March 28 coronavirus news

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2:02 a.m. ET, March 28, 2020

India records biggest jump in coronavirus cases

From CNN's Sugam Pokharel

India recorded 149 new coronavirus cases Friday -- the biggest single-day jump so far, according to the country's Ministry of Health.

The total number of cases in India stands at 873, with 19 deaths.

Maharashtra, a state in western India, has the highest number of cases at 180, followed by the southern state of Kerala with 173.

1:22 a.m. ET, March 28, 2020

Air pollution drops as Europeans stay at home

By CNN's Ivana Kottasová and Tim Lister

Europeans are living under severe restrictions, stuck at home, desperately hoping for the coronavirus pandemic to pass soon.

On the flip side: the air is cleaner than it's been in a long time.

The huge decline in road traffic, air travel and other business activities has led to sharp reductions in pollution over several major cities, new images published by the European Space Agency show. A similar effect has been recorded in the United States and China.

The impact of the pandemic-related restrictions on air quality is staggering. In some parts of Europe, the levels of toxic pollutants in the air have been slashed by half.

Yet while the short-term effect might seem positive, pollution experts warn the situation is no solution.

Read more here.

1:09 a.m. ET, March 28, 2020

Vietnam starts lockdown measures

From CNN's Chermaine Lee in Hong Kong

Vietnam has started closing non-essential services and restricting religious activities, parts of measures under a directive signed by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc that runs from Saturday until April 15.

Provincial and municipal leaders will decide which specific services are to be shut down.

Religious rituals and activities of more than 20 people, as well as all gatherings outside offices, schools and hospitals, are also suspended.

The government also banned all cultural, sports and entertainment activities at public places.

Flights from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to other localities will be reduced, while public transport for passengers will be temporarily suspended or reorganized.

4:04 p.m. ET, March 28, 2020

US naval base in Japan restricts movements after sailors test positive

From CNN's Chermaine Lee in Hong Kong

The USS John S. McCain destroyer is moored at the Yokosuka naval base on June 01, 2019 in Yokosuka, Japan.
The USS John S. McCain destroyer is moored at the Yokosuka naval base on June 01, 2019 in Yokosuka, Japan. Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

The US naval base in Yokosuka, Japan, has largely restricted movement for 48 hours starting Friday night local time after two sailors tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to a statement.

Commanding officer Capt. Rich Jarrett announced a measure of a modified “shelter in place,” ceasing all non-essential services and limiting movement on and off the installation.

Non-emergency base services are closed, except the commissary, a mini mart, and some food outlets. Transit on and off the base has been restricted to movement to and from appointed place of duty only or other mission-related tasks.

Jarrett said at a media briefing that the decision will be reviewed after 48 hours.

“With the unknown origins of these new cases, we need to take some immediate conservative actions to protect the health of our community until the nature of the public health threat can be characterized,” Jarrett said. “I am asking everyone to do their part to by limiting their activity to their quarters to maximum extent possible.”
12:57 a.m. ET, March 28, 2020

US researchers are decontaminating N95 masks so doctors can reuse them

From CNN's Scottie Andrew

The N95 respirator masks that health care workers need to protect themselves while treating coronavirus patients are in dangerously short supply.

So much so that physicians are wearing used respirators, risking infection to care for patients.

But now, Duke University researchers have developed a method to clean them.

The Duke Regional Biocontainment Laboratory team has already decontaminated hundreds of N95 respirators without damaging them so they can be re-worn several times. It could provide significant relief for hospitals running low on supply.

The researchers published their decontaminating protocol so other hospitals can follow their lead.

Using vaporized hydrogen peroxide, the researchers can kill microbial contaminants that lurk on the masks after they're worn.

It's a method that labs have used for decades to decontaminate equipment, said Wayne Thomann, director emeritus of the Duke Occupational & Environmental Safety Office.

But they never thought they'd need it for face masks.

Read more here.

12:57 a.m. ET, March 28, 2020

The US keeps millions of chickens in secret farms to make flu vaccines. But their eggs won't work for coronavirus

From CNN's Jessie Yeung in Hong Kong

Across the United States, prized chickens are laying life-saving eggs at secret farms.

Few people know where the chickens are kept -- their locations are undisclosed as a matter of national security.

Each day, hundreds of thousands of their eggs are trucked to storage facilities, where they are protected by guards and multimillion-dollar, government-funded security systems.

But these eggs aren't for breakfast; they're the source of your common flu shot.

For the past 80 years, much of the world has relied on chicken eggs for the production of influenza vaccines.

About 174.5 million doses of the flu vaccine were distributed across the US this flu season through the end of February, of which an estimated 82% were egg-based, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

With each egg producing one vaccine, that means the US might have used 140 million eggs this flu season alone.

To prepare for annual flu seasons, as well as possible pandemics, the US government has invested tens or hundreds of millions of dollars over the past 15 years to ensure there are enough eggs for vaccines.

But now the world faces a new crisis: the novel coronavirus, which has infected more than 423,000 people globally and killed more than 19,000 since the virus emerged last December, according to Johns Hopkins University.

