The Latest: Italy extends lockdown for another 3 weeks

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.


— Worldwide coronavirus death toll hits 100,000.

—WHO leader concerned about plans to lift to lift restrictions.

—Britain reports 980 new coronavirus deaths.


ROME — Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte has extended a nationwide lockdown and suspension of non-essential industrial production for another three weeks, through May 3.

Conte says in a nationally broadcast address that the sacrifices being made ‘’were having results,’’ and that for this reason ‘’we can not render vain the efforts taken. If we give in, we risk that all the positive results could be lost. It would be a great frustration for all, and we would have to start again, also with an increase in the number of dead.’’

The extension comes as the number of people in Italian hospitals and intensive care wards eases and the growth in the number of new cases and deaths narrows. Experts have said it will take a decrease in the number of cases to enter a so-called Phase II, allowing more freedom of movement to individuals but with precautions to guard against any new outbreaks.


PARIS — France’s national health agency is noticing a slight slowdown of the spreading of the virus in the country, which has reported the fourth-highest number of deaths from the COVID-19 in the world.

For the second consecutive day, the number of patients in French intensive care units slightly dropped, national health agency chief Jerome Salomon said, describing a “dim ray of sunshine” for French health care workers. More than 7,000 people remained in intensive care Friday.


ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s COVID-19 death toll has passed the 1,000 mark while the number of infections in the country reached 47,029.

Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca reported 98 fatalities in past 24 hours, bringing the total death toll to 1,006. He also reported an additional 4,747 confirmed cases.

A total of 1,667 patients are being treated in intensive care, including 1,062 who are intubated, he also told reporters at the end of a meeting of Turkey’s scientific council. At least 2,423 people have recovered, he said.


NEW YORK — The worldwide death toll from the coronavirus has hit 100,000, according to the running tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.

The sad milestone comes as Christians around the globe mark a Good Friday unlike any other — in front of computer screens instead of in church pews. Meanwhile, some countries are tiptoeing toward reopening segments of their battered economies.

Public health officials are warning people against violating the social distancing rules over Easter and allowing the virus to flare up again. Authorities are using roadblocks and other means to discourage travel.


JOHANNESBURG — South Africa’s health minister says the nation has “parted ways with the countries with rapid spread” of the coronavirus.

South Africa has Africa’s most cases with just over 2,000, but the rate of new confirmed cases has slowed during the first two weeks of lockdown.

Minister Zweli Mkhize spoke a day after the lockdown was extended another two weeks. “Let’s be ambitious and say together we want to part ways with the trends of the West and Europe,” he said, but warned that Africa’s most industrialized nation must keep up the hard work.


CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia nursing homes could run out of masks, gloves and medical gowns in as soon as two weeks amid a nationwide shortage caused by the coronavirus pandemic, a trade group leader says.

Marty Wright, CEO of the West Virginia Health Care Association, says the supply of personal protective equipment is dwindling as facilities rush to buy gear in a crowded marketplace marred by skyrocketing markups and delayed shipments.

He says he has heard stories of masks that were less than $1 now going for $5, facilities being supplemented by homemade items and nursing homes reaching out to overseas vendors as stateside suppliers are swamped.


NEW YORK — New national data shows how large the differences have been across the United States in coronavirus hospitalizations.

The report says that across the country, about 119 out of every 100,000 people were hospitalized with the infection. But that ranged from a low of 21 per 100,000 in Minnesota to 915 per 100,000 in New York City.

Researchers attribute the differences to a list of possible factors, including how early the virus may have first appeared in a given locale, the timing of school closures and other steps to prevent infection, and the number of old or frail people who might suffer severe illness.

The report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention covers what was reported by about 60 state, city, and territorial health departments from Feb. 12 through April 7.


MOSCOW — The mayor of Russia’s capital says a system of passes will be put into effect next week to boost compliance with restrictions on movement aimed at obstructing the spread of the coronavirus.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin says the pass system is necessary because many residents have not complied with orders to stay home except to buy food and medicine, walk pets or go to jobs at essential workplaces. The scannable QR-code passes are to be phased in beginning Monday.

Moscow has recorded more than 7800 cases of coronavirus infection, about 65 percent of the country’s total, and 50 deaths.


WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump says that although Americans will not be able to gather as they normally would on Easter, they can use “this sacred time” to focus on prayer, reflection and on growing their relationship with God.

The president participated in an Easter prayer from the Oval Office on Good Friday.

He acknowledged the sacrifices that people are making to end the pandemic, saying “at this holy time, our nation is engaged in a battle like never before.”

The president asked all Americans to pray that God would heal the nation, bring comfort to those who are grieving and to give strength to the nation’s health care providers.


LONDON — The World Health Organization’s emergencies chief says the agency is aware of some anecdotal reports of neurological effects in some COVID-19 patients from China, but says it’s unclear whether the virus is directly affecting the brain or whether those may simply be due to oxygen deprivation.

