UK capacity for coronavirus testing is more than 50,000 people per day
From CNN's Richard Greene
The UK now has the capacity for carrying out 51,000 coronavirus tests per day, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced Thursday.
That means “essential workers will be able to book tests themselves on Gov.UK,” Hancock said, adding that the process will be free, and that people who live with essential workers will also be able to get tested.
Results will come by text message, Hancock said.
The British government aims to test 100,000 people per day by the end of the month.
Earlier, the government announced that the number of people who had died in hospitals after testing positive for coronavirus had reached 18,738.
12:06 p.m. ET, April 23, 2020
Almost half of coronavirus deaths in Europe were in care homes, World Health Organization says
From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite
As many as half of the people who have died from Covid-19 in Europe were residents in long-term care facilities, according to estimates from the World Health Organization.
“This is an unimaginable human tragedy,” WHO's Europe Director Hans Kluge said during a press conference Thursday.
Kluge described the emerging picture of Covid-19 in long-term care facilities as “deeply concerning” and said it is a global problem.
“This pandemic has shone a spotlight on the overlooked and undervalued corners of our society. Across the European Region, long-term care has often been notoriously neglected. But it should not be this way,” said Kluge, calling the workers employed in these facilities as “the unsung heroes of this pandemic.”
Kluge said there is an “immediate and urgent need” to rethink and adjust how long-term care facilities operate.
9:38 a.m. ET, April 23, 2020
Indonesia will ban domestic air and sea travel until early June
From Jamaladdin Masrur
Indonesia will temporarily ban domestic air and sea travel beginning Friday until early June, barring a few exceptions, to prevent further spread of coronavirus, Transportation Ministry spokesperson Adita Irawati said today.
The ban on air travel will be in place until June 1, and the ban on sea travel will be in place until June 8, Irawati said. Cargo transportation is exempt from this ban.
The government also imposed restrictions this week preventing people traveling home for Ramadan and Eid.
9:25 a.m. ET, April 23, 2020
School attendance won't be mandatory when classes resume in France
From CNN's Benjamin Berteau
French President Emmanuel Macron told mayors that school attendance will be voluntary when classes resume, his spokesperson said.
Macron said that parents who do not wish to send their children to school would not be obliged to do so.
France has outlined a plan to begin reopening schools starting on May 11.
8:41 a.m. ET, April 23, 2020
No end date for Russia's lockdown, government says
from CNN's Darya Tarasova
Russia's government has not set a date for ending its nationwide lockdown, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Thursday, as concerns grow about the impact of coronavirus on the country’s economy.
Responding to a question from reporters about the point at which the economic impact of the lockdown might be too great, Peskov said this:
“No, there is no such date. There is a specific time period tied to a specific epidemiological situation.”
8:35 a.m. ET, April 23, 2020
China pledges additional $30 million to World Health Organization
From CNN's Sophie Jeong
China is donating an additional $30 million to the World Health Organization to support its flight against the coronavirus pandemic, according to a tweet from China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying Thursday.
“China has decided to donate additional $30 million in cash to WHO to support its global fight against #COVID19, in particular strengthening developing countries' health systems,” Chunying said on Twitter. She added that China had previously donated $20 million to the WHO on March 11.
Last week, US President Trump announced he is halting funding to the WHO, saying it's been a “role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of coronavirus.”
China contributed close to $86 million in assessed and voluntary contributions in the two-year funding cycle from 2018 to 2019. Recently, skepticism has been aimed toward the WHO's relationship with China as critics have questioned whether the WHO is independent enough, pointing to the WHO's effusive praise of China's response to the coronavirus pandemic.
8:32 a.m. ET, April 23, 2020
Scotland may not "return to normal" until next year, minister says
from CNN's Simon Cullen
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has indicated there’ll be no changes to coronavirus restrictions in the short term, warning that a full “return to normal” may not happen until next year.
“Social distancing and limiting our contact with others will be a fact of life for a long time to come – certainly until treatments and ultimately a vaccine offer different solutions. So it means possibly for the rest of this year – and maybe even beyond,” Sturgeon said.
The Scottish government published its framework to explain how it will decide whether to ease various measures introduced to curb the spread of coronavirus.
