April 24 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton and Rob Picheta, CNN

Updated 0137 GMT (0937 HKT) April 25, 2020
19 Posts
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1:01 a.m. ET, April 24, 2020

Men should do grocery shopping during pandemic as women take too long, Japanese mayor says

By CNN's Emiko Jozuka in Tokyo

Osaka Mayor Ichiro Matsui gives an interview at the city's prefectural government building on April 6.
Osaka Mayor Ichiro Matsui gives an interview at the city's prefectural government building on April 6. Kyodo News via Getty Images

The mayor of Japan's third largest city is facing a public backlash after he said men would make more effective grocery shoppers than women as officials struggle to prevent overcrowding at stores amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The number of confirmed cases of the virus has spiked in recent weeks -- dashing hopes that the government's initial virus response had succeeded in controlling its spread. As of Friday, Japan had recorded 13,100 confirmed cases, including 330 deaths, according to the country's health ministry. On March 1, Japan had reported just 243 cases.

That spike has seen a raft of new restrictions put in place nationwide. On Thursday, Osaka Mayor Ichiro Matsui implied male grocery shoppers would reduce the potential spread of the virus as they would spend less time in shops. 

"Women take a longer time grocery shopping because they browse through different products and weigh out which option is best," Matsui told reporters at a coronavirus news conference in Osaka on Thursday. 
"Men quickly grab what they're told to buy so they won't linger at the supermarket -- that avoids close contact with others."

Gender inequality: Women account for more than 51% of the Japanese population, according to World Bank data. However, Japan is ranked 110th out of 149 countries in the World Economic Forum's gender gap index.

Journalist fires back: The mayor's comments prompted journalist Shoko Egawa to post on Twitter that "people who know nothing about daily life shouldn't make comments."

Egawa's post gleaned over 3,000 retweets, with one social media user suggesting in a tweet that Matsui had probably never done the shopping himself. Another commentator tweeted that Japan's tragedy was having politicians like Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso, who they said knew nothing about daily life.

Limiting crowds at supermarkets: Osaka has been under a state of emergency since April 7. Matsui's comments came after he suggested supermarkets limit the number of people entering stores where possible, and recommended the public only shop for groceries once every two to three days.

12:38 a.m. ET, April 24, 2020

Fauci thanks NFL for following social distancing guidelines with virtual draft

From CNN's Caroline Kelly

Top US infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci made a video appearance during Thursday's NFL draft, thanking the league for adjusting one of the sport's most highly anticipated nights to adhere to social distancing guidelines in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

"I want to commend those involved in these decisions to show that we can have something as important as that in a way that safeguards the life, the safety and the health of the American public by doing the kind of physical separations, doing things virtually, avoiding that kind of contact that puts you at risk," Fauci said in his brief video appearance.

This year's NFL draft, which was originally supposed to take place in Las Vegas, is being held virtually because of the Covid-19 pandemic, with league commissioner Roger Goodell announcing draft picks from his basement.

"I know it's unusual, I know it disturbs the normal pattern but it really is for your good and the good of the country," Fauci said. "So the best thing we can do now is hope for the best and hope that's sooner or later -- hopefully sooner -- we can get back to some form of normality where we can all enjoy the sport that we love so much."

Read more:

12:29 a.m. ET, April 24, 2020

It's just past 9:30 p.m in Washington and 1:30 p.m in Seoul. Here's the latest on the pandemic

Students wearing masks to help stop the spread of the new coronavirus, sit for the Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE) exams at a school in Hong Kong, on Friday, April 24.
Students wearing masks to help stop the spread of the new coronavirus, sit for the Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE) exams at a school in Hong Kong, on Friday, April 24. Jerome Favre/Pool/AP

The novel coronavirus has now infected more than 2.7 million people worldwide and killed at least 190,000. If you're just joining us now, here are the latest developments:

  • US stimulus: The US House of Representatives approved a $480 billion package to help small businesses and hospitals and expand testing. The package was approved by the Senate earlier this week, and now goes to President Trump, who has indicated that he will sign it.
  • Unemployment hits: The stimulus package comes amid an unemployment crisis. A total of 26.5 million Americans have filed unemployment claims since mid-March.
  • Pompeo blames Beijing: China "caused an enormous amount of pain, loss of life," with its handling of coronavirus and the "Chinese Communist Party will pay a price," the top US diplomat told Sean Hannity’s show on Fox.
  • EU stimulus: The European Union also agreed on a massive stimulus package on Thursday, worth trillions of euros. But there were disagreements on "coronabonds," a controversial debt-pooling instrument.
  • South Korea milestone: The country recorded no new coronavirus deaths yesterday for the first time in 40 days.
  • Lifting restrictions: US states like Alaska and Georgia, and countries including the Czech Republic, are beginning to loosen restrictions. This means allowing businesses to reopen, letting people move around more, and limited social gatherings.
  • But the crisis is far from over. May will be a "decisive" month for New York City, its mayor said. Experts warned we are possibly months away from finding a drug that can fight the virus. And with fears running high in India, Muslims are finding themselves targeted in Islamophobic attacks.
12:17 a.m. ET, April 24, 2020

Where did the coronavirus originate? For now, there are no answers in Wuhan

From CNN’s David Culver in Wuhan

For the past week it's been the question which has raged around the world -- where in Wuhan did the novel coronavirus originate?

