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Trump Extends US Lockdown              03/30 06:16

   In an abrupt turnaround, President Donald Trump extended lockdown measures 
across the United States as deaths in New York from the new coronavirus passed 
1,000. Spain on Monday became the third country to surpass China in infections 
after the United States and Italy. 

   MOSCOW (AP) -- In an abrupt turnaround, President Donald Trump extended 
lockdown measures across the United States as deaths in New York from the new 
coronavirus passed 1,000. Spain on Monday became the third country to surpass 
China in infections after the United States and Italy. 

   With a population of only 47 million to China's 1.4 billion, Spain's tally 
of infections reached 85,195 on Monday, a rise of 8% from the previous day. 
Spain also reported 812 new deaths in the last day, raising its overall 
fatalities from the virus to 7,300.

   The health systems in Italy and Spain have been crumbling under the weight 
of caring for so many desperately ill patients at once. The two European 
nations have more than half the world's 34,000 deaths from the virus that has 
upended the lives of billions of people and devastated world economies.

   In a situation unimaginable only a month ago, Italian officials were cheered 
when they reported only 756 deaths in one day on Sunday.

   In a stark reversal of his previous stance, Trump extended federal 
guidelines recommending that Americans stay home for another 30 days until the 
end of April to slow the spread of the virus. The turnabout came after Dr. 
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious 
Diseases, said up to 200,000 Americans could die and millions become infected 
if lockdowns and social distancing did not continue.

   "We want to make sure that we don't prematurely think we're doing so great," 
Fauci said.

   The U.S. now has more than 143,000 infections and 2,500 deaths, according to 
Johns Hopkins University, while around the world almost 725,000 people are 
infected. The true number of cases is thought to be considerably higher because 
of testing shortages and mild illnesses that have gone unreported.

   Moscow went on its own lockdown Monday as all of Russia braced for sweeping 
nationwide restrictions.

   Russian President Vladimir Putin has asked all citizens to stay at home and 
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin began enforcing a strict lockdown for all city 
residents except those in essential sectors.

   "The extremely negative turn of events we are seeing in the largest European 
and U.S. cities causes extreme concern about the life and health of our 
citizens," Sobyanin said.

   He said an electronic monitoring system will be used to control residents' 
compliance with the lockdown and warned "we will steadily tighten the necessary 
controls." 

   Moscow, a city of 13 million, accounts for more than 1,000 of Russia's 1,836 
coronavirus cases.

   In Italy, which has by far the most deaths from the virus worldwide, 
officials expressed cautious optimism that the drastic measures they have taken 
to keep people apart are having an impact.

   Italy has reported 97,689 infections and 10,779 deaths, but said the number 
of positive cases in the last day increased just 5.4%, and the number of deaths 
have shifted down about 10% a day since Friday. 

   ''These are big changes that reflect the fact the health system is 
responding and of the impact of the measures that have been put in place,'' 
said Dr. Luca Richeldi, a lung specialist, told reporters. ''We are saving 
lives by staying at home, by maintaining social distance, by traveling less and 
by closing schools.''

   Experts say the critical situations in hospitals in Italy and Spain will be 
soon heading toward the United States.

   Coronavirus patient Andrea Napoli, 33, told The Associated Press he didn't 
remotely expect that he would be hospitalized, struggling for his life from the 
virus, since he was a young, very fit man. But what he saw at a Rome hospital 
shocked him.

   While he was being treated, three patients died in his ward. He saw doctors 
stressed and exhausted from the long hours, out of breath from pushing 
equipment around, dressed in protective masks, suits and gloves.

   ''What I saw was a lot, a lot of pain. It was very hard,'' Napoli said. ''I 
heard screams from the other rooms, constant coughing from the other rooms.''

   Cases across Africa rose closer to 5,000 in 46 countries. Zimbabwe began a 
three-week lockdown Monday and more cities across the continent were shut down. 

   For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as 
fever and cough. But for others, especially older adults and people with 
existing health problems, the virus can cause severe symptoms like pneumonia 
and can be fatal. More than 152,000 people have recovered.

   China's National Health Commission on Monday reported 31 new COVID-19 cases, 
among them just one domestic infection. At the peak of China's restrictions, 
some 700 million people were in areas ordered to stay home, but those rules are 
easing.

   New York state remained the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, with the vast 
majority of the deaths in New York City. But infections were spiking not only 
in cities but in Midwestern towns and Rocky Mountain ski havens. West Virginia 
reported its first death, leaving only two states --- Hawaii and Wyoming --- 
with none linked to COVID-19.

   The virus is moving fast through nursing homes, assisted living facilities 
and other places for vulnerable people, spreading "like fire through dry 
grass," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

   The pandemic is also taking its toll economically around the world.

   A lockdown in India covering the country's 1.3 billion people has put day 
laborers out of work and left families struggling to eat. With no jobs, those 
living in the country's crowded cities are walking back to their native 
villages. 

   Cases across Africa rose closer to 5,000 in 46 countries. Zimbabwe began a 
three-week lockdown Monday and more cities across the continent were shut down. 

   In Europe, budget airline EasyJet grounded its entire fleet of aircraft --- 
parking all 344 planes --- amid a collapse in demand due to the COVID-19 
crisis. 

   Japanese automaker Toyota Motor Corp. announced that its auto plants in 
Europe will halt production at least until April 20. Toyota has facilities in 
France, Great Britain, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Turkey and Portugal. At the same 
time, all its plants in China resumed normal production Monday, spokeswoman 
Kayo Doi said. 

   Asian markets started the week with fresh losses. Japan's benchmark fell 
nearly 3% and other regional markets were mostly lower. Shares in Australia, 
however, surged 7% after the government promised more recession-fighting 
stimulus. 

   Australia announced a 130 billion Australian dollar ($80 billion) plan to 
subsidize businesses, paying up to 6 million people a minimum wage for the next 
six months.

   "We want to keep the engine of our economy running through this crisis," 
said Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

   U.S. futures rebounded, gaining nearly 1%, but oil prices were lower.


(KR)

 
 
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