US President Donald Trump has warned Americans to brace for a “very horrendous” number of coronavirus deaths in the coming days as the total number of global fatalities from the pandemic soared past 60,000.
READ: Global virus deaths top 60,000, Trump warns of 'tough week' ahead
There are now more than 1.2 million confirmed cases across the globe, and around 65,000 people have died since the virus first emerged in China late last year, according to a John Hopkins University tally.
Trump said the United States was entering “a time that’s going to be very horrendous” with “some really bad numbers.”
“This will probably be the toughest week,” he said at the White House. “There will be a lot of death.”
At the same time, the President stressed the US cannot remain shut down forever.
“Mitigation does work but again, we’re not going to destroy our country,” he said. “I’ve said it from the beginning – the cure cannot be worse than the problem.”
READ: World Roundup: Global cases soar past a million; US posts highest death toll
Tide turning in Italy?
There was some encouraging news from Europe over the weekend. Worst-hit Italy cheered after seeing its number of intensive care virus cases drop for the first time – from 4,068 on Friday to 3,994 on Saturday.
Even some of the most cautious Italian health officials seized on the figures as evidence that the tide may be turning in the deadliest disaster the country has faced since World War II.
“This is a very important data point,” said civil protection service chief Angelo Borrelli, adding that it “allows our hospitals to breathe.”
The daily rise in new infections across Italy has also slowed. It reported 681 new deaths on Saturday, down from a peak of almost 1,000 just over a week ago.
Spain extends lockdown anew
Spain’s prime minister announced an extension of the country’s lockdown to combat the coronavirus, saying the measures are “bearing fruit” as the number of deaths fell for a second day in a row.
A nationwide 15-day state of emergency was first announced on March 14 barring people from leaving home except for essential outings such as buying food or seeking medical care. It was to end on April 11 after being extended by two weeks.
“The Cabinet on Tuesday will again ask for authorization from parliament to extend for a second time the state of alert until Saturday April 25 at midnight,” Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said in a televised speech.
The extra weeks are “the time that our health system needs to recover,” he said.
U-turn on masks
Several Western countries including the US, Germany and France have in recent days encouraged the use of masks in public despite earlier saying that only carers needed to cover their faces.
The U-turn has angered and confused some citizens, and spurred a flurry of online tutorials for DIY masks.
The advice came after some studies suggested the new coronavirus can be spread through speaking and breathing, not just coughing and sneezing.
US authorities said wearing a simple homemade mask or scarf could help stem rocketing infection rates.
The World Health Organization is reviewing its guidance but has said it worries that masks could give “a false sense of security,” leading people to be more casual about hand washing and social distancing.
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