Key updates for Sunday, April 5:
- British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been admitted to a hospital with the coronavirus.
- Bronx Zoo tiger tests positive for the coronavirus.
- Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is confident Canada will still be able to import N95 masks.
- Russian President Vladimir Putin will continue working remotely for at least another week amid the coronavirus pandemic.
- Pope Francis has begun the first of several Holy Week ceremonies without the public.
- American nationals and permanent residents have boarded a flight to head home as Nepal prepares to extend lockdown measures.
- Nearly 2,900 prisoners have been released from overcrowded prisons in Sri Lanka to help contain the spread of COVID-19.
- Chinese health authorities reported 30 new coronavirus cases Sunday, including 25 people who had arrived from overseas.
The number of U.S. deaths from COVID-19 was more than 9,200 Sunday, after passing the 8,500 mark shortly after 2:45 a.m. EDT. The toll was at more than 7,100 less than 24 hours before, according to numbers from Johns Hopkins University. More than a quarter of those deaths were in New York.
The worldwide total of confirmed COVID-19 cases is just over 1.2 million with more than 68,000 deaths and 258,000 recoveries.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
Boris Johnson in hospital with coronavirus
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been admitted to a hospital for tests, 10 days after testing positive for coronavirus. Johnson’s office says he is being admitted for tests because he still has symptoms, 10 days after testing positive for the virus.
Downing St. says the hospitalization is a “precautionary step” and he remains in charge of the government. Johnson, 55, has been quarantined in his Downing St. residence since being diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 26.
The BBC quotes a Downing Street spokeswoman as saying Johnson "continues to have persistent symptoms of coronavirus." It was described as a "precautionary step," per advice from his doctor. The prime minister remains in charge of the government and had urged people to follow social distancing.
Louisiana reports 68 deaths
Louisiana health officials reported 68 coronavirus-related deaths on Sunday, marking the state’s biggest jump in reported deaths since the outbreak began.
The Louisiana Department of Health reported the figures on its website Sunday. The number of infections reported to the state also increased by more than 500 cases from 12,496 to 13,010. Before Sunday, the largest number of deaths reported in a single day was 60. The numbers represent when the tests were reported to the state, not necessarily when the infections or deaths occurred.
Louisiana and the New Orleans area have been an epicenter for the virus, and Gov. John Bel Edwards has repeatedly warned of looming shortages for ventilators and intensive care units.
New cloth face covering requirements at DOD installations
Defense Secretary Mark Esper has issued new requirements for those visiting or working on Department of Defense installations regarding the use of cloth face coverings. Esper says that “to the extent practical,” all individuals on DOD property “will wear” the face coverings when they cannot maintain 6 feet of social distance from others.
The guidance is effective immediately. It follows a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that encourages people, especially in areas hit hard by the spread of the coronavirus, to use rudimentary coverings such as T-shirts, bandannas and non-medical masks to cover their faces while outdoors.
Esper outlined the new requirements in a memorandum to senior military leaders Sunday. He said the requirement doesn’t apply to a service member’s personal residence on a military installation. But it does apply to work centers and other public areas.
The secretary says exceptions may be approved by local commanders or supervisors and then submitted up the chain of command for awareness.
Queen Elizabeth II: History will remember your actions during crisis
Britain needed a message of hope. The queen delivered it Sunday. Queen Elizabeth II offered a message of support to a country locked down in the coronavirus pandemic, promising the nation that it would rise to the challenge and overcome the outbreak.
In a rare address to the nation, the 93-year-old monarch acknowledged the suffering that many families have experienced because of the COVID-19 crisis, which has infected more than 47,806 people in the U.K. and killed at least 4,934 of them. She drew upon wisdom from her decades as Britain’s head of state to urge resolve in a time of crisis.
France: 357 deaths, but signs spread is slowing
France reported 357 deaths in hospitals from the virus in a single day Sunday but showed signs that its spread is slowing after 20 days of national confinement.
The country remains among the hardest hit in the world, with 8,078 confirmed deaths since the virus arrived in January. More than a quarter of those who died were in nursing homes, according to figures from the national health service Sunday night.
France’s intensive care units continue to fill up fast, with 390 new arrivals since Saturday for a total of 6,978 people in critical care beds. But the daily growth has been slowing, and 250 people left intensive care in the same one-day period. Most of those in intensive care are older, but 106 are under 30 years old.
While still high, the number of new deaths in hospitals dropped Sunday for the second day straight and was the lowest since March 29.
France continued Sunday to transport critically ill patients out of saturated regions to those with more hospital space and has brought in hundreds of medical personnel to help in the overwhelmed Paris region.
Dr. Anthony Fauci says there is a very good chance new coronavirus “will assume a seasonal nature”
According to Fauci, this is because it is unlikely to be under control globally.
Fauci is director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He says the virus is unlikely to be completely eradicated from the planet this year. That means the U.S. could see the “beginning of a resurgence” during the next flu season.
Fauci says the prospect of a resurgence is the reason the U.S. is working so hard to get its preparedness “better than it was.” He says that includes working to develop a vaccine and conducting clinical trials on therapeutic interventions.
