US COVID-19 deaths cross 20,000, highest in world, surpassing Italy

Washington: The US has overtaken Italy as the country with the highest number of deaths due to COVID-19 pandemic with the fatalities crossing 20,000, according to Johns Hopkins University data, as the novel coronavirus continues to wreak havoc across the globe.

The deadly coronavirus, that originated in China in December last year, has so far killed more than one lakh people across the globe. The United States on Saturday became the country with the highest number of deaths at 20,597, surpassing Italy’s 19,468 fatalities.

More than 5.3 lakh Americans have tested positive for coronavirus, which is about the same for the next four countries put together: Spain (163,027), Italy (152,271), Germany (125,452) and France (93,790). In terms of fatalities, the US and Italy are followed by Spain (16,606), France (13832) and United Kingdom (9,875), the varsity data showed.

New York City, the financial capital of the world, has emerged as the epicenter of coronavirus in the world. A city of 8.3 million, which is one of the most densely populated cities in the US, by Saturday night had as many as 8,627 deaths and more than 180,000 people had tested positive for COVID-19.

President Donald Trump has declared a national emergency and all the 50 States have been notified with major disaster declaration. More than 95 per cent of the country’s 330 million population are under stay-at-home order. Trump has deployed more than 50,000 personnel from the armed forces in fight against COVID-19.

After an initial two-week social mitigation measures, that includes social distancing, the measures have been extended till April 30. Initially, members of the White House Task Force on Coronavirus had projected between one and two lakhs deaths. Now, they have dropped the projection to 60,000 deaths, mainly due to the successful implementation of these measures.

“The people of our country have gone through a lot. But we did it the right way. And we look like we’ll be coming in on the very, very low side, really below the lowest, the lowest side of the curve of death,” Trump told Fox News on Saturday night.

Trump asserted that situation was improving in places like New York, where there is a drop in new patients. Responding to a question, he said he wanted the country to open up as soon as possible.

However, he has not taken a decision so far, even as some media reports said that he the President was looking for early May.

“I think it’s going to be the toughest decision that I’ve ever made. I really, hopefully that I ever will have to make. But it’s certainly the toughest decision that I’ve ever made. I hope that I’m going to make the right decision,” Trump said, adding that he will be making a decision reasonably soon.

“We’re setting up a council now of some of the most distinguished leaders in virtually every field including politics and business and medical. We’ll be making that decision fairly soon,” Trump said.

Meanwhile, The New York Times reported that its investigations have revealed that the president was warned about a potential pandemic but that internal divisions, lack of planning and his faith in his own instincts led to a halting response.

According to The Washington Post, coronavirus is killing about one in 10 hospitalised middle-aged patients and four in 10 older than 85 in the United States. It is particularly lethal to men even when taking into account common chronic diseases that exacerbate risk.

Globally, the novel coronavirus has killed 108,862 people and infected over 1.7 million people globally. The US has the highest number of infections at 529,887, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

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