April 26 coronavirus news

By James Griffiths, Jenni Marsh, Tara John, Fernando Alfonso III and Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 9:44 p.m. ET, April 26, 2020
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7:29 a.m. ET, April 26, 2020

Belgians asked to eat "twice" the amount of frites during coronavirus pandemic

From CNN's James Frater in London

Belgian potato farmers are facing a surplus of 750,000 tonnes of potatoes this year.
Belgian potato farmers are facing a surplus of 750,000 tonnes of potatoes this year. Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Belgians are being asked to eat an extra portion of frites each week during the coronavirus pandemic in a bid to help Belgian potato producers, who risk destroying surplus stock due a slump in demand caused by restaurant closures.

The campaign is being led by Belgapom, the country's association of potato producers. Its director, Romain Cools, told CNN that he hopes that by encouraging Belgians to eat more frites at home it will, "enable our processors to avoid food waste by processing more potatoes and store them in our freezers -- which are nearly full now."

Belgians typically eat frites once a week, but mainly outside their homes in friteries or restaurants. Coors said this is "contrary to other countries like the United States, where fries are often a side dish for their meals."

Belgian potato farmers are facing a surplus of 750,000 tons of potatoes this year that risk being destroyed because of the measures in place to stop the spread of Covid-19, according to the latest Belgapom data.

"By eating an extra portion during this crisis they could collaborate with farmers and the industry to avoid food losses," added Cools.

World's largest frozen fries exporter: With almost all food outlets closed in the country and across Europe, normal consumption patterns have been disrupted which Belgapom estimates has caused a worldwide decrease in the consumption of fries by 40% since the beginning of the pandemic.

This has huge implications on the Belgian potato growers who are the world’s largest exporter of frozen fries -- with the majority of their products going to caterers and professional kitchens in 160 countries around the world.

According to Belgapom’s figures, 2.3 million tons of frozen french fries were supplied globally by Belgian producers in 2019.

To help citizens use up the extra potatoes, the regional agriculture agency of Wallonia, Apaq-W and VLAM are promoting local and seasonal recipes through dedicated websites to use up excess Belgian potatoes and encouraging people to post their dishes on social media.

6:21 a.m. ET, April 26, 2020

Moscow is "not halfway through" the pandemic as Russia surpasses 80,000 coronavirus cases

From CNN’s Mary Ilyushina in Moscow

People walk on Red Square in downtown Moscow on February 19, 2020.
People walk on Red Square in downtown Moscow on February 19, 2020.

Russia’s capital has not reached the plateau yet and is looking at several weeks of “challenges” ahead, Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin said in an interview aired on state channel Russia 24. 

“Unfortunately, I can’t say we’ve reached a plateau or that we have some positive dynamic,” Sobyanin said. “Moreover, I see that we are not halfway through yet.”

“Out situation is not overly dramatic in terms of growth, but at the same time we see 8-10-12%, sometimes up to 15% growth in cases, and those are [just] the people who had the coronavirus diagnosis confirmed in a lab,” Sobyanin added.

Moscow hospitals are “coping” with the challenges so far but the health authorities are working to double the amount of beds for coronavirus patients in the next week and half, the mayor said. 

Meanwhile, the city authorities do not plan to tighten restrictions further as of now, according to the interview. Last week, Moscow introduced a QR-code pass system for all movements by means of transport, which created bottlenecks in the subway on the first day of its introduction. 

Cases rise: On Sunday, Russia reported 6,361 new cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 80,949, its coronavirus response headquarters said in a statement.

More than a half of the new cases were reported in Russia’s regions but Moscow remains the most badly affected city with more than 40,000 cases.

According to the response headquarters, about 45% of new cases were asymptomatic. 

6:22 a.m. ET, April 26, 2020

No new coronavirus cases recorded in Hong Kong

From Vanesse Chan in Hong Kong

Hong Kong reported no new coronavirus cases on Sunday, according to Hong Kong’s Centre for Health Protection (CHP). Sunday was the third day in the past week that the city reported zero new cases.

The total number of confirmed cases in Hong Kong remains at 1,037, the CHP said in a statement.

A spokesman for the CHP urged members of the public to maintain an appropriate social distance with others and avoid all non-essential travel outside Hong Kong. 

