200,000 US deaths mooted even in best case; WHO urges long haul


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Deaths from coronavirus in the United States could reach 200,000 even in a best-case scenario, said The White House’s coronavirus coordinator. A hospital ship arrived in New York to ease pressure on local hospitals. The world faces a long-term battle with the virus, the World Health Organization warned.


There are now about 800,000 cases worldwide in more than 175 countries and territories; almost 39,000 people have died. 

QUOTE: “This is a pandemic unlike the world has ever seen, and it has changed our system and put a strain on people’s lives’” said Dr Takeshi Kasai, the World Health Organization’s regional director for the Western Pacific, The Straits Times reported. “Let me be clear: the epidemic is far from over.”


  • The coronavirus pandemic could kill as many as 200,000 people in the United States even in a best-case scenario, Dr. Deborah Birx, The White House’s coronavirus coordinator, said in an interview with NBC, The Washington Post reported. Fatalities could reach that level even “if we do things almost perfectly,” Birx said in the NBC video interview. The United States now has 160,000 cases of coronavirus, the highest reported incidence of cases in the world, and the numbers are increasing quickly, The New York Times reported. Deaths in the United States from coronavirus have now exceeded 2,900, The Washington Post said.
  • US President Donald J. Trump suggested on a call to governors that testing for coronavirus is no longer an issue and that the United States is making so much medical equipment it will soon be able to export stocks to countries in need, The New York Times reported. Governors disagree, the newspaper said.
  • A hospital ship, the 1,000-bed U.S.N.S. Comfort, arrived to ease the pressure on hospitals in New York, where deaths from coronavirus now exceed 1,200, compared with 965 on the morning of March 29, The New York Times reported. The worst of the outbreak is yet to come, Governor Cuomo reiterated, it reported. About 15 percent of deaths in the state have been nursing-home residents, The Wall Street Journal reported.
  • The spread of coronavirus in New York’s Rikers Island is a “public health disaster unfolding before our eyes,” Ross MacDonald, the chief doctor at the correctional facility wrote on Twitter to the district attorneys of the city’s five boroughs, The Washington Post reported.  “I simply ask that in this time of crisis the focus remains on releasing as many vulnerable people as possible,” MacDonald said, the newspaper reported.
  • The world faces a long-term battle with coronavirus and even those countries who have gained ground against the pandemic must not let their guard down, WHO said, The Straits Times reported. “It’s unlikely this virus will disappear next week or even next month,” Dr Takeshi Kasai, WHO’s regional director for the Western Pacific, told reporters, The Straits Times said.
  • Italy and the Netherlands may extend lockdown measures even as the coronavirus epidemic shows signs of slowing in Europe, Bloomberg reported. Italy may extend restrictions through May 1 then gradually reopen the country from May 4, La Stampa and other Italian newspapers reported, Bloomberg said. Measures in the Netherlands may be extended beyond next week, it reported.
  • Mike Ryan, WHO’s head of health emergencies, said March 30 it’s “our fervent hope” that Italy and Spain, the worst-affected countries in Europe, are approaching a peak, the news agency reported. He urged countries to locate and isolate patients, Bloomberg said.
  • The pace of infections and deaths from coronavirus has slowed slightly in the past few days in Spain, even as the country reported 849 deaths overnight, Reuters reported. Spain, which has the second-highest death toll after Italy, is preparing new measures to help households and exempt small businesses from social-security payments, the newswire said.
  • A nurse in a New York emergency room gives a first-hand account of caring for coronavirus patients. “We’re giving patients medications to sedate them and we don’t even have the correct equipment to monitor them,” the nurse told the BBC. “We’re running out of basic supplies.”
  • “In Boston and other places along the eastern seaboard, the full force of the wave hasn’t yet hit, but it’s clear it is coming soon,” news service Stat reports. NYU Langone Health, among the top US teaching hospitals, has told emergency-room doctors to “think more critically” about which patients get ventilators, saying it will back medical staff who “withhold futile intubations,” The Wall Street Journal reported.
  • About one in four doctors working for the UK’s National Health Service is off sick or in isolation, ITV News reported, citing the head of the Royal College of Physicians. The doctors are either sick with coronavirus or members of their household are ill, meaning they too have to self-isolate, Sky said.
  • A twelve-year-old girl died from coronavirus in Belgium, the Financial Times reported. The country’s death toll from the virus is now 705, an increase of 192 from March 30, the newspaper said.  
  • Walmart will start temperature checks of its store workers and ask them basic health questions to combat the spread of coronavirus, the Financial Times reported. ABB, a Swiss engineering company, has started testing its workers for coronavirus in breach of government guidelines, the FT also reported.
  • “For Autocrats, and Others, Coronavirus Is a Chance to Grab Even More Power,” runs a headline in The New York Times, which cites examples from Hungary, Israel, Chile, Bolivia, and the UK.

QUOTE: “There will soon be a drastically increased number of tests and testing platforms in the United States,” Arjun K. Manrai and Dr. Kenneth D. Mandl write in the news service Stat. “Let’s hope what we learn from increased testing in the general population is encouraging and leads to nimble and targeted policy making in the next phases of the pandemic.”


  • Global stocks are poised for their worst quarterly performance since 2008 as measures to hinder the spread of coronavirus closed down large swathes of the economy, The Wall Street Journal reported. The MSCI All Country World Index had declined 21 percent by value and in dollar terms as of March 30, the newspaper said.
  • The euro area will exit the coronavirus crisis burdened with much higher debt, and government policy must guard against a possible break-up of the European bloc, Bloomberg reported, citing a letter to European finance ministers from Eurogroup President Mario Centeno, among the region’s most senior finance officials.
  • The US Treasury Department urged US airlines to submit some requests for aid by April 3 so they get funds as soon as possible, The Wall Street Journal reported. The $2 trillion economic aid package passed last week includes $25 billion in loans and loan guarantees for passenger airlines and $4 billion for cargo carriers, the newspaper said.
  • UK law firm Allen & Overy has asked its partners to inject capital into the business to guard against the impact of coronavirus and boost its balance sheet, the Financial Times reported. Linklaters, Fieldfisher, and Pinsent Masons may postpone equity payments to partners to conserve cash, the newspaper added.

QUOTE: “Italy, like any country, cannot keep its economy shut indefinitely,” Ferdinando Giugliano writes on the website of Bloomberg. “Recovering countries are vulnerable to new outbreaks, which could lead to a second phase of deaths and lockdowns.”


  • British Airways is temporarily suspending flights from London Gatwick airport because of coronavirus, Sky News reported. Gatwick, the UK’s second-biggest airport, will only be open for scheduled flights between 2pm and 10pm from April 1, Sky said.
  • American Airlines will ask for $12 billion in financial aid under the US economic-stimulus package, the BBC reported, citing an e-mail to employees.
  • Macy’s, Kohl’s, and Gap will stop paying tens of thousands of workers after the retail chains closed stores as sales collapsed because of the coronavirus pandemic, they said March 30, the Associated Press reported. Macy’s said most of its 125,000 employees will be furloughed this week, while Kohl’s said furloughs apply to 85,000 of its 120,000 workers; 80,000 of Gap’s 129,000 staff are also affected, AP reported. 
  • Tens of thousands of ships’ crew are stuck on vessels after normal changeover processes ground to a halt because of global travel restrictions, the Financial Times reported. The International Chamber of Shipping and the International Transport Workers’ Federation have appealed to United Nations agencies for help, the FT said.

QUOTE: “If the virus is not contained, customers will be afraid to shop, travel and dine out, even without mandatory lockdowns,” Catherine Rampell writes in The Washington Post


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