Key developments in the global coronavirus outbreak today include:
At least 88,500 deaths worldwide
According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University roughly 1.5 million people have been infected. There have been more than 432,000 cases in the US and 14,800 deaths in the country. In the UK there are more than 61,400 cases and more than 7,100 deaths.
US hopeful of avoiding projected death toll
Mitigation efforts are working, White House officials have said, leading to cautious optimism the pandemic will not claim between 100,000 and 240,000 American lives. One model run by the University of Washington School of Medicine predicts the virus will kill 60,000 people in the US over the next four months. Virus response coo-ordinator Dr Deboarh Birx said: “What has been so remarkable to those of us who have been in the science field for so long is how important behavioural change is and how amazing Americans are in adapting.” At the same briefing, Donald Trump said he would like more information on reports US intelligence officials had warned his office as far back as November that a coronavirus was spreading through China’s Hubei region.
Oxfam warns half a billion people could be pushed into poverty
More than half a billion more people could be pushed into poverty unless urgent action is taken to bail out poor countries affected by the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic, Oxfam has warned.
China reports a slight increase in new cases
China reported 63 new cases on Wednesday, up from 62 a day earlier, the National Health Commission said, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in mainland China to 81,865. While infections have fallen from their peak in February after China locked down several cities and imposed strict travel restrictions, authorities have called for continued vigilance amid fears of a second wave of infections.
Australia records its lowest number of new cases in three weeks
Australia recorded just 96 new cases on Wednesday. This is the first time in three weeks the country has seen the number of new daily cases fall below 100 and the health minister said it was a hopeful sign that measures that had been introduced were helping to flatten the curve. Australia has just over 6,000 cases and 51 deaths.
US strategic national stockpile nearly out of PPE
America’s Strategic National Stockpile is nearly out of the N95 respirators, surgical masks, face, shields, gowns and other medical supplies desperately needed to protect front-line medical workers treating coronavirus patients. This came after the US suffered its highest daily death toll from coronavirus on Tuesday, with 1,858 people succumbing to the disease.
Boris Johnson’s condition improves
The UK prime minister remains in intensive care receiving treatment for Covid-19, but on Wednesday, the chancellor Rishi Sunak reported Johnson was sitting up in bed and “engaging positively” with the clinical team.
Virus fears prompt curb on military operations in Yemen
Concerns about a potential outbreak in Yemen, where no cases have been reported so far, are partly behind a decision to call a halt to the military action there that has left tens of thousands died and spread hunger and disease, a Saudi-led coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki has said.