The US has become the first country to record more than 2,000 deaths from coronavirus in a single day, as its overall toll surpassed that of Italy, making it the worst-hit country in the world.

White House experts said there were some signs the spread of the disease may be levelling off, but the US now has more than half a million confirmed infections and in the last 24 hours 2,108 people died. Hotspots include New York, Detroit, Louisiana and the capital, Washington DC.

By Saturday afternoon, Johns Hopkins University’s tally so far of US Covid-19 fatalities was at 18,860. Italy followed with 18,849.

It is unclear how long the US’s patchwork lockdown will need to stay in place, and the federal government has been at odds with regional politicians about everything from supplies of medical equipment to testing and lockdown exit strategies.

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