March 22 coronavirus news

By Julia Hollingsworth, Jenni Marsh, Rob Picheta, Fernando Alfonso III and Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 10:30 p.m. ET, March 22, 2020
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3:13 a.m. ET, March 22, 2020

The US has a new tool to help with demand for coronavirus testing: an online bot nicknamed Clara

CDC
CDC

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a new method to help people check whether they may have symptoms: An online bot nicknamed Clara.

The CDC says its bot isn't there to diagnose diseases -- instead, it's intended is to help users make decisions about seeking appropriate medical care.

Clara asks a series of questions to establish the level of illness being experienced by the user (or the person they are asking questions on behalf of).

For instance, Clara might ask if they are gasping for air or suffering from shortness of breath.

It also establishes their location within the US, whether they are in a long-term care facility and if they have been in contact with someone with Covid-19

Recommendations range from calling 911 immediately to staying at home and calling their health care provider within 24 hours. Clara also points to the relevant state's health department for further advice.

Read the whole story here.

2:59 a.m. ET, March 22, 2020

Colombia confirms its first coronavirus death

From CNNE’s Daniel Silva in Miami 

Airport employees disinfect the El Dorado International Airport, in Bogota, Colombia, on March 21.
Airport employees disinfect the El Dorado International Airport, in Bogota, Colombia, on March 21. Ivan Valencia/AP

Colombia has had its first coronavirus death, the country's Ministry of Health confirmed.

The deceased is a 58-year-old taxi driver, who transported Italian tourists in the northern Colombian city of Cartagena. 

Initially, the patient tested negative for Covid-19. But tests carried out posthumously confirmed his death was caused by the virus. The man's sister has tested positive for coronavirus and is under medical care.

As of Saturday evening, Colombia had 210 confirmed coronavirus cases.

2:51 a.m. ET, March 22, 2020

He was once homeless. Now he's providing sinks, water and soap to help protect those on the streets from the coronavirus

From CNN's Christopher Dawson

Hip hop artist Lecrae (left) and Love Beyond Walls executive director Terence Lester (right) distribute portable wash stations around Atlanta.
Hip hop artist Lecrae (left) and Love Beyond Walls executive director Terence Lester (right) distribute portable wash stations around Atlanta. Dani Andujo

Terence Lester is placing portable sinks with soap and water where the homeless congregate in Atlanta.

"All the news reports are saying wash your hands," Lester told CNN. "But the homeless population often can't."

Lester knows the challenges of living on the streets. He was homeless as a teenager and he is currently the executive director of the nonprofit Love Beyond Walls, which is dedicated to helping the homeless. But the difficulties the homeless now face with this pandemic are hard for him to fathom.

"I was trying to think of how they will survive," Lester said. "How can they get through this when they can't even wash their hands? So, I decided to start there."

He found a solution with portable washbasins that are sold for RVs and camping. These sinks have a foot pump to bring water from a 5-gallon tank to the faucet. A soap dispenser is built into each station.

The Love Beyond Walls team picks up the sinks daily to clean them and refill each unit with water and soap. The nonprofit is raising money to place more sinks in the city and to ship them across state lines to other homeless communities.

Read more about Lester and Love Beyond Walls here.

2:20 a.m. ET, March 22, 2020

A Connecticut man who died of coronavirus was delivered last rites by phone

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

Bill Pike and his wife, Cathie Pike
Bill Pike and his wife, Cathie Pike Courtesy Daniel Pike

A Connecticut man who died after a coronavirus diagnosis was given his last rites by his pastor over the phone while his family listened in from quarantine. 

Cathie Pike told CNN that her husband, Bill Pike, "led a life of intellectual fascination of the world." Calling her departed husband "simply amazing," she said he had the most beautiful last rites thanks to modern communication.

"It was a like a tapestry or quilt of our affections for him," she said.

The delivery of last rites was made possible after a nurse at Norwalk Hospital agreed to assist. The nurse gathered the Rev. Peter Walsh of St. Mark's Episcopal Church in New Canaan on the phone and then connected Pike's wife and three children to the call from quarantine.

The nurse held the phone to Bill Pike's ear as Walsh delivered last rites, which he described as "the most beautiful litany of prayer." The pastor then "told him I loved him" and hung up so his family could say their goodbyes.

Bill Pike passed away about 10 minutes later. Walsh said it was the first time he ever delivered last rites over the phone.

Read the whole story here.

2:09 a.m. ET, March 22, 2020

China diverts all Beijing-bound international flights to other Chinese cities amid rising imported cases 

From CNN’s Steven Jiang in Beijing

Passengers walk through a nearly empty arrivals area at Beijing Capital Airport in Beijing on March 16.
Passengers walk through a nearly empty arrivals area at Beijing Capital Airport in Beijing on March 16. Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty Images

All international flights to Beijing will be diverted to other cities in China starting Monday, amid growing concerns over imported cases of novel coronavirus. 

Passengers on affected flights will need to clear immigration and customs at their first port of entry. Those deemed healthy will then be allowed to board the same aircraft to fly onwards to Beijing, the government announced Sunday. 

