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New York new epicentre of coronavirus? Mayor warns 50 per cent of city folks can get infected

NEW YORK: New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has issued a stunning warning that 4.6 million people in the city – half its population – could become infected with COVID-19 before it abates.

“It’s a fair bet to say that half of all New Yorkers, and maybe more than half, will end up contracting this disease and that’s worrisome, very deeply worrisome for all of us,” he said on Wednesday evening while at the same time in Washington the White House Coronavirus Task Force said that the number of new cases there were relatively “constant” in a sign the social distancing norms were working.

De Blasio’s claim about the city a total population of 8.6 million was also in contrast to New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo’s statistics that the rate of increase in cases was showing signs of slowing.

Cuomo said at a news conference earlier in the day that rate of hospitalisation of coronavirus patients which was doubling every two days on Sunday, had slowed to doubling every 3.4 days on Monday and 4.7 days on Tuesday.

New York state is under a semi-lockdown with a total closure of all non-essential businesses and offices, and Stay-at-Home orders for the people.

New York City, the epicentre of the pandemic in the US, had recorded 17,856 cases on Wednesday with 192 deaths.

New York is reporting an infection rate of 1 in 1,000 compared with between 0.1 and 0.2 per 1,000 in other states, according to Vice President Mike Pence.