Spain’s deadliest day as US fatalities surpass China’s
The coronavirus has killed a record 849 people in Spain in one day, the nation's deadliest day yet since the epidemic began, bringing the grim tally of fatalities to 8189.
Another 9222 people tested positive for the virus, raising the number of confirmed cases to 94,417 - more than China's 82,240 but fewer than Italy's more than 100,000.
Tightened lockdowns across the planet saw nearly half of humanity told to stay at home in a bid to stem the spiralling coronavirus pandemic, as Spain recorded its deadliest day on Tuesday (local time) and the United States passed China with 3393 fatalities thus far.
France recorded its highest death toll in a day, 499, as did the UK with 381.
China has reported 3300 coronavirus deaths. The US is now ranked third globally in terms of total fatalities, following behind Italy and Spain, who have respectively reported 11,591 and 8,189 deaths.
The virus has claimed more than 38,000 lives worldwide in a health crisis that is rapidly reorganising political power, hammering the global economy and altering the daily existence of some 3.6 billion people.
In battered Italy, flags flew at half-mast during a minute of silence to honour the more than 12,000 people who have perished from the virus, and the medical staff still working through nightmarish conditions.
Although there are hopeful signs the spread of infections is slowing in both countries, hundreds are still dying every day, leading authorities to extend nationwide shutdowns despite their crushing economic impact.
US DEATHS SURPASS 9/11
It comes as the coronavirus death toll in the US rocketed to more than 3000 on Tuesday (local time), surpassing the number of people who died in the September 11 terrorist attacks.
According to the New York Post, COVID-19 has killed at least 3170 Americans, surpassing the 2977 victims who were killed in the World Trade Centre, Pentagon, and four hijacked planes on September 11, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.
The 9/11 attacks had been the deadliest event in the continental US since the Japanese killed 2403 Americans at Pearl Harbour in 1941.
New York was the nation's deadliest hot spot, with over 1200 deaths statewide, the majority of them in New York City - a toll Governor Andrew Cuomo called "beyond staggering."
He also revealed his brother, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, has tested positive to COVID-19.
A Navy hospital ship with 1000 beds that docked in New York on Monday began accepting non-coronavirus patients on Tuesday (local time).
A 1000-bed emergency hospital set up at the Javits Convention Centre began taking patients Monday night. And the Billie Jean King USTA National Tennis Centre, where the US Open is held every August-September, was being transformed into a hospital.
Gov. Cuomo pleaded for help from volunteer medical workers, and close to 80,000 former nurses, doctors and other professionals were already said to be stepping forward.
New York State reported close to 76,000 cases as of Tuesday (local time) and 1550 deaths.
There have been at least 164,700 confirmed COVID-19 patients since the country's first case in January was detected in Washington state.
There have been cases from every state, the District of Columbia and several US territories, as well as among repatriated citizens.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, an infectious disease expert on the White House task force, predicted Sunday that the pandemic could infect more than a million Americans and kill up to 200,000.
"Looking at what we're seeing now, I would say between 100,000 and 200,000 [deaths] … I mean, we're going to have millions of cases," he said US TV
The virus, which initially emerged in China in December, has rapidly spread around the globe, sickening more than 800,000 people, according to Johns Hopkins.
Worldwide, there have been at least 39,000 deaths from the dangerous bug while scientists race to find a cure.
12-YEAR-OLD GIRL DIES OF CORONAVIRUS
It comes as a 12-year-old girl confirmed infected with COVID-19 has died in Belgium, health officials said on Tuesday (local time).
Fatality from the virus at such a young age "is a very rare occurrence," said government spokesman Dr Emmanuel Andre, adding that her death "shook us".
The girl had a fever for three days before her death, and tested positive for COVID-19, said another spokesman, Steven Van Gucht.
The government gave no other details, notably not saying whether she had any other underlying health problems.
The girl's school is located in the city of Ghent, whose mayor Mathias De Clercq issued a statement about the "sad news", expressing condolences to the girl's family.
It added that the girl, whom he did not name, had not been at the school since March 13, just before a nationwide shutdown.
It was the first death of a child in the coronavirus crisis in Belgium, which has now recorded 705 deaths according to the latest official toll.
Last week, France reported the death of a 16-year-old girl from coronavirus in the greater Paris region.
Although serious COVID-19 infections are uncommon among the young, some exceptional cases have been taken to hospital intensive-care wards, as US health authorities have pointed out.
Belgium's toll on Tuesday represented a jump of nearly 200 fatalities from that given the previous day, which stood at 513.
It comprised 98 deaths recorded in the preceding 24-hour period, plus another 94 deaths over previous days that had not been counted in the national tally, Dr Andre said.
The small EU country, with a population of 11.4 million, now has 12,775 cases of persons tested positive for COVID-19, of whom 4920 have been hospitalised, including 1,021 in intensive care.
Hospitals in Brussels, the Dutch-speaking province of Limburg and the surroundings of Charleroi and Mons are now confronted with "a more complicated situation" as beds fill up, Andre said.
BORDER FORCE OFFICERS TEST POSITIVE FOR VIRUS
Two Australian Border Force officers have tested positive for coronavirus.
