April 3 coronavirus news

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3:29 a.m. ET, April 3, 2020

Almost 8% of UK National Health Service staff are off work sick

In this Monday, March 30 file photo, a line of ambulances stands outside the ExCel center, which is being turned into a 4,000-bed temporary hospital called NHS Nightingale to deal with coronavirus patients in London.
In this Monday, March 30 file photo, a line of ambulances stands outside the ExCel center, which is being turned into a 4,000-bed temporary hospital called NHS Nightingale to deal with coronavirus patients in London. Matt Dunham/AP

Nearly 8% of staff working for the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) are currently off sick, health minister Matt Hancock said in an interview with Sky News Friday.

The British government has been under intense pressure to provide more support to frontline medical workers as they struggle to deal with the coronavirus outbreak. Hancock said 5.7% of doctors were off work.

Health professional groups have said that up to a quarter of their members are off sick or self-isolating because of Covid-19 or exhibiting symptoms related to the virus, but Hancock said such figures are “wrong." Still, he said that he wants to get the actual numbers much lower than they are.

Part of that involves ramping up testing for NHS staff. Hancock said that as of Thursday morning, about 5,000 NHS staff had been tested. 

He also said that testing in the broader community will be ramped up and promised that the government would be able to carry out 100,000 tests per day by the end of April.

3:14 a.m. ET, April 3, 2020

Worldwide coronavirus cases could be 5 to 10 times higher than reported, says top Australian health official

Australia's Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy addresses the media and the nation during a news conference at Parliament House on March 24 in Canberra, Australia.
Australia's Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy addresses the media and the nation during a news conference at Parliament House on March 24 in Canberra, Australia. Lukas Coch/Pool/Getty Images

The true number of coronavirus cases across the world could be "five to 10 times" higher than the 1 million confirmed Covid-19 infections that have already been confirmed globally, Australia's Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy said at a news conference Friday.

"We know that judging by the death rate, the testing rate, in many countries they're not detecting all the cases. There are some countries that don't have the capacity to test," he said. "In Australia, we're pretty confident that our testing has been the best in the world.

Australia reported 248 new patients on Friday, bringing the countrywide total to 5,224, including 23 deaths. As of April 2, Australia had conducted over 270,000 tests, according to the Department of Health.

Watch Murphy's comments:

3:09 a.m. ET, April 3, 2020

The coronavirus death toll in the United States has passed 6,000

At least 245,559 cases of Covid-19 have been reported in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Infections have been reported in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories.

A total of 6,057 coronavirus-related deaths have been reported in the country as of early Friday morning on the East Coast. Wyoming is the only state not reporting a death from coronavirus.

3:02 a.m. ET, April 3, 2020

It's just past 9 a.m in Berlin and 3 p.m in Beijing. Here's the latest on the coronavirus pandemic

A technician holds a tray of patient swabs during the testing process for possible coronavirus infection at the IFLb medical lab on March 30 in Berlin, Germany.
A technician holds a tray of patient swabs during the testing process for possible coronavirus infection at the IFLb medical lab on March 30 in Berlin, Germany. Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Global cases top 1 million: More than a million people have been infected with the novel coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University, a landmark moment in the growing worldwide pandemic. The worst affected countries are the United States, Italy and Spain, all of which have more than 100,000 cases.

Italy's death toll nears 14,000: More than 53,000 deaths have been reported globally, according to Johns Hopkins. The countries with the highest number of fatalities are Italy, with 13,915 deaths, and Spain with 10,348.

More than 1,000 people have died in Germany: A rise of 145 fatalities in just 24 hours has pushed the number of recorded deaths from the coronavirus to over 1,000 in Germany. The country's total number of confirmed cases is approaching 80,000.

Indian PM praises citizens amid lockdown: In a televised speech today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi lavished praise on the Indian public for adhering to strict quarantine measures designed to slow the epidemic. "The strength of 1.3 billion Indians is with and every one of us,” Modi said.

Wuhan official tells resident to not go out unless necessary: China's apparent success at controlling the coronavirus epidemic has given hope to the rest of the world amid a growing pandemic. But today the Communist Party Chief in Wuhan, the original epicenter of the outbreak, warned residents to only go out of their homes if necessary, showing the strict measures are likely to remain for a little longer at least.

Time for national stay-at home order, Fauci says: Top US infectious diseases expert Dr Anthony Fauci told a CNN town hall Thursday night that it was time to put in place a nationwide order for citizens to stay at home unless absolutely necessary. "I don't understand why that's not happening," he said. President Trump has previously called for flexibility between states.

US to issue nationwide guidance on face masks: In a news conference Thursday, President Donald Trump said that US regulations on face masks would be announced soon, but added they likely wouldn't be mandatory.

2:51 a.m. ET, April 3, 2020

How Fauci and Birx got Trump to listen to science

Alex Brandon/AP
Alex Brandon/AP

It's the piece of advice long-timers offer nearly every new arrival to President Donald Trump's ranks: bring visual aids. Luckily for Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, charts are their thing.

Summoned to the Oval Office last weekend to state their case for keeping the country closed, Fauci and Birx arrived armed with tangled multicolored lines, stippled mountains of various heights and one ominous inky blue bell curve showing American deaths from coronavirus rising to 2.2 million if social distancing efforts were abandoned.

