April 24 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton and Rob Picheta, CNN

Updated 0137 GMT (0937 HKT) April 25, 2020
11 Posts
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11:27 p.m. ET, April 23, 2020

The Czech Republic is relaxing some coronavirus restrictions 

From journalist Thomas Etzler  

A woman shops at the recently-opened farmers' market in Prague on Monday, April 20.
A woman shops at the recently-opened farmers' market in Prague on Monday, April 20. Petr David Josek/AP

The Czech government on Thursday laid out its plans to lift restrictions that had been imposed to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Starting Monday, some shops, gyms without locker rooms and showers, libraries and outdoor areas in zoos and botanical gardens will be reopened. 

Religious services for a maximum of 15 people will also be allowed. 

From May 11, all shops in shopping malls and those larger than 2,500 square meters (26,900 sq ft) will reopen, as will restaurants, bars and cafes that have outdoor patios.

Hairdressing salons, barber shops, beauty salons, massage parlors, museums and galleries will also open on May 11.

From May 25, hotels, theaters, tattoo and piercing parlors will reopen, and weddings "under specific hygienic terms" will be allowed to go ahead, the statement says. 

The Czech Republic has reported 7,187 coronavirus cases, including 210 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

11:16 p.m. ET, April 23, 2020

For the first time in 40 days, South Korea reports no new coronavirus deaths

South Korea recorded no deaths from the coronavirus on Thursday for the first time in 40 days, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday.

The country also recorded a fourth consecutive day of single-digit new cases, suggesting a potential slowdown of the outbreak.

The country has now reported 10,708 cases, according to Johns Hopkins University.

According to the KCDC, fewer than 2,000 of those are active cases, with the majority of total infected patients having recovered.

The country's government has been among the most ambitious when it comes to providing the public with free and easy testing options. Experts have attributed South Korea's decline in new cases to its early testing efforts, a successful example of what is now commonly referred to as "flattening the curve."

11:19 p.m. ET, April 23, 2020

Hawaii is now paying for visitors to leave

A surfer walks out of the ocean on Oahu's North Shore near Haleiwa, Hawaii, on Tuesday, March 31.
A surfer walks out of the ocean on Oahu's North Shore near Haleiwa, Hawaii, on Tuesday, March 31. Caleb Jones/AP

Hawaii’s state tourism agency, typically dedicated to welcoming visitors, is now paying for them to leave.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority has set aside $25,000 for the costs of sending tourists away if they refuse to abide by the state’s 14-day quarantine.

Outbound travel arrangements are being handled by the non-profit group Visitor Aloha Society, the state said in a news release.

Nineteen people have been flown back to their airports of origin since the beginning of the outbreak. In some cases, the violators have been prosecuted for misdemeanors and forced to pay a fine. 

The Visitor Aloha Society arranges for the travel back home, and pays for the ticket if the visitor can't afford it.

10:58 p.m. ET, April 23, 2020

The US is approaching 50,000 coronavirus deaths

The United States has reported at least 868,395 cases of the novel coronavirus, including 49,861 related deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

At least 25,090 new cases and 3,071 deaths have been reported so far on Thursday. 

The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases and those in the US military.

CNN is tracking US coronavirus cases here:

10:47 p.m. ET, April 23, 2020

India's Muslims feel targeted by rumors they're spreading Covid-19

From CNN's Helen Regan, Priyali Sur and Vedika Sud

Hafiz Mohammed Naseerudin says that after a police officer assaulted him for being a Muslim and blamed him for spreading the coronavirus, he was left lying on the road for almost an hour.

Naseerudin, 44, had gone to pick up some vegetables from his friend's house in Humnabad, in the southern Indian state of Karnataka, when he says an officer stopped him on his scooter.

Other vehicles were on the road, Naseerudin says -- he believes he was stopped because of his religion.

"I am an imam, so I look and dress very Muslim. I also have a long beard," he says. "The cop started hitting me and saying that it is because of me and my community that this disease is spreading."

Nagesh D L, police superintendent of Bidar district where Humnabad is located, says the officer has been suspended while an inquiry was conducted into the incident. Naseerudin says he called the police from hospital to make a statement, but Nagesh claims they did not receive any complaint.

Naseerudin is not alone: As fears over the coronavirus mount in India, some Muslims, who make up roughly 200 million of the country's 1.3 billion population, have been targeted in Islamophobic attacks and accused of spreading the virus.

