President Donald Trump declared the beginning of the end of the coronavirus crisis in the United States on Tuesday and called for a quick end to social distancing, following China's decision to end the lockdown in Hubei province where the disease (COVID-19) originated.
Trump, who is keen to get his reelection campaign back on track, said that social distancing has caused too much pain to the US economy, with the Senate and the White House reaching an agreement on a $2 trillion stimulus package for the US economy and millions of Americans ravaged by the crisis.
READ: Fear in New York, but Trump says coronavirus restrictions could ease soon
"Our country—it's not built to shut down," he said on Fox News. "You can destroy a country this way by closing it down."
"I would love to have the country
Hubei lifts restrictions as China reports no new virus cases
China lifted tough restrictions on the province at the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak on Wednesday after a months-long lockdown as the country reported no new domestic cases.
But there were another 47 imported infections from overseas, the National Health Commission said, as the number of cases brought into the country continued to swell.
READ: Hubei to open up as world shuts out
In total, 474 imported infections have been diagnosed in China—mostly Chinese nationals returning home according to the foreign ministry. Four more people died, health officials said Wednesday, three in central Hubei province where the virus first emerged late last year.
The lockdown would be lifted on more than 50 million people in Hubei, with residents now allowed to leave if healthy, with some airports and train stations opening. The city of Wuhan—the initial epicenter of the outbreak—will allow residents to leave from April 8.
One third of humanity under virus lockdown
India's billion-plus population went into a three-week lockdown on Wednesday, with a third of the world now under orders to stay indoors.
India ordered its 1.3 billion people—the world's second-biggest population—to stay at home for three weeks.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "total lockdown" call doubled the number of people around the globe under some form of movement restriction to more than 2.6 billion people.
"To save India, to save its every citizen, you, your family... every street, every neighborhood is being put under lockdown," Modi said in a televised address.
Industry races to meet demand for ventilators
Manufacturers are on a mission to produce desperately needed medical ventilators for the coronavirus pandemic, even if it means converting assembly lines now making auto parts.
Along with a shortage of masks and gloves, the spread of COVID-19 to almost every corner of the globe has highlighted a great need for specialized machines that help keep severely afflicted patients alive.
"As the global pandemic evolves, there is unprecedented demand for medical equipment, including ventilators," said Kieran Murphy, head of GE Healthcare.
Swedish group Getinge is also ramping up output to meet what it called exponential growth in demand from around the world. French group Air Liquide has plans to raise its ventilator production from 500 a month to 1,100 in April. Draeger, a German medical tech giant, says it has doubled the number of ventilators as well, while Loewenstein has a government order for 6,500 over the coming three months.