Secretary Esper to extend travel restrictions for Defense Department personnel
From CNN's Jamie Crawford
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper speaks at a press conference in 2019. Drew Angerer/Getty Images Defense Secretary Mark Esper will extend the current Defense Department-wide travel restrictions through June 30, a Pentagon official said Saturday. The order will continue to stop the movement of most military forces and their families to new assignments around the world in order to get a better sense of testing forces for coronavirus. In a telephone briefing with reporters, Matthew Donovan, undersecretary of Defense for personnel and readiness, said the order will be effective on Monday. It was due to expire in May. “Continuing these travel restrictions is necessary because of the global nature of the department of defense enterprise. We have service members stationed in all 50 states and in numerous foreign nations across the globe. While many areas in the United States may be on a positive trajectory, some areas and many nations are not,” Donovan said in the briefing. "Secretary Esper will maintain a continuous conditions based assessment of the Covid-19 pandemic and will formally review this policy every 15 days to determine if conditions allow travel to resume earlier than June 30."
Some context: In a briefing at the Pentagon earlier this week, Esper said the decision to allow more movements for troops and their families to new postings around the globe will be “driven by science by what the scientists and doctors are telling us about how this virus moves because protecting our people, protecting our communities will be task number one."
Trump properties in Florida furlough 713 workers
From CNN's Nicky Robertson
Joe Raedle/Getty Images Two Trump properties in Florida have furloughed a total of 713 workers due to the coronavirus outbreak, according to documents the Trump Organization filed with the Florida Department of Labor and local officials. There are 560 employees furloughed at Trump National Doral Miami and 153 employees were furloughed at the Mar-A-Lago club. The organization said the furloughs are of non-essential employees at both properties. “We anticipate that this cessation of nonessential operations of the Club and these furloughs will be temporary. Based on the fluid and rapidly evolving nature of this situation, however, at this time we are unable to provide a specific date at which we will be able to recommence regular Club operations and return affected employees to work,” the organization’s head of human resources said in a letter regarding Doral. A spokesman for the Trump Organization did not respond to a request for comment regarding the furloughs. The real estate publication the Real Deal first reported the furloughs.
New York City residents can now report people who are not social distancing
From CNN's Elise Hammond
Times Square is seen virtually empty on April 17. Debra L Rothenberg/Getty Images New York City residents can now report other people for not social distancing. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a new service that encourages New Yorkers to take a photo of a crowded place or a group of people who are not following social distancing guidelines and text it to a phone number that alerts authorities. "We still know there are some people that need to get the message and that means sometimes making sure the enforcement is there to educate people and make clear we've got to have social distancing," de Blasio said in a tweet today. "When you see a crowd, when you see a line that's distanced, when you see a supermarket that too crowded, anything, you can report it right away so we can get help there to fix the problem." De Blasio said that once New Yorkers send the photo, "we will make sure enforcement comes right away." He said the new reporting system is about saving lives and making sure social distancing is continuing in the city.
Some context: There have been 13,202 deaths due to the coronavirus so far in New York City, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.
Ferrari to produce respirator valves and fittings for protective masks
From CNN's Valentina Di Donato
Respirator valves and fitting for protective masks produced by Ferrari. Ferrari Media via AP Italian sports car maker Ferrari has announced that it will produce respirator valves and fittings for protective face masks as part of its efforts to support the national response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a statement today. “Ferrari has started to produce respirator valves and fittings for protective masks at its Maranello plant as one of its initiatives in support of health workers treating coronavirus patients,” the company said.
The statement added: “In the next few days, Ferrari plans to manufacture several hundred items of equipment that are already being distributed by some of the companies involved, with the coordination of the Italian Civil Protection Agency." According to Ferrari, the newly developed equipment will be distributed to various Italian hospitals, including those in Bergamo, Genoa, Modena, and Sassuolo, as well as to health workers in the town of Medicina, near Bologna. In a statement shared on his official Facebook page, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said the country is proud of Ferrari’s efforts to support healthcare workers. “Ferrari, one of our Italian excellences, has deployed its skills to face coronavirus and safeguard the lives of Italians…knowing that the company is helping to support the country's restart makes us proud,” Di Maio said.
