The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.
TOP OF THE HOUR:
— Spain’s deadliest day has over 800 deaths, over 8,000 news cases.
— Trump OKs major disaster declaration to Michigan.
— PM Trudeau: No Canadians with symptoms can board planes, trains.
ACCRA – President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo issued a lockdown of Accra and Kumasi metropolitan areas where over 90% of Ghana’s COVID-19 cases reside. Exemptions were given to workers in a selected number of essential industries
ABUJA – The Federal Government gave its blessing to a private initiative by Africa’s richest man. Aliko Dangote and a top Nigerian entrepreneur have launched a coalition of private sector organizations to support the country’s efforts aimed at stemming the spread of the coronavirus, local media reported.
In a joint statement Wednesday, Dangote, who heads Dangote Industries Limited, and Wigwe, who is the managing director of the Access Bank Group, announced launching the of the Coalition Against Coronavirus (COCAVID).
PRETORIA – On 23 March 2020, the South African President, H.E. Cyril Ramaphosa, announced a three week lockdown in response to COVID-19. The President also confirmed that the military will be deployed in order to support the police in enforcing the nationwide lockdown.
On the day of the speech, South Africa’s Department of Health had stated that more than 400 cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed in the country, which is the highest number in Africa so far.
TORONTO — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says anyone showing symptoms of COVID-19 will not be allowed to board domestic flights or intercity trains.
Trudeau says the new requirement will begin Monday at noon. Canadians returning to the country already can’t board planes if they are showing symptoms.
Trudeau says it will up to the train and plane operators to ensure people with symptoms don’t board. He says all those showing symptoms should be in self-isolation.
Trudeau made the announcement outside this residence where he is self-isolating after his wife tested positive for the virus. Canada has more than 4,700 cases and more than 50 deaths.
KINSHASHA – In Lubumbashi, for example, a false alert about two potentially infected individuals who had flown in from Kinshasa led Governor Jacques Kyabula to declare a complete 48-hour lockdown on March 23 until all the plane’s passengers could be found and isolated. But large amounts of people could still be seen milling around in the streets, several neighborhood markets remained open, and the moto-taxis were doing their regular business.
In Kinshasa, too, the government has ordered bars, restaurants, schools, and universities closed, and has banned group gatherings. But many markets remain open and many people, seeking to eke out a living in a country with a 70 percent poverty rate, are out and about. With a population of more than ten million inhabitants and with communes of extreme population density, the very notion of avoiding gatherings is an empirical puzzle.
MOSCOW — Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has ordered the country’s borders be fully closed as of Monday.
The order issued Saturday follows increasingly stringent restrictions imposed over the past several weeks to limit the spread of coronavirus.
International passenger flights were halted on Friday. The order exempts diplomats as well as residents of the Kaliningrad exclave, who must cross through another country to enter the rest of Russia.
BANJUL – The Gambia on Friday began a nation-wide hunt for 14 people who escaped from a hotel in the capital where they had been quarantined upon arrival from the United Kingdom.
Authorities insisted that they are on their trail armed with their personal information and closing in on them
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has approved a major disaster declaration for Michigan, providing additional money to help the state address the COVID-19 pandemic.
The declaration announced by the White House on Saturday follows a back-and-forth between Trump and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who has criticized the Trump administration for its slow response to the pandemic, saying “we cannot weather this alone.”
The U.S. surgeon general said Friday that Detroit, a national “hot spot” for cases of the new coronavirus, will worsen next week. More than 3,600 people in Michigan were confirmed to have COVID-19 Friday. At least 92 have died, most from the three counties in the Detroit area, according to state officials.
Detroit has recorded 28 deaths and 1,166 cases, according to the city’s health department.
MOSCOW — Passenger traffic on Moscow’s subway system, the second-busiest in the world, was down by about half on the first day of a widespread closure of business aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus.
According to the Interfax news agency, the city’s transportation department says the number of people using the subway was 2.2 times lower than the same day in 2019. Bus use was similarly down. Moscow’s subway system records an average 6.6 million rides a day. Moscow has ordered non-essential businesses closed through April 5
JAKARTA, Indonesia — Authorities in Indonesia’s capital have extended a state of emergency for the next two weeks.
Jakarta Gov. Anies Baswedan says the decision was made because the COVID-19 death toll increased to 62 in the last week, along with 603 positive tests in Jakarta.
Baswedan says the current two-week long state of emergency in the capital will be extended to April 19. It would also lengthen the closure of tourism spots, entertainment venues, schools and offices.
