Global coronavirus cases surpassed one million yesterday with more than 51,000 deaths as the pandemic further exploded in the United States and the death toll climbed in Spain and Italy, according to a tally by a US university.
Italy had the most deaths, more than 13,900, followed by Spain. The US had the most confirmed cases of any country, more than 235,000, said researchers at the Centre for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.
Spain's death toll from coronavirus reached the grim landmark of 10,000 as the government revealed that almost a million jobs had been wiped out in the two weeks after lockdown measures were introduced. Yesterday's tally brought another 24-hour record for deaths, with 950 more succumbing to the virus, bringing the death toll to 10,003.
Salvador Illa, the health minister, said despite the grim figures he saw "hopeful signs", which showed the rate of new cases slowing its daily increase to less than 8pc and almost no change in the number of patients in intensive care.
Since the state of emergency was declared on March 14, 899,000 employees or self-employed workers have withdrawn from the social security register, meaning that 5pc of all jobs in Spain have disappeared in a fortnight. The left-wing coalition government of Pedro Sánchez, the Spanish prime minister, is coming under increasingly heavy fire for its handling of the crisis.
Meanwhile, in France, a consignment of face masks due to arrive from China was re-routed to the US "on the runway" after Americans offered "three or four times the price in cash", French officials have complained.
Jean Rottner, head of France's Grand Est region, ordered five million masks from China and received a batch of two million on Tuesday. But he told RTL radio station that a ferocious tussle was taking place to bag the masks before they leave Chinese soil.
In Germany, a leading virologist has said coronavirus has not been spread by shopping or going to the hairdresser, after studying a hotspot for the virus.
Prof Hendrik Streeck, leading the response in one of Germany's worst hit regions, said Covid-19 might not be spread as easily as people believe.
In his research, Prof Streeck said the home of an infected family his team visited "did not have any live virus on any surface" including on phones, door knobs or even the pet cat's fur.
He told German TV "there are no proven infections while shopping or at the hairdresser" and that Germany's "patient zero" only infected her colleagues and not other guests or diners at the hotel where she was staying.
"The virus spreads in other places: the party in Ischgl, the club in Berlin, the football game in Bergamo," he said. "We know it's not a smear infection that is transmitted by touching objects, but that close dancing and exuberant celebrations have led to infections."
He said he was not calling for the end to social distancing but there remained unknowns about the virus that may throw current guidance into doubt. (© Daily Telegraph, London)