U.S. deaths near 15,000 as Wuhan lifts lockdown

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.

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The U.S. suffered its deadliest day of the coronavirus pandemic yet, with nearly 2,000 deaths between Tuesday and Wednesday. The death toll now stands at 14,721, according to NBC News' tally Wednesday night.

The Chinese city of Wuhan, the original epicenter of the outbreak, ended its 11-week lockdown early Wednesday. The city celebrated with a colourful light show. Residents will be tracked by smartphone apps to prove they are healthy and haven't mixed with anyone infected with coronavirus.

In London, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson spent his second night "stable" in an intensive care unit. The country has been jolted by his illness.

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Czech coronavirus cases grow but country steadily eases lockdown

Despite the number of new coronavirus cases in the Czech Republic rising to over 5,000, an overall slowing growth rate has given the government confidence to start easing some lockdown measures that have hit the economy.

The country was among the first in Europe to declare a state of emergency in March, which has now been extended to April 30. Like others in central Europe, the Czech Republic has seen far fewer cases than western neighbours, along with fewer deaths.

The government has agreed this week to relax some measures, such as reopening shops selling hobby goods and building materials and easing open-air sports, including running and cycling.

Polish priest takes 'drive-through' confessions

As Easter approaches on Friday, a priest in Poland has found a creative way to continue taking confessions during the coronavirus crisis.

Wearing a protective mask, Father Mateusz Kielarski sits on a chair in a church parking lot in Warsaw and listens to the faithful, granting them absolution as they lean out of their car windows. 

Confessions are particularly important for Roman Catholics in the run up to Easter. “From the safety of their car, they can take care of their soul while protecting their bodies from germs in this special time,” he told Reuters.

Coronavirus to wipe out equivalent of 195 million jobs, U.N. says

The economic fallout from the coronavirus is expected to wipe out the equivalent of 195 million full-time jobs around the world, according to the labor body of the United Nations.

Warning of "devastating losses," the International Labour Organization said Tuesday that COVID-19 was expected to cause a reduction of 6.7 percent in global working hours.

Sectors most at risk are accommodation and food services, manufacturing and retail. "This far exceeds the effects of the 2008-9 financial crisis," it said in a statement.

CDC removes unusual guidance to doctors about drug favored by Trump

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has removed from its website highly unusual guidance informing doctors on how to prescribe hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, drugs recommended by President Donald Trump to treat the coronavirus.

It had previously noted anecdotal evidence that the drugs were effective in combatting COVID-19. 

The original guidance was crafted by the CDC after Trump personally pressed federal regulatory and health officials to make the malaria drugs more widely available to treat the novel coronavirus, though the drugs in question had been untested for COVID-19.

The site now states “There are no drugs or other therapeutics approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to prevent or treat COVID-19.”

The updated, and shortened, guidance adds that “Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are under investigation in clinical trials” for use on coronavirus patients.

On Tuesday, the president said he had watched "one of the shows" that featured a woman, ostensibly a coronavirus patient, who took hydroxychloroquine after days of illness and, "four hours later, she awoke and she said, 'I feel better.'"

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'Pharma Bro' says he should be freed from prison to help research coronavirus

Convicted former drug company CEO Martin Shkreli, known as “Pharma Bro,” wants to get out of prison so he can help research a treatment for the coronavirus, his lawyer said Tuesday.

Defense attorney Ben Brafman said that he will file court papers asking federal authorities to release Shkreli for three months so he can do laboratory work “under strict supervision.”

His client — best known before his arrest for drug price-gouging and his snarky online persona — is housed at a low-security prison in Allenwood, Pennsylvania.

"I have always said that if focused and left in a lab, Martin could help cure cancer," Brafman said in a statement. "Maybe he can help the scientific community better understand this terrible virus."

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Woman, 86, and three of her sons die in Louisiana, where blacks account for 70 percent of deaths

An 86-year-old Louisiana woman and three of her sons who all tested positive for the coronavirus have died, relatives and the coroner's office say.

The mother, Antoinette Franklin, and her sons were African American, and their deaths come with the announcement that black people account for 70.5 percent of fatalities from the coronavirus in Louisiana, although they make up only about a third of the population.

Louisiana is a hot spot for the pandemic, with 16,284 coronavirus cases and 582 deaths.

Antoinette Franklin, a lifelong New Orleans resident, died March 23. Her sons, Herman Franklin Jr., 71, Anthony Franklin Sr., 58 and Timothy Franklin, 61, died between March 20 and 30, according to their obituaries.

Read the full story here.