He urged all corporations to remain closed and for their employees to work from home, and social organizations and religious groups to help prevent the spread of the disease.
He said at least 61 health workers exposed to coronavirus while helping patients in 26 hospitals in Jakarta.
Indonesia has reported 102 deaths and 1,155 infections.
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lankan health authorities announced the country’s first death due to the Coronavirus.
A 60-year old male died at the Infectious Disease Hospital neat the capital Colombo Saturday, the health ministry announced. The deceased was suffering from diabetic, hypertension and had previously undergone a kidney transplant. The number of confirmed cases in Sri Lanka has increased to 110. This item corrects age of victim to 60, not 65.
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon says it’s made no decisions yet about calling up reservists following President Donald Trump’s order authorizing the call-up of an unspecified number to help with the coronavirus response.
The Pentagon’s chief spokesman says the Defense Department anticipates tapping people mainly for administrative duties and “high-demand medical capabilities whose call-up would not adversely affect their civilian communities.”
Spokesman Jonathan Hoffman says before calling up any members of the National Guard, the department would consult with state officials. Hoffman says its “a dynamic situation” and the Pentagon currently doesn’t have “a projected number of expected activations.”
Trump said in a letter to Congress on Friday that he had authorized Defense Secretary Mark Esper to order units and individual members of the Selected Reserve, as well as certain Individual Ready Reserve members, to active duty.
The reserve call-up likely will assist the military as it deploys field hospitals to cities hard hit by COVID-19 and provide medical support to state and local authorities.
LONDON— The editor of the respected British medical journal, The Lancet, has accused the government of doing too little, too late, to address the COVID-19 crisis.
Richard Horton wrote that despite numerous warnings, national programs failed. He added basic principles, such as following World Health Organization testing advice, weren’t followed.
Keith Willett, the National Health Service Strategic Incident Director for Covid-19, disputed the editorial’s conclusions.
He says the NHS has freed up 33,000 beds for virus patients — a third of all hospital capacity — and enabled 18,000 nurses and doctors to return to practice. Three new makeshift hospitals are being built.
WASHINGTON — The civil rights office at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is issuing a reminder that discrimination during COVID-19 care is prohibited.
Civil Rights office director Roger Severino says Health Human Services is committed to leaving no one behind during the crisis. Discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, age, sex and religion is prohibited.
Officials say they’re particularly focused on making sure medical professionals don’t discriminate against people with disabilities.
TIRANA, Albania — Albania will send doctors and nurses to nearby Italy, lending a hand to the country at the epicenter of the COVID-19 in Europe.
The government decision published at the Official Gazette on Saturday sets aside a budget reserve for doctors and nurses, who will be paid per month.
The Dita newspaper says 30 doctors and nurses will serve in Bergamo, Italy, which is hard hit by the virus.
Albania has reported 197 cases of the coronavirus, with 10 deaths.
TOKYO — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says the country is at a critical stage in dealing with coronavirus infections but not at a point to declare a state of emergency.
Abe says Japan has managed to keep clusters under control by carefully following infection routes. But the initial strategy is now having a difficulty, with a rise of infections that are no longer traceable — an early sign of infection explosion.
He says once there is infection overshoot, “our strategy of slowing down the peak of the infections will instantly fall apart.” He adds “under the current situation, we are just barely holding up. But I understand we are standing on the edge.”
Abe convened a taskforce Thursday, the day after Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike made a stay-at-home request to its 14 million residents after seeing a spike in the number of new cases of the COVID-19 to 41.
Japan has 2,180 confirmed cases, including 712 from a cruise ship, with 59 deaths, according to the health ministry.
PARIS — French police are uncovering an underground business in protective face masks, locating more than 23,000 masks stuffed in a small truck in a chic neighborhood of western Paris.
Stocks of masks have turned up in other surprising places. The masks, in short supply in France and other countries, are needed by health workers amid the coronavirus pandemic. The French government requisitioned all masks in early March.
Police found 20,000 illegally held masks in a tourist agency in southern Paris and 15,000 masks in a natural foods shop in an eastern neighborhood of the French capital, the newspaper Le Monde reported on Saturday.
KATHMANDU, Nepal — German and French government-chartered flights picked up hundreds of passengers stranded in the Himalayan nation since the country imposed a complete lockdown.
Two Qatar Airways jets flew 303 Germans and 305 French nationals out of Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport. On Friday, another flight had rescued 305 German tourists.
Nepal’s government has halted all flights and ground transportation, shutting down offices and shuttering businesses to control the spread of the coronavirus.
