Coronavirus: Americans brace for ‘hardest, saddest’ week of their lives

Worldwide, more than 1.2 million people have been confirmed infected and more than 68,000 have died

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 24: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks to the media at the Javits Convention Center which is being turned into a hospital to help fight coronavirus cases on March 24, 2020 in New York City. New York City has about a third of the nations confirmed coronavirus cases, making it the center of the outbreak in the United States.   Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images/AFP

Americans braced for what the nation’s top doctor warned on Sunday would be “the hardest and saddest week” of their lives.

And Britain assumed the title of deadliest coronavirus hotspot in Europe after a record 24-hour jump in deaths that surpassed Italy.

“This is going to be our Pearl Harbour moment, our 9/11 moment,’’ US Surgeon General Jerome Adams told Fox News on  Sunday.

But for New York City, the hardest-hit US centre of the pandemic, there was a glimmer of hope.

Governor Andrew Cuomo said daily deaths had dropped slightly, along with intensive care admissions and the number of patients who needed intubation.

But Mr Cuomo warned that it was “too early to tell” the significance of those numbers.

Italy and Spain also had some encouraging news. Italy registered its lowest daily increase in deaths in more than two weeks, with 525, said Angelo Borrelli, head of the national Civil Protection agency.

The pace of infection also seemed to be slowing. The country recorded 4,316 new cases on Sunday. Earlier in the outbreak, daily increases topped 6,000.

“This good news shouldn’t make us drop our guard,” Mr Borrelli said.

Confirmed infections also fell in Spain and new deaths declined for the third straight day, dropping to 674.

It was the first time daily deaths had fallen below 800 in the past week.

“We are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said.

The outlook in Britain remained bleak. As of Sunday, the UK had recorded 5,903 virus deaths overall among 47,806 cases.

Those coming down with the virus in the UK include Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Health Secretary Matt Hancock, England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty and Prince Charles, heir to the throne.