U.S. braces itself for ‘toughest virus week’

President Trump warns of increase in deaths but says shutdown cannot continue forever

April 05, 2020 10:24 pm | Updated 10:24 pm IST - Washington

Keeping oxygen level stable:  A French first aid worker holding an oxygen mask over the mouth and nose of a male patient suspected of having COVID-19 in Paris last week.

Keeping oxygen level stable: A French first aid worker holding an oxygen mask over the mouth and nose of a male patient suspected of having COVID-19 in Paris last week.

U.S. President Donald Trump warned Americans to brace for a “very horrendous” number of COVID-19 deaths in the coming days, ahead of a rare speech by Queen Elizabeth II on Sunday aimed at rallying hard-hit Britain.

Global deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic have soared past 60,000, with Europe continuing to bear the brunt of the virus which has left roughly half the planet confined at home. 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 Johns Hopkins University tally. Mr. Trump said the U.S. 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 U.S. — where infections have surpassed 3,00,000 — 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.”

Over 45,000 global deaths have been in Europe, with Britain reporting a new daily high in fatalities, taking the overall toll to 4,300 out of nearly 42,000 cases.

The Queen speaks

Queen Elizabeth II is to make a rare, “deeply personal” speech on Sunday to urge people to rise to the challenge posed by the virus, and personally thank front-line healthcare workers. “I hope in the years to come everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge,” she will say, according to extracts released on Saturday.

Some relief in Europe

There was, however, 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. “This is a very important data point,” said civil protection service chief Angelo Borrelli, adding that it “allows our hospitals to breathe.”

Spain, which is under a near-total lockdown, saw a second successive daily fall in coronavirus-related deaths with 809 fatalities.

New York State saw a record 630 deaths in a single day and Governor Andrew Cuomo warned the worst was yet to come. New York City appealed for licensed medical personnel to volunteer their services.

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