TOP OF THE HOUR: — India PM extends lockdown to May 3, with some easing possible — Singapore reports 386 new cases for its biggest one-day jump — Japan sees 390 new cases of the coronavirus as Tokyo residents stock up for monthlong shutdown
— South Korea reports 27 new virus cases, fewer than 100 for 13th straight day — Americans should receive stimulus direct deposits by Wednesday — N.Y., N.J., four other states will work together to reopen their economies once outbreak subsides.
— Macron announces the extension of France’s lockdown until May 11.
India’s prime minister announces extension to the country’s lockdown for 1.3 billion people until May 3, but says there may be some easing in restrictions in people’s movement after one week to help the poor daily wage earners and those working in agriculture sector.
In an address to the nation on radio and television on Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the lockdown will be eased only in areas which do not show any deterioration in the spread of coronavirus.
He said India has paid a big economic price by imposing the lockdown, but it was much better placed than many other countries as it had acted quickly imposing travel and quarantine restrictions even before the first death was reported in the country. He said the lockdown and social distancing among people have worked in their favor.
The first phase of India’s three-week lockdown ends Tuesday with more than 9,000 positive cases and 339 deaths so far with people restricted to their homes for all but essential trips to places like markets or pharmacies.
India has sealed hundreds of residential districts as containment zones across the country, ramping up a low rate of testing. Modi said all-out efforts are being made to ensure that no new hot spots emerged in the country.
The Prime Minister said that there was a consensus amongst India’s states on extension of the lockdown by another two weeks. He said there was no shortage of medicines and foodgrain in the country and promised an efficient supply chain to the people.
The Health Ministry said on Monday that no new positive cases have been reported in 25 districts in 15 states for the past 14 days.
Singapore has reported 386 new coronavirus cases, its biggest daily jump, to raise its tally to 2,918.
Most of the new cases are linked to foreign workers living in crowded dormitories, that have become a headache for the government. Health authorities also reported a ninth death in a statement late Monday.
The tiny state of nearly six million people has tightened precautions with a four-week “circuit breaker,” shutting down nonessential businesses and schools until May 4.
It has quarantined tens of thousands of foreign workers in their dorms and moved some to alternative sites to reduce crowding. Over 200,000 Asian migrant workers live in 43 registered dormitories that house up to 20 men per room, with shared toilets, cooking and other facilities.
Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli wrote on Facebook late Monday that the remaining three weeks of partial lockdown will form “a critical w(backslash)indow that will determine if we can successfully flatten the curve, prevent large-scale community spread, and save our loved ones”.
Japan had 390 new cases of the coronavirus for a domestic total of 7,645 as of Monday, the health ministry said Tuesday.
The country, which separately had 712 cases from a cruise ship quarantined near Tokyo earlier this year, now has a combined total of 8,357 cases, with 121 deaths.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared a state of emergency in Tokyo and six other prefectures deemed at highest risks of the coronavirus infection explosion. He has asked the people to stay at home and keep social distancing at as much as 80%,
However, remote working is slow to come at many companies and many people were still seen queuing up at grocery stores and crowding shopping arcades in some areas of downtown Tokyo to stock up on food and other daily necessities during the month-long state of emergency.
China on Tuesday reported 89 new virus cases, 86 of them among travelers arriving from abroad, but no new deaths.
Across the country, 1,170 people remain under treatment for COVID-19, while another 1,077 people are suspected to have the disease or have tested positive but are showing no symptoms.
The country’s total death toll stood at 3,341 out of 82,249 cases.
SEOUL, South Korea
South Korea has reported 27 fresh cases of the new coronavirus, the 13th day in a row of below 100, as infections continued to wane in the worst-hit city of Daegu and nearby towns.
Figures released by South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday brought national totals to 10,564 infections and 222 virus-related deaths.
The KCDC says at least 940 of the cases were linked to passengers arriving from overseas, with most of the cases detected in the past three weeks.
South Korean Prime Minster Chung Sye-kyun during an anti-virus meeting on Tuesday called officials to provide stronger support for scientists’ efforts to develop vaccines and treatments for the virus, which he said would be a boon for the country’s biomedical industry.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says he expects that more than 80 million Americans should have tax rebates directly deposited into the bank accounts by Wednesday.
Many Americans qualify for tax credits approved as part of legislation designed to boost the economy as the country responds to the new coronavirus.
Under the program, single filers received $1,200 and joint filers $2,400, though it phases out for higher incomes.
For those who don’t get their money by Wednesday, Mnuchin said the IRS will have a website available that would allow people to plug in information and allow for their direct deposit to take place quickly.
