April 3 coronavirus news

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6:25 a.m. ET, April 3, 2020

Angela Merkel returns to work after self-quarantining

From Nadine Schmidt in Berlin

German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives for a press conference on the coronavirus in Berlin, Germany, on March 22.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives for a press conference on the coronavirus in Berlin, Germany, on March 22. Michael Kappeler/Pool/AP

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel has ended her self-quarantine and returned to work at the chancellery, her spokesman Steffen Seibert says.

Merkel went into quarantine two weeks ago after she came into contact with a doctor who later tested positive to coronavirus.

Her third test for the virus came back negative, a government spokesperson told CNN on Monday, after two previous tests that were also negative.

Meanwhile, the UK's Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to come out of self-isolation after testing positive for Covid-19 last week.

6:04 a.m. ET, April 3, 2020

He collapsed in his bathroom from ​Covid-19​. His daughter blames the UK government for his death

From CNN's Dominic Rech

Thomas Harvey (right) died on Sunday March 29 from Covid-19. His wife Marcia (center) has lost her best friend, their daughter says.
Thomas Harvey (right) died on Sunday March 29 from Covid-19. His wife Marcia (center) has lost her best friend, their daughter says. Courtesy of Tamira Harvey.

A man who worked for the UK's National Health Service (NHS) for 20 years was "neglected" by his employer after he contracted Covid-19 and died, alleges his daughter Tamira Harvey.

Although Thomas Harvey never got a test for Covid-19 before he died, an NHS Trust confirmed to CNN that he had picked up the virus. According to his daughter, the 57-year-old health care assistant was let down by both the hospital where he helped care for recovering stroke patients, and by emergency responders.

Tamira alleges that London's Goodmayes Hospital failed to provide necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) to her father. And just a few days before Harvey's death, emergency services "refused" to come to take him to hospital, Tamira says, despite family concerns that he wasn't "breathing properly."

"I think he was neglected from the start. It's just a tragedy... It's a mixture of emotions. Loads of questions of why and how this happened. The fact he wasn't tested, none of us were tested. My mother is overwhelmed as they have been together for so long and she has lost her best friend," she told CNN.

The NHS trust responsible for the hospital where Thomas Harvey worked told CNN on Wednesday that there were no symptomatic patients when he went off work sick. CNN reached out to NHS England via phone and email and has yet to receive a response.

The London Ambulance Service (LAS) said they were "seeing unprecedented demand" for both their 999 and 111 services at this time.

But Tamira remains adamant that the blame for her father's death should ultimately lie in the hands of the UK government.

Boris Johnson's government has been criticized in recent days for the small number of NHS workers who have received tests for Covid-19.

Read more here.

5:39 a.m. ET, April 3, 2020

Germany warns its ICU capacity may not be high enough, as mortality rate rises

From CNN's Rob Picheta, Nadine Schmidt and Simon Cullen

Medical staff transport a patient to the emergency room at the St. Josef Hospital in Bochum, Germany, on April 1.
Medical staff transport a patient to the emergency room at the St. Josef Hospital in Bochum, Germany, on April 1. Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images

Germany may not have enough hospital beds and ventilators to tackle its coronavirus outbreak, the head of the country's disease control agency warned on Friday.

''I am very happy that the ventilation beds and intensive care capacities have been increased," Lothar Wieler, the head of the Robert Koch Institute, told reporters. "Still, I cannot be sure that these capacities are sufficient enough.

"Personally, I have the opinion that they will not be enough and I am happy if I am wrong," Wieler added. "The more ventilators and intensive care beds we have, the more lives we will be able to save and therefore I ask that we continue to ask that we increase the capacities as much as possible.''

Wieler went on to say that he believes ''more people will die of Covid-19 than reported." Germany's mortality has rate increased to 1.2%, and Wieler warned against the assumption that the virus only affects older people -- pointing out that Germany's youngest confirmed death was a 28-year-old woman with a pre-existing condition.

Germany sent 50 ventilators to Spain to help that country battle its coronavirus outbreak, the German health minister said on Friday.

"Especially in times of coronavirus we stick together. We wish the Spanish much strength in these times," Jens Spahn said.

Health workers attend to a coronavirus patient in an intensive care unit at the Vall d'Hebron hospital in Barcelona, Spain, on April 1.
Health workers attend to a coronavirus patient in an intensive care unit at the Vall d'Hebron hospital in Barcelona, Spain, on April 1. Ricardo Garcia Vilanova/AFP/Getty Images

Spain has been battling one of the worst outbreaks of Covid-19 anywhere in the world, passing 10,000 virus-related deaths on Thursday. Only Italy has recorded more fatalities, and only Italy and the United States have had more confirmed cases, according to John Hopkins University.

