Up to one-third of the world's population is under lock-down as the virus leaves its devastating imprint on nearly every aspect of society: wiping out millions of jobs, straining healthcare services and weighing heavily on national treasuries for years to come. Globally, the death toll has stormed past 30,000 and officials in some countries say the worst still lies ahead.But in the Chinese city of Wuhan where the virus first struck late last year, officials took tentative steps back towards normality, partially reopening it after more than two months of near-total isolation for its 11 million residents.
Trump's reversal came on the same day the US death toll topped 2,100, more than doubling in just three days. Of the fatalities, more than a quarter were in New York City. Health officials say they fear New York may follow the deadly path charted by Italy, with health professionals exhausted and hospitals desperately short of protective equipment and ventilators.
"It's abysmal" said Andrew, a psychiatry resident in a New York hospital who spoke on condition his name be changed. He is now quarantined at home with a likely case of the virus himself. "There's not enough money, there aren't enough tests, there's not enough personal protective equipment for people who are dealing with this... in the hospital who are getting huge exposure to the virus" he told AFP in an interview punctuated by coughs.
The United States now has the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 infections globally with more than 124,000 cases, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University. One of the fatalities announced on March 28 that a Chicago infant who was younger than one year old, marking an extremely rare case of juvenile death in the global pandemic.European nations have been harder hit than the US on a per capita basis with over 20,000 deaths - around half in worst-hit Italy.
Spain, with the world's second-highest toll, added 832 deaths on March 28 for a total of 5,812.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
Madrid toughened a nationwide lock-down, halting all non-essential activities, though officials said the epidemic in the country seemed to be nearing a peak.
Russia said it would close its borders on March 30, despite reporting relatively low levels of the virus.
More than 664,000 cases of the novel coronavirus have been officially recorded around the world since the outbreak began late last year, according to the Johns Hopkins tracker. Variations in testing regimes - and delays in providing sufficient tests in some countries - mean the true number is likely far higher.
In France, which has seen close to 2,000 deaths, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe warned the "battle" was just beginning. The first two weeks in April would be even tougher than the past fortnight, he said.The British toll passed 1,000 on March 28 while Belgium saw a steep climb in deaths, with 353 recorded on March 28 - up from 289 the day before.
Elsewhere, Iran announced 139 more deaths, and India sealed a dozen villages that had been visited by a guru now known to be infected and a possible "super-spreader".
South African police used rubber bullets in Johannesburg to enforce social distancing on a crowd queuing for supplies outside a supermarket during a national lock-down.In Italy, a cardiologist from Rome who has recovered from COVID-19 recalled his hellish experience. "The oxygen therapy is painful, looking for the radial artery is difficult. Desperate other patients were crying out, 'Enough, enough'" he told AFP.