Italians braced for a second day of national lockdown on Wednesday after a sharp spike in coronavirus -related deaths, as New York deployed the National Guard to contain a disease that has sown worldwide panic.
Europe’s hardest-hit country said the death toll from COVID-19 had risen on Tuesday by a third to 631, with the surging epidemic playing havoc with global sporting, cultural and political events.
While authorities in China, where the outbreak began, have declared it “basically curbed”, cases are multiplying around the world, sparking panic buying in shops, and wild swings on financial markets.
Its seemingly relentless march has now claimed its first victim in Central America, with a 64-year-old man dying in Panama on Tuesday. Indonesia also reported its first death.
China remains the hardest-hit overall with more than 80,000 cases and 3,000 deaths, out of a global total of 1,17,339 cases and 4,251 fatalities in 107 countries and territories, according to an AFP tally.
Beijing reported an increase in imported cases Wednesday, fuelling concerns that infections from overseas could undermine its progress in halting the spread of the virus.
Nevertheless, some companies in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the virus emerged late last year, are to be allowed to return to work — a sign things are gradually returning to normal.
Coronavirus is infecting all walks of life, including politics, with U.S. Democratic presidential hopefuls Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden both cancelling rallies.
And amid criticism of the U.S. authorities' response, New York deployed the National Guard for the first time during the crisis to help contain the spread of the disease from an infection-hit suburb.
“It is a dramatic action, but it is the largest cluster in the country. This is literally a matter of life and death,” said State Governor Andrew Cuomo. At least 28 people have died in the U.S. with 1,025 infected— nearly double the 550 total confirmed cases the day before.