- US Surgeon General warns of the “hardest” and “saddest” week of most Americans’ lives
- Spain sees third consecutive daily decline in deaths
- Greece puts a second migrant camp in quarantine
- The number of reported daily infections in Germany has decreased slightly, with the Robert Koch Institute registering fewer than 6,000 new cases
Updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC/GMT)
15:25 The US Surgeon General says next week will be “the hardest and the saddest week of most Americans’ lives. Interviewed on Fox News Sunday, Jerome Adams said worsening coronavirus pandemic would be “our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment,” in a reference to the Japanese attack that prompted the US’s entry into World War II and the September 11, 2001, terror attacks.
Describing an expected surge in fatalities from COVID-19, Adams said the death toll is “not going to be localized. It’s going to be happening all over the country.”
To date, 8,503 people have died from a total of 312,249 confirmed infections in the US.
15:20 New York State Governor Cuomo Andrew Cuomo says a further 594 people have died over the past 24 hours, taking the state’s overall tally to 4,159. There were 8,327 new cases, making a total of 122,031 infections.
But he said the number of people discharged from the hospital was three times as great as the number of newly hospitalized people, relieving stress on the healthcare system.
The state accounts for more than a third of all US cases and more than 40% of deaths.
15:15 German police have registered several violations of the national lockdown rules, including a group of 25 mostly drunk people in the southwest city of Wiesbaden and a so-called “corona party” in an old woodshed in a village Fintel in the country’s north. Also, a man spat on a woman while standing in a line in a supermarket during an apparent row about safe distancing rules. Police in the southern city of Friedrichshafen say the man is wanted on assault charges.
14:55 Greece has placed a migrant camp under quarantine after a 53-year-old resident tested positive for COVID-19. The Afghan man has been transferred to a hospital in Athens. Earlier this week, Greek authorities quarantined another facility, where 20 migrants tested positive. Athens has repeatedly warned of potential outbreaks and urged EU assistance for the overflowing camps, that were built for around 8,000 migrants and refugees but are currently home to some 42,000 people.
14:45 About 20 million jobs are at risk in Africa if the continent’s economies shrink sharply due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to an African Union (AU) study. Although the continent currently accounts for just a fraction of total cases, the number of infections is expected to rise sharply, which could spark large drops in gross domestic product (GDP).
African economies are already facing an impending global economic downturn, plummeting oil and commodity prices and an imploding tourism sector. AU said African governments could lose up to 30% of their fiscal revenue, estimated at $500 billion (€463 billion) in 2019.
On Sunday, Ethiopia announced its first death from COVID-19. The country of more than 100 million people has recorded just 43 cases.
14:25 Several guerrilla movements in southeast Asia have declared a unilateral truce due to the current pandemic. In southern Thailand, Muslim separatist militia Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) said it would halt its activities to allow for aid to be brought into the region, the Bernama news agency reported. Last Wednesday, the communist New People’s Army (NPA) in the Philippines also announced a limited ceasefire “as a direct response to the appeal of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres” who called for a global truce.
14:12 Austria has reported 270 new coronavirus cases but noted that 491 people have recovered. The daily rate of new infections has also continued to drop. “These are some hopeful figures, but now…we must remain consistent and not give up,” said Health Minister Rudolf Anschober. The country’s Health Ministry put the total number of infections at 11,997, with the virus claiming 204 lives.
Meanwhile, the Netherlands said 115 people have died of the virus in the previous 24 hours, bringing the total death toll to 1,766. The number of confirmed infections has reached 17,851, jumping by 1,224 cases since yesterday.
13:50 Another 621 people died of the coronavirus in the UK, the authorities said on Sunday, with the combined death toll now at 4,934. The country has so far registered 47,806 cases, with new cases jumping by 5,903 over the previous day.
13:40 A home smell test could help people detect if they were infected with the new coronavirus, according to a lab in Israel. While the loss of smell or taste has not yet been officially recognized as a COVID-19 symptom by the World Health Organization, preliminary studies indicate it is present in the majority of infected patients.
People who suspect an infection should do the test at home by smelling items such as peanut butter, vanilla, black pepper, mint, vinegar, vodka, or garlic, and then regularly rate their perceptions at the SmellTracker website. And changes would be processed by an algorithm and could indicate the onset of the disease. according to Neurobiology Professor Noam Sobel.
Read more: What you need to know about the coronavirus
13:30 China has sold 3.86 billion face masks to foreign buyers since March 1, as well as 16,000 ventilators, 2.84 million COVID-19 testing kits, and millions of items of protective clothing, a customs representative said on Sunday. The combined value of medical exports has reached 10.2 billion yuan ($1.44 billion, €1.33 billion), said customs official Jin Hai, adding that over 50 countries had bought the Chinese goods. However, nations including Spain, the Netherlands, Turkey and Croatia have complained over the quality of products they have received from the Asian powerhouse, with the Dutch government recalling 600,000 masks out of a shipment of 1.3 million. Spain rejected thousands of testing kits, describing them as unreliable.
