Global lockdown tightens as virus deaths mount, Latest World News - The New Paper

Global lockdown tightens as virus deaths mount

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PARIS: Harsh lockdowns aimed at halting the march of the coronavirus extended around the world on Monday as the death toll soared past 35,000 despite slivers of hope in stricken Italy and Spain.

The tough measures that have confined some two-fifths of the globe's population to their homes extended further with Moscow and Lagos both joining the roll call of cities with eerily empty streets.

The number of declared Covid-19 cases around the world topped 700,000, with 400,000 of those in Europe, while most of the confirmed deaths are also from the continent, according to an AFP tally.

World leaders - several of whom have themselves been stricken or forced into isolation - are still grappling for ways to deal with a crisis that have prompted economic and social shock waves unseen since World War II.

In Russia, President Vladimir Putin urged residents of Moscow to "very seriously" respect a lockdown that has seen the closure of all non-essential shops, including restaurants and cafes, in Europe's largest city. Red Square in the heart of Moscow was deserted and the surrounding streets were quiet.

After weeks of life spent under a national lockdown in Italy, signs were emerging that its drastic actions could slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Even though the country's death toll grew by more than 800 in 24 hours to at least 11,590, figures from the civil protection service showed the rate of new infections hitting a new low of just 4.1 per cent, and the number of people who had recovered reached a new high.

"The data are better, but our work continues," said Mr Giulio Gallera, the chief medical officer of Lombardy, Italy's worst-hit region.

Spain also announced more than 800 virus deaths in 24 hours. "While the isolation measures have reduced the pressure on intensive care units, in the coming weeks, it will be significant," said Ms Maria Jose Sierra of the Spanish Health Ministry's emergencies centre.

Spain joined the US and Italy in surpassing the number of cases in China, where the disease first emerged in December.

France, however, reported its highest daily number of deaths since the outbreak began, reprting 418 more deaths.

Britain and Italy both warned at the weekend that measures to prevent the spread of the disease would be in place for months to come. - AFP