Biden To Mark 500,000 US Covid Deaths, UK To Ease Lockdown

Biden to mark 500,000 US Covid deaths, UK to ease lockdown

Washington, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 22nd Feb, 2021 ) :US President Joe Biden will lead a remembrance ceremony Monday to mark the dark milestone of 500,000 American Covid-19 deaths, but plans for easing the lockdown in Britain and a surge in vaccinations worldwide prompted growing optimism.

With the US death toll on the brink of hitting half a million -- the highest impact on any country -- Biden ordered flags on Federal government buildings to be flown at half mast for five days.

The president was scheduled to address the nation from the White House before attending a candle-lighting ceremony and moment of silence with wife Jill, Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff.

Unlike his predecessor Donald Trump, who often sought to minimize the disease, Biden has made the pandemic his top priority, simultaneously pushing an aggressive vaccine rollout and making frequent, public shows of empathy.

It is a strategy that could make or break the Biden presidency, already juggling high-stakes economic challenges and the tense political aftermath of the Trump era.

Biden has warned that the US toll could still go "well over" 600,000. But signs are also emerging that progress is being made both in the United States and around the world, with infections dropping sharply and vaccine deliveries rising steadily.

In Britain, the government said life could get back to normal by the end of June.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlined a "gradual and cautious" approach to lifting curbs in England, starting with the return of pupils to schools from March 8, and non-essential retail from April 12.

Some fans could be able to attend sporting fixtures from May 17, with all social distancing restrictions removed from June 21.

Still, in a reminder that there is unlikely to be a clear end date to worries about the easily transmittable virus, Biden's chief medical advisor Anthony Fauci reaffirmed that Americans may have to wear masks into 2022.

The US toll stood at 499,056 on Monday mid-morning, according to Johns Hopkins University. Globally, the figure was approaching 2.5 million.