Full World COVID-19 update: National Guard collect ventilators in New York; Spain, Italy improve

The latest on the coronavirus pandemic. This collection of files from the Associated Press was posted by Black Press Media at noon, Saturday, April 4.

TOP OF THE HOUR:

  • Trudeau says Canada won’t punish U.S. for refusing to export N95 masks.
  • Five London bus workers die from coronavirus.
  • Bulgaria’s Orthodox Christian majority urged to stay away from church services during Easter.

National Guard to collect ventilators from upstate New York state

New York is poised to get over 1,100 ventilators from China and Oregon as it scrambles to line up more breathing machines for the sickest coronavirus patients, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday.

The Chinese government facilitated a 1,000-ventilator donation from billionaires Jack Ma and Joseph Tsai, the co-founders of the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, Cuomo said. He said those ventilators were due to arrive Saturday, and the state of Oregon had volunteered to send 140 more breathing machines.

“It’s going to make a significant difference for us,” said the Democratic governor. Cuomo had said on Thursday that the state’s supply of ventilators would be exhausted in six days if the number of critically ill coronavirus patients kept growing at the current rate.

New York is the pandemic’s U.S. epicenter, with over 113,700 confirmed cases as of Saturday morning. More than 3,500 people statewide have died, and about 15,000 coronavirus patients are hospitalized. Over 4,100 are in intensive care — many, if not all, of them needing ventilators.

Governors around the U.S. have been pleading, competing and scouring the global marketplace for needed supplies, especially ventilators, to treat the sick. Cuomo said Saturday that New York at one point made purchase orders for 17,000 of the devices, but only 2,500 came through.

“You get a call that says, `We can’t fill that order,”’ he said.

Cuomo announced Friday that he’d order a redistribution of hundreds of ventilators within New York, saying he wants upstate hospitals to lend 20% of their unused ventilators — an estimated 500 in all — to medical centres in the harder-hit New York City metropolitan area.

The governor said National Guard members would pick up ventilators across the state. National Guard spokesman Eric Durr said Saturday that the collection had not yet begun.

DC death toll passes 900 people

WASHINGTON — The District of Columbia has announced 145 new positive infections from the COVID-19 coronavirus, bringing the total up to 902, with six new deaths bringing the total to 15. Mayor Muriel Bowser has issued a stay-home order for Washington’s approximately 700,000 residents. Neighboring Maryland and Virginia have done the same. Bowser has declared a state of emergency, shuttered all schools and ordered all non-essential businesses to close. White House and Capitol tours have been cancelled and the National Zoo, Smithsonian museum network and Kennedy Center have closed.

Fiancee of British PM ‘on the mend,’ but worried about her pregnancy

LONDON — Carrie Symonds, fiancee of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, says she is “on the mend” after a week suffering from symptoms of COVID-19.

Symonds, 32, tweeted: “I’ve spent the past week in bed with the main symptoms of Coronavirus,” though she had not been tested.

Symonds, who is pregnant, is not currently staying with Johnson at the prime minister’s Downing St. residence.

She said in a tweet that “being pregnant with Covid-19 is obviously worrying” but she was reassured by the latest medical guidance.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says babies are unlikely to be exposed to COVID-19 during pregnancy and there is also no data at the moment suggesting an increased risk of miscarriage for pregnant women.

Johnson tested positive for the virus on March 26 and remains quarantined in Downing St. He said Friday he is feeling better but still has a fever.

Turkey: COVID-19 infections approach 24,000 people

ISTANBUL — Turkey’s health minister reported 76 new COVID-19 deaths in the past 24 hours, raising the death toll in the country to 501.

Fahrettin Koca also raised the total number of COVID-19 infections to 23,934, reporting 3,013 more confirmed cases on Saturday. There are 1,311 patients in intensive care units across the country, with 909 of them intubated.

A total of 786 people have recovered from novel coronavirus infections, according to the figures the health minister posted on Twitter.

‘Mismanagement’ now a personal protective equipment boon in Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The suspected mismanagement of essential supplies during Hurricane Maria has turned out to be a boon for Puerto Rico as it fights a rise in the coronavirus cases. Health Secretary Lorenzo Gonzalez said Saturday that officials discovered a cache of urgently needed personal protective equipment at a hospital in the nearby island of Vieques that remains closed since the Category 4 storm hit in September 2017. He said the equipment includes face masks, gloves, gowns and face shields that were in good condition. Puerto Rico has reported 18 deaths, including that of a nurse, and more than 450 confirmed cases, including police officers who have demanded more personal protective equipment.

Italy: Lombardy residents must wear masks outdoors

ROME — Italy’s virus-ravaged Lombardy region is now requiring residents to wear a protective mask when they go outside in a bid to further trim infections.

The ordinance from Lombardy Gov. Attilio Fontana goes into effect Sunday and lasts through April 13. It mirrors similar ordinances in recent days from two other northern regions, hard-hit Veneto and Alto Adige, which require protective masks for residents particularly if shopping in stores and markets.

While all of Italy is under a nationwide lockdown, Lombardy has passed particularly tight restrictions on movement and business operations in an effort to curb infections in the epicenter of Europe’s outbreak. The new ordinance extends those tight restrictions to mid-April but makes a new exception to the shutdown for stationary stores to reopen to let students buy school supplies.

Italy: Infection rate slowing, slight gain in ICU beds

ROME — Italy is seeing more relief from the coronavirus outbreak in its jammed intensive care units, with 74 fewer beds in use over the past day nationwide.

