NEW YORK – Hard-hit European nations and the US epicenter New York reported headway Sunday in their battle against the deadly pandemic.
Governments across the world are now debating how and when to ease lockdowns that have kept more than half of humanity — 4.5 billion people — confined to their homes and crippled the global economy.
Europe saw encouraging signs Sunday, with Italy, Spain, France and Britain seeing drops in daily death tolls and slowing infection rates.
The continent accounts for almost two-thirds of the nearly 165,000 fatalities reported across the globe out of more than 2.3 million declared infections, according to an AFP tally.
In the United States — the country with the highest number of deaths and infections — New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the outbreak was “on the descent,” even while cautioning that it was “no time to get cocky.”
Mounting evidence suggests that the lockdowns and social distancing are slowing the spread of the virus. That evidence has intensified planning in many countries to begin loosening curbs on movement and easing the crushing pressure on national economies.
Hard-hit Spain has extended a nationwide shutdown but said it would ease restrictions to allow children time outside. Switzerland, Denmark and Finland all began reopening shops and schools.
Germany will allow some shops to reopen Monday after declaring the virus “under control,” while Italy — once the hardest-hit European country — mulled easing restrictions.
Iran, which has the Middle East s deadliest outbreak, allowed some “low-risk” businesses to reopen Saturday.
The tentatively hopeful signs come with the US and China squabbling over suggestions by President Donald Trump that a laboratory in the ground zero city of Wuhan may have spawned the pandemic.