April 22 coronavirus news

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2:32 a.m. ET, April 22, 2020

India has stopped using Covid-19 rapid test kits after some were found to be faulty

From CNN's Swati Gupta in New Delhi

The Indian Council of Medical Research has advised all states to discontinue the usage of rapid test kits for the next two days after some of them were revealed to be defective.

The council is sending teams to validate kits already in use so they can assess which ones are faulty and trace them back to the manufacturers.

Raman R Gangakhedkar, the head of the council, said positive samples were showing "too much variation" and required investigating.

The rapid testing kits were deployed in India last week. The health ministry has repeatedly said that the kits should be used only for surveillance and to determine epidemiological trends.

India had tested a total of 462,621 samples from 447,812 individuals as of April 21, according to the council. 

2:04 a.m. ET, April 22, 2020

Coronavirus is both a crisis and an opportunity for China's aggressive new diplomacy

Analysis by CNN's James Griffiths in Hong Kong

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, China has struggled to control the narrative around its role in the crisis.

Is Beijing a noble victim, ably controlling an unforeseeable viral outbreak and now assisting other countries in their own efforts, or the villain, ultimately to blame for the misery spreading around the world?

Considerable effort has been expended in pushing the first line. China has donated large amounts of medical supplies to parts of Europe and Africa. China's state media, which has an outsized influence in much of the developing world, has also played up praise from the World Health Organization (WHO) and others of its response to and recovery from the initial outbreak, in stark contrast to many parts of the world now struggling to cope.

The coronavirus crisis presents a key opportunity for China to solidify its status as a superpower and global leader, particularly as the United States has struggled to contain the outbreak, and US President Donald Trump has alienated some allies with his "America first" approach to the crisis.

At the same time, however, Beijing has not been able to avoid intense scrutiny and criticism -- mainly, but not solely from Washington -- over how initial delays in the country's response may have squandered vital opportunities to contain the now global pandemic, as well as skepticism over its reporting of coronavirus figures and the country's recovery.

Read the full analysis:

1:46 a.m. ET, April 22, 2020

Air pollution is significantly down in cities because of coronavirus lockdowns

From CNN's Helen Regan in Hong Kong

Lockdowns restricting travel and industry imposed to halt the spread of coronavirus have resulted in unprecedented reductions in deadly air pollution around the world, new analysis shows.

Major cities that suffer from the world's worst air pollution have seen reductions of deadly particulate matter by up to 60% from the previous year, during a three-week lockdowns period.

Researchers from IQAir -- a global air quality information and tech company -- studied 10 major cities around the world which have relatively high numbers of coronavirus cases and Covid-19 lockdown measures.

The study compared levels of harmful microscopic particulate matter known as PM 2.5. The pollutant, which is smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, is considered particularly dangerous as it can lodge deep into the lungs and pass into other organs and the bloodstream, causing serious health risks.

Seven out of the 10 cities studied, including New Delhi, Seoul, Wuhan and Mumbai, saw significant improvements in air quality. Those with historically higher levels of PM2.5 pollution witnessed the most substantial drops in pollution.

Read more about how lockdowns are affecting pollution:

1:30 a.m. ET, April 22, 2020

Americans' opinion of China plunges amid coronavirus pandemic, study finds

From CNN's Ben Westcott

Almost two thirds of Americans currently have a negative view of China and its influence in the world, according to a new Pew survey released Tuesday.

It's the lowest the rating has been since Pew began to survey attitudes to China in 2005.

According to the survey, just 26% of Americans said that they had a "positive" attitude to China, down from 44% in 2017.

Back then only 47% said that they had an "unfavorable" view of China. That figure is now 66%.

There was only a small bipartisan split, with 72% of Republicans and 62% of Democrats saying they had a negative view of the country.

The survey was conducted between March 3 and March 29, just as the novel coronavirus was beginning to spread rapidly through the United States.

According to Pew, the results also found:

  • 91% of Americans said it was best if the US remain the world's leading power
  • 71% said they had no confidence in China's leader Xi Jinping
  • 62% said that they viewed China's power and influence as a "major threat"
1:16 a.m. ET, April 22, 2020

Missouri sues Chinese government over Covid-19 impact in the state

From CNN's Joe Sutton and Hira Humayun 

In this September 9, 2019 file photo, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt speaks in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington.
In this September 9, 2019 file photo, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt speaks in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington. Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

In what could be the first lawsuit filed by a state against China, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the Chinese government over the loss of life and economic consequences in Missouri from the coronavirus, according to a statement from Schmitt’s office. 

The lawsuit was filed against the Chinese government, Chinese Communist Party and other Chinese institutions accusing the government of suppressing information, arresting whistleblowers and denying the "contagious nature" of Covid-19, leading to severe consequences in Missouri. 

"COVID-19 has done irreparable damage to countries across the globe, causing sickness, death, economic disruption, and human suffering. In Missouri, the impact of the virus is very real - thousands have been infected and many have died, families have been separated from dying loved ones, small businesses are shuttering their doors, and those living paycheck to paycheck are struggling to put food on their table," Schmitt’s statement reads. "The Chinese government lied to the world about the danger and contagious nature of COVID-19, silenced whistleblowers, and did little to stop the spread of the disease. They must be held accountable for their actions." 

The lawsuit was filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri and alleges "during the critical weeks of the initial outbreak, Chinese authorities deceived the public, suppressed crucial information, arrested whistleblowers, denied human-to-human transmission in the face of mounting evidence, destroyed critical medical research, permitted millions of people to be exposed to the virus, and even hoarded personal protective equipment -- thus causing a global pandemic that was unnecessary and preventable."

