April 10 coronavirus news

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12:35 a.m. ET, April 10, 2020

Chinese border city will build makeshift hospital after spike in cases coming from Russia

From CNN's Isaac Yee in Hong Kong

China is opening a new field hospital in the city of Suifenhe, home to about 70,000 people, which was placed under lockdown yesterday morning.

The city, in China's far northeast, lies right by the Russian border -- and it has seen a recent spike in imported coronavirus cases, state media reported.

According to state-run outlet China Daily, the makeshift hospital is being converted from an office building, and is expected to be finished tomorrow. It will provide more than 600 hospital beds, and will be staffed by around 400 medical workers.

This comes after the lockdown was announced yesterday. All residents are confined to their homes, and only one person per household will be allowed outside to buy groceries and supplies every three days.

As of Thursday, Suifenhe has 123 imported cases and 137 asymptomatic cases, according to state-run news outlet People's Daily.

12:24 a.m. ET, April 10, 2020

10 million students in China are facing the toughest exam of their lives in the middle of a pandemic

From CNN's Ben Westcott and Nectar Gan

Every day, Xiong Yanfei sits at her desk in her parent's small apartment in Wuhan, studying for an exam that could change the course of her life.

She starts at 8 a.m. and finishes at 11 p.m. Normally, at school, she'd get little breaks between classes during the day, before coming home to revise. But for the past two months her city was on coronavirus lockdown, so she studied all day in front of her laptop until her eyes hurt.

Every year, millions of high school students and vocational trainees across China sit the college entrance exam, known colloquially as the "gaokao," or big exam.

high score in the exam, which 10 million people have registered to take this year, is the only way to get into the country's top universities, helping to secure a good future and lucrative career.

Originally scheduled for June, the Chinese government has delayed the exam by at least a month.

Across China, students and teachers are speculating on whether the deferral will help or hinder their grades. But for some, the prospect of another month of study is already causing extreme anxiety.

"After the gaokao was postponed, I had more anxiety," Xiong wrote in a viral post on her Weibo account. "But this is a psychological battle and I have to win, and I must win."

Read the full story here:

12:13 a.m. ET, April 10, 2020

Scientists express doubts to White House about coronavirus tests

From CNN Health’s Elizabeth Cohen

A technician in the testing lab displays a coronavirus test sample at MedStar St. Mary's Hospital April 8 in Leonardtown, Maryland.
A technician in the testing lab displays a coronavirus test sample at MedStar St. Mary's Hospital April 8 in Leonardtown, Maryland. Win McNamee/Getty Images

The current tests for coronavirus infection and post-recovery immunity are both imperfect, a top scientific advisory panel told the White House this week.

A committee of the National Academy of Sciences sent a letter to the White House on Wednesday, explaining that the coronavirus test sometimes misses positive cases. One study missed 16 cases out of 51 coronavirus patients.

Tests based on relatively new CRISPR technology might be more accurate, but those tests are not currently available to patients, said the letter.

There is also uncertainty about whether people develop immunity after recovering from the coronavirus.

In a separate letter this week, scientists said that even if someone does develop antibodies against the coronavirus, it’s unclear for how long they’ll be immune or if they’ll be immune at all.

And antibody tests -- which help determine whether someone has recovered and can go back to work -- are often of poor quality.

Results from antibody tests “should be viewed as suspect until rigorous controls are performed and performance characteristics described, as antibody detection methods can vary considerably, and most so far have not described well-standardized controls,” the scientists wrote.

12:03 a.m. ET, April 10, 2020

Singapore government to move foreign workers into alternative living arrangements

From CNN's Anna Kam in Hong Kong

Foreign workers, wearing face masks as a preventive measure against the spread of the coronavirus, look out from the fence of the workers' dormitory in Singapore on April 9.
Foreign workers, wearing face masks as a preventive measure against the spread of the coronavirus, look out from the fence of the workers' dormitory in Singapore on April 9. Roslan Rahman/AFP/Getty Images

Singapore will move migrant workers to military camps and floating hotels as the number of cases in the city-state spikes, government officials said late Thursday.

More than 200 cases linked to foreign workers were confirmed that day, the Ministry of Health said.

On Monday, Singapore announced it would quarantine 19,800 migrant workers in dormitories, which have since seen cases spike as well.

The city is now moving to isolate uninfected migrant workers in essential services. These alternative venues include military camps for the Singapore Armed Forces, an exhibition center, floating hotels, and vacant government apartments, said Lawrence Wong, co-chair of the Multi-Ministry Taskforce.

"We are moving out workers who are not sick, especially for those who are in essential services, because they still need to continue to work," said Wong. 

The government also announced they would provide other types of aid for foreign workers, including care packages with masks and thermometers, and providing them with three meals a day. 

11:50 p.m. ET, April 9, 2020

Unclaimed victims of the coronavirus could be buried on New York's Hart island, officials say

 From CNN’s Mark Morales and Laura Ly

Drone pictures show bodies being buried on New York's Hart Island where the department of corrections is dealing with more burials overall, amid the coronavirus disease outbreak in New York City, on April 9.
Drone pictures show bodies being buried on New York's Hart Island where the department of corrections is dealing with more burials overall, amid the coronavirus disease outbreak in New York City, on April 9. Lucas Jackson/Reuters

People in New York who have died from the coronavirus and not been claimed by anyone could be buried on Hart Island, east of the Bronx, officials told CNN today.

“For decades, Hart Island has been used to lay to rest decedents who have not been claimed by family members. We will continue using the Island in that fashion during this crisis and it is likely that people who have passed away from Covid-19 who fit this description will be buried on the Island in the coming days,” said NYC Mayor Press Secretary Freddi Goldstein.

