Sunday, Mar 07, 2021

Coronavirus latest: US deaths top 50,000 after doubling in 10 days

Coronavirus latest: US deaths top 50,000 after doubling in 10 days

France readying multibillion euro relief package for Air France and Renault; Britain’s new testing website overwhelmed within hours of launch.

The US death toll from the novel coronavirus reached 50,000 on Friday, having doubled in 10 days.

More than 880,000 Americans have contracted the highly contagious respiratory illness Covid-19 caused by the virus, and on average about 2,000 have died every day this month.

The true number of cases is thought to be higher, with state public health officials cautioning that shortages of trained workers and materials have limited testing capacity.

Deaths are also likely higher, as most states only count hospital and nursing home victims and not those who died at home. About 40 per cent of the deaths have occurred in New York state, the epicentre of the US outbreak.

Confirmed Covid-19 cases

United States - 889,661 / 51,017
Spain - 219,764 / 22,524
Italy - 192,994 / 25,969
France - 159,495 / 22,278
Germany - 154,545 / 5,723
United Kingdom - 144,634 / 19,564
Mainland China - 83,783 / 4,632

US President Donald Trump on Friday signed into law a US$484 billion economic measure to provide additional funding for small business loans, health care providers and virus testing.

Globally, coronavirus has claimed more than 190,000 lives since the outbreak began in China late last year. The United States, with the world’s third-largest population, has twice as many deaths as the next hardest-hit countries of Italy, Spain and France.

Britain’s new testing website off to bad start

The British government’s new online system for “key workers” and their families to book appointments for coronavirus tests got off to an inauspicious start on Friday.

Barely three hours after launching, the link stopped accepting applications for the day following “exceptional demand” and said more tests at drive-through sites and for home delivery will be made available on Saturday. Around 10 million people could now potentially apply for a test.

Clicking on the link, aspiring applicants were greeted with the brief message: “Coronavirus test: capacity reached for today.”

In a tweet, the Department of Health and Social Care apologised for any inconvenience and said it is “continuing to rapidly increase availability”.

The self-referral site is a key element of the government’s plan to meet a target of 100,000 tests a day by the end of the month, and is likely to play a big role in how lockdown restrictions, which are due to last until at least May 7, are lifted.

For now, changes to the lockdown are not being considered given that Britain’s coronavirus-related death toll in hospitals is fast approaching 20,000.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office said that within two minutes of the portal’s opening, 5,000 home-testing kits had been ordered – the day’s capacity – and that another 15,000 slots at drive-through sites had also been snapped up.

It said the aim is for 18,000 home tests available each day by next week with them arriving the following day and results sent back within 72 hours.

France readying 'historic' package for Air France, Renault

France said on Friday it was readying a “historic” package of multibillion euro loans to help carmaker Renault and flag-carrier Air France through the crisis caused by the coronavirus.

A pair of €7 billion (US$7.5 billion) and €5 billion euro (US$5.4 billion) packages are planned and for Air France and Renault respectively, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire announced.

He said the package was needed to save Air France amid an unprecedented industry crisis but warned the money would come with strings attached, with the airline notably having to improve its environmental credentials.

The French state retains shareholdings in both Renault and Air France of 15 and 14.3 per cent respectively.

US Navy wants to reinstate fired captain of virus-hit ship

In an extraordinary reversal, the US Navy has recommended reinstating the fired captain of the coronavirus-hit aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt, whose crew hailed him as a hero willing to risk his job to safeguard his sailors, officials said on Friday.

The Navy’s top leaders made the recommendation to reinstate Captain Brett Crozier on Friday to US Defence Secretary Mark Esper, just three weeks after Crozier was relieved of command after the leak of his letter calling on the Navy for stronger measures, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The Pentagon did not respond to a request for comment.

The officials said Esper was taking time to consider the recommendation.


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