The Latest: France has its highest 24-hour death toll
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:
— France’s health minister has reported the country’s highest 24-hour death toll recorded in the country since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
— World Health Organization urges caution in relaxation of lockdown strategies
— Ontario’s Ford: 500,000 masks headed across the border.
— Italy’s day-to-day increase in COVID-19 cases dips again.
— Music stars set to stage live concert on April 18 to raise funds for fight against COVID-19
— Germany’s Merkel says too early to consider ending restrictive measures.
PARIS — France’s health minister has reported the country’s highest 24-hour death toll recorded in the country since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Olivier Veran said Monday evening that 833 people died of coronavirus in hospitals and nursing homes since Sunday.
Though some predicted that the infection rate might start to slow, Veran said that “we have not reached the end of the ascent of this epidemic.”
France has only recently started counting nursing home deaths in their COVID-19-related death counts, and previously only reported deaths in hospitals.
The total number that have died from the coronavirus stands at 8,911.
NEW YORK — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo extended stay-at-home restrictions through the end of the month, citing fresh evidence Monday that the outbreak-fighting rules could be helping the state avoid a worst-case catastrophe.
New York state has tallied 4,758 deaths from COVID-19, with 599 reported in the past 24 hours. It remains the most impacted state with more than 130,000 laboratory-confirmed cases and close to 17,000 people hospitalized.
But the number of new people entering hospitals daily has dropped, as have the number of critically ill patients requiring ventilators. Recent data suggests the state could be at or near the peak of the outbreak, state officials said.
Warning it was no time the relent, Cuomo said schools and nonessential businesses will remain closed until April 29.
Cuomo stressed that even if New York has reached the peak, numbers could persist at these levels, which would continue to stress struggling hospitals.
NEW JERSEY — New Jersey’s death toll from the coronavirus surpassed 1,000 people, according to data released Monday from the state’s health department.
In the past 24 hours, New Jersey fatalities from COVID-19 climbed from 917 to 1,003.
New Jersey and New York are among the hardest-hit states in the country. New Jersey is likely weeks away from hitting the peak of the outbreak, according to health officials.
Bergen, Essex and Hudson counties in suburban New York have seen the most cases.
BATON ROUGE, Louisiana — The coronavirus pandemic claimed its youngest victim yet in Louisiana on Monday — a baby born prematurely after her mother contracted the disease and was put on a ventilator.
“The baby, because of the extreme prematurity did not survive,” said East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner Beau Clark, who blamed the mother’s COVID-19 disease for putting her into labor.
The girl survived only one day, and the coroner said both he and Louisiana’s state epidemiologist agreed that she belongs in the state’s coronavirus death toll.
Whether the baby had COVID-19 remains under investigation, but Clark said her death is clearly linked to the virus.
If not for her mother’s infection, Clark said, “Likely she would have not gone into preterm labor and there would have been a different outcome. This is an incredibly sad case.”
Clark said the mother was admitted to a hospital on April 1 and remains alive. He provided no details about her condition, and no identifying information. This premature baby wasn’t the first U.S. newborn to die in similar circumstances, he added.
Louisiana’s coronavirus caseload grew Monday to nearly 15,000 people with confirmed infections, about 12% of whom are hospitalized. The death toll rose by 35 from a day earlier to at least 512.
LONDON — The World Health Organization’s emergencies chief said countries looking to exit their lockdown strategies need to use a “calibrated, step-wise approach” that does not release all the restrictions at once.
Dr. Mike Ryan said Monday that the lockdowns seen in many countries involve shutdowns of schools, workplaces, and social gatherings in venues such as public places and parks.
“It probably would be a bad idea to lift all the lockdown restrictions (at once),” Ryan said, noting that countries shouldn’t be looking to transition out of a shutdown without having a plan in place to keep the spread of COVID-19 to manageable levels.
“The lockdown is pushing the disease down. Once you raise the lockdown, you have to have an alternative method to suppress the infection,” Ryan said, explaining countries should have systems in place to detect cases, track contacts, quarantine suspect cases and test widely for the disease.
TORONTO — The premier of Canada’s most populous province says U.S. officials have stopped 3 million masks from getting to Ontario from manufacturing giant 3M but he says 500,000 of them are being released Monday.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford says getting masks across the U.S. border is difficult after the Trump administration announced it would prevent the export of N95 protective masks.
Ford says he’s hopeful Canada will get an exemption and says he feels better about that after speaking with United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. Ford says he’s grateful for anything he can from the U.S. after delays in global shipments and recent restrictions at the U.S. border have left Ontario with about a one-week supply of critical protective equipment for health care workers.
Canadian health care workers — like those in the U.S. — are in dire need of the masks that provide more protection against the virus that causes COVID-19.
GENEVA — The head of the World Health Organization on Monday denounced “racist remarks” by two French scientists for suggesting coronavirus vaccine testing should be carried out in Africa.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, an Ethiopian who is the first WHO director-general from Africa, said decried “a hangover from a colonial mentality” at a time when he has urged “solidarity” among countries.
