March 31 coronavirus news

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7:28 a.m. ET, March 31, 2020

Twelve-year-old girl dies from coronavirus in Belgium

From CNN's Stephanie Halasz

A 12-year-old girl has died from the coronavirus in Belgium, a spokeswoman for the Belgian Health ministry told CNN.

The spokeswoman said the unnamed girl died on Monday; she refused to provide any further details in order to respect the privacy of the family.

Emmanuel André, the Belgian government's spokesperson for the fight against coronavirus, was visibly moved when he spoke to Belgian TV about the case.

"This is an emotionally difficult moment because it affects a child and it also affects the medical and scientific community," he said. "We are especially thinking of her family and loved ones.”

It is a "very rare event that upsets us," said André.

7:00 a.m. ET, March 31, 2020

Do you need to wear a mask? Growing number of health experts argue people should cover up

From CNN Health's Jacqueline Howard

A woman wearing a face mask walks through a market in Banda Aceh, Indonesia on March 24.
A woman wearing a face mask walks through a market in Banda Aceh, Indonesia on March 24. Chaideer Mahyuddin/AFP/Getty Images

As people around the world do their bit to help stop the spread of coronavirus -- by social distancing, working from home, or other means -- one question looms large: Should we be wearing masks when we do go out?

The World Health Organization on Monday stood by its recommendation that you only need to wear a mask if you are sick or caring for someone else who is sick.

But a growing number of other health experts argue that people should wear masks to help prevent the spread of the virus.

"We are not going to be wearing masks forever, but it could be for a short period of time after we get back into gear. I could see something like that happening for a period of time," said President Donald Trump, during Monday's White House briefing.

A source close to the coronavirus task force told CNN the idea of asking Americans to wear masks for a period of time during the pandemic was likely to be under serious discussion.

And the Washington Post reports that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control is seriously considering changing its guidelines when it comes to mask use by the general public.

A man wearing a face mask walks dogs on March 24 in New York City.
A man wearing a face mask walks dogs on March 24 in New York City. Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images

Tom Inglesby, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, wrote in a Twitter thread Sunday that "members of the general public should wear non-medical fabric masks when going out in public in one additional societal effort to slow the spread of the virus down."

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, also wrote in a Twitter post Sunday that a recommendation from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "for consumers to wear cotton masks (with guidelines on how to fashion these products from household items) can improve safety and reduce spread and not strain the hospital supply chain."

WHO and CDC experts have long argued that people who are not sick, nor caring for someone who is sick, should leave masks in the medical supply chain for healthcare workers who need them most.

The US CDC currently recommends that if you are not sick, "you do not need to wear a facemask unless you are caring for someone who is sick." Yet in China, where the pandemic began, the Chinese CDC has recommended that people "wear a mask when going out."

Some experts who have made the argument for people to wear masks have pointed to past research showing their effectiveness against the spread of influenza, and to early research on Covid-19.

A study published in the Journal of Hospital Infection in 2013 found that surgical masks could help reduce exposure to infectious influenza virus in the air. 

Preliminary data on how the virus shed from 13 Covid-19 patients at the University of Nebraska Medical Center supports "the use of airborne isolation precautions," such as masks. That early data currently is not published in a peer-reviewed journal.

6:30 a.m. ET, March 31, 2020

Iran reports 3,000 new cases of coronavirus in one day 

From CNN's Ramin Mostaghim in Tehran

Mourners attend the funeral of a victim who died after being infected with coronavirus, at a cemetery outside Tehran, Iran, on March 30.
Mourners attend the funeral of a victim who died after being infected with coronavirus, at a cemetery outside Tehran, Iran, on March 30. Ebrahim Noroozi/AP

Iran has recorded 3,111 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 44,606, Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpoor told Iranian state television on Tuesday.

Jahanpoor said there had been 141 additional coronavirus-related deaths, bringing Iran's death toll to 2,898.

He added that 14,656 patients have so far been released from hospitals across the country, while another 3,703 hospitalized patients remained in critical condition.

6:22 a.m. ET, March 31, 2020

US reports highest daily death count

From CNN's Joe Sutton

Refrigeration units intended as makeshift morgues are seen parked behind Belleview Hospital Center in New York City on March 30.
Refrigeration units intended as makeshift morgues are seen parked behind Belleview Hospital Center in New York City on March 30. John Nacion/NurPhoto/Getty Images

At least 575 coronavirus deaths were reported in the United States on Monday, according to a count by CNN Health.

