Trump warns of 'a lot of death' in coming week as U.S. cases top 300,000

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
Image: Cleaners disinfect surfaces in Largs, Scotland, on April 4, 2020.
Cleaners disinfect surfaces in Largs, Scotland, on April 4, 2020.Jeff J Mitchell / Getty Images

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President Donald Trump said at the daily White House coronavirus press briefing on Saturday, “This will be the toughest week” in the U.S. fight against the pandemic.

“There will be a lot of death, unfortunately," he said.

The president's comments came as the total number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. rose to over 300,000, with the number of deaths at more than 8,000, according to NBC News' tally.

Globally, the death toll is more than 59,100, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The CDC is recommending now that Americans wear cloth masks when out in public. And, New York, by far the hardest-hit state, is gearing up for the pandemic to peak there in an expected in four to 10 days. China is donating 1,000 ventilators to the state, and another 140 are coming from Oregon.

Support on Capitol Hill among both Republicans and Democrats for an independent 9/11-style commission to investigate the country’s response to the outbreak appears to be growing.

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Pope Francis donates thousands to Italian city

Pope Francis donated 60,000 euros (about $65,000) on Friday to Papa Giovanni XXIII Hospital in the Italian city Bergamo. 

Some of the donation will be used to build a new hospital in the city in the northern Lombardy region, the epicentre of Italy’s virus outbreak.

Medical professionals have been hit particularly hard in the country and the death toll for doctors rose to 77 when another four died overnight from the virus, according to the Italy's National Federation of Medical Professionals.

Italy has reported almost 120,000 cases as of Saturday. However, it has started to see infections leveling off after weeks of nationwide shutdown.

Athletes Village for Olympics could house virus patients

The under-construction Athletes Village for the Tokyo Olympics could be used as a temporary hospital for coronavirus patients.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike has been talking about the possibility of occupying the massive development on Tokyo Bay, which is to house up to 11,000 Olympic and 4,400 Paralympic athletes and staff during the games. The complex, which will eventually include 24 buildings, was expected to remain unoccupied with the Olympics delayed for 16 months.

Despite a rising number of cases in Japan — particularly in its capital city — the government has not declared a state of emergency, causing some unease at the “slow” reaction to the pandemic.

U.K.'s Johnson urges people to stay home despite 'fine weather'

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged people to "stay at home... and save lives" this weekend, despite the impending “fine weather” on Saturday. 

“This country has made a huge effort, a huge sacrifice, and done absolutely brilliantly well in delaying the spread of the virus,” he tweeted Saturday.

Johnson also tweeted a letter addressed to the leaders of opposition parties in the government to “invite them to work together at this moment of national emergency.”

The prime minister himself was recently diagnosed with the virus, and is continuing self-isolation until further notice. In the midst of a three-week lockdown, the U.K. has reported more than 41,000 cases as of Saturday. 

Egyptians urged to stay at home until April 10

Municipal workers sanitize the areas surrounding the Giza pyramids complex in hopes of curbing the outbreak in Egypt last week.Nariman El-Mofty / AP

For the next week until April 10, Egyptians should not "leave the house for any reason...not even to buy bread," health officials in the country said Friday.

This is because "the worst stage will begin soon... and many positive cases will arise and can infect many people, so it is very important to stay home," said Dr. Mahmoud Al-Jaraihi, director of an Egyptian fever hospital.

The Middle East's most populous country has reported almost 1,000 confirmed cases and 66 fatalities.

The warning came after the World Heath Organization said on Thursday that governments in the Middle East need to act fast to limit the spread, after cases rose to nearly 60,000 in the region, almost double from a week earlier.

Indian officials warn of lockdown extensions

The number of confirmed new virus cases across South Asia neared 6,000 on Saturday, even as authorities in some cities tightened restrictions on movement and warned lockdowns could be extended in a bid to rein in the pandemic.

A policeman wearing a coronavirus-themed outfit walks through a market to raise awareness about social distancing, in Chennai, India on Thursday.Arun Sankar / AFP - Getty Images

“If people don’t obey the rules seriously and cases continue to rise, then there may be no option but to extend the lockdown,” said Rajesh Tope, the health minister of India's Maharashtra state which includes the financial hub Mumbai, on Saturday. “It could be extended in Mumbai and urban areas of Maharashtra by two weeks.”

