March 21, 2020 08:07
The coronavirus global death toll has surpassed 10,000 and more than 244,500 people have been infected, the World Health Organization said Friday. More than 10,200 new cases were reported Friday in Europe, which WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said earlier this week had become the epicenter of the outbreak after cases began to wane in China, where it began.
There were 87,108 cases in Europe on Friday and 4,084 deaths. Spain reported 235 new deaths Friday, becoming the second European country after Italy to record more than 1,000 deaths. Spanish officials warned Friday that the situation could soon overcome the country's health care system. They announced plans to turn a Madrid conference center into a makeshift hospital. Earlier this week, a four-star inn in Madrid was converted into a hospital.
Italy reported 427 new deaths Friday, more than any other country, raising its death toll to 3,405, surpassing China in nationwide fatalities.
Germany, another hard-hit country, is trying to increase the number of intensive care beds, which now total 28,000, by establishing temporary hospitals in hotels, rehabilitation clinics and other facilities. Officials there say the coronavirus could strike as many as 10 million Germans unless proper precautions are taken, including social distancing.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said dining establishments, bars and other leisure businesses were ordered to close Friday night.
◆ Border Closure
In the United States, the Trump administration announced the effective closure of the border with Mexico, as happened earlier with Canada, and invoked a federal law to get emergency medical supplies to front-line health care workers and to get the private sector mobilized to combat the pandemic. President Donald Trump said most travel to and from Canada and Mexico would be prohibited except for trade.
California Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday ordered the 40 million residents of the West Coast state to stay home as part of the battle against the disease. Newsom issued the mandate following the deaths of 19 people and positive tests of 958 people for the coronavirus in California.
The lockdown for the entire state followed a Los Angeles County order earlier Thursday that shut down all the county's shopping malls, nonessential retail stores and playgrounds. The state of New York, with a population of more than 19 million, followed California on Friday by confining almost all residents to their homes. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said beginning Sunday, workers in nonessential businesses must remain homebound and gatherings of any size would be prohibited.
The U.S. government announced that the tax filing deadline had been extended from April 15 to July 15, and that taxpayers would have the additional time to make payments without penalties or interest.
◆ Nations Close Doors
Elsewhere, New Zealand and Australia on Friday said they were closing their shores to foreign visitors. Over the last two days, Wuhan, China, has reported no new cases for the first time since the outbreak began there late last year. Wuhan is the capital of China's Hubei province. Thirty-four new cases were reported elsewhere in mainland China on Thursday. Authorities said people who had come from other countries were infected.
Prince Albert of Monaco on Thursday became the first head of state with a confirmed case of coronavirus.
In North America, Mexico reported its first coronavirus death Thursday. Late Thursday, a federal judge in Seattle rejected an appeal by the American Civil Liberties Union to free nine illegal migrants who the ACLU says are at risk for the coronavirus because of their age and other health problems.
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