The country set to become the new epicentre of deadly outbreak

Tom Flanagan
News Reporter

The US looks set to become the new epicentre of COVID-19 as its confirmed cases continue to rise exponentially, the World Health Organisation has warned.

During the past 24 hours, 85 per cent of new cases were from Europe and the United States, WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris told reporters on Tuesday (local time).

Of those, 40 per cent were from the United States.

Asked whether the United States could become the new epicentre, Harris said: "We are now seeing a very large acceleration in cases in the US. So it does have that potential.

"(The US) have a very large outbreak and an outbreak that is increasing in intensity," Harris said.

Overall, the global outbreak was accelerating very rapidly and she expected large increases in case numbers and deaths from the 334,981 cases and 14,510 deaths reported. 

Remarkably Donald Trump wants to lift US restrictions. Source: AP

But remarkably, against the advice of all health experts, President Donald Trump has said he wants the country “roaring” again in two weeks time.

Current federal government guidelines say Americans should not gather in groups larger than 10, and should avoid dining out in restaurants or bars – far less stringent than what Hubei underwent and the restrictions currently in place across mainland Europe as the continent desperately tries to curtail the spread.

Some states, including New York and California, have deemed the national restrictions inadequate, and have implemented its own tighter restrictions.

Half of US coronavirus cases in New York state

There are now more than 50,000 cases of coronavirus in the US, with roughly half occurring in the state of New York.

In New York City, a densely populated metropolis of 8 million people, there are nearly 15,000 cases while there have been 131 deaths.

Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, issued a dire warning on Tuesday (local time) lambasting the federal government’s response, noting New York’s cases were spiralling out of control – doubling every three days.

“We haven’t flattened the curve. And the curve is actually increasing,” Mr Cuomo said.

“The apex is higher than we thought, and the apex is sooner than we thought. That is a bad combination of facts.”

New York mayor says Trump underestimating devastation

In response to Mr Trump’s comments about easing restrictions imminently to save the economy, Mr Cuomo said the decision was a no brainer.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the federal government needs to help the state as the pandemic spirals out of control. Source: AP

"If you ask the American people to choose between public health and the economy, then it's no contest. No American is going to say accelerate the economy at the cost of human life,"

As Mr Trump announced 400 ventilators would be sent to New York, Mr Cuomo said it was a severely inadequate contribution.

“You want a pat on the back for sending 400 ventilators,” Mr Cuomo said.

“What are we going to do with 400 ventilators when we need 30,000 ventilators? You’re missing the magnitude of the problem, and the problem is defined by the magnitude.”

New York is struggling to contain the virus. Source: AP

Mr Trump’s suggestion he would remove restrictions within three weeks in order solidify the economy has angered health expert and state governments across the country.

During the US’s task force press briefing on Monday, which was not attended by Dr Anthony Fauci, the leading expert on infectious diseases in the country, Trump employed an analogy to make the case that the benefits of public health were outweighed by the disruption and losses suffered by the US economy.

“You look at automobile accidents,” Trump said, “which are far greater than any numbers we’re talking about. That doesn't mean we're going to tell everybody no more driving of cars.”

Millions of Americans could die if Trump lifts restrictions, report says

Against nearly all the advice from experts worldwide, Trump was insistent the lockdown could cause more deaths than if the US’s 327 million residents were allowed to move around freely.

On Tuesday, when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi issued a lockdown of that country’s 1.3 billion people to try to prevent an inundation of its health care system, Trump continued to press his point that a better strategy would be for Americans to return to work while somehow adhering to social distancing protocol.

“I’d love to have [the country] open by Easter, I will tell you that right now,” he told reporters.

"Wouldn't it be great to have all of the churches full," Mr Trump later said.

"You'll have packed churches all over our country."

Mr Trump’s stance has only exasperated Mr Cuomo further.

“No one should be talking about social darwinism for the sake of the stock market,” he said on Twitter.

Mr Cuomo said the lifting of restrictions would only result in the death of millions of people.

“We are not willing to sacrifice 1-2% of New Yorkers. That’s not who we are. We will fight to save every life we can. I am not giving up,” he added.

While Trump pointed out Monday that seasonal flu could kill 60,000 Americans this year, a British report released earlier this month predicted that as many as 2.2 million US residents could die from the coronavirus.

That projection, in conjunction with a steep rise in the number of cases reported in the US despite inadequate testing, was more than enough for some governors to begin instituting lockdowns in defiance of Mr Trump.

With Yahoo US and AAP

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