April 9 coronavirus news

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7:26 a.m. ET, April 9, 2020

Pakistan rolls out largest social assistance program in nation's history to tackle Covid-19

Pakistan launched the largest social protection effort in the country’s history Thursday with plans to pay close to $1 billion dollars to the country’s poorest in an effort to counter the economic fallout of the Covid-19 crisis.

The Ehsaas Emergency Cash program is a financial assistance effort to assist parts of the population that have been worst hit by the ongoing lockdown in the country, according to Sania Nishtar, special assistant to Prime Minister Imran Khan on Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety.

The program, which aims to cover 12 million families, is meant to assist them to “buy rations so that they don’t go hungry.”

Authorities have used SMS messages and National Identity Card numbers from the country’s extensive National Database & Registration Authority to identify and contact eligible families.

Pakistan’s existing welfare infrastructure gives the country a “slight edge over other developing countries” to roll out such an ambitious program, according to Umair Javed, an assistant professor of politics and development at the Lahore University of Management Sciences, but issues in data collection and the disbursement of cash at a disorganized district level could cause problems.

Daily wage workers receive food supplies during lockdown in Islamabad, Pakistan, on April 6.
Daily wage workers receive food supplies during lockdown in Islamabad, Pakistan, on April 6. Anjum Naveed/AP

Plans to hand out cash at close to 18,000 bank branches across the country could cause a “’large mass of people gathering together defeating the purpose of a lockdown enforced for social distancing," said Javed.

Digital Rights Monitor, a digital rights media watchdog based in Islamabad, has called out the programs’ dependency on “technology or technological support," saying that the measures could disregard “people’s right to privacy in the name of tackling a public health crisis. This could “further decrease people’s trust in state authorities.”

However Khurram Hussain, one of the country’s leading financial journalists, described the program as important and “definitely better than nothing.”

Pakistan’s poorest “live to day to day on their wages, when they don’t work, they don’t eat,” Hussain told CNN.

The lockdown in Pakistan has been in place for a month now and the effect on daily wage earners has “been absolutely catastrophic,” said Hussain.

Millions of people living below the poverty line have been “hit very very hard…the Ehsas Emergency Cash program if targeted properly could bring some much-needed respite to these people,” Hussain added.

As of Thursday, according to the Ministry of Health, the number of confirmed cases in Pakistan is now 4,414, with 63 people dead.

6:57 a.m. ET, April 9, 2020

Spain coronavirus deaths climb above 15,000 

Coffins containing coronavirus victims are pictured in the Collserola mortuary parking lot in Barcelona, Spain, on April 8.
Coffins containing coronavirus victims are pictured in the Collserola mortuary parking lot in Barcelona, Spain, on April 8. Pablo Miranzo/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Spain has recorded more than 15,000 deaths during the novel coronavirus outbreak, according to data from the Spanish Health Ministry released Thursday. 

Although there have been 15,238 coronavirus-related deaths, the daily death toll has slowed after smaller increases in the previous two days.

There were 683 deaths in the past 24 hours, 74 fewer than Wednesday’s total death count of 757. 

The rate of increase was 4.7% on the total number of deaths Thursday, also lower than Wednesday’s 5.5% rise on the total.

The number of active cases has gone up from 84,111 to 85,043, an increase of 929, one of the lowest in nearly a month. This represents an increase of 1.1% on Wednesday’s numbers.

The Spanish Health Ministry also reports that 52,165 people have now recovered from the virus – 4,144 more than the number reported Wednesday.

7:02 a.m. ET, April 9, 2020

US CDC deploys eight "community protection field teams" for coronavirus mitigation

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) headquarters is pictured in Atlanta, Georgia, on March 14.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) headquarters is pictured in Atlanta, Georgia, on March 14. Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has deployed eight “community protection field teams,” a federal official involved in the day-to-day coronavirus response told CNN.

The teams are part of an initiative to work directly with state and local health departments to keep coronavirus cases contained where transmission rates are low.

The official declined to offer the locations of where the teams were deployed, but CNN was told by a second federal health official briefed on the details that “at least one of the CDC teams was deployed to Wyoming.”

“They have not had a lot of cases. You want to make sure it stays that way,” the senior federal health official told CNN when asked about Wyoming.

“You work closely with them to make sure their public health capacity is working. Find cases, interrupt clusters, and do containment as opposed to mitigation. If containment is achieved, you don’t have to have broader heavy duty mitigation restrictions,” the official said.

