April 8 coronavirus news

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2:23 a.m. ET, April 8, 2020

Japan reverses decision to exclude adult entertainment industry from virus relief package

From CNN’s Junko Ogura in Tokyo

A general view of Tokyo's Kabukicho adult entertainment area seen less busy in the Shinjuku district on April 7, in Tokyo, Japan.
A general view of Tokyo's Kabukicho adult entertainment area seen less busy in the Shinjuku district on April 7, in Tokyo, Japan. Christopher Jue/Getty Images

Those working legally in Japan's sex industry will be able to access assistance in the government’s economic relief package, Health and Labor Minister Kazunobu Kato said in a news conference Tuesday.

That's a reversal of the government's original plan, which excluded restaurants and bars in the adult entertainment industry.

The government will provide a subsidy of 8,330 yen ($76) per day to businesses that allow employees to take leave to care for children out of school.

The government's original plan was criticized as occupational discrimination by government opposition members.

2:23 a.m. ET, April 8, 2020

It's just past 2 p.m. in Singapore and 3 p.m. in Tokyo. Here's the latest on the pandemic

If you're just joining us, here are the latest developments in the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Global cases pass 1.4 million: At least 1,431,375 coronavirus cases and 82,145 deaths have been recorded worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University. This total doesn't reflect the number of active cases, but rather the number of all infections since the outbreak began.
  • US infections near 400,000: At least 399,886 cases have been recorded in the US, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The country's death toll stands at 12,907. New York reported more than 800 deaths on Tuesday alone.
  • Singapore bans public gatherings: The ban applies to both public and private gatherings in the Southeast Asian city state and is scheduled to run until May 4.
  • Passengers to be evacuated from cruise ships: Australian and New Zealand passengers aboard the Greg Mortimer cruise ship will be evacuated, after more than 60% of people onboard the vessel were confirmed to have coronavirus. Uruguay is helping to facilitate the evacuation.
  • Flights resume in Wuhan: The 76-day long lockdown in Wuhan -- ground zero of the pandemic -- is now officially over. At least 54 flights were listed to leave the city today, carrying thousands of passengers. More than 50,000 were also expected to leave by train.
  • Trump says WHO is "China-centric": In a tweet Tuesday, President Donald Trump said that the World Health Organization "really blew it" on the coronavirus and threatened to withdraw its US funding. Speaking later at a news conference, Trump said his administration was "going to look into it."
  • Japan officially enters a state of emergency: Japan entered a state of emergency on Tuesday in seven virus-hit prefectures including Tokyo. The declaration is in effect until May 6. The government announced an economic relief package Tuesday to help businesses.
  • UK Prime Minister still in intensive care: British leader Boris Johnson is in a "stable" condition in hospital, but remains in the ICU after his coronavirus symptoms worsened. His spokesperson said Tuesday that he was receiving the "standard oxygen treatment."
1:53 a.m. ET, April 8, 2020

Singapore has banned all social gatherings

From CNN's Anna Kam in Hong Kong

A man crosses an empty road in the Marina Bay area on April 7 in Singapore.
A man crosses an empty road in the Marina Bay area on April 7 in Singapore. Ore Huiying/Getty Images

Singapore has banned all social gatherings as part of its latest restrictions to help combat Covid-19, according to a news release on the health ministry’s website. 

This includes both public and private gatherings.

The rule, which applies to families and friends not living together, was passed by Parliament on Tuesday and imposed from Wednesday.

The rule is part of a “Circuit Breaker” plan in the country’s fight against the virus and will be imposed until at least May 4.

Singapore has reported at least 1,481 coronavirus cases and six deaths, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.

1:42 a.m. ET, April 8, 2020

The lockdown has lifted in Wuhan. Now thousands of people are leaving the city

From CNN's Alex Lin in Hong Kong and Steven Jiang in Beijing

This photo taken early on Wednesday shows cars queuing to leave Wuhan at a highway toll station.
This photo taken early on Wednesday shows cars queuing to leave Wuhan at a highway toll station. Stringer/AFP/Getty Images

After more than two months under lockdown, people in Wuhan can finally travel out of the city.

