Worldwide Deaths Top 100,000; Italy Extends Limits: Virus Update
Deaths worldwide from coronavirus have exceeded 100,000. New York’s daily virus deaths fell slightly after three record-high days as U.S. cases neared 500,000. Italy extended its lockdown into May, ignoring pleas from business.
France reported four deaths in Covid-19 patients using experimental drugs, including one touted by U.S. President Donald Trump. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is walking around as part of his recovery while the nation had the most deaths in one day.
Canada says summer reopening of business is possible, if restrictions remain in place.
- Coronavirus Tracker: Global Cases 1.65 Million; Deaths 101,000
- Apple, Google plan contact-tracing phone app
- ‘No Sail Order’ for cruise ships extended; Boeing may cut jobs
- Potential coronavirus drugs may cost as little as $1, study says
- Hong Kong’s edge over Singapore shows early measures work
- Americans worship from the parking lot, online
- White House weighs new panel to map post-virus recovery
U.S. Deaths Climb; N.Y. Falls Slightly(4 p.m. NY)
U.S. cases were 486,994 on Friday, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. The rise in national cases was below the average daily increase of 10% over the past week. U.S. deaths reached 18,022.
In New York, the number of deaths dropped slightly on Friday to 777, a figure that remains grimly high following three straight days of record fatalities, Governor Andrew Cuomo said. The total death toll in New York has reached 7,844, he said. Cuomo said that Friday’s figure shows a high but apparently leveling number of fatalities. He also reported, for the first time, a dramatic drop in the number intensive care admissions.
In New Jersey, huge daily infection increases are slowing in Bergen County, which has the state most cases, another big sign that the curve is flattening, Governor Phil Murphy said. Infections in Bergen now are doubling every seven days or more.
California added 49 deaths amid improving signs among patients in intensive-care units edged up 1.1% to 1,145 after a decrease the day before, Governor Gavin Newsom said. The number of deaths rose to 541, Newsom said. The single-digit ICU increase is an encouraging sign, he said.
- Michigan reported the most deaths in a single day, raising total fatalities to 1,281, ranking third behind New York and New Jersey. “We are not out of the woods yet,” Governor Gretchen Whitmer tweeted when announcing the deaths.
- Louisiana reported a rise of 53 deaths, pushing the total to 755, while total cases increased by 968, to 19,251. More than 2,000 Louisianians in the hospital. The state’s epicenter remains the New Orleans area.
Trump to Meet Airline Executives (3:50 p.m. NY)
President Trump said he will meet with leaders in the aviation industry, including Boeing Co., over the weekend as they struggle with a dramatic revenue shortfall from the pandemic.
“We have a great plan for the airlines -- got to keep the airlines going,” Trump said Friday during a White House news conference. “We can’t let anything happen to Boeing.”
So far, U.S. airlines’ bid for billions in government rescue cash is being frustrated by a lengthening process and demands that companies provide more detailed financial information.
Turkey Orders Two-Day Lockdown (3:30 p.m. NY)
Turkey’s government declared a two-day lockdown in major cities -- its most stringent measures so far -- after reporting 98 new fatalities, bringing the outbreak’s death toll to 1,006.
Turks in 31 cities including Istanbul and the capital, Ankara, will not be allowed to go out through April 12, according to a note by the Interior Ministry.
Canada’s Best-Case Shows Summer Return (2:35 p.m. NY)
Canada may be able to loosen lockdowns and let some sectors return to work by summer if the nation abides by tight restrictions now in place, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.
The nation is in the “first and worst phase” of the outbreak and models shows that under a best-case scenario it could emerge relatively quickly if people observe social distancing measures, Trudeau said at a press conference in Ottawa.
Trudeau tempered expectations: “We will not get back to the normal that we had before at least until we have developed a vaccine for the virus -- that is the reality.” A vaccine could take anywhere from six months to a year and a half, he said.
U.K. Lacks Evidence to Lift Limits (2:40 p.m. NY)
The U.K. does not yet have the evidence it needs to ease restrictions imposed to slow the spread of coronavirus, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said.
As Prime Minister Boris Johnson begins his recovery from the disease in a hospital, officials are working on a strategy to exit lockdown measures but the outbreak has not yet reached the point at which curbs can be removed. The government’s emergency committee will review the restrictions next week.
The death toll rose by a further 980 -- the highest daily total so far -- to bring the total to 8,958 in the data published Friday.
Apple, Google in Joint Covid Deal (2:30 p.m. NY)
Apple Inc. and Google unveiled a rare partnership to add technology to their smartphone platforms later this year that will alert users if they have come into contact with a person with Covid-19. Users would need to opt-in for the service.
The rivals said they are building the technology into their operating systems in two steps. In mid-May, the companies will add the ability for iPhones and Android phones to exchange anonymous information via apps run by public health authorities. In the coming months, both companies will add the technology onto their operating systems so the software works without having to download an app.
Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android systems have about 3 billion users.
France Deaths Top 13,000 (2 p.m. NY)
France reported 987 new deaths from the coronavirus on Friday and an increase in new infections, while the number of intensive-care patients declined for a second day.
Total deaths increased to 13,197, Director General for Health Jerome Salomon said at a briefing. Reported infections rose by 7,120 to 124,869, after rising by 4,799 on Thursday. France started including partial data from nursing homes this month, after underreporting the severity of the outbreak in the weeks before.
Italy Extends Nationwide Restrictions (1:50 p.m. NY)
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte extended Italy’s nationwide lockdown until May 3, rejecting pressure from businesses seeking a chance to restart activity as containment measures weigh on the economy.
The sweeping restrictions, which include a ban on all non-essential business, are crippling Italy’s economy, burdened by high debt and low growth even before the virus hit. But the risk of sparking a second wave of infections by relaxing the curbs too early was seen as too large.
Italy had 3,951 new cases, down from 4,204 a day earlier, civil protection officials said. Italy registered 570 deaths in the past 24 hours, less than 610 a day earlier. That brings the total number of fatalities to 18,849.
Covid-19 Lesson as Ebola Returns, WHO Says (1:30 p.m. NY)
Congo confirmed a new Ebola case days before it was expected to declare that outbreak over, a development the World Health Organization said may be a lesson for Covid-19. “There’s no exit strategy until you’re in control of the situation,” said Mike Ryan, head of the WHO’s health emergencies program.
The WHO would like countries to lift restrictions “as much as anyone,” but ending too quickly could lead to a “deadly resurgence,” Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in Geneva. Covid-19 is a serious challenge even in countries that say they have the strongest health systems, and it’s alarming how many health workers are catching the disease, he said. “No country can claim it has a strong public health system.”
The virus is spreading to rural communities in Africa, which will cause “severe hardship for already overstretched health systems,” said Tedros, Ethiopia’s former health minister. G-20 countries need to expedite assistance for that region as the number of cases on that continent accelerates, he said.
France Reports Heart Incidents From Drug (12:30 p.m NY)
French authorities reported 43 cases of heart incidents tied to using hydroxychloroquine amid mounting interest in the malaria drug to treat coronavirus cases. The U.S. has stockpiled as many as 29 million doses and President Donald Trump touts the drug as a possible “game changer.”
The French drug safety agency ANSM said four of the patients died in incidents since March 27 while in total, 82 serious adverse reactions were found from experimental treatments, split between hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir-ritonavir.
President Emmanuel Macron flew to Marseille Thursday to visit the clinic where uncontrolled studies by a doctor named Didier Raoult have propelled the 65-year-old malaria drug to international fame. Macron’s advisers said his trip was not an endorsement.
U.K. Premier in Recovery (11:35 a.m. NY)
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has been treated for coronavirus in a London hospital, has “been able to do short walks, between periods of rest, as part of the care he is receiving to aid his recovery,” according to a spokesman for 10 Downing Street.
Johnson was released from intensive care Thursday evening after his deputy said it’s too soon for the U.K. to relax the lockdown imposed 17 days ago in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Greece Extends School Lockdown (11:35 a.m. NY)
Greece is extending by one month, to May 10, the closure of all schools, universities and other educational institutions as a precautionary measure, Deputy Citizen Protection Minister Nikos Chardalias said. The country is already in total lockdown and has so far recorded abou 2,000 coronavirus cases and 90 deaths.
Senators Seek Release of Detainees (11:30 am. NY)
A bipartisan group of U.S. senators asked Secretary of State Michael Pompeo to press foreign governments for the release American detainees, citing the health risk from the coronavirus pandemic.
“Detention facilities are a fertile breeding ground for Covid-19, with rampant overcrowding, lack of basic hygiene, ill-equipped medical facilities, and poor health conditions,” according to the letter Friday signed by Connecticut Democrat Chris Murphy and Florida Republican Marco Rubio joined by Texas Republican John Cornyn and Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy. “In many authoritarian countries, these conditions are further exacerbated by inhumane conditions including malnutrition, medical neglect, and torture.”
U.S. Surgeon Casts Doubt on Early Restart (10:15 a.m. NY)
U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said few parts of the country will be able to relax social distancing efforts by May 1, taking a more cautious posture as President Trump and his top aides push to get the economy restarted.
Some communities with strong surveillance systems “will be able to think about opening on May 1st,” Adams said on Fox News. “Most of the country will not, to be honest with you.”
Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday outlined mileposts to meet before mitigation steps are relaxed, including widespread testing and therapeutic medicines, both of which may be months away.
Read story here
3M Alleges N95 Price Gouging (9:50 a.m. NY)
3M Co. sued Performance Supply LLC of New Jersey in federal court, alleging illegal price gouging and deceptive practices in sales of N95 masks. 3M said Performance Supply offered to sell $45 million in N95 respirators to New York City at prices 500%-600% over the list price, according to a statement. 3M said it’s seeking damages.
Singapore Reports 198 New Cases, None Imported (9:36 a.m. NY)
The Ministry of Health confirmed an additional 198 cases of Covid-19, with none of them imported.
Earlier, the government placed a fifth foreign worker dormitory under isolation to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the city-state. Health Minister Gan Kim Yong declared a foreign worker housing facility in east Singapore as an isolation area. Singapore started placing some of these dorms under 14-day quarantines from Sunday.
The country reported its highest daily increase of infections on Thursday with more than 200 of the 287 new cases linked to foreign worker dormitories.
NHS Reports 866 More Deaths in England (9:32 a.m. NY)
A further 866 people who tested positive for the coronavirus have died in England, bringing the total of confirmed fatalities in hospitals to 8,114. The patients were aged between 27 and 100 years old, NHS England said. The highest number was in London at 249, followed by 229 in the Midlands.
Earlier, Neil Ferguson, an epidemiologist at Imperial College London who advises the U.K. government, told BBC Radio 4 that it will be “several more weeks” before scientists can draw conclusions about the rate of decline in cases and therefore recommend any lifting of lockdown measures. But he also said there’s preliminary evidence the lockdown is working better than expected.
Putin Plans $14 Billion Stimulus (9:15 a.m. NY)
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government plans to dramatically ramp up stimulus measures to prop up an economy that is lurching toward recession. The government will roll out about 1 trillion rubles ($13.5 billion) of new spending, according to two people familiar with the plans. Some of the money will go toward subsidizing salaries of workers idled by isolation measures to fight the coronavirus, the people said.
Antibody Tests Could Be Available in a Week or So: Fauci (8:42 a.m. NY)
The U.S. will “have a rather large number of tests that are available” within a week or so, Fauci said. Tests for coronavirus antibodies are being validated by the National Institutes of Health and the FDA to make sure they are consistent and accurate, he said on CNN.
Portugal Reports Highest Daily Case Increase (8:31 a.m. NY)
Portugal reported the highest daily increase in confirmed cases on Friday, while the number of patients in intensive-care units fell for a third day. There were 1,516 new cases, taking the total to 15,472, the government’s Directorate-General of Health said on Friday. Total deaths increased to 435 from 409.
