March 22 coronavirus news

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4:09 a.m. ET, March 22, 2020

The world’s biggest “public curfew” exercise begins in India

From CNN’s Swati Gupta and Vedika Sud in Delhi

A nearly empty street is seen in Mumbai, India on March 22.
A nearly empty street is seen in Mumbai, India on March 22. Indranil Mukherjee/AFP/Getty Images

Today, India is attempting the world’s biggest social-distancing exercise. But for now, it will only last for 14 hours.

Why is it happening?

It's the latest attempt by the government to stall the rapid spread of Covid-19. It could also indicate that the government is testing the waters on whether an official curfew could actually be imposed across the country.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has kept up a steady stream of tweets since early morning, asking citizens to stay inside. “The steps we take now will help in the times to come. Stay indoors and stay healthy," he said.

What India is like today:

Social media has been flooded with photographs of famous locations that are usually packed with people -- but today are eerily quiet.

In India, where staples like rice, flour and pulses have always been bought in bulk, the fear of a lockdown has spurred people to double their usual orders.

Local grocery shops -- seen on every street -- continue to operate but with fewer items on their shelves.

Modi has asked Indians to hold a salute to medical professionals, emergency health care provider and government officials on Sunday evening. Millions are expected to ring bells and clap to honor their work.

Who will be affected by the 'public curfew':

The people who will be most affected are those who depend on a steady daily wage to put food on the table -- including people who work as rickshaw pullers or street hawkers.

This is also a problem for shoppers. In a country where tinned food is almost non-existent, every household is dependent on the local hawkers who push carts piled with vegetables each morning through the neighborhood.

What's the bigger picture in India:

More than 320 people have contracted coronavirus in India.

In the past few weeks, India has taken unprecedented steps to shut down its borders, cancel visas and ban passengers from certain countries from entering Indian airspace. 

3:57 a.m. ET, March 22, 2020

Guam announces its first coronavirus death

The United States territory of Guam has reported its first death from coronavirus.

The patient was 68-years-old with underlying health issues that were compounded by the novel coronavirus, according to the Guam authorities.

The patient had no recent travel history. But initial investigations indicated the patient may have contracted it from someone who did have a travel history.

According to the press release, the patient was admitted to the Guam Memorial Hospital (GMH) on Sunday, March 15, and remained there in isolation throughout the week. 

There are currently 14 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Guam, according to authorities.

3:48 a.m. ET, March 22, 2020

Everyone arriving in Shanghai from overseas will be tested for coronavirus

From CNN’s Alexandra Lin in Hong Kong

An airport security staff member assists passengers arriving to the Shanghai Pudong International Airport in Shanghai on March 19.
An airport security staff member assists passengers arriving to the Shanghai Pudong International Airport in Shanghai on March 19. Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images

All passengers arriving into Shanghai from abroad will be tested for the coronavirus, Shanghai’s Health Commission announced on Sunday.

The measure will apply even to those arriving from areas where the virus is not widespread.

Beijing flights:

On Sunday, the government announced that all international flights to Beijing will be diverted to other cities in China starting Monday. 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 said.

The bigger picture:

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

But now there is a new focus in the 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. 

3:29 a.m. ET, March 22, 2020

Here's what's happening in Europe

A priest conducts a funeral service without relatives inside the cemetery of Zogno, Italy, on March 21.
A priest conducts a funeral service without relatives inside the cemetery of Zogno, Italy, on March 21. Piero Cruciatti/AFP/Getty Images

Europe is one of the worst-hit regions, with a number of countries struggling with large novel coronavirus outbreaks.

Here's what has been happening in Europe:

  • Italy reports its biggest one-day jump in deaths: In the past 24 hours, Italy recorded 793 deaths, meaning 4,825 people there have now died from coronavirus, according to the Italian authorities. That’s an almost 20 percent increase on the day before, and is the biggest one-day spike since the outbreak began. A least 53,578 have contracted the virus in Italy.
  • UK numbers pass 5,000: There are now more than 5,000 confirmed cases in the United Kingdom, according to the Department of Health and Social Care on Saturday. That's a rise of more than 1,000 cases in 24 hours. In total, 233 people with coronavirus have died in the UK and 72,818 people have been tested.
  • Spanish Prime Minister warns the worst is yet to come: Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez asked Spaniards on Saturday to remain strong, adding that "there are hard days ahead." "We have to get ready from a physiological and emotional standpoint ... The risk is everywhere," he said.
  • Germany treats coronavirus patients from France: Germany has admitted patients from the French region of Alsace -- an area which borders Germany.
  • Berlin limits gatherings to no more than 10 people: On Saturday, Berlin limited gatherings to no more than 10 people. Restaurants in the city can only offer take-out or delivery. The city has at least 866 cases of Covid-19 with one death, according to the Robert Koch Institute.
  • France sees highest jump in deaths: France saw its highest jump in deaths from coronavirus since the beginning of the outbreak, according to the Health Ministry on Saturday. France had seen 562 deaths by Saturday -- a rise of 112 from Friday.

 

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.