March 31 coronavirus news

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4:14 a.m. ET, March 31, 2020

6 baggage handlers at an airport in Australia have contracted the virus

From journalist Hilary Whiteman in Brisbane, Australia

Six baggage handlers at Adelaide Airport in South Australia have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

All six infected worked for Qantas, CNN affiliate Seven News Australia reported.

South Australia health authorities are in touch with the airline, said Dr. Nicola Spurrier, the state's chief public health officer.

She said about 100 other staff used the same area but that officials are trying to identify those who may have had close contact with the infected employees.

“There’s going to be a requirement for significant number of staff to go into quarantine because of this,” Spurrier said, according to Seven News.

Travelers who got off a flight in the past 24 hours are being advised to wipe down their bags.

4:04 a.m. ET, March 31, 2020

Migrant workers were sprayed with disinfectant in one Indian state

From CNN's Swati Gupta, Esha Mitra, and Vedika Sud in New Delhi

Workers are sprayed with disinfectant in Uttar Pradesh, India.
Workers are sprayed with disinfectant in Uttar Pradesh, India. Bhim Manohar via Reuters

The Indian state of Uttar Pradesh has sparked controversy after migrant workers, returning home during a nationwide coronavirus lockdown, were doused in bleach disinfectant used to sanitize buses. 

Video showed three people, dressed in protective gear, spraying the liquid directly on a group of workers as they sat on the ground in the northern city of Bareilly. 

Ashok Gautam, a senior officer in charge of Covid-19 operations in Uttar Pradesh, told CNN as many as 5,000 people were "publicly sprayed" when they arrived before they were allowed to disperse.

"We sprayed them here as part of the disinfection drive, we don't want them to be carriers for the virus and it could be hanging on their clothes, now all borders have been sealed so this won't happen again," he said.

He said the disinfectant used was a solution made from bleaching powder, and was not harmful to the human body.

While chemical disinfectants work on surfaces, they can be dangerous to people. And according to the World Health Organization, putting disinfectant on your skin will not kill the virus if it is already in your body.

How India responded: The chemical wash has appalled many in India. Lav Agarwal, senior official at the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, said Monday that local officials involved in the incident have been "reprimanded," adding that spraying migrant workers was not a "required" policy in the country. 

"This is an overzealous action done by some employees at the field level, either out of ignorance or fear," he said.

The district magistrate of Bareilly, Nitish Kumar, also tweeted that while the municipal corporation and local fire service were under orders to sanitize buses, they were "overzealous" in spraying the migrant workers directly. 

Read the full story here.

3:51 a.m. ET, March 31, 2020

Gin distilleries and breweries offer to make hand sanitizer for London police

From CNN’s Samantha Beech in Atlanta

In this file photo, a London Metropolitan Police officer stands in Parliament Square in London on February 15, 2015.
In this file photo, a London Metropolitan Police officer stands in Parliament Square in London on February 15, 2015. Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Gin distilleries and breweries in the UK are offering their services to ensure the supply of hand sanitizer for London's Metropolitan Police, the Met said in a statement on Tuesday. 

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus has led to increased demand for hygiene products across the country, including hand sanitizers, and police are also feeling the squeeze, according to the statement.

The Met said hand sanitizers are a "vital commodity" for front-line officers.

"Planning ahead to ensure the MPS continues to have a sufficient supply of hand sanitizer, staff in the force’s Commercial Services department started to pursue alternative sources for the product," the statement said. "Staff quickly identified the alcohol industry as being an alternative source for the provision of hand sanitizers."

Distilleries and breweries helping London's Met Police include Portobello Road Gin in Notting Hill, 58 Gin Ltd in Haggerston and Copper Rivet Distillery in Chatham. Other distilleries approached by the MPS are now in conversation with other forces and public bodies.

"As an added bonus, brewing company Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I, is donating 6,000 liters of hand sanitizer free of charge to the MPS to help support its frontline officers and staff," police said.

The Met expects to receive its first delivery of the hand sanitizers at the start of April.

Other distilleries have also stepped up around the world to make up the hand sanitizer short fall.

Read more here.

3:38 a.m. ET, March 31, 2020

Team of Chinese disease control specialists arrives in Venezuela

From CNN's Taylor Barnes and Hira Humayun in Atlanta, and Max Ramsay in London

Medical specialists from China arrive at the Simon Bolivar International Airport in La Guaira, Venezuela, on March 30.
Medical specialists from China arrive at the Simon Bolivar International Airport in La Guaira, Venezuela, on March 30. Matias Delacroix/AP

A team of eight Chinese health specialists has arrived in Venezuela to help the country in its fight against coronavirus, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced on Monday. 

The Venezuelan foreign ministry said that a shipment of medical supplies also arrived from China.

Venezuela has at least 135 confirmed coronavirus cases.

The South American country isn't the only one to purchase medical equipment from Beijing. Last week, the Spanish health minister said Spain had bought $467 million worth of medical supplies from China.  

3:27 a.m. ET, March 31, 2020

British Airways has temporarily suspended its flying schedule at a major London airport

British Airways planes sit grounded at Heathrow airport in London on March 16.
British Airways planes sit grounded at Heathrow airport in London on March 16. Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images

British Airways has suspended its flying schedule at Gatwick airport in London.

Here's what the airline said in its statement:

“Due to the considerable restrictions and challenging market environment, like many other airlines, we will temporarily suspend our flying schedule at Gatwick.  
We are contacting affected customers to discuss their options.”

Gatwick is the United Kingdom's second largest airport.

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.”

