British PM in intensive care as virus toll soars
A still image from footage released by 10 Downing Street, the office of the British prime minister, on April 3, 2020 shows Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson in 10 Downing Street central London giving an update on his condition after he announced that he had tested positive for the new coronavirus on March 27, 2020. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was in "good spirits" on April 6 and remained in charge of the government despite his admission to hospital for tests after suffering "persistent symptoms" of coronavirus 10 days after being diagnosed, officials said.
AFP/10 Downing Street

British PM in intensive care as virus toll soars

Alice Ritchie (Agence France-Presse) - April 7, 2020 - 8:09am

LONDON, United Kingdom — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was moved to intensive care Monday as his condition worsened in a battle with the coronavirus, as the death toll from the pandemic hit grim new highs in Europe and the United States.

Johnson, the most prominent victim yet of the pandemic, deputized his foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, to stand in for him, but remained conscious according to Downing Street.

The setback came as the death toll from the virus jumped in Western Europe and soared past 10,000 in the United States — taking the global toll past 73,000, out of more than 1.32 million confirmed cases.

In somber warnings from both sides of the Atlantic, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the European Union was facing its "biggest test," while US officials said Americans should prepare for for an ordeal comparable to the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. 

Signs of a possible turnaround in Europe — where daily virus tolls have been falling — were dampened by a surge in deaths in both France and Italy on Monday, a record 833 in France, and 636 in Italy. 

"We have not reached the end of the ascent of this epidemic,"said France's health minister, Olivier Veran.

Admitted to hospital 10 days ago with the disease, Britain's 55-year-old prime minister has not been able to shake it. 

Johnson was transferred into intensive care as the country's death toll topped 5,000 -- an increase of 400 in a day.

"Over the course of this afternoon, the condition of the prime minister has worsened and, on the advice of his medical team, he has been moved to the Intensive Care Unit at the hospital," said a Downing Street statement. 

Light at the end?

There was also no evident respite in the United States, which has the world's highest number of recorded cases.

"This is going to be the hardest and the saddest week of most Americans' lives, quite frankly," US Surgeon General Jerome Adams told Fox News.

"This is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment, only it's not going to be localised."

At the epicentre of the US outbreak, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said daily deaths had been levelling off for the past two days, suggesting the crisis may be peaking -- but he extended a statewide shutdown, warning: "Now is not the time to be lax."

In Washington, meanwhile, President Donald Trump tweeted: "Light at the end of the tunnel."  

'Critical situation'

The pandemic has reached almost every corner of the planet, confining nearly half of humanity to their homes and turning life upside down for more than four billion people, according to an AFP tally of populations under some form of lockdown.

Battling the two-pronged health and economic crisis, Tokyo announced an imminent state of emergency and a trillion-dollar stimulus package.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the country's hospitals face a "critical situation" with a rapid increases of new.

Italy likewise unveiled a record 400 billion euro ($430 billion) stimulus to help businesses hurt by a month-long national lockdown

Speaking one day ahead of a key eurozone finance ministers' conference on a joint economic rescue plan, Merkel called for strength.

"In my view... the European Union stands before the biggest test since its founding," she warned.

"Everyone is just as affected as the other, and therefore, it is in everyone's interest, and it is in Germany's interest for Europe to emerge strong from this test," she said.

Italy, France and Spain want to establish common debt facilities — "coronabonds" — to cushion the economic impact of the virus.

But the richer northern nations have resisted the calls — with Germany and the Netherlands in the lead — fearing their taxpayers will be left to foot the bill.

India hospital locked down

In India, the world's second most populous country, a major private hospital in economic hub Mumbai was shut down after 26 nurses and three doctors tested positive, amid complaints from staff that they had been told to work without adequate safety gear.

India has so far recorded 4,000 coronavirus cases among a population of 1.3 billion, but experts warn true the real number is likely to be far higher, with the country carrying out little testing.

And in the latest cruise ship to be caught up in the health crisis, more than 80 passengers and crew aboard an Australian liner off South America have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Uruguay's public health ministry said six passengers with "life-threatening" illness had been taken off the Greg Mortimer for treatment in Montevideo. 

The rest of the more than 200 passengers and crew remain stranded on the vessel, which was on a voyage to Antarctica and South Georgia with Australian tour company Aurora Expeditions.

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: March 5, 2021 - 4:02pm

Follow this page for updates on a mysterious pneumonia outbreak that has struck dozens of people in China.

March 5, 2021 - 4:02pm

The Philippines records 3,045 new coronavirus infections Friday—the highest single day rise since mid-October, pushing the country’s caseload to 587,704.

The department also records 178 new recoveries and 19 more fatalities, bringing the total of survivors to 535,207 and the death toll to 12,423, respectively.

Active cases in the country are at 40,074 or 6.8% of the total cases.

March 5, 2021 - 12:49pm

The World Health Organization has scrapped plans for a team that visited Wuhan, China to probe the origins of the coronavirus pandemic to issue an interim report, The Wall Street Journal reports late Thursday.

Wuhan is the city where the pandemic is believed to have originated in late 2019.

The WHO team returned recently from its visit there saying it had no clear finding on the genesis of the virus, amid tensions between the US and China on what caused the once-in-a century global health crisis. —  AFP

March 5, 2021 - 11:43am

The United States records fewer than 40,000 new cases of Covid-19 in one day for the first time in five months on Thursday, according to the Johns Hopkins University pandemic tracker.

This number peaked at nearly 300,000 new cases on January 8 in the country hardest hit by the pandemic, with more than half a million fatalities.

But now it is back down to the levels of before Thanksgiving and Christmas, when holiday travel and gatherings in defiance of safety warnings were blamed for spreading the virus further in the US. —  AFP

March 4, 2021 - 9:38am

Brazil registers a record of Covid-19 deaths for the second straight day Wednesday, with 1,910 lives lost to the pandemic.

With a surge in cases currently pushing health systems to the limit in many areas, Brazil has recorded a total of 259,271 deaths, according to the health ministry — the second-highest death toll worldwide, after the United States.

"For the first time since the pandemic began, we are seeing a deterioration across the entire country," public health institute Fiocruz said before the latest figures were published.

"The situation is alarming." —  AFP

March 3, 2021 - 8:43am

Brazil on Tuesday registers a record 1,641 deaths in 24 hours from Covid-19, health authorities announced, as the country endures a further worsening of the pandemic.

The country of 212 million inhabitants has recorded a total of 257,361 Covid-19 deaths, according to the health ministry, and has the second-highest national death toll after the United States.

Brazil continues to have a piecemeal response, with individual cities and states setting their own policies in the face of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro's repeated attacks on restrictive measures and face masks. —  AFP

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