April 9 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Julia Hollingsworth, Adam Renton, Jack Guy, Meg Wagner and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 0236 GMT (1036 HKT) April 10, 2020
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4:37 a.m. ET, April 9, 2020

US special repatriation flight departs Russia

A special flight chartered by the US government to repatriate American citizens from Russia departed Moscow this morning, according to the US embassy.

“It's been a long night at the airport in Moscow as we've worked to get folks on this charter flight home to family and friends in the United States,” US Ambassador John Sullivan said in a statement posted on Twitter by embassy spokesperson Rebecca Ross.
“My sincere thanks to everyone who helped.”

Separately, a flight on Aeroflot, Russia’s national carrier, landed late on Tuesday at New York’s JFK airport carrying Americans returning from Russia. An earlier Aeroflot flight to New York had been cancelled at the last minute by Russian aviation authorities. 

“We are working hard to confirm who was on the Aeroflot flight and reconcile that against the list of U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents who registered for our charter flight,” the US embassy in Moscow said in a statement.

Russia has officially confirmed 8,672 cases of novel coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University.

4:27 a.m. ET, April 9, 2020

Cox's Bazar, home to the world's largest refugee camp, is under lockdown

From CNN's Helen Regan

Rohingya refugees stand at the Kutupalong refugee camp, Cox’s Bazar, in Bangladesh, on April 1, 2020.
Rohingya refugees stand at the Kutupalong refugee camp, Cox’s Bazar, in Bangladesh, on April 1, 2020. Suzauddin Rubel/AP

Bangladesh has imposed lockdown restrictions on its southern district of Cox’s Bazar, in an attempt to prevent the spread of coronavirus from reaching the sprawling and crowded refugee camps that house about 1 million Rohingya people.

Under the restrictions, which went into effect on Wednesday, all roads, waterways and air routes are sealed for any in- and outbound public transport, Deputy Commissioner for Cox’s Bazar Kamal Hossain told CNN.

In addition, no one from other districts in the country will be allowed to enter Cox's Bazar, and no one will be allowed to leave, Hossain said.

 “People are advised to stay inside their homes,” he said.

 Food supplies, medicine and other life-saving emergency services are exempted.

“People may experience inconvenience in the beginning but in the long run it will save their lives. Food and medical services are open in full swing in Rohingya camps. As the camp areas are overcrowded, it is important to protect the area from coronavirus,” Hossain said.
“District administration has asked all concerned to ensure the well-being of Rohingya community during this difficult time.”

The announcement comes about two weeks after the district reported its first coronavirus case. Bangladesh has more than 200 cases of Covid-19 and 20 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The camps, located about an hour’s drive from Cox's Bazar city, are home to as many as 1 million displaced people -- the largest such refugee settlement in the world.

Many of the refugees have been languishing in the overcrowded camps since fleeing persecution and violence in neighboring Myanmar.

There are concerns that an outbreak in the camps – where social distancing is almost impossible and there is limited access to adequate hygiene and health facilities -- would be disastrous.

Non-essential services in the camps have stopped: In late March, the Bangladeshi government confirmed that most services in the refugee camps would be suspended, in an attempt to prevent an outbreak of the virus. However, emergency work would continue.

Call to lift internet restrictions: Earlier this month, 50 rights and refugee organizations called on Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in an open letter to lift ongoing mobile internet restrictions in the camps.

UNHCR is building an isolation and treatment center in the camps: The UN refugee agency said the facility, which will provide care for up to 200 people, will help the refugee and local population. “We are in a race against time,” said UNHCR country representative for Bangladesh, Steven Corliss in a video statement.

4:20 a.m. ET, April 9, 2020

UK government emergency committee to discuss coronavirus restrictions today

From CNN's Simon Cullen

Cobra, the UK government’s emergency committee, will meet today to discuss options to review coronavirus restrictions -- but the culture minister has downplayed the likelihood they will be lifted.

The restrictions on people’s movements were announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson almost three weeks ago, and are due to be reviewed by Monday.

"We’ve always said though, that we would review these measures on a periodic basis," culture minister Oliver Dowden told BBC TV on Thursday.
"Cobra will meet today to determine that process – what evidence to consider.
"But I think you will have seen … these measures are starting to work. Now is not the time to be changing course."

A Downing Street spokeswoman said the Cobra meeting will be held "virtually".

No possibility: Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she doesn’t think there is any possibility or likelihood that the restrictions will be lifted soon.

Sturgeon told Sky News today it’s important the current rules remain in place for the time being. "We don’t yet have enough data from what has happened so far to know for sure the impact they’re having. And of course we continue to see the number of deaths from coronavirus rising," she said.

4:01 a.m. ET, April 9, 2020

It's just past 10 a.m. in Paris and 6 p.m in Sydney. Here's the latest on the pandemic

A nurse moves a plastic protection at the entrance of unit of patient infected with Covid-19 at the Floreal clinic in Bagnolet, near Paris, on April 8.
A nurse moves a plastic protection at the entrance of unit of patient infected with Covid-19 at the Floreal clinic in Bagnolet, near Paris, on April 8. Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images

If you're just joining us, here's the latest on the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Macron supports WHO: French President Emmanuel Macron expressed his support for the World Health Organization in a phone call with director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Macron said he "refuses to see it locked in a war between China and the United States."
  • Germany deaths rise: The country's death toll has risen to 2,107 -- an increase of 246 fatalities in 24 hours. Meanwhile, confirmed cases in the country jumped by nearly 5% from Wednesday to Thursday.
  • UK lockdown exit strategy: The government’s emergency committee, Cobra, will meet today to discuss options to review lockdown restrictions. The newly-elected leader of the opposition Labour Party has called on the government to publish its strategy to end the lockdown.
  • Ruby Princess investigation: Australian police boarded the cruise ship Wednesday night to gather evidence into how thousands of passengers were allowed to disembark in Sydney last month resulting in a spike in coronavirus cases.
  • India's containment strategy: Several states in India have set up hundreds of “containment zones” in areas that have seen a concentration of coronavirus cases. In Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state, officials have set up 104 zones, which will be “completely sealed” until April 15.
  • Man jailed for spitting at police: A man has been sentenced to three months in jail after spitting at police, according to New Zealand Police. "In the current environment we have identified spitting as an escalating risk to both police officers and the community and it will not be tolerated," a police statement said.
3:49 a.m. ET, April 9, 2020

UK opposition leader calls on government to publish lockdown exit strategy 

From CNN’s Sarah Dean in London

Newly-elected UK opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer has called on the government to publish its strategy to end the coronavirus lockdown.