3:15 a.m. ET, March 31, 2020

Asia's developing countries may face "global financial shock and recession" if they don't act fast, World Bank says

A woman walks past closed stalls at the Quiapo shopping district on March 30 in Manila, Philippines.
A woman walks past closed stalls at the Quiapo shopping district on March 30 in Manila, Philippines. Ezra Acayan/Getty Images

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.

The organization said in a new report that the spread of Covid-19 could bring economic growth in China to a standstill or even cause the world’s second-biggest economy to contract by as much as 2.8%. China’s economy has been growing steadily by more than 6% annually for years.

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

"If the economic situation were to deteriorate further, under the lower-case growth scenario, it is estimated that poverty would increase by about 11 million people across developing East Asia and the Pacific," the report said.

Much of the world is now experiencing the same economic hardships that China went through weeks ago. The global push to keep people at home to stop the virus' transmission is severely impacting manufacturing, production and supply chains while also hurting consumer demand. Increased border restrictions are also slowing the movement of goods and people across the planet.

"We are witnessing an unusual combination of disruptive and mutually reinforcing events. Significant economic pain seems unavoidable in all countries," the World Bank said in a statement.

However, the crisis in Asia-Pacific is particularly acute because the region had spent months dealing with the negative economic effects of the US-China trade war.

"The pandemic is profoundly affecting the region’s economies, but the depth and duration of the shock are unusually uncertain," the World Bank said in its new report.

Read the report here

3:06 a.m. ET, March 31, 2020

Trump's self-congratulatory presence marks stark contrast with death toll

Analysis from CNN's Stephen Collinson

President Donald Trump attends a briefing about the coronavirus in the Rose Garden of the White House on March 30.
President Donald Trump attends a briefing about the coronavirus in the Rose Garden of the White House on March 30. Alex Brandon/AP

It is falling to President Donald Trump to lead America into its most tragic month in decades, as experts say the coronavirus pandemic could kill more citizens than the Vietnam and Korean wars combined.

But the President's bullish, self-congratulatory rhetoric -- a staple of a presidency that has divided the nation -- is still jarring with the desperate reality of a fast-worsening pandemic that is running out of control.

On the day that heralded another grim new record in reported deaths -- more than 500 -- and that the fatality toll was roughly on par with those killed on September 11, 2001, Trump opened his daily news conference with a stark message, even though he still struggles to summon the empathy appropriate for such a time of mourning.

Trump, who will be called upon to steady an anguished nation in the days to come, warned the country of a "vital 30 days" ahead, a day after extending social distancing guidelines until the end of April.

"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," he said.

It's no exaggeration to say Trump faces the most critical month of his presidency yet -- and how he conducts himself will be crucial for the country and his own hopes of reelection. But there are signs that he does not fully understand the stakes nor is willing to relegate his own interests in favor of the common good.

Trump still appears to be marveling at the spread of the virus, which he says no one could have predicted. Health experts had anticipated its arrival in the US for months as he predicted a miracle would occur and it would just go away.

Read the full story here:

2:46 a.m. ET, March 31, 2020

It's morning in Europe. Here's what those just waking up may have missed overnight

A temporary hospital is set up at Temple University's Liacouras Center in Philadelphia on March 30.
A temporary hospital is set up at Temple University's Liacouras Center in Philadelphia on March 30. Matt Rourke/AP

Another macabre milestone in the United States: More than 3,000 people have now died as a result of Covid-19 in the US, and the rate of those killed each day is not expected to slow down soon.

A model cited by the White House estimated that 82,000 people could die from coronavirus by August, even with social distancing measures in place. The model, which is updated regularly, predicted Monday morning Eastern Time that more than 2,000 people could die each day in mid-April, when the virus is predicted to hit the country hardest.

At least 574 coronavirus-related deaths were reported in the US on Monday, according to a count by CNN Health. More than 160,000 have been infected in the country.

A critical 30 days ahead: President Donald Trump said he believes the next 30 days are important for flattening the curve to stop the outbreak of coronavirus. He emphasized the importance of social distancing, saying that every American "has a role to play in winning this war." Nearly 80% of the US population are under stay-at-home orders.

Every citizen, family, and business can make the difference in stopping the virus," Trump said. "This is our shared patriotic duty. Challenging times are ahead for the next 30 days."

Trump told reporters at a news conference yesterday that the administration has “talked about” a nationwide stay-at-home order, similar to those of some states, but said it would be very “tough” to enforce and “not something we wanted to do.” 

Worrying signs in India: The world's second-most populous country reported 227 new coronavirus patients Monday, its highest single-day jump since the outbreak began. While the numbers in India are relatively low -- at least 1,251 patients, 32 of whom died -- fatalities have been reported nationwide by the Indian Ministry of Health and concerns are growing.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called for all inside the country to self-isolate, but that is effectively impossible for the millions of people who are either homeless or live in dilapidated slums.

2:31 a.m. ET, March 31, 2020

South Korean students will start the new school year online

From CNN's Sophie Jeong in Seoul

South Korean students are preparing to start the new school year -- but they'll be taking classes online.

The start of the school year had been postponed three times, and was set to finally begin on April 6.

On Tuesday, the South Korean Ministry of Education announced that all elementary, middle, high and special-education schools nationwide would start school online.

Some grades will start on April 9, while other grades will start on April 16 or April 20.

South Korea's university entrance exam will be postponed by two weeks, the country's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education Yoo Eun-hae said.

Cases rise: South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said Tuesday that there are now 9,786 confirmed coronavirus cases in the country -- a jump of 125 new infections from the day before.

There have been four more deaths, bringing the national death toll to 162.

A total of 5,408 people in the country have recovered from coronavirus.