These rules had already been applied to some Beijing-bound international flights last week, with planes diverted to three nearby cities. 

Now that policy has been rolled out wider, 12 cities, including Shanghai, have been identified to handle the diverted traffic. 

The bigger picture:

Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, has not reported any new cases for four days in a row. 

But now Beijing has a new focus in its fight against coronavirus: people bringing the virus into China.

China recorded 46 new coronavirus cases on Saturday -- and all but one came from abroad. That brings the total number of imported cases to 314. 

2:00 a.m. ET, March 22, 2020

David Bryan, keyboardist for Bon Jovi, says he tested positive for coronavirus

From CNN's Amir Vera

Keyboardist David Bryan of Bon Jovi performs at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on March 17, 2018.
Keyboardist David Bryan of Bon Jovi performs at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on March 17, 2018. Ethan Miller/Getty Images

David Bryan, a founding member of Bon Jovi, announced Saturday on Instagram that he tested positive for coronavirus.

"I've been sick for a week and feeling better each day," the keyboardist wrote. "Please don't be afraid!!! It's the flu not the plague."

Bryan said he has "been quarantined for a week and will (be) for another week. And when I feel better I'll get tested again to make sure I'm free of this nasty virus. Please help out each other. This will be over soon... with the help of every American !!"

Bryan is also a Tony Award-winning composer and lyricist. 

He is not the first celebrity to announce a positive coronavirus diagnosis. Others include Tom HanksIdris ElbaAndy Cohen and several NBA players.

3:09 a.m. ET, March 22, 2020

Thailand reports 188 new coronavirus cases -- the country's largest single-day spike

From CNN’s Kocha Olarn in Bangkok

Nurses administer coronavirus tests at a drive-through testing center at Ramkhamhaeng Hospital on March 19 in Bangkok, Thailand.
Nurses administer coronavirus tests at a drive-through testing center at Ramkhamhaeng Hospital on March 19 in Bangkok, Thailand. Tim de Waele/Getty Images

Health officials in Thailand reported 188 new coronavirus cases Sunday, marking the largest single-day increase since the outbreak began.

The country-wide total is now 599 confirmed infections.

Seven coronavirus patients are currently in a critical condition, officials said.

On Saturday, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration announced new measures, including the closure of shopping malls and amusement parks. Restaurants are only allowed to open for takeaways. Pharmacies and supermarkets are excluded from the new measures.

1:49 a.m. ET, March 22, 2020

El Salvador begins a 30-day nationwide coronavirus curfew

From CNNE’s Daniel Siva in Miami and CNN’s Radina Gigova in Atlanta

Security forces, including the police and the army, clear people from the historic centre of San Salvador as part of the government's emergency decree to curb the spread of the new coronavirus, COVID-19, on March 21, 2020. - Nearly one billion people around the world were confined to their homes Saturday as many countries implemented stay-at-home orders, and as deaths from the global coronavirus pandemic surged towards 13,000. (Photo by Marvin RECINOS / AFP) (Photo by MARVIN RECINOS/AFP via Getty Images)
Security forces, including the police and the army, clear people from the historic centre of San Salvador as part of the government's emergency decree to curb the spread of the new coronavirus, COVID-19, on March 21, 2020. - Nearly one billion people around the world were confined to their homes Saturday as many countries implemented stay-at-home orders, and as deaths from the global coronavirus pandemic surged towards 13,000. (Photo by Marvin RECINOS / AFP) (Photo by MARVIN RECINOS/AFP via Getty Images) Marvin Recinos/AFP/Getty Images

El Salvador President Nayib Bukele announced late Saturday that a 30-day nationwide curfew will take effect immediately.

Bukele said that one person from each family would be allowed to go out so they can supply their household with food and medicine.

The Central American country has three confirmed cases of coronavirus.

Who is exempt?  

People who work in restaurants, public transport, gas stations, security companies, private clinics, finance, hospitals, vets and the media can continue working. Those who work at the Supreme Court and public employees directly linked to emergency care will also be able to continue.

The livestock and agriculture sectors will also be able to continue operating, because "we need to guarantee food security," Bukele said.

Economic help

To alleviate the economic situation, the government will invest $450 million per month to help households that consume less than 250 kilowatts of electricity per month.

"We are talking about 75 percent of the population that will benefit," Bukele explained. 

1:39 a.m. ET, March 22, 2020

Japan urges citizens to avoid non-essential travel to the United States

From CNN’s Yoko Wakatsuki in Tokyo 

A passenger pauses next to an empty departure gate at Haneda Airport on March 17 in Tokyo, Japan.
A passenger pauses next to an empty departure gate at Haneda Airport on March 17 in Tokyo, Japan. Carl Court/Getty Images

Japan has raised its travel alert for the United States, urging citizens to not go there unless it is essential.

The alert was raised to level two, the Japanese Foreign Ministry announced on Sunday. Four is the highest alert level.

Meanwhile, the United States is warning its citizens to avoid non-essential travel to Japan.

The United States has more than 25,000 coronavirus cases, while Japan has just over 1,000 cases.