This is the most reported deaths in the US in a single day since the coronavirus outbreak began.

There have been a total of 3,004 virus-related deaths reported in the US during the outbreak.

On Monday, President Donald Trump said the country was facing a "vital 30 days" ahead, during which the results of his efforts to contain the virus would become known.

"Our future is in our own hands, and the choices and sacrifices we make will determine the fate of this virus and really the fate of our victory," said Trump.

The more Americans dedicate themselves now to social distancing, the quicker the country can return to normal, he said.

US social distancing guidelines were extended by another 30 days, to April 30, on Sunday.

6:09 a.m. ET, March 31, 2020

Stadium in northern India converted into "temporary jail" for lockdown violators

From Esha Mitra and Swati Gupta in New Delhi

A cricket stadium and a sports complex in Chandigarh, India have been converted into temporary jails for those who violate lockdown conditions.
A cricket stadium and a sports complex in Chandigarh, India have been converted into temporary jails for those who violate lockdown conditions. Credit: Chandigarh Police

A cricket stadium and a sports complex in northern India have been converted into "temporary jails" to hold those who violate the country's lockdown conditions, according to a senior police official.

The facilities are located at the Sector 16 Cricket Stadium and the Manimajra sports complex in the city of Chandigarh. They have been operational since March 24, and authorities say a total of 600 people have been detained so far.

"We round up people we find loitering on the street who are violating the lockdown conditions and bring them to the jail to brief them about social distancing, we provide them with food and tell them about proper sanitization, and they are let go by evening," said Chandrajit Singh, Chandigarh Police's public relations officer. 

The police force has also been briefed to maintain social distancing measures while detaining those who violate the lockdown, Singh added. 

"We don't file official charges against these violators, but if there are repeat offenders then action might be taken against them," Singh said. The jails will be operational as long as lockdown conditions are in place, he added. 

In the state of Haryana, efforts have also been taken to keep migrants in temporary shelters.

The Indian city of Haryana has set up shelters for migrant workers in government buildings and private properties offered by social organizations.
The Indian city of Haryana has set up shelters for migrant workers in government buildings and private properties offered by social organizations. Credit: Haryana Police Department

More than 450 shelters have been set up across 22 districts in the state. Most of these shelters are housed in government buildings, and others have been set up in private properties offered by social organizations, according to Navdeep Virk, a senior police official in Haryana. 

“These shelters have been set up for [the] migrant population as well as any other needy shelter-less person,” added Virk.

Haryana police say they have persuaded migrants attempting to leave the state to move into these shelter homes, and that they are facilitating the distribution of food, medicines and other essential items to almost 500,000 workers.

 

5:55 a.m. ET, March 31, 2020

Latest developments

From CNN's Jack Guy

British Airways and easyJet planes are seen parked at Gatwick Airport in Crawley, England, on March 29.
British Airways and easyJet planes are seen parked at Gatwick Airport in Crawley, England, on March 29. Adam Davy/PA Images via Getty Images

The coronavirus continues to place huge strain on society as we know it, as its effects ripple around the world. Here are some of the latest developments:

More flight cancellations: British Airways has suspended flights to and from London Gatwick airport, the second-largest in the UK.

Airlines have struggled during the coronavirus outbreak, cutting flights in response to travel restrictions and a sharp fall in demand.

On Monday, European budget airline easyJet announced it was grounding its entire fleet given the “unprecedented travel restrictions” caused by the pandemic.

Virus strikes younger demographics: Australia and New Zealand say a high proportion of those diagnosed with coronavirus in those nations are young people.

In New Zealand, 26% of confirmed cases are in people aged 20 to 29, and 21% of cases in Australia involve those in the same age range.

One possible explanation for the finding is overseas travel, which younger people engage in more than older demographics. In both New Zealand and Australia, the vast majority of cases recorded have been linked to overseas travel or other known cases, meaning there is limited transmission in the wider community.

Coronavirus could drive millions into poverty: Countries in East Asia and the Pacific will be dealing with a recession if they do not act immediately to combat the economic shocks caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic, the World Bank is warning.

It also estimates that the pandemic’s economic effects could drive millions of people in the region into poverty.