13:15 In Albania, coronavirus cases have spiked for three days in a row, with authorities saying the surge was due to people not sticking to social distancing measures. The Balkan country reported 28 new cases on Sunday. So far, 361 people have been infected and 20 died in the nation of 2.86 million people. In addition to social distancing, the government has also been imposing 400-hour lockdowns on the weekends.
13:10 In the UK, the new Labour leader Keir Starmer has accused the government of making “serious mistakes” in their coronavirus response. In an article published in the Sunday Times, Starmer said authorities failed to provide enough protective equipment for medical workers and were behind on testing. He also called for a “national vaccine program” against the virus. The 57-year-old Starmer won a landslide victory in the contest to succeed Jeremy Corbyn.
12:50 Thousands of prisoners in Morocco are to be released in order to reduce the risk of a coronavirus outbreak, the country’s Justice Ministry said on Sunday. The nation’s King Mohammed VI pardoned a total of 5,654 prisoners. They were selected based on their age, health condition, time served and their conduct while behind bars, the authorities said. The north African country has so far confirmed 919 infections and 59 deaths amid the global pandemic.
12:46 The president of Czechia Milos Zeman has slammed the EU over its response to the pandemic. ”Unfortunately, the EU has failed in this matter,” he told the Blesk newspaper. The 75-year-old leader, well-known for his outspoken remarks, criticized the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, who opposed the closing of the borders in the EU despite not being “an expert.” Zeman also warned of an “epidemic explosion” the Czech Republic opened its borders. ”It would be like pouring oil or gasoline to the fire,” he said.
12:35 Tokyo has reported a record increase in coronavirus infections, with 143 patients confirmed in the previous 24 hours, the city’s authorities said on Sunday. The majority of the infected are younger than 50, including many in their 20s and 30, a health official said. The Japanese capital, with its 14 million inhabitants, has now registered over 1,000 infections, around one-third of the national total. Authorities said 73 people have lost their lives nationwide.
12:30 Queen Elizabeth has urged British people to show “good-humored resolve” and exercise self-discipline as the country sees hundreds of COVID-19 victims a day. ”I hope in the years to come, everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge, and those who come after us will say that the Britons of this generation were as strong as any,” she said, according to remarks released before her special TV address aired on Sunday evening.
This is only the fourth time that the British monarch has made a non-Christmas address since taking the throne in 1953. The Queen’s son and heir to the British crown, 71-year-old Prince Charles, was among some 42,000 confirmed coronavirus patients in the UK. The country has seen over 4,300 people die, including over 700 yesterday. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also been diagnosed with the virus.
11:30 The government of Italy is set to propose a five-point plan to slowly reopen the country as its devastating outbreak shows signs of subsiding, according to Health Minister Roberto Speranza.
Italy has been the hardest-hit country in Europe, with more deaths from COVID-19 than any other nation, but the contagion is slowing and there are signs of impatience along with lockdown fatigue among businesses and citizens.
Speaking to La Repubblica newspaper, Speranza said the government would keep social-distancing rules, develop home medicine tools to treat people, and massively increase testing.
Testing millions of Italians should reveal “how many Italians have been infected, if and how they are immune, how many and in which areas they can return to a normal life,” the health minister said.
Speranza also discussed the creation of coronavirus-focussed hospitals and creating an app to track the infected, as well as give them remote access to medical care.
Speranza urged caution, saying there would be “no single day on which we will be able to say ‘it’s all over,'” and that it would be “irresponsible” to promise a date for a return to normality.
11:15 Spain has reported its third consecutive daily decline in the number of people dying from COVID-19 as the country confirmed another 674 deaths. The country’s health ministry said the figure, the lowest in 10 days, brought the death toll to 12,418. The total number of coronavirus cases has risen by 6,023 to 130,759, making Spain the second highest in the world, after the United States in terms of infections. It is, however, some 1,000 new infections down on the previous day’s total.
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said on Saturday that his nation was “starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
10:55 The death toll in Switzerland has risen to 559, up 19 on the previous day’s total, the country’s Health Ministry reported. The number of people testing positive increased to 21,100 from 20,278.
Switzerland has tested almost 160,000 people after having its first case on February 25.
10:25 World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has taken to Twitter to explain what he is looking for when he is talking of solidarity and togetherness.
“I use the words ‘solidarity’ & ‘together’ a lot. I mean it in a collective sense: People everywhere are experiencing unprecedented disruption due to COVID-19 and if we unite and take evidence-based public health measures, we will end the pandemic faster and emerge more harmonious,” he explained.
“What makes me optimistic is that in every conversation, literally, I’ve had since 31 Dec 2019, leaders from many countries, sectors, backgrounds & creeds have agreed on the need to come together in the fight.”
10:10 Spain has reported its third consecutive daily decline in the number of people dying from COVID-19 as the country confirmed another 674 deaths.
The country’s Health Ministry said the figure, the lowest in 10 days, brought the death toll to 12,418. The total number of coronavirus cases has risen to 130,759 making Spain the second highest in the world, after the United States in terms of infections.
