Italy Sees Smaller Spike In Cases, 18 Docs Among Dead; 4K Health Workers Infected In Spain


The hunt for masks, ventilators and other medical supplies consumed the US and Europe, as more than 1.5 billion people — one-fifth of the world’s population — were asked or ordered to stay home on Monday to try to blunt the spread of the coronavirus.

Worldwide, over 3,67,000 people have been infected and more than 16,000 have died from the virus. As cases in China ebbed, the dangers to Europe and US have grown exponentially. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the World Health Organization, called on countries to take strong, coordinated action to stem the accelerating outbreak. “We are not helpless bystanders,” he said, noting that it took 67 days to reach 100,000 cases worldwide but just four days to go from 2,00,000 to 3,00,000. “We can change the trajectory of this pandemic.”

Italy on Monday banned domestic travel and shut down a range of industries in a lastditch push against the spread of the coronavirus. Officials say Italy has recorded a smaller day-to-day increase in new coronavirus cases for the second straight day. Data on Monday showed 4,789 new cases from a day earlier, nearly 700 fewer than the day-to-day increase reported on Sunday. The deaths also did not rise by as much. There were just over 600 registered on Monday compared to 651 on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the scramble to marshal both public health and political resources intensified in New York, where a statewide lockdown took effect amid worries the city of 8.4 million is becoming one of the world’s biggest hotspots. Nearly 10,000 people have tested positive in the city, and almost 100 have died. The governor announced plans to convert a huge New York City convention center into a hospital with 1,000 beds. Meanwhile, the mayor warned that the city’s hospitals are just 10 days away from shortages in basic supplies needed to protect health care workers and patients alike. “If we don’t get the equipment, we’re literally going to lose lives,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

The risk to doctors, nurses and others on the front lines has become plain: Italy, the worst affected in Europe, has seen at least 18 doctors with coronavirus die. Spain has nearly 4,000 health workers infected with the virus. The number of cases registered in Spain rose to 33,089 up from 28,572 cases on Sunday. Of which, nearly 12% are health workers. Britain’s health workers pleaded for more gear, saying they felt like “cannon fodder”. In France, doctors scrounged masks from construction workers. “There’s a wild race to get surgical masks,” Francois Blanchecott, a biologist on the front lines of testing, told France Inter radio.

In the US, a fierce political battle over ventilators has emerged, especially after President Trump told state governors that they should find their own medical equipment if they think they can get it faster than the US government. Alaska is expected to soon run out of money to pay doctors and hospitals.

China has been the one nation to counter this trend, sending planeloads of equipment like masks, gloves and protective gear as well as doctors across Europe, including hard-hit Italy, France and Spain as well as places with weaker medical systems like Bulgaria, Greece and Serbia.

Authorities kept up their push to get people to stay home, but some were clearly not listening. Photos showed long lines of parked cars as hundreds walked up the remote mountains of Snowdonia National Park in Wales, which saw “its busiest-ever visitor day” on Saturday. British health secretary Matt Hancock described those ignoring the government’s social distancing recommendations as “very selfish” and warned that stricter rules might be coming soon.

Two former passengers of the Diamond Princess cruise ship died, bringing to 10 the number of deaths from a ship that had over 700 infections. While other countries struggled to contain the virus, Chinese city of Wuhan, where the outbreak first emerged, said it is now allowing residents limited movement as its months-long lockdown gradually eases.

South Korea reported on Monday its lowest number of new cases and the extended downward trend in daily infections since the peak on February 29. There were 64 new cases on Monday, taking the national tally to 8,961. The death toll rose to 118, from 110. The new numbers marked the 12th day in a row the country has posted new infections of around 100 or less, compared with the peak of 909 cases recorded on February

29. Hong Kong said it was stopping all tourist transit passengers at its airport and was considering suspending sale of alcohol in some venues. AGENCIES