Italy, Spain, France record much lower rises in coronavirus deaths

Meridiana Avenue in Barcelona, Spain, is deserted on Sunday as the nation faces the 22nd consecutive day of mandatory home confinement. The nation reported 471 deaths Sunday compared with the peak of 961 Thursday. Photo by Quique Gasrcia/EPA-EFE

April 5 (UPI) — As the coronavirus outbreak intensifies exponentially throughout the world, the rate of fatalities is decreasing notably in three hardest-hit European nations, Italy, Spain and France.

Among the 68,499 deaths from the pandemic, Italy tops the list with 15,887 fatalities, Spain is second with 12,418 and France fourth with 8,078, according to tracking by worldometers.com. Meanwhile, the death toll in the United States is surging with more than 9,000 deaths and in some parts of Europe, United Kingdom with 4,934 fatalities.

Globally, there are 1,262,631 cases and 260,217 recovered from the illness.

On Sunday, Italy reported a 3.4 percent increase, Spain a 4.1 percent gain and France a 4.6 percent climb.

Italy’s 525 deaths were the lowest since March 19 when there were 427. On Saturday, the number of deaths had decreased to 681. The peak was 909 deaths on March 27.

The nation has been on a virtual lockdown, first starting in northern Italy on March 9 and the entire nation a week later. The lockdown was supposed to end last Friday but has been extended to at least Easter next Sunday.

The first eight deaths were announced on Feb. 29.

More than 75 percent of overall cases and deaths are north of Tuscany, in the center of the country, according to the Italian Civil Protection agency.

But the poorer southern region also is struggling.

Palermo Mayor Leoluca Orlando has petitioned for a “survival income” to give to citizens left behind without the desperate help they need, according to a CNN interview. Palermo is the capital of the Italian island of Sicily.

On Sunday, Spain recorded the lowest rise since the first 13 deaths were announced on March 9. The health ministry announced 674 additional deaths, which represents 4.1 percent increase. That is far less than the peak of 961 Thursday. In addition, 4,591 additional cases were reported.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, writing in 10 major newspapers in Europe, implored the European Union: “Either we rise to this challenge or we will fail as a union.”

He wrote: “We have reached a critical juncture at which even the most fervently pro-European countries and governments, as is Spain’s case, need real proof of commitment.”

Spain and Italy lambasted the refusal of other governments to contemplate a Europe-wide “coronabond” during a long video conference among EU leaders two weeks ago.

On Saturday, France reported additional 1,053 deaths, joining No. 3 United States as the only countries with at least 1,000 fatalities in one day — a 16.2 percent increase. But on Sunday, 357 deaths were reported as the toll climbed past 8,000.

Britain is fifth on the list with 4,934 deaths through Sunday when 619 fatalities were reported for a 14.6 percent gain.

Queen Elizabeth made only her fourth special televised speech since her reign began in 1952. The previous ones: the death of the queen mother in 2002, before Princess Diane’s funeral and the first Gulf War in 1991.

“Together we are tackling this disease, and I want to reassure you that if we remain united and resolute, then we will overcome it,” the 93-year-old queen said. “I hope in the years to come everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge.”

Her son, Prince Charles, 71, tested positive for the disease and emerged last week from seven days of isolation. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, 55, announced on March 27 he also tested positive for the disease, and has decided to remain in self quarantine.

On Sunday night, Johnson’s office announced he was admitted to a hospital “as a precautionary step, as the Prime Minister continues to have persistent symptoms of coronavirus 10 days after testing positive for the virus.”

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“We can take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return. We will be with our friends again. We will be with our families again. We will meet again,” the queen said.

Germany has been consistently in better shape than other nations, reporting 34 deaths Sunday for a total of 1,478. Its high was 176 on Thursday. The country has served as a model for rigid testing of between 300,000 and 500,000 tests every week and health safety measures, including an early lockdown.

Rather than one central authority, German public health services are provided by approximately 400 public health offices.

“I don’t have to wait to get a call from the health minister before I can go ahead with a test,” said Matthias Orth, of the Institute of Laboratory Medicine at Stuttgart’s Marien Hospital in a Guardian report.

The Netherlands recorded a significant drop in the number of new coronavirus deaths, according to new figures from the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment.

A total of 115 new deaths were recorded in the past 24 hours compared with 164. The total number of reported deaths from coronavirus stands at 1,766 in eighth place globally.

Other nations in the top 10 are No. 6 Iran with 151 more deaths for a total of 3,603, No. 7 China with three deaths for 3,329 and Belgium 164 more at 1,447.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Sunday that “low risk” economic activities would resume on April 11.

“Restarting these activities does not mean we have abandoned the principle of staying at home,” Rouhani said in a televised meeting.

Mainland China, which was the original epicenter of the outbreak, has announced single-digit deaths and double-digit cases for weeks. Most of the cases are imported, meaning they came from another country. Outside mainland China, four deaths have been reported in Hong Kong and five in Taiwan.

China, which has the world’s largest population of 1.4 billion, has been emerging from a near total lockdown, including Wuhan where the outbreak began and 2,570 died, according to the National Health Commission.. Wuhan has been on lockdown since Jan. 23.

Fearful of another major outbreak, restrictions have been left in place, including no school in much of the nation of Later this week, the 11 million Wuhan residents will be allowed to leave the city but only if they can prove they are in good health and live in an “epidemic-free” compound, which has risen to 99 percent of the housing complexes, the South China Morning Post reported.

Other Asian nations have fared well.

South Korea reported a spike in 81 cases to 10,237 with six additional deaths to 183 as the nation braces for a second wave of infection. South Korea’s daily cases reached a peak of 909 in late February and were as low at 64 in mid-March.

Although the death count in Japan is relatively low, the nation has seen a spike in cases, a rise of eight to 77 on Saturday.

Saturday’s total was 204 on Saturday after 318 on Friday.

Tokyo reported its new case totals Sunday — 143 new one of more than 1,000. Total nationwide data were not announced.

Although Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has not declared a nationwide state of emergency, local authorities asked residents to stay at home except for essential reasons. Gov. Yuriko Koike on a TV program Sunday said “lives were at stake.”

India, the second most populous nation with 1.3 billion people, reported 99 deaths and 3,588 cases.

Ken Juster, the U.S. ambassador to India, posted on Twitter on Sunday the U.S. Mission is “facilitating a series of flights to the United States” to evacuate American citizens.

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