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

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
Image: FRANCE-VIRUS-HEALTH
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.

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.

Kentucky gov. says anyone who attends Easter services will be quarantined

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear implored residents to avoid gathering this weekend for the Easter holiday, warning that anyone who violates the state's stay-at-home order will be subject to a 14-day mandatory self-quarantine.

Beshear said the state will record license plate information of people seen attending mass gatherings and turn that information over to local public health officials. Quarantine notices will then be delivered in person.

The announcement was made on Good Friday, one of the holidays leading into Easter Sunday.

Read the full story here.

Court lifts part of order blocking Texas abortion ban

AUSTIN, Texas — A federal appeals court on Friday partially rescinded a lower-court order that had largely blocked the enforcement of an abortion ban in Texas during the coronavirus pandemic.

By a 2-1 vote, the three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld enforcement of an executive order by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott that includes abortion among non-essential medical procedures banned during the state of emergency.

However, the appeals court allowed the procedure to go ahead if delays would place the pregnancy beyond the 22-week state cutoff for abortions.

Read the full story here