Washington, March 30 (IANS) The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the US has increased to 142,502, the highest in terms of infections globally, according to the latest tally from Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE).

The CSSE data showed that at least 2,5506 people have died due to the disease in the country, of which 776 were recorded in New York state, the epicentre of the pandemic in the US, reports Xinhua news agency.

The state has also accounted for over 59,000 of the confirmed cases, the data revealed.

Speaking at a White House press briefing on Sunday, President Donald Trump said that the national social distancing guidelines aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus will be extended to April 30.

“On Tuesday, we will be finalizing these plans and providing a summary of our findings, supporting data and strategy to the American people,” Trump said.

The President also said “modeling suggests” that the peak of the COVID-19 mortality rate in the US “is likely to hit in two weeks”, adding that he hopes the nation will be on its way to recovery by June 1.

Also speaking at the White House briefing, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned that it was “entirely conceivable” that more than 1 million people in the nation could be infected with the coronavirus, and 100,000 deaths were possible.

“The number I gave out is, you know, based on modeling,” he told reporters. “What we’re trying to do is not to let that happen.”

The social distancing guidelines, originally designed to last 15 days and due to expire Tuesday if not extended, advises Americans to avoid non-essential travel, prevent gatherings of 10 people or more, and the elderly to stay at home, among other steps.

Scott Gottlieb, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, called the extension a “prudent, public health minded, courageous decision”.

“April will be a hard month,” Gottlieb said in a series of tweets on Sunday.

“We need to stick with measures until we see sustained decline in cases.”

According to the CSSE update, the global number of coronavirus cases including the US, now stood at 142,502, with 33,997 deaths.

Italy currently has the highest number of deaths at 10,779.




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