10:00 Here’s a round-up of the latest in Asia
Bangladesh: An economic stimulus package worth $8.5 billion (€7.9 billion) has been announced to stave off the financial impact of the pandemic. “I hope our economy will rebound,” Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said, adding that the country could reach close to its desired economic growth, “if the packages are implemented quickly.”
Japan: More than 130 people were newly infected with the novel coronavirus in Tokyo, according to Japan’s NHK public broadcaster, citing officials from the metropolitan government. It was the highest daily increase in COVID-19 cases so far, bringing the number of infections in the Japanese capital to more than 1,000.
Malaysia: 179 new coronavirus cases have been reported in Malaysia, raising the total number of infections to 3,662 in Southeast Asia’s third-largest economy. The new cases include four fatalities, bringing the death toll to 61, the Health Ministry said.
India: The world’s second-most populous country is restricting the export of most diagnostic testing kits, as coronavirus cases surpassed the 3,500 mark, despite a three-week nationwide lockdown to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Thailand: A countrywide lockdown has nullified Thailand’s normally vibrant party scene and forced sex workers out of bars and onto empty streets. Red-light districts from Bangkok to Pattaya have fallen silent with nightclubs and massage parlors no longer open for business, especially as they are heavily reliant on tourists, currently barred from entering the country due to the pandemic. That has forced an estimated 300,000 people who work in the sex industry to seek employment elsewhere.
Philippines: The Chinese government has sent medical experts to the Philippines, as authorities considered extending a month-long lockdown on the country’s main island. The team of anti-epidemic medical experts has had “front-line experience in Hubei province to fight against the epidemic,” said China’s ambassador to the Philippines, Huang Xilian.
09:00 Chief of the Berlin police Barbara Slowik told German media outlet Tagespiegel that the 200,000 face masks that had been intercepted and taken to the United States, were going to be replaced in a separate shipment. On Friday, Germany accused the US of confiscating the protective face masks and described it as “an act of modern piracy.” The US denied any wrongdoing, and now a batch is on its way to Germany. Slowik said: “Our contractors, with whom we’ve had many dealings… have cooperated in good faith, and have stated that they were sent to the US, but replacements will be received.”
08:25 Authorities in Israel instructed health workers to cut back on testing and prioritize hospitalized cases due to a test shortage caused by Germany and South Korea.
“The supply line from Germany has been closed,” an Israeli Health Ministry official told Haaretz. “We don’t know under which government regulations, but some claim it is a result of the nationalization [of the factory].”
On the Korean side, one of the factories that produce the reagent necessary for the tests has stopped producing it. Israeli media said there was a shortage of raw materials.
More than 8,000 people have contracted the novel coronavirus in Israel. At least 46 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins figures.
08:10 Greece has quarantined a second migrant camp on its mainland after a 53-year-old man from Afghanistan tested positive for COVID-19, the Migration Ministry said.
The man lives with his family at the Malakasa camp some 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Athens along with hundreds of asylum seekers. He has subsequently been moved to a hospital in the Greek capital.
08:00 German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has urged citizens to maintain social distancing throughout the upcoming Easter period, while praising Germans for adhering to the rules implemented as part of the government’s lockdown measures that are in place until April 19.
07:45 The German rail network has reported a more punctual service due to dealing with fewer passengers since social distancing measures have been introduced.Deutsche Bahn said 84.2% of all long-distance trains had arrived on time in March, an increase of 4.1% on the same month in 2019.
07:30 Ecuador’s Vice President Otto Sonnenholzner has apologized after numerous corpses were left on the streets of Guayaquil as the novel virus rips through the port city.
Locals had published footage on social media showing abandoned bodies in the streets in the Latin American city that has suffered the most from the pandemic.
“We have seen images that should never have happened and, as your public servant, I apologize,” said Sonnenholzer, who is in charge of Ecuador’s virus response team.
The South American country has so far reported almost 3,500 cases, resulting in 172 fatalities.
07:10 The president of Iran has said “low-risk” economic activities are to resume from April 11 in the Middle Eastern country, which has reported more than 50,000 cases.
“Under the supervision of the Health Ministry, all those low-risk economic activities will resume from Saturday,” President Hassan Rouhani announced.
“Two-thirds of all Iranian government employees will work out of their offices from Saturday … the decision does not contradict stay at home advice by the health authorities.”
06:55 In Spain, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has called on other EU member states to show firm “solidarity” and a tighter community as European countries grapple with the debilitating coronavirus outbreak.
Sanchez said he believed that “Europe must set up a war economy and promote resistance, reconstruction and European recovery,” before adding, “If we continue to think small, we will fail.”
“Europe is suffering its greatest crisis since World War II. Our citizens are dying or struggling in hospitals saturated by a pandemic that represents the greatest public health threat since the 1918 flu,” Sanchez added.
The Spanish prime minister’s comments come in the wake of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen pushing for huge investments in the EU budget.
06:50 Thousands of medical students across Germany have been volunteering their services to support the fight against the coronavirus. It’s been a crash course in pandemic medicine for many. UK spy chief warns Apple, Google privacy effort is "closing off" ability to catch terrorists
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