Mnuchin said Social Security beneficiaries don’t have to do anything. The money will be directly deposited in their bank account.
New York, New Jersey and four other states will work together to reopen their economies once the coronavirus outbreak begins to subside, governors of those states said Monday.
They held a conference call to announce that they will share information and form a task force to help guide the reopening of the states’ economies when it’s time.
“The house is still on fire. We still have to put the fire out, but we do have to begin putting in the pieces of the puzzle that we know we’re going to need ... to make sure this doesn’t re-ignite,” New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, said.
President Donald Trump asserted Monday that he is the ultimate decision-maker for determining how and when to reopen the country.
Democratic Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, however, said that considering governors had the responsibility for closing states down, “I think we probably have the primary responsibility for opening it up.”
Wolf also asserted that it is a “false choice” to choose between public health or the economy.
Officials in Washington, California and Oregon have announced they’ll be working together on a shared approach to re-opening their economies.
In a news release Monday, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced the partnership with California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown.
The written statement says that while each state is building a state-specific plan, the three states have agreed to a framework that focuses on them working together, putting their residents’ health first, and having health outcomes and science guiding their decisions.
PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron announced the extension of France’s strict lockdown until May 11, on his third televised address to the nation on the virus crisis from the Elysee palace.
France has been under lockdown since March 17.
Macron said he sees “hopeful signs” as the spreading of the virus in the country appears to be stabilizing. But he urged the French to keep respecting strict confinement rules for the moment.
Starting from May 11, schools will reopen “progressively”, he said. Restaurants, cafes, hotels, cinemas, museums and concert halls will remain closed and no big gatherings will be allowed until mid-July, he added.
Macron acknowledged “failures and deficiencies” in a reference to the lack of masks and other equipment.
As a response to the criticism that the country has not conducted enough coronavirus tests, he promised that by May 11, all those who have symptoms will be able to get tested.
French health authorities have reported Monday a drop in numbers of people in intensive care for the fifth straight day.
The country registered 574 deaths over the past 24 hours in hospitals and nursing homes, bringing the total number of deaths from the COVID-19 to 14,967 since the outbreak began in France.
WASHINGTON — The White House is asking governors for help in getting high-tech lab machines up and running to process coronavirus tests.
In a conference call with governors Monday, Vice President Mike Pence asked governors for “whatever you can do” to help get testing machines found in hospitals, research laboratories and other places running at full capacity. The Associated Press obtained audio of the call.
Dr. Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, said on the call that she’s working with labs around the country to make sure the machines are running at full capacity.
The machines “have a need for a lot of technical support” and require trained operators to run them, Birx said.
“In the last three weeks, we could have run 3 million tests. We’ve run 200,000,” she said.
UNITED NATIONS — The International Monetary Fund has approved $500 million to cancel six months of debt payments for 25 of the world’s most impoverished countries so they can help tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.
IMF Executive Director Kristalina Georgieva issued a statement Monday saying the executive board approved the immediate debt service relief to Afghanistan, Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Tajikistan, Togo, and Yemen.
She said the money will come from the IMF’s revamped Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust, which will use recent pledges of $185 million from the United Kingdom and $100 million from Japan. She urged other donors to help replenish the trust’s resources.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and a group of 165 former global leaders and prominent global figures have urged the suspension of debt repayments for the world’s poorest and most vulnerable countries so they can use their scant resources for the coronavirus crisis.
SEATTLE — Washington state will release nearly 1,000 inmates serving time for nonviolent offenses to create more space in its prisons after a coronavirus outbreak spread in one of its largest facilities, officials said Monday.
The decision came after the state Supreme Court responded to an emergency motion filed by a group of offenders. The court ordered Gov. Jay Inslee and corrections Secretary Stephen Sinclair to submit a plan by noon Monday.
It’s the latest move by governors across the nation who faced possible outbreaks in their prison systems.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear has said he would release more than 900 prisoners. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine launched a similar effort that could lead to the release of 200 inmates.
In Washington state, at least 14 corrections employees and eight inmates have tested positive for the virus. Tests were pending for an additional 50 inmates and more than 900 were under quarantine orders. There are about 18,000 people incarcerated in the state.
The state’s largest outbreak is occurring at Monroe Correctional Complex where five workers and seven offenders have COVID-19.
SANTO DOMINGO — The Dominican Republic has postponed its presidential and congressional elections as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The country’s elections commission said Monday that voting will now take place on July 5 instead of May 17 as previously planned. Officials said a runoff would be held July 26 if needed.
