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US braces for ‘hardest, saddest’ week

  • U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Friday, April 3, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) Alex Brandon

  • People observe social distancing as they pass by the locked gates to Brockwell Park in London, after it was closed overnight to help stop the spread of coronavirus, after the previous evening the local council announced via social media that the park would be shutting, after it said 3,000 people went there on Saturday many of them sunbathing and in large groups, Sunday, April 5, 2020. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older... Matt Dunham

  • A cyclist rides along an unusually quiet promenade in Blackpool, northwest England, Sunday, April 5, 2020 as a bout of warm weather has raised fears that the public may not observe the British government guidelines that include two metres social distancing from people that don't live in the same household, to help stop the spread of coronavirus. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health... Jon Super

  • Pope Francis prays as he celebrates Palm Sunday Mass behind closed doors in St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican, Sunday, April 5, 2020, during the lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 infection, caused by the novel coronavirus. (AP Photo/pool/Alberto Pizzoli) ALBERTO PIZZOLI

  • Pope Francis holds a palm branch as he celebrates Palm Sunday Mass behind closed doors in St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican, Sunday. AP PHOTO

  • Pope Francis celebrates Palm Sunday Mass behind closed doors in St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican, Sunday, April 5, 2020, during the lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 infection, caused by the novel coronavirus. (AP Photo/pool/Alberto Pizzoli) ALBERTO PIZZOLI

  • FILE - In this March 30, 2020 file photo, medical staff transfer a patient infected with the coronavirus into a French military helicopter heading to Switzerland. On high-speed trains fitted out like hospitals and military planes, France has moved hundreds of intensive care patients around the country in an exceptional effort to relieve congested hospitals and stay ahead of the fast-moving virus The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some,... Jean-Francois Badias

  • A man wearing a protective suit to protect against coronavirus leaves a migrant facility at Malakasa village, north of Athens, Sunday, April 5, 2020. Greece has put the migrant facility outside Athens on lockdown for 14 days after a 53-year-old Afghan developed coronavirus symptoms Saturday afternoon. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or... Yorgos Karahalis

  • FILE - In this April 1, 2020 file photo, medical staff transfer a patient infected with the coronavirus to a train at the Gare d'Austerlitz train station in Paris. On high-speed trains fitted out like hospitals and military planes, France has moved hundreds of intensive care patients around the country in an exceptional effort to relieve congested hospitals and stay ahead of the fast-moving virus. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some,... THOMAS SAMSON

  • FILE - In this April 2, 2020 file photo provided by the French Army medical staff transport a patient infected with the coronavirus to a helicopter at Orly airport, south of Paris. On high-speed trains fitted out like hospitals and military planes, France has moved hundreds of intensive care patients around the country in an exceptional effort to relieve congested hospitals and stay ahead of the fast-moving virus. (Julien Fechter/DICOD via AP) Julien Fechter

  • FILE - In this Tuesday, March 31, 2020 file photo, medical technicians handle a vial containing a nasal swab at a drive-thru testing site in Wheat Ridge, Colo., as a statewide stay-at-home order remains in effect in an effort to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Home testing for coronavirus may sound like a good idea, but As of early April 2020, U.S. regulators say it's still too risky. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) David Zalubowski

  • In this Friday, April 3, 2020, photo released by Paolo Hospital Samutprakarn, a nurse adjusts tiny face shield for a newborn baby to protect from new coronavirus at the newborn nursery of the hospital in Samutprakarn province, central Thailand. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (Paolo Hospital Samutprakarn via AP)

  • Ana, a 41-year-old seasonal worker, wears face mask to protect against coronavirus as she drinks water while collecting white asparagus from the field in Uterga, around 15 km (9 miles) from Pamplona, northern Spain, Sunday, April 5, 2020. COVID-19 causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos) Alvaro Barrientos

  • A mounted police officer on horseback gestures for people to move on who were sitting down in Greenwich Park, London, as another London park closed, Sunday. Most parks remained open with the warning that they would close if people fail to observe the British government guidelines to help stop the spread of coronavirus. AP PHOTO

Published: 4/5/2020 5:58:11 PM

LONDON — Americans braced for what the nation’s top doctor warned Sunday would be “the hardest and saddest week” of their lives while Britain assumed the unwelcome mantle of deadliest coronavirus hotspot in Europe after a record 24-hour jump in deaths that surpassed even hard-hit Italy.

“This is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment,’’ U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams told “Fox News Sunday.”

New York City, the U.S. epicenter of the pandemic, saw a glimmer of hope, with Gov. Andrew Cuomo saying that daily deaths had dropped slightly, along with intensive care admissions and the number of patients who needed breathing tubes inserted.

