The coronavirus death toll in the United States — the country with the most fatalities in the pandemic — has climbed by 2,751 in the past 24 hours, the latest tally from Johns Hopkins University showed Tuesday.
The US has recorded more than 800,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic, according to the Baltimore-based university, with 44,845 deaths.
Nearly 40,000 new cases were reported between Monday at 8:30pm local time, and Tuesday at the same time, the university said.
This comes as US President Donald Trump announced partial curbs on immigration Tuesday to “protect American workers” amid the economic carnage of the coronavirus pandemic.
“In order to protect American workers, I will be issuing a temporary suspension of immigration into the United States,” he said.
“It will help put unemployed Americans first in line for jobs as America reopens,” Trump said at a daily White House briefing. “It would be wrong and unjust for Americans to be replaced with immigrant labour flown in from abroad.”
Trump, who campaigned for president on a platform of cracking down on illegal immigration, said there would be a 60-day “pause” in issuing green cards, but temporary workers such as seasonal farm laborers would not be affected.
As Trump announced a 60-day pause in the issuing of “green cards” to people seeking permanent residency in the US, the United Nations warned that the virus could trigger famine in already vulnerable countries.
The UN’s World Food Program warned that the economic impact of the pandemic could lead to a “humanitarian catastrophe,” with the number of people suffering from acute hunger projected to nearly double to 265 million this year.
“We are on the brink of a hunger pandemic,” WFP director David Beasley told the UN Security Council in a video conference.
“Millions of civilians living in conflict-scarred nations, including many women and children, face being pushed to the brink of starvation, with the spectre of famine a very real and dangerous possibility.”
The bleak warning came as deaths from the virus surpassed 177,000 worldwide, with governments anxiously trying to chart a path out of the unprecedented global health and economic emergency.
On the medical front, a US study of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, widely touted as a potential cure for Covid-19, showed no benefit against the disease over standard care — and was in fact associated with more deaths.
As world leaders worry about triggering another wave of infections, debates are raging over when and how to relax lockdowns imposed to prevent the spread of the highly contagious virus.
Governments are also concerned about the mounting economic costs, and Trump announced that he would sign an executive order on Wednesday restricting immigration to the United States, where some 22 million people have lost their jobs.
Financial markets continued on a roller-coaster ride after the price of a US oil benchmark sank below zero for the first time on Monday, sending world equities spiralling.
A day after its historic slide into negative territory amid a supply glut, US oil futures finished in positive territory.
But the market remained under heavy pressure due to the oversupply as shutdowns constrain global growth.
Wall Street tumbled for a second straight session Tuesday as worries about chaos in the oil market overshadowed progress in Washington on additional relief for small businesses.
Stocks did not get a boost from the deal between US lawmakers and the White House on a $480-billion emergency package that replenishes a depleted program to help small businesses devastated by the crisis.
The aviation sector has been hammered particularly hard by the global economic pause, and cash-strapped Virgin Australia announced it had entered voluntary administration — the largest airline so far to collapse.