The number of confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide exceeded 600,000 on Saturday, as infections continued to rise in Europe and the United States and authorities were preparing for a long battle against the pandemic.
The latest mark was beaten just two days after exceeding half a million patients, according to the Johns Hopkins University count, showing that there is still much to do to stop the spread of the virus. In total, there are more than 602,000 cases and more than 27,000 deaths.
The United States is now the country with the most infections _ with more than 104,000 _ but another five exceed 1,700 fatalities: Italy, Spain, China, Iran and France.
“In this phase we cannot avoid infections completely, but in the immediate future we can and should achieve fewer infections per day, a slower spread,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel told her compatriots in an audio message. The leader is quarantined at her home after her doctor tested positive for the virus.
“This will decide if our health system can resist the virus,” he added.
The coronavirus has already put healthcare in Italy, Spain and France on the ropes. On the continent, quarantines of different intensity have been decreed. Merkel’s chief of staff, Helge Braun, said the country _ which decreed the closure of nonessential businesses and banned meetings of more than two people in public _ will not ease its restrictions before April 20.
Spain, which decreed confinement two weeks ago, broke a new record with 832 more deaths on Saturday, its worst figure to date. In total, the coronavirus has killed 5,690 people in the country. The number of those infected rose by 8,000 to more than 72,000.
Doctors, nurses and ambulance drivers in the worst affected regions are falling ill at an alarming rate and working tirelessly. More than 9,000 health workers have been infected across the country.
“We are completely overwhelmed,” said Pablo Rojo, an ambulance doctor at the Dos de Maig hospital in Barcelona, adding that in one day he had transferred “Seven or eight (patients) and all with COVID-19 (…) And the average of age is going down. They are no longer 80 years old, now they are 30 and 40 ”.
As the pandemic’s epicenter shifted westward, the situation has calmed down in China, where some restrictions have already been lifted. Six subway lines resumed, albeit with limitations, in Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the disease appeared in December, after the official risk assessment for the disease dropped from high to medium on Friday.
In most patients, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that disappear within two to three weeks. In some cases, especially in the elderly and people with previous illnesses, it can cause more serious pathologies, such as pneumonia, and even death.
More than 130,000 people have already recovered, according to the Johns Hopkins count.
In one way or another, the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak have been felt by both the powerful and the poor.
Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Friday that he tested positive for the virus but said he will continue to work from his quarantine.
Countries continued to seek to repatriate citizens stranded abroad due to border closings and near-total cancellation of flights. On Saturday, 174 foreign tourists and four Nepalese citizens were rescued from Everest’s feet four days after being trapped on the only track serving the world’s highest mountain.
In neighboring India, authorities sent a fleet of buses to the outskirts of the capital to transport the multitude of migrant workers who are trying by all means to return to their villages during the world’s largest quarantine.
Thousands of people, mostly young day laborers, but also families, left their New Delhi homes when Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the start of a 21-day confinement on Wednesday that left millions of Indians subsisting without work. what they earn every day.
In some parts of Africa, virus prevention measures have taken a violent turn as countries impose quarantines and curfews to seal major cities. Kenyan police fired tear gas and officers were recorded on cell phones hitting people with batons.