The eight teams are part of the CDC’s Health Department Support team -- one of “at least two dozen” task forces established as part of CDC’s coronavirus response, an official said. The teams were deployed separately over the last two weeks to states across the country “that have a low number of coronavirus cases,” according to the two federal health officials.

The goal for the teams is to “develop and employ strategies to try to prevent widespread transmission in those states,” an official said.

“The eight task force teams deployed will work directly with state and local health departments to support epidemiologists and provide lab support to help them track the epidemic in their state. To give them the help they need and the data that they need.”

The CDC community protection field teams will conduct testing and contact tracing “to try and help those states remain at low levels of transmission,” the official said when asked about the scientific metrics. The teams will investigate the state health care systems to see “their abilities to manage patients,” the official added.

The CDC often deploys teams to major public health emergencies both in the United States and abroad.

In 2016 the CDC’s Global Rapid Response Team sent health, communications and logistics experts to 90 public health crises in the US and around the world, including outbreaks of Ebola, polio, yellow fever and cholera.

The teams can deploy on short notice and can remain in the field for months to stop health threats or to prevent health threats from developing.

Within the last “several weeks,” other CDC teams have been sent to states to assist health departments with their prisons and homeless populations, while others are conducting household transmission studies, a federal official told CNN.

6:39 a.m. ET, April 9, 2020

UK researchers suggest letting young people return to work first

Commuters travel on a London Underground train on March 18.
Commuters travel on a London Underground train on March 18. Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images

Young people who don’t live with their parents should be allowed to return to work first as part of an easing of coronavirus restrictions, British researchers have suggested.

The approach could ease the “severe damage” that is being done to the country’s economy, according to a briefing paper by Andrew J. Oswald and Nattavudh Powdthavee from Warwick University.

“Unless a vaccine is discovered quickly, it is unlikely that there will be any riskless or painless course of action,” they said.

“Epidemiological and economic trade-offs will instead have to be faced. The choices at that juncture are likely to be difficult ones for politicians and citizens."

The researchers propose that the millions people aged 20-30 who don't live with their parents be released from quarantine to return to work.

“This would help to restart prosperity before an extraordinary recession takes hold; it would lead to other societal benefits; it would also create a reasonably small, but unfortunately not negligible, extra risk to health in the country," said the paper.

The researchers calculate that there are 4.2 million people who would fall within the age category and who don’t live with parents.

6:57 a.m. ET, April 9, 2020

Coronavirus cases in Austria close to 13,000

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, center, arrives for a news conference about the coronavirus outbreak in Vienna, Austria, on April 6.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, center, arrives for a news conference about the coronavirus outbreak in Vienna, Austria, on April 6. Helmut Foringer/Pool/AP

Austria has recorded 12,969 confirmed cases of coronavirus since the outbreak began, the country’s health ministry said Thursday.

There have been 295 deaths and 5,240 people have recovered from the virus, said the ministry.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced earlier this week that the country is preparing for a “resurrection” after Easter, which would involve re-opening some shops.

Austria is the first European country to outline loosening of its coronavirus lockdown. However, at the same time, it will also extend the requirement to wear face masks in supermarkets and on public transport.

6:29 a.m. ET, April 9, 2020

Airbus cuts production by one third

Airbus technicians work on parts for an Airbus A320 at the company's Finkenwerder plant in Hamburg, Germany, in October 2019.
Airbus technicians work on parts for an Airbus A320 at the company's Finkenwerder plant in Hamburg, Germany, in October 2019. Christian Charisius/dpa/AFP/Getty Images

Airbus says it is cutting production by about one-third as airlines scale back orders for new planes due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Our airline customers are heavily impacted by the COVID-19 crisis,” said Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury in a statement. “We are actively adapting our production to their new situation and working on operational and financial mitigation measures to face reality.”

The airplane manufacturer will now make 40 A320, two A330 and six A350 planes per month.

“This represents a reduction of the pre-coronavirus average rates of roughly one third," the company said.

"With these new rates, Airbus preserves its ability to meet customer demand while protecting its ability to further adapt as the global market evolves.”

On Wednesday night, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said the government would help large companies such as Airbus and Air France.

