April 20 coronavirus news

By Julia Hollingsworth, Adam Renton and Rob Picheta, CNN

Updated 9:15 p.m. ET, April 20, 2020
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6:20 a.m. ET, April 20, 2020

China says it isn't the United States' enemy in coronavirus fight

From CNN’s Steven Jiang in Beijing

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang speaks during a press briefing in Beijing on March 18.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang speaks during a press briefing in Beijing on March 18. Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images

China is not the enemy of America, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters Monday, in response to US criticism over China’s transparency about the virus. 

"Certain Americans should be clear about this: China isn’t their enemy," Geng said at a press briefing. "The international community must band together to win the fight against the virus."

"Attacking and smearing China wouldn’t win back wasted time or lost lives," he said. "We hope those people in the US respect facts, science and international consensus. They should stop attacking and blaming China, stop making irresponsible remarks, and focus more on domestic containment and international cooperation."

On Sunday, President Donald Trump said the US wanted to send investigators into China, but that previous requests to do so had been rebuffed. 

Geng also called on the international community to "band together to cooperate, instead of pointing fingers at each other or even demanding compensation," referring to reports that Republican lawmakers in the US had introduced legislation last week allowing Americans to sue the government of China over misinformation about the virus.

In addition, Geng said Australia's call for an "independent review" of how the virus began in China was “disrespectful.” He urged Australia to do more to improve bilateral ties, especially bilateral cooperation on fighting the pandemic, instead of "echoing a certain country and following its footsteps to hype up the issue."

6:06 a.m. ET, April 20, 2020

English coronavirus survivors asked to donate blood plasma for trial

From CNN’s Hilary McGann in London

Covid-19 survivors in England are being asked to donate blood plasma for a potential trial that, if approved, may help those currently ill with the virus. 

NHS Blood and Transplant hopes to test how effective antibodies in the "convalescent" plasma of recently recovered patients might be in treating those fighting the infection. 

Plasma, a yellowish liquid, is the largest constituent part of your blood, making up more than half (about 55%) of its overall content.

The main role of plasma is to "take nutrients, hormones and proteins to parts of the body that need it." It is a "critical" part of treatment for many serious health issues, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center. 

In order to give plasma for this trial, donors must have recovered from coronavirus at least 28 days ago, and meet a series of criteria including being between the ages of 17 and 66 and weighing between 110lbs and 348lbs. They must not have any existing or previous heart condition. 

5:57 a.m. ET, April 20, 2020

Bavaria to make masks compulsory in shops and on public transport

From CNN's Nadine Schmidt in Berlin

Customers wear protective face masks as they shop at a DIY-store in Munich, Bavaria, Germany, on April 20.
Customers wear protective face masks as they shop at a DIY-store in Munich, Bavaria, Germany, on April 20. Lukas Barth-Tuttas/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

The southern German state of Bavaria is to make it compulsory to wear masks in all shops and on public transport, Prime Minister Markus Söder announced Monday. 

Speaking in Bavaria's state parliament, Söder said it would introduce "oral and nose protection obligation" from next week, adding that "some people also call it a mask obligation."

Söder said mouth and nose protection would play a "very central role" in containing the further spread of the coronavirus.

Bavaria is the first state in western Germany to introduce such regulations, Söder said.

The eastern state of Saxony introduced mandatory mouth and nose protection last week. Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, also in the former east, has also introduced mask regulations, which will apply from April 27 -- as in Bavaria.

Opinions among experts vary as to how effective wearing a mask is to counter coronavirus, but more countries and regions have now made it compulsory to wear them in public.

Bavaria is the German state with the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths. As of Monday, Germany's largest state had recorded 37,849 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 1,286 fatalities, according to the Robert Koch institute, Germany's center for disease control.

5:32 a.m. ET, April 20, 2020

India begins phased easing of lockdown restrictions

From CNN's Manveena Suri

Women maintain social distancing outside a bank in Bhopal, in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, on April 15.
Women maintain social distancing outside a bank in Bhopal, in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, on April 15. Gagan Nayar/AFP/Getty Images

A handful of Indian states and union territories have begun to ease lockdown restrictions in line with guidelines issued by the country's Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA):

In a televised address on April 14, Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended the nationwide lockdown till May 3, but announced a conditional relaxing of restrictions in parts of the country with low or zero levels of coronavirus cases.