8:27 a.m. ET, April 26, 2020

Spain's kids enjoy their first taste freedom after spending six weeks indoors

From CNN's Al Goodman in Spain

One man and his daughter walk outside their home in Madrid on Sunday.
One man and his daughter walk outside their home in Madrid on Sunday. Al Goodman/CNN

Children in Spain had their first taste of freedom on Sunday after a state of emergency was imposed on March 14, bringing some of the strictest confinement measures in Europe in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Children enjoying the outdoors chirped "bien," which means good, when asked by CNN how they felt about being able to walk outside their homes in the capital, Madrid.

"We appreciate being able to go out because staying home it was getting very boring, even though we have the PlayStation and we can talk to our friends on WhatsApp and video calls, it is good to be able to go out and have some fresh air because we were feeling a bit overwhelmed at home," Abel Sanchez, 14, told CNN.

The government announced this week that from Sunday kids up to the age of 14 will now be able to play outside for one hour a day while accompanied by an adult.

They are not allowed to venture further than one kilometer (0.62 miles) from their home, but are able to bring out their toys to play.

A mother who works in a financial start-up walks with her two-year-old son. Behind her is a police checkpoint, ensuring drivers comply with the lockdown.
A mother who works in a financial start-up walks with her two-year-old son. Behind her is a police checkpoint, ensuring drivers comply with the lockdown. Al Goodman/CNN

This sliver of normality brought some smiles to Madrid's streets. Nine-year-old Lucia Ibanez told CNN that she missed "the streets and the park" the most during lockdown.

"And to feel the air on your face, I never thought I would miss school but I really miss it," she added.

A couple walks with their two young children on Sunday.
A couple walks with their two young children on Sunday. Al Goodman/CNN
5:27 a.m. ET, April 26, 2020

"SNL" returns with Brad Pitt as Dr. Anthony Fauci

From CNN's Frank Pallotta

Brad Pitt as Dr. Anthony Fauci
Brad Pitt as Dr. Anthony Fauci

Dr. Anthony Fauci jokingly said that if any actor was going to portray him on "Saturday Night Live," he'd want Brad Pitt.

On Saturday night, Fauci got his wish.

In a surprise appearance, Pitt played Fauci at the opening of Saturday's "SNL," which was produced remotely because of the coronavirus pandemic.

"First, I'd like to thank all the older women in America who have sent me supportive, inspiring and sometimes graphic e-mails," Pitt as Fauci said.

Pitt's Fauci then explained that there's been a lot of misinformation out there about the coronavirus, and that "yes, the President has taken some liberties with our guidelines."

He then said he'd like to explain what President Trump was "trying to say."

"And remember, let's all keep an open mind," Pitt's Fauci said.

The sketch then proceeded to show clips of Trump talking about the outbreak. The first had Trump saying that the country would have a vaccine "relatively soon."

"Relatively soon is an interesting phrase. Relative to the entire history of earth? Sure, the vaccine is going to come real fast," Pitt's Fauci said. "But if you were going to tell a friend, 'I'll be over relatively soon' and then showed up a year and a half later, well, your friend may be relatively pissed off."

Read the whole article here.

5:16 a.m. ET, April 26, 2020

China says all hospitalized coronavirus patients in Wuhan have been discharged

From Alexandra Lin in Hong Kong

A man wearing a face mask arrives to buy vegetables at a stall in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province on April 18.
A man wearing a face mask arrives to buy vegetables at a stall in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province on April 18.

All hospitalized coronavirus patients in Wuhan, the original epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, have been discharged from hospitals, Mi Feng, a spokesperson for China’s National Health Commission (NHC) said on Sunday.

“With joint effort of medical professionals from Wuhan and from around the country, by April 26, all hospitalized Covid-19 patients in Wuhan have been cleared,” Mi said.

As of Saturday, 46,452 total cases have been confirmed in Wuhan, according to a statement from NHC on Sunday.

Wuhan was the first city in the world to go into lockdown due to the virus. It has been 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 and much of the surrounding Hubei province, lie just beneath the surface. Many citizens are worried about a second outbreak and businesses are struggling to get back on their feet.

The first known cases of the virus were detected in Wuhan in mid-December. In the weeks that followed, case numbers spiked and from January 23 until April 8, residents were unable to leave the city as the Chinese government attempted to contain the outbreak.

