Coronavirus: US likely to emerge global epicentre, death toll crosses 19,000 worldwide

Photo: Reuters

The number of deaths around the world from the novel coronavirus cases stood at 19,246.

More than 427,940 declared cases have been registered in 181 countries and territories since the epidemic first emerged in China in December, according to a tally compiled by AFP at 1100 GMT Wednesday from official sources.

The spurt in number of COVID-19 deaths in the United States have prompted the World Health Organization(WHO) conclude that the country is likely to emerge as the global epicentre of the pandemic soon.

Italy, which recorded its first coronavirus death in February, has to date declared 6,820 fatalities, with 69,176 infections and 8,326 people recovered.

Like Italy, Spain now has more fatalities than China with 3,434, as well as having 47,610 infections and 5,367 recoveries.

China -- excluding Hong Kong and Macau -- has to date declared 3,281 deaths and 81,218 cases. The other worst-hit countries are Iran with 2,077 fatalities and 27,017 cases, France with 1,100 deaths and 22,302 cases, and the United States with 600 deaths and 55,225 cases.

Since 1900 GMT Tuesday, Cameroon and Niger have announced their first deaths while Libya, Laos, Belize, Grenada, Mali and Dominica reported their first cases.

By continent, Europe has listed 226,340 cases and 12,719 deaths to date, Asia 99,805 cases and 3,593 deaths, the US and Canada together 57,304 cases with 624 deaths, the Middle East 32,118 cases and 2,119 deaths, Latin America and the Caribbean 7,337 cases with 118 deaths, Oceania 2,656 cases with nine deaths and Africa 2,382 cases with 64 deaths.

US likely to be next epicentre of COVID-19 outbreak


The strain of the fast-spreading coronavirus outbreak accelerated across the United States on Wednesday beyond the hot spots of New York, California and Washington state as Louisiana and Iowa were declared federal disaster areas.

Nationwide, COVID-19 has infected more than 53,000 people and killed at least 720 with World Health Organization officials warning the United States could become the global epicenter of the pandemic, which broke out late last year in Wuhan, China.

In recent days, the governors of at least 18 states have issued stay-at-home directives affecting about half the nation's population. The sweeping orders are aimed at slowing the virus' spread but has upended daily life as schools and businesses shutter indefinitely.

China returns to normalcy

Life started returning to normal on Wednesday after two months of lockdown in Hubei province, epicentre of China's coronavirus outbreak, with traffic controls lifted, construction resuming and people catching buses and trains across once-shut borders.

Mainland China also reported a drop in new confirmed coronavirus cases to 47 on Tuesday, all of them in travellers returning home, down from 78 infections reported a day earlier.

Hubei, a central province that is home to some 60 million people, had announced on Tuesday that it was removing travel restrictions at midnight.

The lockdown of Hubei's capital Wuhan will be lifted on April 8, a milestone in China's war against the epidemic as Beijing shifts its focus towards stemming imported cases and rebooting the economy.

French tally likely under-reported

The death toll in France from coronavirus is much higher than the daily government tally, which only accounts for those dying in hospitals, a senior French health official said on Wednesday.

France reported a cumulative 1,100 coronavirus deaths on Tuesday, up from 91 on March 14, a more than tenfold increase in 11 days and an average increase of 28% per day, data tracked by Reuters shows.

French media have reported dozens of coronavirus fatalities in retirement homes, with up to 15 dead in just one institution in eastern France. Le Monde reported 39 deaths in retirement homes in the Ile-de-France region around Paris on Monday and said that privately run homes were reluctant to report data.

In France, which instituted a nationwide lockdown on March 17, the number of new infections grew at an average rate of 26 per cent per day throughout March, but on Tuesday the rate has slowed dow to an average 15 per cent.

(With agency inputs.)

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