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New York's virus toll tops 9/11, while Wuhan ends lockdown

As New York City faced one of its darkest days with the death toll from the coronavirus surging past 4,000 — more than the number killed on 9/11 — the Chinese city where the global pandemic began lifted its final restrictions on movement Wednesday as deaths there plummeted.

The tale of two cities came as the coronavirus crisis continued to strain health care systems from Europe to North America, roil global stock markets, and strand international travelers behind closed borders. In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson remained in intensive care, the first major world leader confirmed to have COVID-19.

Despite the staggering death toll in America's largest city, authorities in New York were optimistic that the outbreak might finally be easing, as has been seen in other global hot spots such as Italy and Spain and before that, China. Health officials, however, warned people not to let their guard down.

A member of Indonesian Red Cross stand on the back of a truck and spray disinfectant in an attempt to curb the spread of coronavirus outbreak at a neighborhood in Jakarta, Indonesia,Wednesday, April 8, 2020. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.(AP PhotoAchmad Ibrahim)

The virus toll in New York City is now more than 1,000 deaths higher than that of the deadliest terro attack on U.S. soil, which killed 2,753 people in the city and 2,977 overall.

After recording more than 500 deaths a day since late last week, New York state recorded 731 new coronavirus deaths on Tuesday, its biggest one-day jump yet, for a statewide toll of nearly 5,500, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

“Behind every one of those numbers is an individual. There’s a family, there’s a mother, there’s a father, there’s a sister, there’s a brother. So a lot of pain again today for many New Yorkers,” Cuomo said.

Members of Indonesian Red Cross stand on the back of a truck and spray disinfectant in an attempt to curb the spread of new coronavirus outbreak at a neighborhood in Jakarta, Indonesia,Wednesday, April 8, 2020. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP PhotoAchmad Ibrahim)

In an encouraging sign, the governor said hospital admissions and the number of people receiving breathing tubes are dropping. And the death toll itself is a “lagging indicator,” reflecting people who had been hospitalized before this week, he said.

But he warned that gains are dependent on people continuing to practice social distancing.

“It still depends on what we do, and what we do will affect those numbers,” he said.

Stranded British citizens wait for a bus to take them to the Tribhuvan International airport in Kathmandu, Nepal, Wednesday, April 8, 2020. Nepal, home to the highest mountains and hiking trails, is popular with tourists during the spring season when the weather is favorable for climbing. Thousands of tourists are believed to be stranded in Nepal since the government ordered a complete lockdown that halted all flights and road travel to prevent the spread of the virus. (AP PhotoNiranjan Shrestha)

In Wuhan — the Chinese city of 11 million that was the first in the world to go on lockdown — tens of thousands of people streamed out of town by plane and train alone as harsh restrictions on movement were finally lifted. Citizens waved flags and the city staged a light show with skyscrapers and bridges radiating animated images of health workers aiding patients.

Restrictions in the city where most of China’s more than 82,000 virus cases and over 3,300 deaths were reported have been gradually eased in recent weeks as the number of new cases steadily declined. The government reported no new cases Wednesday, though there have been questions about the veracity of China's count.

“I haven’t been outside for more than 70 days,” said an emotional Tong Zhengkun, who was watching the display. Residents in his apartment complex had contracted the virus so they couldn’t go out even to buy groceries, which neighborhood workers delivered.

A man wearing face mask to protect against the spread of the new coronavirus walks through deserted Nakamise alley in Asakusa, Tokyo, Wednesday, April 8, 2020. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared Tuesday a monthlong state of emergency in Tokyo and six other prefectures because of a spike of infections in the country with the world's oldest population. (AP PhotoKoji Sasahara)

“Being indoors for so long drove me crazy,” he said.

In London, the 55-year-old Johnson was in stable condition and conscious at a hospital, where he was receiving oxygen but was not on a ventilator, officials said. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab was designated to run the country in the meantime.

“I’m confident he’ll pull through because if there’s one thing I know about this prime minister, he’s a fighter," Raab said.

A volunteer from military backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) spray disinfectant to curb the spread of the new coronavirus in a street in Yangon, Myanmar, Wednesday, April 8, 2020. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP PhotoThein Zaw)

Deaths in Britain reached nearly 6,200, after a one-day increase of almost 800.

In France, the number of dead climbed to more than 10,300, said Jerome Salomon, national health director.

“We are in the epidemic’s ascendant stage,” he said. “We have not yet reached the peak."