There is no vaccine yet for the virus; and because it's different than the influenza virus, traditional methods like using eggs won't work. As scientists race to find a cure, the huge US stockpile of eggs won't be of any help.

Read more here.

12:57 a.m. ET, March 28, 2020

Thousands of graduating nursing students are unable to help battle US virus epidemic

From CNN’s Alexandra Meeks and Stephanie Elam

Despite an alarming shortage of nursing staff and resources at hospitals across the United States, at least 10,000 graduating nursing students in California may not be able to join the novel coronavirus fight because of state regulations preventing them from becoming licensed.

California requires nurses to pass an exam issued by the National Council State Boards of Nursing. However, several graduating students told CNN they are struggling to secure exam dates because testing facilities have scaled down operations over coronavirus concerns.

Stuck at home: Many have also been unable to work mandatory clinical hours shadowing medical professionals because hospitals remain under lockdown orders. Still other students have told CNN they are experiencing delays obtaining their school transcripts for applications because many universities have closed or transitioned to online studies until further notice.

"We're sitting at home with skills that could be an asset to any one of the hospitals here in California," Stanbridge University nursing student Danielle Kaplan told CNN. "We're not asking for any type of change in patient care or how well patients are treated. We just want to advocate for the thousands of us who simply want to help."

Kaplan launched an online petition pleading with Gov. Gavin Newsom and the California Board of Registered Nursing to consider waiving regulations so they can help respond to the influx of Covid-19 patients. As of Friday evening, the petition had more than 1,500 signatures.

"We are already in that process to expand their licensing capacity to meet this moment," Newsom said at a press conference Friday when asked about the nursing students. "Those conversations are well underway."

Officials with the California Health and Human Services Agency told CNN they are actively working on solutions to address the coronavirus crisis.

"As you can imagine, we are looking at a myriad options to address COVID-19. We don’t have any updates on nursing students for you," Kate Folmar, deputy secretary at the agency, told CNN in a statement Friday.

Emergency solution: Last week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said the state would temporarily issue permits to graduating nurses yet to take the licensing exam and suspend other regulations for students to assist with the Covid-19 response. It is unclear if or when California will follow.

"There are a lot of people who want to help who have the knowledge and education to help but they just don't have the piece of paper to enable them to do that," Robert Murray, a graduating nursing student at Stanbridge University, told CNN.

The California Department of Consumer Affairs did not respond to CNN requests for comment.

10:57 p.m. ET, March 27, 2020

Hundreds of stranded German tourists flown out of Nepal

From CNN's Sugam Pokharel in Atlanta

Tourists from Germany who have been stranded in Nepal due to the government-imposed lock down amid concerns over the spread of coronavirus wait for their chartered flight back home at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu.
Tourists from Germany who have been stranded in Nepal due to the government-imposed lock down amid concerns over the spread of coronavirus wait for their chartered flight back home at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu. Prabin Ranabhat/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

More than 300 German citizens stranded in Nepal’s capital Kathmandu were flown out of the country on Friday, officials said.

Hundreds more tourists remain stuck in Nepal after it imposed a lockdown and suspended all commercial flights to help contain the spread of coronavirus. 

Extra chartered flights -- one each by Germany and France -- are arriving in Kathmandu on Saturday to evacuate more people, Debendra K. C., general manager at Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport, told CNN. 

The US Embassy said in a tweet on Thursday that it has formally requested the Nepal government to facilitate the departure of US citizens from the country.

"The Embassy is exploring flight options that will depart from Kathmandu once the permission is granted," it said.

On Thursday, Nepali tourism officials told CNN about 500 foreign trekkers were stranded in several mountain trails across the country due to the lockdown. 

On Friday, more than 200 of them were brought to Kathmandu, Nepal Tourism Board chief Dhananjay Regmi told CNN, adding that the rest should be brought to the capital "by Saturday evening."

According to Regmi, five flights were being sent to Lukla – the main gateway to Mount Everest – Saturday morning to transport stranded trekkers to the capital. 

Nepal has three cases of coronavirus confirmed so far, per Nepal Health Ministry data. 

4:06 p.m. ET, March 28, 2020

People are holding video game weddings and graduation ceremonies

From CNN's Shannon Liao in New York

Nintendo
Nintendo

During the coronavirus pandemic, people are finding a creative way to stay connected: through video games.

From weddings and graduation ceremonies to classes, people are taking the extra time they have indoors to meet up online. More than half of America is officially urged to stay home during the growing pandemic.

New Jersey residents Sharmin Asha and Nazmul Ahmed told CNN Business that they had planned to hold their wedding in downtown Brooklyn on April 12, but the uptick of Covid-19 cases made them change their plans.

"I work in a hospital and I've been around patients that have potentially Covid, and a lot of health care workers, so I didn't want to expose anyone to that," said Asha, 28, who is planning to graduate this May and become a doctor.

Instead, Ahmed surprised Asha with a symbolic wedding celebration on Sunday in Nintendo's new game "Animal Crossing: New Horizons," while postponing the real-life wedding date to next year. They plan to get legally married within a couple of months once it's safe to go outside and travel again.

Read more here.