Meanwhile, a poll has shown that the vast majority of Germans approve of Angela Merkel's response to the outbreak.

About 72% of Germans support the government’s approach, according to the poll by Infratest Dimap. It also shows 93% of respondents approve of the drastic social distancing measures introduced to try to contain the spread of the virus.

Germany has implemented a "contact ban," rather than a full nationwide lockdown. It has seen more than 84,000 confirmed cases, but its reported fatalities -- just over 1,100 -- have been lower than other major European countries.

4:51 a.m. ET, April 3, 2020

The hilltop fortress town that cut itself off from the world -- and coronavirus

From CNN's Claudia Rebaza and Tim Lister

Zahara de la Sierra and its castle perch on a hilltop in Andalusia, Spain.
Zahara de la Sierra and its castle perch on a hilltop in Andalusia, Spain.

The fortress town of Zahara de la Sierra in southern Spain is used to fending off enemies. The Moors and Christians fought over it in medieval times, and it was sacked by the French in 1812. Now its formidable position high above the Andalusian countryside has suddenly become an invaluable asset once more.

On March 14, Zahara cut itself off from the outside world as the coronavirus spread its tentacles across Spain. The mayor, 40-year-old Santiago Galván, decided to block all but one of the town's five entrances. Galván acted the day that Spain's "state of alarm" came into force.

In Zahara, however, there has not been a single recorded case of Covid-19 among its 1,400 inhabitants. "It has been more than two weeks, and I think that's a good sign," Galván told CNN.

The mayor's drastic steps have the full support of the townspeople, and especially the elderly. Nearly a quarter of Zahara's inhabitants are older than 65; there are more than 30 residents in an old people's home. Towns and villages nearby have seen infections and several coronavirus fatalities.

Read more about the town here.

4:30 a.m. ET, April 3, 2020

A mob in India pelted doctors with stones while they were treating a suspected coronavirus patient

From journalist Esha Mitra in New Delhi

A mob in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh pelted frontline healthcare workers with stones as they tried to treat a patient who was suspected of contracting the novel coronavirus, a police official said.

Doctors in India fighting the virus have been subject to danger and discrimination, as some in the public fear health-care workers could themselves bring the virus into their communities and contribute to its spread.

The incident took place Wednesday, when two doctors and three community health workers were attacked in the city of Indore.

"It was around 2:30 pm and we were counseling a patient when around 200 people came and started pelting stones. It was lucky that a district administrator was with us that day and rushed us out in a car," said Dr. Trupti Katdare, one of the doctors there.

Katdare said the team only sustained minor leg injuries. The team eventually returned to the same area Thursday to continue screening for coronavirus.

Arrests made: Four people have been arrested, local police said.

Harinarayanchari Mishra, the deputy inspector general of Indore police said at a news conference Thursday that authorities are taking the incident "very seriously" and plan to make more arrests.

"The remaining are being identified through video footage, we will take action against them," he said.

The accused have been booked for assault or criminal force to deter a public servant from discharge of duty and obstructing a public servant in discharge of functions, Mishra said. 

A growing problem: Government officials and allies of medical workers have called upon citizens to stop attacking the very people who have dedicated their lives to saving others.

"Attacks on doctors and paramedical staff who are risking their lives who have come to save people will not be tolerated. Strict action will be taken under the National Security Act," Shivraj Chouhan, the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, said at a briefing on Thursday. 

Medical staff in New Delhi say they have been ostracized and discriminated against by their communities due to fears that they may be infected after working with coronavirus patients. Some doctors have even reported being evicted, or faced threats that their electricity will be cut off.

"These doctors are saving our lives, putting their lives at risk," tweeted Arvind Kejriwal, the chief minister of Delhi. "Their landlords should not do this. This is wrong."
4:16 a.m. ET, April 3, 2020

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.

Watch:

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

Matt Hancock, British Health Secretary.
Matt Hancock, British Health Secretary. Pool

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.

Hancock and Prime Minister Boris Johnson both tested positive for the virus last month.

“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

Three generations of a Chinese American family in the Boston area make face masks at home.
Three generations of a Chinese American family in the Boston area make face masks at home. Wenqiong Xue

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. 

Some of the face masks which Chinese Americans in Boston are sewing to help people out during the pandemic.
Some of the face masks which Chinese Americans in Boston are sewing to help people out during the pandemic. Wenqiong Xue

“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.

An example of some of the homemade face masks being provided.
An example of some of the homemade face masks being provided. Wenqiong Xue
“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.”