April 25 coronavirus news

By Julia Hollingsworth, Brett McKeehan, Tara John, Fernando Alfonso III and Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 9:00 p.m. ET, April 25, 2020
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1:19 a.m. ET, April 25, 2020

US coronavirus response hit by foreign hackers

From CNN's Zachary Cohen and Alex Marquardt

The Trump administration is pointing the finger at China for attempting to steal coronavirus research as officials warn they have seen a growing wave of cyberattacks on US government agencies and medical institutions leading the pandemic response by nation states and criminal groups.

Who has been hit? Hospitals, research laboratories, health care providers and pharmaceutical companies have all been hit, officials say, and the Department of Health and Human Services -- which oversees the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- has been struck by a surge of daily strikes, an official with direct knowledge of the attacks said.

"It is safe to say that there are only two places in the world that could hit (the Department of Health and Human Services) the way it's been hit," the official familiar with the attacks told CNN.

Who could have done it? The primary culprits for the HHS attacks are Russia and China, the official said, because of the size and scope of the actions. After some hesitance to attribute the wide-ranging attacks across the medical sector to any specific countries -- whether for political reasons or a lack of certainty -- top national security officials have decided to single out China.

The Department of Justice now says they are particularly concerned about attacks by Chinese hackers targeting US hospitals and labs to steal research related to coronavirus.

"It's certainly the logical conclusion of everything I've said," John Demers, the head of the Justice Department's National Security Division, said when asked specifically about China's actions during an online discussion Thursday on Chinese economic espionage hosted by Strategic News Service. "We are very attuned to increased cyber intrusions into medical centers, research centers, universities, anybody that is doing research in this area."
"There is nothing more valuable today than biomedical research relating to vaccines for treatments for the coronavirus," Demers said. "It's of great importance not just from a commercial value but whatever countries, company or research lab develops that vaccine first and is able to produce it is going to have a significant geopolitical success story."

Read more here.

12:50 a.m. ET, April 25, 2020

New Zealand leader Jacinda Ardern marks Anzac Day -- from her driveway

It's Anzac Day in New Zealand and Australia -- but people have to mark the day of remembrance a little differently this year, even prime ministers.

April 25 marks the date when Allied soldiers landed on the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey during World War I. In both countries, people gather at dawn ceremonies to remember soldiers lost in all wars.

But with dawn services called off because of coronavirus restrictions, many opted to pay their respects from their driveways.

On Saturday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern posted a picture on Instagram of her standing alongside her father and partner outside Premier House in Wellington.

"Really moving to see all the images of Kiwis standing at dawn to commemorate Anzac Day this year," she wrote on Instagram. "On my street one of our neighbours played the service through a small speaker while we all stood apart but together. I had my bubble alongside me, and some flowers my mum found in the garden. A different, but still a really special Anzac Day. Lest we forget."
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, center, with her father Ross Ardern, left, and partner Clarke Gayford stand outside Premier House in Wellington to mark Anzac Day on April 25.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, center, with her father Ross Ardern, left, and partner Clarke Gayford stand outside Premier House in Wellington to mark Anzac Day on April 25. Ross Giblin/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

12:15 a.m. ET, April 25, 2020

The United States has at least 890,500 coronavirus cases, including more than 51,000 deaths

People wearing face masks at New York's Grand Central Station on April 24.
People wearing face masks at New York's Grand Central Station on April 24. Pablo Monsalve/VIEWpress/Getty Images

There are at least 890,524 cases of coronavirus in the United States, including at least 51,017 deaths, according to the latest tally from Johns Hopkins University (JHU).

As states begin to include “probable deaths” in their counts, so will JHU. In the upcoming days, these changes may show as surges in the number of deaths in the country.

On Friday, JHU had 21,579 new reported cases and 1,130 more deaths in the US. 

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, veterans hospitals and federal prisons. 

