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UK deaths jump as US warns of "Pearl Harbor-9/11" weeks ahead


The UK has recorded its biggest daily jump in deaths, while the US warned its people to prepare for the “the hardest and saddest week” of their lives.

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With 708 more deaths reported on Sunday, Britain has recorded more than 4900 virus deaths overall among nearly 48,000 cases.

Worldwide, more than 1.2 million people have been confirmed infected and more than 65,000 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The true numbers are certainly much higher, due to limited testing, different ways countries count the dead and deliberate under-reporting by some governments.

Those coming down with the virus in the UK include Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the health secretary, England’s chief medical official and Prince Charles, heir to the throne.

There are wide fears that Johnson’s government did not take the virus seriously enough at first and that spring weather will tempt Britons and others to break social distancing rules.

In a rare televised address on Sunday night, Queen Elizabeth II appealed to Britons to exercise self-discipline in “an increasingly challenging time”.

The 93-year-old monarch said the pandemic had caused enormous disruptions, bringing grief, financial difficulties and daunting challenges to everybody.

“I hope in the years to come, everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge,” the Queen said.

“And those who come after us will say that the Britons of this generation were as strong as any,” she said.

“We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return: we will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again.”

US Surgeon General Jerome Adams said warned the country to brace for tough times as deaths passed 9000 and more than 321,000 people tested positive to the virus.

“This is going to be the hardest and the saddest week of most Americans’ lives, quite frankly,” he said.

“This is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment, only it’s not going to be localised.

“It’s going to be happening all over the country. And I want America to understand that.”

New York, the hardest-hit state, reported on Sunday that there were nearly 600 new deaths for a total of 4159 deaths and 122,000 total cases.

Bodies of victims of COVID-19, the flu-like respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, were stacked in bright orange bags inside a makeshift morgue outside the Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in Brooklyn, according to photos provided to Reuters.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said new hospitalisations had fallen by 50 per cent and, for the first time in at least a week, deaths had fallen slightly from the prior day, when they rose by 630.

But he cautioned that it was not yet clear whether the crisis in the state was reaching a plateau.

“The coronavirus is truly vicious and effective at what the virus does,” Cuomo told a daily briefing. “It’s an effective killer.”

Places such as Pennsylvania, Colorado and Washington, DC are starting to record rising deaths.

Hard-hit Italy and Spain received some some encouraging news after their daily deaths rates dropped.

Italy’s overnight death toll was its lowest in more than two weeks, but the country has the world’s highest virus death toll of more than 15,000.

Its pace of infection also seemed to be slowing, with 4316 new cases on Sunday. Earlier in the outbreak, daily increases topped 6000.

But Italian officials warned people not to break lockdown to go out in the warm spring weather, after photos were published showing crowds out shopping in Naples, Rome, Genoa and even the hard-hit Veneto city of Padua.

Lombardy Vice Governor Fabrizio Sala said mobile phone data showed 38 per cent of the region’s people were out and about – the highest figure since March 20.

Health Minister Roberto Speranza told RAI state television that all the sacrifices Italians have made since the country-wide lockdown began on March 10 risked being reversed.

In Spain, deaths fell for the third day straight to 674 – the first time daily deaths have fallen below 800 in the past week.

Spain now has more than 12,400 virus deaths, the second-highest worldwide after Italy.

While infections rose from 130,759 on Saturday to 124,736 on Sunday, that was about half the growth rate of a week ago.

“We are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said.

France’s daily death toll also fell and admissions into intensive care also slowed.

The health ministry data on Sunday showed that 357 people died from COVID-19 in hospitals, compared with 441 in the previous 24 hours, taking the total toll in hospitals to 5889.

It said that 2189 people had died in nursing homes since March 1, taking France’s total death toll to 8078.

The health ministry said admissions into ICU units also slowed on the past 24 hours with 390 people needing intensive care compared with 502 the previous day.

The total number of people in ICU units was at 6978, a 2.0 per cent increase compared with a 2.6 per cent rise the previous 24 hours.

People in Indonesia are now required to wear face masks when they are outside, the government has announced, as the number of coronavirus cases rose to 2273, with 198 deaths.

“Starting today, everyone has to wear face masks when going outside,” government spokesman Achmad Yurianto said, noting that “even asymptomatic people could be a virus spreader”.

Indonesia reported 181 new cases of infection on Sunday, according to Yurianto, while 14 more patients have recovered, bringing the total to 164.

Singapore reported 120 new coronavirus cases, by far its highest daily rise, and quarantined nearly 20,000 migrant workers in their dormitories.

The nation-state now has 1309 infections and six deaths from the coronavirus.

Of Sunday’s new cases, 116 were locally transmitted and many were linked to two dormitories that house migrant workers, who will now have to stay in their rooms for 14 days.

The number of new cases is a 60 per cent increase over the 75 reported on Saturday, which was the previous biggest daily rise.

-with AAP

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