The Latest: Subways, some train service reopened in Wuhan
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:
—Spain’s deadliest day has over 800 deaths, over 8,000 news cases.
—CDC advisory urges residents of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut to refrain from non-essential travel for the next 14 days.
—Subways, long-distance train service reopened in Wuhan, China.
— Italy’s COVID-19 deaths down slightly from previous day.
BEIJING — The city at the center of China’s virus outbreak has reopened subways and long-distance train service in another step toward ending restrictions that confined millions of people to their homes.
Subway passengers in Wuhan in the central province of Hubei were required to wear masks and be checked for fever after service resumed Saturday, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. It said signs posted in subway cars tell passengers to sit with empty seats between them.
Most access to Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, was suspended Jan. 23. Bus and subway service within the city was suspended.
Restrictions have gradually been relaxed. The last controls that block residents of Wuhan from leaving Hubei are due to be lifted April 8.
Also Saturday, more than 12,000 passengers arrived by high-speed train as the Wuhan train station reopened, Xinhua said.
Meanwhile, the first cargo train to Europe since the start of the outbreak left for Germany on Saturday carrying auto parts, electronic productions, optical communication fiber and medical supplies, Xinhua reported.
WASHINGTON — The District of Columbia has announced that a fifth person has died from the coronavirus.
The nation’s capital has reported 342 positive infections.
Mayor Muriel 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.
TORONTO — Canada’s most populous province is prohibiting gatherings of five people or more.
Ontario said Saturday it has issued an emergency order based on the advice of the province’s chief medical officer.
It is effective immediately. The order replaced one that prohibited public events of over 50 people.
The new order does not apply to households with five people. Child care centers supporting health care workers and first responders are exempt. Funerals will be permitted with up to 10 people at one time.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford says if they are going to stop the spread of the virus, extraordinary measures are need to ensure physical distancing. The province has already closed all nonessential services.
WASHINGTON — The Bureau of Prisons says the first federal inmate in the U.S. has died after contracting coronavirus.
Officials tell The Associated Press that the man died Saturday. He had been housed at FCI Oakdale I, a low-security prison in Louisiana.
The Bureau of Prisons has said five inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 at the Louisiana prison complex.
Attorney General William Barr said earlier this week that one of the inmates had been hospitalized after showing coronavirus symptoms, including having a fever. He said on Thursday that the man had “significant pre-existing conditions” and was in critical condition.
Advocates and correction officers have been calling for reforms to head off a potential outbreak in the federal prison system. So far, 14 inmates and 13 staff members have tested positive.
Health officials have been warning for more than a decade about the dangers of epidemics in jails and prisons.
BEIJING — China reported five deaths and 45 new confirmed coronavirus cases in the 24 hours through midnight Saturday.
All the deaths were in Hubei province, where the virus first emerged in December, according to the National Health Commission. It said all but one of the new cases were people who were infected abroad.
Some 477 people were discharged from hospitals on Saturday, raising the total number of people declared recovered and discharged to 75,448, according to the health commission.
WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence has tweeted that the CDC is urging residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut “to refrain from non-essential travel for the next 14 days.”
The advisory from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention came after President Donald Trump backed away from calling for a quarantine for coronavirus hotspots. Instead, Trump directed Saturday night that a “strong Travel Advisory” be issued to stem the spread of the outbreak.
The notion of a quarantine had been advocated by governors, including Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, who sought to halt travelers from the heavily affected areas to their states. But it drew swift criticism from the leaders of the states in question, who warned it would spark panic in a populace already suffering under the virus.
Trump announced he reached the decision after consulting with the White House task force leading the federal response and the governors of the three states. He said he had directed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “to issue a strong Travel Advisory, to be administered by the Governors, in consultation with the Federal Government.”
He added: “A quarantine will not be necessary.”
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has approved a disaster declaration for Colorado, allowing additional federal assistance for the state, tribal and local response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Gov. Jared Polis said in a statement Saturday that the declaration ensures that the state “can be on a level playing field with other states that already have this status like New York and Washington when it comes to federal disaster funding and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance,” “
The number of people who have died from COVID-19 in Colorado jumped by 13 Saturday for a total of 44 deaths, while more than 2,060 people have tested positive, state public health officials said.
TORONTO — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s wife has been given the all clear from health officials and says she is feeling much better after contracting COVID-19.
Sophie Gregoire Trudeau said in a statement on social media Saturday that she is feeling so much better and that she received clearance from her doctor and Ottawa Public Health.