Coronavirus death toll in the United Kingdom climbs to more than 15,000
From CNN's Nada Bashir
Hospital workers wheel a stretcher to the mortuary at Lewisham Hospital in London on April 16. Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images A total of 15,464 people in the United Kingdom have died after contracting coronavirus, the UK Department of Health and Social Care confirmed Saturday, marking an increase of 888 from Friday's confirmed total of 14,576. "As of 5pm on 17 April, of those hospitalized in the UK who tested positive for coronavirus, 15,464 have sadly died," the DHSC said in a tweet. The number of confirmed cases has also increased in the past day, with 5,525 people diagnosed in the past 24 hours. Currently, there are 114,217 confirmed Covid-19 patients in the UK.
Italy opens a bid for the development of a blood test to map coronavirus contagion
From CNN’s Hada Messia in Rome
The Italian government has opened a bid for an official contract to develop a new blood test which could help authorities create a map of the contagion. While some regions in Italy have already started using blood tests for such purposes, the government has yet to officially validate a specific test kit for the procedure. During a press conference on Saturday, Italy’s coronavirus commissioner Domenico Arcuri asserted that “health has no price,” adding that the government will award the development contract to those who can provide quality tests. Arcuri confirmed that the bidding process will remain open until April 29, after which the government will make a decision on who to award the contract to.
Queen Elizabeth II cancels traditional gun salute for her birthday due to coronavirus concerns
From CNN's Max Foster
People walk past an image of Queen Elizabeth in Piccadilly Circus in London on April 9. Peter Summers/Getty Images Queen Elizabeth II will not be marking her birthday with the traditional royal gun salute as she does not feel it would be appropriate during the coronavirus pandemic, a royal source told CNN on Saturday. The Queen will celebrate her 94th birthday on April 21. While the Palace is expected to mark the occasion on social media, all family-related affairs, including telephone and video calls with family members, are to be kept private, the source added. The announcement follows earlier confirmation by Buckingham Palace that the traditional parade held annually in mid-June to mark the Queen’s official birthday known as Trooping the Colour will not go ahead. The parade gives the Queen, who is head of the United Kingdom’s armed forces, a chance to review her army. It traditionally moves from Buckingham Palace down the Mall to Horse Guard's Parade, with members of the royal family traveling on horseback or carriage.
By the numbers: Last year, more than 200 horses, 400 musicians, and 1,400 officers took part in the parade. According to the royal source, there are currently no plans in place for an alternative marking of the Queen’s official birthday.
Gender violence interventions during lockdown have increased in Spain
From CNN's Isabel Tejera in Madrid
Police in Spain have recorded more than 80,000 interventions to protect victims of gender violence in the first month of lockdown, the government said. The National Police and Civil Guard carried out a total of 83,341 surveillance and protection interventions on behalf of victims of gender violence during the first 31 days of the nationwide lockdown, according to figures released Saturday by the Interior Ministry. That represented a 25% increase in comparison to the corresponding period of 2019. The incidents recorded include 38,976 checks made through telephone calls and other means of contact and 43,365 instances of surveillance to protect victims and prevent domestic abuse. Earlier this month, the Interior Ministry launched a "SOS Button" on the AlertCops mobile application which allows victims of gender violence immediately to seek assistance from the police.
Some context: As lockdown measures across Europe continue charities and police forces have raised the alarm over a potential spike in domestic violence. Refuge, a leading British charity focused on fighting domestic violence, said earlier this month that calls to its helpline and visits to its website had increased significantly since restrictions on people's movement began.
Spain's coronavirus deaths pass 20,000
From CNN's Tim Lister in Spain
More than 20,000 people have now died in Spain as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, according to official figures issued Saturday by the Ministry of Health. The number of reported deaths, at 20,043, was up 565 from the number recorded Friday. The percentage rise, at 2.9%, is roughly in line with most of the daily results of the last week. Spanish authorities have warned that the data may fluctuate as a new system for reporting cases comes into play and testing throughout the country is increased. Earlier this week, the region of Catalonia revised the reported cases and deaths from coronavirus sharply upwards, after adopting a new formula for calculating the impact of the pandemic. Among those who have died from coronavirus in the past 24 hours was one of Spain’s most prominent doctors, Jesus Vaquero. Vaquero was head of neurosurgery at the Puerta del Hierro Hospital in Madrid, and a leading specialist in back surgery.
