Global coronavirus death toll passes 94,000, but some signs of hope

Medical personnel move a deceased patient to a refrigerated truck serving as make shift morgues at Brooklyn Hospital Center on April 09, 2020 in New York City. (AFP)
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Updated 10 April 2020

Global coronavirus death toll passes 94,000, but some signs of hope

  • Another 1,700 people died in the United States on Thursday
  • Britain announced another 881 deaths on Thursday, taking the total to nearly 8,000

BRUSSELS: Another horror day of the coronavirus pandemic saw the global death toll pass 94,000, although there were tentative signs of hope that the crisis was peaking in the United States and Europe.
The picture of the unfolding economic catastrophe also became clearer with the IMF warning of a Great Depression and data showing 17 million Americans lost their jobs, but a European Union financial rescue package agreement offered some relief to the barrage of bad news.
Another 1,700 people died in the United States on Thursday, while there were hundreds more deaths across Europe, driving the confirmed global toll above 94,000.
Nearly half of all pandemic fatalities have occurred over the past week.
But authorities in worst-hit Europe and the United States said a slight decline in daily deaths and infections gave reason to hope the worst could be over.
“The fire started by the pandemic is starting to come under control,” said Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez of Spain, where fatalities inched down to 683 from 757 a day before, pushing that country’s total above 15,000.
“Our priority now is not to turn back, especially not to return to our starting point, not to lower our guard.”
France also reported that 82 fewer people were in intensive care for COVID-19 — the first fall since the pandemic broke out.
And Anthony Fauci, the US government’s top pandemic expert, said the United States was “going in the right direction.”
The US recorded 1,783 deaths in the past 24 hours, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University as of 0030 GMT Friday, lower than the previous day’s record toll of 1,973.
The US has seen more than 16,500 confirmed deaths, the second-highest tally in the world after Italy, and more than 460,000 confirmed cases.
In New York, the epicenter of the virus in the United States, only 200 more people entered hospitals, the lowest number since the pandemic struck, even though 799 people died over the last day, Governor Andrew Cuomo said.
“We are flattening the curve by what we are doing,” Cuomo said, adding, “We have to keep the curve flat.”
But he declined to predict how New York would fare in the coming weeks, telling reporters bluntly: “I have no idea.”
Further lifting spirits, the health improved of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the highest profile of the 1.5 million people infected by the virus, and he ended three days of intensive care.
However, Britain announced another 881 deaths on Thursday, taking the total to nearly 8,000.


Over 200,000 vote in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy primaries

Updated 12 July 2020

Over 200,000 vote in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy primaries

  • Exercise being held two weeks after Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law on the semi-autonomous territory

HONG KONG: Hundreds of thousands of Hong Kongers turned up over the weekend to vote in an unofficial two-day primary election held by the city’s pro-democracy camp as it gears up to field candidates for an upcoming legislative poll.
The exercise is being held two weeks after Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law on the semi-autonomous territory in a move widely seen as chipping away at the “one country, two systems” framework under which Britain handed Hong Kong over to China in 1997. It was passed in response to last year’s massive protests calling for greater democracy and more police accountability.
Throngs of people lined up at polling booths in the summer heat to cast their vote despite a warning by Hong Kong’s constitutional affairs minister, Eric Tsang last week that the primaries could be in breach of the new national security law, because it outlaws interference and disruption of duties by the local government.
Organizers have dismissed the comments, saying they just want to hold the government accountable by gaining a majority in the legislature.
The legislation prohibits what Beijing views as secessionist, subversive or terrorist activities or as foreign intervention in Hong Kong affairs. Under the law, police now have sweeping powers to conduct searches without warrants and order Internet service providers and platforms to remove messages deemed to be in violation of the legislation.
On Friday, police raided the office of the Public Opinion Research Institute, a co-organizer of the primary elections. The computer system was suspected of being hacked, causing a data leak, police said in a statement, and an investigation is ongoing.
Hong Kong’s pro-democracy camp, which includes multiple parties, is attempting to join forces and use the primaries as a guide to field the best candidates in the official legislative election in September. Its goal is to win a majority in the legislature, which is typically skewed toward the pro-Beijing camp.
To hold the primary elections, pro-democracy activists had raised money via crowd funding. They pledged to veto the government’s budget if they clinch a majority in the legislature. Under the Basic Law, under which Hong Kong is governed, city leader Carrie Lam must resign if an important bill such as the budget is vetoed twice.
On Saturday alone, nearly 230,000 people voted at polling booths set up across the city, exceeding organizers’ estimates of a 170,000 turnout over the weekend.