US becomes first country to report more than 1 lakh coronavirus cases

US becomes first country to report more than 1 lakh coronavirus cases
Health care workers stand outside a tent erected to test people for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens, New York City. Reuters
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Washington: The United States became the first country to report more than 100,000 coronavirus cases, with more than 1,500 deaths due to the disease.

There have been 100,717 cases including 1,544 deaths as of 6:00 pm Eastern time (3:30 am IST). The country is now home to about 17 per cent of the world's coronavirus cases.

The biggest cluster by far is in New York, home to almost half the cases, overwhelming the hospital system.

The United States has around 15,000 more confirmed cases than the second country on the list, Italy, and 20,000 more than China, where the disease was first identified but has since peaked.

The US death rate based on confirmed cases is about 1.5 per cent, compared to around 10.5 per cent in Italy.

This death rate figure could fall, as greater testing reveals more people who are positive but asymptomatic.

It may also rise if more cities and states find themselves in a similar position to New York, which has seen more than 500 deaths and is experiencing a drastic shortage of hospital beds, personal protective equipment and ventilators.

"We're still seeing a rising number of cases, a rising number of hospitalizations, rising number of intensive care unit admission, a rising number of patients with the mechanical ventilators," Thomas Tsai, a professor of health policy at Harvard told AFP.

"And unfortunately, the death rate is likely going to follow that pattern. It's just that it's going to be days or weeks behind."

US announces $174 mn aid to 64 countries including India

Meanwhile, the United States on Friday announced $174 million financial assistance to 64 countries including $2.9 million to India to help them fight the coronavirus pandemic. This is in addition to the $100 million aid announced by the US in February.

US becomes first country to report more than 1 lakh coronavirus cases
REACT EMS paramedics Gage Askew, left, and Brian Myers prepare to transport a potential coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patient in Shawnee, Oklahoma. Reuters

The newly announced assistance is part of a larger American global response package across multiple departments and agencies, including the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The funding is for 64 of the most at-risk countries facing the threat of the global pandemic.

The US State Department said it is providing $2.9 million to help the Indian government prepare laboratory systems, activate case finding and event-based surveillance, and support technical experts for response and preparedness, and more.

"This builds upon the foundation of more than $1.4 billion in health assistance out of the more than $2.8 billion in US assistance for India over the last 20 years," the State Department said.

It is also providing $1.3 million to Sri Lanka, $1.8 million to Nepal, $3.4 million to Bangladesh and $5 million to Afghanistan to help them fight the pandemic.

Historic $2.2 trillion coronavirus bill passes US House

The US House of Representatives on Friday approved a $2.2 trillion aid package - the largest in history - to help cope with the economic downturn inflicted by the intensifying coronavirus pandemic, and President Donald Trump quickly signed it into law.

The massive bill passed the Senate and House of Representatives nearly unanimously. The rare bipartisan action underscored how seriously Republican and Democratic lawmakers are taking the global pandemic that has killed more than 1,500 Americans and shaken the nation's medical system.

US becomes first country to report more than 1 lakh coronavirus cases
A patient is wheeled into the trauma center at the Elmhurst Hospital Center where testing and treatment for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is taking place in Queens, New York City. Reuters

"Our nation faces an economic and health emergency of historic proportions due to the coronavirus pandemic, the worst pandemic in over 100 years," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said at the close of a three-hour debate before the lower chamber approved the bill. "Whatever we do next, right now we're going to pass this legislation."

The massive bill also rushes billions of dollars to medical providers on the front lines of the outbreak.

But the bipartisan spirit seemed to end at the White House. Neither Pelosi nor Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer was invited to Trump's all-Republican signing ceremony for the bill, aides said.

Their Republican counterparts, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, did attend, along with three Republican House members.

"This will deliver urgently needed relief to our nation's families, workers and businesses," Trump said. "I really think in a fairly short period of time ... we'll be stronger than ever."

In an statement about signing the bill, Trump rejected aspects of a provision in the law setting up an inspector general to audit some loans and investments.

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