New outbreaks bubbled in the United States as reported infections crossed the 100,000 mark on Friday, just a day after it overtook China as the country with the most cases in the world.
While New York remained the worst hit city in the US, Americans braced for worsening conditions elsewhere, with worrisome infection numbers being reported in New Orleans, Chicago and Detroit.
“We are not through this. We’re not even halfway through this,” said Joseph Kanter of the Louisiana Department of Health, which has recorded more than 2,700 cases, more than five times what it had a week ago.
New Orleans’ sprawling Ernest N. Morial Convention Centre, along the Mississippi River, was being converted into a massive hospital as officials prepared for thousands more patients than they could accommodate.
The preparations immediately conjured images of another disaster, Hurricane Katrina in 2005, when the convention centre became a squalid shelter of last resort in a city that has braved a string of storm hits, not to mention great fires and a yellow fever epidemic in centuries past.
In New York, where there are more than 44,000 cases statewide, the number of people hospitalised with Covid-19 passed 6,000 on Friday, double what it had been three days earlier.
Governor Andrew Cuomo called for 4,000 more temporary beds across New York City, where the Jacob K. Javits Convention Centre has already been converted into a hospital.
President Donald Trump, after earlier rejecting Cuomo’s pleas for tens of thousands more ventilators, and the governor’s calls to use the Korean war-era Defence Production Act, invoked the law on Friday, ordering General Motors to begin manufacturing the breathing machines.
Italy, the US and China account for nearly half the world’s more than half a million infections and more than half of the roughly 26,000 reported virus deaths.
Here are the developments:
Governments in emerging markets, which have suffered an exodus of capital of more than US$83 billion in recent weeks, can cover much of that, but “clearly the domestic resources are insufficient” and many already have high debt loads.
More than 80 countries, mostly of low incomes, have already have requested emergency aid from the IMF, she said.
The IMF chief spoke to reporters following a virtual meeting with the Washington-based lender’s steering committee, when she officially requested an increase in the fund’s fast-deploying emergency facilities from their current level of around US$50 billion.
On Twitter, Trump called Massie a “third rate Grandstander” and said he should be thrown out of the Republican Party.
“He just wants the publicity,” wrote Trump, who last week began pushing for urgent action on coronavirus after long downplaying the risk.
Democratic and Republican leaders asked members to return to Washington to ensure there would be enough present to head off Massie’s gambit. Lawmakers from as far away as California were present for the debate.
The session was held under special rules to limit the spread of the disease among members, who used hand sanitiser and in at least one case wore protective gloves. At least three members of Congress have tested positive for the coronavirus and more than two dozen have self-quarantined to limit its spread.
Philippe warned the country must “remain extremely mobilised” in the fight against the epidemic that has so far officially claimed 1,696 lives in France.
The toll is only for people who were hospitalised, not those who may have died at home or in nursing facilities, which have been badly affected by the outbreak.
The country has some 14,000 coronavirus patients in hospital, with 548 placed in intensive care just on Thursday. More than 3,300 are in a critical condition.
Russia has prohibited regular international flights and imposed strict quarantine measures for anyone entering the country and anyone who could have been exposed to someone infected with the virus.
The government has opted not to impose lockdown measures such as those seen in neighbouring China and some European countries like Italy, Spain and France.
President Vladimir Putin advised Russians in a nationally televised address to stay at home and said workers should be allowed to take off Monday through Friday next week and still be paid.
Putin's spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, assured the public on Thursday that Russia did not have a coronavirus epidemic. “We still need to be prepared for the worst-case scenario,” he told reporters.
Peskov said on Friday that a coronavirus case had been confirmed in Putin's administration. He said the person, whom he did not identify, had not had direct contact with the president.
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