“Our assessment is that now is not the right time to relax restrictions,” the document stated. “Over the next few weeks, based on the evidence and expert advice, a number of options will be considered – not all of which may be selected.”
The document warns that gatherings in pubs or public events is likely to remain “banned or restricted for some time to come.”
“A return to normal as we knew it is not on the cards in the near future,” she said at her daily press briefing.
Sturgeon said even if some measures are eased, it’s possible they will have to be re-introduced if the outbreak worsens as a result.
2:40 p.m. ET, April 26, 2020
It's just gone 1 p.m. in London and 8 a.m. in New York. Here's what you need to know
From CNN's Eliza Mackintosh
“It’s just too soon.” President Donald Trump said he “strongly” disagreed with the Georgia governor’s decision to allow beauty salons, barbershops and other businesses to reopen this week, contradicting both his own impatient insistence that states restart the economy — and a source who said he had supported the move. Some mayors in Georgia are also pushing back against the governor.
A coronavirus model routinely cited by the White House warns that no state should be opening before May 1, and that Georgia shouldn't reopen until June 19.
But other state and city officials disagree. “I’d love everything open,” Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman told CNN’s Anderson Cooper, appearing to offer up the city as a “control group” without social distancing measures to compare against other places with strict guidelines. Pressed on how she would prevent the spread of the virus in casinos and hotels, she suggested it wasn’t the government’s job to ensure safety in those workplaces.
As the debate over when and how to ease restrictions rattles on, the Trump administration and the nation’s top scientists seem to be increasingly at odds. A virus vaccine chief says he was ousted after resisting efforts to push unproven drugs promoted by the President. It’s an alarming new sign that, under Trump, scientists can speak — but only if they stay in line, Stephen Collinson writes.
Here are today's other developments...
“Unprecedented” post-war recession underway: Ratings agency Fitch says the world is headed for a recession of “unprecedented depth in the post-war period” with global gross domestic product forecasted to fall by 3.9% in 2020. “This is twice as large as the decline anticipated in our early April GEO [global economic outlook] update and would be twice as severe as the 2009 recession,” Fitch’s chief economist said.
And the US isn't making enough progress on the latter, Jha said: "We have estimated we need at least three times as much testing as we have right now."
New revelations about ventilators, strokes: About a quarter of coronavirus patients who needed ventilators to help them breathe died within the first few weeks of treatment, a study of New York's largest health system showed.
And another revelation: coronavirus appears to be causing sudden strokes in adults in their 30s and 40s, who are not otherwise terribly ill, doctors say.
Latin America lockdowns leave poor in the lurch: Demonstrators took to the streets of Colombia’s capital Bogota yesterday, protesting over what they say is a lack of support from the government during the country's lockdown.
Elsewhere in Latin America, outbreaks are reaching serious phases of spread, but with little in the way of critical health care. Cases in Mexico have passed 10,000 after the largest single day spike of 1,043 was reported; 970 have died.
"A second wave is coming" Many Wuhan residents believe there could be a second wave in the epicenter of the outbreak, now that the city is returning to normal life.
Hector Retamal, a photojournalist with Agence France-Presse, who covered the lockdown and is documenting the city’s reopening, says the anxiety is palpable: “I still see the fear in people who timidly return to the streets.”
A version of this story first appeared in CNN's daily Coronavirus: Fact Vs. Fiction newsletter. Sign up here.
Malaysia prohibits public gatherings to break fast during Ramadan
From CNN’s Sophie Jeong in Seoul
Prayers and breaking of fasting will be done at home during the month of Ramadan in Malaysian, state news agency Bernama said Thursday.
The rules also prohibit Friday prayers from being held at mosques.
The report quoted the Minister of Islamic Affairs Senator Datuk Seri Dr Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri, who said the decision was made after taking into account the Covid-19 pandemic and the country's Movement Control Order (MCO).
The nationwide MCO prohibits all Malaysian nationals from traveling abroad whilst also banning social, religious and educational gatherings.
As of Thursday, Malaysia reported more than 5,600 confirmed coronavirus cases. The death toll in the country stands at 95 according to Bernama and Johns Hopkins University.
CORRECTION: This post has been updated with the number of cases and deaths from coronavirus in Malaysia.