He was alluding to comments on a French news program Wednesday that prompted outrage. Dr. Jean-Paul Mira of Paris’ respected Cochin Hospital floated the prospect of carrying out vaccine tests in Africa.
“If I can be provocative,” Mira said on LCI television, “Shouldn’t we do this study in Africa, where there are no masks, no treatment, no resuscitation?”
The idea drew agreement from another guest, microbiologist Camille Locht from the INSERM medical research institute.
Tedros retorted at a news conference Monday: “Africa cannot and will not be a testing ground for any vaccine.”
“The hangover from a colonial mentality has to stop and WHO will not allow this to happen,” he said. “It was a disgrace, actually, and appalling to hear during the 21st century from scientists that kind of remark.”
Mira has apologized for the remarks.
GENEVA — The World Health Organization chief says it will give new guidance to countries as they decide whether to order or advise people to wear masks to help fight the coronavirus.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus pointed to “limited research” on the matter and said: “There is no black or white answer, and no silver bullet.”
“Masks alone cannot stop the pandemic,” he said.
Tedros repeated WHO’s insistence that medical masks “must be prioritized for health workers on the front lines of the response,” and noted the masks are in short supply globally.
Some central European countries have begun requiring citizens to wear masks in public. On Friday, the U.S. government advised Americans to voluntarily wear a basic cloth or fabric face mask to help stop the spread.
LONDON — British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab says he has not spoken to Boris Johnson since Saturday but insisted that the prime minister, who has been hospitalized with persistent coronavirus symptoms, remains in charge of the government.
Raab, who earlier chaired the government’s daily coronavirus briefing, said Johnson had a “comfortable” night after being admitted to St. Thomas’ Hospital in south London late Sunday, and that the prime minister was “in good spirits.”
Johnson tested positive for the virus 11 days ago and has said in a series of video messages during his self-isolation since that he was displaying “mild symptoms” of a cough and a high temperature.
The government’s chief medical adviser, Chris Whitty, said it was possible for people to carry on working from hospital but that any decision relating to Johnson’s ability to do so could only be made by his own personal medics.
ROME — Italy’s day-to-day increase in new COVID-19 cases has dipped again.
The nearly 3,600 new cases that authorities announced on Monday were the lowest day-to-day increase in 20 days. Another number boosting hopes in Italy’s medical community was a small drop, for the third straight day, in the number of intensive care beds occupied by patients with coronavirus infections nationwide.
“Substantially, the data confirms the trend” of a slowing of new cases and “gives comfort that the measures of containment against the viral infection are effective,’’ said Dr. Luca Richeldi, a pneumologist with Rome’s Gemelli Hospital.
Italy now has at least 132,547 confirmed cases, putting it just behind Spain in total known cases. There were 636 deaths in Italy since Sunday, up from 525 a day earlier. But Richeldi said that overall, a downward trend in deaths was holding, showing a decrease of 20 percent compared to a week earlier.
On Monday, Italy marks a month under national lockdown aimed at slowing contagion with the virus.
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine received $1.2 million of aid from the United States amid the growing coronavirus pandemic, Ukraine’s president said Monday.
“Grateful to the U.S. for allocating $1.2 million to Ukraine to combat COVID-19,” Zelenskiy said in a tweet after a phone conversation with the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The aid comes as the outbreak is taking a toll on Ukraine’s economy, with the state budget deficit tripling and incomes plummeting. Ukraine, where 1,319 coronavirus cases have been registered so far, has been in lockdown since March, with the borders closed and the vast majority of businesses not operating.
The country’s government hopes to get a $8 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund to keep the economy afloat.
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — Slovakia’s government has approved a plan to limit movement across the country over Easter in efforts to contain the coronavirus.
The restrictions will be in place from Wednesday till the end of Easter Monday.
People will only be allowed to travel to work, do essential shopping or visit doctors. Only family members can stay together for any outdoor activities that will be restricted to take place only within one county.
Slovakia is a Roman Catholic stronghold in central and eastern Europe. The government previously banned public gatherings, including religious services.
The government also approved a renewal of border checks with all neighboring countries between Wednesday and April 17.
Slovakia has 534 people infected, two have died.
ROME — The association of doctors in Italy’s virus-ravaged Lombardy region has identified seven “errors” committed by public health officials early on in the outbreak that the association says contributed to the virus’ spread and the death of more than 80 doctors.
Among the key claims was a lack of data about the true number of people infected, the lack of tests for medical personnel, and the inadequate distribution of protective equipment and masks for medical personnel.
The association blasted what it said was the “confused” management in the region’s nursing homes, where hundreds of elderly died, many of whom were never tested for COVID-19 and do not figure into official virus death counts.
The doctors also complained about “uncertainties” in decisions to close high-risk areas, a reference to the delayed decision to lock down hard-hit Bergamo until two weeks after the first infections were reported.
Responding, Italy’s civil protection chief Angelo Borrelli insisted that the virus was an “invisible enemy” that took everyone by surprise. He acknowledged that Italy hadn’t been able to take all necessary measures at the start but said “better than this we couldn’t have done.”