The officers - from NSW and Queensland - have been self-isolating since being diagnosed.
People who came into contact with the officers have been notified by health authorities.
Australia has so far recorded more 4500 cases with 19 deaths.
It comes as hotels are bracing for an influx of mandated quarantined guests with thousands of Australians heeding the call to come home and Chinese airlines among the aircraft returning to our skies with multiple flights.
The rush comes as countries, notably China, ease lockdown restrictions nationally in its cities allowing for more air movements again, carrying Australian citizens and permanent residents.
While our national airlines Qantas and Virgin have virtually grounded their international flights, from just after 6am foreign airlines were queued to land at Australian airports.
They were coming from a dozen locations including Guangzhou and Shanghai, Taipei, Singapore, Hong Kong, Doha, Tokyo and San Francisco as Aussie citizens and residents returned any way they could.
It was a China Southern Airlines flight from Guangzhou into Melbourne on January 19 that reportedly is suspected as having brought the first person, from Wuhan, carrying COVID-19 to Australia.
It is understood just over a week ago, Sydney was seeing 9000 people a day return, with 6000 passengers returning to Melbourne and between 3000 and 4000 to Brisbane, less to Adelaide.
But that was before the Federal Government's mandatory 14-day quarantine restriction for anyone returning from overseas.
The movements particularly from China Air and China Southern Airlines yesterday, although in significantly reduced volumes, caused a frenzy on social media with many believing there had been a block to international air movements other than freight.
But how open ended the taxpayer-funded quarantine program will be remains unclear as the skies reopen to more volume, at least to foreign airlines from nation's with easing rules.
The Federal Government had made clear the skies were not shut to inbound international flights if carriers saw passenger flights as commercially viable.
Last week the Chinese Government authorised subsidies to Chinese airlines including funding for international flights to keep movement of both passengers and airfreight going.
Transport Minister Michael McCormack's office declined to comment and said it was an issue for Home Affairs and Australian Border Force; Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton's office would no return calls.
Meanwhile, Britain is attempting to repatriate 300,000 Britons stranded by coronavirus from around the globe including Australia, chartering flights where regular operations cannot be found.
ITALIAN DOCTORS STRUGGLING TO COPE
Italy marked a minute of silence and flew flags at half mast on Tuesday (local time) to mourn the 11,591 people who have died from the coronavirus pandemic that has dramatically altered life in the Mediterranean country.
The nation of 60 million people has recorded nearly a third of all fatalities caused by COVID-19 across the world.
The day of mourning marks a month in which Italy saw more deaths from a single disaster than at any time since World War II.
It was first detected in Italy near the northern financial hub Milan in late February before spreading and overwhelming hospitals with critically ill patients.
Italy now has nearly 4000 people receiving intensive care treatment for COVID-19.
The virus "is an injury that hurt the whole country," Rome mayor Virginia Raggi said after a priest read a prayer for the dead and the nation observed a minute's silence.
"Together, we will get through this," she said at a ceremony held outside Rome's city hall.
Vatican City also flew its yellow-and-white flags at half mast in solidarity.
The Italian government imposed an unprecedented lockdown three weeks ago to help stem the spread of a virus that has now officially infected more than 100,000 people in the country.
The financial cost of the forced shutdown of almost all businesses threatens to send Italy's economy - the European Union's third largest last year - into its deepest recession in decades.
On Monday the government decided to extend the shutdown until at least mid-April.
Stores and restaurants are not expected to start opening until at least May and no official is willing to predict when life might return to the way it was just a month ago.
Italy's Confindustria big business lobby said it expected the country's total output to shrink by six per cent if the pandemic does not ease by the end of May.
It said each additional week after that would chop another 0.75 per cent off Italy's gross domestic product.
Big businesses around the northern city of Bergamo where the death rates are some of the highest in the world sound anxious about their long-term prospects.
"Saying 'close everything' may be right, but it is not sustainable forever," the lobby's Bergamo branch president Stefano Scaglia told the Il Fatto Quotidiano newspaper.
"The real, complicated thing to do - and one no one seems to be doing - is to try to understand how we can restart things again." Rome's mayor stressed Tuesday that it was imperative for everyone "to stay at home to save us all".
"We must do it for all those who lost their lives and all those who put their lives at risk by working for us all," Raggi said.
But the head of the infectious diseases department at Milan's Luigi Sacco Hospital that managed to isolate the Italian strain said he was looking at the future with some hope.
"We have the impression that (the pandemic) is weakening," Massimo Galli told Italian radio.
Italy reported 812 deaths on Monday. Its single day record was 969 on Friday - the highest daily toll recorded anywhere in the world.
It comes as Italian doctors are making house calls to coronavirus patients in full protective equipment as they warn the infection rates in the country have been wildly under reported.
Patients released from hospital still require urgent care, with many forced to leave earlier than usual as the country rations beds.
Doctors at the front lines told News Corp Australia they were still struggling to cope, with intensive care units finding it hard as they battle a shortage of nurses and anaesthetists needed to keep people alive.
