Coronavirus infections near 500,000; Europe's healthcare systems buckle

By Thursday, infections worldwide due to the new coronavirus are expected to reach half a million people, with Italy and the United States looking to overtake China, where the pandemic began.

Health systems in Europe and New York have collapsed under the weight of caring for the seriously ill while authorities are desperately looking for enough respirators to keep them alive.

Faced with the exponential spread of the pandemic, the United States Senate has adopted a $ 2.2 trillion economic rescue program for pilot assistance to businesses, workers and health systems. Millions of Americans hoped this would give them a lifeline as they lost jobs, income and child care because of the social distancing rules needed to slow the spread of the virus.

At least 1.5 billion people are now subject to severe travel restrictions. But the head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, chastised world leaders for wasting precious time fighting the virus that has already killed more than 21,000 people, thrown millions out of work and ravaged the global economy.

He called him the # 1 public enemy.

The time to act was actually more than a month or two months ago, he said. We have wasted the first window of opportunity … this is a second opportunity, which we must not waste and do everything to remove and control this virus. “

In the United States, where 1,050 virus deaths have been killed and approximately 70,000 people infected, a fierce political battle has raged between those demanding urgent action for a multi-month siege against the pandemic, such as the Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo and President Donald Trump.

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Trump expressed hope that churches could return to normal by Easter, just 17 days old, and grumbled that our country was not built to be closed, apparently concerned that the devastating effects of the epidemic in the financial markets and employment will affect his chances of re-election.

Democrats say Trump prioritizes the economy over the health and safety of Americans.

“I would say, let’s get back to work next Friday,” said Joe Biden, the favorite for the Democratic presidential nomination. That would be wonderful. But this cannot be arbitrary.

New York has become a global hotspot for viruses, and the governor says infections almost double every few days. The city’s convention center is becoming a temporary hospital and the state has left 280 dead, according to a count by Johns Hopkins University.

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In a glimpse of what may be ahead for the United States, Spain has turned hotels into makeshift hospitals and turned an ice rink in Madrid into a temporary morgue. The infection curve has not slowed in Spain, which now has more than 3,600 deaths, just behind the number of deaths in Italy of 7,503.

We are collapsing, “said Lidia Perera, a nurse who works at La Paz Hospital in Madrid. We need more workers.

She said watching the patients die alone was killing us all inside.

Physically, it’s extremely complicated, but psychologically, it’s appalling, said her colleague Patricia Nez, a nurse who is recovering from an infection herself.

Doctors and nurses in Italy have implored the government to provide more masks, gloves and glasses on a daily basis and have urged the public to understand how important social distancing measures are. Scientists say that by preventing one person from contracting the virus, dozens more will not be infected along the way.

Please don’t leave us alone. Help us help you, “wrote Dr. Francesca De Gennaro, who runs a small medical clinic in Bergamo, Italy, in an open letter.

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European Union leaders met on Thursday for their third summit in three weeks as they fought to contain the spread of the coronavirus and manage the havoc the disease is wreaking on their 27 economies.

While the death toll in Europe has increased by more than 12,000, Spain has extended the state of emergency which will allow it to impose wider blockades while French President Emmanuel Macron launched Operation Resilience, a response supported by the military to fight the pandemic.

France has started to evacuate infected citizens from the hot spot in north-eastern Alsace using a special medical high-speed train which its Minister of Health has described as the first in Europe.

About twenty patients are transported from Strasbourg to hospitals in Pays-de-la-Loire and other regions.

Britain has ordered 10,000 fans to fight the COVID-19 crisis, in collaboration with engineers from Dyson. The government wants to increase its fans from 8,000 to 30,000.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, which go away within two to three weeks. For some, especially the elderly and people with health problems, it can cause more serious illnesses, including pneumonia and death.

So far, more than 115,000 people have cured the virus, and health care experts say the key to fighting it is to smooth the curve to slow the spread of the epidemic so hospitals are not overwhelmed. of critically ill patients at a time. Slowing the infection rate will also reduce the eventual death rate.

Cases in China have slowed, with only 67 new cases reported, all of which have recently arrived.

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The leaders of the Group of the 20 largest economies held a special videoconference to better coordinate a response to the pandemic, amid criticism that the richest countries in the world have not taken coherent measures.

The conference was chaired by King of Saudi Arabia Salman.

As the virus spreads to new territories, many countries have taken drastic measures.

As cases begin to increase in Russia, President Vladimir Putin has ordered the military to assist. The government has announced that it will stop all international flights from Friday and that troops will build 16 new medical centers to treat victims of the virus by mid-May.

Russia says it has 658 cases, but experts say these figures underreport the crisis there and may be due to the lack of testing.

London hospitals face “tsunami” of virus patients: NHS official

Hospitals in the British capital are overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients, said Thursday the head of an organization representing the heads of the National Health Service.

NHS providers chief executive Chris Hopson said on BBC radio that London hospitals had seen an “explosion in demand … for critically ill patients”, comparing it to a “continuing tsunami “.

A total of 9,529 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the UK on Wednesday morning, an increase of 1,452 from Tuesday’s official figure, according to the UK Department for Health and Welfare.

Britain is increasing the rate of tests for COVID-19, said the chief medical officer (CMO) of English professor Chris Whitty.

Officials are working to increase the number of tests that can be done by Public Health England and the National Health Service (NHS) to 25,000 a day, according to a previous government statement.

Since Tuesday, more than 15 million face masks have been delivered to local hospitals across the country, the ministry of health and social affairs said.

British Interior Minister Priti Patel granted visas for foreign nationals stranded in the UK for more than two months due to multiple countries’ COVID-19 travel bans, including India.

The announcement, made on Tuesday, was a relief to Indian nationals, including tourists, professionals and students, who were inundating the Indian High Commission in London social media channels with questions about their expired or expiring visas. soon.

Like many foreign nationals, Indian citizens have also been unable to return home amid the coronavirus pandemic due to flight cancellations and border restrictions.

By granting them a grace period until May 31, Patel said she wanted to reassure people that no enforcement action will be taken against anyone caught because of the current strict travel restrictions.

“The UK continues to prioritize the health and well-being of people and no one will be punished for circumstances beyond their control. By extending visas we give people peace of mind and we let’s also ensure that people in vital services can continue working, “said the UK Cabinet Minister.

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