Doctors battling coronavirus in New York are describing “apocalyptic” scenes as the city becomes the pandemic’s “new Italy”.
A total of 46,262 cases of the deadly virus have now been confirmed in the US state and 606 people have lost their lives.
Iconic New York City has become the epicentre of the outbreak in the United States, which as of Thursday has recorded more Covid-19 cases than both Italy and China.
At Elmhurst hospital in the borough of Queens – which is at the very centre of the pandemic – 13 patients died in one 24-hour period earlier this week.
Health authorities have been forced to set up a refrigerated trailer outside to use as a makeshift morgue, the Guardian reports.
New York is rapidly becoming the global epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic
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The situation is so desperate that city council members Francisco Moya and Carline Rivera wrote to President Trump begging for help on Thursday.
In a heartbreaking plea, they said: “Elmhurst and Queens hospitals is besieged by this disease. If you speak with any of the staff there, the desperation in their voices is unmistakable.”
“Doctors describe scenes in apocalyptic terms. Patients are reportedly dying in the emergency room still waiting for a bed.
“Residents line the block, standing inside barricades and in the rain waiting to get tested.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Thursday that there have been 23,113 coronavirus cases in New York City alone – surpassing the UK’s total of 14,543 – with Queens accounting for one-third of cases.
Queues of people waiting to be tested in Queens
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Similarly to many hospitals in the UK, Elmhurst is struggling with a lack of protective equipment such as masks and gowns for its staff.
Located in one of the city’s poorest areas, it was already stretched to 80% of its capacity before the global health emergency hit.
Its 15-bed intensive care unit is now full of patients who are severely ill with the flu-like virus.
On Thursday morning, 45 of the hospital’s 63 ventilators were in use.
An additional 50 staff have had to be deployed to the hospital while 40 more ventilators are on their way.
President Donald Trump has been asked for help by desperate New York councillors
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Meanwhile, 60 patients had to be sent elsewhere for treatment in an effort to relieve pressure on staff.
State Governor Andrew Cuomo has called on hospitals across New York to double their capacity as they brace themselves for more cases.
The state has 53,000 hospital beds, but will need 140,000 over the next three weeks when the pandemic hits its peak.
Calling the flu-like virus an “invisible beast”, he said: “This is going to be weeks and weeks and weeks.
“It’s going to be a long day. It’s going to be an ugly day. And it’s going to be a sad day.”