April 16 coronavirus news

By Julia Hollingsworth, Adam Renton, Rob Picheta and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 3:30 p.m. ET, April 17, 2020
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4:40 a.m. ET, April 16, 2020

Australian PM says baseline coronavirus restrictions will remain in place for at least 4 weeks

From CNN’s Karen Smith in Atlanta and Anna Kam in Hong Kong

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison attends a news conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, on Thursday.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison attends a news conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, on Thursday. Mark Graham/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the current baseline coronavirus restrictions will remain in place for at least four weeks as the government tries to meet a set of guidelines to deal with the pandemic.

Morrison laid out three guidelines that his government will try to achieve before it can begin to consider easing restrictions:

  • An increase in testing
  • Better contact tracing capabilities
  • Greater response capability at a local level

Australia has confirmed 6,462 cases of Covid-19 and 63 deaths, according to the latest tally from Johns Hopkins University.

The country's Department of Health says it has so far conducted 374,500 tests across the country and does not have widespread community transmission.

4:30 a.m. ET, April 16, 2020

It's just past 2 p.m. in New Delhi and 9:30 a.m. in London. Here's the latest on the pandemic

If you're just joining us, here's the major developments since our last catch-up.

  • UK health worker deaths: A total of 27 National Health Service workers have died from coronavirus, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the BBC on Thursday. He called the deaths “incredibly heartrending”.
  • Germany death toll spikes: Germany recorded 315 deaths from complications related to Covid-19 in 24 hours. It's the first time the country has recorded more than 300 deaths in a 24-hour span.
  • Japan infections rise: The country has recorded 488 new coronavirus infections and 17 additional deaths, bringing the total number to 9,294, including 712 from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
  • South Korea election: The country's ruling party is expected to have won by a landslide in a parliamentary election that attracted the highest voter turnout in 28 years, despite being held during the pandemic.
  • Growing outbreak in India: As of Thursday morning, India had reported 12,380 confirmed cases of coronavirus, including 414 deaths. India is receiving medical supplies from China as it battles the pandemic.
  • Singapore cases jump: The island nation recorded 447 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday -- the largest single-day increase since the outbreak began in the country. The new cases bring the country’s total number of reported cases to 3,699.
4:13 a.m. ET, April 16, 2020

The EU must learn from the pandemic to create a more resilient system of governance, says European Council President

From CNN's Vasco Cotovio in London 

European Council President Charles Michel says the EU must must learn from the coronavirus pandemic “to improve our preparedness, and our coordination.”

"We must develop a more resilient system of governance, while upholding the principles of solidarity, unity and the fundamental values of freedom, rule of law at the heart of the EU," Michel tweeted Thursday.

"The virus knows no borders and strikes all nations, the EU as a global actor has a responsibility to help frame a global response."

He also said that the EU has to continue to promote multilateralism and "assist our partners, be it our immediate neighbours or our African partners."

4:33 a.m. ET, April 16, 2020

South Korea election turnout soars to highest in almost 30 years despite pandemic

From CNN's Julia Hollingsworth and Jake Kwon

Voters cast their ballots for the Parliamentary election in Seoul, South Korea on April 15.
Voters cast their ballots for the Parliamentary election in Seoul, South Korea on April 15. Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

South Korea's ruling party is expected to have won by a landslide in a parliamentary election that attracted the highest voter turnout in 28 years, despite being held during the coronavirus pandemic.

What the results show: Early results from Wednesday's election suggest that President Moon Jae-in's Democratic Party has won 180 of the 300 seats in the National Assembly, boosting the party's seats by 60. Full results are expected on Thursday.

If early results are correct, it will be the biggest win by any party since the current democratic constitution was established in 1987.

How many people voted: The election -- which was the first nationwide vote held in a country with a significant coronavirus outbreak -- was also remarkable for its turnout.

The country saw a turnout of 66.2% -- the highest in a parliamentary election since 1992, when there was a 71.9% turnout. More than a quarter of the country's 44 million voters cast their ballot early for Wednesday's election -- a record proportion of early voters.

Moon's response to the virus: The coronavirus has infected more than 10,500 people in South Korea. But the government has won praise for its handling of the crisis, and already more than 7,500 people in the country have recovered.

Prior to the election, Moon's coronavirus response boosted his approval rating, according to Gallup Korea surveys.

An election -- with a difference: Voters wore masks and gloves, polling booths were disinfected, and people spaced out as they queued up to vote. While election campaigns in the country are often festive, featuring K-pop style dance troupes, this election season was more sedate. Candidates wore gloves and face masks as they campaigned on the streets of Seoul.

Read more here:

3:52 a.m. ET, April 16, 2020

UK will likely have to maintain social distancing until a vaccine is available, says top epidemiologist

From CNN's Lauren Kent in London

The UK will likely have to maintain social distancing until a coronavirus vaccine is available, said epidemiologist Neil Ferguson in an interview with the BBC on Thursday.

Ferguson is a professor at Imperial College London who advises the British government on its coronavirus response.

"It's not going to be going back to normal," Ferguson said. "We will have to maintain some level of social distancing -- a significant level of social distancing -- probably indefinitely until we have a vaccine available."

"We have relatively little leeway, if we relax measures too much then we'll see a resurgence of transmission."