Tokyo Games CEO Hints at Further Delay: AP (8:21 a.m. NY)
The chief executive officer of the committee organizing the Tokyo Games said on Friday that he can’t guarantee the postponed Olympics will be staged next year, the Associated Press reported. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe issued an emergency declaration this week to battle the virus, putting the country under restrictions after it seemingly had avoided the spread.
“I don’t think anyone would be able to say if it is going to be possible to get it under control by next July or not,” committee CEO Toshiro Muto said, speaking through an interpreter at a news conference conducted remotely.
Trump Wants Next Aid Round Exclusively for Small Businesses (7:32 a.m. NY)
The aid package in Congress should be limited to a funding boost for small businesses to help them keep their employees, “with no additions,” U.S. President Donald Trump said in a tweet. “We should have a big Infrastructure Phase Four with Payroll Tax Cuts & more,” he said.
Trump earlier said he has asked his agriculture secretary to “use all of the funds and authorities at his disposal,” to aid U.S. farmers, whose financial peril has worsened in the coronavirus pandemic.
Democrats are holding firm to their demand that a $250 billion economic stimulus for small businesses must include more funds for hospitals, states and localities struggling with the pandemic, leaving congressional leaders at a standoff for now.
UN Envoy Warns Libya Escalation is Straining Response (7:13 a.m. NY)
An escalation in Libya’s year-long war is straining the North African country’s ability to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, the acting United Nations envoy said. “It’s incredibly reckless. It’s inhumane, it’s stretching the capacity of local authorities and the health infrastructure that is already decimated,” Stephanie Williams told Bloomberg in an interview on Thursday.
German Hospitals May Face Drug Shortages (7 a.m. NY)
German hospitals are concerned that they will soon face a shortage of drugs needed to treat Covid-19 patients who must be ventilated, Der Spiegel reported, citing an Augsburg hospital pharmacist.
Earlier this week, the European Union’s most senior health official appealed to the pharmaceutical industry to boost production of critical medicines needed to treat the symptoms of the coronavirus, warning that several member states may soon run out.
France Confirms 50 Cases on Aircraft Carrier (6:39 a.m. NY)
The French Defense Ministry said 50 of the aircraft carrier Charles-de-Gaulle’s crew members have been infected. Three have been evacuated to a hospital in Toulon, south of France, while a medical team was transported on board to conduct a probe. The ship has shortened its mission and is heading toward its base in Toulon in the Mediterranean sea while sanitary processes aboard have been reinforced with all crew members now having to wear a mask.
Potential Coronavirus Drugs May Cost as Little as $1 (6:38 a.m. NY)
Potential coronavirus treatments could be made for as little as $1, well below their typical price tags in pharmacies, according to an analysis of nine drugs in clinical trials. If their promise is confirmed in ongoing studies, medicines for Covid-19, including hydroxychloroquine, which President Donald Trump touted as a treatment, and Gilead Sciences Inc.’s remdesivir could be manufactured from $1 to $29 a course, a study published Friday in the Journal of Virus Eradication found.
Moscow Hospitals Stretched to Limit (6 a.m. NY)
Moscow clinics and ambulances are being stretched to the limit as the number of hospitalizations from coronavirus doubled over the last several days, Interfax reported, citing Deputy Mayor Anastasia Rakova.
“I’ll tell you one thing for sure: we haven’t reached the peak yet,” Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said in a interview with state-run RIA Novosti. “We are still in the foothills of the mountain, and not even half way up.” About two-thirds of Russia’s 11,917 coronavirus infections are in Moscow, which saw cases jump 17% overnight.
Belgian Deaths Top 3,000 (5:50 p.m. HK)
The pandemic has so far claimed 3,019 lives in Belgium, with a record 325 deaths reported in the past 24 hours and an additional 171 in Flemish nursing homes between March 18 and March 31 that were previously unreported.
The numbers include deaths which are highly likely linked to a coronavirus infection without being confirmed by a diagnostic test. The number of patients currently being treated in hospitals rose by 20 to 5,610 and 1,278 patients are in intensive care, a decline of seven from the prior day. Confirmed cases rose by 6.7% to 26,667
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