The lawsuit alleges that Chinese officials did little to contain the spread of the virus despite having knowledge of the disease. It also alleges the government denied the potential of human-to-human transmission when it informed the World Health Organization about the outbreak, despite having evidence of such transmission. 

"The lawsuit notes the immense negative impact that COVID-19 has had on Missourians, pointing out the unprecedented number of jobless claims, the impact on Missouri's unemployment rate, and the impact on the State's budget now and in the future. On the human side - Missouri’s nurses and doctors are forced to quarantine from their families, our elderly citizens are stuck in nursing homes away from loved ones, and more," the statement reads, adding, "The lawsuit seeks relief on one count of public nuisance, one count of abnormally dangerous activities, and two counts of breach of duty. Remedies could include civil penalties and restitution, abatement of the public nuisance, cessation of abnormally dangerous activities, punitive damages, and more." 

Missouri has at least 6,105 cases of the virus and at least 229 deaths related to it, according to numbers from Johns Hopkins University. 

CNN has reached out to the Chinese government for comment. 

Legal experts have said the lawsuit faces an uphill battle because China is protected by sovereign immunity. 

12:58 a.m. ET, April 22, 2020

Ai Weiwei on the coronavirus pandemic: "China will never learn"

From CNN Style's Stephy Chung in Hong Kong

As the world grapples with unprecedented lockdown measures, Ai Weiwei finds himself in familiar territory. The outspoken artist spent nearly three months in a tiny room while detained by authorities in China in 2011.

He was later accused of tax evasion, a charge widely interpreted as punishment for his political activism. Following his release, Ai's passport was confiscated, and he was placed under close surveillance in Beijing.

In Cambridge, England, where the 62-year-old dissident now resides, self-isolation has stirred similar feelings of solitude. "You (feel) disassociated, you're dysfunctioning and you're uncertain about your own future ... you're trying to imagine behaving in relation to others," he said, over the phone, of restrictions implemented to contain the coronavirus.

Ai has been critical of China's handling of the outbreak: According to Ai, China's selective handing of information early on provided a "chance for the virus to spread." However, understanding China's motivations is as important to Ai as the alleged cover-up, or the suggestion that the country's infection numbers and fatalities have been under-reported.

"The West's blame is very superficial," said Ai. "They (in the West) only talk about China practically -- (that it) doesn't release information. But they never ask, 'Why?'"

Read more:

3:32 p.m. ET, April 22, 2020

Too many people are avoiding hospitals in fear of Covid-19, US medical groups say

From CNN’s Jacqueline Howard

Paramedics and firefighters with Anne Arundel County Fire Department load a presumptive Covid-19 patient onto the ambulance in Glen Burnie, Maryland on April 21.
Paramedics and firefighters with Anne Arundel County Fire Department load a presumptive Covid-19 patient onto the ambulance in Glen Burnie, Maryland on April 21. Alex Edelman/AFP/Getty Images

People suffering heart attacks, strokes or other life-threatening emergencies are staying away from hospitals because they fear contracting Covid-19, medical groups said Wednesday.

But the American Heart Association, the American College of Emergency Physicians and several other medical groups are urging people to still call 911 and go to the hospital when it’s a real emergency. 

In a joint statement on Wednesday, the eight medical groups said people could die if they don’t.

"What we've seen over the course of the last six to eight weeks is that there are decreasing numbers of heart attacks and strokes showing up at US hospitals. That has also been reported in other places around the globe that have experienced Covid-19 epidemic," said Dr. Robert Harrington, an interventional cardiologist and president of the American Heart Association. He was among the authors of the joint statement.
"We want to make sure now that as we're seeing those decreased numbers of heart attack and stroke patients that we call public awareness to this, that we call public attention to this, that this really is important from an overall public health perspective," Harrington said.

CORRECTION: This post has been updated with Dr. Robert Harrington's name.

12:27 a.m. ET, April 22, 2020

2 newly-confirmed coronavirus deaths are the earliest known fatalities in the US outbreak

From CNN's Sarah Moon

Officials in Northern California's Santa Clara County have confirmed that two people, one who died on February 6 and another on February 17, had contracted the coronavirus.

They are believed to be the first coronavirus-related fatalities in the United States. The first death connected to a nursing home in Washington state -- the first major cluster in the US -- was recorded on February 29

The Santa Clara County Medical Examiner-Coroner performed autopsies on two individuals who died in their residences in February and sent samples to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), according to a statement from the county.

Results from the CDC came back today, confirming both tissue samples tested positive for the coronavirus, the statement said. The individuals were not tested because they died when coronavirus testing was very limited and was only available through the CDC.

"Testing criteria set by the CDC at the time restricted testing to only individuals with a known travel history and who sought medical care for specific symptoms," the statement said.

12:11 a.m. ET, April 22, 2020

A resident of the Indian President’s estate has tested positive for Covid-19

From CNN's Swati Gupta in New Delhi

The Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi, India.
The Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi, India. Shutterstock

A resident of Indian President Ram Nath Kovind’s official estate has tested positive for Covid-19, leading to the quarantine of 115 families who live in the residential section of the Rashtrapati Bhavan -- the presidential palace in New Delhi.

The individual who has tested positive is a family member of an employee who is currently working in the palace and lives on the premises. Following current guidelines, the whole family was moved to a quarantine facility, according to a news release issued by the palace.

The family was located during contact tracing of another deceased patient by health officials.

"Subsequently, one of the family members who was in contact with the deceased, tested positive. All other family members including the employee of the President's Secretariat have tested negative," the news release said.

This is the first confirmed case on the premises of the presidential palace. Delhi has recorded at least 2,156 cases, including 47 deaths.