In the capital New Delhi, volunteers distributing ration kits to Muslim families say they face harassment from police and are scared to go out. In Punjab, Muslim milk producers say they have been threatened by villagers, their houses have been raided by police, and people are scared to buy their produce.

While these incidents have been mostly isolated, the virus fears are only amplifying existing prejudices, playing into growing Hindu nationalism which in recent years has seen India's Muslim societies increasingly marginalized.

Read more here:

10:29 p.m. ET, April 23, 2020

May will be decisive month for New York City, mayor says

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

Mayor Bill de Blasio said that May will be a "decisive" month for New York City, adding, "I feel very good about things getting substantially back to normal by September."

De Blasio said that "somewhere between, you know, the end of May and the beginning of school is going to be a point where we start to loosen up," speaking on a radio program Thursday.

The mayor said the reopening process will be done in slow, careful stages.

De Blasio rehashed the city’s "aggressive" plan to get testing done by hopefully the hundreds of thousands, and reiterated that the federal government needs to help the city in terms of testing resources.

The testing sites the city set up in minority communities are seeing a good response, he said, adding that new sites he previously announced will come online soon, including those in New York City Housing Authority communities. 

De Blasio also added that the "status quo before Covid-19 is not acceptable to me," addressing the racial disparity he says has been exposed by the virus.

10:34 p.m. ET, April 23, 2020

The world is "weeks to months" away from a drug that fights Covid-19, WHO says

From CNN's Jen Christensen

CNN's Anderson Cooper, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and WHO technical lead Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove.
CNN's Anderson Cooper, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and WHO technical lead Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove. Source: CNN

The world is "weeks to months" away from knowing what drugs will work to fight Covid-19, said Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, the technical lead for the World Health Organization's coronavirus response.

The WHO is tracking a number of studies that are trying to determine exactly how many people have been infected around the world, Van Kerkhove said.

According to one study in Germany, the number of people who have antibodies that show they've had the coronavirus infection ranges from 2% or 3% up to 14% of the population, she said during CNN's coronavirus town hall earlier tonight.

"What’s interesting about this is that these numbers, this seroprevalence, is a lot lower than some of the earlier models had predicted that would have suggested that this virus was circulating a lot more, and that much more of the population was already infected." Van Kerkhove said. "So these studies right now are not actually showing us that."

Seroprevalence is the number of people in a population who test positive for a disease.

The WHO is also closely monitoring the hundreds of Covid-19 drug trials.

"Everyone in the world wants to know which drugs, which medications are going to work, which medications are going to save lives," Van Kerkhove said. "Unfortunately, right now, we don't have any evidence one works, yet."

It’s critical that the studies are done and done well, Van Kerkhove said.

"So we can get to the answer that everybody needs," she said. The results, she added, "can't come soon enough." But the world is "weeks to months" from knowing what works.

10:17 p.m. ET, April 23, 2020

Wuhan, the first city in the world to go under coronavirus lockdown, is slowly opening up

From CNN's Ben Westcott

The first city in the world to go into lockdown due to the coronavirus is slowly returning to something that might be described as normal, after months of fear and anxiety.

But the scars of the viral outbreak which for 76 days shut down the Chinese city of Wuhan, and much of the surrounding Hubei province, lie just beneath the surface, with many citizens worried about a second outbreak and businesses still struggling to get back on their feet.

CNN international correspondent David Culver, now in Wuhan, joined CNN's global town hall earlier Thursday to talk about the city's reopening.

"You will notice, looking at the windows here, many of those stores are still closed. They still have these steel garage door-like gates down ... There is concern from the customer side of things that they can walk into a store without facing any potential exposure," he said.

Fewer than half of the stores he saw had reopened, and major brands that have resumed business did so with some modifications, Culver said. The stores have moved products to the front, and changed their procedures, to reduce interactions between customers and staff and keep stores as uncrowded as possible.

Read more here about Wuhan's reopening:

10:16 p.m. ET, April 23, 2020

Ecuador's coronavirus cases nearly double due to backlog of tests

From Ana Maria Cañizares and Flora Charner

The number of coronavirus cases reported in Ecuador nearly doubled Thursday, from 11,183 to 22,160, according to the country’s health minister.

The sharp increase was not caused by a new outbreak, health minister Juan Carlos Zevallos said during a news conference on Thursday. Zevallos said it was due to a backlog of tests in the country's laboratories, which left thousands of tests unprocessed.

Ecuador is one of the countries that has been hit hardest by coronavirus in Latin America. The country has the second highest number of cases behind Brazil, where more than 49,000 cases have been confirmed, including 3,313 deaths.