April 4 coronavirus news

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4:11 a.m. ET, April 4, 2020

India reports more than 600 new cases in a day, many linked to a religious gathering

From CNN's Manveena Suri and Swati Gupta in New Delhi

Ambulances wait to take people to a quarantine facility in New Delhi, India, on April 3.
Ambulances wait to take people to a quarantine facility in New Delhi, India, on April 3. Yawar Nazir/Getty Images

India has reported its biggest single-day jump in new coronavirus cases, with 601 in the past day representing a 26% rise, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. 

The country now has 3,082 cases and 86 deaths, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.

The surge in cases has been linked to a religious gathering held at a New Delhi mosque in March, a senior health ministry official said. People from across India and overseas had gathered for the event.

So far, 647 cases have been directly linked to the gathering, said Lav Agarwal, a senior official of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. He added that the cases have been identified and isolated across 14 states and union territories

The Delhi government said earlier this week that it will be taking strict action against those responsible for organizing the gathering.

“We are being told that a lot of people left this mosque and went to different parts of the country," Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said. "It is scary to think how many people might have been impacted by this incident."
3:55 a.m. ET, April 4, 2020

That coronavirus baby boom? Experts say it's unlikely

From CNN's Catherine E. Shoichet

Shutterstock.
Shutterstock.

It's a topic of speculation every time a disaster hits.

Will we see a baby boom nine months later, since so many couples are cooped up inside with nowhere to go? 

Demographers think it's unlikely. In fact, they say the US will probably see the number of births decrease -- and other notable population shifts are likely as well.

"There's no way that the number of births is going to go up," says Kenneth Johnson, a professor of sociology and demographer at the University of New Hampshire.

This is not the kind of environment in which people say, 'Let's bring a child into the world now.'"

Why we won't see a baby boom:

  1. Financial uncertainty often makes people postpone or even forgo decisions to have children. The pandemic is now adding to this financial anxiety, which can see long-term lasting impacts.
  2. More people are dying in the US: The population is getting older and mortality rates are rising with the elderly while birth rates are decreasing. If the number of deaths starts to outpace the number of births, societal strain can follow.
  3. Immigration has dropped. Immigration rates had already been on the decline, but now the pandemic has shut borders. Immigration has historically kept populations' natural growth rate stable, with racial minorities making up more than half of US births.

Read the full story here.

3:18 a.m. ET, April 4, 2020

A pandemic thriller, once rejected by publishers for being unrealistic, is now getting a wide release

From CNN's Alaa Elassar

The cover of Peter May's book "Lockdown."
The cover of Peter May's book "Lockdown." Credit: Quercus

What happens when a once-rejected dystopian novel turns into reality? Ask Scottish author Peter May.

The screenwriter-turned-novelist wrote a book titled "Lockdown" in 2005 about a global pandemic. Fifteen years later, that's our reality due to coronavirus, which has so far infected more than 1 million people globally.

The book, which was rejected by publishers at the time for being too unrealistic, was finally published on Thursday.

The story, and the revival: The thriller is set in London, the epicenter of a global pandemic that forces officials to institute a lockdown.

Years ago, publishers dismissed the novel as "extremely unrealistic and unreasonable," May said. So he put the book on the back burner and eventually forgot he even wrote it.

That was until a fan on Twitter asked him to write a book set against the backdrop of the coronavirus.

"I thought about it for a minute before I realized that I've kind of already done it," May said. "I told my publisher about it and my editor just about fell out of his chair. He read the entire book overnight and the next morning he said, 'This is brilliant. We need to publish this now.'"

"Lockdown," available only on Amazon UK, is being sold in Kindle format and will be available as a paperback and audiobook on April 30.

3:04 a.m. ET, April 4, 2020

Number of daily new cases slowing in Thailand

From CNN's Kocha Olarn in Bangkok

A restaurant workers sweeps up while closing his shop before the city-wide curfew on April 3, 2020 in Bangkok, Thailand.
A restaurant workers sweeps up while closing his shop before the city-wide curfew on April 3, 2020 in Bangkok, Thailand. Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images

The rate of daily new coronavirus cases has slowed in Thailand, according to the country's Ministry of Public Health.

March 22 marked the biggest single-day jump in cases in the country, with 188 confirmed on that day alone. Today, that number was 89.

Thailand has 1,978 cases and 19 deaths, according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University.

Here's a look at the decline in new cases over the past two weeks:

  • March 22: 188 new cases
  • March 23: 122 new cases
  • March 24: 106 new cases
  • March 25: 107 new cases
  • March 26: 111 new cases
  • March 27: 91 new cases
  • March 28: 109 new cases
  • March 29: 143 new cases
  • March 30: 136 new cases
  • March 31: 127 new cases
  • April 1: 120 new cases
  • April 2: 104 new cases
  • April 3: 103 new cases
  • April 4: 89 new cases
2:47 a.m. ET, April 4, 2020

Corona beer stops production in Mexico

From CNN's Jordan Valinsky

Reuters
Reuters

Production of Corona beer has been temporarily suspended in Mexico because of the coronavirus pandemic, said Grupo Modelo, the company that makes the popular beverage.

In a statement on Twitter, the company said it was halting the production and marketing of its beer because the Mexican government has shuttered non-essential businesses. The Anheuser-Busch Inbev-owned company also makes Modelo and Pacifico beers.

