Thursday 4 June, 2020

Spain, Italy demand EU virus help; New Yorkers avoid travel

The daughter and husband of an elderly victim of the COVID-19 stand as undertakers place the coffin in the grave at the Almudena cemetery in Madrid, Spain. (AP Photo/Olmo Calvo)

The daughter and husband of an elderly victim of the COVID-19 stand as undertakers place the coffin in the grave at the Almudena cemetery in Madrid, Spain. (AP Photo/Olmo Calvo)

Spain and Italy have demanded more European help as they fight still-surging coronavirus infections in the continent's worst crisis since World War II.

In the US, authorities urged millions around New York City to stop travelling to keep the virus contained.

Around the world, doctors were forced to make tough choices about which patients to save with the limited breathing machines they have.

The confirmed global death toll surpassed 31,000 and new virus epicentres emerged in US cities like Detroit, New Orleans and Chicago.

Even rural America has not been immune, as virus hotspots erupt in Midwestern towns and Rocky Mountain ski havens.

Spain and Italy alone account for more than half of the world's death toll and are each reporting over 800 deaths a day.

Experts say, however, that virus toll numbers across the world are being seriously under-represented because of limited testing and political decisions about which bodies to count.

Unlike the US, France and Italy do not count deaths that take place at home or in nursing homes, even though nursing homes are known coronavirus incubators around the world.

''Europe must demonstrate that it is able to respond to this historic call,'' Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte said late Saturday.

"I will fight until the last drop of sweat, until the last gram of energy, to obtain a strong, vigorous, cohesive European response."

President Donald Trump backtracked on a threat to quarantine New York and neighbouring states amid criticism and questions about the legality of such a move.

But the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention issued a travel advisory urging all residents of New York City and others in New York state, New Jersey and Connecticut to avoid all nonessential travel for 14 days.

Shocking as that is for Americans that stopped short of the restrictions imposed in Europe or elsewhere.

Parisians are fined if they try to leave the city, South Africans can't even buy liquor and Serbians are upset over a ban on walking their dog.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez called for a more vigorous response from the 27-nation European Union.

"It is the most difficult moment for the EU since its foundation and it has to be ready to rise to the challenge," he said.

Spain, Italy, France and six other EU members have asked the union to share the burden by issuing European debt, dubbed coronabonds, to help fight the virus.

But the idea has met resistance from Germany and the Netherlands.

European countries have also resisted sharing masks with their neighbours for fear that they, too, will need them in mass quantities soon.

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