April 15 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Adam Renton, Rob Picheta and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 3:17 p.m. ET, April 17, 2020
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7:42 a.m. ET, April 15, 2020

Wave of infections hits German cancer ward

From CNN's Nadine Schmidt in Berlin

An exterior view shows the The University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf in Hain 2018.
An exterior view shows the The University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf in Hain 2018. Shutterstock

A cancer ward in a German hospital has been hit by an outbreak of coronavirus cases.

Around 20 patients and 20 employees tested positive for Covid-19 at the University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) last week, the hospital confirmed to CNN on Wednesday.

Some of those patients are still being cared for at the Hamburg hospital, while others have since been sent home.

''The exact chain of infection is currently being investigated at full speed and cannot be traced back to a single person," a UKE spokesperson said.

All the patients on the oncology ward were tested after the first infection became known, the UKE said. Infected patients were transferred to specific Covid-19 wards to continue their treatment.

Staff members from a wide range of professions tested positive for the virus and are currently in isolation at home, the hospital statement concluded. 

Hamburg is one of Germany's coronavirus hotspots. A total of 3,869 people in the city have been infected with the virus and 67 have died, according to figures released Wednesday by the Robert Koch Institute, Germany's disease control and prevention agency.

7:26 a.m. ET, April 15, 2020

Europe needs "new Marshall Plan" to respond to coronavirus

The President of European Commission Ursula von der Leyen holds a press conference at the European Union headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on April 15.
The President of European Commission Ursula von der Leyen holds a press conference at the European Union headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on April 15. John Thys/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

The EU’s new long-term budget will need to be a “strong” response to the coronavirus crisis, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen says.

“I’ve often said in the past that Europe needs a new Marshall Plan,” she said, referring to the multi-billion dollar American stimulus package to rebuild Europe after World War II. “We’ll need massive public and private investment to revive the economy, reconstruct it and to create new jobs.”

“The key to this is a strong new EU budget. The budget has the advantage that it enjoys the confidence, the trust of all member states.”

“This new seven-year budget has to distinguish itself from the previous ones. It will be different. It will be the European response to the coronavirus crisis.”

European Council President Charles Michel said Europe was facing a “huge and unprecedented” crisis.

He said the bloc’s leaders would have to focus on “the need – the absolutely necessity – to develop a massive investment strategy” to rebuild once the coronavirus crisis passes.

7:23 a.m. ET, April 15, 2020

Scammers arrested for selling virus testing kits illegally

From CNN’s Hilary McGann in London

A view of the National Crime Agency (NCA) building in London, in 2018.
A view of the National Crime Agency (NCA) building in London, in 2018. Kirsty O'Connor/PA Images/Getty Images

Two scammers capitalising on the pandemic in the UK by illegally selling testing kits have been arrested, a statement from the National Crime Agency (NCA) said on Wednesday.

A pharmacist was arrested and £20,000 ($25,000) was seized in South London on Saturday under the Fraud Act 2006. The 46-year-old is accused of making “false and misleading claims about the tests’ capability.”

Separately, a 39-year-old surveyor was found with 250 Covid-19 testing kits in his car and was arrested after telling investigators “he was planning on selling the kits to construction workers,” the statement said.

Both were released on conditional bail. 

The NCA also said it had taken down a website designed to fool people “into buying suspected non-existent” personal protection equipment (PPE) via phishing emails.

“Criminals capitalise on fear and anxiety and they will exploit any opportunity, no matter how awful, to line their pockets,” said the NCA's Director of Investigations, Nikki Holland, adding that such scams “completely undermine the nation’s collective response to the pandemic and actually endangers lives.”

The British government has been criticized for failing to provide mass testing and PPE for healthcare workers and the public.

7:00 a.m. ET, April 15, 2020

Moscow's digital tracking system caused crowding on public transport

From CNN's Nathan Hodge

A police checks a commuter's documents at the entrance to a Moscow metro station on Wednesday.
A police checks a commuter's documents at the entrance to a Moscow metro station on Wednesday. Mikhail Tereshchenko/TASS/Getty Images

The mayor of Moscow has admitted that the rollout of a new digital tracking system to enforce its coronavirus lockdown has caused crowding on public transportation, after images surfaced on Russian social media of large lines forming outside subway entrances as police checked passes.

