The number of coronavirus-related deaths and cases in Italy is now showing signs of a potential decrease as the World Health Organization warns the US could soon become the global epicenter of the pandemic following a ‘very large acceleration’ in infections.
Italy’s dramatic rise in coronavirus cases has been feeding the fear of what possibly lies ahead for the United States as health officials desperately track the trajectory of the outbreak.
Italy has so far suffered the world’s deadliest outbreak of the pandemic with 6,077 deaths and 63,927 cases after abruptly overtaking China – where the outbreak began in late December. In China, 3,281 people have died and there are 81,588 confirmed cases.
The US, which is third in terms of fatal cases globally, is almost two weeks behind both Italy and China in terms of the outbreak.
As of Tuesday, the United States had recorded 628 deaths and 50,075 cases.
Italy and the US are 12 days apart in terms of reporting its first coronavirus deaths – with Italy’s first death confirmed on February 20 and the US on March 3.
The number of coronavirus-related deaths and cases in Italy is now showing signs of a potential decrease as the World Health Organization warns the US could soon become the global epicenter of the pandemic following a ‘very large acceleration’
Italy and the US are 12 days apart in terms of reporting its first coronavirus deaths – with Italy’s first death confirmed on February 20 and the US on March 3. It is likely the US will soon overtake hard-hit Italy in the number of infections
Monday marked two weeks since Italy imposed a nationwide lockdown on March 9 in a desperate bid to stop the spread. The country had also ordered its schools to close days earlier on March 4.
There is no national lockdown in place currently in the US but 17 states have issued stay at home orders that are affecting about 187 million Americans.
It is likely the US will soon overtake hard-hit Italy in the number of infections.
Health officials say the US is also on track to eventually overtake China’s nearly 82,000 infections. The US last week was already reporting more new daily cases of coronavirus than China did at the apparent peak of the outbreak there.
Authorities have warned that how soon that happens depends on how seriously Americans take the restrictions being imposed on them.
In New York, now one of the world’s biggest virus hotspots, authorities rushed to set up the thousands of hospital beds they will need in just weeks to protect the city’s 8.4 million people.
More than 12,000 people have tested positive in the city and 125 have died. A state-wide lockdown took effect on Sunday night.
In Italy, the death toll rose by 602 on Monday, the smallest increase for four days, while the number of new cases also slowed, raising hopes that the most aggressive phase of the pandemic may be passing.
The number of fatalities in Italy now stands at 6,077, while confirmed cases totaled 63,927, an increase of 4,789 over the past 24 hours – the smallest rise for five days.
This chart shows the number of daily new cases in China (red) and the US (blue), starting from the dates on which each country crossed the threshold of 30 new cases. Last Thursday, the US number of daily new cases surpassed China’s peak
Those figures in Italy suggest a possible four week peak projection – and not six weeks – for hot spots within the United States.
‘Today is perhaps the first positive day we have had in this hard, very tough month,’ said Giulio Gallera, Italy’s top health official in the northern region of Lombardy, which has been hardest hit by the outbreak.
‘It is not the time to sing victory, but we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.’
Despite this, there was also a significant fall in the number of tests carried out in Italy.
The head of Italy’s national health institute, Silvio Brusaferro, said it was too soon to say if the recent decline in daily deaths and new cases would continue.
It comes as the World Health Organization revealed a grim outlook for the US, saying on Tuesday that the United State could quickly become the global epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.
WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris said there had been a ‘very large acceleration’ in infections in the United States.
Over the previous 24 hours, 85 percent of new cases were in Europe and the United States, and of those, 40 percent were in the United States.
Asked whether the US could become the new epicenter, Harris said: ‘We are now seeing a very large acceleration in cases in the U.S. So it does have that potential.’
Some US state and local officials have decried a lack of coordinated federal action, saying that having localities act on their own has put them in competition for supplies.
Health officials and leaders have warned the world was entering a critical period that would determine just how deeply the coronavirus pandemic slices through their nations.
The warnings come just hours after President Donald Trump said he will reconsider the nation’s social distancing policy within a matter of days and promised America will be open for business ‘very soon’.
Top congressional and White House officials are yet to agree on a $2 trillion coronavirus rescue package but say say they expect to reach a deal some time on Tuesday.
Trump announced a new set of policies on Monday meant to stem the spread of the coronavirus, which included closing restaurants and banning social gatherings with more than 10 people.
But he indicated that he supports a quick return to normal life, citing the economic impact coming from all the businesses being shuttered because of the pandemic.
‘America will, again, and soon, be open for business. Very soon,’ the president said at the daily White House coronavirus briefing.
‘A lot sooner than three or four months that somebody was suggesting. Lot sooner. We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself. We’re not going to let the cure be worse than the problem.
ITALY: Patients are pictured in intensive care in Cremona, Italy on Tuesday
UNITED STATES: A registered nurse works to get swabs from a drive thru COVID-19 testing station in Washington state on March 17