U.S. and global news on COVID-19

Here are the latest updates from around the world.

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The Senate overwhelmingly passed a massive stimulus package late Wednesday night aimed at softening the economic blow of the coronavirus pandemic for American workers and businesses. The bill includes billions of dollars in credit for struggling industries, a boost to unemployment insurance and direct cash payments to Americans.

The fate of the bill now rests with the House, which will not vote until Friday, according to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md.

The U.S. reached a grim milestone as the number of deaths linked to the coronavirus passed 1,000 in the country, according to a count of reports of cases and deaths by NBC News. Globally, the death toll topped 20,000, with nearly half a million reported cases.

Meanwhile at the U.N., the Trump administration is pushing the Security Council to call attention to the Chinese origins of the coronavirus, four diplomats posted to the United Nations told NBC News, triggering a stalemate as the global body seeks to cobble together a response to the pandemic.

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Russia to ground international flights

All international flights to Russia will be halted starting Friday following a sharp jump in virus cases in the country this week, Russian government officials announced Thursday. 

A statement on the government’s website said an exception would be made for repatriation flights bringing Russian citizens home, as well as for flights that have received special government permission.

President Vladimir Putin said in a televised meeting Thursday that Russia could defeat coronavirus in less than three months if it imposed tough measures quickly, according to Reuters.

Authorities in the country’s capital of Moscow said they would close all shops apart from essential services starting this weekend as Russia reported its biggest one day rise in cases yet — still a figure much lower than in many other European countries — bringing its official tally to 840 cases.

Many Americans face coronavirus with no water to wash their hands

Valaria Griffin.Courtesy Valaria Griffin

Valaria Griffin has had no running water in her Detroit home since last fall, when it was shut off because of unpaid bills and a broken plumbing valve that she couldn't afford to fix.

Now, as officials urge people to wash their hands to fight the coronavirus, Griffin, 55, is one of many Americans who can't easily do that. She worries her life could be in danger. 

"I'm so stressed out. It's just despair," said Griffin, who relies on donated bottled water. "I'm not able to keep my sanitation level up enough for this virus. I'm not able to keep clean."

Read the full story here. 

Photo: Workers accept confinement to keep making masks

Workers flash peace signs inside a factory where they manufacture medical masks in Kairouan, Tunisia in a photo released on Thursday. One hundred and fifty workers at Consomed, the factory which has become the country's main supplier of protective medical apparel and equipment, have agreed to stay confined at the facility, to keep producing masks.Consomed / AFP - Getty Images

First coronavirus death of a homeless person in New York City

A New York City man in his 60s who was experiencing homelessness died at a hospital from the coronavirus, a spokesperson for the city's Department of Homeless Services said. His death is believed to be the first COVID-19 fatality among the city's homeless.

The person, who has not been identified, was hospitalized days prior to his death after testing positive for the virus. 

As of Tuesday, there were 39 confirmed coronavirus cases among New York City's sheltered homeless population, including the man who died, the Homeless Services spokesperson said. Eleven of those individuals are hospitalized, and nine are in the agency's isolation units.

Others who are homeless and have tested positive are either self-isolating on their own or have made other arrangements, including staying with family members. 

Vietnam quarantines tens of thousands amid vigorous crackdown on virus

Vietnam has sent tens of thousands of returning citizens to quarantine camps as waves of people return home to escape the pandemic spreading in Europe and the United States.

By Thursday, those quarantined numbered 44,955, including nearly half in military-run centers, down about 15 percent from Monday’s figure, official data showed.

Passengers returning to the country who have symptoms are taken to hospital, and the rest are sent to quarantine camps where they will share a room with 10 to 20 others from the same flight, an official told Reuters.

Even though Vietnam is one of Southeast Asia’s poorer nations, its efforts and high numbers of testing against the virus — more than 30,000 people so far — have been praised, and ensured its tally of infections is lower than those of many neighbors. So far, the recorded death toll in Vietnam is zero.

China warns against resurgence of infection at home

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang warned residents of the country on Thursday about "asymptomatic cases" and the chance for the resurgence of the infection at home.

Urging strict mitigation and containment measures that limits cross-border land and water travel, the Chinese government plans to have public health teams that will comb through communities to ascertain the sources of each new confirmed, suspected or asymptomatic cases. 

The government is also stressing to medical teams and communities the importance of releasing factual information in a timely and transparent manner, stating that there would be no room for cover-ups or under-reporting. 

As the disease has spread globally and China's own numbers have fallen, the government said it is also keeping an eye on international airports and taking strict containment measures on inbound travelers. 

New Zealand starts first day of month-long lockdown

New Zealand started a one-month mandatory lockdown on Thursday to slow the spread of the coronavirus — with warnings from authorities to stay at home or face large fines and even jail.

The country's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at a news conference that most things were going according to plan: “The streets are essentially empty... that’s a remarkable feat and I want to thank New Zealanders for that."

Ardern also posted a picture of her “home office” on Instagram on Thursday, praising nurses, doctors, ambulance officers, pharmacists, receptionists, midwives, cleaners, supermarket workers and others. “I know it can be a thankless job sometimes, so from all of us - thank you," she wrote.

Stock market attempts a rally amid record-shattering unemployment figures

Wall Street attempted a rally Thursday morning, despite record-breaking unemployment claims that revealed the extent to which the economy has ground to halt due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up by around 330 points at the opening bell. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq also ticked up a notch, trading higher by around 1.4 percent.

The stock slide came after data from the Department of Labor showed a staggering 3.28 million Americans filed for unemployment last week, the first official snapshot of the economic damage wrought by the virus.

Domain marketplace stops sale of coronavirus-related website listings

One of the largest independent domain marketplaces announced Thursday it would remove coronavirus-related domain names and no longer allow sellers to list them for sale.

“We’re seeing astronomical high prices being asked for these domains and find that unethical and unacceptable,” the company, DAN.com, said in a series of tweets Thursday morning. 

The number of coronavirus-related domains have grown astronomically to more than 68,000 this year, according to DomainTools, a cyber intelligence company that tracks such registrations. Many of those carry spam, phishing attempts or malware, DomainTools’ vice president of product Jackie Abrams wrote in a blog post this week. 

DAN encouraged their clients that own coronavirus domains to donate them to charities, government agencies or non-profits.

Japan calls virus a 'national crisis' after surge in Tokyo

Japan banned entry from Europe on Thursday and warned of a high risk that the outbreak would become rampant after a surge in Tokyo.

In a step towards a possible state of emergency, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe described the outbreak as a "national crisis" in a task force meeting Thursday. Authorities are particularly worried that a jump in cases in Tokyo means Japan — which has so far escaped a mass spread that has hit Europe and North America — could now be on course for a big new wave. 

On Thursday, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike warned of the risk of an explosive rise in infections in the capital and asked residents to avoid non-essential outings through April 12. Japan’s Health Ministry reported 98 new cases Thursday, with more than a total of 1,200 reported infections as of Thursday. This comes just days after the Tokyo 2020 Olympic were postponed.

More than 3 million Americans filed for unemployment last week

A record-breaking 3.28 million Americans filed for unemployment claims last week, as the coronavirus pandemic shuttered businesses nationwide and ground the economy to a halt.

The massive spike in new jobless claims comes as nationwide lockdowns to halt the spread of the coronavirus pandemic have kept Americans from their workplaces, grinding businesses to a halt and forcing many companies to shutter or to lay off staff.

These numbers are just "the tip of the iceberg," said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton, noting that these figures do not even include data from this week.

Read the full story here.