March 27 coronavirus news

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6:51 a.m. ET, March 27, 2020

Chinese government investigating test kit maker which supplied Spain

From Shanshan Wang in Beijing, Max Ramsay in London, Ingrid Formanek, Laura Perez-Maestro, and Al Goodman in Spain, and Mia Alberti in Lisbon

A Chinese government regulatory group said on Friday it has launched an investigation into Covid-19 test kit maker which supplied test kits to Spain that were recalled.

On Thursday, the Spanish government said it was recalling 9,000 kits after finding the results to be “unreliable.”

The tests, made by the Chinese company "Shenzhen Bioeasy Biotechnology" were bought "some weeks ago" through a Spanish supplier that imported them from China, the Spanish government said in a statement sent to CNN. When the equipment was tested by Spanish authorities before being put into use, they didn't meet quality levels.

Obviously there was an obligation to return the batches and the supplier is going to change them,” Spanish health ministry official Fernando Simón said at the government’s daily coronavirus briefing. “Also, the health ministry is exploring other providers to provide rapid tests", he said.

The Shenzhen Market Supervisions Administration said on its Weibo account Friday it has launched an investigation into Bioeasy.

Bioeasy posted a statement on its WeChat account Friday to say that the nasopharyngeal swab samples might have been sampled, extracted and handled without strictly following the company's instructions, reducing the accuracy of the tests. Bioeasy added that it didn’t communicate instructions well with customers.

6:54 a.m. ET, March 27, 2020

Iran confirms 144 new coronavirus-related deaths, total cases surpass 30,000

From Ramin Mostaghim in Tehran

A convention center is converted into a temporary hospital in Tehran, Iran on March 21.
A convention center is converted into a temporary hospital in Tehran, Iran on March 21. Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Iran has reported 144 more coronavirus-related deaths since Thursday, raising the overall death toll to 2,378, Iranian health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour announced on state television on Friday.

Cases surpass 30,000: 2,926 additional cases were recorded, bringing the total number of infected people to 32,332, Jahanpour added.

6:26 a.m. ET, March 27, 2020

Communications issue prevented UK from joining EU ventilator scheme

From CNN's Sarah Dean in London

The UK did not take part in the EU’s scheme to acquire extra ventilators during the coronavirus pandemic because of an “issue in terms of communication,” according to UK Business Minister Alok Sharma.

Responding to British media reports, Sharma told the BBC’s Radio 4 on Friday: 

The tendering process on those schemes had already started… If there are future schemes we will absolutely look to see if we will be joining them.”

Britain's Business Minister Alok Sharma arrives at 10 Downing Street in London on March 17, ahead of a Cabinet meeting.
Britain's Business Minister Alok Sharma arrives at 10 Downing Street in London on March 17, ahead of a Cabinet meeting. Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images

He said the UK has its own “ventilator challenge,” which has seen around 3,000 companies respond with offers to help. 

On Wednesday, James Dyson, the founder of British technology company Dyson, confirmed to employees in a letter shared with CNN that it had received an order from the UK government for 10,000 new ventilators to support efforts by the NHS to treat the growing number of patients who have contracted coronavirus.

Dyson's new ventilator, called the "CoVent," attached to a hospital bed, in a handout photo from Dyson.
Dyson's new ventilator, called the "CoVent," attached to a hospital bed, in a handout photo from Dyson. Dyson

Asked about Dyson-produced ventilators being in use by next month, Sharma said Dyson or any other company will need to meet the regulatory requirements before newly acquired ventilators are put into use in the National Health Service (NHS).

Pressed on the timescale, Sharma said: “What we want to see is prototypes coming forward in a matter of weeks before we move into large scale production.”

He said although the government is trying to move at pace, “the critical point is to make sure that any machines that come forward actually meet the requirements and are safe”.

6:15 a.m. ET, March 27, 2020

London's Abbey Road repainted amid coronavirus lockdown

From CNN's Lilit Marcus

One of the most famous streets in the world has had an unexpected makeover thanks to the coronavirus lockdown in the UK.

London's iconic Abbey Road, which is normally a tourist magnet thanks to its appearance on the Beatles album cover of the same name, is now empty as locals hunker down inside.

That has provided a rare opportunity for municipal employees in the UK capital to give the famous crossing a new coat of paint.

