The Latest: NY Gov. Cuomo: Infection rate accelerating
The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected more than 395,000 people and killed over 17,000. The COVID-19 illness causes mild or moderate symptoms in most people, but severe symptoms are more likely in the elderly or those with existing health problems. More than 103,000 people have recovered so far, mostly in China.
TOP OF THE HOUR:
— IOC, Japan agree to postpone Tokyo Olympics.
— NY Gov. Cuomo says infection rate accelerating.
— Putin visits a hospital in Moscow.
— World Health Organization says expect coronavirus cases to increase “considerably.”
NEW YORK — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo sounded his most dire warning yet about the coronavirus pandemic, saying the infection rate in New York is accelerating and the state could be as close as two weeks away from a crisis that projects 40,000 people in intensive care.
Such a surge would overwhelm hospitals, which now have just 3,000 intensive care unit beds statewide.
Cuomo says the rate of new infections is doubling about every three days. While officials once thought the peak in New York would come in early May, they now say it could come in two to three weeks.
“We are not slowing it. And it is accelerating on its own,” he said during a briefing in New York City. “One of the forecasters said we were looking at a freight train coming across the country. We’re now looking at a bullet train.”
There were nearly 26,000 positive cases in New York state with 210 deaths, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.
NEW DELHI — India will begin the world’s largest lockdown.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced it in a TV address Tuesday night, warning that anyone going outside risked inviting the coronavirus inside their homes. He pledged $2 billion to bolster the country’s beleaguered health care system.
“To save India and every Indian, there will be a total ban on venturing out of your homes,” said Modi, adding that if the country failed to manage the next 21 days, it could be set back by 21 years.
India’s stay-at-home order puts nearly one-fifth of the world’s population under lockdown.
Indian health officials have reported 469 active cases of COVID-19 and 10 deaths. Officials have repeatedly insisted there is no evidence yet of communal spread but have conducted relatively few tests for the disease.
ROME — Italy is slashing through its notorious bureaucracy to quickly convert willing factories to production of masks to protect medical staff caring for coronavirus patients in the world’s second-largest outbreak.
Domenico Arcuri, with a background in Italy’s former state industrial conglomerate, says authorization has been approved for 50 million euros ($55 million) in state aid to convert production.
Tapped earlier this month by Italy’s premier as special commissioner for the COVID-19 emergency, Arcuri told reporters on Tuesday that Italy needs more than 90 million masks each month.
LONDON — Britain’s Treasury chief says a financial support package is being considered to help the 5 million self-employed during the coronavirus pandemic.
Rishi Sunak told lawmakers the Treasury has been looking at this issue “in intense detail.” No timetable was offered.
Last week, Sunak said the government would pay four-fifths of the wages of workers if companies kept them on their payroll, up to 2,500 pounds ($2,950) a month.
With the government effectively closing down large chunks of the economy, many self-employed people face financial ruin — electricians, gym instructors and make-up artists cannot ply their trade over coming weeks.
Sunak said the government is “determined to find a way to support them” and make it “fair to the vast majority of the British workforce.”
Sunak said it’s more difficult to design a plan for the self-employed, largely because they don’t pay tax the same way as salaried workers.
MEXICO CITY — Mexican health officials called on all businesses and organizations to suspend most work that requires travel.
Deputy health secretary Hugo López-Gatell said at a news conference hosted by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador that work requiring people to travel between home and work sites or to public spaces must stop.
The measure, which could bring much of the country’s economic activity to a halt, was included in a list of measures the government has already implemented. There was no discussion of how it would be enforced or whether there would be penalties.
Many companies have already implemented plans to have employees working from home, but most businesses remain open, including restaurants and gyms.
López-Gatell called on employers to implement plans to keep working. “Institutions, private organizations can’t stop because we all depend on them,” he said.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador called on business owners not to fire workers. Some Mexicans have criticized the government for not implementing stricter controls earlier.
MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin visited a Moscow hospital for coronavirus patients and wore a protective suit.
During a visit to the Kommunarka hospital on the outskirts of Moscow, Putin praised its doctors for high professionalism, saying they were working “like clockwork.”
After a meeting with the hospital’s chief doctor, Putin donned a yellow hazmat suit with a mask and went into the area where patients were treated.
Russia has registered 495 cases of the coronavirus and reported no deaths, which contrasts with the quick spread of contagion in Europe. Some experts say the low numbers could be attributed to a relatively slow pace of screening. Until recently, just one lab in Novosibirsk was analyzing tests from all over Russia and authorities have moved to open new labs and increase the number of tests.