Much of the world is now encountering economic difficulties, but the crisis is particularly acute in Asia-Pacific because the region had already spent months dealing with the negative economic effects of the US-China trade war.

6:00 a.m. ET, March 31, 2020

Indonesia bans most foreign visitors amid coronavirus pandemic

From journalist Eric Cheung in Hong Kong

Officials spray disinfectant at Halim Perdanakusuma Airport in Jakarta, Indonesia on March 18.
Officials spray disinfectant at Halim Perdanakusuma Airport in Jakarta, Indonesia on March 18. Dasril Roszandi/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Indonesia is to ban most foreign nationals from entering and transiting through the country, as it steps up measures to limit the spread of novel coronavirus.

Speaking at a press conference, Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi said the restrictions would not apply to work permit holders, diplomats, and other official visitors, state-run Antara News Agency reported. He did not specify when the restrictions will be implemented.

On Tuesday, Indonesian President Joko Widodo also highlighted the importance of monitoring all returning migrant workers to prevent imported cases of the coronavirus, Antara reported.

"The inflow of migrant workers from various countries, especially from Malaysia, must be handled carefully, as it involves hundreds of thousands or millions of Indonesian migrant workers keen to return home," he said.

Indonesia currently has at least 1,414 confirmed cases of coronavirus, according to data collated by Johns Hopkins University.

5:36 a.m. ET, March 31, 2020

Italy will hold a minute's silence today for the victims of coronavirus

From CNN's Hada Messia in Rome

An Italian flag hangs outside the San Giuseppe church in Seriate, Italy, as a soldier waits to load coffins to be taken to crematoriums, on March 28.
An Italian flag hangs outside the San Giuseppe church in Seriate, Italy, as a soldier waits to load coffins to be taken to crematoriums, on March 28. Antonio Calanni/AP

Italian cities and towns throughout the country will lower their flags and hold a minute's silence on Tuesday to commemorate the victims of coronavirus, according to the Italian mayors' association.

The Vatican said it would also join the tribute.

"Today, in solidarity with Italy, the Holy See will raise their flags at half mast, mourning, to express their closeness to the victims of the pandemic in Italy and in the world, to their own families and those generously struggling to end it," the Vatican said in a statement.

According to a count by Johns Hopkins University, 11,591 people in Italy have died from coronavirus -- the highest death toll of any country.

5:30 a.m. ET, March 31, 2020

Taiwan calls on the WHO to include it in expert meetings

From CNN's Eric Cheung in Hong Kong

Medical personnel work in a coronavirus screening station at a hospital in Taipei, Taiwan, on March 30.
Medical personnel work in a coronavirus screening station at a hospital in Taipei, Taiwan, on March 30. Jin Liwang/Xinhua via Getty

Taiwan wants to be included in World Health Organization expert meetings.

In a news conference Tuesday, the spokeswoman for the island's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Joanna Ou, called on the WHO to make the change.

Self-governing, democratic Taiwan is not a member of the WHO, and only around a dozen nations recognize it as an independent state. China's leadership refuses to maintain diplomatic ties with any country that recognizes Taiwan, which it sees as part of China.

Taiwan has been praised for its handling of the coronavirus outbreak, and only has 306 confirmed cases, according to a count by Johns Hopkins University.

Despite that, the WHO has not shared the information provided by Taiwan with the international community, according to Ou.

Countries were therefore unable to understand Taiwan's epidemic situation, its preventive policies and its border quarantine measures, she said.

"So what the WHO said in its statement that it is learning from all regions, including Taiwan, to share 'best practices' with the world, differs from the facts, because they haven't at all shared with other countries the information provided by Taiwan," Ou said at the press conference.
"This shows that the WHO still have political considerations when dealing with participation in technical expert meetings.

Ou also noted that the WHO includes Taiwan under China in its epidemic report, adding: "we have already expressed our severe protest regarding this."

Recent questions: Ou's words follow a recent interview, in which a WHO representative appeared to evade questions about Taiwan while speaking to a reporter from Hong Kong public broadcaster RTHK.

In response, the WHO put out a statement, saying:

"The question of Taiwanese membership in WHO is up to WHO Member States, not WHO staff. However, WHO is working closely with all health authorities who are facing the current coronavirus pandemic, including Taiwanese health experts."