The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic from around the U.S. and the world.

Dr. Anthony Fauci’s security has been stepped up as the face of the U.S. coronavirus response receives threats.

The security concerns regarding the nation’s top infectious disease expert include threats against his personal safety as well as communications from fervent admirers, according to people with knowledge of deliberations inside the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice.

Read the full story about threats to Dr. Anthony Fauci here.

Canada, England to evacuate passengers from cruise ships near Florida, Trump says

WASHINGTON — President Trump said arrangements had been made with the Canadian and British governments to evacuate many of the passengers on two cruise ships set to soon dock in Florida.

Trump added that officials in states overwhelmed by coronavirus infections are reluctant to have the passengers immediately return to their communities.

“It’s a tough situation, you know,” Trump said. “You can understand you have people that are sick on the ships and states don’t want to take (them). They have enough problems right now. They don’t want to take them. But we have to from a humane standpoint. We don’t have a choice. I don’t want to do that but we have to. People are dying.”

Shenzhen eyes avoiding future outbreaks with ban on eating wild animals

BEIJING — China’s southern technology powerhouse of Shenzhen has issued the most sweeping ban yet on the breeding and consumption of wild animals in an effort to prevent a future outbreak such as the global coronavirus pandemic.

The virus, first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December, has been traced to a food market in the city that sold wild animals such as pangolins and civet cats, along with more conventional fare such as chicken and fish.

The consumption of wild animals is considered even more popular in the south where Shenzhen is located. That is where the 2002-2003 global SARS outbreak was believed to have first been spread by people who consumed or worked with wild animals in areas around Shenzhen and who may originally have caught it from wild bats.

Shenzhen’s regulations permanently ban the trade in and consumption of wild animals, a step beyond the temporary ban issued by the central government at the start of the current virus outbreak. Along with snakes, lizards and other wild animals, it also bans the consumption of dog and cat meat that have long been a local specialty, citing humanitarian reasons.

Household pets have not been found to spread the coronavirus.

The ban allows for fines beginning at 150,000 yuan ($21,400) and rising considerably depending on the value of the animals seized. It continues to permit the farming of wild animals for medicinal purposes, which has been criticized as cruel and unsanitary, although consumption of such animals for food is banned.

Wall Street in a selling mood

NEW YORK — Wall Street is again in a selling mood as the coronavirus crisis deepens. The S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 3% Wednesday as the market moves on from its worst quarter since the 2008 financial crisis. President Trump is warning Americans to expect “dark days” ahead. A survey of manufacturers in Japan showed deteriorating sentiment. Investors sought safety in bonds and the yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 0.61%. Stock markets in Asia and Europe also fell. The Nikkei fell 4.5% and markets in Germany and France are down around 4%.

Read the rest of this story here.

Scotland drops plan to suspend the right to trial by jury

LONDON — The Scottish government has dropped controversial plans to temporarily bring an end to trial by jury during the coronavirus lockdown.

Constitution Secretary Mike Russell told Scottish lawmakers that the government was withdrawing the proposals from emergency legislation, and that “intensive and wide-ranging” discussions with interested parties, including victims, about alternatives will now take place. Other measures within the emergency legislation include the early release of prisoners and a ban on evictions.

Russell said new proposals over the justice system will be brought forward this month.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had said that bringing a temporary end to jury trials was necessary so serious criminal trials did not halt entirely.

The proposals regarding trial by jury met with criticism across Scotland, which has a wide array of devolved powers from the U.K., particularly on legal matters.

The Scottish Criminal Bar Association said they included attacks on “principles that have been built over more than six hundred years and are the very cornerstone of not just Scotland’s Criminal Justice System, but those of almost every advanced liberal democracy in the developed world.”

Edinburgh festival canceled

LONDON — The Edinburgh International Festival has been canceled for the first time since it launched in 1947 in an attempt to bring arts to the community after World War II.

The event has been held every August in Edinburgh. The festivals comprises all the arts, including stand-up comedy, theater, music and books.

Japan bans visitors from 73 countries

TOKYO — Japan’s Prime Minister says Japan has banned entry from 49 more countries, including the U.S., Canada, all of China, South Korea and seven Southeast Asian countries.

