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Trump extends social distancing guidelines as governors warn of shortages

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
Image: A stamp seller shows off special postcards with anti-coronavirus images in Hanoi, Vietnam March 31, 2020.
A stamp seller shows off special postcards with anti-coronavirus images in Hanoi, Vietnam March 31, 2020.Kham / Reuters

President Donald Trump announced Sunday that he's extending his administration's guidelines on social distancing during the COVID-19 outbreak until April 30. The move marks a significant change for the president, who said last week that he wanted to see much of the country return to normal by Easter, April 12, despite warnings from top health experts that easing guidelines could cause widespread death and economic damage.

Meanwhile, in an interview with "TODAY" on Monday morning, White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said she's "very worried" about every city in the U.S., saying 100,000 to 200,000 American deaths would be the outcome of a response that works "almost perfectly," according to projections.

Birx's stark message comes after a weekend where the governors of Michigan and Louisiana warned of a lack of resources to respond to the crisis and said that shortages of ventilators and protective equipment could overwhelm hospitals as soon as this week.

The global death toll is now nearly 35,000, and there are more than 140,000 confirmed cases in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University.

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1160d ago / 11:12 AM UTC

Iran to release 100,000 prisoners as 3,000 new cases recorded

Image: People wearing protective clothing attend a funeral of a victim who died from the coronavirus at a cemetery outside Tehran, Iran on Monday.
People wearing protective clothing attend a funeral of a victim who died from the coronavirus at a cemetery outside Tehran, Iran on Monday.Ebrahim Noroozi / AP

Iran has recorded more than 3,000 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of cases to 41,495, the country's health officials said Monday. 

More than 100 new deaths were registered, with the total now standing at 2,757.

On Sunday, Iran's judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said nearly 100,000 prisoners will be temporarily released to ease the pressure on the healthcare system as the country struggles to contain the coronavirus outbreak. It's the second wave of prisoners to be released amid the epidemic. 

Earlier this month, Iran temporarily freed about 85,000 people from jail, including political prisoners.

1160d ago / 10:57 AM UTC

Italian fashion houses shift to making medical gear


From Bulgari to Prada, high-end Italian fashion houses are switching from manufacturing luxury handbags and perfumes to masks, white coats and hand sanitizers in an effort to stem the spread of coronavirus in one of Europe's hardest hit countries.

On Sunday, the special commissioner for the coronavirus emergency, Domenico Arcuri, announced that 25 Italian fashion brands would begin manufacturing 200,000 masks a day in converted factories and workshops.

The production will eventually gear up, with the aim of delivering 500,000 masks per day from next week and eventually reaching 700,000 masks a day, he said.

Last Friday, the Armani Group announced that its Italian production plants had switched to manufacturing single use overalls for healthcare workers involved in the fight against coronavirus. Bulgari, a luxury jeweler founded in 1884, said last week it had begun to produce several hundred thousand bottles of hand sanitizers, sporting the slogan: 'Hand in hand with Italy.'

1160d ago / 10:43 AM UTC

Klobuchar opens up about husband contracting coronavirus

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said Sunday that it can be very lonely living with COVID-19, which her husband tested positive for and is self-isolating in their Washington, D.C., apartment. 

"This is a disease like no other," Klobuchar told MSNBC's "Kasie DC." "It's a very lonely disease. It's lonely in the ramp-up, it's lonely if you get really sick and it is lonely afterward, because you really can't go out there until you know are you not contagious."

She said that she was staying in a Senate colleague's apartment until her husband, John Bessler, gets the green light from doctors to make sure he can't spread the disease to others.

"I hope my husband's story will be helpful for many is that he is only 52. He's really healthy. We have no idea how he got it and he ended up in the hospital with severe pneumonia," she said. "He had been coughing up blood, he was there for a few days, turned the corner and is now home."

1160d ago / 10:42 AM UTC

Medical workers in Spain and Italy 'overloaded' as more of them catch coronavirus

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Doctors, nurses and other medical workers on‌ ‌the‌ ‌front lines‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌coronavirus‌ ‌epidemic‌ ‌in‌ ‌Italy‌ ‌and‌ ‌Spain are succumbing to the respiratory illness themselves in ever increasing numbers, leading many to complain about inadequate protective equipment and supplies.

