Coronavirus: One billion people locked in as death toll exceeds 13,000

About one billion people were confined to their homes worldwide, on Saturday, as the global coronavirus death toll topped 12,000 and US states rolled out stay-at-home measures already imposed across swathes of Europe.

More than a third of Americans were adjusting to life in various phases of virtual lockdown — including in the US’s three biggest cities of New York, Los Angeles and Chicago — with more states expected to ramp up restrictions.

New Jersey became the latest US state to restrict movement as the fast-spreading pandemic upends lives across the planet, closing businesses, shutting schools and forcing millions to work from home.

“This is a time of shared national sacrifice, but also a time to treasure our loved ones,” US President Donald Trump told a press conference. “We’re going to have a great victory.”

The virus death toll surpassed 13,000 worldwide as worst-hit Italy reported a one-day record number of deaths at 793 — the overall total shot past 4,800 — and Spain reported a 32 percent spike in new deaths.

The nearly one billion people are now confined to their homes in 35 countries around the world — including 600 million hemmed in by obligatory government lockdown orders — AFP writes.

In France, police officials said helicopters and drones were being deployed to boost the government’s attempts to keep people in their homes.

“The helicopters will give us a larger vision and a panoramic view of the situation in real-time to help guide the patrols on the ground,” a national police source said.

The measures came as pressure mounted on Olympic organizers to postpone the 2020 Tokyo Games — and as the US Congress thrashes out an emergency economic package that could top $1 trillion.

China on Saturday reported no new local infections for a third straight day, and the WHO said the central city of Wuhan, where the virus first emerged late last year, offered a glimmer of “hope for the rest of the world.”

But there are growing concerns of a new wave of “imported” infections in the region, with Hong Kong reporting 48 suspected cases on Friday –- its biggest daily jump since the crisis began.

Britain also announced tougher restrictions, telling pubs, restaurants and theaters to close.

While the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions are the hardest hit by the virus, the World Health Organisation has warned that young people are also vulnerable.

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