The Latest: DC surpasses 900 coronavirus cases
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:
— Trudeau says Canada won’t punish U.S. for refusing to export N95 masks.
— Five London bus workers die from coronavirus.
— Bulgaria’s Orthodox Christian majority urged to stay away from church services during Easter.
WASHINGTON — The District of Columbia has announced 145 new positive infections from the COVID-19 coronavirus, bringing the total up to 902, with six new deaths bringing the total to 15. Mayor Muriel Bowser has issued a stay-home order for Washington’s approximately 700,000 residents. Neighboring Maryland and Virginia have done the same. Bowser has declared a state of emergency, shuttered all schools and ordered all non-essential businesses to close. White House and Capitol tours have been cancelled and the National Zoo, Smithsonian museum network and Kennedy Center have closed.
ROME — Italy is seeing more relief from the coronavirus outbreak in its jammed intensive care units, with 74 fewer beds in use over the past day nationwide.
Civil protection chief Angelo Borrelli said the dip in ICU saturation was “important news because it allows our hospitals to breathe.” Intensive care wards in Lombardy, the epicenter of the European outbreak, have been full for weeks but on Saturday there were 56 fewer beds in use than the day before.
Overall, new infections continued to slow their once-exponential pace, with 4,805 new cases registered Saturday that brought Italy’s official count to 124,632. The death toll continued to mount, with 681 new victims bringing the world’s highest toll to 15,362.
Italian officials have urged Italians to continue rigorously observing the west’s first and most comprehensive national shutdown after some Italians were seen out walking and shopping in great numbers in various cities. Officials say the emergency is still very much under way, and that the infection curve remains at a plateau, not yet beginning its hoped-for decline.
TORONTO — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada won’t bring retaliatory or punitive measures against the United States after the Trump administration announced it would prevent the export of N95 protective masks.
Trudeau says he will speak to President Trump in the coming days. He says his officials are having constructive conversations with American officials.
Trudeau says he will tell Trump both countries are interlinked in ways that it would damage both if supply chains are cut. The prime minister says Canada ships gloves and testing kits to the U.S and notes materials from the N95 masks originate in Canada.
Canadian nurses also cross the bridge in Windsor to work in the Detroit medical system everyday.
Manufacturing giant 3M says there are significant humanitarian implications of ceasing N95 masks to health care workers in Canada and Latin America, where 3M is a critical supplier of respirators.
SOFIA, Bulgaria — Bulgaria’s Orthodox Christian majority has been urged to stay away from church services during the upcoming Easter holidays.
The Balkan country of 7 million has extended a nationwide state of emergency by a month until May 13 to contain the spread of the coronavirus outbreak. It already has closed schools, restaurants, parks and sports facilities, and banned intercity travel and holiday trips.
But the Bulgarian Orthodox Church is resisting calls to close houses of worship making it the only denomination in the country to do so. Health officials have voiced fears that many worshippers might ignore the quarantine and attend the church services.
Prime Minister Boyko Borissov says this is an issue for the church and that the government would not intervene.
Bulgaria has confirmed 17 deaths from the coronavirus and the total number of confirmed cases increased to 503.
ATHENS, Greece — Greece recorded nine new fatalities from the coronavirus that raises the total number of deaths 68.
Officials said 49 men have died and the average age of those dying is 74. Total confirmed cases rose by 60 to 1,673. Officials said 92 people are in intensive care units and 10 have emerged from intensive care healthy.
Authorities announced that lockdown measures have been extended until April 27. They also chided the “enlarged” number of those who ventured to highways outside Athens despite the unsettled weather.
LONDON — A trade union says five London bus workers have died after being diagnosed with COVID-19. Three were drivers and two were controllers.
Peter Kavanagh is regional secretary of the Unite union and called the deaths a terrible tragedy. London’s subways and buses have continued to run a reduced service since the U.K. went into lockdown in a bid to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.
Bus ridership has plummeted by more than 75% but the drivers who died may have been infected before the lockdown.
Kavanagh says the union is working with transit operator Transport for London to ensure bus drivers are safe. New measures include deep-cleaning of buses, placing sealed screens around the driver and preventing passengers from sitting close to the driver.
The union called on the government to ensue transport workers were given protective equipment.
MADRID — Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez says that his nation ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic is “starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
Sánchez said that if the current slowdown of the outbreak continues then Spain is on course to reduce its cases of the COVID-19. Current numbers show Spain has 124,000 cases of coronavirus and over 11,000 deaths.
Sánchez gave a televised address to the nation Saturday and said Spain is close to reducing the spread of the virus. He implored citizens “to make more sacrifices” during the crisis.
Sánchez used the address to announce that the government plans to extend the lockdown the country has been under for three weeks until April 26.
Strict limitations that keep people at home except for shopping for food and medicine, as well as non-essential businesses, helped Spain reduce its rate of contagion that was over 20% last week to 6% on Saturday.
Sánchez warned that when restrictions are loosened they will be rolled back gradually. He says it is unclear when all normal activities will be resumed.
NAIROBI, Kenya — Kenya’s government has ordered the quarantine period extended for two weeks in facilities where some people went on “partying sprees” and might have spread the new coronavirus.
