April 9 coronavirus news

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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

From CNN’s Valentina di Donato in Rome and Vasco Cotovio in London

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.”

6:04 a.m. ET, April 9, 2020

US death toll reaches 14,808

From CNN's Joe Sutton

Medical personnel transport the body of a deceased coronavirus patient in Brooklyn, New York, on April 8.
Medical personnel transport the body of a deceased coronavirus patient in Brooklyn, New York, on April 8. Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images

There are at least 432,438 cases of coronavirus in the US and at least 14,808 people have died during the outbreak, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

This includes cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other U.S. territories, as well as all repatriated cases. 

Wyoming is the only state or territory that is not reporting a death from coronavirus.

On Wednesday, White House coronavirus response coordinator Deborah Birx said models projecting the number of American deaths from coronavirus have dropped dramatically in recent days because Americans have drastically changed their behavior. 

CNN's Jim Acosta asked President Donald Trump about the projections during a press briefing at the White House Wednesday. 

"My impression is those were the numbers that were set and those were set as an expectation quite a while ago. I think we are doing much better than those numbers," the President said, before asking Birx to come to the podium. 

She said that the US was doing, "much better in many cases than several other countries, and we're trying to understand that." 

"We believe that our healthcare delivery system in the United States is quite extraordinary," she said, but added that the models were based on "what America is doing." 

5:52 a.m. ET, April 9, 2020

Lufthansa Group says it is losing 1 million euros every hour and needs state support

From Nadine Schmidt in Berlin

The engines of a Lufthansa Boeing 747 are seen covered with plastic film at Frankfurt Airport in Hessen, Germany on April 8, as the airline temporarily decommissions part of its fleet.
The engines of a Lufthansa Boeing 747 are seen covered with plastic film at Frankfurt Airport in Hessen, Germany on April 8, as the airline temporarily decommissions part of its fleet. Boris Roessler/picture alliance/Getty Images

Lufthansa, one of Europe's biggest airline groups, says it is losing around 1 million euros of its liquidity every hour.

The group confirmed to CNN that CEO Carsten Spohr addressed staff on Wednesday in a video message, telling them the coronavirus pandemic represented “the greatest challenge in our history” and that Lufthansa is “fighting” for its future.

Instead of its normal 350,000 passengers a day, the airline is currently carrying fewer than 3,000 passengers per day. 

“In total, we therefore lose 1 million euros of our liquidity reserve every hour -- day and night, week after week and probably month after month," Spohr said.

7,000 employees to be affected: The airline group, which owns national carriers in Germany,  Switzerland, Austria and Belgium, began the crisis with financial reserves of more than 4 billion euros, but the group was only posting a “fraction of the revenues.” It was therefore foreseeable that the group would only survive the crisis with state support, Spohr said.

According to Spohr, 7,000 employees will be affected by measures to cut costs -- 1,400 of whom are with the group’s budget airline subsidiary Germanwings, which will cease operations. 

Earlier this week, Lufthansa announced that it is permanently reducing the size of its fleet and announced it will decommission at least 43 aircraft -- about 6% of its fleet.

5:42 a.m. ET, April 9, 2020

What it's like inside a Hong Kong coronavirus quarantine camp

From CNN's Tara Mulholland in Hong Kong

If you'd asked me a month ago what I thought I'd be up to on my 30th birthday, being confined to a government quarantine center in Hong Kong wouldn't have been near the top of the list.

But the coronavirus pandemic has derailed a lot of plans -- and even in a city that's grown used to upheaval, the recent sudden shift in response to a surge in Covid-19 cases has been startling.

For me, it's meant going from planning holidays and parties, to being escorted from my apartment by hazmat-suited health care workers and driven to a quarantine facility for two weeks of isolation. For everyone else, it's meant a speedy reassessment of how to respond to a global crisis, on both a personal and societal level -- and a new understanding of just how strict the measures to fight coronavirus might have to be.

Life in quarantine -- with its regimented meals, temperature checks and PPE-wearing staff -- feels like an odd mix of being in school, at camp, and in prison. My facility, in Lei Yue Mun Park, is normally a leafy holiday village in the east of Hong Kong Island. Now, some 100 temporary single-room homes have been constructed in neat rows on an outdoor sports pitch, surrounded by high yellow barriers, housing anyone whom the health department decides needs to be isolated after coming into contact with a person who has tested positive for coronavirus.

Read the rest of Tara's coronavirus diary here.

6:16 a.m. ET, April 9, 2020

China signs medical supplies contracts with 58 countries amid competition for equipment

From Isaac Yee in Hong Kong and Shanshan Wang in Beijing 

Surgical masks imported from China are pictured in San Ramon, California, on April 5.
Surgical masks imported from China are pictured in San Ramon, California, on April 5. Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Chinese companies have signed medical supply contracts with 58 countries and regions as well as four international bodies, according to China's Ministry of Commerce.

More than 70 countries and 10 international organizations are negotiating with Chinese companies about medical supply purchases, said Ministry of Commerce spokesperson Gao Feng at a press conference Thursday.

China exported $1.44 billion in "epidemic prevention goods" from March 1 to April 4, according to data provided by China Customs. 

This includes 3.8 billion masks, 37.5 million protective suits, 16,000 ventilators and 2.8 million coronavirus test reagents.  

Countries around the world are scrambling to get hold of vital medical equipment amid the coronavirus outbreak, with stiff competition leading to accusations of foul play.

