The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.
TOP OF THE HOUR:
– British Prime Minister Boris Johnson still showing symptoms of coronavirus.
– Vatican records its 7th coronavirus case and extends partial lockdown until May 4.
– FEMA requests 100,000 body bags from Defense Logistics Agency.
– Tokyo has record single-day surge in coronavirus infections.
LONDON – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is still showing symptoms almost a week after he announced he had the new coronavirus.
Johnsonâ€™s spokesman says the prime minister â€œcontinues to have mild symptoms.â€
Johnson said Friday he had tested positive for COVID-19 after developing a fever and a cough. He said he was following U.K. health officialsâ€™ advice to self-isolate for seven days.
That period is almost up.
Spokesman James Slack did not confirm whether Johnson would end his quarantine. Slack said the prime minister is following “the best medical and scientific adviceâ€ about when to end his quarantine.
VATICAN CITY – The Vatican has recorded its seventh coronavirus case and extended its partial lockdown of activities until May 4.
The Vatican says a Vatican employee tested positive after having been on home quarantine since mid-March because his wife, who works in a hospital, was infected.
The Vatican previously had six cases, including a high-ranking official who lived in the same residence as Pope Francis. The Vatican has said the pope and his closest advisers havenâ€™t been infected.
Francis also Thursday issued a decree extending the suspension of activities of the Vatican City Stateâ€™s criminal tribunal until May 4.
The Holy See says it has reduced its activities to only work essential for the functioning of the headquarters of the universal Catholic Church.
Francis’ Holy Week and Easter services, which begin Sunday with Palm Sunday, are being conducted without the faithful present.
Washington — A Pentagon spokesman says the Federal Emergency Management Agency has requested 100,000 human remains “pouches.”
Air Force Lt. Col. Michael Andrews says the request is being fulfilled by the Defense Logistics Agency. Pouches are also commonly referred to as â€œbody bags.â€
Andrews wrote in a statement that the Department of Defense and the Defense Logistics Agency have a longstanding arrangement with FEMA to procure key commodities during crisis response operations.
Andrews added the Defense Logistics Agency is currently responding to FEMA’s prudent planning efforts for 100,000 pouches to address mortuary contingencies on behalf of state health agencies.
JAKARTA, Indonesia – Public rejection of the burial of people with the new coronavirus has been growing in Indonesia for over a week as some fear the disease can spread from the corpse to nearby community.
Indonesia has reported nearly 1,800 positive cases of the coronavirus with 170 deaths.
Television footage showed villagers in Central Java’s Banyumas district blocked an ambulance carrying a coffin wrapped in plastic with a victim of the coronavirus. Some were throwing wooden sticks to prevent the ambulance from approaching a public cemetery near their homes.
Similar situations occurred in some parts of the archipelago nation, mainly on Java, Sumatra and Sulawesi islands. Authorities are trying to convince the public that the burial of people with COVID-19 is not something to be wary of.
The protests has prompted local administrations to prepare plots of land as graveyard specifically designed for COVID-19 patients.
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The state reported 272,117 jobless claims for the week ending March 28, a second straight week of record losses.
Ohio has received 468,414 claims the past two weeks, which is more than 100,000 for all of 2019. The state has paid out $45 million to more than 108,000 claimants.
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Authorities in Puerto Rico say they have detained six police officers accused of violating curfew after they were tipped off that the group was hanging out at a beach in the islandâ€™s southeast.
Officials say the five women and one man are members of Puerto Ricoâ€™s Joint Rapid Action Forces. The division in part serves as a liaison to federal law enforcement agencies.
Hundreds of people have been detained amid a month long curfew aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S. territory. Puerto Rico has reported at least 12 deaths and more than 300 confirmed COVID-19 cases.
TOKYO – Tokyo has reported 97 new cases of the new coronavirus in another record single-day increase as the infection accelerated in Japanâ€™s capital.
Officials are scrambling to secure more beds to accommodate an influx of patients.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike started to raise alarms last week when the number of untraceable cases started to soar. Japan has more than 3,000 cases, including 712 from a cruise ship, with 71 deaths.
Experts on a government panel have called on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to take steps to prevent medical systems from collapsing.
Koike and heads of Tokyoâ€™s four neighboring prefectures jointly issued a weekend stay-at-home request to their residents last week that will last until at least mid-April. Department stores in Tokyo and its vicinity have already announced their weekend closures.
Tokyo initially only had about 130 beds for isolated treatment of infectious diseases and already had to quadruple the number to accommodate the rising COVID-19 patients.
Koike says Tokyo has secured 700 more beds and plans to get thousands more in coming weeks. She says the city plans to eventually transfer those with slight symptoms to hotels and public facilities to make room for severe patients.
BERLIN – Germany’s foreign minister says his country has taken in more than 100 coronavirus patients from Italy and France as part of bilateral aid efforts among allies.
Speaking before a virtual meeting of foreign ministers from NATO member states, Heiko Maas said the alliance is trying to see how its capabilities can be used to tackle the crisis caused by the pandemic.
Maas said NATO “can be part of solution,” citing in particular the military’s medevac capabilities.
German news agency dpa reported that Germany has taken in 85 coronavirus patients from France, 32 from Italy and two from the Netherlands. It said more than 60 further hospital beds in Germany are earmarked for patients from Italy and France, while team of doctors and nurses have been deployed to Naples and Madrid.
Maas warned that the pandemic was being exploited by hostile forces, such as the Islamic State group in Iraq.
He welcomed China’s aid to some countries, but noted that this comes after China received aid during the peak of its outbreak.
CAIRO – Libya’s east-based government has extended the regionâ€™s 16-hour curfew until April 8 in its effort to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.