Which states are easing restrictions? 

Maharashtra: With 4,203 confirmed cases and 223 deaths as of Monday morning, the western state currently has the highest number of cases in the country, but will begin to allow some essential activity in certain "orange" and "green" zones that have recorded low levels of cases.

The measures being relaxed are geared towards the agricultural sector -- farming, fisheries and plantations -- which provide a lifeline for thousands of farmers across the country. Red zones where there is a high or increasing number of cases will not see relaxations.

"We have given permission only for industries in the essential sector and the transport of essentials," Uddhav Thackeray, the chief minister of Maharashtra said in his weekly address on April 19, adding that district borders will remain closed and all other services will remain shut until May 3. 

"We want transport of goods and not of the virus," Thackeray added

Kerala: The southern state, which has been praised for its success in tackling the outbreak, has now drawn criticism from the MHA after announcing a substantial easing of restrictions in "green zones."

This includes restaurants opening with social distancing rules in place, private vehicular movement under the "odd-even" scheme, which enables cars with even and odd number plates to drive on alternate days.

“This amounts to dilution of guidelines issued by MHA and a violation of MHA Order dated 15th April 2020,” read a tweet by the spokesperson for the Ministry of Home Affairs.

“The Government of Kerala is urged to revise guidelines in line with MHA guidelines, without any dilution and ensure strict compliance,” continued the tweet.

Madhya Pradesh: Agricultural activity and manufacturing will resume in districts that have no cases, as well as in districts that have a low number of hotspots and have managed to contain cases.

Essential public works programs will also be allowed, but with strict rules on social distancing. Like the agricultural sector, the public works department provides an income for hundreds of thousands of daily wage earners across the country.

“However, in districts where the situation is dire, such as Indore, Bhopal and Ujjain, there will be no relaxations because our first priority is people's lives," Shivraj Chauhan, chief minister of the central Indian state said in an address on Sunday. 

Uttar Pradesh: The chief minister of India’s most populous state, Yogi Adityanath, reviewed lockdown measures on Sunday and asked district magistrates to decide on the relaxation of measures.

"There are 19 districts that have more than 10 positive cases of coronavirus. District authorities should be reluctant to take risks while making decisions on relaxation from April 20 in these areas. No relaxations will be made in hotspot areas," Adityanath said in an address on Sunday. 

States that won’t ease restrictions

Delhi: Lockdown restrictions will continue in the capital, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced Sunday, adding that he would reassess the situation with experts after a week.

‘’Delhi has 11 districts and all of them have declared hotspots. As per the central government, restrictions cannot be relaxed in containment areas,” Kejriwal said.

"All 186 Covid-19 positive cases reported yesterday were asymptomatic. They didn't know they had coronavirus, which is more worrying," he added.

Delhi has the second highest number of cases in the country, with 2,003 confirmed cases and 45 deaths as of Monday morning. 

Punjab: Lockdown restrictions in the north Indian state will remain until May 3, in line with the nationwide extension.

Telangana: The southern state has decided to extend lockdown measures until May 7.

5:01 a.m. ET, April 20, 2020

Hong Kong reports no new coronavirus cases for first time since March 5

From CNN's Eric Cheung in Hong Kong

People wait to cross a street in Hong Kong on April 18.
People wait to cross a street in Hong Kong on April 18. Kin Cheung/AP

Hong Kong reported no new confirmed cases of novel coronavirus on Monday for the first time in more than six weeks, according to a statement by the city's Centre for Health Protection.

As of Monday, the total number of reported coronavirus cases in Hong Kong remained at 1,025, including four deaths.

Despite that, the CHP is encouraging residents to continue to maintain an appropriate social distance and avoid social activities like meal gatherings to reduce their risks of getting infected.

"Given that the situation of Covid-19 infection remains severe and that there is a continuous increase in the number of cases reported around the world, members of the public are strongly urged to avoid all non-essential travel outside Hong Kong," the CHP added.

Hong Kong last reported no new cases on March 5.

4:57 a.m. ET, April 20, 2020

Some shops in Germany are starting to reopen

From CNN's Nadine Schmidt in Berlin

A shopkeeper pushes open a shutter prior to opening her antiques store for the first time since March, on April 20, in Leipzig, Germany.
A shopkeeper pushes open a shutter prior to opening her antiques store for the first time since March, on April 20, in Leipzig, Germany. Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Germany started to ease its lockdown restrictions on Monday, allowing businesses and shops to reopen as the country takes small steps back to normalcy. 