The two hardest-hit countries in Europe have together recorded more than 17,000 deaths from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, as of Monday.

In Italy, the country’s ‌National Institute of Health said‌ ‌Monday that 8,358 health‌ ‌workers‌ ‌have‌ ‌tested‌ ‌positive‌ ‌for‌ ‌the‌ ‌coronavirus‌ ‌so‌ ‌far,‌ ‌nearly‌ ‌nine ‌percent‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌total‌ ‌number‌ ‌of‌ ‌infected‌ ‌nationwide.‌ ‌A total of 61 ‌medical‌ ‌workers‌ ‌have‌ ‌died‌ ‌of‌ ‌COVID-19 ‌since‌ ‌the‌ ‌beginning‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌outbreak, according ‌to‌ ‌the‌ ‌Italian‌ ‌Federation‌ ‌of‌ ‌Medical‌ ‌Professional‌ ‌Associations. ‌

Officials in Spain have not revealed how many, if any, medical workers have died from the coronavirus, but in his most recent briefing about the subject, Fernando Simon, the head of the country's emergency coordination center, said Friday that 9,444 had contracted it. Just six days earlier, that number stood at 3,475.

Read the full story here.

Image: Portraits of Italian doctors and nurses taken during a break or at the end of their shifts in Rome, Bergamo and Brescia
Portraits of Italian doctors and nurses taken during a break or at the end of their shifts in Rome, Bergamo and Brescia on Friday.Domenico Stinellis, Antonio Calanni, Luca Bruno / AP
1160d ago / 10:37 AM UTC

Russian PM asks regions to consider implementing new restrictions


Image: Red Square stands empty on Monday after Moscow authorities announced restrictions ordering residents to stay at home to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Red Square stands empty on Monday after Moscow authorities announced restrictions ordering residents to stay at home to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Shamil Zhumatov / Reuters

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has asked regional governors to look at restrictive measures taken in Moscow to curb the spread of the coronavirus, state news agency RIA reported Monday.

"I ask the leadership of Russian federal subjects to pay attention to the experience of their colleagues [in Moscow] and work out the possibility of implementing similar measures in their regions," Mishustin said, according to RIA. 

Authorities announced a partial lockdown on Sunday, with Mayor Sergey Sobyanin signing an order that severely restricts freedom of movement both in the capital and the surrounding suburbs. 

People can now only leave their homes to get emergency medical help, shop at the nearest grocery store or pharmacy and to go to and from work if deemed essential. On Monday, Russia reported 302 new cases, 212 of which are in Moscow, bringing the total to 1,836 cases with nine deaths. 

1160d ago / 10:10 AM UTC

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1160d ago / 9:54 AM UTC

Arrivals to South Korea face two-week self-isolation

Image: A South Korean woman wears a mask while walking along the street in Seoul on Monday.
A South Korean woman wears a mask while walking along the street in Seoul on Monday.Chung Sung-Jun / Getty Images

The South Korean government is tightening quarantine measures for all overseas arrivals starting on April 1.  

On Monday, Health Minister Park Neung Hoo said anyone entering the country will need to self-isolate for two weeks.

“The two weeks of self-isolation rule will be applied to both locals and foreigners regardless of long-term or short-term stay,” Park said.

He added that entrants without a place to stay in South Korea will be housed in an isolation facility provided by the government and will have to pay for the space provided.

Nearly 10,000 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in South Korea, but the number of deaths stands at 158, much lower than in the U.S. and European countries where thousands of people have died.

1160d ago / 9:44 AM UTC

Questions as Tokyo sees spike in cases after Olympics delay

A rise in the number of coronavirus cases in Tokyo immediately after the postponement of the Summer Olympics has raised questions about whether Japan understated the extent of the outbreak and delayed the enforcement of social distancing measures, while clinging to hopes that the games would start in July as scheduled.

“In order to make an impression that the city was taking control of the coronavirus, Tokyo avoided making strict requests and made the number of patients look smaller," former Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said in a tweet. “The coronavirus has spread while they waited. (For Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike) it was Olympics first, not Tokyo's residents.”

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Saturday that Japan is now on the brink of a huge jump in cases as it becomes increasingly difficult to trace and keep clusters under control.

