April 18 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Brett McKeehan, Laura Smith-Spark, Fernando Alfonso III and Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 8:59 p.m. ET, April 18, 2020
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10:37 a.m. ET, April 18, 2020

New York City residents can now report people who are not social distancing

From CNN's Elise Hammond

Times Square is seen virtually empty on April 17.
Times Square is seen virtually empty on April 17. Debra L Rothenberg/Getty Images

New York City residents can now report other people for not social distancing.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a new service that encourages New Yorkers to take a photo of a crowded place, or a group of people who are not following social distancing guidelines, and text it to a phone number that alerts authorities.

"We still know there's some people that need to get the message and that means sometimes making sure the enforcement is there to educate people and make clear we've got to have social distancing," de Blasio said in a tweet today. "When you see a crowd, when you see a line that's distanced, when you see a supermarket that too crowded, anything, you can report it right away so we can get help there to fix the problem."

De Blasio said that once New Yorkers send the photo, "we will make sure enforcement comes right away."

He said the new reporting system is about saving lives and making sure social distancing is continuing in the city.

Some context: There has been 13,202 deaths due to the coronavirus so far in New York City, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.

Watch the mayor's announcement:

6:48 p.m. ET, April 18, 2020

Ferrari to produce respirator valves and fittings for protective masks

From CNN's Valentina Di Donato

Respirator valves and fitting for protective masks produced by Ferrari.
Respirator valves and fitting for protective masks produced by Ferrari. Ferrari Media via AP

Italian sports car maker Ferrari has announced that it will produce respirator valves and fittings for protective face masks as part of its efforts to support the national response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a statement today. 

“Ferrari has started to produce respirator valves and fittings for protective masks at its Maranello plant as one of its initiatives in support of health workers treating coronavirus patients,” the company said. 

The statement added: “In the next few days, Ferrari plans to manufacture several hundred items of equipment that are already being distributed by some of the companies involved, with the coordination of the Italian Civil Protection Agency."

According to Ferrari, the newly developed equipment will be distributed to various Italian hospitals, including those in Bergamo, Genoa, Modena and Sassuolo, as well as to health workers in the town of Medicina, near Bologna.

In a statement shared on his official Facebook page, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said the country is proud of Ferrari’s efforts to support health care workers. 

“Ferrari, one of our Italian excellences, has deployed its skills to face coronavirus and safeguard the lives of Italians…knowing that the company is helping to support the country's restart makes us proud,” Di Maio said.

9:33 a.m. ET, April 18, 2020

Coronavirus death toll in the United Kingdom climbs to more than 15,000

From CNN's Nada Bashir

Hospital workers wheel a stretcher to the mortuary at Lewisham Hospital in London  on April 16.
Hospital workers wheel a stretcher to the mortuary at Lewisham Hospital in London on April 16. Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

A total of 15,464 people in the United Kingdom have died after contracting coronavirus, the UK Department of Health and Social Care confirmed Saturday, marking an increase of 888 from Friday's confirmed total of 14,576.

"As of 5pm on 17 April, of those hospitalized in the UK who tested positive for coronavirus, 15,464 have sadly died," the DHSC said in a tweet.

The number of confirmed cases has also increased in the past day, with 5,525 people diagnosed in the past 24 hours. Currently there are 114,217 confirmed Covid-19 patients in the UK.

Read the tweet from DHSC:

9:29 a.m. ET, April 18, 2020

Italy opens a bid for development of a blood test to map coronavirus contagion

From CNN’s Hada Messia in Rome 

The Italian government has opened a bid for an official contract to develop a new blood test which could help authorities create a map of the contagion. 

While some regions in Italy have already started using blood tests for such purposes, the government has yet to officially validate a specific test kit for the procedure.  

During a press conference on Saturday, Italy’s coronavirus commissioner Domenico Arcuri asserted that “health has no price,” adding that the government will award the development contract to those who can provide quality tests. 

Arcuri confirmed that the bidding process will remain open until April 29, after which the government will make a decision on who to award the contract to. 


9:34 a.m. ET, April 18, 2020

Queen Elizabeth II cancels traditional gun salute for her birthday due to coronavirus concerns

From CNN's Max Foster

People walk past an image of Queen Elizabeth in Piccadilly Circus in London on April 9.
People walk past an image of Queen Elizabeth in Piccadilly Circus in London on April 9. Peter Summers/Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth II will not be marking her birthday with the traditional royal gun salute as she does not feel it would be appropriate during the coronavirus pandemic, a royal source told CNN on Saturday. 

The Queen will celebrate her 94th birthday on April 21.

While the Palace is expected to mark the occasion on social media, all family-related affairs, including telephone and video calls with family members, are to be kept private, the source added. 

The announcement follows earlier confirmation by Buckingham Palace that the traditional parade held annually in mid-June to mark the Queen’s official birthday –– known as Trooping the Colour –– will not go ahead. 

The parade gives the Queen, who is head of the United Kingdom’s armed forces, a chance to review her army. It traditionally moves from Buckingham Palace down the Mall to Horse Guard's Parade, with members of the royal family traveling on horseback or carriage.

By the numbers: Last year, more than 200 horses, 400 musicians and 1,400 officers took part in the parade.