On Friday, German officials said a shipment of China-made masks bound for Berlin was diverted to the US.

The shipment was "confiscated" in Thailand and did not reach Berlin, according to a statement from the German capital's interior senate. 

Interior senator Andreas Geisel said the diversion of the masks constitutes ''an act of modern piracy."

He added that ''even in times of global crisis, no wild west methods should be used."

5:29 a.m. ET, April 9, 2020

More than 330,000 people have recovered from coronavirus

From CNN's Jack Guy

While the number of coronavirus cases, and deaths, continues to rise, so does the number of people who have been infected and gone on to make a full recovery.

As of Thursday, more than 330,000 people have recovered from coronavirus, according to data from Johns Hopkins University's Coronavirus Resource Center.

In reality this number is likely to be far higher given that many people do not know whether they have had the virus.

China leads the way in terms of recovered patients, with more than 77,000, according to Johns Hopkins, followed by Spain with more than 48,000; Germany with more than 46,000; and Iran with more than 29,000.

5:03 a.m. ET, April 9, 2020

Uniqlo owner slashes profit forecast 44% as more stores shut

From CNN's Kaori Enjoji in Tokyo and Michelle Toh in Hong Kong

A Uniqlo store temporarily closed in Melbourne this week in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
A Uniqlo store temporarily closed in Melbourne this week in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images

Uniqlo's parent company, Fast Retailing, slashed its full-year outlook Thursday after reporting dismal earnings.

The company has forecast an operating profit of 145 billion yen ($1.3 billion) for this fiscal year, which ends in August, down 44% from its previous projection.

Revenue for the six-month period ending in February dropped almost 5% year-on-year, while operating profit fell 21% compared to the same time in 2019.

The retailer has been hit hard by disruptions from the coronavirus outbreak, which has forced temporary supply chain shortages and store closures in China, a key growth market.

Over half of the company's stores were forced to close in China earlier this year as the pandemic erupted.

While business there has slowly returned to normal, a new wave of store closures in Japan, its home market, now threatens its bottom line. 

Uniqlo shut around 170 stores in the country after the Japanese government declared a state of emergency earlier this week.

Things could get worse, the company warned. 

This is the biggest crisis faced by mankind since (World War II),” Fast Retailing CEO Tadashi Yanai said at a news conference Thursday. "I can’t forecast when it will end.”

The company told investors that it may need to revise its earnings further, since the state of emergency in Japan has made it difficult to accurately predict business conditions at home.

5:19 a.m. ET, April 9, 2020

Czech Republic relaxes some coronavirus restrictions despite more than 5,000 cases

From CNN’s Ivana Kottasova, Laura Smith-Spark and Sarah Dean

A nun wearing a face mask walks on the street on April 5, in Prague, where most activities slowed down or came to a halt due to the spread of the coronavirus.
A nun wearing a face mask walks on the street on April 5, in Prague, where most activities slowed down or came to a halt due to the spread of the coronavirus. Michal Cizek/AFP/Getty Images

The Czech government announced Monday it would begin relaxing some coronavirus restrictions this week, including allowing some stores to reopen and exercising without a mask.

“People will be able to exercise alone without face masks as of Tuesday. On Thursday, certain shops that have been closed until now, will be allowed to reopen. Essential travel outside the Czech Republic will be allowed from Tuesday, 14 April,” a government press release says.

Shops such as hobby markets, construction and hardware stores, bicycle stores and repair centers are among those allowed to reopen. Outdoor sports facilities for individual sports are also opening, but only to some extent (for example, you can play tennis, but can't take a shower in the center afterwards).

According to the Ministry of Health, as of 9 a.m. local time on Thursday, the number of confirmed cases in the Czech Republic has now reached 5,033 and 91 people have died. The number of people tested for coronavirus is 98,681.

There have been at least 295 new cases in the past 24 hours, according to Johns Hopkins University's count.

5:17 a.m. ET, April 9, 2020

Sub-Saharan Africa to fall into its first recession in 25 years due to coronavirus, says World Bank

From CNN's Bethlehem Feleke in Nairobi 

Vendors sell food at a market in Lagos, Nigeria, on April 6.
Vendors sell food at a market in Lagos, Nigeria, on April 6. Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP/Getty Images

Economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa is forecast to fall sharply in 2020 and the region will suffer its first recession in 25 years, according to a World Bank report published Thursday.

The World Bank estimates "Covid-19 will cost the region between $37 billion and $79 billion in output losses for 2020 due to a combination of effects" including trade disruption and reduced remittances, tourism and foreign aid.

While most countries in the region will see a decline in growth, "real gross domestic product growth is projected to fall sharply particularly in the region's three largest economies -- Nigeria, Angola, and South Africa -- as a result of persistently weak growth and investment," the report said.

The World Bank also warned of a potential food security crisis in Africa as a result of disrupted agricultural production and food imports.

While several African countries swiftly implemented measures to curb the spread of the outbreak, the report identified "several factors that pose challenges to the containment and mitigation measures, in particular the large and densely populated urban informal settlements, poor access to safe water and sanitation facilities, and fragile health systems."

"There is no doubt there will be need for some sort of debt relief from bilateral creditors to secure the resources urgently needed to fight Covid-19 and to help manage or maintain macroeconomic stability in the region," said Cesar Calderon, lead economist and lead author of the report, in a statement from the World Bank.