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin reported to Putin the number of coronavirus tests performed in the capital will increase from about 3,000 a day to 13,000 later this week. Sobyanin says the situation could quickly exacerbate.
HELSINKI — Finland’s National Emergency Supply Agency says it has opened its storages of medical equipment to satisfy high demand for protective respiratory masks needed in hospitals.
The agency, which maintains substantial supplies of fuel, grain, raw materials and health equipment in various locations around the nation of 5.5 million, says it will immediately start shipments of the masks to hospitals and health centers.
The agency declined to give precise information on the amount of masks or locations of its medical equipment storage, saying that information was confidential. Finland had confirmed 792 coronavirus cases and one death.
TIRANA, Albania — Albanian justice ministry says it temporarily will release 600 inmates in an effort to stop the virus spreading in prisons.
The government decided all prisoners not jailed for grave crimes, like criminal organizations or terror, and those suffering from diseases making them more vulnerable to the virus, will leave jail for three months and self-quarantine at home.
Such a move “will facilitate health protection in prisons and strengthen the effect of the preventive measures to COVID-19,” said Justice Minister Etilda Gjonaj.
The minister added there have been no positive virus cases among inmates so far. Albania has five deaths and 123 virus cases.
ATHENS, Greece — Greek police say patrol cars will be using loudspeakers to broadcast messages in 10 languages to notify people of the new strict restrictions on outdoor movement.
The police say the broadcasts would be made in Greek, English, French, Arabic, Urdu, Hindi, Punjabi, Pashto, Farsi and Dari. The recorded message warns people to stay home and informs them they need identification documents and special permits to venture outside.
Stringent restrictions on movement in Greece, which has a sizeable migrant and refugee population, was enacted Monday. People are only allowed out for work that cannot work from home or to buy food, exercise or visit the doctor.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Dutch public health institute has reported 63 more deaths from the coronavirus and another 811 positive tests, the biggest daily increases in the Netherlands so far.
The national death toll in the outbreak stands at 276 and the total number of confirmed infections has risen to 5,560.
The institute says any effect of restrictions imposed by the government intended to slow the spread of the virus likely won’t be seen before the end of the week.
The Dutch government tightened its coronavirus measures Monday night, including banning all gatherings, events and meetings until June 1 and urging people to stay home. It is giving local mayors beefed-up powers to enforce the restrictions.
BUCHAREST, Romania — Romania’s president says the country will upgrade a nighttime curfew and make it mandatory for Romanians to stay home all day with a few exceptions.
President Klaus Iohannis says only people going to work, the pharmacy or food store for “essential shopping” will be allowed out.
Iohannis says the new restrictions were needed to slow the spread of the coronavirus infections.
People leaving their homes will have to show authorities proof from employers stating they cannot work from home or “statements of personal responsibility” justifying their movements. Iohannis says the army will support the police in enforcing the measure.
People over 65 are banned from leaving their homes, while people in quarantine will be equipped with electronic monitoring devices.
Romania has 762 confirmed cases of people infected with the coronavirus. So far, eight deaths have been linked to COVID-19.
Pakistani prime Khan opposed the idea of imposing curfew in the country, saying such a strict measure will add problems to the life of poor people apart from having a negative impact on the economy.
Imran Khan told reporters he is only in favor of a partial lockdown but provincial authorities had already opted for the complete lockdown, forcing poor people to stay at home.
He says his government will provide financial assistance to poor people. Khan also announced reduction in prices of petroleum products and efforts were being made to bring down food prices.
khan says his government handled the situation of coronavirus in a better way and hoped Pakistan won’t witness the circumstances of Italy and other countries due to virus.
GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba — A U.S. Navy sailor has become the first person to test positive for the coronavirus at the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The base says in a statement Tuesday the unidentified sailor is isolated at home at the naval station along the southeastern coast of Cuba. The base says health authorities are attempting to track anyone who had contact with the sailor.
Medical personnel have been screening anyone who arrives at the base and the Navy has imposed social-distancing rules.
The naval station has a population of about 6,000 people. That includes about 2,000 foreign laborers from Jamacia and the Philippines.
There are still 40 prisoners held at the Guantanamo detention center. Most base personnel have no contact with the men held there
DETROIT — A member of the Detroit Police Department has died from the coronavirus.
The department made the announcement Tuesday, a day after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer told Michigan residents to stay at home to stem the virus’ spread. Detroit police Chief James Craig was scheduled to release details of that person’s death, including the staffer’s department role and age, at a news conference.
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan has said 282 police officers were off work awaiting test results or self-quarantining, although 152 will return by the end of the week. The department has about 2,200 officers, according to its website.
