Covid-19: Global toll nears 8,000

Paris / Washington: The number of deaths around the world linked to the new coronavirus has touched 7,989, according to reports. A total of 7,989 people have died, with a 198,619 infections recorded globally.

China has the highest number of fatalities at 3,237, followed by Italy with 2,503 deaths and almost 31,506 cases. A hundred people have died from the new coronavirus in the United States, according to an AFP count using figures provided by state and county websites and officials.

The greatest number is in Washington state, in the country’s northwest, where there were 50 deaths, followed by New York with 12 and California where there were 11.

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump has defended calling the coronavirus spreading rapidly across the world the ‘Chinese Virus’ and said that he is pushing back against the false narrative of China that the US military did this.

”Well, China was putting out information which was false that our military did this to them. That was false. And rather than having an argument, I said I had to call it where it came from. It did come from China,” the President told reporters at a White House news conference.

”So I think it’s a very accurate term. I didn’t appreciate the fact that China was saying that our military gave it to them. Our military did not give it to anybody,” Trump said.

China is engaged in a disinformation campaign to shift its responsibility in the spread of the coronavirus, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has alleged. ”Now is not the time for recrimination. Now is the time to solve this global pandemic and work to take down risks to Americans and people all across the world,” he told reporters.

Asked about the Chinese allegation that the US army planted the coronavirus in Wuhan province of China, Pompeo said, ”The disinformation campaign (on coronavirus) that they are waging is designed to shift responsibility.”

Meanwhile, European countries moved into near total lockdown in a bid to halt the rapid spread of the deadly coronavirus. The World Health Organisation called for the ‘boldest actions’ against the pandemic on the continent, the outbreak’s new epicentre.

From France to Germany to Spain, millions were confined to their homes as shops and restaurants closed and borders were sealed, while European leaders edged towards banning non-essential travel to the continent.

The draconian measures, never before seen in peacetime, have upended society and roiled financial markets, prompting governments to roll out emergency economic measures as fears mount of a global recession. The outbreak, which first emerged in China late last year, has quickly marched across the globe, infecting more than 180,000 people and killing close to 8,000.