“This morning, due to verification activities conducted by the GUVD [police], queues formed in the metro, something very critical in the current situation,” Sergey Sobyanin said in a statement on Twitter on Wednesday.

The new system officially went into operation Wednesday, requiring Muscovites and residents of the Moscow region to download a QR code so they can move around the Russian capital.

A Moscow metro passenger displays an electronic pass Tuesday with a QR code on a phone.
A Moscow metro passenger displays an electronic pass Tuesday with a QR code on a phone. Moscow News Agency/AP

Opposition activists warned the new system will lead to unprecedented government intrusion.

For example, the permit website prompts all users to register at or link their existing page to a government e-portal, which stores user data on traffic fines, utility bills, foreign passports and so on. Users also need to disclose their points of origin and destination, their employer tax identifier, car plate number and upload their IDs.

Daria Besedina and Maxim Katz, local opposition lawmakers who voted against the system, dubbed it a "cyber Gulag" and "digital concentration camp," criticizing the authorities for mixed messaging about the coronavirus.

“I talked with the head of the Central Internal Affairs Directorate and asked them to organize work in such a way that further inspections would not lead to mass crowds of people," Sobyanin, the mayor, said on Twitter.

He added that crowds had lessened and work was resuming at a normal pace. 

“In the future it will be necessary to move to automated control,” he said. “We’ll think about how to do this.”

6:40 a.m. ET, April 15, 2020

Protest breaks out in Mumbai after nationwide lockdown is extended

From journalists Esha Mitra and Rishabh Pratap

A crowd of migrant workers protest against the the extension of the lockdown, in Mumbai, India, on April 14.
A crowd of migrant workers protest against the the extension of the lockdown, in Mumbai, India, on April 14. Zoya Thomas Lobo/AP

Hundreds of migrant workers gathered outside the Bandra railway station in Mumbai on Tuesday evening to protest against the extension of India's nationwide lockdown.

The protesters called on police to allow them to leave the city and return to their home villages, said senior Mumbai police official Vijaylakshmi Hiremath. 

The protest broke out hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that India's nationwide lockdown would be extended to May 3.

"We had to use batons to control the crowd. No one was injured," said Dattaray Bhargude, senior police official to CNN.

In an appeal to migrant workers Tuesday, the chief minister of Maharashtra, Uddhav Thackeray said, “You have come from other states and stay here with us. There is a problem and a challenge and we will face this challenge together… You have come here, and you are living in this state and we will take complete care of you. There is no need for you to worry.” 

Thackeray also said that the protest occurred because the workers were under the impression that they would be able travel once the initial 21-day lockdown period was up on Tuesday, had gathered at the station to board trains. 

"Railways have not started any ticket booking at railway stations, but the online bookings were on for trains operational post the initial 21-day lockdown. Due to the extension in the lockdown the cancellations have been initiated on Tuesday for the extended lockdown period till May 3," said Ravindra Bhakar, a spokesperson for Western Indian Railways.

Tuesday’s protest mimicked a similar one which took place last week in the western state of Gujarat. More than 80 people were arrested after protesters threw stones as the police asked them to go back to their homes.

Migrant workers across India have been restricted from heading back to their homes since the lockdown was announced last month. State governments have set up shelter homes to house the workers and have been working with NGOs to provide meals. 

To date, India has recorded a total of 11,439 confirmed cases, including 377 deaths.

6:31 a.m. ET, April 15, 2020

EU's top diplomat "deeply regrets" Trump's WHO decision

From CNN's Simon Cullen

High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, speaks at the European Union Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on March 31.
High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, speaks at the European Union Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on March 31. Thierry Monasse/Getty Images

The EU’s top diplomat says he “deeply regrets” Donald Trump’s decision to suspend funding for the World Health Organization (WHO).

The bloc’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, said: “There is no reason justifying this move at a moment when their efforts are needed more than ever to help contain & mitigate the coronavirus pandemic. Only by joining forces we can overcome this crisis that knows no borders.”

Trump announced Tuesday he is halting funding to the WHO while a review is conducted. He said the review would cover the WHO's “role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of coronavirus."

6:09 a.m. ET, April 15, 2020

UK vows to ramp up coronavirus testing in nursing homes

From Simon Cullen

The UK Government says that all nursing home residents with coronavirus symptoms will be tested -- although there’s no specific timeframe for when that target will be achieved.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock says he is “deeply conscious” that nursing home residents are among the most vulnerable to the illness.

