–Trump says COVID-19 doesn’t deserve lockdown; Congress, White House agree on $2 trillion rescue package
–Spain surpasses China in COVID-19 deaths; Italy records over 290 deaths
As coronavirus pandemic continues to batter the world, at least 20,000 people have lost their lives and over 452,000 people have contracted the virus despite lockdowns that have put over 1.3 billion in self-isolation.
On Wednesday, the number of people killed in Spain by COVID-19 touched 3,400 people, making it the second European country with a death toll higher than in China.
Spain has at least 47,610 coronavirus cases, the country’s Ministry of Health says. Of that number, nearly 8,000 people were confirmed to have the virus in the past 24 hours.
As of Wednesday, nearly 27,000 people were hospitalized in Spain due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the health ministry said in its latest update on the coronavirus.
ITALY DEATH TOLL 296:
The death toll from an outbreak of coronavirus in the northern region of Lombardy, which has borne the brunt of Italy’s contagion, has risen by around 296 in a day to some 4,474, Reuters said on Wednesday.
The figure is down sharply compared to some 402 deaths on Tuesday. If confirmed, it will be the lowest daily death toll in Lombardy since March 19. The number of cases in the region, which includes Italy’s financial capital Milan, increased by some 1,643 to roughly 32,346, it said.
The nationwide tally will be released around 6.00 p.m. (1700 GMT). On Tuesday, the national death toll stood at 6,820, the highest in the world.
‘IRAN FEARS SECOND WAVE’:
Iran may face a second outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, a government spokesman said on Wednesday, as the Islamic Republic banned internal travel and traditional gatherings in parks during the Persian New Year holiday period, Reuters reports.
President Hassan Rouhani has banned any new trips between cities, Rabiei said, and “violators will be confronted legally”.
The escalating outbreak in Iran has killed 2,077 people so far, health ministry official Kianush Jahanpur said on Wednesday, with 143 deaths recorded in the past 24 hours.
TRUMP SEES AN END TO COVID-19:
US President Donald Trump declared the beginning of the end of the coronavirus crisis in the United States on Tuesday and called for a quick end to social distancing, even as New York’s governor compared the growing pandemic to a “bullet train.”
Trump, who is keen to get his reelection campaign back on track, said that social distancing has caused too much pain to the US economy, prompting Congress to debate a historic rescue package.
“Our country — it’s not built to shut down,” he said on Fox News. “You can destroy a country this way by closing it down.”
“I would love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter,” said Trump, declaring he could see “light at the end of the tunnel.”
The president said he looked forward to “packed” churches on Easter, which is on April 12 — less than three weeks away.
Health experts have advised the measures as the foundation for preventing the easily transmitted, potentially fatal illness from multiplying uncontrollably.
The administration on March 16 declared “15 Days to Slow the Spread,” a period that expires early next week.
But Trump made clear on Tuesday that he thinks the response to coronavirus deaths has been blown out of proportion, saying “we lose much more than that to automobile accidents. We didn’t call up the automobile companies to say, ‘Stop making cars.'”
Later, Trump appeared to retreat from his Easter goal at a press conference alongside the renowned government infectious diseases specialist Anthony Fauci.
“We’ll only do it if it’s good,” Trump said, adding that the reopening could be limited to a “portion” of the nation. He mentioned areas like farm country, Texas and the west, often sparsely populated.
His own press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, quarantined since coming into contact with Brazilian officials almost two weeks ago, has tested negative, the White House said on Tuesday.
The plunge in activity and warnings of recession or even depression are a brutal reversal for what was until a few weeks ago a humming economy, with record-low unemployment.
Congressional leaders said on Tuesday they were getting closer all the time to delivering a major boost by passing a nearly $2 trillion rescue package for businesses, ordinary Americans and hospitals reeling from the shutdown.
More than 700 people have died from the new coronavirus in the United States, while the number of confirmed cases is near 54,000, a tracker maintained by Johns Hopkins University showed on Tuesday.
The US has the third-highest number of confirmed cases globally, behind China and Italy.