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Virus: the world faces its worst crisis since 1945, America will suffer

By AFP | April 1st 2020
Spanish nuns hug: After Italy, the country is the second hardest hit by the coronavirus disease in Europe.

United States President Donald Trump asked his fellow citizens to prepare, like Europe, for "very, very painful" weeks in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, described by the UN as the worst crisis that humanity has faced since 1945.

After initially wiping out the risks for his country, Donald Trump warned his compatriots in a serious tone on Tuesday: "I want every American to be ready for the difficult days ahead." "It will be two very, very painful weeks."

His Brazilian counterpart Jair Bolsonaro, who had also downplayed the pandemic by calling it "the flu", also backed down and called it "the greatest challenge of our generation".

One proof among others: the commander of an American aircraft carrier infested by the coronavirus encountered the Pentagon's refusal when he asked for authorization to evacuate his crew, trapped in the island of Guam, in the Pacific.

In a four-page letter to the command of the US Navy, Captain Brett Crozier, commander of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, admitted that "removing the majority of the crew from an American nuclear aircraft carrier by deployment and isolating it for two weeks may seem like an extraordinary measure. " But "it is a necessary risk," he added. In vain for now.

And the head of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, noted that the Earth was experiencing its "worst global crisis since the UN was founded" 75 years ago.

It is, he said, "the combination of a disease threatening to everyone and an economic impact leading to an unprecedented recession in the recent past".

Three-quarters of Americans confined

The United States could record even more daily deaths than the grim records reached by several European countries in the front line facing the pandemic.

A total of 4,076 deaths were recorded Wednesday, a figure multiplied by two in three days, announced the American University Johns Hopkins, whose assessments are authoritative. Over 40 per cent of these deaths have been recorded in New York State.

The White House presented its projections: according to it, the disease could take between 100,000 and 240,000 lives in the United States with the current restrictions, against 1.5 to 2.2 million without any measure.

Globally, the health crisis also continues to worsen, with more than 41,000 dead, according to an AFP count.

Since the pandemic began in December in China, more than 830,000 cases have been officially declared worldwide, more than half of them in Europe, 186,000 in the United States and more than 108,000 in Asia.

In the United States, there is general mobilization: almost three-quarters of Americans now live confined.

The United States has surpassed the death toll officially reached by China where the epidemic broke out.

Central Park, war hospital

In New York, a dozen tents erected in Central Park are preparing to receive the sick. "We see films like + Contagion + and we think it will never happen, so to see that for real, it's really surreal", says Joanne Dunbar, 57, who came to witness the transformation of this emblematic place in Manhattan like a real war hospital.

Concern is also mounting in Great Britain. The United Kingdom recorded 381 additional deaths in one day, a record marking an acceleration of the pandemic and bringing its balance to 1,789 deaths in the country.

In China, while confinement is gradually being lifted in Wuhan, the cradle of the pandemic, the first steps in the open air of the inhabitants are devoted to depositing on the stone tombs the urns containing the ashes of their loved ones.

Elsewhere, we are feverishly watching for the peak in the mortality rate, heralding a decline and a reduction in congestion in the intensive care unit.

In Italy, the country with the highest number of deaths (more than 12,400 in just over a month), confinement begins to produce "encouraging" results after three weeks.

But the peninsula still counted 837 new deaths in 24 hours and observed a minute of silence in front of all its town halls in "memory of the victims of the coronavirus" and in tribute to health professionals.

Second most mourning country in the world with 8,189 deaths, Spain still fears to see overwhelmed the intensive care units which are already working at the limit of their capacities.

Nearly 500 patients have also died of coronavirus in French hospitals in the past 24 hours, another new record increase since the start of the epidemic, which brings the total toll to 3,523 deaths.

Call to suspend the hajj

Riyadh on Tuesday called on Muslims in all countries to halt preparations for the hajj. Already in March, Saudi Arabia suspended Umrah, the small pilgrimage, fearing that the virus would spread in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

This pilgrimage, which attracted 2.5 million faithful in 2019, is an important source of income for the kingdom but would be a privileged place of contamination due to the presence of an immense crowd.

The Saudi authorities have not yet indicated whether or not they will maintain the hajj, which is scheduled to start in late July this year.

A caress

Caregivers everywhere push the limits of fatigue and selflessness.

Ester Piccinini, 27, a nurse in a hospital in Bergamo, Italy, testifies: "In the morning, when I arrive in the service, I make the sign of the cross hoping that everything will be fine. Not really for me (.. .) since I'm protected. But I hope everything will be fine for the patients. "

"We are trying to reassure them. A caress has more value than words," she says.

G20 finance ministers and central bank governors, who met by videoconference on Tuesday, pledged to help poor countries bear the burden of their debt and assist emerging markets.

To curb the spread of the pandemic, more than 3.6 billion people, or 46.5% of the world's population, are called or forced by their authorities to stay at home.

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