April 2 coronavirus news

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6:52 a.m. ET, April 2, 2020

Benjamin Netanyahu to self-isolate for a week after minister tests positive

From CNN's Oren Liebermann, Michael Schwartz and Amir Tal in Jerusalem

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives for a speech at his Jerusalem office on March 14.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives for a speech at his Jerusalem office on March 14. Gali Tibbon/AFP/Getty Images

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will enter self-quarantine for seven days, according to a statement from the Prime Minister's Office, after the country's Health Minister tested positive for coronavirus.

It is the second time Netanyahu has entered self-quarantine. The 70-year-old Israeli leader self-isolated for a short period after one of his aides tested positive for coronavirus late last month. Netanyahu has twice tested negative for the disease.

Health Minister Yaakov Litzman is in good condition, according to a statement from the Health Ministry. The 71-year old and his wife, who also tested positive, will remain at home, where the Health Minister will continue to carry out his job, the statement said. 

Senior members of the Ministry of Health and aides to Litzman will also self-isolate because of their close contact with the minister. That includes Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar Siman Tov, who has frequently held evening briefings with Netanyahu to answer questions and inform the public of new restrictions. 

Among others being considered for possible self-isolation by health officials, according to multiple reports on Israeli media, is Yossi Cohen, the head of the Mossad intelligence service.

As of Thursday morning, Israel had 6,211 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 32 deaths as a result of the disease.

5:45 a.m. ET, April 2, 2020

4 million French workers are on partial unemployment benefits, and the number is rising

From CNN's Barbara Wojazer in Paris

A person is seen on an escalator on March 19 at the Halles shopping mall in Paris, where shops are closed.
A person is seen on an escalator on March 19 at the Halles shopping mall in Paris, where shops are closed. Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty Images

There are now 4 million French employees on partial unemployment support and the number is still “strongly increasing,” France’s Labor Minister Muriel Pénicaud said Thursday.

Under the scheme, firms can reduce their activity while asking the state for compensation to be redistributed to employees.

Employees on the minimum wage or in a part-time job will receive 100% of their usual salary, the minister said.

Other employees will receive 84% of their salary, Pénicaud added.

The partial unemployment system should enable the country to recover as quickly as possible after the crisis, as it maintains the link between employers and employees, French PM Edouard Philippe explained on Wednesday.

5:07 a.m. ET, April 2, 2020

Running out of face masks in India? The government wants to help you make your own

From CNN's Manveena Suri in New Delhi

India’s Ministry of Science and Technology has issued a manual of instructions on how to make homemade masks in a bid to counter shortages or for those who lack access.

“This is primarily meant for the people who want to wear masks but do not have access to them. They can make these washable and reusable masks at home” said Dr. Shailja Vaidya Gupta, senior adviser at the Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government in a news release

Although the government has not issued a directive making it compulsory to wear masks, an increasing number of shops catering towards essential needs are demanding that customers wear a mask while on the premises.

Sewing masks with a machine or by hand: The manual has been put together keeping in mind easy access to materials with instructions that are simple to follow.

It has instructions for making masks with either a sewing machine or by hand, and instructions on how to wear and take care of them. 

Step-by-step instructions for making an adult sized mask with a sewing machine are provided in the manual.
Step-by-step instructions for making an adult sized mask with a sewing machine are provided in the manual. Office of the Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India

Masks divide opinion: Opinion has been split on whether wearing a mask is an effective solution to curbing the spread of coronavirus. While it’s been common practice in parts of Asia, in other regions of the world, public health authorities and politicians have urged people to focus on washing their hands and maintaining social distancing.

5:34 a.m. ET, April 2, 2020

Confirmed cases in Austria pass 10,000

From CNN's Nadine Schmidt in Berlin

A Red Cross worker takes a sample at a coronavirus drive-In testing station in Schuettdorf, Austria on March 26.
A Red Cross worker takes a sample at a coronavirus drive-In testing station in Schuettdorf, Austria on March 26. JFK/APA/AFP/Getty Images

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Austria has passed 10,000, the country’s health ministry has said.

A total of 10,769 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in the country, and the death toll now stands at 146.

Wearing face masks to become compulsory: Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced earlier this week that wearing face masks in shops would become compulsory. The health ministry says this measure will take effect from April 6.

Shops and drugstores in Austria will be required to provide customers with a mask if they are not already wearing their own.