Trudeau’s office announced on March 12 that she tested positive after she fell ill upon returning from a trip to London. The prime minister and his family have been in self isolation at home ever since. He and his three children never showed symptoms.
Trudeau has been giving daily news conferences outside his residence.
Confirmed coronavirus-related deaths in the United States doubled in two days, surpassing 2,000 Saturday and highlighting how quickly the virus is spreading through the country.
Johns Hopkins University reported that confirmed deaths rose to more than 30,000 around the world. The U.S. ranked sixth in deaths, after Italy, Spain, China, Iran and France. Italy alone had more than 10,000 dead.
The U.S. death toll has risen abruptly in recent days. It topped 1,000 just Thursday.
Rhode Island announced its first two deaths from the coronavirus, leaving just three states with zero reported deaths: Hawaii, West Virginia and Wyoming.
The risk of death from COVID-19 is greater for older adults and people with other health problems. In most cases, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, which can include fever and cough and milder cases of pneumonia.
CHICAGO — Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker says an infant with COVID-19 has died and an investigation is underway to determine the cause of death.
Officials didn’t release other information about the infant, who was from Cook County, which includes Chicago, including whether the child had other health issues.
The risk of death and severe illness from COVID-19 is greater for older adults and people with other health problems. In most cases, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, which can include fever and cough but also milder cases of pneumonia, sometimes requiring hospitalization.
Children have made up a small fraction of coronavirus cases worldwide. A letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine by Chinese researchers earlier this month reported the death of a 10-month-old with COVID-19. The infant had a bowel blockage and organ failure, and died four weeks after being hospitalized.
Separate research published in the journal Pediatrics traced 2,100 infected children in China and noted one death, a 14-year old. The study found less than 6% of children were seriously ill.
ROME — Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte is hoping the European Union will put together a cohesive response to the plight of countries like his, whose economy has been crippled by the coronavirus outbreak.
Conte vowed to fight “to my very last drop of sweat” to prompt a “strong and cohesive European response.” Conte echoed an appeal the same evening by Spain, which is also reeling under a devastating COVID-19 outbreak.
Conte called the crisis “an appointment with history. Europe must say if it’s ready for this appointment” to effectively deal with social and economic shock wreaked by the pandemic.
Germany and the Netherlands are leading other EU nations in resisting calls for an issuance of joint European debt, colloquially dubbed “coronabonds.” Italian Finance Minister Roberto Gualtieri expressed dismay that European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in an interview described the bond idea as a “only a slogan.”
WARSAW, Poland — Poland President Andrzej Duda says the May 10 date for the presidential election may not be realistic if the coronavirus spread continues and Poland remains under the current strict isolation regime for the citizens.
Duda’s words were the first sign from the ruling team that the elections may not be held as planned.
Earlier Saturday, the ruling right-wing Law and Justice party had the parliament approve changes to the electoral law to allow sick, quarantined and elderly people to vote remotely, in a clear preparation for May election.
PARIS — France has ordered more than one billion protective masks, mainly from China, to try to make up for a shortage that is being felt in nations fighting the coronavirus pandemic, Health Minister Olivier Veran announced.
But French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, noting tensions in world markets, suggested at a news conference that traffickers and black marketeers are now in the mask business, given the competition in procuring the vital necessity for health workers.
Veran said that an “air bridge” to China was being put in place, but “I will have the certitude (the masks arrived) … only the minute the planes are on the tarmac.” He said one major difficulty is that countries already hit by the virus remain vigilant that should the epidemic return they are equipped.
As of Saturday, France had 37,575 confirmed cases and 2,314 deaths — with 319 new deaths in the last 24 hours, health authorities said.
The prime minister warned the French that “the fight has just begun.”
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican and close ally of President Donald Trump, tells reporters he had spoken with the president about the possibility of a coronavirus quarantine for the New York City area.
DeSantis says Florida will soon set up a checkpoint along Interstate 95 to screen travelers from that area, similar to one already in place along Interstate 10 to screen people from Louisiana. Many airports in Florida also are screening travelers from certain areas, requiring travelers to self-isolate for 14 days.
“I think whatever works is what we need to do,” DeSantis said. “We’re either fighting the virus or we’re not. The more people are being shuttled around the country, I just think it makes it more difficult. I think it would make it a lot easier if we didn’t have folks coming in from hot zones.”
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Leaders of several South Carolina cities say they are defying Gov. Henry McMaster’s opposition to stay-at-home orders and Attorney General Alan Wilson’s opinion that only McMaster can issue such measures.
In Folly Beach, where town officials had removed their checkpoint and had allowed vacation rentals to resume, the city council unanimously voted to re-establish the checkpoint and ban any new short-term rentals beginning Sunday.
Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin says on Twitter that his city’s stay-at-home order would take effect at 12:01 a.m. Sunday as scheduled. He says Wilson’s Friday opinion is “incorrect on a constitutional and statutory basis.”
ROME — Three weeks into national containment measures that have shut down most shops and non-essential industry, many Italians are hurting for food money during the lockdown amid the country’s devastating COVID-19 outbreak.
Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte told the nation he has signed a decree freeing up 400 million euros ($440 million) for food coupons and packages of food aid. Volunteers from Italy’s national Civil Protection agency will bring food to those who must stay at home because they are in quarantine or ill with the coronavirus.
Conte appealed to large supermarket chains to give discounts of 5-10% to people presenting the special coupons. Said Conte: “People are suffering psychologically, they’re not used to staying in their homes. But they are also suffering economically.”
Conte declined to say when the lockdown could be ended or eased.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Tourism officials say the Beale Street Music Festival and the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest have been rescheduled for the fall after they were postponed because of the new coronavirus outbreak.
Memphis in May officials said in a statement that the barbecue cooking competition has been reset for Sept. 30 through Oct. 3. The music festival has been rescheduled for Oct. 16 through Oct. 18.
Both events are the cornerstones of the city’s monthlong tourist event in May. They attract music fans and barbecue cooking teams from around the world.
The Great American River Run also had been postponed. It has been reset for Oct. 31.
Meanwhile, Elvis Presley’s Graceland said it is extending its closure through April 19.
BERLIN — Twelve residents of a nursing home in northern Germany have died after being infected with the coronavirus.
Authorities say the 12 residents of the home in Wolfsburg died since Monday, news agency dpa reported. Mayor Klaus Mohrs said several hadn’t shown symptoms of COVID-19.
Local officials said 72 of the roughly 165 residents had been infected with the coronavirus, and they were separated from those who tested negative.
Another nursing home in the southern German city of Wuerzburg also has reported 12 deaths.
Germany has confirmed more than 56,000 infections with the coronavirus, including 403 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. That is a lower death rate than in many other countries.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Rhode Island announced its first two deaths from the coronavirus on the same day that the state National Guard was expected to go door to door in coastal communities to find visitors from New York.
One person in their 80s died Friday night, the other person in their 70s died Saturday, the state Department of Health said.
There are now only three states with zero reported deaths: Hawaii, West Virginia and Wyoming.
The Guard was said to be asking people if they are visiting from New York and telling them about the mandatory 14-day quarantine for people from the state. The measure is needed to help control the spread of the new coronavirus because the New York City area is the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S., Gov. Gina Raimondo said Friday.
MADRID — Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez says the future of the European Union is at stake if it fails to make a vigorous, united response to the coronavirus outbreak devastating the bloc’s southern flank.
“It’s Europe’s time to act. Europe is at risk,” Sánchez says in a nationally televised address.
Sánchez says the EU could not repeat the hard-love austerity strategy it employed during the 2008 recession when countries like Greece and Portugal were forced to request a bailout and slash their budgets.
He calls for a “new Marshall Plan” to help lighten the burden on the hardest-hit countries and cushion the inevitable blow coming from the drop in economic activity.
Italy and Spain lead the world in deaths reported from the virus with more than 15,000 between them.
MADRID — Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has announced his government will order a two-week ban on commuting to all non-essential businesses starting on Monday.
Sánchez says in a publicly televised address that all workers are ordered to remain at home “as if it were a weekend” to “intensify” efforts to stem the outbreak of the coronavirus.
Spain is approaching the end of the second week of stay-at-home rules and the closing of most stores, but workers were allowed to go to offices and factories if they were unable to work from home.
Spain reported 832 deaths Saturday for a total of 5,690 fatalities, to go with 72,248 infections. Its health authorities say, however, that the rate of infection growth appears to be slowing.
ROME — Italy’s COVID-19 deaths are down slightly from the previous day.
Civil Protection officials said there were 889 deaths in a 24-hour period ending Saturday evening in the country, where intensive care units have been overwhelmed at the heart of the outbreak in the north. That compares to 969 a day earlier, which was a one-day high in the country which has the world’s highest number of deaths of persons with confirmed cases of the coronavirus.
The day-to-day rise in new cases was just under 6,000, about the same as the previous day’s figure. Overall, Italy has at least 92,472 cases of COVID-19 and days ago surpassed the total of China, where the outbreak began in early 2020.
The current national lock-down decree expires on April 3, but health experts have said the need to try to contain contagion in the outbreak will likely last weeks beyond that.