“We are doing everything we can to keep workers, residents and their families safe, and I am determined to ensure that everyone who needs a coronavirus test should be able to have access to one,” he said in a statement.
“As we continue to ramp up our testing programme, we will test all current care home residents with coronavirus symptoms and all new care home residents who are discharged from hospital into care.”

Britain's Health Secretary Matt Hancock leaves 10 Downing Street in London on April 12.
Britain's Health Secretary Matt Hancock leaves 10 Downing Street in London on April 12. Isabel Infantes/AFP/Getty Images

The government has faced intense criticism from the aged care sector, which says it has been “badly let down” by the lack of support.

“It would not be an exaggeration that some are paying with their lives,” older people's charity Age UK said last week.

According to the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics, there were 217 coronavirus-related deaths in nursing homes in England and Wales in the three weeks to April 3.

Hancock says nursing home staff with symptoms will also be tested, and this will be rolled out nationwide “over the coming days”.

“Testing is key in our battle against coronavirus, and as part of our plan to prevent the spread and save lives we will ensure that everyone in social care who needs a test can have a test,” he added.
6:01 a.m. ET, April 15, 2020

Spain reports largest increase in new infections in more than a week

From CNN's Max Ramsay

Spain has registered a daily increase of 1,220 active coronavirus cases -- the largest rise in more than a week -- according to Spanish Health Ministry data released Wednesday.

This jump brought the country’s total active cases to 88,201.

The setback follows more positive news earlier in the week.

On Tuesday, Spain saw its first ever decrease in active cases, as the numbers of deaths and recovered people outnumbered new diagnoses.

Spanish health officials have previously cautioned that numbers are higher on days following a weekend or a public holiday, such as Easter Monday.

The country registered 523 deaths from coronavirus in the past 24 hours. This is one of the lowest increases in the past three weeks, and the lowest percentage increase, at 2.9%, since the first week of March. 

Spain’s total death toll is now 18,579, with a total of 177,633 confirmed cases of coronavirus since the start of the pandemic.  

5:48 a.m. ET, April 15, 2020

Satellite images show a big reduction in pollution over India since the coronavirus lockdown began

From CNN's Rebecca Wright

Analysis of new satellite images from the European Space Agency shows a dramatic reduction in pollution levels over India since a nationwide coronavirus lockdown was imposed three weeks ago.

The analysis from the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), an environmental organization, used satellite images from Sentinel-5P -- part of the European Space Agency program -- along with ground monitoring from CAAQMS (Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring System).

"The analysis showed us drastic and clear reductions in pollution levels, which are a resultant of decreasing fossil fuel consumption in transportation, industries and energy sector," the CREA report says.

NO2 levels in Mumbai before and after the lockdown.
NO2 levels in Mumbai before and after the lockdown. Sentinel-5P satellite data

An economy on lockdown: India, a nation of 1.3 billion people, has ground to a halt as a result of the lockdown, which has seen transport networks suspended, construction work halted, and factories, markets, and places of worship closed.

Before-and-after images of major cities including Mumbai, New Delhi, Bengalaru, Chennai and Hyderabad show that since the shutdown began on March 24, nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions over the cities -- depicted in orange -- has mostly cleared.

Nitrogen dioxide, which is released by vehicles and power plants, is a harmful pollutant which contributes to the deaths of 4.2 million people annually worldwide, according to the World Health Organization

NO2 levels in Hyderabad before and after the lockdown.
NO2 levels in Hyderabad before and after the lockdown. Sentinel-5P satellite data

"Hot-spots over major cities as well as major industrial/coal combustion-dominated areas have reduced significantly," due to "falling pollution levels," the report says.

"The current crisis has shown us that clear skies and breathable air can be achieved very fast if concrete actions towards reducing burning of fossil fuels are taken," said the report's co-author, CREA analyst Sunil Dayiha. "We feel that this could be the turning point for India towards securing the right to breathe and life for citizens of the country."

India has 21 of 30 of the world’s most polluted cities, according to the IQAir AirVisual's 2019 World Air Quality Report.

Last week, people in the northern Indian state of Punjab reported that they could see the Himalayas for the first time in decades, due to the reduction in pollution.

NO2 levels in New Delhi before and after the lockdown.
NO2 levels in New Delhi before and after the lockdown. Sentinel-5P satellite data