A supermarket employee hands out a protective mask to a shopper in Vienna, Austria, on April 1.
A supermarket employee hands out a protective mask to a shopper in Vienna, Austria, on April 1. homas Kronsteiner/Getty Images

The order puts Austria, along with the Czech Republic and Slovakia, at odds with some international medical authorities. WHO and US 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 health care workers who need them most.

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

4:54 a.m. ET, April 2, 2020

It's "impossible" that North Korea has no coronavirus cases, top US general says

From CNN's Paula Hancocks in Seoul

In this file photo, US General Robert B. Abrams, commander of the United Nations Command, US Forces Korea and Combined Forces Command, speaks at a US Army base in Seoul on November 20, 2018.
In this file photo, US General Robert B. Abrams, commander of the United Nations Command, US Forces Korea and Combined Forces Command, speaks at a US Army base in Seoul on November 20, 2018. Jung Yeon-je/AFP/Getty Images

The top US general in South Korea says that he does not believe North Korea’s claim it has no cases of novel coronavirus. 

“That is an impossible claim based on all of the intel we have seen,” Gen. Robert Abrams, Commander of US Forces Korea (USFK), said in a joint interview with CNN and Voice of America.

“How many? I couldn’t tell you but I do know by their actions that for about 30 days in February, early March, that their military was locked down and they took draconian methods on their border crossings and in their formations.”

North Korea has not reported any coronavirus infections, but it borders two of the most heavily affected countries in the region -- China and South Korea.

While the 16th USFK-related coronavirus infection was reported today, Abrams said the military force has managed to keep that number low.

“We've seen the worst but now is not the time to get complacent. Our worst is frankly not that bad," Abrams said.

He added that the 16 USFK-related cases were reported out of 58,000 people in total, including 28,500 active military personnel, dependents and support staff for bases around the country.

As USFK was among the first US military forces to have to deal with the virus worldwide, Abrams said he has advice for those now grappling with the spread around the world. 

“Go hard, go early, it will seem like over-reaction, it will seem a bit over-the-top, 'My gosh why are we having to do that draconian measure?' A week later your community will understand (and) your unit will understand why you had to do that," he said.
5:09 a.m. ET, April 2, 2020

Sailors who test negative for coronavirus to disembark USS Theodore Roosevelt within 24 hours

From journalist Mindy Aguon in Guam

USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier sits on the outskirts of Apra Harbor, Guam, on April 1. At least 70 sailors have tested positive for coronavirus aboard the aircraft carrier.
USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier sits on the outskirts of Apra Harbor, Guam, on April 1. At least 70 sailors have tested positive for coronavirus aboard the aircraft carrier. CNN

Any sailors from the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier who test negative for the novel coronavirus will soon disembark the ship and begin their 14-day quarantine in Guam.

So far, 93 sailors from the US Navy ship have tested positive for the virus, 86 of whom are symptomatic. None have required hospitalization so far.

In total, there are more than 4,000 crew members on board the ship, only 1,273 of whom have already been tested.

“Over the next 12 to 24 hours, we plan to move the first group of Covid-19 negative asymptomatic sailors to approved commercial lodging for quarantine in accordance with the governor’s executive order and CDC guideline," Joint Region Marianas Commander Adm. John Menoni said at a news conference in Guam today. 

"Sailors will only be permitted to depart the base following a negative Covid-19 test result. They must remain in quarantine, in their assigned rooms for the duration of the mandatory 14-day quarantine."

Guam Governor Lou Leon Guerrero defended her decision to allow the sailors to disembark from the aircraft carrier and to come onshore. "The bottom line is our sailors go out and protect our freedom. We ask them to go out and sacrifice their lives for our protections, and they are asking us to help them get over this god-awful virus, and when I look at the opportunities and possibilities and space, I decided to say yes," she said.

4:34 a.m. ET, April 2, 2020

Zarif accuses Trump of "electoral exploitation" amid pandemic, says Iran "starts no wars"

From CNN's Radina Gigova in Atlanta

In this file photo, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attends a meeting with his Russian counterpart in Moscow on September 2, 2019.
In this file photo, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attends a meeting with his Russian counterpart in Moscow on September 2, 2019. Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif slammed President Donald Trump's response to the coronavirus pandemic today, saying he was using the crisis for political gain. 

"We have not witnessed throughout history such heinous employment of a humanitarian catastrophe for revenge and to spread hatred and electoral exploitation as the current American president and his team do," Zarif said in a quote from state news agency IRNA. 
“In order for the world efforts to yield fruit and in order for the world to return to (normal) life, we have to believe that all the planet Earth is a battlefield and in wherever part of the world we are defeated, the entire world will be defeated."