WARSAW, Poland — Poland is tightening restrictions on movement of individuals until April 11, allowing them only to travel to work, if work from home is not possible, along with shopping and pharmacy visits or brief walks while keeping a distance from others.
Participation in any social gatherings will be punished with fines up to 5,000 zlotys ($1,200; 1,000 euros.) Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki says it was because there was still an increase in new cases.
He says the new steps are intended to allow the Poles to return to work and relatively normal life in mid-April. The government says presidential elections will be held as planned on May 10 and key school exams and A-level tests will be taken in late April and May.
The nation of 38 million has registered 800 cases of COVID-19. Nine people have died.
ROME — The former Italian civil protection chief who is overseeing the construction of a coronavirus field hospital on the Milan fairgrounds has tested positive for the virus.
Guido Bertolaso, known to many Italians for his work in the aftermath of the 2009 earthquake in L’Aquila, announced he was running a fever and he and his closest aides would be quarantined for two weeks.
The regional government in hard-hit Lombardy brought Bertolaso in to build the 400-bed field hospital after the region’s hospitals were overwhelmed by sick patients. Lombardy is the epicentre of the pandemic in Europe.
Bertolaso say in a Facebook post he would keep following the hospital work as well as other virus-related responses from home.
TOKYO — The International Olympic Committee along with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and local organizers have decided that the Tokyo Games cannot go ahead as scheduled this year because of the coronavirus outbreak.
The IOC says the games will be held “not later than summer 2021” but they will still be called the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
BERLIN — Germany’s hardest-hit state of North Rhine-Westphalia will take in 10 COVID-19 patients from Italy, which has been struggling to treat all those sickened by the virus.
The move, announced by governor Armin Laschet, follows a decision by Germany’s eastern state Saxony to treat eight patients from Italy. Three German states bordering France have also begun taking in French patients in small numbers.
Laschet says the patients would be airlifted to Germany by the Italian air force in the coming days. He told lawmakers in the regional parliament that “It’s only a small drop. But we want to send a signal: you’re not alone.”
North Rhine-Westphalia, with a population of almost 18 million, has registered 8,745 cases of COVID-19 and 45 deaths — about a third of Germany’s total.
LISBON, Portugal — A senior European Union diplomat says about 300,000 EU tourists around the world are struggling to get home amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Portuguese Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva says flight disruption is slowing their return.
He says the EU must marshal its joint resources to organize repatriation flights for those stranded.
MADRID — Health authorities say Spain has registered a daily record increase of 6,584 new coronavirus infections Tuesday, bringing the overall total to 39,673.
The number of deaths also increased by more than 500 to 2,696.
TOKYO — Japan’s NHK public television says Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will propose a one-year postponement for the Tokyo Olympics during talks with IOC President Thomas Bach.
Abe says a postponement is unavoidable if the 2020 Games cannot be held in a complete manner amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Abe held telephone talks with Bach after IOC said it would make a decision on the Tokyo Games over the next four weeks.
DHAKA, Bangladesh — Bangladesh reported another death from coronavirus, raising the death toll to four, while the number of infected people rose to 39.
The latest death happened in a hospital during treatment and the man was around 70, said Meerjady Sabrina Flora, director of the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research. The announcement came as the country was moving toward a possible lockdown for 10 days from March 26 when all the government and private offices would remain closed.
The South Asian country suspended all railway communication Tuesday and the civil aviation authority has suspended all domestic flights Wednesday to April 4. Experts say Bangladesh is at the high risk of community transmission of the virus as hundreds of thousands of expatriate workers in recent weeks have attended many social gatherings after returning from Italy and other countries.
The government has asked the citizens to stay at home, but the authorities are struggling to enforce the decision. Military soldiers have been called in large cities and towns to assist enforcement of social distancing.
GENEVA — A spokeswoman for the World Health Organization says case counts and deaths globally from the new coronavirus are expected to increase “considerably” when global figures are published later Tuesday.
Dr. Margaret Harris, a WHO spokeswoman, said overnight reporting showed 85% of the new cases were being reported in Europe and the United States.
Speaking at a regular U.N. Geneva briefing, Harris also cited a “glimmer of hope” in hard-hit Italy after two days of slight declines in the number of new cases and deaths, while cautioning it’s “early days yet” — and the trend needed to be monitored.
Global figures compiled by WHO at 17:00 GMT Monday showed more than 334,000 total cases globally, Harris said, “but in fact the outbreak is accelerating very rapidly and the case numbers we received overnight will put that up considerably.”
She said she did not have the exact figures to hand.
The latest WHO Situation report issued late Monday cited 14,788 deaths worldwide, including 1,727 over the latest 24-hour span.
“Just to put it in proportion: It took two years in the worst Ebola outbreak we ever had, the West African outbreak, to reach 11,000 deaths,” Harris said. “So we are really seeing an enormous outbreak here.”
Harris said an increasing in the rollout of testing for new coronavirus infections could partly explain the surge in case counts.
CANBERRA, Australia — Prisoners regarded as vulnerable to the new coronavirus and low risk to society in Australia’s most populous state would be eligible for early parole under emergency legislation passed by the New South Wales Parliament.
It is unclear how many of the state’s 14,000 prisoners could walk free under the legislation proposed by New South Wales Attorney General Mark Speakman.
The emergency legislation includes a raft of reforms that Speakman said will provide public authorities with the powers they need to respond appropriately to this once-in-a-century crisis.
“The threat posed by COVID-19 is rapidly evolving, and the needs of families, businesses, workers and governments are changing every day,” Speakman said in a statement.
VATICAN CITY — The Vatican is under pressure to let more of its employees work from home after several offices remained open even after Italy shut down all nonessential industry in a bid to contain the coronavirus.
Vatican employees in three different offices expressed alarm Tuesday that superiors had adopted different policies about working from home, with no uniformity among them. The concern has been heightened because many Vatican employees live in priestly residences and eat together in communal dining rooms. Already, members of two separate religious orders in Rome tested positive for the virus, evidence that the close quarters of religious communities can spread the virus.
The Vatican has adopted some shutdown measures, but has lagged behind the rest of Italy, which is the European epicenter of the outbreak.
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lankan government on Tuesday imposed an indefinite curfew in three districts that includes the capital Colombo as a part of it’s stringent measures being taken to contain the spreading of the virus as the number of confirmed cases rose to 97.
A government statement says these three districts have been identified as “high risk” areas and the highest number of positive cases are reported from these districts.
Accordingly, the indefinite curfew was imposed in Colombo, Gampaha and Kalutara districts. These three districts have been under a three-day curfew since Friday. Curfew in these districts was lifted only for eight hours on Tuesday to allow people to purchase food and other essentials.
The island is divided into 25 districts for administrative purposes. Curfew prevails in the other 22 districts, but the government previously said curfew in those districts will be lifted on Friday for a few hours.
The government on Monday banned nonessential travel among the districts.
PRAGUE — The Czech Republic has registered its second death caused by the coronavirus.
Health Minister Adam Vojtech said Tuesday the 45-year-old patient died in hospital in eastern town of Havirov. Vojtech said the man was suffering from an unspecified cancer at an advanced stage and the coronavirus worsened his condition.
Several other hospitalized people with COVID-19 are in critical condition in the Czech Republic.
Meanwhile, Vojtech said the country received remdesivir, an experimental antiviral drug from U.S. company Gilead Sciences to treat the first patient who is in critical condition at a Prague clinic.
JOHANNESBURG — South Africa’s coronavirus cases have leapt again to 554. It’s the most of any country in Africa. Its 57 million people are rushing to prepare for a three-week lockdown that begins Thursday.
Across Africa, 43 of its 54 countries now have cases, with the total at 1,788. Thirteen countries have reported 58 deaths.
Elsewhere in Africa, Nigeria’s ban on international flights is beginning. And, Ethiopia’s government has issued a proposal to the G20 global forum for economic cooperation ahead of its summit, saying “COVID-19 poses an existential threat to the economies of African countries.”
LONDON — Business activity in Europe has fallen at the sharpest pace on record, according to a survey that was started in 1998.
The purchasing managers’ index, a gauge of business executives’ outlook on the economy, fell to 31.4 points in March for the 19-country eurozone, from 51.6 in February, as governments put limits on business activity to contain the virus outbreak.
The index is at the lowest since the survey was started and is below the trough registered during the global financial crisis in 2009. The 50-point level separates economic growth from contraction.
The index, which is compiled by research firm IHS Markit, shows the biggest hit to the services sector, particular tourism and restaurants. Companies in this sector were cutting jobs at the fastest pace since 2009.
Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit, says the survey suggests a quarterly economic contraction of 2%, or over 8% in annualized terms, though that forecast is likely to worsen.
“Business sentiment about the year ahead has plunged to the gloomiest on record, suggesting policymakers’ efforts to date have failed to brighten the darkening picture,” he said.
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — The new government in Slovakia is planning to tighten restrictive measures in efforts to contain the outbreak of the coronavirus.
Prime Minister Igor Matovic said Tuesday it will be mandatory for all citizens to wear face masks in all public spaces. People should also keep a distance of 2 meters (6 feet) between one another.
All essential retail businesses that still can be opened, such as food stores and pharmacies, will be closed on Sundays to give employees time to rest.
From the end of March, the temperature of all people entering stores or hospitals will be measured.
Only the pensioners will be allowed to do the shopping from 9 a.m. till 12 p.m. Monday to Saturday.
The government is planning to acquire 200,000 test kits to increase the testing on the coronavirus. Slovakia has reported 204 people infected.
MADRID — Madrid’s ice-skating rink is now being used as a makeshift morgue given the rapid increase in deaths in the Spanish capital owing to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Security forces guarded the outside of the Palacio de Hielo complex on Madrid’s north-eastern outskirts Tuesday as funeral service vans arrived and entered the building underground car park.
Madrid city authorities took up the rink’s offer to use the 1,800 square-meter (2,153 square-yard) center after the city’s municipal funeral service said it could take no more coronavirus bodies until it restocked with protective equipment and material.
Madrid is one of the hardest hit of Spain’s 17 regions with some 1,300 deaths, approximately half the national total.
BANGKOK — The Southeast Asian nation of Laos has confirmed its first two cases of COVID-19.
The state news agency KPL reported on its website that Deputy Health Phouthone Meuangpak announced the two cases at a Tuesday press conference in the capital city Vientiane, where both patients were hospitalized.
Laos is the last country in Southeast Asia to report any coronavirus cases. Myanmar reported its first two cases on Monday night and Timor Leste confirmed its first case on Saturday.
KPL said a 36-year-old female who served as a guide early this month for visitors from Europe is one patient, and the other is a 28-year-old male staff member of the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Vientiane who is thought to have contracted the virus while attending a workshop in Bangkok, the capital of neighboring Thailand.
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Congress on Tuesday approved a bill declaring a national emergency in the country and authorizing the president to launch a massive aid program for 18 million families and tap private hospitals and ships in fighting the coronavirus outbreak.
President Rodrigo Duterte can realign huge budgets of the executive department under the proposed legislation, which will also punish officials who disobey quarantine orders and people spreading “false information” about the COVID-19 disease, legislators said. The law will last for three months but can be extended by Congress.
The Senate and the House of Representatives, which are dominated by Duterte’s allies, separately held emergency sessions Monday and worked beyond midnight to deliberate on the bill, with the majority of the lawmakers participating online as a health precaution. Duterte is expected to sign the bill into law soon.
Duterte has locked down the main northern island of Luzon, home to more than 50 million people, by restricting travel to and from the region, where the capital Manila lies. Most residents have been ordered to stay home and work and classes have been suspended under the monthlong containment.
Opposition groups have feared Duterte’s extra powers could lead to abuse and called on the government to provide more protective suits for health workers, “safety nets” for the poor and considerably more tests for the virus.
Philippine officials reported Tuesday a total of 552 COVID-19 cases in the country, with 35 deaths.
LONDON — Confusion rippled through Britain on the first morning after Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered a three-week halt to all nonessential activity to fight the spread of the new coronavirus.
The government has told most stores to close, banned gatherings of three or more people and said everyone apart from essential workers should leave home only to buy food and medicines or to exercise.
But photos showed crowded trains on some London subway lines Tuesday, amid confusion about who is still allowed to go to work.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted: “I cannot say this more strongly: we must stop all non-essential use of public transport now. Employers: please support your staff to work from home unless it’s absolutely necessary. Ignoring these rules means more lives lost.”
The government says police will have powers break up illegal gatherings and fine people who flout the rules. But some expressed doubts about whether the lockdown could be enforced.
“There is no way really that the police can enforce this using powers. It has got to be because the public hugely support it,” Peter Fahy, former chief constable of Greater Manchester Police, told the BBC.
JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesia reported its biggest daily jump of 107 new COVID-19 cases to bring the country’s total to 686 on Tuesday, as some 125,000 rapid test kits have been distributed across the archipelago nation. The government also reported 55 deaths from the coronavirus.
HELSINKI — Martti Ahtisaari, the former Finnish president, UN diplomat and recipient of the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize, has tested positive with the coronavirus.
The office of the Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said Tuesday Ahtisaari, 82, was confirmed with the new coronavirus on Monday and he was doing fine “under the circumstances.”
No details were provided of how Ahtisaari became infected, but his wife was confirmed positive with coronavirus on Saturday.
Ahtisaari served as the Finnish head of state for one six-year term from 1994 until 2000.