Iran reopens some stores in Tehran
From CNN's Radina Gigova and Ramin Mostaghim
Iranians wearing protective masks cross the main road in Tehran on April 13. Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images Iran lifted coronavirus restrictions Saturday in the capital, Tehran, for low-risk businesses such as clothing stores and book shops. Restrictions in other provinces were lifted on April 11. High-risk businesses, such as gyms, movie theaters, and shopping malls, will remain closed, authorities said. On Friday, when the country's Army Day was marked, the Iranian Army put on a "service parade," instead of the usual military parade, in solidarity with medical teams working during the pandemic, according to state media. Parades took place across the country and featured some of the army equipment used to assist the fight against the outbreak, including mobile hospitals, disinfection equipment, and specially designed vehicles, state-run Press TV reported. Images and videos released by state media showed personnel wearing fatigues disinfecting train stations, squares, and other public spaces. Iran reported 89 more coronavirus-related deaths on Friday, bringing the nationwide total to 4,958, Iranian Health Ministry Spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said on state television. Iran has the highest number of reported coronavirus cases and deaths in the Middle East.
UK doctors continue to face protective equipment shortages
From CNN's Laura Smith-Spark
Many UK doctors are still without the equipment they need to keep themselves safe as they treat coronavirus patients, a major survey of British doctors has found. This is despite repeated promises from the UK government that problems with supply are being dealt with, the British Medical Association (BMA) said in a news release Saturday. Gowns and eye protection are in particularly short supply, the trade union's survey indicated. While the findings showed some improvement from the BMA's previous survey, published on April 7, the union urged the government to do more to resolve the issues around the supply of personal protective equipment. “Two months into the Covid-19 crisis in Britain, we shouldn’t still be hearing that doctors feel unprotected when they go to work," said Dr. Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair. “The government says that 1 billion items will soon have been shipped, and while there have been signs of improvement, our research clearly shows that equipment is not reaching all doctors working on the front line." More than 6,000 doctors from across the UK responded to the survey, the BMA said. Around half of doctors working in high-risk areas said there were shortages or no supply at all of the long-sleeved disposable gowns and disposable goggles, while just over half said the same for full-face visors, the BMA said. Doctors working in general practice also reported shortages of eye protection. UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Friday that he could not guarantee that hospitals would not run out of gowns this weekend, but that the government was doing all it could to ensure supply. A day earlier, Hancock confirmed that 27 workers from Britain's National Health Service had died from the coronavirus. Speaking in a BBC interview, he called the NHS workers' deaths “incredibly heartrending.” The UK government is facing increasing pressure to do more to ensure the safety of frontline health and social care workers.
Everyone from Oprah to Lady Gaga will show up at "One World: Together at Home"
From CNN's Leah Asmelash
Comedians Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel, pictured, will host the event with Stephen Colbert. Randy Holmes/Walt Disney Television/ABC As concerts and festivals continue to get canceled because of coronavirus, more and more events are turning to digital platforms. Enter One World: Together At Home, described as a "global broadcast & digital special to support frontline healthcare workers and the WHO" on its website. The even which will feature dozens of celebrities and musicians will be hosted by Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, and Stephen Colbert. Lady Gaga also helped to curate it. The event is meant to encourage people to take action against the spread of coronavirus, through things like staying home and calling on elected officials.
WHO says no evidence antibody tests can determine immunity
From CNN's Ivana Kottasova
The World Health Organization has warned there is no evidence to suggest the presence of antibodies in the blood can determine whether someone has immunity to the coronavirus. Dr. Mike Ryan, the WHO’s executive director for health emergencies, said Friday there was no indication so far that a large proportion of the population had developed an immunity. “There’s been an expectation, maybe, that herd immunity may have been achieved and that the majority of people in society may already have developed antibodies. I think the general evidence is pointing against that... so it may not solve the problem the governments are trying to solve.”
