Coronavirus latest: Trump expects US death rate to peak ‘in two weeks’

  • More than 700,000 COVID-19 cases have been reported worldwide, with almost 35,000 deaths
  • US President Donald Trump has extended social distancing guidelines to April 30, abandoning his previous Easter deadline
  • Moscow has ordered all its residents to stay home starting on Monday in a bid to slow the spread of the virus
  • Spain’s death toll reached a new peak as it recorded its highest ever daily figure, counting 838 new fatalities within a 24-hour-period

Updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC/GMT)

03:00 Passengers on a virus-stricken cruise ship have entered the Panama Canal after they were told the cruise company was still looking for a port which will allow them to get off the ship.

The Panama Canal Authority said the Zaandam cruise liner had entered the canal, which connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans through the Central American country, on Sunday afternoon, after transferring healthy passengers to another ship and restocking supplies.

Holland America Line President Orlando Ashford confessed they were still looking for somewhere to dock after the mayor of Fort Lauderdale, the ship’s original destination, said the Florida city could not take the risk of accepting the passengers.

02:45 Some 4,000 nurses are set to go on strike in Papua New Guinea this week over concerns that the Pacific nation lacks the medical supplies and funding to deal with an outbreak. The potential strike comes in the wake of a sit-in by nearly 600 nurses in the capital of Port Moresby last Thursday over a lack of protective gear.

02:30 Argentina is extending a mandatory nationwide quarantine period until the middle of April. “We are going to extend the quarantine until the end of Easter. What do we aim to achieve? To keep the transmission of the virus under control,” President Alberto Fernandez said. The country has logged 820 COVID-19 cases and 20 deaths, although the increase in cases has slowed in recent days.

02:15 Two tweets by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro — in which he questioned quarantine measures aimed at combating the coronavirus — have been taken down by the social network for violating Twitter’s rules. Bolsonaro had posted videos where he contravened his government’s social distancing guidelines by mixing with supporters on the streets of the capital Brasilia and urging them to keep the economy going.

02:00 Mexico’s Health Ministry has confirmed 145 new coronavirus cases and four new deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of infections to 993 while the country’s death toll stands at 20.

01:45 Grammy-winning singer and songwriter John Prine has been hospitalized for coronavirus and is in “critical” condition, his family said on Twitter. “After a sudden onset of Covid-19 symptoms, John was hospitalized on Thursday. He was intubated Saturday evening, and continues to receive care, but his situation is critical.” 

01:30 Chinese President Xi Jinping has revealed the government will adjust support policies for small and medium-sized businesses, as the situation develops, to protect them from the negative effects of the outbreak, Chinese state television reported. As he visited a factory in the city of Ningbo, Xi said that Chinese companies should resume operation and production even as measures to curb the virus continue.

01:15 The World Health Organization (WHO) has dismissed suggestions that alcohol consumption can ward off the coronavirus. “Drinking alcohol DOES NOT protect you against #COVID19 and can be dangerous,” the UN’s health body tweeted. An estimated 300 people have died in Iran after drinking industrial alcohol that has been falsely touted as a remedy for the virus on social media.

00:55 Mainland China has reported 31 new coronavirus cases, including one locally-transmitted infection, the country’s National Health Commission said. The newly reported figure is a drop on the previous day, when 45 cases were recorded. The commission said in a statement on Monday that four new deaths from the virus had occurred, putting the cumulative death toll at 3,304. Since the outbreak erupted in December, the country has logged 81,470 infections.

00:45 The death toll in the US state of New York has surpassed 1,000, less than a month after the virus was first detected in the state. The first known infection was discovered on March 1 in a health care worker who recently returned from Iran. Now, with 776 deaths coming from New York city alone, the US state accounts for almost 40% of all deaths recorded in the country.

00:30 Here is the latest on the status of the outbreak across Europe:

Germany: Nearly 60,000 cases have been reported in Germany, while the death rate of less than 1% remains one of the lowest in the world. Meanwhile, the first plane carrying German nationals — previously stuck on a cruise ship off Australia — has started its journey to Frankfurt. Dozens of coronavirus cases were confirmed on the the Artania cruise which was carrying over 800 passengers. Three more planes to evacuate passengers were expected to take off within hours.

UK: The lockdown in the United Kingdom could continue for up six months, a key government medical advisor has revealed, despite initial confinement measures set to end in two weeks. The deputy chief medical officer for England, Jenny Harries said that even if the UK manages to flatten the curve in two weeks, she cautioned that a full return to normal life “would be quite dangerous.” The UK has reported almost 20,000 cases, with over 1,200 deaths.

France: France has performed its largest evacuation of COVID-19 patients to date from hospitals in the hard-hit east, stepping up efforts to free up intensive care units. Two specially equipped high-speed trains carried 36 patients from Mulhouse and Nancy toward hospitals along France’s western coast, where the outbreak has been minimal until now. The movements came as Germany sent a military plane for the first time to Strasbourg to move two coronavirus patients to a hospital in the German city of Ulm. In total, some 80 French patients have been hospitalized in Germany, Switzerland and Luxembourg.

Italy: The Italian government has said the country is in for a “very long” lockdown which would only be lifted gradually. While the mortality rate was slowing following a record 919 deaths on Friday, the government’s medical adviser Luca Richeldi said indications of the pandemic slowing down was “a reason for us to be even stricter.” Italy ranks second in the world in terms of infections, with almost 100,000 cases recorded so far.

Spain: Spain neared 80,000 cases and will almost certainly overtake China to become the world’s third ranked country within hours. Spain reported 838 COVID-19 related deaths in the last 24 hours, more than any other country in the world.

Russia: Moscow has announced a city-wide lockdown beginning on Monday, confining residents of the city to their homes. Some 12 million citizens will only be allowed to leave their homes to seek medical care, to travel to work if they provide essential services, to go to the nearest store or chemist, or to walk pets, but no more than 100 meters from their abode.

Switzerland: The death toll in Switzerland from coronavirus has climbed to 235 while the total number of cases stands at 13,213. The Alpine country has the highest number of cases per capita in the world and is deploying army medical units at hospitals to help in regions like Ticino, which borders hard-hit Italy, to help combat the outbreak.

The Netherlands: The number of reported cases in the Netherlands has passed the 10,000 mark as the country focuses on building up herd immunity, rather than a lockdown. A total of 771 people have so far died from the COVID-19 epidemic in the country and 10,866 have tested positive, the country’s institute for public health and environment (RIVM) said.

00:15 Panama has reported seven new deaths because of the novel coronavirus while the total number of confirmed infections has risen to 989, the government said in a statement.

00:05 US President Donald Trump has extended the country’s national “social distancing” guidelines to April 30 as the number of cases continues to rise in the country. The US leader said he expects the country “will be well on our way to recovery” by June 1 — abandoning his earlier goal of relaxing measures by Easter.

During a White House press conference, Trump said data indicates that the US death rate will likely peak in two weeks. He also remarked that limiting the number of deaths to 100,000 or 200,000 would constitute a “good job,” and that his administration has lowered the number of potential deaths from earlier estimates of more than 2 million.

00:00 Catch up on yesterday’s news here: US expecting up to 200,000 coronavirus deaths

jsi/rs (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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