US virus cases top 92,000 as Congress debates £1.8 trillion emergency package

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The worldwide death toll climbed to more than 25,000.

A surge in coronavirus infections has taken the US total over 92,000 amid warnings that the pandemic is accelerating in cities like New York, Chicago and Detroit.

The update came as a record 2.2 trillion dollar (£1.8 trillion) emergency package neared final approval by Congress to help millions of newly unemployed Americans and struggling companies.

The situation in countries with more fragile health care systems grew more dire on Friday. Russia, Indonesia and South Africa all passed the 1,000-infection mark and South Africa began a three-week lockdown.

India launched a massive programme to help feed day labourers after a lockdown of the country’s 1.3 billion people put them out of work.

Migrant daily wage labourers leaving New Delhi
Migrant daily wage labourers leaving New Delhi (Manish Swarup/AP)

Analysts warned that all infection figures could be low for varying reasons.

“China numbers can’t be trusted because the government lies,” said American political scientist Ian Bremmer, president of the Euraisa Group think-tank. “US numbers can’t be trusted because the government can’t produce enough tests.”

The worldwide death toll climbed to more than 25,000, according to Johns Hopkins University, but more than 127,000 people have recovered, about half in China.


New York state, the epicentre of the US outbreak, reported 100 more deaths in one day, accounting for almost 30% of the 1,300 fatalities nationwide. Governor Andrew Cuomo said the number of deaths will increase soon as critically ill patients who have been on ventilators for days succumb.

The White House’s coronavirus response co-ordinator, Deborah Birx, said counties in the Mid West around Chicago and Detroit are seeing a rapid increase in cases.

Washington DC, confirmed 36 new cases, raising its total to 267. The district is under a state of emergency with major attractions closed and White House and Capitol tours cancelled.

Russian authorities ramped up testing this week after widespread criticism of insufficient screening.


The stay-home order for India’s 1.3 billion people threw out of work the backbone of the nation’s economy — rickshaw drivers, fruit sellers, cleaners and others who buy food with their daily earnings. The government announced an £18 billion stimulus to deliver monthly rations to 800 million people.

In China, where the virus is believed to have started, the National Health Commission reported 55 new cases, 54 of them imported infections. Again there were no new cases reported in Wuhan, the provincial capital where coronavirus first emerged in December. China is barring most foreigners from entering.

In a phone call on Friday, Chinese leader Xi Jinping told US President Donald Trump that China “understands the United States’ current predicament over the Covid-19 outbreak and stands ready to provide support within its capacity”.

The two countries should “work together to boost co-operation in epidemic control and other fields, and develop a relationship of non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win co-operation”, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

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