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Odishatv Bureau

New York: More than 40,000 people have been killed in the coronavirus pandemic as the disease barrels across the globe, with the US bracing for its darkest hours after its death toll eclipsed China's on Tuesday.

In a matter of months, the virus has infected more than 800,000 people in a crisis redrawing political powers, hammering the global economy and transforming the daily existence of some 3.6 billion people who have been asked to stay home under lockdowns.

The US -- which has the highest number of confirmed infections -- reached a bleak milestone as deaths topped 3,400, ticking past China's official tally of 3,309, according to a Johns Hopkins University tracker.

With more than 175,000 infections in the United States, three-quarters of Americans are now under some form of lockdown.

Deaths shot up again across Europe Tuesday as Spain, France and Britain reported their deadliest days.

Also Read: COVID-19: India Sees Highest Spike In Cases, Total Reaches 1,251

While there are hopeful signs that the spread of infections is slowing in hardest-hit Italy and Spain, more than 800 died overnight in both countries.

Italy observed a minute of silence for the victims of the coronavirus pandemic as their numbers rose above 12,000.

Speaking during a nightly televised press conference on Tuesday, Civil Protection Department Chief Angelo Borrelli confirmed that there were 2,107 new active coronavirus infections compared to Monday, bringing the nationwide total to 77,635 cases, Xinhua news agency reported.

Of those infected, 28,192 are hospitalized, 4,023 are in intensive care and 45,420 are isolated at home, Borrelli said. He added that there were 1,109 additional recoveries compared to Monday, bringing that total to 15,729.

While, France reported 3,525 deaths, an official toll that includes only those who died in hospital and not those who died at home or in old people's homes.

The staggering economic and political upheaval spurred by the virus is opening new fronts for both cooperation and conflict.

In virtual talks Tuesday, finance ministers and central bankers from the world's 20 major economies pledged to address the debt burden of low-income countries and deliver aid to emerging markets. Last week G20 leaders said they were injecting USD 5 trillion into the global economy to head off a feared deep recession.

In the European Union, however, battle lines have been drawn over the terms of a rescue plan to finance the expected severe economic fallout.

Worst-hit Italy and Spain are leading a group pushing for a shared debt instrument -- dubbed "coronabonds".

But talk of common debt is a red line for Germany and other northern countries long opposed to such a measure, threatening to divide the bloc in the midst of a health catastrophe.

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen warned governments not to use emergency measures as a pretext for power grabs.

Her call followed concerns about a new law that gave Hungary's nationalist leader Viktor Orban sweeping authority to rule by decree until his government deems the emergency is over.

Activists around the world have voiced fears that autocrats will overreach and hold on to their new powers even after the crisis abates.

Elsewhere Poland toughened restrictions on movement while Russia expanded lockdowns across its territory as infections ticked up, including that of the head of Moscow's main coronavirus hospital.

Though the doctor recently met with President Vladmir Putin, the Kremlin insisted the Russian leader is fine.

The economic pain of lockdowns is especially acute in the developing world.

In Tunisia, several hundred protested a week-old lockdown that has disproportionately impacted the poor.

"Nevermind coronavirus, we're going to die anyway! Let us work!" shouted one protester in the demonstration on the outskirts of the capital Tunis.

Also Read: COVID-19 Impact: World Economy With Exception Of India, China Will Go Into Recession: UN

Africa's biggest city Lagos has also been brought to a halt as it entered its first full day of a two-week shutdown.

Containment will be especially tough in the megacity's packed slums, where many rely on daily wages to survive.

"To reduce the number of people with coronavirus, we know they need to stop movement," said 60-year-old engineer Ogun Nubi Victor.

"But there is no money for the citizens, people are just sitting at home, with nothing to eat." While much of the world shuts down, the ground-zero Chinese city of Wuhan has started to reawaken in recent days, giving the bereaved the first chance in months to bury their dead.

(With Agency Inputs)

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