US President Donald Trump has warned Americans to prepare for the “toughest week” of the coronavirus pandemic yet, predicting a surge in deaths.
At his daily briefing, Mr Trump said “there will be death” in a grim assessment of the days ahead.
He sought to reassure the worst-hit states, promising medical supplies and military personnel to combat the virus.
But in contrast to his warning, Mr Trump suggested easing social-distancing guidelines for Easter.
“We have to open our country again,” Mr Trump told a news conference at the White House on Saturday. “We don’t want to be doing this for months and months and months.”
Elsewhere in the world, there has been cause for optimism as the number of new infections and deaths from coronavirus has started to gradually diminish.
In Italy, the number of coronavirus patients in intensive care units dropped for the first time since the outbreak began on Saturday.
Meanwhile in Spain, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said the country was “close to passing the peak of infections” as the number of coronavirus deaths fell for the second day in a row.
Globally, more than 60,000 people have died and more than 1.1 million have been infected, Johns Hopkins University in the US says.