Thursday, October 1

Global emergency efforts ratcheted up as pandemic deaths soar

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ROME: Global emergency efforts to slow the coronavirus pandemic ratcheted up yesterday with more nations and cities imposing extraordinary lockdowns, as the death toll soared towards 15,000.

The epicentre is firmly in Europe after shifting from China where the illness first emerged late last year.

From Germany banning gatherings of more than two people, New Zealand announcing a four-week lockdown and Hong Kong shutting its borders to all non-residents, the new round of containment efforts highlighted a deepening sense of panic around the world.

Italy’s world-worst toll from the pandemic approached 5,500 with another 651 deaths reported on Sunday, a day after it surpassed China with the highest number of fatalities.

Spain’s prime minister said he would ask parliament to extend a 15-day state of emergency, which bars people from leaving home unless absolutely essential, until April 11. Spain recorded close to 400 new fatalities Sunday, bringing the total to 1,720, suggesting the lockdown was failing to be effective.

In the United States, more than a third of Americans were under various forms of lockdown, including in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, but the number of infections in the country has continued to climb. Highlighting the desperation inside the world’s biggest economy, the mayor of New York said his city was just 10 days away from running out of ventilators.

And a trillion-dollar Senate proposal to revive the US economy crashed Sunday after receiving zero support from Democrats, further traumatising investors who are watching stock markets implode worldwide.

Asian markets were hammered yesterday, and European stocks followed with a drop of four per cent at the open as they absorbed the failed US stimulus effort and the barrage of other bad news from across the world.

“This is the biggest economic shock our nation has faced in generations,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said as he warned the pandemic could lead to a crisis akin to the 1930s Great Depression. — AFP