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Warnings US virus death toll could top 100,000


The US could see more than 100,000 coronavirus deaths and millions of cases, the government’s top infectious disease expert has warned, as more hotspots erupt around the nation.


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“I mean, looking at what we’re seeing now, I would say between 100,000 and 200,000 … deaths,” National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Dr Anthony Fauci said.

But he added: “I just don’t think that we really need to make a projection, when it’s such a moving target that you can so easily be wrong and mislead people.”

White House coronavirus taskforce coordinator Dr Deborah Birx said on Sunday that Covid-19 would affect the entire US.

“We’ve been raising the alert in all metro areas and in all states,” she said. “No state, no metro area will be spared.

“The sooner we react, and the sooner the states and the metro areas react and ensure that they put in full mitigation, at the same time understanding exactly what their hospitals need, then we’ll be able to move forward together and protect the most Americans.”

The US has about 125,000 infections and 2200 deaths, with virus epicentres in New York, Detroit, New Orleans and Chicago, and hotspots emerging in midwestern US towns and Rocky Mountain ski havens.

New York, which accounts for almost half of US cases, reported its largest single-day jump in deaths on Sunday at 237, bringing the state’s death toll to 965.

The governor of Louisiana said Sunday the state’s healthcare system was set to be soon overwhelmed by the rising number of coronavirus cases.

The confirmed global death toll has passed 31,000, with more than 680,000 infections, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Spain and Italy alone account for more than half of all virus deaths worldwide.

Italy’s death toll rose by 756 overnight to 10,779, the highest of any country, with nearly 100,000 infections.

But experts say that virus toll numbers across the world are being seriously under-represented because of limited testing, and political decisions about which bodies to count.

Unlike the US, France and Italy do not count deaths that take place at home or in nursing homes, even though nursing homes are known coronavirus incubators.

Italy has been under lockdown since March 10, with even more draconian measures put in place on March 20.

Current restrictions are set to expire on April 3 but even if the situation improves, few people expect them to be lifted soon.

Sunday’s figures showed an additional 646 people had recovered from the virus in the past 24 hours, bringing Italy’s total to 13,030.

Health Minister Roberto Speranza warned against relaxing efforts in the fight against the virus.

“We are still in the midst of the epidemic,” he said on Sunday according to the ANSA news agency.

“It would be a big mistake to become more careless now. It would destroy everything we have achieved so far.”

Spain recorded its biggest daily death toll of 838, with a new overall total of more than 6500.

Spain’s health emergencies chief Fernando Simon said the country’s infection rate fell on Sunday to 9.0 per cent, down from 18 per cent three days before.

But he said the number of people in intensive care units keeps rising and hospitals are at their limits in several regions.

Britain reported another 290 virus deaths overnight, for an overall toll of 1228, with 19,522 confirmed cases.

Officials warned a national lockdown could last months and be lifted only gradually.

“The important thing is this is a moving target,” Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jenny Harries said.

“If we do well it moves forward and comes down and we manage all our care through our health and care systems sensibly in a controlled way and that is what we are aiming for.

“This is not to say we would be in complete lockdown for six months but it means that as a nation we have to be really, really responsible and keep doing what we are all doing until we are sure that we can gradually start lifting various interventions.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson appealed to Britons to stick to strict rules to prevent the publicly funded National Health Service (NHS) from being overwhelmed by a surge in cases.

“We know things will get worse before they get better,” Johnson said. “At this moment of national emergency, I urge you, please, to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.”

Emergency orders for ventilators

The number of tests being carried out has hit 10,000 a day, with concerted effort to source more ventilators.

While US President Donald Trump has ordered carmaker General Motors to make ventilators, Britain has placed an order for thousands of the devices to be made by a consortium of companies including Ford, Airbus and Rolls-Royce.

The repurposing of industry echoes Britain’s World War II effort, with housing minister Robert Jenrick saying that all parts of the country are now on an “emergency footing” as strategic co-ordination centres are established.

“This is an unprecedented step in peacetime,” he said.

Meanwhile, Norway is preparing for random coronavirus tests, following an experiment Iceland has done.

Citing officials at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Norwegian public broadcaster NRK said on Sunday that such random testing among all citizens will provide answers to two key questions: how many of those who appear to be infected actually have the coronavirus and how wide the spread of the virus is.

NRK said Iceland, with its 12,000 random tests among its population of 340,000, has the largest number of tests per capita in the world.

Norway, with a population of 5.4 million, has so far reported 4054 coronavirus cases with 25 deaths.

– with AAP

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