It's "impossible" that North Korea has no coronavirus cases, top US general says
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 yesterday, 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.
4:08 a.m. ET, April 3, 2020
The first coronavirus-related death has been reported in Libya
From CNN's Jomana Karadsheh and Gul Tuysuz in Istanbul
Libya’s National Center for Disease Control (NCDC) said in a statement Thursday that the country has reported its first Covid-19 related fatality.
The patient was an 85-year-old woman, who tested positive for the virus after her death.
The United Nations has called on the warring parties in Libya's civil conflict to cease hostilities in order to focus on stopping the virus' spread. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) in Libya said the country needs about $12.5 million to help pay for isolation units, personal protective equipment, lab reagent detection kits and training for healthcare workers.
"We are extremely saddened to learn about Libya's first death due to COVID-19, as declared by the National Center of Disease Control," UNOCHA said in a tweet. "The UN, alongside health authorities and partners, are working tirelessly to contain the virus and advocate for peace during these tragic times."
3:52 a.m. ET, April 3, 2020
Coronavirus patients who've recovered must keep social distancing, UK health minister says
From CNN's Simon Cullen
British health minister Matt Hancock said he believes that those who have recovered should continue practicing social distancing rules, as more research is needed to understand how immunity works with this particular strain of coronavirus.
“The advice is it’s highly likely that I’m now immune or have a very high level of immunity, but it’s not certain,” Hancock told BBC Radio on Friday. “And so I -- like everybody else who’s been through it -- am social distancing.”
Hancock said the issue of immunity -- and therefore the antibody test -- will become increasingly important as the UK government looks to wind back the restrictions it has put in place to curb the pandemic.
“In a typical coronavirus -- one of the six existing coronaviruses -- immunity lasts a minimum of a year. And for some diseases can last up to a lifetime," he said. “But we don’t know that yet because this disease is only four months old.”
3:41 a.m. ET, April 3, 2020
Chinese Americans on the forefront of advocating wearing masks in public
From CNN’s Steven Jiang in Beijing
Like many Americans across the country, Wenqiong Xue has been fanatically making face masks for two weeks, using ripped bedsheets and a sewing machine that she dusted off from a closet in her Boston area house.
But the homemaker in Medfield, Massachusetts, is more than just a mask maker -- she has become a mask advocate, long before President Donald Trump's coronavirus task force is expected to recommend that Americans begin wearing face coverings in public.
A Beijing native who has lived in the US since 1985, Xue said many Chinese Americans like her realized early on the importance of wearing masks in stopping the spread of the deadly virus, thanks to a steady stream of news reports and expert opinions from China, the original epicenter of the global pandemic.
“We all read so much about what was happening in Wuhan on WeChat,” she said, referring to the popular social media platform that has become a major information source for the Chinese diaspora. “We knew how serious the outbreak was and started being careful much earlier than other Americans.”
Xue and other members of a local WeChat group sewed more than 1,300 masks within a week, delivering them to several local hospitals. But even when the medical institutions advised them not to send in any more handmade masks, Xue didn’t stop -- shifting her focus to the general public.
Trying to convince most Americans about the usefulness of wearing masks hasn’t been easy, though, due to long-held cultural beliefs. Xue said even her adult children, born and raised in the US, have been resistant to the idea.
“To me, wearing a mask feels natural,” she said. “But they think it’s weird -- they think I’m overreacting.”
Xue remains undaunted, determined to shine a spotlight on the topic as she believes Americans are lagged behind in self-protection due to lack of accurate information.
Feeling heartened by the sight of a growing number of people wearing masks outdoors -- observed during her occasional grocery shopping trips -- Xue thinks new US government guidance on the issue would not only prompt more Americans to cover their faces in public but also spur the demand for DIY masks.
“When I see my non-Chinese friends here, I tell them to wear a mask outside,” she said, adding that she just ordered more bedsheets online. “I say to them, I’ll make you one if you don’t have it.”
3:29 a.m. ET, April 3, 2020
Almost 8% of UK National Health Service staff are off work sick
From CNN's Simon Cullen in London
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
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
From CNN's Joe Sutton
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
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
From CNN's Kevin Liptak
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.