Today marks the official re-opening of outbound travel -- inbound restrictions had already been eased. Trains and flights are resuming, except to and from the capital Beijing.

Outbound travel demand is likely to come from out-of-towners who have been stuck in Wuhan during lockdown, and the limited number of people traveling for business.

But to travel, people will still need to flash their all-important QR code on their phone. If it's green, they've been assessed as healthy or low-risk, and they can leave the city.

Trains: Wuhan’s railway authority was quoted by state media Tuesday saying that they are expecting 55,000 passengers to leave Wuhan by train on Wednesday. Most travelers are bound for the Pearl River Delta region in southern China, a major manufacturing hub, according to pre-sale ticket figures. Railway authorities said they will maintain strict screening, disinfection and other health measures throughout stations and trains.

Flights: At least 54 flights were listed out of Wuhan Wednesday, according to local media Time Weekly. The capacity of these flights is reported to be around 10,000 passengers leaving Wuhan to 15 different destinations.

1:33 a.m. ET, April 8, 2020

Opinion: South Korea listened to the experts

From Dr. Terence Kealey

Medical staff wearing protective clothing take test samples for the coronavirus from a passenger at a virus testing booth outside Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, on April 1.
Medical staff wearing protective clothing take test samples for the coronavirus from a passenger at a virus testing booth outside Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, on April 1. Jung Yeon-je/AFP/Getty Images

Editor's note: Dr. Terence Kealey is an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute and a professor of clinical biochemistry at the University of Buckingham in the UK, where he served as vice chancellor until 2014. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own.

South Korea, the US and the UK all reported their first Covid-19 cases around the same time: on January 20January 21, and January 31, respectively. How things unfolded from there, unfortunately for the US and UK, has been strikingly different. 

Today, South Korea is reporting fewer than 100 new cases a day, the UK is reporting around 4,000 new cases a day, and the US is reporting around 30,000. But while numbers in South Korea have fallen, in the US and UK they have been rising exponentially 

Nonetheless, the great success story is South Korea, and we know how they did it: they tested.

The timeline of the virus: On December 31, 2019, Chinese officials informed the World Health Organization they had identified an unknown pneumonia, and on January 10, with impressive speed, Professor Zhang Yongzhen of Fudan University, Shanghai, published the virus's RNA sequence -- which can be used as the basis of a diagnostic test.

How South Korea responded: By February 4, Kogene Biotech of Seoul had not only developed a test kit but had also had it approved by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And by February 10, was reporting its findings on the first 2,776 people to have been tested.

At that point, there were only 27 confirmed cases in South Korea, so -- in another impressive demonstration of speed -- the South Korean authorities tested each of them and, more importantly, isolated those who tested positive and monitored their contacts.

How the US responded: In the US and many other countries, however, a lack of testing kits prohibited the identification and isolation of individuals, so whole populations and whole economies have had to close down instead. By comparison, South Korea has been spared that fate partly by the government's response and partly by the swift reaction of its biotech industry.

Read the full opinion here.

1:17 a.m. ET, April 8, 2020

Covid-19 death rate rises in US counties with high air pollution, study says

From CNN's Sandee LaMotte

You are more likely to die from Covid-19 if you live in a county in the United States with higher levels of long-term air pollution, according to new research released Tuesday by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

"We found that an increase of only 1 gram per cubic meter in fine particulate matter in the air was associated with a 15% increase in the Covid-19 death rate," said lead author Francesca Dominici, co-director of the Harvard Data Science Initiative. 

The study defined high pollution levels as fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) levels above 13 micrograms per cubic meter of air, much higher than the US mean of 8.4. 

"The results suggest that long-term exposure to air pollution increases vulnerability to experiencing the most severe Covid-19 outcomes," Dominici said.

While the study was focussed on the US, it could have implications for other countries, too. India, for instance has 21 of the world's 30 cities with the worst air pollution.

