Italian death toll overtakes China’s as virus spreads

Coronavirus

In this March 16, 2020, photo, a doctor watches a coronavirus patient under treatment in the intensive care unit of the Brescia hospital, Italy. Hospitals in northern Italy are struggling to make room for the onslaught of coronavirus patients. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

ROME (AP) – The death toll in Italy from the coronavirus overtook China’s on Thursday, and infections in the United States climbed past 10,000, in a stark illustration of how the crisis has pivoted toward the West.

Italy, with a population of 60 million, recorded at least 3,405 deaths, roughly 150 more than in China, a country with a population over 20 times larger.

Italy reached the bleak milestone the same day that Wuhan, the Chinese city where the coronavirus first emerged three months ago, recorded no new infections, a sign that the communist country’s draconian lockdowns were a powerful method to stop the virus’ spread.

On Thursday, a visiting Chinese Red Cross team criticized Italians’ failure to properly quarantine themselves and take the national lockdown seriously.

Meanwhile, the virus appeared to be opening an alarming new front in Africa and also reached at least one European head of state: 62-year-old Prince Albert II of the tiny principality of Monaco. The palace announced that he tested positive but was continuing to work from his office and was being treated by doctors from Princess Grace Hospital, named after his American actress mother.

The damage to the world’s largest economy kept piling up, with unemployment claims surging in the United States, as Congress rushed to pass a $1 trillion emergency package to shore up industry and help households pull through the crisis. The first of two possible rounds of relief checks will consist of payments of $1,000 per adult and $500 for each child.

The American death toll rose to 160, primarily elderly people. Johns Hopkins University, which has been tallying the virus’ spread around the world, said the U.S. had more than 10,700 cases.

The worldwide death toll crept toward 10,000 as the total number of infections topped 220,000, including nearly 85,000 people who have recovered.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe pleaded with people to keep their distance from one another to avoid spreading the virus, even as the crisis pushed them to seek comfort.

“When you love someone, you should avoid taking them in your arms,” he said in Parliament. “It’s counter-intuitive, and it’s painful. The psychological consequences, the way we are living, are very disturbing, but it’s what we must do.”

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