LONDON — A host of international stars including Chris Martin, Alanis Morissette, John Legend, Billie Eilish, Lang Lang, Elton John and Andrea Bocelli will perform in a live concert on April 18 to raise funds for the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
During a press briefing on Monday, Lady Gaga announced she too would be performing in the concert, calling the coronavirus pandemic “a catastrophe” and said she was praying for all those who were sick.
She made her remarks while wearing thick black-rimmed glasses and a sober plaid tweed blazer over a low-cut top.
“My heart is very achy and warm for those who are ER doctors and nurses who are sleeping in cars to make sure they don’t infect their family,” she said. “We all salute you.”
“I would also like to send my prayers to people who are losing their jobs and are having a hard time feeding themselves and their children,” Lady Gaga said.
She added that in the past week, she and others have raised $35 million for buying much-needed protective gear for health workers, improving lab capacities and further research and development into possible drugs and vaccines to treat the new coronavirus.
LONDON — J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books, says she has “fully recovered” from what she believes to have been coronavirus.
Rowling said in a tweet that she had not been tested but that she had displayed “all symptoms” of the virus over the past two weeks.
ANKARA, Turkey — The number of confirmed COVID-19 infections in Turkey surpassed 30,000, after the country’s health minister reported 3,148 more cases in the past 24 hours.
Fahrettin Koca also reported 75 more deaths on his Twitter account on Monday, raising the death toll in the country to 649.
The total of number of infections in Turkey stands at 30,217.
A total of 1,415 people are in intensive care, including 966 intubated patients, while 1,326 COVID-19 patients have recovered, according to the figures the health minister posted on Twitter.
MADRID — Spanish investigators on Monday released from custody a businessman suspected of involvement in the theft of 2 million facemasks amid the new coronavirus outbreak.
Private news agency Europa Press reports that the man from the northwest Galicia region remains a suspect in the case, which is ongoing.
With facemasks in short supply in many parts of the world, Galician authorities say protective equipment for health workers worth 5 million euros ($5.4 million) were stolen from a warehouse in Santiago de Compostela last February.
Local officials allege the man, who was detained on Saturday, knew that amid a health emergency the equipment would increase in value.
Police suspect the equipment was going to be sent for sale in neighboring Portugal.
ATHENS, Greece — Greece has recorded six more deaths from COVID-19 in the past day, bringing the country’s total to 79, another 20 positive cases were detected, bringing the total to 1,755.
The country took lockdown measures relatively early on in its outbreak compared to some other European countries, and authorities say the restrictions appear to be working.
Nearly all retail businesses have been shut down, and people are allowed out of their homes only for specific reasons. Thousands of fines have been imposed for those violating the lockdown regulations.
Civil Protection Deputy Minister Nikos Hardalias urged Greeks to stick to the restrictions. “April will be the most difficult, but the most crucial, month,” he said.
KINGSTON, Jamaica — Authorities in Jamaica have arrested a female pastor accused of holding a church service in her home in violation of a coronavirus curfew.
Police said in a statement Monday that the 54-year-old woman hosted more than 50 people at her house in St. Catherine parish near the capital of Kingston. Jamaica has reported more than 50 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and at least three deaths.
BERLIN — German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she’s as anxious as anyone for life to return to normal in the country.
Merkel says “we’re still living in the pandemic” and now isn’t the time to talk about an end date to restrictive measures.
Merkel says “we would be a bad government if we did not intensively, day and night, consider how we can take steps to return to ordinary life while still protecting health.”
But, she adds she would be considered ‘a bad chancellor, and we’d be a bad government,’ if she set an immediate date to end restrictions.
European officials are scheduled to hold a video conference Tuesday to discuss the crisis and Merkel said the European Union was “facing its greatest test since its founding” that has hit every nation.
“Everyone has been affected and therefore it is in everyone’s interest, and in Germany’s interest, that Europe emerges stronger from this test.”
PRAGUE — The Czech government has agreed to relax some restrictions imposed to contain the epidemic of the coronavirus.
Industry and trade minister Karel Havlicek says that starting Tuesday, people would not have to wear a mandatory facemask for outdoor individual sports activities, such as jogging or riding a bicycle.
Havlicek says people still have to keep a compulsory distance of two meters (yards) from one another.
As of Thursday, more stores are allowed to reopen, including hobby markets and businesses selling construction materials and bicycles.
At the same time, the stores will have to provide a disinfection liquid and protective gloves for one-time use at the entrance and people inside have to keep a two-meter (two-yard) distance from each other.
More stores will reopen after Easter, Havlicek said on Monday.
The government has also approved a proposal to cancel the ban for the Czechs to travel abroad, starting on April 14. Havlicek said people will have a chance to travel to foreign countries for business trips, visiting relatives, or for medical reasons. On return, they will have to be quarantined for two weeks.
Currently, the Czechs are barred from leave the country and foreigners are barred from entering it.
The Czech Republic has 4,735 infected with the coronavirus, 78 people have died.
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