American Lung Association President and CEO Harold Wimmer said that the study's findings illustrate that "far too many Americans are facing multiple threats to their lung health at once, and when taken together, these different threats to lung health impacts can amplify each other."

"We cannot afford to delay cleanup of dangerous air pollution," he said. "In fact, it is more important than ever."

Read the full story here:

1:03 a.m. ET, April 8, 2020

A Navy hospital ship in New York City will take in more patients on ventilators overnight

The USNS Comfort passes the Statue of Liberty as it enters New York Harbor during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease in New York City on March 30.
The USNS Comfort passes the Statue of Liberty as it enters New York Harbor during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease in New York City on March 30. Mike Segar/Reuters

The Navy hospital ship docked at a New York City pier is preparing to take in more critical patients overnight, according to its medical commanding officer.

“We have, I believe, around 10 ICU-level vented patients headed our way … from one of the local hospitals," Captain Patrick Amersbach of the United States Naval Ship (USNS) Comfort told CNN’s Don Lemon late Tuesday night.

Amersbach did not say whether those patients have coronavirus infections.

The Comfort originally was only going to accept non-Covid-19 patients, but that restriction was rescinded Monday night. 

A crew member who has not been in contact with patients tested positive for Covid-19, but this will not affect the ability for the Comfort to receive patients, Amersbach said.

As a precaution, he says, the medical treatment areas of the Comfort are being isolated from the rest of the ship, and some crew members will be lodging in local hotel rooms instead of staying aboard throughout the day.

Read more here:

12:51 a.m. ET, April 8, 2020

South Korea has reported 53 new cases, raising the national tally to 10,384

From CNN's Yoonjung Seo in Seoul

South Korea reported 53 new cases of coronavirus from Tuesday, bringing the national total to 10,384, the country's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) announced on Wednesday.

Those numbers follow two consecutive days where the number of cases dropped below 50.

The national death toll is now 200.

So far, South Korea has tested over 450,000 people.

12:38 a.m. ET, April 8, 2020

Trump says the US is "way under" any of the models -- and he wants to keep it that way

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal and Maegan Vazquez 

President Donald Trump speaks to reporters following a meeting of the coronavirus task force in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on April 7, in Washington.
President Donald Trump speaks to reporters following a meeting of the coronavirus task force in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on April 7, in Washington. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

As the United States hit another record for most deaths from coronavirus in a single day, President Donald Trump said the country was "way under" any coronavirus models.

“We’re way under any of the polls or any of the models as they call them,” Trump said in an interview with Fox Tuesday night. “We are way under, and we hope to keep it that way, in terms of death.”

The US has recorded at least 398,809 coronavirus cases, including 12,895 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. Some 30,613 new cases and 1,909 deaths were reported on Tuesday.

The President, who seemed to be taking what could turn out to be a premature victory lap, said that New York “is getting ready, if not already, getting ready to peak.”

Trump also said that he would love to start the economy back up “with a big bang,” opening the entire country to business all at once. But he said the administration is also considering opening up in sections.

“I think we really have a chance to open big and catch where we were,” Trump said, going on to tout the economy’s success before the virus hit. 

Ventilators and hospital beds: President Trump also said his administration was right about its estimates for hospital beds and ventilators needed to treat coronavirus patients.

“I think we’re reaching a level where it’s going to start coming down, where it’s going to start sloping down. The good thing is that the number of beds needed -- I think we were right about that. I was right. My group was right,” Trump said. “They’re not needing nearly as many beds as they thought. They’re not needing as many ventilators as they thought.
“Everyone is in great shape from the standpoint of ventilators.”

Over the weekend, the President cautioned that there could be a shortage of ventilators available to Americans.

“I mean, it could be you have shortages, and it could also be that you have some that have way overestimated the number of ventilators they need," Trump said at the time. 

On Tuesday morning, Surgeon General Jerome Adams appeared on the NBC Today show warning that the federal stockpiles of medical supplies are inadequate for dealing with this type of epidemic alone.