Global coronavirus death toll passes 30,000

Orient Net 2020-03-29 08:23:00

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The coronavirus global death toll has stormed past 30,000 and officials in some countries say the worst still lies ahead.

More than 664,000 cases of the novel coronavirus have been officially recorded around the world since the outbreak began late last year, according to the Johns Hopkins tracker.

The coronavirus death toll shot past 20,000 in Europe on Saturday with Italy and Spain each reporting more than 800 dead in one day, as US President Donald Trump decided against putting the hard-hit New York region under quarantine.

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.

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.

The United States now has the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 infections globally with more than 124,000 cases, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.

One of the fatalities announced Saturday was that of a Chicago infant who was younger than one year old, marking an extremely rare case of juvenile death in the global pandemic.

European nations have been harder hit than the US on a per capita basis with over 20,000 deaths -- around half in worst-hit Italy.

Spain, with the world's second-highest toll, added 832 deaths on Saturday for a total of 5,812.

Madrid toughened a nationwide lockdown, halting all non-essential activities, though officials said the epidemic in the country seemed to be nearing a peak.

Russia said it would close its borders on Monday, despite reporting relatively low levels of the virus.

In France, which has seen close to 2,000 deaths, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe warned the "battle" was just beginning.

The first two weeks in April would be even tougher than the past fortnight, he said.

The British toll passed 1,000 on Saturday while Belgium saw a steep climb in deaths, with 353 recorded on Saturday -- up from 289 the day before.

Elsewhere, Iran announced 139 more deaths, and India sealed a dozen villages that had been visited by a guru now known to be infected and a possible "super-spreader".

South African police used rubber bullets in Johannesburg to enforce social distancing on a crowd queueing for supplies outside a supermarket during a national lockdown.

Based on AFP

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