arrests of quarantine violators, and more tourists were evacuated from Mount Everest and the Indonesian island of Bali.

Russia has also ordered borders to close on Monday, while a prominent French politician with the virus died - France's first death of a senior official.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has the virus himself, warned: "Things will get worse before they get better".

Coronavirus: what you need to know

What is the difference between COVID-19 and the flu?

The symptoms of COVID-19 and the flu are very similar, as they both can cause fever and respiratory issues.

Both infections are also transmitted the same way, via coughing or sneezing, or by contact with hands, surfaces or objects contaminated with the virus.

The speed of transmission and the severity of the infection are the key differences between COVID-19 and the flu.

The time from infection to the appearance of symptoms is typically shorter with the flu. However, there are higher proportions of severe and critical COVID-19 infections.

What is social distancing?

Coronavirus: What you need to know about self-isolation

Social distancing involved minimising contact with people and maintaining a distance of over one metre between you and others.

When practicing social distancing, you should avoid public transport, limit non-essential travel, work from home and skip large gatherings.

It is okay to go outdoors. However, when you do leave home, avoid touching your face and frequently wash your hands.

For breaking news alerts and livestreams straight to your smartphone sign up to the 9News app and set notifications to on at the App Store or Google Play. You can also get up-to-date information from the Federal Government's Coronavirus Australia app, available on the App StoreGoogle Play and the Government's WhatsApp channel.

Source: 9News

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