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US releases $ 8.3 billion for coronavirus urgently

US, WASHINGTON (NEWS OBSERVATORY) — US Congress on Thursday approved an $ 8.3 billion emergency plan to finance the fight against the spreading coronavirus in the United States, as a new focus of suspected cases is declared aboard a cruise liner off San Francisco.

The Senate voted almost unanimously (one vote against) in favor of this text, the fruit of an agreement between elected Republicans and Democrats, already adopted the day before by the House of Representatives.

President Donald Trump had proposed a first budget of $ 2.5 billion, deemed insufficient by the Democratic opposition to deal with the contagion.

The plan aims to improve the action of the public authorities and provides in particular for funding research and development of vaccines, medical treatments, as well as remote medical services.

The vote came when the main nursing union in the country, the NNU, denounced the state of unpreparedness as well as the lack of protective equipment and training of health professionals in many hospitals and clinics.

The union also criticized the management of the epidemic to come by the federal authorities, late and not rigorous enough in its eyes.

Charged by Donald Trump to coordinate the fight against the coronavirus, Vice President Mike Pence acknowledged that the country does not have enough tests to date to meet the expected demand.

Visiting Washington state (northwest), the most affected by the epidemic with more than 70 cases and 11 deaths, Mike Pence however announced that kits would be “delivered across the country in the coming days to to test approximately 1.2 million Americans.”

Four million more kits are expected to follow “by the end of next week,” he added.

More than 180 people were contaminated on American soil by the Covid-19, which killed at least 12 people, according to a report established Thursday by AFP from official sources.

In Washington State and its big city, Seattle, the tech giants Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Facebook now recommend that their employees work at home if possible for the next few weeks.

As authorities had announced, the coronavirus continued to spread in the country, with a first case in Nevada, Las Vegas, Colorado (west) and three identified in the state of Maryland (east), gates of the federal capital Washington, so far still officially spared.

– Trump’s “intuition” –

Health authorities carried out tests on Thursday on a cruise liner where 35 suspected cases of coronavirus were detected, and which was blocked Thursday a hundred kilometers off the coast of California.

The results should be known Friday morning.

The Grand Princess was returning to San Francisco following the discovery of symptoms in some of its 3,483 passengers and crew members.

A 71-year-old man who traveled on this ship on a previous cruise died of the Covid-19 on his return to Sacramento.

The liner belongs to the company Princess Cruises, which also owns the Diamond Princess, placed in quarantine in February in Japan with more than 700 contaminations, including six fatal.

New rallies have been canceled in the United States due to the virus, such as a major health conference that was to gather more than 40,000 people in Orlando, Florida, on Monday.

The US government has for its part repeated that the epidemic risk in the country remains “low”.

Deputy Minister of Health Brett Giroir has estimated the coronavirus mortality rate to be between 0.1% and 1% maximum, based on the many undetected cases worldwide.

The day before, Donald Trump had criticized the figure of 3.4% given by the World Health Organization (WHO), saying that according to his “intuition”, it was “false”.

WHO, however, only uses the number of confirmed cases.

Worldwide, the epidemic has made at least 97,616 known cases since the start of the epidemic, including 3,347 deaths, in 85 countries and territories, according to the AFP count.

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Article is written and prepared by our foreign editors from different countries around the world – material edited and published by News Observatory staff in our US newsroom.