“These are people who, for two weeks, we have not been able to find anyone who says ‘I know that person, I love that person, I will handle the burial,’” she said. “These are people who we have made zero contact with the family.”

If morgue officials make contact with a relative of a deceased person within 14 days, the body will not be moved to Hart Island, said Goldstein. This is part of the city’s plan to ensure they have morgue space during the pandemic.

Prison inmates won't be tasked with burying people on Hart Island, as they once were, said the Department of Corrections Press Secretary on Tuesday. Inmate labor on the island has been suspended for social distancing purposes.

11:39 p.m. ET, April 9, 2020

FDA warns Infowars founder Alex Jones to stop promoting unapproved coronavirus cures

From CNN’s Dave Alsup and Joe Sutton 

Radio show host Alex Jones joins thousands of gun rights advocates attending a rally organized by The Virginia Citizens Defense League on Capitol Square near the state capitol building January 20 in Richmond, Virginia.
Radio show host Alex Jones joins thousands of gun rights advocates attending a rally organized by The Virginia Citizens Defense League on Capitol Square near the state capitol building January 20 in Richmond, Virginia. Win McNamee/Getty Images

The US Food and Drug Administration is warning InfoWars founder and right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to take down a number of products advertised on his site as possible treatments for the coronavirus. 

These products include the “SuperSilver Whitening Toothpaste,” the “SuperSilver Wound Dressing Gel” and “Superblue Fluoride Free Toothpaste,” the FDA said in a letter to Jones.

The products are "unapproved new drugs" and are "misbranded drugs" in violation of FDA regulations, said the letter.

It requested that Jones “take immediate action to cease the sale of such unapproved and unauthorized products for the mitigation, prevention, treatment, diagnosis, or cure of COVID-19.”

Jones has 48 hours to respond. Failure to comply could “result in legal action, including, without limitation, seizure and injunction," warned the letter.

History of misinformation: Jones has previously suggested that the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting was a "giant hoax" carried out by crisis actors on behalf of people who oppose the Second Amendment.

InfoWars has also suggested the September 11 attacks were an inside job orchestrated by the US government.

11:28 p.m. ET, April 9, 2020

We don't know how effective homemade masks are, researchers warn

From CNN's Jen Christensen

Homemade masks sit at framing designer Leticia Bartelle Lorenzoni home in Los Angeles, California, on April 1.
Homemade masks sit at framing designer Leticia Bartelle Lorenzoni home in Los Angeles, California, on April 1. Apu Gomes/AFP/Getty Images

The effectiveness of homemade masks is "not possible to assess" at this time, said the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine in a letter to the White House on Wednesday.

The National Academies offered guidance about the country’s recommendation that people wear homemade masks to protect from the spread of coronavirus when an individual is asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic.

How well masks work depend on how they are made, the quality of production, and on how well the person follows other precautionary behaviors, said the letter.

How coronavirus spreads: Researchers believe Covid-19 primarily spreads via large droplets, such as when someone coughs or sneezes. But it is also believed to spread via invisible droplets, as small as 5 microns – and even smaller bioaerosol particles – that can be expelled when an infected person breathes.

How much these tiny particles can spread the disease is unknown, the letter says.

Studies on the effectiveness of homemade masks are limited: One unpublished study showed that thicker masks worked better, but one mask that was tested was so thick it would “cause great discomfort” and may cause the wearer to pass out.

There were no studies on how well homemade masks fit, the letter said. An ill-fitting mask may leak. And if a person sweats, the moisture could trap the virus and become a potential contamination source. 

Another experiment looking at masks made from sweatshirts, t-shirts, towels, scarves and cloth masks found that they reduced some low-level protection against nanoparticles from someone breathing, but not from aerosolized infection.

11:17 p.m. ET, April 9, 2020

Pence says federal government will still support some testing sites if needed

From CNN's Priscilla Alvarez

US Vice President Mike Pence speaks during the daily coronavirus briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on April 9 in Washington.
US Vice President Mike Pence speaks during the daily coronavirus briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on April 9 in Washington. Alex Wong/Getty Images

The US federal government will still fund and staff some state coronavirus testing sites if needed, Vice President Mike Pence said at a task force briefing today.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) plans to transition from community-based testing sites to a state-led operation. States will have the option to manage their own sites, but can also request the federal government to play a role.

So far, New Jersey, Louisiana, Illinois, Colorado and Texas have requested "continued federal participation," said Pence.

"We want to assure people and communities all across the country that we'll continue to partner with states to the extent that they prefer us to be a part of it," he added.

CNN earlier reported that the move has received mixed reactions from states. While some localities may need federal support, others have already moved toward managing their own sites.

FEMA said in a statement to CNN that it was working to "transition these sites to become state-managed by this Friday, April 10,” adding that the “federal government is poised to ensure states are fully supported until they are ready to take over management."

 

10:54 p.m. ET, April 9, 2020

China is easing lockdowns -- and ramping up censorship

Analysis by CNN's James Griffiths

As Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the coronavirus was first detected late last year, leaves lockdown this week, much of the rest of the country is also relaxing controls.

But there's one area where restrictions are being ramped up: the internet.

Censorship authorities announced this week a renewed campaign "targeting online pornography and illegal publications to create a healthy social and cultural environment."

Anti-porn crackdowns have a long history of being used to go after political speech, and a state media report on the latest clean up left little doubt this will be the case again.

"The campaign will also clear up illegal and harmful publications for children, blackmailing by fake journalists and unauthorized news outlets and copyright infringement," state-run news agency Xinhua said.

This comes after weeks of ramped up censorship of topics relating to the coronavirus and the authorities' handling of the pandemic, despite widespread criticism of how such stifling of discussion may have helped spread the virus in the first place.