No cases of the virus have been recorded in the eastern half of Libya so far but authorities last week imposed an all-day curfew until April 3. It was later reduced to 16 hours a day. It has now been extended until next Wednesday.
Libya has so far recorded 10 cases in the countryâ€™s west, in the capital of Tripoli and the city of Misrata, which are controlled by a rival government and where similar curfews are in place.
Libya is divided between two governments.
Last year, forces loyal to the east-based launched an offensive to wrestle Tripoli from the U.N.-supported government based in the capital. The offensive is now mostly stalemated but has killed hundreds of civilians and displaced tens of thousands.
WASHINGTON – The top U.S. infectious disease official says medical experts are no closer to figuring out why some seemingly healthy people infected by the new coronavirus develop only mild or no symptoms but others become very sick.
Dr. Anthony Fauci says on NBC’s â€œTodayâ€ show he’s been â€œpuzzled from the beginningâ€ of the coronavirus pandemic.
Fauci is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He says it’s â€œvery strangeâ€ how the virus can be â€œcompletely devastating” and lead to â€œviral pneumonia and respiratory failureâ€ in one person and be â€œabsolutely nothingâ€ in another person.
Fauci says he’s been working in infectious diseases for almost 50 years but doesn’t â€œfully understand exactly what the mechanism of that is.”
He says finding the answer is going to require natural history studies, which follow people over time while collecting their health information.
PARIS – France is pushing for stronger solidarity between European Union member states to provide an economic stimulus to restart the economy following the virus crisis.
French Finance minister Bruno Le Maire in English warned Thursday â€œeconomic recovery in Europe and throughout the world will be long, drawn out, difficult and costly. There will be no miracle solution.â€
He called for a solidarity effort between Europeans, especially Italy and Spain, which are the most hardly hit by the pandemic on the continent.
France will propose the European Union to set up an â€œexceptional and temporary joint fundâ€ dedicated to helping all member statesâ€™ economic recovery in the coming years.
GENEVA – The World Health Organization says it has received donations and pledges to cover its initial appeal for $675 million in support for the first three months of its response to the new coronavirus outbreak.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says $677 million in donations and pledges had been received by Tuesday. The appeal was launched in February.
Some $300 million is for WHO operations and the rest is for the U.N. health agencyâ€™s partners or in bilateral support.
Tedros says more support will be needed and a second â€œStrategic Preparedness and Response Planâ€ is being finalized.
BUCHAREST, Romania – Romania’s health minister is on his way to northern Suceava county to evaluate the situation in the region hardest hit in the country by the new coronavirus pandemic.
Nelu Tataru’s trip comes as the interim director of the county’s main hospital resigned Thursday amid the infection of a large number of the medical staff.
Suceava county has nearly 25% of Romania’s 2,738 confirmed cases of COVID-19, while 200 of Romania’s 357 medical staffers infected with the coronavirus are also there.
The county has been under a severe quarantine since Monday. Only transports of food and medical supplies are allowed.
Prosecutors in Suceava are investigating irregularities reported in the administration of coronavirus tests, which may have caused delays in the testing of medical staff.
BANGKOK – Thailand’s prime minister announced a nationwide curfew starting Friday to combat the spread of the new coronavirus.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has been slowly tightening restrictions since the country’s cases began rising sharply in mid-March. Thailand announced 104 new confirmed cases of the disease on Thursday, bringing its total to 1,875.
The restrictions are still not as sweeping as some other countries, where people have been told to stay home throughout the day except for necessary tasks. The Thailand curfew is at night beginning at 10 p.m.
The government last week enacted a one-month state of emergency allowing it to impose harsh restrictions not normally allowed under law. They include the power to implement curfews, censor the media, disperse gatherings and deploy the military for enforcement.
DHAKA, Bangladesh – A total of 327 Japanese citizens left Bangladesh on a chartered plane Thursday to return home amid the coronavirus crisis.
Sohel Kamruzzaman is spokesman of the state-run Biman Bangladesh Airlines and says the Japanese citizens left the South Asian nationâ€™s capital as authorities confirmed five deaths and 56 cases of infection.
Bangladesh is enforcing a nationwide lockdown until April 11 to help contain the deadly virus from spreading.
MOSCOW – The Russian Foreign Ministry says the United States paid for half of the medical supplies Russia sent as “humanitarian aid” this week amid the growing coronavirus pandemic.
The other half of the cost was sponsored by Russia’s state investment fund.
A military aircraft loaded with medical equipment and masks took off from Moscow early Wednesday morning following a phone call between Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump. The two leaders discussed cooperation in the fight against the new coronavirus.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the shipment “humanitarian aid” and says Trump accepted it “with gratitude.”
The U.S. Department of State issued a statement Thursday saying it purchased the supplies from Russia. Russia’s Foreign Ministry clarified the U.S. only paid for half of the supplies.
Reports of Russia selling medical supplies to the U.S. elicited outrage among Kremlin critics as the number of coronavirus cases in Russia continues to grow. Hospitals across the country complained about shortages of protective gear and equipment needed to treat the coronavirus patients.
LISBON, Portugal — Portugalâ€™s parliament and government have extended by two weeks the countryâ€™s state of emergency.
Temporary legal changes have given authorities enhanced powers to help slow the spread of the new coronavirus and allows the declaration of a lockdown. There are government fears that people will be reluctant to stay at home during the approaching Easter weekend.
The new measures also will allow authorities to order nursing home staff to work and will be able to order the elderly into hotels for their safety.
Officials will be allowed to release some prisoners, while others may receive pardons.
Portugal has officially recorded 9,034 cases of COVID-19, with 209 deaths attributed to it.
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