Read the full story here:

5:52 a.m. ET, March 27, 2020

Hong Kong reports largest single-day increase in coronavirus cases, bringing total to 518

From Isaac Yee and Vanessa Yung in Hong Kong

A passenger wearing a protective suite arrives at Hong Kong International airport on March 24.
A passenger wearing a protective suite arrives at Hong Kong International airport on March 24. May James/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

Health officials in Hong Kong have confirmed 65 new novel coronavirus cases, in the largest single-day increase since the outbreak began.

Links to Europe: In a press conference held on Friday, Dr Chuang Shuk-Kwan of the Center for Health Protection said 41 of the 65 new cases had recent travel history to places in Europe including the United Kingdom and Portugal. She added 14 of the new cases were students returning to Hong Kong. 

The 65 new cases brings the city-wide total to 518. Some 338 cases are still currently being treated in hospitals, including four cases in critical condition.

5:46 a.m. ET, March 27, 2020

At least 82,250 coronavirus cases in US; 1,196 deaths

Cars line up to get a Covid-19 test at a free public testing station on March 24, in Hayward, California.
Cars line up to get a Covid-19 test at a free public testing station on March 24, in Hayward, California. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The United States now has more coronavirus cases reported than any other country in the world. 

According to CNN Health’s tally of cases that are detected and tested in the United States through public health systems, there are at least 82,250 cases of the novel coronavirus. 1,196 people have died.

The total includes cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as all repatriated cases.

5:36 a.m. ET, March 27, 2020

Italian financial police seize 900 unauthorized coronavirus test kits

From Valentina DiDonato in Rome

Police in the southern Italian city of Reggio Calabria have seized 900 unauthorized coronavirus test kits for failing to have validation and certification.

The kits were seized as part of checks to identify cases of commercial fraud or fraudulent rises in the prices of medical services during the pandemic, financial police said.

Checks found that some people had already made bank transfers to buy the uncertified products online -- however, the police seized the kits before they were delivered.

The sale to unsuspecting and vulnerable citizens of devices for which efficacy has not been proven in any way, seriously endangers public health and safety given that any negative response of the test could hypothetically contribute to the spread of the virus,” a statement from the financial police said.
5:26 a.m. ET, March 27, 2020

Russia surpasses 1,000 Covid-19 cases

From CNN’s Mary Ilyushina in Moscow

Russian President Vladimir Putin wearing protective gear visits a hospital where patients infected with the coronavirus are being treated in the settlement of Kommunarka in Moscow on March 24.
Russian President Vladimir Putin wearing protective gear visits a hospital where patients infected with the coronavirus are being treated in the settlement of Kommunarka in Moscow on March 24. Alexey Druzhnin/Sputnik/AFP/Getty Images

Russia reported 196 new coronavirus cases Friday, bringing the total number to 1036, the country’s coronavirus headquarters said in a statement.

Overall, 58 out of 85 Russia’s regions reported they are treating coronavirus patients, the statement added. The majority of the cases -- 703 -- are in Moscow, another 49 are in the Moscow region. 

A change in tactics: Just over a week ago, President Vladimir Putin said Russia had the spread of coronavirus "under control." Now the country is changing tactics, as authorities acknowledge they are gearing up for a major Covid-19 outbreak.

Russians told to stay at home: In a nationwide address Wednesday, Putin conceded that it was "objectively impossible to stop [coronavirus] from spilling over" into a country of Russia's size. He urged Russians to "understand the complexity of the situation" and stay home, declaring next week to be a paid stay-at-home holiday.

Read more on this story here.

5:03 a.m. ET, March 27, 2020

Life under lockdown in India: Foreign citizens stamped and quarantined in hotels

From CNN's Sandi Sidhu

India went under a nationwide total lockdown on Wednesday, with foreign citizens given only hours to figure out travel and accommodation plans.

Those who are still there now face home quarantines and difficulties finding places to stay.

Erin Vaeth, a 26-year-old American who resides in Beijing, was in the Indian city of Pushkar when the restrictions were announced. On Saturday, she was told she could not stay at her hotel without getting a medical checkup first -- so she went to a medical office, standing in line with dozens of other foreigners in the same situation.

She was given a note of approval, and told to check into a hostel -- where, the next day, all the guests had their wrist stamped with the words "home quarantined," and told they could not leave the hostel.

They're being cared for by hostel staff, she said -- but food is being rationed, and rising prices are getting out of hand.

Total lockdown: The lockdown is in place across all of India's 36 states and territories, affecting 1.3 billion people, for a minimum of 21 days.