Fauci also says states that don’t have stay-at-home orders are not putting the rest of the country at risk as much as they are putting themselves at risk.
Fauci spoke on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
Putin still working remotely during pandemic
The spokesman for Vladimir Putin says the Russian president will continue working remotely for at least another week amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Dmitry Peskov said on state television Putin and people who work with him are being tested regularly.
Russia’s coronavirus task force says the number of infections in the country was 5,389, which is up almost 700 than the previous day. There have been 45 deaths recorded.
South Sudan has 1st virus case, is 51st country in Africa
Officials in South Sudan say the country has its first case of COVID-19, making it the 51st of Africa’s 54 countries to have the disease. First Vice President Riek Machar and the U.N. mission in South Sudan confirmed the positive case of a U.N. worker who arrived in the country from Netherlands on Feb. 28. The officials say the patient, a 29-year-old woman, is in quarantine and is recovering. Machar said South Sudan, with 11 million people, currently has four ventilators and wants to increase that number.
South Sudan has already imposed a night curfew and closed its borders to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
Pope begins Holy Week events without the public
Pope Francis has begun the first of several Holy Week ceremonies that will be held without the public this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Normally, tens of thousands of Romans and pilgrims, clutching olive branches, would have flocked to an outdoor Mass led by the pontiff. Instead, Francis was leading the ceremony inside the shelter of St. Peter’s Basilica, which seemed even more cavernous than usual because it was so empty.
Besides his aides, a few invited prelates, nuns and laypeople were present, sitting solo in the first pews and staggered, so they could stay a couple of meters (yards) apart to reduce the risk of contagion.
Wearing red robes and appearing pensive, Francis blessed braided palms held by the others, then held one himself. The Vatican has said there are seven cases of COVID-19 among residents or employees of the tiny independent city-state.
Queen Elizabeth II to use address to acknowledge suffering
Queen Elizabeth II is expected to use a rare address to the nation to acknowledge the suffering many families have experienced because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The monarch will offer a deeply personal message, describing the moment as a “time of disruption in the life of our country: a disruption that has brought grief to some, financial difficulties to many, and enormous changes to the daily lives of us all.”
She plans to praise the National Health Service for its work and laud those who volunteered to help out in a time of crisis.
She plans to say that she hopes in the future everyone will be able to feel “pride” in how they rose to the situation and that “those who come after us will say that the Britons of this generation were as strong as any.’’
The address was recorded in the White Drawing Room at Windsor Castle. The location was chosen specifically because it allowed enough space between the monarch and the camera person, who wore personal protective equipment.
Americans take last chance to leave Nepal
American nationals and permanent residents have boarded a flight out of Kathmandu in what was likely their last chance to head home as Nepal prepares to extend lockdown measures to contain the spreading of the new coronavirus.
Sunday’s flight with 303 passengers on board was the second one arranged by the U.S. embassy but paid for by the passengers.
The Qatar Airways jet is scheduled to land at Washington D.C. with a fuel stop at Doha.
Nepal’s government has halted all flights and ground transportation, shutting down offices and shuttering businesses since last month to control the spread of the coronavirus.
Nepal has nine confirmed cases including one person who has recovered but no deaths so far.
France turns to speedy trains to catch up in virus response
France is moving hundreds of critically ill COVID-19 patients around the country on specially fitted high-speed trains, planes, even a warship.
The exceptional journeys are carefully coordinated to relieve overwhelmed hospitals and try to stay ahead of the fast-moving virus. President Emmanuel Macron launched a special military operation to run it and says the country is “at war.” But critics say he waited too long to act and France should never have found itself so deep in such a coronavirus crisis.
France is one of the world’s richest countries and has one of the best health care systems, yet thousands of lives are being lost to the pandemic.
Nearly 3,000 released from Sri Lanka prisons
Nearly 2,900 prisoners have been released from overcrowded prisons in Sri Lanka as the Indian Ocean island nation has stepped up its efforts to contain the spreading of the new coronavirus.
Sri Lanka has been under a countrywide curfew since March 20. Five people have died due to the virus and the total number of confirmed cases has risen to 166.
According to a statement from the president’s office, 2,961 prisoners have been released on bail since March 17.
Sri Lanka’s prisons are highly congested, and the president’s office said at present, there are more than 26,000 inmates while the normal capacity does not exceed 10,000.
China reports 30 new coronavirus cases
Chinese health authorities reported 30 new coronavirus cases Sunday, including 25 people who had arrived from overseas. The other five cases were in southern China’s Guangdong province, which borders Hong Kong.
China has clamped down on international arrivals, banning most foreigners from entering and limiting foreign airlines to one flight per week. Having largely stopped the spread of the disease, the fear is that infected people coming from abroad could spark new outbreaks.
The National Health Commission said that three more people had died, bringing the country’s death toll to 3,329 as of the end of Saturday. The deaths were in Wuhan, where the pandemic began and by far the hardest-hit city in China. The number of confirmed cases stood at 81,669.