But despite the attempts to halt the spread of the virus, it has now infected more than 2.6 million people worldwide.

Read our piece on Wuhan's slow path to normality.

4:54 a.m. ET, April 26, 2020

Spain's children are allowed out of their homes for the first time since lockdown

Spanish citizens could be allowed to go outside to play sports and walk with family members in early May
Spanish citizens could be allowed to go outside to play sports and walk with family members in early May Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images

Spain's children are finally allowed to leave their homes for the first time in over six weeks after the government announced a relaxation of the strictest confinement measures in Europe.

In the capital Madrid, parents were seen by CNN venturing out with their children in tow on Sunday morning.

Kids up to the age of 14-years-old will now be able to play outside for one hour a day while accompanied by an adult, according to a decree by Spain’s Official State Gazette (BOE).

The guidelines also stressed that children should be in groups no larger than three alongside one adult, and should not venture further than one kilometer (0.62 miles) from their home. They are also allowed to bring their toys.

This comes as the daily coronavirus death rate has dropped in the country, which also has the world’s second-highest number of coronavirus cases (223,759), after the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University (JHU).

Gradual easing: In a speech on Saturday evening, Spain Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced he will present his plan for the "de-escalation phase" in his country next Tuesday.

Sánchez told Spaniards that the country has had a small and modest victory, but there is a still a long way to go before they win the battle against coronavirus.

The PM also announced that if Spain continues to show improvement, citizens will be allowed to go outside to play sports and walk with family members in early May. The country's health minister will oversee the arrangements and guidance, he said.

The process would be gradual, "asymmetrical" and coordinated, Sánchez emphasized.

4:33 a.m. ET, April 26, 2020

New Delhi hospital closed after a nurse tests positive for coronavirus

From CNN's Rishabh Pratap in New Delhi

An ambulance passes through a disinfecting tunnel at the Hindu Rao Hospital in New Dehli on April 12.
An ambulance passes through a disinfecting tunnel at the Hindu Rao Hospital in New Dehli on April 12. Sanjeev Verma/Hindustan Times/Getty Images

Hindu Rao, one of the largest hospitals in the Indian capital New Delhi, has been closed for a deep clean, after a nurse there tested positive for coronavirus.

"Since she has been on duty in various locations within the campus over the last two weeks, we are closing down the hospital till we fully sanitize and complete contact tracing," said Varsha Joshi, commissioner for the North Delhi Municipal Corporation. He added that a thorough inquiry will be conducted.

The hospital will only be functional again after the sanitization work finishes, per Health Ministry guidelines, she added. 

Delhi has reported 3,424 positive coronavirus cases, including 53 deaths.

4:19 a.m. ET, April 26, 2020

India's Modi says "all of us are soldiers" in fight against coronavirus

From CNN's Rishabh Pratap in New Delhi

An Indian policeman walks past an art work displayed on a road urging people to stay home during lockdown in Hyderabad.
An Indian policeman walks past an art work displayed on a road urging people to stay home during lockdown in Hyderabad. Mahesh Kumar A./AP

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the country's battle against coronavirus a "people-driven" movement and urged citizens to join the government in the struggle.

"People of our country are fighting this war along with the administration. We are also fighting poverty," Modi said Sunday, in his monthly radio broadcast. "I am proud that all of us are part of it. All of us are soldiers in this fight."

Modi said that demonstrations of solidarity, such as clapping and lighting candles, have lifted the morale of frontline workers. He also lauded workers of different sectors, saying "be it in cities or a village, everywhere we can see people getting involved in this fight against the pandemic."

"While some are feeding the poor, some are making masks, others are selling their lands to raise money for this fight. Some are even contributing their pensions. Our hardworking farmers are also ensuring no one is hungry," he added.

Referring to how coronavirus is altering life in India, and around the world, Modi said the most prominent change had been mask-wearing.

Masks have become a part of life due to coronavirus. It doesn't mean if someone wears a mask, they are sick," he said. "Masks will become a symbol of a civilized society."

Modi also thanked Indians for celebrating festivals such as Easter and Ramadan at home. 

India has been under nationwide lockdown since March 24, with no plan to relax restriction until at least May 3.

As of Sunday, the country has reported 26,496 coronavirus cases and 825 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.