U.S. now leads world in deaths, passes 20,000 mark

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
A man wearing a protective facemask looks at the reflection of the Eiffeil Tower on the Seine river, in Paris, on Saturday.Ludovic Marin / AFP - Getty Images

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The U.S. has now passed the 20,000 mark in the number of coronavirus deaths and leads the world in this grim tally, surpassing Italy for the first time.

The virus has killed 20,029 people in the United States, just above the number in Italy, according to NBC News' figures.

Worldwide, the death toll is more than 107,000, and the number of confirmed cases has surpassed 1.7 million, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the U.S., has warned that it is too early to relax coronavirus restrictions.

"Now is not time to back off," Fauci said Friday,

Meanwhile, current and former U.S. officials have told NBC News that American spy agencies collected raw intelligence hinting at a public health crisis in Wuhan, China, in November, but the information was not understood as the first warning signs of an impending global pandemic.

Download the NBC News app for latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak.

This live coverage has ended. Continue reading Apr. 12 Coronavirus news.

India to extend nationwide coronavirus lockdown

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will extend a nationwide lockdown to tackle the spread of coronavirus, the chief minister of Delhi state said on Saturday, without disclosing how long the extension would be for.

Earlier in the day, Modi held a video conference call with several state ministers to decide on the future course of the current 21-day lockdown, which had been set to end on Tuesday.

Several Indian states have urged Modi to extend the lockdown, even amid rising concerns that the restrictions had put millions of poor people out of work and forced an exodus of migrant workers from cities to villages.


Iran begins lifting restrictions after brief virus lockdown

Iran began reopening government offices and businesses Saturday after a brief nationwide lockdown to help contain the worst virus outbreak in the Middle East, which has killed more than 4,300 people in the country.

Government offices outside the capital, Tehran, reopened Saturday with two-thirds of employees coming in and the remainder working from home, state media reported. Women who have young children were given priority in deciding who works remotely.

Businesses in Tehran will be allowed to reopen next Saturday, provided they register with authorities and follow guidelines on social distancing.

For many weeks, Iran had declined to impose the kind of wide-scale lockdowns adopted by other Middle Eastern countries, even as the number of confirmed cases and fatalities steadily climbed. Authorities have defended their response, saying they have to consider the economic impact of any quarantine measures since the country is under severe U.S. sanctions

Spain's overnight death toll at its lowest in 19 days

The number of coronavirus deaths in Spain fell for a third consecutive day on Saturday, with 510 fatalities reported in the past 24 hours — the smallest overnight increase since Mar. 23.

The slowdown is an encouraging sign for the country, which has suffered the third-highest number of casualties from the virus after Italy and the United States.

Spain's total death toll from COVID-19 disease rose to 16,353, the Health Ministry said in a statement, and the number of confirmed cases climbed to more than 160,000.

Spanish lawmakers voted Thursday evening to extend the state of emergency measures until Apr. 26, and Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez warned that he may need to ask for a third extension to prolong measures until May.

Comedians find new ways to entertain quarantined audiences

Mary Beth Barone is used to performing stand-up comedy for hundreds of people at sold-out shows in New York City. But these days, she’s performing live from her parent’s bathtub.

“It’s a new world we’re living in … the need to perform is kind of insatiable when you’re a stand up, so at least this is quelling that even if it’s, like, only for an hour and a half,” Barone said.

Barone, 28, is one of scores of comedians who are adapting their performances from the stage to livestreams while the nation continues to quarantine amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Entertainment has gone digital as the United States practices social distancing to stop the spread of the virus. Concerts are held on Instagram Live, movies have been released and made available for download ahead of schedule, and a litany of television shows are ready to stream. Comedy, however, has had a tougher time transitioning.

Read the rest here.

Is Philadelphia the next virus hot spot? Maybe not.

A healthcare worker talks with a patient at a COVID-19 testing site near Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia on March 24, 2020.Matt Slocum / AP

While it's too soon to say whether Philadelphia has avoided a surge in coronavirus cases that would overwhelm its health system, the nation's sixth-largest city has, so far, avoided becoming what some feared would be the outbreak's next hot spot.

During a news briefing this week, Vice President Mike Pence called Philadelphia "an area of particular concern," adding that he'd assured Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf that the federal government would "continue to flow resources and support to that community."

Experts predict Philadelphia and its surrounding suburbs will reach the peak of coronavirus cases next week, and the city appears to be prepared for the onslaught.

Read the rest here.

WHO warns of 'deadly resurgence' if lockdown measures are lifted too soon

The World Health Organization has warned that a premature lifting of lockdown restrictions by countries fighting the coronavirus could spark a “deadly resurgence."

While the organization was working with countries on ways to gradually ease lockdowns, doing so too quickly could be highly dangerous, Director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. 

“I know that some countries are already planning the transition out of stay-at-home restrictions. WHO wants to see restrictions lifted as much as anyone,” he told a virtual press conference in Geneva on Friday.

“At the same time, lifting restrictions too quickly could lead to a deadly resurgence. The way down can be as dangerous as the way up if not managed properly," he added.

After months in space, astronauts returning to changed world

Two NASA astronauts said Friday they expect it will be tough returning to such a drastically changed world next week, after their nine-month mission on the International Space Station.

Astronaut Andrew Morgan said the crew has tried to keep atop the pandemic news. But it’s hard to comprehend what’s really going on and what to expect, he said. 

As an emergency physician in the Army, Morgan added that he felt a little guilty coming back midway through the medical crisis.

His colleague Jessica Meir who took part in the first all-female spacewalk last fall, said it was “quite surreal for us to see this whole situation unfolding on the planet below," adding: “We can tell you that the Earth still looks just as stunning as always from up here, so it’s difficult to believe all the changes that have taken place since both of us have been up here.”

Olympic gold medalist to complete Ironman at home to raise money for healthcare workers

Olympic gold medalist and three-time winner of the Ironman Triathlon World Championship, Jan Frodeno will be supporting healthcare workers combatting the outbreak by completing an Ironman triathlon at his home in Spain on Saturday. 

The German athlete is live-streaming his 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a  26.22-mile marathon run on Facebook. It is widely considered one of the most difficult one-day sporting events in the world.

"I want to use this event to support those who are currently doing the competition in the hospitals day in and day out," he said on social media.

South Korea to strap electronic wristbands on those who defy quarantine

South Korea’s government has said it will strap electronic wristbands on people who defy self-quarantine orders after two weeks of preparation and manufacturing as it tightens monitoring to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Officials said stricter controls are required because some of the 57,000 people who are under orders to stay home have slipped out by leaving behind smartphones with tracking apps. Plans for broader use of wristbands were scaled back after objections by human rights and legal activists.

Senior Health Ministry official Yoon Tae-ho on Saturday acknowledged the privacy and civil liberty concerns surrounding the bands, which will be enforced through police and local administrative officials after two weeks of preparation and manufacturing. 

However, he said authorities need more effective monitoring tools because the number of people placed under self-quarantine has ballooned after the country began enforcing 14-day quarantines on all passengers arriving from abroad on Apr. 1 amid worsening outbreaks in Europe and the United States. Other Korean officials said the government lacked legal authority to compel people to wear the wristbands and that they would be asked to sign consent forms.