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US extends guidelines on social distancing

By ANDREW COHEN in New York and JULIAN SHEA in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-03-31 07:15
US President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, US, March 29, 2020.[Photo/Agencies]

United States President Donald Trump has said the federal government's current guidelines for social distancing would remain in place until at least April 30, overriding an earlier suggestion that the measures might be lifted by Easter, which falls on April 12.

Trump predicted that the peak of deaths from the coronavirus outbreak would come in "about two weeks".

"We can expect that by June 1, we will be well on our way to recovery. A lot of great things will be happening," he said.

At a White House news conference on Sunday, Trump touted Project Airbridge. On Sunday, a plane carrying 80 metric tons of N95 masks and other medical and personal protective equipment arrived in New York from China, the first in a series of flights over the next 30 days.

The airlift project involves a team led by White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and a partnership between the federal government and large US healthcare distributors such as Owens &Minor, McKesson, Cardinal, Medline and Henry Schein.

Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN on Sunday that total US deaths could be "between 100,000 and 200,000".

Trump said that if the US death toll is held to 100,000, "we all together have done a very good job".

The US had 122,653 coronavirus cases resulting in 2,112 deaths as of Sunday, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Around the world, the coronavirus pandemic has affected over 200 countries and regions and claimed more than 30,000 lives as the number of infections globally reached 638,146, according to data released by the World Health Organization on Monday.

As death tolls from the coronavirus continue to surge across Europe, countries are steeling themselves for extended lockdown.

A man wearing a protective face mask waits with his dog to enter in a shop as the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Rome, Italy, March 30, 2020.[Photo/Agencies]

The Italian government has announced that extending lockdown measures beyond April 3 is "inevitable".

France conducted its largest evacuation of coronavirus patients to date from hospitals in the hard-hit east on Sunday, increasing efforts to free up intensive care units as officials warned of an influx of serious cases in the coming days, Agence France-Presse reported.

Two specially equipped high-speed trains carried 36 patients from Mulhouse and Nancy to hospitals along France's western coast, where the outbreak has been limited so far.

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin instructed regional governors across the country on Monday to prepare for the introduction of a lockdown introduced in Moscow to help stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, the Associated Press reported.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin ordered all city residents except for those working in essential sectors to stay home starting on Monday. Residents are allowed to buy food and medicine at nearby stores and pharmacies and walk their dogs in the close vicinity of their homes.

The Indian government said on Monday it had no plans to extend a 21-day lockdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus, as it struggled to keep essential supplies flowing and prevent tens of thousands of out-of-work people from fleeing to the countryside, Reuters reported.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered the country's 1.3 billion people to remain indoors until April 15, saying that was the only hope to stop the epidemic. But the order has left millions of impoverished Indians jobless and hungry.

Cases across Africa rose closer to 5,000 on Monday morning as the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 4,760 cases in 46 countries, including 146 deaths, AP reported.

A three-week lockdown began on Monday in Zimbabwe, and cities across the continent were shut down.

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