Focus turns to US as coronavirus continues to spread around world. Infection rate slows in Italy; Spain records first drop in daily death toll in four days.
Known global death toll passes 55,000. At least 55,781 people across the world have now died as a result of the pandemic, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. The number of confirmed cases passed a million on Thursday and at least 1,056,777 people are now known to have been infected.
The true scale of the outbreak is likely to be greater due to suspected underreporting by some nations.
UK endures deadliest day so far. It is confirmed that 684 more people have died in UK hospitals, bringing the total to 3,605 and making the 24 hours to 5pm on Thursday (BST) the deadliest since the outbreak began. The country’s Department of Health and Social Care says 173,784 people have been tested; of whom 38,168 were positive.
New York reports nearly 3,000 deaths. The state’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, announcesd that 2,935 people have now died. The toll, up from from 2,373 a day earlier, represents the highest single-day rise since the coronavirus crisis struck. There are 102,863 confirmed cases in New York. Cuomo said that hospitals havein effect turned into ICU hospitals for Covid-19 patients.
Italy records 766 more deaths – but infection rate slows. The number of deaths on Friday was relatively steady, when compared to those seen the previous day. But new infections continue to slow down, raising hopes of turnaround. Some 85,388 people are currently infected, with an increase of 2,339 new cases; 138 fewer than Thursday. Italy remains the world’s worst-hit country, having suffered a total of 14,681 deaths.
More than 250,000 EU citizens stranded abroad. Some 350,000 have been repatriated but that still leaves a quarter of a million EU citizens trying to get home. Josep Borrell, the bloc’s foreign policy chief, says operations are under way to retrieve them. But he adds: “One could not imagine that there are so many Europeans stranded in the world: tourists; visitors; short-term workers.”
Swiss death toll rises to 484. The Swiss government announced an increase in the number of deaths, adding that the number of positive cases now stands at 19,903. Switzerland has closed schools and many businesses, as well as banning gatherings of more than five people.
WHO said countries must avoid a cycle of lockdown, relaxation, and further lockdown. The organisation called on countries to develop a just transition strategy that gets them in control of the virus.
Spain overtook Italy for the first time for the number of confirmed cases, but the overnight death toll fell from the previous day.