For the latest Johns Hopkins University US numbers, check here. CNN’s map, using JHU data, refreshes every 15 mins.

11:58 p.m. ET, April 24, 2020

A US review of the repatriation of people from Wuhan says safety protocols were not followed

From CNN's Lauren Fox

Passengers on a charter flight from Wuhan, China, arrive in Riverside, California, on January 29.
Passengers on a charter flight from Wuhan, China, arrive in Riverside, California, on January 29. Will Lester/MediaNews Group/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/Getty Images

A United States agency review has shed light on the early missteps of the administration in repatriating individuals in January from Wuhan, China, to March Air Reserve Base in California.

While the summary report makes clear that all individuals coming back from Wuhan were asymptomatic, it echoes some of the concerns raised in February by a whistleblower. 

The report was sent to Congressional offices on Friday.

What the report says: According to the summary of the Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of General Counsel’s investigation obtained by CNN, the state of California was going to handle the repatriation of individuals from Wuhan -- but at the last minute, it was decided the facility they were going to use was “medically inadequate."

HHS stepped in, but according to the report, “there was no designated agency or official leading the repatriation effort.”

As a result, appropriate safety protocols were not followed at March Air Reserve Base, according to the report.

Without clear instruction or adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), some officials “were forced to use Riverside County California’s PPE.” The report does say that no one who had come from Wuhan at March tested positive for Covid-19. 

Other issues at March involved the fact that food distributors were not wearing PPE, and were at times within 6 feet (1.8 meters) of repatriated individuals from Wuhan, according to the report.

“According to multiple interviewees, ACF [Administration for Children and Families] also directed HHS personnel to remove PPE to avoid 'bad optics.' Finally, according to multiple eyewitness accounts, the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] lead at March repeatedly interacted closely with evacuees without donning appropriate PPE,” the report said.

However, the HHS summary of the IG report says HHS personnel in Washington took prompt action. The report also states that "problems identified above did not reoccur during the Travis deployment." American evacuees returning home were also quarantined at Travis Air Force Base in California.

"Although there has been anecdotal evidence of breaches of PPE protocol at Travis, it appears that those breaches were the result of individual mistakes," the report said.

The report also notes that  no U.S. Government personnel involved in the March repatriation and quarantine tested positive for or contracted Covid-19 as result of that deployment.

CNN has contacted HHS for comment.

 

11:28 p.m. ET, April 24, 2020

Australia and New Zealand remember fallen soldiers in scaled-down Anzac Day

Margaret Beazley, Governor of New South Wales, speaks to the media in front of a near empty Anzac Memorial in Hyde Park in Sydney, Australia on April 25.
Margaret Beazley, Governor of New South Wales, speaks to the media in front of a near empty Anzac Memorial in Hyde Park in Sydney, Australia on April 25. Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Wreaths have been laid at the Anzac memorial in Sydney in a scaled-back ceremony without the usual crowds.

Mass public gatherings are banned in Australia, where people typically attend services or marches on April 25 to commemorate soldiers lost during wartime.

Laying a wreath Saturday, New South Wales state governor Margaret Beazley commemorated the World War I fallen.

"In the months after World War I, soldiers, sailors, and nurses were returning home, the world succumbed to another enemy, Spanish Flu, which wreaked its havoc on our already grieving community and constrained our first post-war Anzac commemorations," Beazley said.
"Today's Covid-19 pandemic has likewise imposed its constraints -- and for good reasons. War or no war, a pandemic is an enemy, and just as in war, the physical and mental health of our people is at the forefront of our concern."

What is Anzac Day?

Anzac Day is observed in Australia and New Zealand, with the name "Anzac" standing for "Australian and New Zealand Army Corps." The date marks when Allied soldiers landed on the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey during World War I.

The day is now used to remember all Australian and New Zealand soldiers lost at war, not just those who died during World War I.

Anzac biscuits -- a cookie made with oats that wives often sent to soldiers during the war -- are often eaten on Anzac Day.