Civil protection chief Angelo Borrelli said the dip in ICU saturation was “important news because it allows our hospitals to breathe.” Intensive care wards in Lombardy, the epicenter of the European outbreak, have been full for weeks but on Saturday there were 56 fewer beds in use than the day before.

Overall, new infections continued to slow their once-exponential pace, with 4,805 new cases registered Saturday that brought Italy’s official count to 124,632. The death toll continued to mount, with 681 new victims bringing the world’s highest toll to 15,362.

Italian officials have urged Italians to continue rigorously observing the west’s first and most comprehensive national shutdown after some Italians were seen out walking and shopping in great numbers in various cities. Officials say the emergency is still very much under way, and that the infection curve remains at a plateau, not yet beginning its hoped-for decline.

Trudeau: No retaliation against U.S. over N95 masks

TORONTO — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada won’t bring retaliatory or punitive measures against the United States after the Trump administration announced it would prevent the export of N95 protective masks.

Trudeau says he will speak to President Trump in the coming days. He says his officials are having constructive conversations with American officials.

Trudeau says he will tell Trump both countries are interlinked in ways that it would damage both if supply chains are cut. The prime minister says Canada ships gloves and testing kits to the U.S and notes materials from the N95 masks originate in Canada.

Canadian nurses also cross the bridge in Windsor to work in the Detroit medical system everyday.

Manufacturing giant 3M says there are significant humanitarian implications of ceasing N95 masks to health care workers in Canada and Latin America, where 3M is a critical supplier of respirators.

Bulgaria: Church resists closing during Easter

SOFIA, Bulgaria — Bulgaria’s Orthodox Christian majority has been urged to stay away from church services during the upcoming Easter holidays.

The Balkan country of 7 million has extended a nationwide state of emergency by a month until May 13 to contain the spread of the coronavirus outbreak. It already has closed schools, restaurants, parks and sports facilities, and banned intercity travel and holiday trips.

But the Bulgarian Orthodox Church is resisting calls to close houses of worship making it the only denomination in the country to do so. Health officials have voiced fears that many worshippers might ignore the quarantine and attend the church services.

Prime Minister Boyko Borissov says this is an issue for the church and that the government would not intervene.

Bulgaria has confirmed 17 deaths from the coronavirus and the total number of confirmed cases increased to 503.

Greece: Average age of COVID-19 deaths is 74; most are men

ATHENS, Greece — Greece recorded nine new fatalities from the coronavirus that raises the total number of deaths 68.

Officials said 49 men have died and the average age of those dying is 74. Total confirmed cases rose by 60 to 1,673. Officials said 92 people are in intensive care units and 10 have emerged from intensive care healthy.

Authorities announced that lockdown measures have been extended until April 27. They also chided the “enlarged” number of those who ventured to highways outside Athens despite the unsettled weather.

Britain: Five London bus workers die

LONDON — A trade union says five London bus workers have died after being diagnosed with COVID-19. Three were drivers and two were controllers.

Peter Kavanagh is regional secretary of the Unite union and called the deaths a terrible tragedy. London’s subways and buses have continued to run a reduced service since the U.K. went into lockdown in a bid to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

Bus ridership has plummeted by more than 75% but the drivers who died may have been infected before the lockdown.

Kavanagh says the union is working with transit operator Transport for London to ensure bus drivers are safe. New measures include deep-cleaning of buses, placing sealed screens around the driver and preventing passengers from sitting close to the driver.

The union called on the government to ensue transport workers were given protective equipment.

Spain: Light at the end of the tunnel, but more sacrifice needed

MADRID — Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez says that his nation ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic is “starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Sanchez said that if the current slowdown of the outbreak continues then Spain is on course to reduce its cases of the COVID-19. Current numbers show Spain has 124,000 cases of coronavirus and over 11,000 deaths.

Sanchez gave a televised address to the nation Saturday and said Spain is close to reducing the spread of the virus. He implored citizens “to make more sacrifices” during the crisis.

Sanchez used the address to announce that the government plans to extend the lockdown the country has been under for three weeks until April 26.

Strict limitations that keep people at home except for shopping for food and medicine, as well as non-essential businesses, helped Spain reduce its rate of contagion that was over 20% last week to 6% on Saturday.

Sanchez warned that when restrictions are loosened they will be rolled back gradually. He says it is unclear when all normal activities will be resumed.

Sanchez says he will ask Spain’s Parliament to extend the country’s state of emergency another two weeks to battle the new coronavirus outbreak.

Spain has been under lockdown since March 14. The state of emergency is due to expire on April 11.

The extension of two more weeks will extend it until April 26 and take the lockdown to six full weeks.

The national lockdown has closed down all non-essential industries and only allows people to leave their homes for food and medicine purchases.

Kenya: Partying sprees may spread virus

NAIROBI, Kenya — Kenya’s government has ordered the quarantine period extended for two weeks in facilities where some people went on “partying sprees” and might have spread the new coronavirus.

Officials on Saturday reported a high number of cases among those in quarantine facilities and accused some people of not taking social distancing seriously.

But some Kenyans have complained to local media about the quarantine conditions that include shared bathrooms and poor hygiene. Kenya has 126 confirmed coronavirus cases.

France considers the use of masks for all

PARIS — France’s health minister says the government is in discussion with experts over whether all residents should be wearing a protective mask to fight the spread of the new coronavirus.

Olivier Veran indicated it has not been recommended by French authorities for everyone to wear a mask. But he says the idea is under discussion with the scientific council, virology experts and health agencies.

Veran also says the French government is committed to obtaining a plentiful supply of masks. He added ” we have to be able to produce masks, for people who are not caregivers, who are what are called people who are on the second line, people who will be in contact with the public.”

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