Dr. Mike Ryan says while some viruses cause complications like encephalitis and meningitis when they infect the brain, there is no indication yet that is the case with COVID-19 patients. Ryan says many infectious diseases can prompt deliriousness or a change in consciousness when their oxygen levels drop dramatically, but giving patients more oxygen often resolves the issue.

Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead on COVID-19, says the U.N. health agency was continuing to gather more data from doctors on how they were treating patients with the new coronavirus, but there was no guidance yet on how to treat potential neurological effects.


MADRID — Hundreds of staff at a hospital near the Spanish capital have gathered to pay homage to a 57-year-old nurse, who died Friday after contracting the COVID-19 disease.

In a post on social media, the Severo Ochoa Hospital in Leganes said the nurse died “after days of fighting relentlessly against the illness.” The post identified the victim for his first name, Esteban, and said that his widow also worked at the hospital, one of the main battlegrounds against the spread of the coronavirus.

Dressed in protective robes and wearing masks, the medical personnel broke into applause while the sirens of ambulances wailed. A sign hanging from a window read: “Esteban, always with us.”

Medical workers amount for roughly 15% of all contagions in Spain, which rose Friday to 157,000 confirmed infections. At least 15,800 people have died since the epidemic hit the country.


ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s president has sent a letter to Boris Johnson, wishing the British prime minister a speedy recovery from the coronavirus.

In his letter, Recep Tayyip Erdogan also conveyed his condolences to the families of British victims of the virus, expressed hope that Britain overcomes the “tragedy with the minimal losses” and relayed his good wishes to British health service employees treating COVID-19 patients.

Erdogan also invited Johnson, whose great-grandfather was Turkish, to visit “the land of your ancestors” to discuss ”“steps that will further our bilateral cooperation in the post-Brexit period.”

A copy of the letter was made available by Erdogan’s office.


GENEVA — The World Health Organization chief has warned that a premature lifting of stay-at-home and other restrictions by countries to fight the coronavirus outbreak could spark a “deadly resurgence.”

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus acknowledged that some countries are already planning to transition out of stay-at-home restrictions, and insisted that the U.N. health agency “wants to see restrictions lifted as much as anyone.”

“At the same time, lifting restrictions too quickly could lead to a deadly resurgence,” Tedros told reporters from WHO headquarters in Geneva. “The way down can be as dangerous as the way up, if not managed properly.”


LONDON — The British government says the U.K. has recorded 980 new deaths of people with the coronavirus, an increase from 881 deaths reported in the previous 24 hours and the highest daily total to date.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock says that as of Friday, 8,958 patients have died in hospital after testing positive for the coronavirus in the U.K.

Britain’s death toll has passed the daily peaks recorded in Italy and Spain, the two European countries with the highest number of COVID-19 deaths.

Italy recorded a high of 969 deaths on March 27 and Spain 950 deaths on April 2.

The figures may not be exactly comparable, however. The U.K. deaths reported each day occurred over several days or even weeks, and the total only includes deaths in hospitals.


ATHENS, Greece — Greece has extended its lockdown on all preschools, schools and universities until May 10 at least. The measure was first imposed March 10.

Also Friday, Greek authorities said a total 21 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in a majority-Roma neighborhood of the central city of Larissa. The neighborhood of some 3,500 people was quarantined Thursday, with a ban on anyone entering or leaving it.

Authorities are also carrying out tests in Roma settlements in neighboring regions, and have closed down all street markets in the broader area for two weeks as many of the infected people were market vendors.

The new cases in Larissa were among the 56 recorded between Thursday and Friday evening, which brought the country’s total since the pandemic started to 2,011. Four new deaths were recorded, bringing the total to 90.


LONDON — The Irish government has extended the lockdown in the country by three weeks until May 5 as it tries to keep a lid on the coronavirus pandemic.

The current lockdown was due to expire on Sunday, but the country’s premier, Leo Varadkar, said the government was accepting the recommendations of experts that it was necessary to “persevere” with the lockdown.

He said the government is “planning carefully” about how to bring about an end to the country’s lockdown so life can return to normal.

The truth, he said, is that “nobody knows for certain” when life will be normal again “or how our lives will be different when it comes.”


SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Puerto Rico is reporting the first death of a doctor from COVID-19.

The president of the Association of Surgeons confirmed to The Associated Press that pediatrician Víctor de Jesús died after being placed on a ventilator a couple of weeks ago. Dr. Víctor Ramos said more than 50 nurses and at least 11 doctors have tested positive as hospitals seek more protective equipment. He said one doctor remains on a ventilator.

Puerto Rico has reported at least 39 deaths and more than 720 confirmed cases with more than 1,390 test results pending.


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