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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7:48 a.m. ET, April 26, 2020

Indian man buys 28 tons of onions and drives 869 miles disguised as an onion seller to beat lockdown

From Rishabh Madhavendra Pratap in New Delhi

India's lockdown rules allows vehicles delivering food items to cross state borders.
India's lockdown rules allows vehicles delivering food items to cross state borders. Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

In a desperate attempt to reach home during India’s strict coronavirus lockdown, a man traveled more than 800 miles home disguised as an onion seller, only to be sent to quarantine by the local police after reaching his destination.

According to police, Prem Murti Pandey, an employee at Mumbai's airport, loaded a truck with 28 tons of onion and traveled around 1,400 kilometers (869 miles) from Mumbai to his home in Prayagraj, northern India.

“I was stuck in Mumbai. Given the number of cases being reported in the city, I was scared and hence I had no option but to return home,” Pandey told CNN, speaking from the quarantine center. 

So Pandey decided to rent a truck, hire a driver and disguise himself. "We bought the onions from a vegetable market near Mumbai, and using the excuse of produce delivery, we crossed three states to finally reach home on Friday after traveling for three days," according to Pandey.

India's lockdown rules allows vehicles delivering food items to cross state borders. Pandey was sent to quarantine after his actions surfaced on Saturday, Arvind Kumar Singh, a senior police official in Prayagraj told CNN.

“He has not shown any symptoms of coronavirus but he has been kept in a quarantine center as a precautionary measure for two weeks,” the police official added.

Maharashtra -- home to India's financial capital Mumbai -- is the worst-affected state in the outbreak, with more than 28% of the country's coronavirus cases reported there. 

7:42 a.m. ET, April 26, 2020

NBA to open some practice facilities, ESPN reports

The NBA plans to reopen team practice facilities on Friday in areas where local government officials have relaxed stay-at-home restrictions, according to a report from ESPN.

Sources tell the network that players will be allowed to voluntarily work out individually but not as a team.

The NBA also plans to find alternative arrangements for players in states with full stay-at-home orders to be able to practice.

This move by the league doesn't mean that the season is starting anytime soon, according to ESPN's sources. 

7:41 a.m. ET, April 26, 2020

First known coronavirus death in the US was due to a "heart rupture," according to media report

From CNN's Hira Humayun and Alta Spells

Patricia Dowd died on February 6.
Patricia Dowd died on February 6.

The 57-year-old Bay Area woman Patricia Dowd, who is believed to be the first coronavirus related death in the US, suffered from a heart rupture caused by the virus according to The San Francisco Chronicle who obtained and published a copy of the autopsy report.

CNN has reached out to the Santa Clara Medical Examiner-Coroner’s office for an independent copy of the autopsy report.

Dowd, who died on February 6, worked as a manager for a semiconductor company and "exercised routinely, watched her diet and took no medication," the Los Angeles Times first reported Wednesday.

She had not traveled to any area with a high transmission rate of the virus before her death.

Rick Cabello, Dowd's older brother, told CNN she didn't smoke and was in good health.

"She was an athlete in her high school days, she was always active," Cabello said Wednesday. Her sudden death was a shock to family members. They all believed it was a heart attack, Cabello said.

Read more about her here.

7:30 a.m. ET, April 26, 2020

Lebanon to relax some coronavirus restrictions from Monday

From CNN’s Ghazi Balkiz in Beirut

Sanitary workers disinfect the desks and chairs of the Lebanese Parliament on March 10.
Sanitary workers disinfect the desks and chairs of the Lebanese Parliament on March 10.

Lebanon is relaxing some of its coronavirus restrictions, known as the "general mobilization," by increasing the opening hours for some commercial and industrial enterprises in the country starting Monday. 

The decree, issued by the Minister of Interior, Mohammed Fahmi, has amended the opening and closing times for factories, wholesale and retail shops, supermarkets, dairies, bakeries, free trade shops such as mechanics’ shops, carpenters, TV production companies, and other establishments.

Other measures include:

  • People over 65 years old have been asked to stay at home, and only to leave if there is “an extreme necessity,” the decree added.
  • Public transportation vehicles will also be allowed to operate with limited passengers onboard depending on the size of the vehicle.
  • All institutions need to adhere to public safety and social distancing measures.

The "general mobilization" measures that were originally announced on March 15 included a ban on public and private gatherings and called for people to remain at home.

On Friday, the Lebanese Supreme Defense Council submitted to the Lebanese cabinet Friday a five-phase plan that includes extending the “general mobilization” measures until June 8, but at the same time asking the Cabinet to “determine the economic activities that will be allowed to gradually reopen.”

According to the health ministry, there have been 707 coronavirus cases in the country and 24 deaths.

Read more here.

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.