According to the royal source, there are currently no plans in place for an alternative marking of the Queen’s official birthday. 

8:50 a.m. ET, April 18, 2020

Gender violence interventions during lockdown have increased in Spain

From CNN's Isabel Tejera in Madrid

Police in Spain have recorded more than 80,000 interventions to protect victims of gender violence in the first month of lockdown, the government said.

The National Police and Civil Guard carried out a total of 83,341 surveillance and protection interventions on behalf of victims of gender violence during the first 31 days of the nationwide lockdown, according to figures released Saturday by the Interior Ministry.

That represented a 25% increase in comparison to the corresponding period of 2019.  

The incidents recorded include 38,976 checks made through telephone calls and other means of contact and 43,365 instances of surveillance to protect victims and prevent domestic abuse.

Earlier this month, the Interior Ministry launched a an "SOS Button" on the AlertCops mobile application which allows victims of gender violence immediately to seek assistance from the police.

Some context: As lockdown measures across Europe continue charities and police forces have raised the alarm over a potential spike in domestic violence.

Refuge, a leading British charity focused on fighting domestic violence, said earlier this month that calls to its helpline and visits to its website had increased significantly since restrictions on people's movement began.

7:38 a.m. ET, April 18, 2020

Spain's coronavirus deaths pass 20,000

From CNN's Tim Lister in Spain

A banner that says "thank you" and pictures of key workers are displayed on a balcony on April 17 in Madrid.
A banner that says "thank you" and pictures of key workers are displayed on a balcony on April 17 in Madrid. Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images

More than 20,000 people have now died in Spain as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, according to official figures issued Saturday by the Ministry of Health.

The number of reported deaths, at 20,043, was up 565 from the number recorded Friday.

The percentage rise, at 2.9%, is roughly in line with most of the daily results of the last week.

Spanish authorities have warned that the data may fluctuate as a new system for reporting cases comes into play and as testing throughout the country is increased. 

Earlier this week, the region of Catalonia revised the reported cases and deaths from coronavirus sharply upwards, after adopting a new formula for calculating the impact of the pandemic.

Among those who have died from coronavirus in the past 24 hours was one of Spain’s most prominent doctors, Jesus Vaquero. Vaquero was head of neurosurgery at the Puerta del Hierro Hospital in Madrid, and a leading specialist in back surgery.

7:34 a.m. ET, April 18, 2020

Iran reopens some stores in Tehran

From CNN's Radina Gigova and Ramin Mostaghim

Iranians wearing protective masks cross a main road in Tehran on April 13.
Iranians wearing protective masks cross a main road in Tehran on April 13. Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images

Iran lifted coronavirus restrictions Saturday in the capital, Tehran, for low-risk businesses such as clothing stores and book shops. 

Restrictions in other provinces were lifted on April 11. 

High-risk businesses, such as gyms, movie theaters and shopping malls, will remain closed, authorities said.

On Friday, when the country's Army Day was marked, the Iranian Army put on a "service parade," instead of the usual military parade, in solidarity with medical teams working during the pandemic, according to state media.

Parades took place across the country and featured some of the army equipment used to assist the fight against the outbreak, including mobile hospitals, disinfection equipment and specially designed vehicles, state-run Press TV reported. 

Images and video released by state media showed personnel wearing fatigues disinfecting train stations, squares and other public spaces.

Iran reported 89 more coronavirus-related deaths on Friday, bringing the nationwide total to 4,958, Iranian Health Ministry Spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said on state television.

Iran has the highest number of reported coronavirus cases and deaths in the Middle East.

7:22 a.m. ET, April 18, 2020

UK doctors continue to face protective equipment shortages

From CNN's Laura Smith-Spark

Britain's Health Secretary Matt Hancock is pictured in London on April 3.
Britain's Health Secretary Matt Hancock is pictured in London on April 3. Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images

Many UK doctors are still without the equipment they need to keep themselves safe as they treat coronavirus patients, a major survey of British doctors has found.

This is despite repeated promises from the UK government that problems with supply are being dealt with, the British Medical Association (BMA) said in a news release Saturday.

Gowns and eye protection are in particularly short supply, the trade union's survey indicated.

While the findings showed some improvement from the BMA's previous survey, published on April 7, the union urged the government to do more to resolve the issues around supply of personal protective equipment.

“Two months into the Covid-19 crisis in Britain, we shouldn’t still be hearing that doctors feel unprotected when they go to work," said Dr. Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair.

“The government says that 1 billion items will soon have been shipped, and while there have been signs of improvement, our research clearly shows that equipment is not reaching all doctors working on the front line."

More than 6,000 doctors from across the UK responded to the survey, the BMA said.

Around half of doctors working in high-risk areas said there were shortages or no supply at all of long-sleeved disposable gowns and disposable goggles, while just over half said the same for full-face visors, the BMA said.

Doctors working in general practice also reported shortages of eye protection.

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Friday that he could not guarantee that hospitals would not run out of gowns this weekend, but that the government was doing all it could to ensure supply.

A day earlier, Hancock confirmed that 27 workers from Britain's National Health Service had died from the coronavirus. Speaking in a BBC interview, he called the NHS workers' deaths “incredibly heartrending.”

The UK government is facing increasing pressure to do more to ensure the safety of frontline health and social care workers.