A members of Indonesian Red Cross stands on the back of a truck and sprays disinfectant in an attempt to curb the spread of new coronavirus outbreak at a neighborhood in Jakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, April 8, 2020. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP PhotoAchmad Ibrahim)

In other European hot spots, authorities saw signs that the outbreak was turning a corner, based on slowdowns in new deaths and hospitalizations.

In Spain, new deaths Tuesday rose to 743 and infections climbed by 5,400 after five days of declines, but the increases were believed to reflect a weekend backlog. Authorities said they were confident in the downward trend.

In Italy, the hardest-hit country of all with over 17,000 deaths, authorities appealed to people ahead of Easter weekend not to lower their guard and to abide by a lockdown now in its fifth week, even as new cases dropped to a level not seen since the early weeks of the outbreak.

A security officer wearing a face mask to protect against the spread of new coronavirus stands guard at Wuhan Tianhe International Airport in Wuhan in central China's Hubei Province, Wednesday, April 8, 2020. Within hours of China lifting an 11-week lockdown on the central city of Wuhan early Wednesday, tens of thousands people had left the city by train and plane alone, according to local media reports. (AP PhotoNg Han Guan)

On Wall Stock street Tuesday, a strong rally propelled by signs that the outbreak may be leveling off evaporated after the price of crude oil suddenly fell. Stocks ended the day slightly lower. Asian markets followed mostly lower Wednesday.

Across the U.S., the death toll topped 12,900, with nearly 400,000 confirmed infections. Some of the deadliest hot spots were Detroit, New Orleans and the New York metropolitan area, which includes parts of Long Island, New Jersey and Connecticut.

In Wisconsin, after a legal battle that reached the Supreme Court, voters were asked to ignore a stay-at-home order to participate in its presidential primary.

A man donates cash to a Buddhist monk wearing face mask and gloves as they collect morning alms in a street in Yangon, Myanmar, Wednesday, April 8, 2020. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP PhotoThein Zaw)

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump threatened to freeze U.S. funding to the World Health Organization, saying the international group had “missed the call” on the pandemic.

Trump said the international group had “called it wrong” on the virus and that the organization was “very China-centric” in its approach, suggesting that the WHO had gone along with Beijing’s efforts months ago to minimize the severity of the outbreak.

The virus continued to affect global travel, and cruise ships in particular. More than half of the 217 people on a ship off Uruguay's coast tested positive for the coronavirus. The Australian operator of the Greg Mortimer ship said all of the cases were asymptomatic and it was working to disembark the crew and passengers — many from Australia, Europe and the U.S. — and arrange their return home.

A worker helps to offload medical equipment from China at Benito Juarez airport in Mexico City, Tuesday, April 7, 2020. The flight was the first to Mexico from Shanghai with complementary medical equipment to help health care personnel face the new coronavirus pandemic. (AP PhotoFernando Llano)

Worldwide, about 1.4 million people have been confirmed infected and more than 82,000 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University. The true numbers are almost certainly much higher, because of limited testing, different rules for counting the dead and deliberate underreporting by some governments.

For most people, the virus causes mild to moderate symptoms such as fever and cough. But for some, especially older adults and the infirm, it can cause pneumonia. About 300,000 people have recovered worldwide, by Johns Hopkins’ count.

Follow AP news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

A medical worker from China's Jilin Province, in red, embraces a colleague from Wuhan as she prepares to return home at Wuhan Tianhe International Airport in Wuhan in central China's Hubei Province, Wednesday, April 8, 2020. Within hours of China lifting an 11-week lockdown on the central city of Wuhan early Wednesday, tens of thousands people had left the city by train and plane alone, according to local media reports. (AP PhotoNg Han Guan)

A medical worker from China's Jilin Province reacts as she prepares to return home at Wuhan Tianhe International Airport in Wuhan in central China's Hubei Province, Wednesday, April 8, 2020. Within hours of China lifting an 11-week lockdown on the central city of Wuhan early Wednesday, tens of thousands people had left the city by train and plane alone, according to local media reports. (AP PhotoNg Han Guan)

A worker assists travelers wearing face masks and suits to protect against the spread of new coronavirus at Wuhan Tianhe International Airport in Wuhan in central China's Hubei Province, Wednesday, April 8, 2020. Within hours of China lifting an 11-week lockdown on the central city of Wuhan early Wednesday, tens of thousands people had left the city by train and plane alone, according to local media reports. (AP PhotoNg Han Guan)

Catherine Anderson sits with her dog, Ivy, as she votes in the Wisconsin Primary at the Billings Park Civic Center in Superior, Minn., Tuesday, April 7, 2020. (Alex KormannStar Tribune via AP)