The number of recovered coronavirus patients who have retested positive for the virus has raised concerns about how antibodies work in response to Covid-19. While scientists say there is no evidence yet that a person who has retested positive can spread the virus further, there haven’t been any conclusive studies to rule that out. Professor Chris Dye, of the Oxford Martin School at the Britain's University of Oxford, said substantial work to develop accurate antibody tests for coronavirus infection was ongoing. “The WHO is right to highlight that any antibody test, if we get one, won’t be able to definitely say whether someone is immune to the infection because we just don’t know enough yet about how immunity works with Covid-19," he told the Science Media Centre. Such tests would need to be sensitive enough to ensure that infections were not missed, and specific enough to be confident that a positive result is correct, he said. "Before an antibody test can be used to indicate that someone is immune to further infection, the level of protection must be demonstrated in experimental trials," Dye added.
How fear of Covid-19 is affecting children's health
By Dr. Edith Bracho-Sanchez, for CNN
The virus that causes Covid-19 has been relentlessly preying on adults around the world for months, while largely sparing children. Although children are not directly affected by the illness, their health is undoubtedly being at risk in our collective new reality. Before Covid-19, my clinic in New York City used to be filled with children coming in for checkups, vaccines and minor illnesses. Parents in my community always erred on the side of bringing their kids in right away when sick rather than waiting at home, to make sure whatever they had "was not serious." The new coronavirus changed everything. Parents are now afraid to take care of some of their children's basic health needs. Although children have, as a group, been largely spared by the illness, families are now making a new calculation: to some, the risk of exposure to Covid-19 seems greater than the benefit of vaccinating on time or that of promptly seeking medical attention for minor illnesses and injuries. For these families, our efforts to explain the measures we have taken to keep their children safe while in the office don't seem to offer much reassurance.
It's 5 p.m. in Tokyo and 9 a.m. in London, here are the top coronavirus headlines around the world
Global death toll rises to 150,000: Covid-19 has killed more than 154,000 people around the world in just four months, as the total number of infections rises to 2.24 million, according to Johns Hopkins University.
When should the US open up? US President Donald Trump has unveiled guidelines to help states loosen restrictions, as the country's total infections hit 700,000. He said some governors who are implementing federal guidelines for stay-at-home orders are being “too tough.”
Texas aims to be the first state to reopen: Gov. Greg Abbott announced he is consulting with a group of medical and economic experts -- named the "Strike Force to Open Texas" -- on how to reopen the state after the pandemic. Plans to restart business won't come until April 27, and Abbott stressed they will be determined by "data and by doctors."
Death toll in Spain over 20,000: There have now been more than 20,002 deaths from the novel coronavirus in Spain as the number of confirmed infections tops 190,839. Despite the high toll, Madrid is beginning discussions on how best to re-open the country after the epidemic.
Japan braces for coronavirus crisis: A combination of rising infections and medical equipment shortages have Japan scrambling to avoid a large-scale coronavirus epidemic. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has extended the state of emergency and promised hospitals they will receive protective equipment.
Top Nigerian official dies: Abba Kyari, chief of staff to Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, died Friday after testing positive for the virus. He had been receiving treatment, the President's office said in a statement. Officially, Nigeria has 493 coronavirus cases and 17 fatalities.
Georgia's defiant Orthodox church will host Easter worshipers despite lockdown
By Neil Hauer, for CNN
At first glance, the republic of Georgia has been a success story in the fight against the novel coronavirus: the outbreak in the small Caucasus nation has remained limited, with just 370 official cases as of Friday morning. But Georgia now faces a serious test. Easter will be celebrated this Sunday on the Eastern Christian calendar, and the powerful Georgian Orthodox Church is planning major celebrations that public health officials say could prove deadly. Georgian authorities moved early to respond to the coronavirus. The government closed schools on February 29, when the country had just three confirmed cases. Health experts have credited the swift response containing the virus early through social distancing and other measures. On Friday, a five-day nationwide ban on private car travel went into effect. The Georgian Orthodox church, however, has largely refused to heed the pleas of public health officials, who have urged people to stay home. Churches across Georgia have remained open and continued to hold ceremonies, a move that experts say could prove disastrous. A spokesperson for the Georgian Orthodox Church did not return a request for comment. But church officials have been insistent that its traditional practices do no harm. "It is not possible for this virus to be spread by the church," Metropolitan Gerasim, a senior priest who heads a large district in western Georgia, was quoted as saying by Georgian media this week. "We are healing people, not hurting them."
