US, UK brace for soaring death tolls as pandemic bears down

April 06, 2020
A police officer patrols outside a hospital where it is believed but not confirmed that Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson is undergoing tests after suffering from coronavirus symptoms, in London, Monday, April 6, 2020. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been admitted to a hospital with the coronavirus. Johnson's office says he is being admitted for tests because he still has symptoms 10 days after testing positive for the virus. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

LONDON (AP) — The U.S. and Britain braced for what could be one of their bleakest weeks in memory Monday as the human and financial toll of the coronavirus outbreak mounted. But new deaths and infections appeared to be slowing in Italy, Spain and France, suggesting that lockdowns and social distancing are working.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was infected last month, was hospitalized in what his office described as a precaution because of persistent symptoms. The 55-year-old Johnson, who had a fever for days, is the first known head of government to fall ill with the disease.

“I’m in good spirits and keeping in touch with my team, as we work together to fight this virus and keep everyone safe,” he tweeted Monday.

World markets rose after much of Europe saw glimmers of hope — deaths and new infections appeared to be slowing in much of the three hardest-hit countries, as well as in the Netherlands and Germany.

More than 9,600 people have died of the virus in the United States, and it leads the world in confirmed infections at more than 337,000.

In New York City, the U.S. epicenter of the pandemic, daily confirmed deaths dropped slightly, along with intensive care admissions and the number of patients who needed breathing tubes. But New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned it was “too early to tell” whether the good news would hold.

President Donald Trump suggested the hard weeks ahead could foretell the turning of a corner.

“We’re starting to see light at the end of the tunnel,” Trump claimed at an White House briefing.

Italy still has, by far, the world’s highest coronavirus death toll — almost 16,000 — but the pressure on northern Italy’s intensive care units has eased so much that Lombardy is no longer airlifting patients to other regions.

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