Italy surpassed China on Thursday as the country with the most deaths from coronavirus as California, home to more than 39 million people, was placed under lockdown in the most drastic containment measure yet by a US state.
President Donald Trump said meanwhile that the United States is fast-tracking antimalarial drugs for use as a treatment and lashed out at China for not informing the world earlier about the original outbreak.
No new cases
China for its part reported on Friday a second day with no new domestic cases since the virus appeared in the central city of Wuhan in December, before spreading worldwide.
The country’s drop in cases offers a ray of hope for the rest of the world as a slew of other nations go into lockdown in an effort to emulate China’s tactic against the disease.
The number of deaths in China has also slowed dramatically, with the National Health Commission reporting only three new fatalities, the lowest daily increase since it started publishing figures in January.
But the United States on Thursday warned against any international travel due to the coronavirus pandemic and advised citizens to come home if possible.
“In countries where commercial departure options remain available, US citizens who live in the United States should arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period,” the State Department said as it upgraded its travel advisory to the highest level.
“US citizens who live abroad should avoid all international travel,” it said.
Meanwhile, Asian countries have embraced innovative, if somewhat invasive, tech to counter the coronavirus pandemic―such as electronic bracelets and phones that report your whereabouts, text messages if you stray too far from quarantine, and digital detectives tracking where you’ve been
When Hong Kong stylist Declan Chan flew home from Zurich earlier this week he was greeted by officials who placed an electronic device on his arm.
The wristband was connected to an app that he had to install on his phone as he headed into two weeks of compulsory self-quarantine at home.
While there was a glimmer of hope in China, several nations tightened their borders and imposed lockdowns, trapping tens of millions of people in their homes.
And the UN chief warned “millions” could die if the virus spreads unchecked around the globe.
World leaders also unleashed nearly a trillion dollars to prop up the teetering global economy, only to see the once-in-a-century pandemic seemingly spiral further out of control.
The death toll soared in Europe as Italy announced another 427 fatalities on Thursday, taking its total to 3,405, according to a tally compiled by AFP from official sources.