“I’m not calling for precise timings, but the strategy. This is incredibly difficult on people and we need to know that plans are in place, and what they are,” he said today in a tweet.

The British government brought in coronavirus containment measures for an initial three-week period on March 23.

More than 61,000 coronavirus cases and at least 7,000 deaths have been recorded in the United Kingdom, according to Johns Hopkins University.

3:38 a.m. ET, April 9, 2020

New US model predicts much higher Covid-19 death toll in UK. But British scientists are skeptical

From CNN's Ivana Kottasová

British scientists have pushed back against an influential new coronavirus model that predicts the UK will be the worst-hit European country, with a death toll from Covid-19 possibly much higher than previously thought.

The grim forecast came from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington's School of Medicine in Seattle on Tuesday. It predicted 66,314 people would die of Covid-19 in the UK by early August.

The British government's plan for tackling the epidemic has been largely informed by a study from the Imperial College London, which said that a lockdown and social distancing measures would -- hopefully -- limit the number of deaths to between 20,000 and 30,000.

Models likely to change "dramatically": Several high-profile scientists in the UK have already voiced their concerns over the IHME model.

Professor Sylvia Richardson, of Cambridge University and the co-chair of the Royal Statistical Society Task Force on Covid-19, told the Science Media Centre the projections are based on "very strong assumptions about the way the epidemic will progress."

She said the model was "based mostly on using the experience in other countries to fit a smooth curve to the counts of deaths reported so far in the UK, rather than any modeling of the epidemic itself."

"Methods like this are well known for being extremely sensitive, and are likely to change dramatically as new information comes in," Richardson added.

Read more here:

3:26 a.m. ET, April 9, 2020

New Zealand man jailed for three months after spitting at police

From CNN's Julia Hollingsworth in Wellington, New Zealand

A man in New Zealand has been sentenced to three months in jail after spitting at police, according to a New Zealand Police statement.

The man pleaded guilty to aggravated assault against police in a hearing on Thursday at New Plymouth District Court on the country's North Island.

Although police didn't explicitly say the incident was coronavirus-related, they eluded to the current outbreak in their statement.

"In the current environment we have identified spitting as an escalating risk to both police officers and the community and it will not be tolerated," the statement said.

In New Zealand, a person could face 14 years in jail if they spit or cough on another person and infect them with a disease.

Other cases: In a separate incident on Wednesday, police said two teenagers were being spoken to by police when one said that he had Covid-19, and spat in the face of the officer.

"As a result of this assault, the officer will no longer be able to perform his duties within the community and will be in self-isolation for 14 days from his family," police said in a statement.
"Such behaviour is extremely concerning and dangerous. Police staff should not be targeted in such a way and we need to ensure the community is safe from such behaviour.

New Zealand has 1,239 confirmed and probable coronavirus cases, including one death.

3:08 a.m. ET, April 9, 2020

New Zealand will quarantine all overseas arrivals. Why didn't they do it sooner?

From CNN's Julia Hollingsworth in Wellington, New Zealand

A quiet area of Christchurch Airport is pictured during the coronavirus lockdown in Christchurch on April 8.
A quiet area of Christchurch Airport is pictured during the coronavirus lockdown in Christchurch on April 8. Sanka Vidanagama/AFP/Getty Images

Starting Friday, people who arrive in New Zealand will need to be quarantined in an approved facility for at least two weeks.

The change means they can no longer self-isolate at home, or anywhere else they choose.

It's a rule that will only affect New Zealanders -- foreigners have not been allowed to enter the country for weeks.

The country's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the restriction on Thursday, even as new coronavirus cases fell for the fourth consecutive day.

But many people will welcome the stricter rules -- and some will be asking why she didn't do it sooner.

Statistics show that 41% of New Zealand's 1,239 confirmed and probable cases are connected with overseas travel. That's prompted some to question why the country hasn't done more at the border to stop the virus in its tracks.

The country's main opposition New Zealand National Party launched a petition to introduce mandatory quarantining at the border.

Television journalist Patrick Gower called on the government to "please, please, please fully quarantine the New Zealand border."

So why didn't the government act sooner? In her speech Thursday, Ardern said there had always been urgency around the issue, "but simply put, we could not have done it from the beginning."

The reason was simple: space. Ardern said nearly 40,000 New Zealanders have returned home since March 20, when the border was closed to foreign nationals. According to Ardern, that's more than all of the hotel rooms across the country that the government could have properly housed people in.

The government is now able to do it because arrivals have slowed to a trickle.

2:59 a.m. ET, April 9, 2020

Germany's coronavirus death toll passes 2,000 

From Nadine Schmidt in Berlin

A total of 2,107 people have been killed by the novel coronavirus in Germany, after 246 new deaths were reported in the past 24 hours, according to the country’s disease and control agency, the Robert Koch Institute.

Confirmed cases jumped by nearly 5% from Wednesday to Thursday, as the total reached 108,202. This represents an increase of 4,974 cases since Wednesday.