Coronavirus

Death toll in Spain passes China as coronavirus ravages Europe

A patient being transferred yesterday to a medicalised hotel during the COVID-19 outbreak in Madrid, Spain. Picture by Bernat Armangue/AP 
Chris Blake and Sheikh Saaliq, Associated Press

Spain now has the world's second-highest tally of coronavirus deaths after 738 more were reported today, the country's deadliest toll in one day.

With 3,434 coronavirus patients dead, Spain surpassed China's toll of 3,285. Italy still has the most deaths of any nation in the world with 6,820.

Infections in Spain rose 20 per cent from a day earlier to 47,610.

The coronavirus pandemic has infected more than 424,000 people and killed at least 18,000 across the world.

More than 108,000 people have recovered so far, mostly in China.

Here is the latest on the situation from around the globe:

SLOVAKIA

New prime minister Igor Matovic said a government plane with 100,000 badly needed high quality respirators from Turkey has landed, and they will be immediately distributed to hospitals across the country.

Since his four-party coalition government was sworn in on Saturday, Mr Matovic has repeatedly criticised the previous cabinet for a failure to secure protective equipment.

Slovakia has only 216 infected with the coronavirus but has tested only 4,200 people so far. The new government wants to increase the number of people tested daily.

THAILAND

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha says he will take sole charge of the country's battle against Covid-19, warning the outbreak may get much worse.

His government issued a 16-point order for the national state of emergency set for Thursday until April 30 that forbids most foreigners from entering the country and bans rallies and other gatherings in crowded places.

It does not include a curfew that had been expected as a measure to enforce social distancing and uninfected people are not confined to their homes.

RUSSIA

Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has ordered provincial governors to move more quickly to prepare hospital beds for coronavirus patients as the outbreak spreads across the vast country.

The government reported 658 cases of the new coronavirus in Russia, up from 495 a day before. That marked a significantly bigger daily increase compared to previous days when the number of infections increased by several dozens.

The warning to governors came a day after the mayor of Moscow told Russian president Vladimir Putin that the Russian regions were not acting energetically enough to prepare for the outbreak.

Mayor Sergei Sobyanin warned that the low number of cases in Russia compared to Europe could be explained by insufficient screening, and called for quicker action to brace up for the worst.

GERMANY

The parliament is meeting to approve an enormous aid package drawn up by the government to cushion the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

MPs will vote on a series of measures that will allow the government to offer assistance totalling more than one trillion euro (£939 billion).

As a precaution, members of parliament were spaced widely apart in Berlin's Reichstag building for the session.

The government is breaking with six years of balanced budgets to borrow what finance minister Olaf Scholz called the "gigantic sum" of 156 billion euro (£143 billion) to finance the packages and cover an expected shortfall in tax revenue.

Parliament's approval is needed to loosen legal limits on running up debt.

Mr Scholz, who is Germany's vice chancellor, presented the package in place of Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is in quarantine at home after a doctor who gave her a vaccination tested positive for the coronavirus.

He said that "we as the German government are doing everything necessary and everything possible to cushion the economic and social consequences of managing the crisis".

- SRI LANKA

Police warned of strict legal action against the people who violate a countrywide curfew.

Officers said those who violate the curfew will be immediately arrested, even without a warrant, and legal action will be taken against them.

Within the last 24 hours, police have arrested 420 people who violated the curfew and seized 97 vehicles.

The government has imposed the curfew since Friday, as the Indian Ocean island nation struggles to contain the spreading of the virus. The number of positive cases has now jumped to 101.

Since Friday, police have detained 2,682 persons for violating the curfew and detained 786 vehicles, police said.

- SOUTH KOREA

The government said it plans to provide coronavirus testing materials to the United States in response to President Donald Trump's request for help.

Jeong Eun-kyeong, director of South Korea's Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, said the country is willing to send chemical reagents used to extract genetic material during Covid-19 tests, but at a level that does not affect its own testing capacity.

She did not provide a detailed estimate on the size of supplies that could be shipped to the United States.

The office of South Korean president Moon Jae-in said that Mr Trump had asked during a telephone conversation between the leaders whether South Korea could send medical equipment and supplies to help the United States cope with its outbreaks.

South Korea is pushing an aggressive test-and-quarantine program that some experts say possibly contributed to its lower death toll in comparison with mainland China and hard-hit European nations.

As of Wednesday, South Korea had tested around 358,000 people while reporting 9,137 infections and 126 deaths.

- MALAYSIA

Malaysia has announced it will extend its national lockdown by another two weeks until April 14.

This will lead to a shutdown of a month for Malaysia, which reported another 172 new coronavirus cases Wednesday to bring its total to 1,796, the highest in south-east Asia.

Prime Minister Muhyiddini Yassin said total cases had surged from just 673 a week ago when the lockdown began, while total deaths had increased to 17.

He said the uptrend would continue for some time before new cases began to decline, requiring the government to extend the Movement Control Order that is due to expire March 31.

Mr Muhyiddin urged Malaysians to "stay calm and don't panic", as he assured them there would be adequate food supply.

"I know you feel burdened but I don't have a choice," he said, adding that he would announce a new economic stimulus programme on Friday.

Schools and non-essential businesses have been closed. Malaysians cannot travel abroad or drive to other states, but can leave home to buy food or seek treatment.

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