New York coronavirus deaths near 1,000 as Trump extends guidelines

The state of New York was approaching a dismal milestone on Monday, when nearly 1,000 residents had died of the coronavirus. With more than a third of the American COVID-19 cases, New York is the US epicenter of the pandemic.

The phrase across social media “another 30 days” was in trend on Monday, a day after President Donald Trump announced an extension of the social distancing policy to April 30, which was originally scheduled to end by Easter.

Trump said last week that he wanted much of the country to return to normal by Easter, April 12, despite warnings from leading health experts that early policy relaxation could cause widespread deaths and economic damage.

But on Sunday, he said the extension was necessary to avoid a catastrophic death toll, while the number was still measured at “between 100,000 and 200,000”.

A Samaritan wallet crew works on Sunday to build an emergency field hospital with a breathing unit in Central Park, New York, opposite Mount Sinai Hospital.Mary Altaffer / AP

In the U.S., at least 2,472 people have died from the effects of the virus, while 142,788 have been reported infected, according to NBC News. The official worldwide death toll has reached 34,018, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The reported global infection rate has crept in to almost 750,000 cases.

On Sunday, New York governor Andrew Cuomo did not set a date for the crisis to end, but pointed out that the rate of hospitalization doubled every six days. At the same time, however, this rate seemed to be slowing down, he said.

“This is good news,” he said, adding that efforts to increase hospital capacity continued. “The virus was before us, I want to be ahead of the virus.”

New York has given a “break” to travel and activities in the state – the instruction that unnecessary workers stay at home and schools have to be closed – has been extended for another two weeks. To support the measures, Cuomo said that schools would now offer free day care centers where pharmacies would offer free home delivery.

Another major concern for officials and the public was the safety and health of healthcare workers working with coronavirus cases. But it’s not just health workers who are feeling the strain of increasing patients.

Former NYPD commissioner Bill Bratton said Sunday that 12.8 percent of the police were sick. That could rise to over 15 percent by Monday morning – that’s up to 500 sick officials.

An elderly man at a checkout at the South African social security agency in Soweto covered his mouth while queuing on Monday.Marco Longari / AFP – Getty Images

Spain also reached a worrying milestone on Monday: the total number of confirmed cases in the country exceeded that in China, where the outbreak first began. At least 85,195 people were infected with the virus in Spain, and 7,340 people have died as a result.

When the UK entered the second week of its closure with non-essential businesses and schools, health officials warned that life could take six months to return to normal.

England’s deputy chief doctor, Jenny Harries, said on Sunday that the government would need a few more weeks to see if the virus-spreading restrictions were working, and even if it did, the country would not get back to work as usual .

The UK has recorded 1,228 coronavirus deaths and confirmed at least 19,784 cases.

Although Italy leads the worldwide death toll with almost 11,000 fatalities, it fell for the second time in a row on Sunday with 756 reported deaths, compared to 889 deaths on Saturday. Government officials said the stringent blocking measures are likely to be extended beyond the current April 3 deadline.

Meanwhile, South Africa is seeing signs of the disease spreading after registering its first case of the virus in a slum outside Cape Town on Sunday. The incident raises the alarm, as the spread could be reduced in an area where people live in confined spaces and have limited access to water and sanitation.

Colin Sheeley, Fiona Day and Reuters contributed.

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