They have also been worried about limited protective equipment. More than 51 doctors in Italy have already died of the virus.
Dr Chiara Mariani, 38, a GP in Saronno, 30 minutes northwest of Milan, said the discharged patients were the hidden side of Italy's coronavirus pandemic.
She told News Corp Australia her patients still needed oxygen and she had been forced to make dangerous house calls to keep them alive.
"I have 1600 patients, as any other general practitioner here. The problem is that without proper protective equipment we can spread the virus around," she said.
"We all know the official numbers don't tell the whole story. From February 23, I have had 65 patients with COVID-19 similar symptoms, but only three of them had swab and are positive.
BRITAIN REACHES CRISIS POINT
Hospital admissions flattened in Britain in a positive sign in the fight against coronavirus, as the government poured $A150 million into mercy flights to get British people home.
Hundreds of thousands of Brits remain stranded around the world but the government agreed to subsidise some charter flights to help with repatriations.
The elderly and the sick will be prioritised, with many Brits stuck in Spain, which has become the centre of the European outbreak.
There are 9000 coronavirus patients in UK hospitals, with admissions rising by about 1000 each day for the past three days.
And Prime Minister Boris Johnson has managed to chair meetings via video link as he remains in quarantine after testing positive for coronavirus last week.
UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that $150 million was allocated to help keep flights affordable.
"Partner airlines include British Airways, Virgin, easyJet, Jet2 and Titan and this list can be expanded," he said.
"Under the arrangements that we are putting in place we will target flights from a range of priority countries, starting this week."
Tickets will be allowed to be transferred between passengers.
Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK government's chief scientific adviser, said that so far hospital intensive care units were coping with current COVID-19 patients.
"The number of hospital admissions had gone up roughly the same amount each day," he said.
The measures that have been taken have seen a dramatic reduction in contact.
"The measures are in place, they are making a difference, they are decreasing the contact which is so important to spread the disease and we're doing a good job at cutting that down," Sir Patrick said.
However, one in four doctors in the UK were now off sick or self isolating because a relative had symptoms of the disease.
He said that the number of infections per person was likely to be slowing.
"It's important that we do this now to get the numbers down on the NHS capacity," Sir Patrick said.
"Once we have got this below the ICU curve and stable and then how do we release those measures?"
He said it was premature to put a time frame on when the lockdown would end, amid previous reports it could be up to six months.
The UK's death toll was 180 in the 24 hours to Monday local time, which was lower than the previous day's total of 209.
The overall death toll was 1408, and the overall cases were more than 22,000, which was only increasing by 13 per cent per day.
Last week it was climbing by 25 per cent, with the UK now falling below Italy's trajectory of infections and deaths.
NEW YORK DEATHS 'TO PEAK IN FORTNIGHT'
On Monday, American's virus epicentre of New York City evoked war-conditions as a medical navy ship docked off Manhattan and a field hospital opened under tents in Central Park.
The USNS Comfort will treat 1000 non-coronavirus patients and take pressure off the state's stretched healthcare system, which has accounted for more than 40 per cent of America's 3000 COVID-19 deaths.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo welcomed the 1000 bed vessel and 1700 personnel, which were last seen in the Big Apple after 9/11, and asked out-of-state health care workers to volunteer to help the struggling city.
"I am asking health care professionals across the country, if you don't have a health care crisis in your community, please come help us in New York right now," Mr Cuomo said, saying New Yorkers would repay the favour.
He also called for more federal support from US President Donald Trump, who has questioned whether the state was overplaying its needs and accused Mr Cuomo of stockpiling supplies.
"If you wait to prepare for a storm to hit, it is too late," Mr Cuomo said.
Experts predict New York will see a peak in deaths in the next two to three weeks.
"You have to prepare before the storm hits. And in this case the storm is when you hit that high point, when you hit that apex. How do you know when you're going to get there? You don't," Mr Cuomo said.
In Central Park, a tent hospital including 10 ICU beds will start treating coronavirus patients on Wednesday (Australian time).
New York State has been hardest hit, with 66,497 cases, which is more than five-times the cases of second-placed New Jersey (13,386), and ten times that of Michigan and California, with around 6500 each.
In a six hour stretch on Monday local time, New York lost 124 patients, or one person for each 2.9 minutes.
"That's a lot of loss, that's a lot of pain, that's a lot of tears, that's a lot of grief that people all across this state are feeling," Mr Cuomo said in his daily briefing.
The US has outpaced China and Italy to record the highest number of cases with nearly 164,000 diagnoses. Yesterday was its most deadly day, with more than 500 deaths.
It came as US President Donald Trump said his decision on the weekend to extend an initial 15-day national lockdown for a further month had "saved one million American lives".
Mr Trump on Sunday said that stringent social distancing requirements would remain in place until April 30, while Virginia's governor ordered his citizens to stay at home until June 10.
The top White House infectious diseases adviser again warned the US death toll could exceed 100,000 and said the losses in New York would soon be mirrored in centres across the country.
"They're going to take off," said Dr Anthony Fauci of under-pressure cities New Orleans and Detroit.
Originally published as Spain's deadliest day as US fatalities surpass China's