Still, he warned that it was “too early to tell” the significance of those numbers.

Italy and Spain also got some encouraging news. Italy registered its lowest day-to-day increase in deaths in more than two weeks — 525, said Angelo Borrelli, the head of the national Civil Protection agency.

The pace of infection also seemed to be slowing. The country recorded 4,316 new cases Sunday. Earlier in the outbreak, daily increases topped 6,000.

Even so, Borrelli warned: “This good news shouldn’t make us drop our guard.”

Confirmed infections fell in Spain too, and new deaths declined for the third straight day, dropping to 674 — the first time daily deaths have fallen below 800 in the past week.

“We are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said.

The outlook in Britain remained bleak. As of Sunday, Britain has recorded 4,934 virus deaths overall among 47,806 cases. Those coming down with the virus in the U.K. include Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the health secretary, England’s chief medical official and Prince Charles, heir to the throne.

There are wide fears that Johnson’s Conservative government did not take the virus seriously enough at first and that spring weather will tempt Britons and others to break social distancing rules.

In an address to the nation to be televised later Sunday, Queen Elizabeth II appealed to Britons to exercise self-discipline in “an increasingly challenging time.” The 93-year-old monarch said the pandemic had caused enormous disruptions, bringing grief, financial difficulties and daunting challenges to everybody. It is only the fourth time since her reign began in 1953 that she has given such an address.

“I hope in the years to come, everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge,” she said in pre-released remarks. “And those who come after us will say that the Britons of this generation were as strong as any.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said sunbathing in public places was not allowed and the U.K. might even ban outdoor exercise if people still ‘’flout the rules.”

“The vast majority of people are following the public health advice, which is absolutely critical, and staying at home,” Hancock told Sky TV. “But there are a small minority of people who are still not doing that — it’s quite unbelievable, frankly, to see that.”

As the numbers of infections rose, the deputy head of Britain’s National Health Service Providers said the agency needed to focus on quickly increasing ventilator capacity and getting more protective equipment for health care workers.

“I think that we are just a week away from the surge of this,’’ Saffron Cordery told Sky TV.

Italians have not been immune to lure of the good weather either, even though the country has the world’s highest coronavirus death toll at more than 15,000.

Top Italian officials took to national television after photos were published showing huge crowds out shopping in Naples, Rome, Genoa and even the hard-hit Veneto city of Padua. Lombardy Vice Gov. Fabrizio Sala said cellphone data showed 38% of the region’s people were out and about — the highest figure since March 20.

Health Minister Roberto Speranza told RAI state television that all the sacrifices Italians have made since the nationwide lockdown began on March 10 risked being reversed.

Restrictions on movement vary from country to country. In Germany and Britain, residents can get out to exercise and walk their dogs, as well as go to the supermarket, the post office and other essential tasks. Yet in Serbia and South Africa, dog walking is not allowed.

In France, heat-seeking drones have been whizzing over Fontainebleau forest to identify rule-breakers after the former royal estate in the Paris suburbs was closed to the public. That high-tech measure has been coupled with more traditional police patrols on horseback and roadblocks that turn back the cars of those seeking to escape urban areas.

In Sweden, authorities have advised the public to practice social distancing, but schools, bars and restaurants are still open.

At the Vatican, Pope Francis celebrated Mass and blessed palms for Palm Sunday in a near-empty St. Peter’s Basilica. Usually tens of thousands of faithful would have crowded the square outside to attend a papal Mass.

Holy Thursday and Easter services will be held the same way. In the pope’s native Argentina, the faithful were using plants at home for a “virtual” blessing during a livestream of the Palm Sunday service.

Worldwide, more than 1.2 million people have been confirmed infected and more than 65,000 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University. The true numbers are certainly much higher, due to limited testing, different ways nations count the dead and deliberate under-reporting by some governments.

Almost 250,000 people have recovered from the virus, which is spread by microscopic droplets from coughs or sneezes. The virus causes mild to moderate symptoms in most but for some, especially older adults and the infirm, it can cause pneumonia and lead to death. The World Health Organization says 95% of the known coronavirus deaths in Europe have been in people over 60.

The rapid spread of the virus in the United States has prompted a chaotic scramble for desperately needed medical equipment and protective gear, prompting intense squabbling between the states and the federal government. The number of people infected in the U.S. has soared to more than 312,000 as the fatalities climbed past 8,500.

On Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the virus is unlikely to be completely eradicated this year, meaning the U.S. could see the a resurgence during the next flu season.

Speaking on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Fauci said the prospect of a resurgence is why the U.S. is working so hard to be better prepared, including working to develop a vaccine and conducting clinical trials on therapeutic interventions.




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