The country’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said this week the country will pull out of the national three-week lockdown of some 1.3 billion people — set to end April 14 — in a phased manner, other senior officials said this will depend on an assessment of the situation and that lockdowns would be extended in districts where the outbreak is spreading.

Modi's lockdown has been criticized as being ill-conceived and disproportionately affecting India's poor. The country has been hardest hit by the disease in South Asia with some 2,902 cases and 68 deaths.

South Korea extends 'strengthened social distance' for two weeks

South Korea will extend “strengthened social distance” for two more weeks ending on April 19, government officials said on Saturday.

Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun has expressed concern over rising infections linked to recent arrivals amid broadening outbreaks in Europe and the United States.

“We very well know that continuing social distancing comes with massive costs and sacrifice,” Chung said after a meeting on anti-virus measures on Saturday, referring to the economic implications. “But if we loosen things right now, the effort we so far invested could pop and disappear like a bubble.”

South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed 94 new cases on Saturday, bringing the national total to 10,156 cases. While the country's caseload has slowed from early March — when it reported around 500 new cases a day — there’s alarm over a recent steady rise in infections in the Seoul metropolitan area where around half of the country's 51 million people live.

A medical staff member in a booth takes samples from a visitor for the coronavirus test at a walk through testing station in Seoul, South Korea on Friday.Jung Yeon-Je / AFP - Getty Images

China pays tribute to those who died in epidemic with day of mourning

China mourned the thousands of “martyrs” who have died in the coronavirus outbreak on Saturday, flying the national flag at half mast throughout the country and suspending all forms of entertainment.

At 10 a.m. local time, the country observed three minutes of silence to mourn those who died, including frontline medical workers and doctors. Cars, trains and ships sounded their horns and air raid sirens wailed.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and other Chinese leaders paid silent tribute in front of the national flag, with white flowers pinned to their chest as a mark of mourning, state media reported.

The day of mourning coincided with the start of the annual Qingming tomb-sweeping festival, when millions of Chinese families pay respects to their ancestors. More than 3,300 people in mainland China have died in the epidemic as of Saturday.

Pressure grows on U.K. soccer stars to cut pay as crisis deepens

A shut London Stadium, home of West Ham United, on March 14.Justin Setterfield / Getty Images

After days of mounting pressure, the top soccer clubs in Britain said Friday they would ask their players to take a 30 percent pay cut as the sport grapples with the damaging fallout from the coronavirus crisis.

"The overriding priority is to aid the health and wellbeing of the nation and our communities, including players, coaches, managers, club staff and supporters," the Premier League said in a statement following a pivotal meeting earlier in the day.

It remains to be seen how players — whose wages span a wide spectrum in a league with no salary cap — will respond to the request following calls from government ministers to cut their often-astronomical wages.

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After resisting efforts to shut doors, Hobby Lobby has closed all stores

OKLAHOMA CITY — Hobby Lobby announced that the ongoing coronavirus crisis is prompting it to close its stores until further notice.

In a statement, the Oklahoma City-based crafts retail chain said it also is furloughing all of its store employees and many of its corporate and distribution workers.

Hobby Lobby had resisted efforts to close its stores as nonessential services, saying its sale of fabric was essential. A team enforcing Denver’s shelter-in-place order had issued citations to Hobby Lobby stores. On Thursday, deputies in Dallas County, Texas, served Hobby Lobby with cease-and-desist orders for it to close or be found in violation of the county’s order closing all nonessential businesses to fight the spread of COVID-19.

Hobby Lobby describes itself as the world’s largest privately owned arts-and-crafts retailer with more than 900 stores in 46 states with more than 43,000 employees, according to the chain’s website.

Hospital at NYC's Javits Center starts taking patients

A 2,500-bed emergency medical facility being run by the U.S. Army in New York's the Javits Center began taking COVID-19 patients Friday night, the governor's office said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the center, which had initially been planned to take non-virus patients, would instead take only those suffering from the coronavirus illness.

The New York City area has been called the epicenter of the coronavirus epidemic in the United States, and as of 5 p.m. Friday it had more than 56,000 cases with 1,867 deaths in the city itself, according to the city's health department.

Cuomo said in a statement Thursday that he asked President Donald Trump to allow the Javits Center facility to take COVID-19 patients, and the president agreed to the request. Cuomo thanked Trump for his quick action in the matter.

The Defense Department said Friday that in addition to the Javits Center, COVID-19 patients would also be taken at federal medical stations set up at convention centers in New Orleans and Dallas.