Zarif also said on Thursday on his official Twitter account that "Iran starts no wars, but teaches lessons to those who do," adding that Iran has "friends" rather than "proxies." 

Echoing Zarif's comments, an adviser to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Thursday that the US sanctions are contributing to the spread of the virus and urged Americans to join the global fight. 

"Trump’s economic sanctions equal further spread of the virus in Iran which equals further spread of the virus in the US! Help us help you," said Hesameddin Ashena, head of the Center for Strategic Studies of the President's Office, as quoted by IRNA. 
"Dear Americans: If we don't fight the coronavirus globally it will reappear globally, again and again and again."

Iran has recorded 47,593 coronavirus cases and 3,036 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

11:23 p.m. ET, April 2, 2020

Unable to get out of lockdown, one family watched their son get married over video call

From CNN's Vedika Sud in New Delhi

In many ways it was just like any other wedding.

On the day of the ceremony, the groom's parents got themselves prepared early in the morning, dressing in their best wedding clothes.

When they were ready for the service to begin, they walked into the living room and joined other family members to watch on a two-way video stream as their son got married in Phoenix, Arizona -- almost 8,000 miles away.

Several members of groom Nitin Mehta's family were due to fly over from New Delhi to see him marry fiancee Miranda Jenkins in Phoenix.

But the night before they left, Prime Minister Narendra Modi locked down the country to avoid the spread of the coronavirus.

Nilin Mehta's parents watch their son get married over video link from Phoenix, Arizona, on March 28.
Nilin Mehta's parents watch their son get married over video link from Phoenix, Arizona, on March 28. Nalin Mehta

The trip had been planned for a year at least but now, unable to leave, they had to find another way to take part.

"My parents, my wife and kids (and I) woke up at about 4 a.m., put on our wedding clothes and joined the wedding virtually on a video call ... They could see us watching and talk to us," the groom's brother Nalin Mehta told CNN.

They weren't the only guests to miss the wedding. About 150 people were scheduled to attend the ceremony, but fears of the coronavirus and lockdowns worldwide meant it ended up being limited to about 20 close friends and family.

Miranda Jenkins walks down the aisle to marry Nitin Mehta, on March 28.
Miranda Jenkins walks down the aisle to marry Nitin Mehta, on March 28. Nalin Mehta

"(The groom) Nitin himself was actually in the air on a flight from London to Phoenix for his wedding when (President Donald) Trump announced that no flights from the UK would be allowed to land in the USA. So he barely made it back himself for his own wedding," the groom's brother said.

It might seem distant, but Mehta said it had made them all feel like they were together on the special day -- he even gave his best man's speech over WhatsApp. "This allowed us all as a family to feel part of an intimate family event ... at this time of great disruption of the way we live," he said.

Nalin's father, mother, wife and two children watch the wedding of his brother Nitin over video link in their wedding clothes on March 28.
Nalin's father, mother, wife and two children watch the wedding of his brother Nitin over video link in their wedding clothes on March 28. Nalin Mehta

4:09 a.m. ET, April 2, 2020

Opinion: Trump's Covid-19 reelection strategy

Opinion by Joe Lockhart

Editor's note: Joe Lockhart was White House press secretary from 1998-2000 in President Bill Clinton's administration. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. 

President Donald Trump has received considerable criticism from many quarters -- governors, public health officials and doctors and nurses on the front line -- for being unprepared for the coronavirus pandemic, and for not having a national plan to deal with it. Much of that criticism is well deserved.

What is clear looking over the past two months is that the President and his team have had a sophisticated political strategy to deal with the fast spreading pandemic.

That strategy began in January, where at every turn the President downplayed the risks of the virus spreading in the United States. In interview after interview, and speech after speech, he assured Americans we were OK and any risk to the country was contained.

President Trump pointed to the shutting down of some flights from China, and one of his aides recently inaccurately said that Trump was the first to do it. North Korea closed its borders on January 22, and Italy banned flights from China to Italy staring January 31.

The President's strategy was that if the US could avoid the pandemic, despite all the loud calls for more action, he would be seen as the wise leader who didn't overreact and didn't kill our economy. In an ironic twist, he co-opted former President Barack Obama's mantra of hope as a strategy. But I believe Trump had a fallback plan in case the deadly virus hit us hard and he had a political plan ready to deploy.

Read more here: