LONDON / NEW YORK (Reuters) – The United States was preparing Monday for what an official called “week of maximum death” for the coronavirus, while on the other side of the Atlantic, the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the most prominent person with COVID-19, was in intensive care.
FILE PHOTO: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson cheers outside 10 Downing Street during the Clap For Our Carers campaign for the NHS as the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, London, Great Britain, March 26, 2020. Photo taken on March 26, 2020. REUTERS / Hannah McKay / File Photo
Johnson was admitted to hospital on Sunday after 10 days of symptoms, but said at the time that he continued to work.
“During the afternoon, the Prime Minister’s condition worsened and, on the advice of his medical team, he was transferred to the intensive care unit,” Downing Street said on Monday, adding that the foreigner the secretary would replace.
Globally, coronavirus numbers remain tight and still show no sign of plateau. A Reuters count at 2:00 p.m. GMT brought the number of confirmed cases to 1.27 million – just three days after crossing the million mark – and deaths increased by 17,000 over the same period to 70,395.
But a glimmer of hope has come from European countries, including the hardest hit Italy and Spain, who have started considering reducing blockages after a steady drop in their coronavirus-related death rates.
The United States had by far the most confirmed cases at more than 355,000 on Monday, with more than 10,000 deaths.
“It will be the peak of hospitalization, the peak of intensive care week and unfortunately, the peak of death,” said Admiral Brett Giroir, a doctor and a member of the White House coronavirus task force, on Monday. .
In the United States, about twice as many people die every day as in Spain or Italy, and hospitals report a chaotic shortage of beds, ventilators and protective equipment.
While New York City is responsible for almost a third of deaths from coronaviruses in the United States, more than 90% of Americans are under the home stay regime.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo cited strong signs of the coronavirus epidemic in his state on Monday, but cautioned against complacency.
‘LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL!’
In Spain and Italy, which account for more than 40% of deaths worldwide, the death rate has been falling for several days and public debate has focused on how and when to ease weeks of drastic restrictions personal and economic activity.
A model from the University of Washington, one of many cited by the United States and some state officials, predicted that the peak of hospital bed requirements in the United States would come on April 15 and that Daily deaths would peak at 3130 on April 16.
President Donald Trump, whom critics have accused of minimizing the epidemic and trying to end the devastating economic paralysis, tweeted Monday “LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL!”
On Sunday, Neil Ferguson, a professor at Imperial College London, who helped shape the British government’s response, said he expected the UK epidemic to plateau in seven to ten days.
“What is extremely important then is the speed with which the number of cases decreases: do we see a long flat peak or do we see, as we hope, a much faster decline, and it really depends on the effectiveness of the current measures, “he told the BBC.
Spain saw its daily deaths drop from the peak of 950 to 637 Thursday, for a total of more than 13,000 deaths; On Sunday, Italy reported 525 deaths, its lowest daily toll for more than two weeks, for a total of more than 16,000.
As the numbers flattened in Italy, there has been more and more talk of removing a lockout that has closed most businesses and dampened an already fragile economy.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said this weekend that the foreclosure of Spain would remain in effect until April 26, but opened the door to easing some restrictions after Easter on April 12.
Stock markets around the world jumped Monday, buoyed by the business slowdown. [MKTS/GLOB]
WHEN TO Lean?
At the heart of most countries’ planning is to “flatten the curve” to avoid running out of their supply of intensive care beds in overcrowded hospitals.
Austria said on Monday it will take a turn and start reopening stores from next week, although it has expanded the requirement to wear face masks.
However, global use of medical masks by the public could exacerbate shortages of health workers, warned the World Health Organization. American authorities have recommended that Americans use makeshift masks or bandanas when leaving their homes.
Measures to prevent a further upsurge in business will be crucial to the ability of most countries to ease their blockages.
The plan could have come from Germany, which, despite being the most populous country in Europe, has registered only 1,448 deaths for 98,000 confirmed cases.
A draft action plan compiled by the Interior Ministry and seen by Reuters says that it should be possible to keep the average number of infected people below one per person – the measure of an epidemic in retreat – even if public and economic life are gradually authorized to CV.
Germany, with the largest economy in Europe, is under control, with restaurants and most stores closed since March 22 – and the document assumes the pandemic will last until 2021.
But the plan says that the planned measures, including the mandatory wearing of a mask in public, limits on gatherings, rapid tracing of chains of infection and selective quarantine, should allow a gradual return to something approaching normal life.
Reports from Reuters offices worldwide; Written by Kevin Liffey and Rosalba O’Brien; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Bill Berkrot