Trump warns ‘toughest week’ ahead as global virus deaths top 60,000

WASHINGTON (AFP) – United States (US) President Donald Trump warned Americans to brace for a “very horrendous” number of coronavirus deaths in the coming days, before a rare speech by Queen Elizabeth II yesterday aimed at rallying hard-hit Britain.

Global deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic have soared past 60,000, with Europe continuing to bear the brunt of the virus which has left roughly half the planet confined at home. There are now more than 1.2 million confirmed cases across the globe, and around 65,000 people have died since the virus first emerged in China late last year, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.

Trump said the US was entering “a time that’s going to be very horrendous” with “some really bad numbers.”

“This will probably be the toughest week,” he said at the White House. “There will be a lot of death.”

At the same time, the President stressed the US – where infections have surpassed 300,000 – cannot remain shut down forever.

US President Donald Trump at a meeting at the White House in Washington, DC. PHOTO: AFP

“Mitigation does work but again, we’re not going to destroy our country,” he said.

“I’ve said it from the beginning – the cure cannot be worse than the problem.”

Over 45,000 global deaths have been in Europe, with Britain reporting a new daily high in fatalities, taking the overall toll to 4,300 out of nearly 42,000 cases.

Queen Elizabeth II made a rare, “deeply personal” speech yesterday urging people to rise to the challenge posed by the coronavirus, and personally thank frontline healthcare workers.

“I hope in the years to come everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge,” she said.

The pandemic has hammered the global economy, with businesses hit hard as people are forced to stay indoors to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. Governments have rolled out massive, unprecedented stimulus programmes to ease the pain, but economists have warned that the crisis could worsen poverty levels with millions of jobs lost. Poor economies, such as Iraq, are struggling, with charities and volunteers rallying to provide food to the needy.

“This is more dangerous than Daesh,” said Iraqi volunteer Mustafa Issa, referring to the Islamic State militant group that swept through a third of the country in 2014.

There was, however, some encouraging news from Europe over the weekend.

Worst-hit Italy cheered after seeing its number of intensive care virus cases drop for the first time – from 4,068 on Friday to 3,994 on Saturday.

Even some of the most cautious Italian health officials seized on the figures as evidence that the tide may be turning in the deadliest disaster the country has faced since World War II.