New York City's mayor was preparing to order his city behind closed doors in an attempt to slow a pandemic that has swept across the globe and threatened to make the city of 8.5 million one of the world's biggest coronavirus hot spots, as officials worldwide warned of a critical shortage of medical supplies.

Mayor Bill de Blasio also called for getting everything from masks to gowns, as well as doctors and other medical workers to New York City, and asked US President Donald Trump to have the military take over the logistics of making and distributing medical supplies.

"I can't be blunt enough. If the President doesn't act, people will die who could have lived otherwise," de Blasio told NBC.

The top infectious disease expert in the US promised New York City and the other hardest-hit places that critical supplies will not run out.


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The medical supplies are about to start pouring in and will be "clearly directed to those hot spots that need it most," Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on CBS.

But Fauci and other emergency officials did not give hard figures on the number of masks or anything else on their way.

New York Govvernor Andrew Cuomo urged federal officials to step in quickly as hard-hit states outbid each other for ever scarcer supplies, sometimes doubling or tripling prices.

In Washington, negotiators from Congress and the White House resumed top-level talks on a US$1.4 trillion economic rescue package, urged by Trump to strike a deal to steady a nation upended by the coronavirus pandemic.

There were more than 27,000 cases across the US and 375 deaths.

Worldwide, more than 316,000 people have been infected and nearly 13,600 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University. About 150 countries now have confirmed cases.

Only China, Italy and Spain have reported more Covid-19 cases than the US.


Italy and Iran reported soaring new death tolls.

Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte went on live TV to announce that he was tightening the country's lockdown. Italy now has more than 59,000 cases and 5476 deaths.

''We are facing the most serious crisis that the country has experienced since World War II,'' Conte told Italians during a broadcast.

The head of Italy's Civil Protection Agency, Angelo Borrelli, noted that the increases had narrowed from recent days, adding "we hope that this trend can be confirmed in the coming days. We should not lower our guard."

Iran's supreme leader refused US assistance to fight the virus, citing an unfounded conspiracy theory that it could be made by America. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's comments came as Iran faces crushing US sanctions over its nuclear actions.

Iran says it has 1685 deaths and 21,638 confirmed cases of the virus — a toll that experts from the World Health Organisation say is almost certainly under-reported.

The main hospital in the city of Bergamo is struggling to cope with the high influx of coronavirus patients. Bergamo is the epicenter of the virus outbreak in Italy's hardest-hit region, Lombardy. Video / CGTN
A man wearing a mask walks through a deserted train station in Mumbai, India.
A man wearing a mask walks through a deserted train station in Mumbai, India.

In Croatia, a strong earthquake measuring 5.3 near Zagreb caused the evacuation of hospitals and widespread damage. Health Minister Vili Beros warned people fleeing their homes to avoid congregating in public places.

"Earthquakes are dangerous, but coronavirus is even more so," Beros said. Seventeen injuries but no deaths were reported.

The world kept shutting down too. The long-haul airline Emirates — a major East-West carrier — said it will suspend all passenger flights beginning on Thursday over the outbreak. Singapore said it will fully shut its borders beginning tonmorrow. Turkish Airlines will halt all international flights except for five destinations starting on Friday.

Today was Mother's Day in Britain and the Government had a stark message for millions: Visiting your mother could kill her. Instead of parties, lunch or tea, Prime Minister Boris Johnson implored Britons to call their mothers on a video chat.

Doctors in Britain made urgent pleas for more protective equipment as the number of coronavirus patients in UK hospitals soared to more than 5000. Almost 4000 medical workers signed a letter to the Sunday Times saying front-line staff felt like "cannon fodder."

They warned that medics would die if they did not receive better equipment.

In Spain, Europe's hardest-hit country after Italy, intensive care units in some areas were close to their limits even before today's new tally of more than 28,500 infections and 1750 deaths.

A field hospital with 5,500 beds was going up in a convention centre in Madrid and health officials warned more than 10 per cent of the country's health workers were now infected with coronavirus.

"We can't just repeat the slogans that we will get through this together," said Dr German Peces-Barba, a lung specialist at Fundación Jiménez Díaz hospital in Madrid.

But there were some signs of hope. The Chinese city of Wuhan — where the global pandemic was first detected and the first city to be locked down — went a fourth consecutive day without reporting any new or suspected cases.

Parks and other public gathering places were reopening in China as people return to work and businesses resumed. However, the country has placed increasing restrictions on those coming from overseas.

France's Parliament has adopted a bill allowing the Government to declare a "state of health emergency" meant to better fight the coronavirus epidemic in the country.

The measure allows the Government to issue decrees that curtail temporarily freedoms, including restrictions on movements, trade, entrepreneurship and gatherings. It also enables the Government to requisition necessary goods and services to fight against a health disaster.

French health authorities have reported 16,018 confirmed cases of Covid-19, including 674 people who have died.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced a lockdown, starting tonight NZT.

All citizens and residents must stay at home or risk a fine. There are specific exemptions to the lockdown such as going to work, visiting a doctor, shopping, exercise and walking the dog. Everyone must carry an ID or passport with them.

Also, people returning to their permanent place of residence are exempt from the measure as they travel.

- AP

The main hospital in the city of Bergamo is struggling to cope with the high influx of coronavirus patients. Bergamo is the epicenter of the virus outbreak in Italy's hardest-hit region, Lombardy. Video / CGTN