United States, Spanish deaths surge as world toll crosses 50,000

United States, Spanish deaths surge as world toll crosses 50,000
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COVID-19
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Madrid: The number of confirmed coronavirus deaths accelerated past 50,000 on Friday as the United States, Spain and Britain grappled with their highes...

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 threat posed by the pandemic has never been more stark. Experts warn that the more than one million cases of COVID-19 disease confirmed globally are probably just a small proportion of total infections, as testing is not widely available. The United States already 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. While Italy still leads the world in fatalities, France, Belgium and Britain have also been hard hit. The UK government opened a 4,000-bed field hospital on Friday after a one-day toll of 569.

The public health battle waged across the world ebbed and flowed on Friday, with Germany saying the rate of new infections is slowing, but Asian city-state Singapore confirming it would close schools and workplaces to fend off a possible renewed upsurge in cases.

The virus has now killed more 10,000 people across Spain, but it spared 29-year-old Javier Lara, who has just returned home after being treated in an overburdened intensive care unit and told AFP of his suffering.

"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 said, describing his fear for his eight-week-old child after facing death at the "worst moment in his life".

The world economy has been pummelled by the virus and the associated lockdowns, with more than half the population of the planet under some kind of stay-at-home order.

The US economy shed 701,000 jobs last month, its worst since March 2009 in the wake of the global financial crisis, boosting the jobless rate to 4.4 percent for the first time in 45 years.

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