The most common explanation is that the virus jumped from animals to humans in the Wuhan seafood market, where wild animals were being stored in unhygienic conditions alongside humans.

But in the past week, the United States government, and especially allies of President Donald Trump, have been suggesting the virus escaped from either the Wuhan Institute of Virology or perhaps the nearby Chinese Centers for Disease Control laboratory where it was being studied.

"I would just say, at this point, it's inconclusive although the weight of evidence seems to indicate natural (origin). But we don't know for certain," Joint Chief of Staff Chairman Mark Milley told reporters on April 14.

The Chinese government has strongly denied the accusation. "The head of the World Health Organization has repeatedly stated that there hasn't been any evidence pointing to the virus being lab-created,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on April 16.

CNN requested to visit the Institute of Virology lab or to speak to a spokesperson during our trip to Wuhan but were not given access.

Read more here about Wuhan's reopening:

12:05 a.m. ET, April 24, 2020

Alaska governor lifts restrictions and warns "there will be deaths"

Alaska is set to be one of the first US states to begin loosening business restrictions on Friday.

"We're looking at, potentially, a new beginning," said Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy at a news conference on Thursday. He also encouraged residents to leave town if they wanted to, since movement restrictions will also be lifted.

"You can get in your car and go for a ride," he said. 

Under the loosened restrictions, restaurants can resume table service but are limited to 25% capacity with 10 feet (3 meters) between each table. Only family members can sit together. Salons will accept customers by appointment only. 

The city of Anchorage, where 40% of the state's residents live, is putting off the looser restrictions until Monday. 

Dunleavy did warn that people shouldn't expect a quick return to ordinary life. "We're preparing for a world in which we have to incorporate this new disease into our daily lives," he said.

He also acknowledged that opening up the economy is likely to involve more spread of the virus.

"Unfortunately, there will be deaths, as there have been with car accidents and cancers and strokes," he said.
11:56 p.m. ET, April 23, 2020

Japan adds 85 fatalities missed from death toll

From CNN's Junko Ogura in Tokyo

Japan reported 434 new coronavirus cases and 19 related deaths on Thursday, according to the country's health ministry.

The ministry also added 85 deaths and 34 infections to the nationwide totals, which had been previously missed. The discrepancy was found when officials re-examined information received from local governments.

This brings the country's total to 13,100 cases and 330 deaths, according to the health ministry.

12:19 a.m. ET, April 24, 2020

Pompeo says China "caused an enormous amount of pain, loss of life," and "Chinese Communist Party will pay a price"

From CNN's Dylan Wells and Kylie Atwood

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news briefing at the State Department on Wednesday, April 22, in Washington.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news briefing at the State Department on Wednesday, April 22, in Washington. Kicholas Kamm/Pool/AP

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has criticized China previously for its handling of coronavirus, but tonight he was clearer than ever, saying, "China caused an enormous amount of pain, loss of life, and now a huge challenge for the global economy and the American economy as well by not sharing the information they had."

Pompeo, appearing on Sean Hannity’s show on Fox, added, "I am very confident that the Chinese Communist Party will pay a price for what they did here, certainly from the United States."

Pompeo has previously said "there'll be a time for recriminations" when asked if China should pay for the damage of the pandemic, but his language tonight is more direct in saying they will pay a price.

The top US diplomat said, "You should know we still don't have full transparency from the Chinese Communist Party, we are concerned there are things we don't know and we haven't been able to get our team on the ground to do the work that it needs to do."
11:41 p.m. ET, April 23, 2020

EU leaders create massive coronavirus recovery fund, but reject "coronabonds"

From CNN’s James Frater, Anna Stewart and Mia Alberti

French President Emmanuel Macron attends a video conference call with members of the European Council at the Elysee Palace in Paris, on April 23.
French President Emmanuel Macron attends a video conference call with members of the European Council at the Elysee Palace in Paris, on April 23. Ian Langson/Pool/Getty Images

European Union leaders agreed on Thursday to create a massive coronavirus recovery fund worth trillions rather than billions of euros.

But they did not endorse "coronabonds," the controversial debt-pooling instrument that countries such as Italy and Spain hoped for.

French President Emmanuel Macron said it was critical that the EU worked together in the face of the crisis, warning that "if we abandon part of Europe, all of Europe will fall."

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, a fierce critic of the Europe-wide response to the pandemic that has hit his country so hard, expressed satisfaction with Thursday’s virtual summit.

He said the Council's decision to launch the recovery fund was "important" to help some of the hardest-hit countries.

"It's important because this is a necessary and urgent tool. It is absolutely necessary Italy is the first in line to ask for this," he said in a short video statement.

Coronabond controversy: The leaders agreed that the financing would be built into the EU’s next seven-year budget, rather than special instruments including the so-called "coronabonds."

Macron explained resistance to coronabonds by saying: "There is a consensus on the need for a strong, coordinated response of around 5 to 10 points of GDP, but there are disagreements on the means. Not to be too technical, but one of the questions is: Should the European debt serve to finance loans or real money transfers? If the European Union increases its debt to finance loans, this is insufficient. Because they would only be creating more debt to the countries they would be granting loans to."
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.