April 16 coronavirus news

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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.

4:12 a.m. ET, April 16, 2020

Coronavirus left this man jobless and unable to pay for his life-sustaining medicine. He's not alone

From CNN's Kyung Lah and Kim Berryman

Michael Shawki looked at his thigh and injected his final dose of methotrexate into his leg. 

"Simple as that," Shawki, 37, said. 

The two-time colon cancer survivor is now out of his prescriptions, and out of a job -- meaning he can no longer afford to pay for his life-sustaining medication.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to closures of restaurants and businesses nationwide, Shawki was laid off as the manager of a bakery chain in New York City last month.

Now, Shawki's survival, like thousands in the United States, depends on the arrival of an individual stimulus check under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. 

"People are living check to check already when they're working," Shawki told CNN. "What do you think when that income goes away? You think they're going to be able to survive on a few weeks? No. I can't make pills just magically appear. I can't walk through a pharmacy, tell them my situation, and get free meds. That's not the world we live in."

Shawki applied for unemployment, but said his request is still pending. Since he applied, he said he's called the Department of Labor's unemployment line "75 times a day" but never gets through.

The Internal Revenue Service said it sent out the first wave of stimulus checks to Americans on Saturday. The distributions are part of the $2.2 trillion economic relief package passed by Congress in March. Under the economic relief package, individuals are due up to $1,200 and couples will receive up to $2,400 -- plus $500 per child.

Read the full story here.

2:38 a.m. ET, April 16, 2020

A US Forces Korea service member has been declared virus-free after 49 days in isolation

From CNN's Yoonjung Seo in Seoul

The first United States Forces Korea (USFK) active duty service member to test positive for Covid-19 has been declared virus-free by military medical doctors.

The service member tested positive for Covid-19 on February 26 and spent 49 days in isolation.

"The service member was cleared from isolation after having been asymptomatic for more than seven days, being fever-free without the use of fever-reducing medications, successfully passing two consecutive Covid-19 tests with negative results at least 24 hours apart, and being cleared by USFK medical providers," USFK said in a statement.

Ten other USFK-related US and Korean national dependents and civilians have been declared Covid-19 virus-free since March 15.

2:23 a.m. ET, April 16, 2020

More than 600 French sailors have tested positive for coronavirus

From CNN’s Barbara Wojazer in Paris

The French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle arrives in the bay of Toulon, France, on April 12.
The French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle arrives in the bay of Toulon, France, on April 12. Daniel Cole/AP

More than 600 sailors from the naval group of France’s flagship aircraft carrier, Charles de Gaulle, have tested positive for coronavirus, the country's Ministry of Armed Forces announced Wednesday. 

According to the statement, 668 crew members have tested positive for Covid-19.

A total of 1,767 sailors from the Charles de Gaulle and its escort vessels were tested. The majority of those tested were onboard the flagship aircraft carrier. 

Some 31 crew members are hospitalized at the St. Anne military hospital in Toulon, France, and one crew-member is receiving treatment in intensive care. 

Both the Charles de Gaulle, and its accompanying warship, Chevalier Paul, arrived in Toulon on Sunday, after an initial 50 cases were confirmed onboard.

Read more here.

2:10 a.m. ET, April 16, 2020

African American pastors call for equal treatment for people of color in coronavirus response

From CNN's Amara Walker and Maria Cartaya

Nearly a dozen African American pastors from Philadelphia to Los Angeles issued a "moral appeal" to the Trump administration over the "alarming number of deaths" in black communities from Covid-19.

Testing, treatment, and protective gear must be equally distributed and readily available to black and poor communities, and to essential wage workers, healthcare workers, prisons, and shelters, the pastors said at a virtual news conference Wednesday.

"Black and brown people are being tested the least but dying the most," said Rev. Dr. Frederick Douglass Haynes III, a pastor in Dallas. "We appeal to federal and state leadership to prioritize healing humanity over restarting the economy." 

Rev. Traci Blackmon, who pastors a church in St. Louis, became emotional as she spoke about the suffering she is seeing among her congregants.

"I pastor a small congregation where approximately 80 people gather on a Sunday, and out of those 80, five of those have tested positive for Covid-19. I have two funerals to do this week of people who died," Blackmon said.

Three of those five had to go to the hospital three times before they were given a test, Blackmon said. 

Early data from some areas show African Americans make up a higher percentage of Covid-19 victims. In Chicago, 62% of the people who have died from Covid-19 are black, though they make up 30% of the population, according to data from the city. In Louisiana, 32% of the population is African American, but that population represents about 59% of coronavirus deaths in the state.

Read more here: