Virus deaths top 100,000 ahead of locked-down Easter

The global coronavirus death toll topped 100,000 on April 10 as Easter celebrations around the world kicked off in near-empty churches with billions of people stuck indoors to halt the pandemic's deadly march.

The grim milestone came as the World Health Organization issued a dire warning that prematurely lifting lockdown restrictions- which have kept more than half the planet's population in lockdown- could spark a dangerous resurgence of the disease.

The extraordinary measures from New York to Naples to New Delhi have seen businesses and schools closed in a desperate bid to halt the virus's relentless spread and the IMF said the world now faces the worst downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

More than 1.6 million people have been infected globally and the death toll hit 100,661 on Friday- with nearly 70 percent of fatal cases in hard-hit Europe.

The United States, now the pandemic's epicenter, clocked more than 1,700 new deaths Thursday, a slight drop from Wednesday's record toll of 1,973, with more than 500,000 infections, by far the most of any country.

Officials in the US and Europe nevertheless expressed some hope the curve could be starting to flatten.

U.S. President Donald Trump said that with his country's infection trajectory "near the peak," and with social distancing working well, he was considering ways to open up the world's biggest economy "as soon as possible."

"Without question it's the biggest decision I've ever had to make," Trump told a news conference."

He acknowledged the "risk" of increased death tolls if shuttered businesses re-open too soon.

"But you know what? Staying at home leads to death also," he said, highlighting the massive economic cost to millions of...

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