Taiwan plays ball and broadcasts live games to the world
From CNN's Ivan Watson, Rebecca Wright and Tom Booth
Sports of all types have been canceled around the world due to the coronavirus pandemic. But not in Taiwan. Taoyuan International Baseball Stadium echoed with the thwack of bats hitting balls on Thursday, as the Rakuten Monkeys clobbered the Uni Lions 15-3. Taiwan is still playing ball. "That is because we did a pretty good job on the pandemic prevention," said Richard Wang, a Taiwanese broadcaster who provided live English-language commentary broadcast worldwide. The numbers suggest he's right. As of Friday, Taiwan, with its population of around 24 million people, had detected only 395 cases of coronavirus and just six deaths. On Tuesday, it also reached an important milestone. No new cases were reported that day, for the first time since March 9.
Recovered coronavirus patients are testing positive again. Can you get reinfected?
From CNN's Paula Hancocks, Yoonjung Seo and Julia Hollingsworth
In South Korea, health officials are trying to solve a mystery: why 163 people who recovered from coronavirus have retested positive, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC). The same has been recorded in China, where some coronavirus patients tested positive after seeming to recover, although there are no official figures. That raises the question: can you get reinfected with coronavirus? In South Korea, the proportion of cases that retest positive is low of the 7,829 people who have recovered from coronavirus there, 2.1% retested positive, the KCDC said Friday. It is not clear how many of the people who have recovered have been tested again. But patients retesting positive is still a concern around the world, including in countries like South Korea where authorities appear to have brought the outbreak under control.
3D printing enthusiasts are working from home to help hospitals fight coronavirus
These Y-shaped pieces of plastic, made at home with a 3D printer, can help extend the capacity of hospital ventilators. CNN/Justin Robertson For weeks, Christian Parker has been working to save lives across the United States from his home in Washington state using a 3D printer and a blueprint for a small, Y-shaped piece of plastic. Parker has been under a stay-at-home order with his wife and three children since early March. A 3D-printing enthusiast, he was fascinated by stories of people in Italy using the technology to help manufacture equipment and protective items at a time when supplies of important medical gear are running low. "[I thought] if I'm sitting at home just tinkering with my 3D printers anyway, or they're sitting idle, what can I do to jump in and help out where I can?" he said. In the past week, Parker said he has produced at least 40 ventilator splitters for hospitals across the US. The simple plastic pipe can help stretch the capabilities of the country's limited supply of ventilators by dividing the airflow from a single ventilator to multiple patients. "I'm not the hero, I'm just playing sidekick to those that are," Parker said.
Japanese medical workers fear the worst as coronavirus cases spike
From CNN's Emiko Jozuka in Tokyo
Ayako Kajiwara is scared Japan's medical system isn't prepared for what might happen next. She's the lead nurse at a hospital in Saitama prefecture and is witnessing firsthand the strain on an intensive care unit that's treating critically ill coronavirus patients. "It's hard because we think the patient is improving, but then they'll suddenly take a turn for the worse," she said.
The rapid rise in coronavirus infections: In the past few weeks, Japan's coronavirus cases have spiked dashing hopes that the government's initial virus response had succeeded in controlling its spread. As of Friday, Japan had 9,787 confirmed cases, including 190 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. On March 1, the country had 243 cases. The sharp increase has prompted Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to extend the state of emergency from seven prefectures to the entire country. On Friday, he also promised to provide medical equipment such as surgical masks, gowns and face shields to hospitals struggling with acute gear shortages within a week. Earlier this week, a team of government experts warned that Japan could have more than 400,000 coronavirus-related deaths if measures such as social distancing are not taken. Experts say medical shortages combined with comparatively low testing rates and Japan's lack of provision for teleworking could create a potentially explosive surge in cases.