Beijing: US health authorities urged millions of residents of the New York City region to avoid non-essential travel due to surging coronavirus infections there as deaths in the United States and Europe rose and countries including Russia and Vietnam tightened travel and business restrictions.
The advisory late Saturday came after the number of confirmed American deaths passed 2,000, more than double the level two days earlier. It applies to New York City, the hardest-hit US municipality, and the states of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The advisory cited “extensive community transmission” in the area and urged residents to avoid travel for 14 days.
Worldwide infections surpassed 660,000 mark, with more than 30,000 deaths as new cases, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
The United States leads the world with more than 120,000 reported cases. Five other countries have higher death tolls: Italy, Spain, China, Iran and France. Italy has more than 10,000 deaths, the most of any country.
The disease has spread to other major US cities including Detroit, New Orleans and Chicago and into rural America, where hotspots erupted in Midwestern towns and Rocky Mountain ski havens.
'Weeks and weeks and weeks'
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said defeating the virus will take “weeks and weeks and weeks”. The United Nations, which has its headquarters in New York, donated 250,000 face masks to the city. Cuomo delayed the state’s presidential primary from April 28 to June 23.
The travel advisory from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said employees of trucking, food supply, financial services and some other industries were exempt from the measure, It said governors of the three states had “full discretion” over how to carry out the advisory.
Earlier, Cuomo and governors of the other states rejected a suggestion by President Donald Trump that he might impose a quarantine on the region. Cuomo said that would be illegal, economically catastrophic and unproductive since other areas are already seeing a surge.
“The trajectory of Detroit is unfortunately even more steep than that of New York,” said Dr. Teena Chopra, the medical director of infection prevention and hospital epidemiology at the Detroit Medical Centre. Chopra said many patients have ailments including asthma, heart disease, diabetes and hypertension.
“This is off the charts,” she said. “We are seeing a lot of patients that are presenting to us with severe disease, rather than minor disease.’’
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said an infant with COVID-19 died in Chicago and the cause of death is under investigation. Officials didn’t release other information, including whether the child had other health problems.
Some US states without known widespread infections began to try to limit exposure from visitors from harder-hit areas.
Rhode Island National Guard troops were instructed to go door to door in coastal communities to find New Yorkers and advise them about a mandatory 14-day quarantine for people from the state.
In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered anyone arriving from Louisiana to self-quarantine and said law enforcement officers would set up checkpoints to screen cars from the state.
3,300 infections in Lousiana
Louisiana has surpassed 3,300 infections with 137 deaths, according to the health department. Gov. John Bel Edwards said the region was on track to run out of ventilators by the first week of April.
Cases in Chicago and suburban Cook County accounted for about three-fourths of Illinois’ 3,026 total as of Friday.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot closed popular lakeshore parks after people ignore a statewide order to stay home and urgings to stay away from each other in public.
The governor of Kansas has ordered the public to stay home starting Monday as the virus takes hold in more rural areas where doctors worry about the lack of intensive care unit beds.
A cluster of three counties in rural Indiana have surging rates of confirmed cases.
One of them, Decatur, population 26,000, has 30 cases with one confirmed death and another suspected, said Sean Durbin, the county’s public health emergency preparedness coordinator.
Several cases were traced to large gatherings earlier in the month, including a religious retreat and a high school basketball tournament.
The county health department has already run out of personal protective equipment, Durbin said. The last supply from the federal stockpile arrived more than a week ago and contained just 77 N95 masks and two dozen face shields.
“I wish there was a stronger word for disappointed,” he said. “I’m calling on them to do better.”
Blaine County, Idaho, a scenic ski haven for wealthy tourists, now has about 100 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the highest rate per capita outside the New York City area. Two people have died.