6:26 a.m. ET, April 9, 2020

Indian state is first to extend lockdown until end of April

Police stand guard during lockdown in Bhubaneswar, the capital city of India's Odisha state, on April 4.
Police stand guard during lockdown in Bhubaneswar, the capital city of India's Odisha state, on April 4. Stringer/NurPhoto/Getty Images

The Indian state of Odisha has become the first Indian state to extend its lockdown until April 30.

The decision was made after a cabinet meeting Thursday, said the office of the state’s chief minister Naveen Patnaik in a tweet. 

“Odisha Cabinet headed by CM @Naveen_Odisha decided to extend the state lockdown till April 30th & recommended Union Government to extend the national lockdown till then. CM requested the GoI not to start train & air services during the lockdown. #OdishaFightsCorona,” read the statement.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a nationwide lockdown for 21 days last month, which is due to expire on April 14. The government has not yet made an official decision on whether to reopen the country or extend the lockdown amid fears of a further spread of coronavirus.

India's nationwide tally for confirmed positive novel coronavirus cases is 5,916, including 178 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

6:27 a.m. ET, April 9, 2020

New Zealand has recorded just one death from coronavirus. Here's how it did it

Police stop traffic during lockdown in Auckland, New Zealand, on April 9.
Police stop traffic during lockdown in Auckland, New Zealand, on April 9. Fiona Goodall/Getty Images

New Zealand has managed to do something that many countries wish they could achieve: for four straight days, it has reported a decline in new coronavirus cases.

On Thursday, the country reported 29 new confirmed and probable cases, bringing New Zealand's total to 1,239 -- including only one death. Of those cases, only 14 are in hospital -- and 317 have recovered.

New Zealand, a small island country with a population of just under 5 million, is halfway through a month-long lockdown aimed at not only containing the virus, but eliminating it.

And so far, the approach appears to be successful.

"We are turning a corner," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a speech Thursday. "And your commitment means our plan is working."

For other countries, those positive signs might be a reason to lift restrictions. Denmark, which has at least 5,597 cases and 218 deaths, announced it will begin to lift its lockdown next week if cases remain stable.

Instead, Ardern said Thursday she was tightening border restrictions, meaning all those who arrive in the country will be required to spend two weeks quarantined in an approved facility.

"At the halfway mark, I have no hesitation in saying that what New Zealanders have done over the last two weeks is huge," Ardern said at a news conference Thursday. "You made the decision that together, we could protect one other. And you have. You have saved lives."

Read more here:

6:09 a.m. ET, April 9, 2020

It could be "the end of Europe" if EU does not loosen purse strings, says Italian prime minister

Italian PM Giuseppe Conte addresses the nation on April 5, 2020. (Photo by Mairo Cinquetti/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Italian PM Giuseppe Conte addresses the nation on April 5, 2020. (Photo by Mairo Cinquetti/NurPhoto via Getty Images) Mairo Cinquetti/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has called on the European Union (EU) to loosen its budget rules, warning that a failure to do so could mean “the end of Europe.”

Members of the bloc are currently divided over an economic response to the coronavirus outbreak, and Conte called for collective action in an interview with German newspaper Bild.

“European nations must act without ifs or buts,” Conte said Wednesday.

National responses to what he called the greatest “emergency” the continent has faced since World War II risk “being less effective than coordinated European action and can jeopardize the European dream,” he added.

“If Europe does not give itself financial instruments up to the challenge, like Eurobonds, Italy will be forced to face the emergency and the relaunch with its own resources,” he said, referring to a proposed form of collective EU debt that has so far been opposed by countries such as Germany and the Netherlands. “In order not to not lose competitiveness, we need Eurobonds,” said Conte.

“We compete with China, with the United States -- see the reactions they have put into play. In the United States we are talking about a maneuver that is about 13% of the GDP,” he said. “If Europe does not react in the same way, it will remain behind.”

Italy is not “asking others for money,” said Conte, as he sought to reassure those who oppose collective debt.

“Eurobonds are useful and they don’t mean that Italy’s debt must be paid for by German or Dutch citizens," he said. "We pay out debt, we have always done that.”

Conte went on to say that collective debt emissions were not “about Germans having to help Italians,” but rather about Europeans acting to “help each other in their common interest."

“I ask a question to German citizens, do you really think that Germany can proceed and have economic advantages if other countries go through a serious recession?” he said.

“We must strengthen the current instruments we have, that weren’t created to face such a symmetric shock, that is as extraordinary as this,” added Conte.

“We must improve our capacity to respond.”