Read more about Anzac Day here.

12:16 a.m. ET, April 25, 2020

Pakistan has extended its nationwide lockdown until May

From CNN's Sophia Saifi in Islamabad

Pakistan will remain in a nationwide lockdown until May 9 to curb the spread of coronavirus, Planning Minister Asad Umar announced.

The decision was made after consultation with all the provincial governments, Umar said.

Pakistan has reported 11,940 coronavirus cases and 253 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

10:08 p.m. ET, April 24, 2020

Singapore's migrant workers are suffering the brunt of the country's coronavirus cases

From CNN's Jessie Yeung, Joshua Berlinger, Manisha Tank and Isaac Yee

Migrant workers at a factory converted into a dormitory in Singapore on April 24.
Migrant workers at a factory converted into a dormitory in Singapore on April 24. Ore Huiying/Getty Images

Rubel, a 28-year-old migrant worker in Singapore, is afraid. The dormitory he and other foreign workers live in has been locked down, and nobody is allowed in or out as government officials scramble to contain the country's novel coronavirus outbreak.

What's going on in Singapore: In recent weeks, the Asian city-state has had a dramatic spike in coronavirus infections, with thousands of new cases linked to clusters in foreign worker dormitories. To control the spread, the government has attempted to isolate the dormitories, test workers and move symptomatic patients into quarantine facilities. 

But those measures have left hundreds of thousands of workers trapped in their dormitories, living cheek by jowl in cramped conditions that make social distancing near impossible.

Singapore is home to about 1.4 million migrant workers who come largely from South and Southeast Asia. As housekeepers, domestic helpers, construction workers and manual laborers, these migrants are essential to keeping Singapore functioning -- but are also some of the lowest paid and most vulnerable people in the city.

How that's affecting migrant workers: Rubel, who goes only by one name, came to Singapore from Bangladesh six years ago to work in construction and earn money for his family. Now, with his health and safety at risk, he's worried for those who depend on him.

"I'm scared of this coronavirus, because if I catch it I cannot take care of my family," he said.

In the first three months of the coronavirus pandemic, Singapore was praised for its response and apparent ability to suppress infections without resorting to extreme measures.

Then, in April, the number of cases exploded. Since March 17, Singapore's total cases grew from 266 to 12,075, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. 

Even as the number of new cases surged past 1,000 a day, only a dozen or so per day were Singapore citizens of permanent residents; the rest were all migrant workers.

Read the full story here.

9:45 p.m. ET, April 24, 2020

The US will send ventilators to Ecuador, El Salvador and Indonesia, Trump says  

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal

US President Donald Trump addresses the media at the White House on April 24.
US President Donald Trump addresses the media at the White House on April 24. Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images

The United States will send ventilators to Ecuador, El Salvador and Indonesia, President Donald Trump tweeted Friday.

"Just spoke to my friend, President Joko Widodo of the Republic of Indonesia. Asking for Ventilators, which we will provide," the President wrote. "Great cooperation between us!"

Trump said he had a "great conversation with President Lenin Moreno" of Ecuador. He added that the US "will be sending them desperately needed Ventilators, of which we have recently manufactured many, and helping them in other ways. They are fighting hard against CoronaVirus!"

Trump also praised El Salvador for helping the US on immigration. 

"Will be helping them with Ventilators, which are desperately needed," Trump wrote. "They have worked well with us on immigration at the Southern Border!"

9:14 p.m. ET, April 24, 2020

UK to start trials of drones delivering medical supplies

The UK government has green-lit trials for drone delivery of medicines and medical equipment, UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said at the daily coronavirus briefing on Friday.

Plans were already in motion to use drones to make deliveries in the UK -- but due to the coronavirus crisis, "now we have an urgent need" to fast-track them, he said.

The trials will start next week and carry medical equipment to St Mary's Hospital on the Isle of Wight, off UK's southern coast, Shapps said.