Nepal has five confirmed cases, including one person who has recovered. Nepal’s health ministry spokesman Bikash Devkota says the latest case confirmed is a Nepali woman who had traveled back from Belgium.
BERLIN — The German military is flying six COVID-19 patients from Italy’s worst-hit region to western Germany for treatment.
A German air force plane landed in Bergamo in northern Italy early Saturday. It was due to return to Cologne after taking the Italian patients, who will be treated at various hospitals in the region.
Several German state governments have offered to take in patients from Italy. Some have already arrived. Germany also has taken in some patients from hard-hit eastern France.
Germany has a large number of coronavirus cases but a relatively low death rate compared with Italy’s. Its health system hasn’t been overwhelmed by severe cases so far.
MADRID — Spain had its deadliest day yet during the coronavirus crisis with 832 deaths reported on Saturday for a total of 5,690 fatalities. Infections have increased by over 8,000 in 24 hours to reach a national total of 72,248.
Spain is approaching two weeks of its stay-at-home restrictions and store closings, but its infections and deaths keep rising. On Friday, Spain reported a total of 64,059 cases and 4,858 deaths.
The medical system is pushed to the limits in the hot spots in Madrid and northeast Catalonia. Doctors, nurses and ambulance drivers are falling ill at an alarming rate and working non-stop.
Pablo Rojo, an ambulance medic at Barcelona’s Dos de Maig hospital, says: “They’re not 80 years old anymore, they are now 30 and 40 years old.”
HELSINKI — Finnish police and assisting military forces and border guard officials are enforce a blockade of a key southern region that includes the Nordic nation’s capital, Helsinki.
The exceptional order by Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s government to block the movement of citizens into and out of the Uusimaa entered into force on Saturday.
The region is home to some 1.7 million people including Helsinki’s 650,000 residents.
Police have set up road blocks to main entry and exit points in Uusimaa and are checking each arriving or departing vehicle for a legitimate reason for movement. Finnish conscript soldiers are patrolling on local trains for possible regulation dodgers.
TIRANA, Albania — The Albanian government says people will have to apply for a permit to go out for necessities following stricter measures to contain the virus outbreak.
Prime Minister Edi Rama says people can apply online via e-albania.al or with a text message. Only one person per family may go out.
The only shops open are those selling food, medicine and other basic items and people may only go out between 5 a.m. and 1 p.m. from Monday to Saturday.
No movement or business activity will be allowed from Saturday at 1 p.m. to Monday at 5 a.m., with police and military forces patrolling the streets.
Albania has reported 186 cases of the new coronavirus with 10 deaths.
KATHMANDU, Nepal — Scores of tourists on the foothills of Mount Everest have been flown to safety days after being stranded on the only airstrip serving the world’s highest mountain.
Dhurba Shrestha, an official at the Tenzing Hillary Airport in Lukla, says that 174 foreign tourists and four Nepali nationals left the mountain by air on Saturday in 12 small planes and two helicopters.
The airport at Lukla, located at an altitude of 2,800 meters (9,184 feet), is the only airport in the Mount Everest region.
Foreign embassies and local travel agents have been urging Nepal’s government to allow these rescue flights to the Everest region since the country imposed a lockdown last week.
Nepal’s government has halted all flights and ground transportation, shutting down offices and shuttering businesses to control the spread of the coronavirus. Nepal has four confirmed cases including one person who has recovered.
ISLAMABAD — The foreign ministry says China is sending a plane containing medical personnel and supplies to aid Pakistan in the fight to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Pakistan is a key link in China’s ambitious multi-billion dollar, one-road project linking South and Central Asia to China.
China is also a key military supplier for Pakistan, having supplied the country with missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons.
Pakistan currently has 1,321 confirmed cases, 10 deaths and 23 patients who have recovered. Most of the infected people returned from Iran where the confirmed cases are more than 30,000 with more than 2,300 deaths.
BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff says Germany won’t loosen its restrictions on public life before April 20.
German authorities closed non-essential shops and banned gatherings of more than two people in public at the beginning of the week. Schools, bars, restaurants and clubs are also closed.
Merkel’s chief of staff, Helge Braun, told Saturday’s edition of the daily Tagesspiegel that “we are not going to talk about any easing before April 20 – until then, all measures will remain in place.” He says officials will say “in a timely manner before then” what will happen after that date.
Braun says “the older and the sick will have to reduce their contacts for significantly longer.”
Germany has recorded more than 50,000 cases of the new coronavirus, according to a tally by John Hopkins University, with 351 deaths – a lower death rate than many other countries.