Officials on Saturday reported a high number of cases among those in quarantine facilities and accused some people of not taking social distancing seriously.
But some Kenyans have complained to local media about the quarantine conditions that include shared bathrooms and poor hygiene. Kenya has 126 confirmed coronavirus cases.
MADRID — Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez says he will ask Spain’s Parliament to extend the country’s state of emergency another two weeks to battle the new coronavirus outbreak.
Spain has been under lockdown since March 14. The state of emergency is due to expire on April 11.
The extension of two more weeks will extend it until April 26 and take the lockdown to six full weeks.
The leader of the main opposition party has already said it will support the government when it asks the Parliament session for the extension this week. This will be the second extension Sánchez has requested.
Spain has 11,744 fatalities and 124,736 infections and from the pandemic. It is on pace with Italy as the countries with the most infections after the United States.
But the expansion of the outbreak is slowing and Spain’s hospitals have helped over 34,000 recover from the COVID-19 virus.
Sanchez notes Spain is slowing the curve but needs more time to continue its progress.
The national lockdown has closed down all non-essential industries and only allows people to leave their homes for food and medicine purchases.
PARIS — France’s health minister says the government is in discussion with experts over whether all residents should be wearing a protective mask to fight the spread of the new coronavirus.
Olivier Veran indicated it has not been recommended by French authorities for everyone to wear a mask. But he says the idea is under discussion with the scientific council, virology experts and health agencies.
Veran also says the French government is committed to obtaining a plentiful supply of masks. He added ” we have to be able to produce masks, for people who are not caregivers, who are what are called people who are on the second line, people who will be in contact with the public.”
GLASGOW, Scotland — A Scottish nursing home says 13 residents who died in the past week are believed to have had the new coronavirus.
Four Seasons Health Care runs the Burlington Court Care Home in Glasgow and says two members of its staff are also being treated in hospitals for the virus.
The residents who died were not tested for the virus because they did not go to hospitals. Their families have since been told of the possible connection.
The news came as the government said 4,313 people with COVID-19 have died in British hospitals. That’s an increase of 708 on a day before. The youngest victim was 5-years-old.
That daily figure does not include nursing-home deaths, which are recorded separately and published weekly.
LONDON — Britain is temporarily releasing about 4,000 inmates to ease crowding and try to slow the spread of the new coronavirus in prisons.
The Ministry of Justice says “low-risk” offenders will be freed with electronic tags. People guilty of violent or sexual offenses or terrorism will not be eligible for release.
Pregnant prisoners or those with infants have also been approved for release.
Britain has one of the largest prison populations in western Europe with more than 80,000 people behind bars. Many prisons hold far more inmates than they were built for.
According to official figures, 88 inmates and 15 prison staff have tested positive for COVID-19. Three prisoners are reported to have died.
ROME — Italy’s commissioner for the new coronavirus crisis has defended the government’s response amid criticism of slow and insufficient distribution of ventilators and personal protective equipment for health care workers.
Domenico Arcuri insisted the civil protection agency had accelerated its distribution of protective masks in recent days and deliveries had reached regions in sufficient quantities.
Arcuri on Saturday defended the decision to prioritize the hard-hit north first because the epidemic is centered there. He added central and southern Italy are receiving the necessary equipment in time to cope with their slowly increasing caseload.
Regional officials and associations of doctors and health care workers denounced the shortages of PPE early on in the crisis. It has been blamed as a contributor to more than 11,000 health care workers getting infected and more than 70 doctors dying.
Arcuri also noted that Italy had made an “enormous effort” to increase its intensive care capacity. The number of ICU beds nationwide at the start of the emergency was 5,179 and now is at more than 9,000.
Italy had only 8.6 ICU beds per 100,000 people before the pandemic. That is well below the OECD average of 15.9 and a fraction of Germany’s 33.9 ICU beds per 100,000 people.
BELGRADE, Serbia — Serbian streets have emptied as a tightened curfew took effect on Saturday as part of measures designed to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.
The government extended the ban from 1 p.m. Saturday until 5 a.m. on Monday to prevent people from leaving their homes. Previously the curfew was imposed from 5 p.m. until 5 a.m daily.
Children’s playgrounds and entrances into Belgrade parks have been blocked with plastic tape and police are patrolling the main streets to ensure people stay inside. Police have used loudspeakers to disperse citizens from recreation areas in the city.
Serbian citizens have not obeyed the strict measures despite government warnings to stay indoors to avoid being infected with the new coronavirus.
Serbia has reported around 1,500 confirmed cases and 39 fatalities.
Doctors have warned they are expecting a rise in the numbers of cases in the Balkan country of around 7 million people. Authorities have banned all people over 65 years old from leaving their homes.
MOSCOW — The U.S. Embassy in Russia says it is trying to arrange a charter flight to repatriate Americans but warns it could be the last flight for some time.
A planned Aeroflot flight to New York was cancelled while on the taxiway on Friday. Russia has banned all international airline flights, including those bring Russians back to their homeland in an attempt to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Embassy spokeswoman Rebecca Ross advised Americans that if the charter flight happens “this will likely be the final charter opportunity to depart Russia.”
As of Saturday, Russia has reported 4,731 coronavirus infections and 44 deaths.
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