US tops world in coronavirus cases

Agence France-Presse . Washington | Published: 00:49, Mar 28,2020


The United States now has more COVID-19 infections than any other country, and a record number of newly unemployed people, as the coronavirus crisis deepens around the world.

Hours after his nation reached the grim milestone, president Donald Trump spoke by phone to China’s Xi Jinping, after weeks of bickering and finger pointing over a disease researchers say could kill at least 1.8 million people by the end of the year.

‘Just finished a very good conversation with president  Xi of China,’ Trump tweeted.

‘China has been through much & has developed a strong understanding of the Virus. We are working closely together. Much respect!’

The warm words - which were not quite echoed in the Chinese state media readout of the call - came after a few weeks in which the White House had repeatedly referred to ‘the Chinese coronavirus’, angering Beijing.

Healthcare systems in even the most developed nations are being stretched to breaking point with dire warnings they could soon be overwhelmed.

More than 530,000 people globally have been sickened by the disease.

A tally by Johns Hopkins University showed that by around 09:00 GMT Friday, there were almost 86,000 known infections in the US. That figure is higher than both China and hard-hit Italy, which accounts for a third of the 24,000 deaths worldwide.

Even with lockdowns implemented around the world, researchers at Imperial College London said Thursday the global death toll could be staggering.

Their model shows 1.86 million people could die, with nearly 470 million infected this year.  Failure to act swiftly in imposing lockdowns and strict social distancing could make those numbers far higher, they warned.

‘Our analysis highlights the challenging decisions faced by all governments in the coming weeks and months, but demonstrates the extent to which rapid, decisive and collective action now could save millions of lives,’ the researchers said.

Medical systems in even the most developed nations are straining under the weight of new patients.

In New York, where tens of thousands are ill, governor Andrew Cuomo warned there were simply not enough hospital beds. ‘Almost any scenario that is realistic will overwhelm the capacity of the current healthcare system,’ he said.

The number of coronavirus cases on the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier in the Pacific Ocean has spiked to at least 23, with authorities moving to isolate the entire crew in port, US media reported.

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