The Latest: New Orleans preps convention center for patiens
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:
— President Trump holds call with sports commissioners
— France death toll passes 7,500 from coronavirus.
— Italy’s Lombardy region requires people to wear masks outside.
NEW ORLEANS — State medical officials are preparing for Monday’s opening of the Morial Convention Center, which is being converted into a medical support facility to help local hospitals care for patients infected with the new coronavirus.
The plan is for the most critical patients to remain in hospitals and give those with less severe symptoms but in need of medical care a place to go.
Joe Kanter, assistant state health officer with the Louisiana Department of Health and among those on the tour of the convention center, told media the next three weeks are “incredibly critical.”
Part of the facility’s purpose is to also keep COVID-positive patients away from the general population.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is reassuring Little League baseball players that they should be playing the game again soon.
“To all of our youth who are missing the start of their @LittleLeague seasons, hang in there! We will get you back out on the fields, and know that you will be playing baseball soon,” he tweeted Saturday. “We will get through this together, and bats will be swinging before you know it. In the meantime, take care of mom and dad, and know that this will not be forever!”
Little League president and CEO Stephen Keener reassured that the players would be back soon. The Little League, like the major leagues, has suspended activities until mid-May, when the situation will be assessed, according to the Little League website.
The Little League website said officials “will continue to consult with appropriate medical advisors, government health officials and our volunteer leaders around the world, and we are committed to doing the best we can for the safety and well-being of our players, families, volunteers, and fans.”
JOHANNESBURG — South Africa says part of a hospital in the city of Durban has been shut down after 11 coronavirus cases were confirmed among patients and staffers. Those include three patients at St. Augustine’s Hospital who died. The health ministry says no new patients are being admitted while any “infection control lapses” are investigated, and testing continues to “determine the true extent” of infections there. It asks that anyone who has been a patient at the hospital since March 1 contact the ministry. South Africa now has more than 1,500 cases, the most in Africa.
PARIS —France’s health director said that 7,560 people have died of coronavirus-related issues in France since the start of the epidemic in the country, including at least 2,028 in nursing homes.
Jerome Salomon spoke Saturday evening during a daily press briefing. According to these figures, France has experienced 441 more deaths in hospitals in the last 24 hours. The information for nursing homes remains incomplete, because not all of them have reported the number of people contaminated or dead because of COVID-19.
He also said that 28,143 people were currently hospitalized — of which 6838 are in intensive care, accounting for a rise of 176 people in 24 hours in intensive care.
Among the critical patients 35% are under 60 years old.
“The number of people being cured is also increasing very quickly,” Salomon said.
WASHINGTON — The White House says President Donald Trump spoke with commissioners of the country’s sports leagues on Saturday and told them he recognizes “the good work being done by many teams and players” to care for their communities and fan bases dealing with the new coronavirus.
The virus has decimated the sports world with the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League suspending their seasons indefinitely and Major League Baseball and the WNBA postponing the start of their season.
The NCAA basketball tournament was also cancelled, as were college spring sports such as baseball and softball, lacrosse and track and field.
The White House says the commissioners thanked Trump for his “national leadership and for his interest in the sports industry.” He called on them to continue efforts to support their fellow Americans during the current challenge.
A wide range of sports league officials participated in the call, including Roger Goodell, commissioner of the National Football League, and Adam Silver, commissioner of the NBA.
LONDON — Carrie Symonds, fiancee of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, says she is “on the mend” after a week suffering from symptoms of COVID-19.
Symonds, 32, tweeted: “I’ve spent the past week in bed with the main symptoms of Coronavirus,” though she had not been tested.
Symonds, who is pregnant, is not currently staying with Johnson at the prime minister’s Downing St. residence.
She said in a tweet that “being pregnant with Covid-19 is obviously worrying” but she was reassured by the latest medical guidance.
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says babies are unlikely to be exposed to COVID-19 during pregnancy and there is also no data at the moment suggesting an increased risk of miscarriage for pregnant women.
Johnson tested positive for the virus on March 26 and remains quarantined in Downing St. He said Friday he is feeling better but still has a fever.
ISTANBUL — Turkey’s health minister reported 76 new COVID-19 deaths in the past 24 hours, raising the death toll in the country to 501.
Fahrettin Koca also raised the total number of COVID-19 infections to 23,934, reporting 3,013 more confirmed cases on Saturday. There are 1,311 patients in intensive care units across the country, with 909 of them intubated.
A total of 786 people have recovered from novel coronavirus infections, according to the figures the health minister posted on Twitter.
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The suspected mismanagement of essential supplies during Hurricane Maria has turned out to be a boon for Puerto Rico as it fights a rise in the coronavirus cases. Health Secretary Lorenzo González said Saturday that officials discovered a cache of urgently needed personal protective equipment at a hospital in the nearby island of Vieques that remains closed since the Category 4 storm hit in September 2017. He said the equipment includes face masks, gloves, gowns and face shields that were in good condition. Puerto Rico has reported 18 deaths, including that of a nurse, and more than 450 confirmed cases, including police officers who have demanded more personal protective equipment.
ROME — Italy’s virus-ravaged Lombardy region is now requiring residents to wear a protective mask when they go outside in a bid to further trim infections.
The ordinance from Lombardy Gov. Attilio Fontana goes into effect Sunday and lasts through April 13. It mirrors similar ordinances in recent days from two other northern regions, hard-hit Veneto and Alto Adige, which require protective masks for residents particularly if shopping in stores and markets.
While all of Italy is under a nationwide lockdown, Lombardy has passed particularly tight restrictions on movement and business operations in an effort to curb infections in the epicenter of Europe’s outbreak. The new ordinance extends those tight restrictions to mid-April but makes a new exception to the shutdown for stationary stores to reopen to let students buy school supplies.
SKOPJE, North Macedonia — There were five deaths from the COVID-19 virus in North Macedonia in the past 24 hours, the highest single day toll so far, bringing the total to 17. There were 53 new confirmed cases, raising the total to 483. 20 people have recovered. Medical staff are also being infected. The country is in lock down, with closed borders, playgrounds, schools and all sports and other public events banned. A curfew from 4 pm till 5 am is in effect during weekends.
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.
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