US and Spanish deaths surge as world virus toll breaks 50,000
Madrid: The number of confirmed coronavirus deaths accelerated past 50,000 on Friday as the United States, Spain and Britain grappled with their highest tolls yet and the world economy took a massive hit.
The human scale of the pandemic has never been more stark — experts warning that more than one million cases of COVID-19 disease confirmed globally is probably only a small proportion of total infections as testing is still not widely available.
The United States accounts for around a quarter of confirmed cases but Europe is far from being out of danger — Spain reported more than 900 deaths in 24 hours on Friday, for the second day running.
The virus has now killed more 10,000 people across Spain, but not 29-year-old Javier Lara, who has just returned home after being treated in an overburdened intensive care unit.
“I was panicking that my daughter would get infected. When I started showing symptoms, I said I wouldn’t hold her or go near her, or change her nappies,” he told AFP, describing his fear for his eight-week-old after facing death at the “worst moment in his life”.
While Italy still leads the world in fatalities, France, Belgium and Britain have also been hard hit. The UK government is rushing to build field hospitals after a one-day toll of 569.
The battle waged by public health experts across the world ebbed and flowed on Friday, with German experts saying the rate of new infections is slowing thanks to lockdown measures, but Asian city-state Singapore confirming it would close schools and workplaces to fend off a possible upsurge in cases.
The outbreak began last year in China, which announced a day of national mourning on Saturday for those who died fighting against the disease. Fourteen deceased frontline workers will be celebrated as “martyrs” of the epidemic.