Virus deaths soar in Italy, US deploys National Guard | Daily News


 

COVID-19 CRISIS

Virus deaths soar in Italy, US deploys National Guard

UK Health Minister tests positive
A deserted Via del Corso shopping street near Piazza del Popolo in Rome after Italy imposed unprecedented national restrictions on its 60 million people to control the deadly COVID-19 coronavirus. - AFP
A deserted Via del Corso shopping street near Piazza del Popolo in Rome after Italy imposed unprecedented national restrictions on its 60 million people to control the deadly COVID-19 coronavirus. - AFP

ITALY: Italy has recorded its deadliest day of the COVID-19 crisis despite locking down the entire country, as New York deployed the National Guard to contain a disease that has sown worldwide panic.

The hardest-hit country in Europe said its death toll from the COVID-19 virus had risen Tuesday by a third to 631, with the surging epidemic taking its toll on global sporting, cultural and political events.

While authorities in China, where the outbreak began, have declared it “basically curbed”, cases are multiplying around the world, sparking panic buying in shops, and wild swings on financial markets.

China remains the hardest-hit overall with more than 80,000 cases and over 3,000 deaths, out of a global total of 117,339 cases and 4,251 deaths across 107 countries and territories, according to an AFP tally.

Britain’s Health Minister MP Nadine Dorries has tested positive for coronavirus, she said in a statement on Tuesday, raising concerns about whether senior government figures have been infected.

“I can confirm I have tested positive for COVID-19... and have been self-isolating at home,” said the Conservative MP.

Health officials are now trying to trace where she contracted the virus and who she has been in contact with, she added.

Six people have died in Britain from the virus, with more than 370 confirmed cases.

Politicians around the world have scrambled to put together emergency packages to ease the significant financial hardships the virus is expected to cause for households and businesses.

US President Donald Trump, who is relying on a strong economy to boost his re-election hopes, promised to announce “major” economic measures.

The biggest item on his wish list is a cut in payroll taxes. But even allies in Congress and reportedly some aides in the White House are sceptical, questioning the cost.

Italy prepared Tuesday to let families skip mortgage and some tax payments while Japan unveiled a second emergency package to tackle economic woes stemming from the outbreak, including $15 billion in loan programmes to support small businesses.

The virus is infecting all walks of life, including politics, with US Democratic Presidential hopefuls Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden both cancelling campaign rallies.

And amid criticism of the US authorities’ response, New York deployed the National Guard for the first time during the crisis to help contain the spread of the disease from an infection-hit suburb.

There have been 173 confirmed cases in New York state, including 108 in Westchester County, home to New Rochelle where the majority of infections have been detected. In an unprecedented move, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has told the 60 million residents of his country they should travel only for the most urgent work or health reasons.

And while squares in Milan and Rome were emptied of their usual bustle and traffic, some residents appeared uncertain if they were even allowed to leave their homes for everyday tasks like shopping.

The virus has battered tourism around the world, as people scrap travel plans, and a restaurant owner in Florence in northern Italy said that the impact on business had been catastrophic.

“We hope that we will see the end of it, because from around 140 covers a day, this afternoon, we’ve gone down to 20-25,” Agostino Ferrara told AFP.

Pope Francis also seemed to muddy the waters, holding a mass in which he urged priests to go out and visit the sick -- something Conte has specifically discouraged. The virus and the response to the crisis has prompted pandemonium on global markets with volatility not seen since the world financial crisis in 2008.

After suffering its worst session in more than 11 years at the beginning of the week, the Dow Jones Index in New York bounced back significantly, rising five percent on Tuesday.

Politicians around the world have scrambled to put together emergency packages to ease the significant financial hardships the virus is expected to cause for households and businesses.

US President Donald Trump, who is relying on a strong economy to boost his re-election hopes, promised to announce “major” economic measures.

- AFP


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