Coronavirus: USA becomes world's most infected country as cases soar past 100,000

27 March 2020, 20:42 | Updated: 27 March 2020, 23:59

The USA now has the highest number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the world
The USA now has the highest number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the world. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

The US now has the world's highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases as the total number of infections soared past 100,000 on Friday.

Rapid outbreaks in New York, Chicago and Detroit have seen the number of coronavirus cases surge in the United States.

It means the country has surpassed Italy, the hardest-hit European nation, and China, where the pandemic is thought to have originated, in the number of infections.

Almost 1,500 people have died in the US after contracting Covid-19, of which roughly one-third were in the state of New York.

Coronavirus has rushed the US House of Representatives into granting a $2.2 trillion (£1.78 trillion) rescue package for President Donald Trump to use to boost the economy and the healthcare system, both of which have come under significant strain.

The House approved the measure in a sweeping majority vote, as both parties got behind the most monumental economic relief bill in the country's history.

It is hoped the package will help the millions of newly-unemployed Americans and companies that are struggling.

Mr Trump said he would sign-off the package immediately.

Read more: Coronavirus outbreak sidelines US Navy aircraft carrier

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said: "The American people deserve a government-wide, visionary, evidence-based response to address these threats to their lives and their livelihood. And they need it now."

In the state of New York, which is now the epicentre of the US outbreak, there were 134 confirmed deaths overnight.

New York is now the epicentre of the outbreak in the US
New York is now the epicentre of the outbreak in the US. Picture: PA

State Governor Andrew Cuomo said the number of deaths is likely to increase soon as critically ill patients, who have been on ventilators for days, succumb to Covid-19.

“This is a different beast that we’re dealing with. This is an invisible beast, it is an insidious beast,” he told members of the National Guard at the Javits Center - a makeshift coronavirus hospital.

“This is not going to be a short deployment. This is not going to be that you go out there for a few days, we work hard and we go home. This is going to be weeks and weeks and weeks.

"This is going to be a long day, and it’s going to be a hard day, and it’s going to be an ugly day, and it’s going to be a sad day.”

Elsewhere, he thanked singer Rihanna for donating personal protective equipment to medical staff fighting the coronavirus outbreak in New York City.

He wrote on Twitter: "I want to thank Rihanna and the Rihanna Foundation for donating Personal Protective Equipment to New York State.

"We're so appreciative of your help and that of so many others who have stepped up."

Donald Trump said he would sign the relief package immediately
Donald Trump said he would sign the relief package immediately. Picture: PA

Meanwhile, the White House's coronavirus response co-ordinator, Deborah Birx, said counties in the Mid West around Chicago and Detroit are seeing a rapid increase in cases.

And in the capital, Washington DC, there were a further 36 new cases, raising its total to 267.

The district is under a state of emergency with major attractions closed and White House and Capitol tours cancelled.

Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell said the economy "may well be in recession" already, while the government reported a sharp rise of 3.3 million weekly jobless claims, more than four times the previous record.

Makeshift coronavirus hospitals have been set up in New York City
Makeshift coronavirus hospitals have been set up in New York City. Picture: Getty

Analysts have warned infection figures in the US and in the wider world could be incorrect for a number of reasons, suggesting the real figure is likely to be much higher.

"China's numbers can't be trusted because the government lies," said American political scientist Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group think-tank.

"US numbers can't be trusted because the government can't produce enough tests."

In a phone call on Friday, Chinese leader Xi Jinping told Mr Trump that China "understands the United States' current predicament over the Covid-19 outbreak and stands ready to provide support within its capacity."

He said the two countries should "work together to boost co-operation in epidemic control and other fields, and develop a relationship of non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win co-operation", the official Xinhua News Agency reported.