Health minister Katsunobu Kato said there is “absolutely no relationship” between the Olympic postponement and the number of confirmed cases.


1160d ago / 9:02 AM UTC

U.K. could take six months to get 'back to normal,' official says

It could take the U.K. six months to get "back to normal" as it enters the second week of a nationwide lockdown to curb the coronavirus pandemic, England's deputy chief medical officer said Sunday. 

Speaking at the government's daily coronavirus briefing, Jenny Harries said the government will need a couple more weeks to see if restrictions to stop the virus spreading are working, adding that the U.K. must not suddenly revert to business as usual if the measures are successful.

"So over time, probably over the next six months, we will have a three-week review. We will see where we are going," she said, later clarifying that it doesn't mean the country will be in complete lockdown for six months.

There are also concerns that an extended lockdown in the U.K. could put a significant emotional strain on the public. On Sunday, Prince William and his wife Kate encouraged people to look after their mental health. 

1160d ago / 8:40 AM UTC

1160d ago / 8:37 AM UTC

Nigerian cities set for new restrictions

Nigerians in Lagos, Abuja and Ogun State will enter a partial lockdown after the president ordered the "cessation of movement" set to begin Monday evening. The order will last for at least 14 days.

"All citizens in these areas are to stay in their homes. Travel to or from other states should be postponed. All businesses and offices within these locations should be fully closed during this period," President Muhammadu Buhari said in a televised address Sunday.

Given its poor public health system, health experts are concerned about a widespread outbreak in the country of 200 million.

1160d ago / 8:04 AM UTC

Hand sanitizer and thermometers ready at entrance to Wuhan mall

Image: Staff members of a shopping mall in Wuhan hold disinfectant gel and a thermometer at the entrance on Monday.
Staff members of a shopping mall in Wuhan, the epicentre of China's coronavirus outbreak, hold disinfectant gel and a thermometer at the entrance on Monday.Aly Song / Reuters
1160d ago / 7:58 AM UTC
1160d ago / 3:19 AM UTC

Songwriter of 'I Love Rock 'n' Roll' dies of COVID-19

Alan Merrill — who wrote the song “I Love Rock 'n' Roll" that became a signature hit for fellow rocker Joan Jett — died Sunday in New York of complications from the coronavirus, his daughter said. He was 69.

Laura Merrill said on her Facebook account that he died in the morning.

“I was given 2 minutes to say my goodbyes before I was rushed out. He seemed peaceful and as I left there was still a glimmer of hope that he wouldn’t be a ticker on the right hand side of the CNN/Fox news screen," she wrote. “I walked 50 blocks home still with hope in my heart. The city that I knew was empty. I felt I was the only person here and perhaps in many ways I was. By the time I got in the doors to my apartment I received the news that he was gone."

Merrill said her father was in good spirits recently. She went to a show of his about two weeks ago and had taken a photograph of him for his new album, Merrill said.

1160d ago / 3:12 AM UTC

Drugs donated to feds as possible COVID-19 treatment

The federal government said Sunday that it accepted millions of doses of a drug that scientists are studying as a possible treatment for COVID-19.

The Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement that Sandoz, a subsidiary of Novartis, donated 30 million doses of hydroxychloroquine sulfate, and Bayer Pharmaceuticals donated 1 million doses of chloroquine phosphate.

The oral prescription drugs are used to treat malaria, but there’s anecdotal evidence they may help patients suffering from COVID-19.

The donations were announced one day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned people against using a non-pharmaceutical version of the drugs. Last week, an Arizona man died and his wife became critically ill after they consumed it in a parasite treatment for fish.  

1160d ago / 2:46 AM UTC

Two large health insurers waive coronavirus treatment costs

Health insurers Cigna and Humana are now waiving patient cost-sharing on all treatment for coronavirus, including hospitalizations and ambulance transfers, for their insured members and employer plans.

“Our customers with COVID-19 should focus on fighting this virus and preventing its spread,” said David Cordani, Cigna president and CEO, in a statement, adding “while our customers focus on regaining their health, we have their backs.”

The insurers said the waiver applies to all medical costs related to the treatment of coronavirus, including FDA-approved medications and vaccines when they become available. They will apply to their privately insured individual and groups plans, Medicare Advantage and Medicaid members.

Read the full story.