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Coronavirus in Italy: Wuhan offers hope on the virus front; Italy approaches severe warning | World News


BEIJING: Thursday was a day of contrasts on the battlefront against the new coronavirus. As a sign of hope, the Chinese city of Wuhan reported no new home-grown infections, but in a stark warning to the world, Italy seemed poised to exceed the death toll from the virus in China.

The two milestones were a dramatic illustration of how far the global outbreak has turned towards Europe and the United States. They also showed how the arc of contagion can vary in different nations, as Italy with 60 million people prepares to see more carnage than China, a nation of 1.4 billion.

Italy recorded 2,978 deaths on Wednesday after the death of an additional 475 people. Given that Italy has been averaging more than 350 deaths per day since March 15, it is likely to surpass 3,249 deaths in China when the figures are released Thursday at the end of the day.

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The health authorities of the United Nations and Italy have cited a variety of reasons for the high number of victims in Italy, key among them its large elderly population, who are particularly susceptible to developing serious complications from the virus. Italy has the second oldest population in the world after Japan and the vast majority of the dead in Italy (87%) were over 70 years old.

In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that 80% of the nation’s 138 deaths have occurred in people over 65. In total, 8,900 patients have died worldwide and 84,000 have recovered. In addition to the elderly and infirm, most people have only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever or cough.

Meanwhile, news from the city of Wuhan, in central China, where the virus first appeared late last year, offered a glimmer of hope and perhaps a lesson in the stringent measures needed to stop its spread. It came when President Donald Trump compared the fight to “a war” and invoked emergency powers that allow him to compel manufacturers to face the pandemic.

Wuhan was once the place where thousands lay sick or dying in hastily built hospitals, the first place in the world where medical facilities seemed overwhelmed. But Chinese authorities said Thursday that the 34 new cases registered the previous day had been imported from abroad.

“Today, we have seen the dawn after so many days of hard effort,” said Jiao Yahui, senior inspector for the National Health Commission.

While China did not report any new cases in Wuhan or Hubei province, it did record eight additional deaths. Wuhan has been under strict closure since January. Authorities are moving to loosen travel restrictions, but only within the surrounding Hubei province. Wuhan remains disconnected, and only those with special permission can travel inside or outside.

Still, the virus, which has infected 219,000 people worldwide, wreaked havoc elsewhere, both in human and economic terms.

European stock markets rose only slightly after losses in Asia despite a massive € 750bn stimulus package announced overnight by the European Central Bank. Oil fell below $ 21 a barrel on Wednesday for the first time since 2002, and rose slightly to $ 23 on Thursday.

The United Nations warned that the crisis could lead to the loss of almost 25 million jobs worldwide.

In other parts of the world, more borders are closing, leaving some wondering how they would return home. In the Pacific, Australia and New Zealand excluded tourists, allowing only citizens and residents to return, while Fiji reported its first case, a worrying development in a region with poor medical care.

Iran’s top leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei planned to forgive 10,000 more prisoners, including an unknown number of inmates whose cases are political, in an apparent effort to combat the coronavirus, Iranian state television reported. The country, where more than 1,100 people have already died from the virus, has already released 85,000 temporarily licensed prisoners.

In London, home to nearly 9 million people, people were urged to stay out of public transport, as authorities consider imposing stricter restrictions on social distancing. London is the epicenter of Britain’s coronavirus outbreak, with about a third of its 2,644 cases.

Bavarian Governor Markus Soeder said a curfew may need to be implemented in the southern state of Germany if people do not start better by following advice on restricting social contacts. In neighboring Austria, the western province of Tyrol quarantined 279 municipalities in light of a large number of COVID-19 infections, prohibiting anyone from leaving their towns or villages except to go to work in the Alpine region. .

Both the United States and Canada closed their borders on all but essential trips, and Trump said he plans to assert extraordinary powers to immediately return anyone who illegally crosses the southern border to Mexico.

Russia and Mexico each reported their first death from the virus. Mexico closed its popular spring equinox visits to the Sun and Moon Pyramids in Teotihuacan.

In the USA The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost more than 1,300 points on Wednesday, or more than 6%, and has now lost almost all of the gains it had posted since Trump’s inauguration. The White House pressured Congress to quickly approve a potentially $ 1 trillion rescue package to shore up the economy and speed up controls on aid to Americans in a matter of weeks.

Calling himself a “wartime president,” Trump invoked the Defense Production Act of 1950 to direct industrial production and overcome the shortage of face masks, fans, and other supplies as hospitals prepare for an avalanche of cases. expected.

The California governor warned that martial law could be imposed. The New York mayor said the 8.6 million city residents should be prepared for a shutdown.

Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler, along with Honda and Toyota, said they will close all their factories in the United States, Canada and Mexico. The closure of Detroit’s Big Three alone will stop some 150,000 workers, who will likely receive an additional payment on top of unemployment benefits.

The United States has reported more than 9,400 coronavirus cases and at least 138 deaths, about half of them in Washington state, where dozens of residents of a suburban Seattle nursing home have died.

Scientists believe that the actual number of infected people in the United States is higher than reported due to the possibility that many mild cases have not been recognized and due to delays in augmentation tests.

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