Global cases of Covid-19 approached 1.5 million, as both the US and the UK recorded their deadliest day yet in the pandemic, and a fresh World Health Organization row erupted.© Provided by The Guardian Healthcare workers are praised in New York Photograph: Vanessa Carvalho/REX/Shutterstock
Despite the grim US death toll for Tuesday – 1,858 in total, including 806 in New York City – White House taskforce officials said on Wednesday night there were signs isolation measures were working and the death toll may not be as high as the 100,000 and 240,000 feared.
Dr Deborah Birx, the US virus response coordinator, said: “We carefully looked at Italy and Spain and we are doing much better in many cases than several other countries and we’re trying to understand that. We believe that our healthcare delivery system in the United States is quite extraordinary.”
More than 88,538 people have died worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s tracker. The number of confirmed infections is approaching 1.5 million, although it is believed to be far higher due to under-reporting by some countries.
Official UK figures showed 938 more people had died in hospitals, bringing the total to 7,097, although the true death toll is likely to be significantly higher.
During Wednesday’s White House briefing, Trump also responded to reports that US intelligence officials had warned his office as far back as November that a coronavirus was spreading through China’s Hubei region. According to US media outlet ABC News, a report from the military’s National Center for Medical Intelligence (NCMI) said it could be “a cataclysmic event”and would threaten US forces in Asia.News to stay informed. Advice to stay safe.
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Trump said: “When I learned about the gravity of [the outbreak] was some time just prior to closing the country to China. So I don’t know exactly, but I’d like to see the information.”
Trump imposed restrictions on travellers from China on 2 February, and did not declare an emergency until March.
Meanwhile, an escalating feud between Taiwan and the World Health Organization (WHO) saw key figures publicly trading accusations in recent days.
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday that he had been subjected to months of attacks, including racist ones against him and black communities, and accused Taiwan of condoning the “campaign”.
“This attack came from Taiwan,” said Tedros. “Taiwan, the foreign minister, they know the campaign and they don’t disassociate themselves.
“They even started criticising me in the middle of all those insults and slurs.”
On Thursday, Taiwan’s foreign ministry demanded a clarification and apology for what it said was a “groundless” accusation and an “extremely irresponsible act of slander”. It said the government in no way condoned or encouraged personal attacks on Tedros.
“Taiwan’s 23 million population also experiences serious discrimination from the global health system,” the ministry said. “We can relate [to D. Tedros] and we condemn any form of discrimination and injustice.”