Trump to ease US lockdown says coronavirus cases ‘passed peak’
U.S. President Donald Trump has promised to unveil plans on Thursday to reopen the world’s largest economy following cautious moves in Europe, claiming the United States “passed the peak” of coronavirus cases.
The US logged a record number of deaths on Wednesday with nearly 2,500 dying over the past 24 hours.
Trump told reporters his “aggressive strategy” against the virus was working and “the data suggests that nationwide we have passed the peak on new cases”.
Leaders around the world are wrestling with the dilemma of how to return to normal and kick-start their shattered economies without risking a devastating second wave of infections.
In Europe’s top economy Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel urged “extreme caution” as she announced initial steps to reopen some shops and gradually restart school.
Elsewhere in Europe, Denmark began reopening schools for younger children after a month-long closure, and Finland lifted a blockade of Helsinki. Hard-hit Iran is set to allow some small businesses to restart operations.
However, the United Kingdom was expected to extend its lockdown measures later on Thursday and Belgium pushed its stay-at-home order to May 3.
United Nations chief Antonio Guterres said only a “safe and effective vaccine” can return the world to normal, hoping that could be available by the end of the year.
And the chief executive of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation laid bare the challenge facing humanity to shield itself from the virus in future.
“There are seven billion people on the planet,” said Mark Suzman. “We are going to need to vaccinate nearly everyone. There is no manufacturing capacity to do that.”
Even with a vaccine, the virus is expected to lay waste to the global economy, with the International Monetary Fund warning $9 trillion could be lost in a second Great Depression.
In the US, the pandemic has caused at least 17 million people to lose their jobs and many are becoming increasingly desperate.
Despite the gloom, tales of resilience and generosity around the world lifted spirits.