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Coronavirus: US surpasses Italy in confirmed coronavirus deaths

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Emergency medical technicians wheel a patient into Elmhurst Hospital Center's emergency room, Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Emergency medical technicians wheel a patient into Elmhurst Hospital Center's emergency room, Tuesday, April 7, 2020   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Kathy Willens
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The US surpassed Italy in number of deaths on Saturday, recording more than 20,000 in the country.

The US is the most impacted country by the coronavirus pandemic, with more than half a million confirmed cases. It's also the only country to have recorded more than 2,000 deaths in a single day.

In Europe, Italy topped 19,000 deaths due to COVID-19 and has had more than 150,000 cases since the beginning of the epidemic.

The daily death toll in Italy increased slightly on Saturday as officials warned Europeans not to let their guard down during the Easter weekend.

France counted 643 new deaths in 24 hours - 353 in hospitals and 290 in nursing homes bringing it to a total of 13,832. There are more than 6,800 people in intensive care in France, a number that has decreased this week.

Meanwhile, Spain reported its lowest daily death count in three weeks after 510 people died of the coronavirus between Friday and Saturday.

It comes as the global death toll of the deadly coronavirus passes 100,000, and as Europe's worst-hit nation Italy extended its lockdown for three more weeks until May 3.

Coronavirus latest updates:

UK records highest daily death toll in Europe

The UK reported that 980 people died of COVID-19 in hospital in one day on Friday. That marked the highest daily death toll of any European country since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking on Saturday morning, Britain's Health Secretary Matt Hancock urged Britons to respect social distancing and lockdown guidelines over the Easter weekend.

He said that despite data suggesting that the rate of increase in the number of people being hospitalised with the virus was levelling out, it is too soon to determine whether the peak of coronavirus infections in the country has passed.

On Saturday, the government said 917 people had died since the previous day, a reduction from the 980 recorded between Thursday and Friday.

But many experts say it's too early to tell if Britain has passed the epidemic peak yet.

EU finance ministers agree on economic rescue plan

EU finance ministers have agreed an economic rescue plan worth more than €500 billion across the eurozone, designed to help workers, businesses and health services cope with the impact of the pandemic.

The Eurozone’s €500 billion coronavirus rescue package will not unleash more austerity on Europe, and some of the funds will be open to EU countries outside the single currency, European Commission Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis told Euronews in an exclusive interview on Friday.

“Basically the only requirement is that this money is going to be spent directly or indirectly to the health-related measures and measured related to the coronavirus response,” Dombrovskis said.

Health workers should not be 'sacrificed', WHO says

“It takes a long time to build a health workforce and it should not be sacrificed to any virus and it should be protected,” said Dr Mike Ryan, who is the director of WHO’s health emergencies programme.

WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was “particularly concerned” about the large number of infections reported among health workers -- in some countries up to 10% of health workers are being infected with COVID-19.

“This is an alarming trend. When health workers are at risk, we’re all at risk,” Dr Tedros said.

The warnings came ahead of UK health secretary Matt Hancock's announcement that 19 NHS workers had died after testing positive for COVID-19.

Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, the technical lead for WHO’s emergencies programme, said that health workers need to be able to get adequate rest, information about the virus, and proper protective equipment before treating patients with coronavirus.

“All healthcare workers must know about this virus. They must know how this is transmitted and they must know how to protect themselves,” she added.

"Countries that have the strongest health systems have been actually surprised by this pandemic. It shows that any system could have gaps," Dr Tedros said, stating that in both developed and underdeveloped countries people need to acknowledge these gaps in healthcare systems.