Coronavirus: Global toll crosses 21,000, more than three billion people told to stay home

More than three billion people across the world have been asked to stay home to break the chain of infection in the Covid-19 pandemic, AFP reported on Wednesday. The pandemic has now infected 4,70,973 people globally, and killed 21,276 people across 173 countries or territories, according to an estimate by Johns Hopkins University. As many as 1,14,012 people have recovered.

The World Health Organization has recommended social distancing as a key measure to curb the spread of the infection. Countries like India, Argentina, Britain, France, Italy, South Africa, Panama as well as many US states have enforced lockdown. Some others have imposed curfew and mandatory quarantine. However, access to medical assistance and essential items like groceries are exempted in most countries.

India began its 21-day lockdown on Wednesday, when its number of confirmed cases rose to 606. Of these, 553 are active cases, 42 patients have recovered, 10 have died and one has left the country. At least three more deaths have been confirmed by local authorities but not central officials.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned that only a concerted global effort could stop the spread of the virus. “Covid-19 is threatening the whole of humanity – and the whole of humanity must fight back,” Guterres said. He appealed for $2 billion to help the poor across the globe. “Global action and solidarity are crucial,” he said. “Individual country responses are not going to be enough.”

The major economies of G20 will hold an emergency videoconference on Thursday to discuss a global response to the crisis. Leaders of the European Union too will discuss ways to stop the spread. They are likely to sign off on an “unprecedented” recovery plan.

United States

The country has so far reported 66,132 cases. Of these, 1,031 have died while 616 have recovered. More than half of all Americans have been told to stay home. New York is considered the epicentre of the US outbreak with over 30,000 cases. However, New York witnessed a slowdown in the hospitalisation rate after authorities strictly enforced social distancing.

The US Senate passed an aid package of $2 trillion. However, President Donald Trump is not in favour of a prolonged lockdown. “We want to get our country going again,” Trump said in Washington. “I’m not going to do anything rash or hastily. By Easter we’ll have a recommendation and maybe before Easter.”

Spain

The number of fatalities in Spain surpassed that in China, where the novel coronavirus first emerged late last year. In the past 24 hours, the country saw 738 deaths, taking the toll to more than 3,400. Spain now has the second-highest toll in the world after Italy.

Almost 27,000 people are being treated in hospitals. Madrid is the country’s worst affected region but Catalonia too has seen a rapid increase in cases. The government has announced a $467 million deal to buy medical supplies from Beijing.

China

China has begun to relax restrictions on free movement in the province of Hubei – where the outbreak began in December – after the country reported no new cases.

However, doctors in Wuhan have found that about 3% to 10% of patients who recovered from Covid-19 tested positive again after being discharged from hospital, reported South China Morning Post.

Italy

The toll in Italy jumped in 24 hours by 683 to 7,503. The Civil Protection Agency said the total number of confirmed coronavirus infections are now 74,386. Of these, 1,000 people have recovered, according to the Johns Hopkins tracking map.