For the third straight day, Spain recorded a record number of coronavirus fatalities, and governments around the world are starting to come to terms with the notion that containment measures could remain in effect for quite a while.
838 people died in Spain on Sunday, and the capacity of the country’s ICU units was stretched to the limit over the weekend. Nearly 4,500 patients were put in intensive care on Saturday alone, exceeding the official capacity of the country’s ICU facilities. 6,528 people have died in the epidemic so far in Spain.
Although Germany’s death toll is comparatively small, it too may run short of ICU capacity, Lothar Wieler, the head of the Robert Koch Institute, told Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung. “We can’t rule out Germany will get more patients in need than ventilators”.
“Everyone is making a sacrifice and I appreciate the scale of that sacrifice, but the reason all of us are making these sacrifices is because all of us will have people whom we love who are at risk from this virus”, UK cabinet office minister Michael Gove said Sunday. “I can’t make an accurate prediction, but everyone does have to prepare for a significant period when these measures are still in place”.
The UK suffered its deadliest 24 hours on Saturday and there are doubtlessly more grim days to come. “We know things will get worse before they get better”, Boris Johnson, who is himself infected, wrote, in a letter delivered to households. “At this moment of national emergency, I urge you, please, to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives”.
In Iran, where the death toll rose another 123 on Sunday, Hassan Rouhani said the disease could linger for years. 2,901 Iranians were confirmed infected over the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 38,300.
Meanwhile, cases in the US continue to steadily climb and approached 125,000 on Sunday, according to Johns Hopkins data.
The White House’s response effort is confounded by Donald Trump’s penchant for soap opera theatrics, which was on full display over the past two days, during which the president feuded with a handful of governors including and especially Michigan’s Gretchen Whitmer, who the president called “‘Half’ Whitmer” during an absurd Twitter exchange.
Trump briefly floated the idea of a federal quarantine for New York, an idea Andrew Cuomo called possibly illegal and tantamount to a “federal declaration of war”. “If you started walling off areas all across the country it would be totally bizarre”, Cuomo said. He also called the notion “counter-productive [and] anti-American”. Trump eventually dropped the idea.
Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan told SonntagsZeitung that while Italy and Spain may be approaching the point at which their infection curves flatten, the US is likely in for a large increase. All countries, Narasimhan cautioned, should be prepared for a second wave.
Australia moved to limit outdoor activities involving multiple people, and Scott Morrison said the elderly should shelter-in-place. Everyone, the prime minister said, should limit their excursions to essential shopping, work, education or medical care. The government unveiled another $678 million in spending for health services (and also for “combating domestic violence”, something I assume is an unrelated initiative).
Hong Kong is now drawing up another round of stimulus in addition to what was announced last month. In Japan, cases are multiplying (there are 430 cases in Tokyo now) and South Africa is poised to ask the IMF for help in its efforts to battle the virus.
The CDC told residents in the New York area to avoid non-essential travel for two weeks. That’s effective now.
“Due to extensive community transmission of COVID -19 in the area, CDC urges residents of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to refrain from non-essential domestic travel for 14 days effective immediately”, the official advisory reads.
That doesn’t apply to “to employees of critical infrastructure industries, including but not limited to trucking, public health professionals, financial services, and food supply”.