What others are saying: Ferguson's words mirror what researchers in the United States have also projected.

The US may have to endure social distancing measures -- such as stay-at-home orders and school closures -- until 2022, according to researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, who published their findings in the journal Science on Tuesday.

That is, unless a vaccine or better therapeutics become available, or we increase our critical care capacity. In other words, 2022 is one scenario of many.

But those findings directly contradict research being touted by the White House that suggests the pandemic may stop this summer.

3:42 a.m. ET, April 16, 2020

Poland debates abortion bill amid coronavirus lockdown

From CNN's Sebastian Shukla and Alex Klosok

Representatives of the Life and Family Foundation with Kaja Godek take part in the parliamentary debate on the abortion bill at the Polish Parliament in Warsaw, Poland, April 15.
Representatives of the Life and Family Foundation with Kaja Godek take part in the parliamentary debate on the abortion bill at the Polish Parliament in Warsaw, Poland, April 15. Radek Pietruszka/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

The Polish parliament debated a controversial bill on Wednesday aimed at heavily limiting access to abortion.

The bill calls to strike fetal impairment from the slim list of legal reasons for abortion in the country. Polish law currently only allows abortion in cases of rape, danger to the mother's health or life, or severe damage to the fetus.

What opponents said: As the abortion bill was being introduced, Kaja Godek, a prominent anti-abortion figure in Poland and head of the Life and Family Foundation described it as a form of protection for disabled children. She had spearheaded a similar bill in 2018, but was met with nationwide protests.

Rights activists accused lawmakers of trying to take advantage of the coronavirus lockdown to try to pass the highly controversial legislation.

"They thought we wouldn't protest at all. I think they thought we would be afraid of the economic persecution," said Marta Lempart, founder and coordinator of the grassroots movement promoting women's rights, "Women's Strike," told CNN, referring to fines designed to enforce social distancing. 

Her group nevertheless helped organize demonstrations across Poland on Tuesday and Wednesday, which saw many protest in cars, in queues for shops, as well as riding bikes and putting posters and banners on balconies.

Why the President supported the bill: President Andrzej Duda had already signaled his support for the restrictive abortion bill in March, when he told a Polish Catholic news outlet, Niedziela, "I am a strong opponent of eugenic abortion and I believe that killing children with disabilities is frankly murder. If the plan finds itself on my desk, I will in all certainty sign it."

Read the full story here:

3:28 a.m. ET, April 16, 2020

27 NHS workers have died from coronavirus, UK health minister says

From CNN's Max Ramsay in London

A total of 27 National Health Service workers have died from coronavirus, the United Kingdom's Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Thursday in an interview with the BBC.

He called the NHS workers' deaths “incredibly heartrending”.

The background: According to figures released Monday, a third of NHS staff and key workers who have been tested for coronavirus in the UK have returned positive results.

Not all NHS staff are being tested for the virus. Health workers who are asymptomatic -- and do not live with people who are -- do not meet the UK's criteria for testing.

The British government has been under intense pressure to ramp up testing for NHS workers and their families, and to improve their access to appropriate personal protective equipment.

3:17 a.m. ET, April 16, 2020

Germany records more than 300 deaths in a 24-hour span for the first time

From CNN's Fred Pleitgen in Berlin

Medical staff take care of a coronavirus patient in the intensive care unit at the University Hospital of Aachen, Germany, on April 15.
Medical staff take care of a coronavirus patient in the intensive care unit at the University Hospital of Aachen, Germany, on April 15. Ina Fassbender/AFP/Getty Images

Germany recorded 315 deaths from complications related to Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, the German center for disease control, the Robert Koch Institute, wrote on its website.

This is the first time more than 300 deaths have been recorded in a 24-hour span.

Germany recorded 2,866 new infections, bringing the total reported cases in the country to 130,450. 

For several days, there have been fewer new infections reported than additional recoveries. In the past 24 hours, 4,500 people have recovered from Covid-19, the institute says.

3:07 a.m. ET, April 16, 2020

China is sending medical supplies to India to help fight the coronavirus outbreak

From CNN's Manveena Suri in New Delhi

India is getting help from China as it battles the coronavirus pandemic.

In a tweet Thursday, the Indian ambassador to Beijing, Vikram Misri, said that China had dispatched 650,000 kits -- including RNA extraction kits and rapid antibody tests, which are both used to test for coronavirus.

Speaking in a news conference on Wednesday, Misri said:

“The two governments are in touch over facilitating procurement of medical supplies. It is important to ensure product quality as well as reasonable and stable prices. Ensuring freight and cargo links operate smoothly is also a priority.”

India-China ties: This isn't the first time India has received help from China during the pandemic. India received a donation of 170,000 medical coveralls from China, according to a news release issued by the Indian Press Information Bureau on April 6.

Although China and India have a complex relationship, Misri highlighted that the pandemic “offers immediate and long-term opportunities for the two countries to cooperate and send a positive signal on bilateral ties.”

“In the mid to long-term, both countries, as large repositories of scientific and technological manpower, have enormous scope to find avenues for mutually beneficial cooperation on the (research and development) aspects of dealing with Covid-19, including finding a vaccine," Misri said.

As of Thursday morning, India had reported 12,380 confirmed cases of coronavirus, including 414 deaths.