The Dominican Republic has reported at least 177 deaths and more than 3,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
A Wyoming man has become the state’s first person to die of the coronavirus.
For almost two weeks, Wyoming was the only U.S. state without known deaths from the virus causing the COVID-19 illness.
The Johnson County man’s death was announced Monday by the Wyoming Department of Health. State health officials say the man had health conditions that put him at higher risk of complications from the virus and he’d been hospitalized in Buffalo. The man died last week.
New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said Monday that COVID-19 is in 324 of the state’s 375 nursing homes and officials are assuming it’s in every facility in the state.
New Jersey has already restricted visitors and required workers at facilities to wear masks.
In at least one case, the state has helped relocate residents of one nursing home because too many of the staff there were positive for the virus to adequately do their jobs.
ATLANTA — U.S. government health researchers say data from mobile devices in four cities suggests that social distancing policies prompted more people to stay at home in March and might have curbed the spread of the coronavirus.
A company that collects anonymous location data from mobile devices provided key information for the study released Monday by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.
Location information came from a daily average of almost 758,000 devices in New Orleans, New York City, San Francisco and Seattle.
Researchers say people increasingly left their devices — and themselves — home as cities, states and the federal government adopted increasingly restrictive closures and social distancing policies.
The report “provides some very early indications that these measures might help slow the spread of COVID-19,” the authors said.
Cases climbed in all four cities during the study period, Feb. 26 to April 1. The authors say more evidence is needed to assess how social restrictions affect virus transmission. Also, data came from a small fraction of mobile devices in each city, and tracked only device location, not people, who may have left home without them — limitations the authors acknowledged.
“However, this analysis suggests that policies to increase social distancing when case counts are increasing can be an important tool for communities as changes in behavior result in decreased spread of COVID-19,” they wrote.
UNITED NATIONS — United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has suspended the deployment and rotation of U.N. peacekeeping troops and international police in its 13 global peacekeeping missions until June 30 to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.
The U.N. has about 85,000 soldiers and police serving in missions in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Europe.
U.N. peacekeeping chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix made the announcement Monday saying: “We don’t want to be part of the problem.”
He stressed: “We want to be on the safe side. We want ... to not in any way contribute to the spread of the virus.”
Lacroix said the secretary-general’s guidance provides for exceptions, and any new deployments will be quarantined before and after arrival for 14 days.
U.N. Undersecretary-General for Operational Support Atul Khare said there have been 12 cases of COVID-19 in U.N. peacekeeping missions, but only three among uniformed personnel and all were treated in the countries where they serve.
LONDON — The British government’s chief scientific adviser has warned that the U.K.’s daily death toll from coronavirus will likely rise this week before plateauing for potentially two to three weeks, and then subsequently declining.
Patrick Vallance said at the government’s daily press briefing that the U.K. is tracking behind Italy, the European country with the highest death toll from COVID-19, and “following the same sort of path.”
He said he thinks “we are going to see a further increase” this week before a plateau as the effects of social distancing come through.
Earlier, government figures showed that another 717 people who tested positive for the coronavirus had died in the hospital, taking the total in the U.K. up to 11,329.
Though that was the third straight daily decline in the daily death toll, Vallance’s comments suggest that the numbers may have been artificially depressed over the four-day Easter holiday weekend.
With Italy seemingly the other side of the peak, there are growing expectations that the U.K. will end up being the European country with the most coronavirus-related deaths.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is deputizing for Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he convalesces following his week-long stay in a hospital with coronavirus, said the government does ”not expect to make any changes” to the lockdown measures in place when it assesses the situation this week.
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey has registered 4,093 new coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours, pushing the total to 61,049.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced on his Twitter account on Monday that Turkey’s COVID-19 death toll rose to 1,296, with 98 additional fatalities.
A total of 1,786 people are in intensive care, including 1,063 intubated patients, Koca said. At least 3,957 people have recovered.
Koca noted that the number of cases recorded Monday was fewer than in previous days despite an increase in the number of tests conducted.
MEXICO CITY — Health workers briefly blocked a street in Mexico City on Monday to demand more protective gear as their hospital receives more patients suffering from COVID-19.
Dozens of nurses, doctors and other personnel from the October 1 Hospital carried handwritten signs and shouted for assistance. The hospital is part of Mexico’s public health system for government workers.
One nurse, who had worked at the hospital for more than 20 years, but requested anonymity to avoid repercussions, said she received only one flimsy mask per day even though she works on a floor with dozens of patients with the new coronavirus.
At least one nurse has already died at the hospital and a doctor is in intensive care, she said. Calls to the hospital and the agency that runs it were not immediately answered.
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