This week, the Mexican government announced the suspension of non-essential activities in the public and private sectors until April 30 in an effort to curb the spread of the virus. The country has more than 1,500 cases and 50 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Grupo Modelo is ready to enact a plan to "guarantee the supply of beer" if the Mexican government decides to include breweries as essential, according to a statement.

2:29 a.m. ET, April 4, 2020

Australia's immigration chief tells tourists: Take the next flight home

From CNN's Hilary Whiteman and Radina Gigova 

A woman runs around Sydney Harbour on April 1.
A woman runs around Sydney Harbour on April 1. Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Australia is threatening to kick out visitors who don't comply with the country's social distancing rules.

At a news conference today, acting immigration minister Alan Tudge had a blunt message for non-compliant travelers:

"A, you’ll be in breach of state law for doing that and you can be fined. B, you’ll be breaching your visa conditions and if we find that out we’ll be kicking you out of the country. And then that will be a mark against your name for future visits to Australia. This is deadly serious,” he said at a news conference today.

He also urged international tourists to leave the country.

“For international tourists, take the next flight home, particularly if you don’t have any family support," he said. "The largest source of tourists in the country at the moment are from the United Kingdom. Next week alone there are 150 flights to London -- so there are those options for people to get home. And we ask them to exercise those options.”

Skilled visa holders: Australia has about 139,000 temporary skilled visa holders, who are often invited to fill skills shortages, typically on two-year or four-year visas.  

If these visa holders lose their job, they have 60 days to find a new one or leave. For those who have been stood down or had their hours reduced by the coronavirus measures, their visa will remain valid, Tudge said.

Backpacker visas: There are about 118,000 people on "backpacker" visas who can work for six months for a single employer. 

If they work in critical industries, they can work longer than six months, Tudge said, and their visa will be extended for another year.

New Zealanders: About half of the 600,000 New Zealanders in Australia won’t have access to job seeker payments, but will have access to job keeper payments, Tudge added.

2:10 a.m. ET, April 4, 2020

Fiji reports largest daily jump in cases

From CNN's Chermaine Lee in Hong Kong

Fiji confirmed five new cases of the coronavirus overnight -- the largest daily jump in the country so far, according to the government.

The government also announced a lockdown of part of the Soasoa region on Vanua Levu island, where contact tracing for the first case is underway.

The archipelago country has arrested 123 people for breaching its nationwide curfew, which starts at 8 p.m. and ends at 5 a.m. local time each day.

People who need to travel for work or medical emergencies are exempt from the curfew. 

Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama urged people not to go out, saying children and the elderly in particular should stay at home “at all times.”

1:56 a.m. ET, April 4, 2020

A hairstylist had to close her salon. So she turned her boyfriend into Princess Leia and Joe Exotic

From CNN's Harmeet Kaur

For hairstylist Heidi Oley, social distancing means more time to practice her skills.

So she got creative and decided to have some fun -- by making her boyfriend the canvas for her masterful creations.

Oley and Geoffrey Clark, who live in Atlanta, relocated to her family's secluded cabin in Ellijay, Georgia, a couple of weeks ago after she closed her salon due to the pandemic.

She thought she'd use the spare time to watch tutorials and brush up on some new techniques, so Clark offered to be her test subject.

And suddenly, inspiration struck.

"I picked up the curling iron and decided to turn him into George Washington," Oley told CNN.

Geoffrey Clark, styled as George Washington.
Geoffrey Clark, styled as George Washington.

Over the course of the last couple of weeks, Oley has experimented with countless hairstyles on Clark.

There's the on-point depiction of Princess Leia, complete with the iconic "cinnamon buns" on the sides and a white bedsheet to mimic her costume.

And for all you cool cats and kittens who have been captivated by Netflix's "Tiger King," here's Clark with the signature mullet of Joe Exotic.

5:40 p.m. ET, April 4, 2020

As northern Italy is ravaged by coronavirus, there's trouble brewing down south

From CNN's Barbie Latza Nadeau and Valentina Di Donato

A man walks past a billboard raising awareness to the coronavirus measures implemented by the Italian government in Naples on March 22.
A man walks past a billboard raising awareness to the coronavirus measures implemented by the Italian government in Naples on March 22. Carlo Hermann/AFP/Getty Images

Four weeks into a nationwide lockdown, very few Italians are still singing from their balconies or banging pots and pans in solidarity.

Instead, flags were lowered to half-staff this week for the nearly 15,000 coronavirus victims including doctors, nurses and health care professionals who have perished since February 23.

Italy's wealthy northern provinces have taken the brunt of the coronavirus outbreak with more than 75% of overall cases and deaths north of Tuscany, in the center of the country, per the Italian Civil Protection agency.

Had the initial infection cluster started in the poorer southern regions, which do not have the same strong health care infrastructure, the crisis would have been even worse.

But the southern regions are struggling, too: This is where organized crime syndicate hubs are based, and where unemployment hovers around 20% for adults and up to 50% for those under 24 during the best of times, according to figures from the Italian National Institute of Statistics (ISTAT).

Even with the outbreak in some southern communities affecting "only" a few thousand, the facilities are stretched and care for non-Covid patients has been severely compromised.

Read more about the dire situation down south: