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Dublin: 15 °C Thursday 13 August, 2020

'We'll be the comeback kids': Trump says that virus in US has passed its 'peak' despite record death toll

Trump has promised swift “guidelines” on reopening parts of the country,

Image: Alex Brandon/PA Images

US PRESIDENT DONALD Trump has promised to unveil plans to reopen the US economy, claiming the US had “passed the peak” of the coronavirus crisis despite a record daily death toll.

The worldwide death toll from Covid-19 has topped 133,000 with more than two million infected, with nearly 2,600 dying in the past 24 hours in the US alone.

Despite the threat posed by the virus, Trump told reporters his “aggressive strategy” against the virus was working and that “the data suggests that nationwide we have passed the peak on new cases”.

He promised swift “guidelines” on reopening parts of the country, suggesting less-affected states could ease restrictions before 1 May. 

“We’ll be the comeback kids, all of us,” said Trump.

Leaders around the world are wrestling with the dilemma of how to return to normal and kick-start their 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.

Denmark began reopening schools for younger children after a month-long closure and Finland lifted a blockade of Helsinki.

Lithuania said it would allow smaller shops to reopen from today, while hard-hit Iran is set to allow some small businesses to restart operations.

New Zealand could start easing its nationwide lockdown next week, but Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern warned it would be far from a return to normal.

‘I’m done’

Even in countries trying to return to a semblance of normality, many citizens voiced fears the virus was not yet beaten.

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 every one. There is no manufacturing capacity to do that.”

Even with a vaccine the virus is expected to lay waste to the global economy.

Fallout, meanwhile, continued over Trump’s attack on the World Health Organisation and suspension of US funding to the UN agency.

Despite criticism, Trump repeated his accusations Wednesday, saying the WHO covered up the extent of the virus when it first appeared in China, and that as a result France, Italy and Spain were caught unawares.

“Tragically, other nations put their trust in the WHO,” he said.

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UN chief Guterres said this is “not the time” to cut WHO funding, while Bill Gates, a major WHO contributor, called the move “dangerous.”

European allies were similarly disapproving and Washington’s rivals also took aim — Russia condemning the “selfish approach” of the US, and China and Iran blasting the decision.

© – AFP 2020

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