Shops up to 800 square meters in size can reopen, so long as they have hygiene and social distancing measures in place. 

Bookshops, car dealerships and bike stores are also allowed to reopen regardless of their size. In some regions of Germany, zoos are reopening. The reopening of shops and businesses varies from state to state. 

This comes after the government last week said the virus in the country was "manageable."

The Robert Koch Institute, Germany's national agency for disease control and prevention, reported Friday that each person infected with Covid-19 is now infecting fewer that one other person on average.

4:57 a.m. ET, April 20, 2020

France won't return to normal for a long time, Prime Minister says

From CNN's Pierre Bairin in Paris

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe gives a press conference in Paris on April 19.
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe gives a press conference in Paris on April 19. Thibault Camus/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe says France won’t return to normal for a long time.

"Imagining that the situation is getting better would be a mistake," the prime minister said at his news conference on Sunday.

Philippe said that France had passed the peak of the epidemic. But the country is not going to return to normal soon because right now there is no vaccine and no treatment, he warned.

France has suspended all non-essential business until May 11.

Philippe said May 11 won’t be the end of the confinement, but a new phase. He said that measures for after May 11 will be announced in a couple of weeks and will be based on three main principles: social distancing, massive testing and isolation of people who have tested positive.

The prime minister indicated that schools won’t be reopening everywhere after May 11 and, in any case, would be operating differently. Authorities were considering options such as telling students to attend class on alternate weeks, or using bigger classrooms than usual.

The prime minister also announced that visits to nursing homes would be reauthorized as of Monday, but would be severely restricted. For example, physical contact would not be allowed, he said.

4:29 a.m. ET, April 20, 2020

It's just past 9:30 a.m in London and 2 p.m. in New Delhi. Here's the latest on the pandemic

If you're just joining us, here's the main news to break since our last catch-up.

  • UK government under fire: Hospital leaders have criticized the government for making announcements about personal protective equipment supplies that cannot be delivered amid "critically low" stocks in some health trusts. That follows a public backlash after officials admitted on Sunday that PM Boris Johnson missed five emergency meetings in the early stages of the pandemic.
  • Germany's new daily case rate falls: Some 1,774 new infections were confirmed for Sunday, bringing the total number of cases to 141,672, according to the Robert Koch Institute, the country's center for disease control.
  • Spike in India: The country has recorded its highest single-day spike in cases since the coronavirus outbreak began, reporting 1,553 new infections. PM Narendra Modi has meanwhile asked his people to come together to face the challenge of the pandemic. "We are in this together," he wrote on social network LinkedIn.
  • New Zealand's lockdown: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the country would stay under its toughest lockdown measures for five more days, before the restrictions are eased slightly next week.
  • Australia beaches: Some beaches are reopening in Sydney -- but beachgoers will still be restricted to exercising, and won't be allowed to sunbathe. Meanwhile, students are back at school today in the country's vast and sparsely populated Northern Territory.
  • Singapore cases jump: The country has preliminary confirmed 1,426 new coronavirus cases as of midday on Monday. The vast majority of new cases are work permit holders residing in foreign worker dormitories.
4:19 a.m. ET, April 20, 2020

One of Australia's biggest cities is so quiet that kangaroos are hopping through the center

A kangaroo was spotted bouncing through an almost deserted South Australian city on Sunday amid the coronavirus lockdown, according to police.

With much of the country being told to stay at home, Adelaide -- a coastal city of more than 1.2 million people -- has become a much more attractive place for the country's iconic animal to hang out.

The kangaroo was caught on CCTV camera on Sunday morning. Officers watching the footage just happened to see the marsupial bouncing down the nearly empty streets, a South Australian police spokesperson told CNN.

The kangaroo narrowly escaped a road accident, before heading to Adelaide's West Parklands nature reserve, the spokesperson said.

Every now and then, kangaroos are spotted in Adelaide's suburbs, but it's not usual to see them bouncing down the central city streets, the spokesperson said.

"It was quite unique," the spokesperson said, adding that it was likely the quiet of the coronavirus lockdown that had drawn the kangaroo to the city.