The graphics were weaponry in a pitched battle with some of Trump's economic advisers -- and at times with Trump himself -- who argued continued restrictions against large gatherings were ravaging the American economy.

Evidence of that was delivered Thursday when the federal government announced jobless claims skyrocketed to 6.6 million last week. 

Still, the charts -- printed in color and blown up for effect -- seemed to work, even as some of Trump's advisers now question their accuracy. Trump announced hours later he was extending his coronavirus guidelines another 30 days, despite a strong inclination to open the nation for business.

As the pandemic rages and Trump's response comes under withering scrutiny, Fauci and Birx -- the two top medical experts on the White House coronavirus task force -- have emerged as central figures advising Trump and fixations for a nation grappling with a generation-defining crisis.

Read more here.

2:44 a.m. ET, April 3, 2020

A Chinese man has been sentenced to more than a year in prison for lying about his travel history

Chinese authorities have sentenced a man to 18 months in prison after he was found guilty of lying about traveling to northern Italy, where thousands of people have been infected by the novel coronavirus.

The 29-year-old man, surnamed Guo, flew from Beijing to Milan on March 1 and returned to China on March 7, according to the country's Ministry of Public Security.

He took a train to his hometown of Zhengzhou, in Henan province, that same day, and then took the subway to work on March 8 and March 9.

Local police quickly found out about his travel history. On March 11, Guo was charged with obstructing the prevention of infectious diseases.

Guo was confirmed to have contracted the coronavirus, and more than 40 close contacts were placed in quarantine.

2:39 a.m. ET, April 3, 2020

More than 1,000 people have died from coronavirus in Germany

Germany’s coronavirus death toll has reached 1,017 -- an increase of 145 fatalities in the past 24 hours -- according to figures released on Friday by the Robert Koch Institute, the country's federal public health agency.

Since the outbreak began, Germany has confirmed 79,696 Covid-19 patients. The number of cases jumped by 6,174 from Thursday to Friday.

2:31 a.m. ET, April 3, 2020

71 coronavirus cases are linked to a single church in one the largest outbreak clusters in the US


Health officials say 71 people infected with the novel coronavirus in California's Sacramento County are connected to a single church, making it one of the largest outbreak clusters in the United States.

But despite dozens falling ill, and one death, church leaders have rebuffed demands to halt gatherings, officials say.

The outbreak occurred at Bethany Slavic Missionary Church in Rancho Cordova, where members of the church and others associated with the congregation are confirmed to have been infected with the virus, Sacramento County health officials said. The church is a large and influential institution among the Northern California slavic community. 

The head pastor, Reverend Adam Bondaruk, has also contracted the virus, according to associate Pastor Ivan Gavrilyuk.

Gavrilyuk told CNN that the church suspended services two weeks ago in accordance with health regulations. He would not confirm if the person who died from complications of the virus was a member of the congregation. 

In a statement to CNN on Thursday night, the church said it believed in complying with government regulations.

Here's what they said:

“This church has complied with all applicable Covid-19 regulations immediately after they came into effect. The church closed its doors on March 18th. At this time, the Church remains closed. All services, departments, and activities are conducted solely online.” The statement did not address concerns that members were still gathering elsewhere.

Health officials want more help: County health officials said they are frustrated that the church leaders won’t work with the department to prevent further spread of the virus.

In an interview with the Sacramento Bee, Sacramento County Health Director Dr. Peter Beilenson said the church "basically told us to leave them alone.”

“This is extremely irresponsible and dangerous for the community,” he said.

The health department believes the virus is being spread during Bible study and fellowship meetings in small groups at congregants homes. 

County health spokeswoman Janna Haynes said they are very concerned about the upcoming holidays of Palm Sunday and Easter -- when church members and their families traditionally get together to celebrate -- and is deploying translators to plead with the Russian-speaking community to stay home. Haynes said some of those they are attempting to reach don’t monitor mainstream news outlets and haven’t gotten the message about isolation.

In an interview Thursday night on the local Russian language radio station, Ethno FM, and translated for CNN, church Pastor Pavel Gurzhiy reportedly downplayed the seriousness of the situation.

“My estimation is that no less people are sick with the flu,” Gurzhiy said. “Seventy-one sick members against 5,000 is not too many to be honest with you.” The pastor said he knew of five people who had been infected with the virus.
2:21 a.m. ET, April 3, 2020

Prince Charles will open a new coronavirus field hospital via video link

Prince Charles is expected to open a new coronavirus field hospital, NHS Nightingale, via video link on Friday from his home in Scotland, according to a statement from Clarence House. 

NHS Nightingale is a new hospital that can provide support for potentially several thousand patients with coronavirus.

Based at the ExCeL conference center in East London, it will initially provide up to 500 beds equipped with ventilators and oxygen. The capacity will then continue to increase, potentially up to several thousand beds, should it be required, according to the statement.  

"The Prince will also say a few words in tribute to all those who have worked tirelessly to create the new medical facility and to people across the UK who continue to deliver frontline care to those affected by the coronavirus crisis," the statement read.

Charles, the heir to the British throne, tested positive for the virus last month. He only showed minor symptoms and has since been released from isolation in good health.