That brings the total number of countries banned from entering Japan to 73.

Shinzo Abe says the government has tightened visa restrictions and will require a two-week quarantine to visitors and returnees from places Japan has designated as eligible for non-essential trips.

Abe cited views presented by a panel of experts at a meeting earlier Wednesday that new cases are rapidly on the rise in Japan and that its medical system is increasingly under pressure. He has faced calls for a declaration of a state of emergency, but his government is assessing the situation due to concerns of an economic impact.

Tokyo reported 65 new cases Wednesday, after reporting a record 78 daily new cases Tuesday. Nationwide, Japan has about 3,000 cases including 712 from a cruise ship, with 78 deaths.

Germany, with early widespread testing, has low mortality rate

BERLIN — Late last year — long before most people had heard of the new coronavirus now sweeping the globe — scientists in Germany sprang into action to develop a test for the virus that was causing an unusual respiratory disease in central China.

Virus_Outbreak_Germany_93395

A coronavirus testing demonstration on March 23 in Munich. Labs were quick to ramp up their testing capacity and now experts say up to 500,000 tests can be conducted in Germany per week. Associated Press

They had one by mid-January — and labs around the country were ready to start using it just weeks later, around the same time that Europe’s most populous country registered its first case.

“It was clear that if the epidemic swept over here from China, then we had to start testing,” said Hendrik Borucki, a spokesman for Bioscientia Healthcare, which operates 19 labs in Germany.

That quick work stands in stark contrast to delays and missteps in other countries. Coupled with Germany’s large number of intensive care beds and its early social distancing measures, it could explain one of the most interesting puzzles of the COVID-19 pandemic: Why are people with the virus in Germany currently dying at much lower rates than in neighboring countries?

The numbers are remarkable: As confirmed cases in Germany passed 71,000, the death toll Wednesday was 775, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University. In contrast, Italy has reported almost 106,000 infections and more than 12,400 deaths, while Spain has more than 102,000 cases with over 9,000 deaths.

France has four times as many virus deaths as Germany and Britain has twice as many, even though both countries have fewer reported infections.

There may be many factors at play, but experts said early on that fast and widespread testing gave Germany an edge.

“The reason why we in Germany have so few deaths at the moment compared to the number of infected can be largely explained by the fact that we are doing an extremely large number of lab diagnoses,” said virologist Dr. Christian Drosten, whose team developed the first test for the new virus at Berlin’s Charité hospital — established over 300 years ago to treat plague victims.

He estimated that Germany is now capable of conducting up to 500,000 tests a week.

Former soccer club president who had virus dies

DAKAR, Senegal — Pape Diouf, a former president of French soccer club Marseille, has died in Senegal after contracting the coronavirus, the West African country’s first COVID-19-related death. He was 68.

Senegalese health officials said Diouf died Tuesday. He had been treated since Saturday in intensive care at Fann Hospital in Dakar, said Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr, the minister of health.

Relatives say he was meant to be moved to France. He had recently traveled to several countries in the region, including Ivory Coast.

Senegal President Macky Sall offered condolences to Diouf’s family in a message posted on Twitter.

Spain reports 864 deaths in 24 hours

MADRID — Spain reports a new record of 864 deaths in one day while total infections broke the 100,000 mark, making it the third country to surpass that milestone behind the United States and Italy.

Spanish health authorities said Wednesday that the total number of deaths reached 9,053 since the beginning of the outbreak.

Total infections hit 102,136. But the 24-hour increase of 7,719 was 1,500 fewer than the increase from the previous day, offering hope that the contagion rate is stabilizing.

Spain is two-and-a-half weeks into a national lockdown with stay-at-home rules for all workers except those in health care, food production and distribution, and other essential industries.

The country is frantically working to add to the number of intensive care units in hospitals which are quickly filling up in the country’s hardest-hit regions.

Spanish authorities are bringing into the country 1,500 purchased ventilator machines and asking local manufacturers to ramp up production, with some creative solutions employed, such as snorkeling masks repurposed as breathing masks.

British government under fire for not increasing testing

LONDON — The British government is under fire for failing to keep its promise to increase the number of tests performed for COVID-19.

The U.K. has restricted testing to hospitalized patients, leaving many people with milder symptoms unsure whether they have had the new coronavirus. Many scientists have urged wider testing to allow medics who are negative to remain at work, and to better understand how the virus spreads.

That has happened in Germany, which has the capacity to do 500,000 tests a week.

The U.K. initially performed about 5,000 tests a day, but the government promised to increase that number to 10,000 by the end of last week. The target has not been met, with just over 8,000 tests performed Monday, the last day for which figures are available.

Officials have blamed a shortage of the chemicals needed to perform the tests.

Communities secretary Robert Jenrick said Wednesday that the number of tests should hit 15,000 a day “within a couple of days” and rise to 25,000 a day by mid-April. He conceded, “We do need to go further and we need to do that faster.”

He told ITV that “it isn’t easy to procure the tests in a global pandemic because there is a great deal of demand.”

South Korea quarantines health care workers

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korean health officials say 43 patients have been placed under isolation in one of the biggest hospitals in the capital of Seoul after a hospitalized 9-year-old girl tested positive for the coronavirus.

Jeong Eun-kyeong, director of South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on Wednesday said around 50 medical staff who worked at the Asan Medical Center’s pediatric department will be quarantined at their homes although they tested negative.

Jeong and Seoul City officials say the girl was tested for the virus after doctors found she had previously been treated for a headache at another hospital in Euijeongbu, near Seoul, where a dozen patients and medical staff have been infected with COVID-19.

Officials didn’t release specific details about the girl’s conditions.

South Korea’s nationwide caseload has slowed from early March when it reported around 500 new infections a day, but the country has struggled to stem infections at hospitals, psychiatric wards, nursing homes and other live-in facilities.

Hundreds of patients and medical staff have been infected in hospitals in the worst-hit city of Daegu, where more than 6,700 of the country’s 9,887 infections have been reported.

France evacuating positive patients

PARIS — France is evacuating on Wednesday 36 patients infected with the coronavirus from the Paris region onboard two medicalized high-speed TGV trains.

The patients, all treated in intensive care units, are being transferred to several hospitals in Britany, as western France is less impacted by the epidemic.

The operation aims at relieving hospitals in the Paris region, hardly hit by the coronavirus that has claimed more than 3,500 lives in France.

The country has already operated several transports of patients by train, helicopter, military aircraft and onboard a Navy ship. Some patients from eastern France have also been transferred to hospitals in neighboring Germany, Luxemburg and Switzerland.

France has increased its capacity of 5,000 ICU beds before the crisis to 8,000 now and is aiming at getting 14,000 ICU beds in the coming weeks, according to health authorities.

In the Paris region alone, the number of ICU beds has risen from 1,200 to 2,000 now, with almost the same number of patients needing intensive care.

Turkey sends supplies to Italy and Spain

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey has sent a planeload of masks, hazmat suits, goggles and disinfectants to Italy and Spain to help the countries combat the new coronavirus outbreak.

State-run Anadolu Agency said a military cargo plane carrying the medical equipment took off from an air base near Ankara on Wednesday.

The equipment was produced by military-owned factories and sewing workshops.

The items were being sent in crates displaying — in Italian and Spanish — the words of 13th century Sufi Poet Jalaluddin Rumi: “There is hope after despair and many suns after darkness.”

The report did not say how many masks and other equipment were dispatched.

Russia sends supplies to the United States

MOSCOW — Russia has sent a planeload of medical aid to the United States amid the growing coronavirus pandemic.

A military aircraft loaded with medical equipment and masks took off from Moscow early on Wednesday morning, according to the Defense Ministry.

Footage from the Russian Defense Ministry showed boxes of equipment inside an Antonov An-124 Ruslan aircraft at Moscow’s Chkalovsky Airbase.

The delivery follows a phone call between Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday, when the two leaders discussed cooperation in the fight against the new coronavirus. A Kremlin statement said the call took place at Washington’s initiative.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday that Trump accepted Russia’s aid “with gratitude.”

“Offering aid to the American colleagues, the president (Vladimir Putin) is assuming that when American production of medical equipment and materials picks up speed, they will be able to reciprocate if necessary,” Peskov was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying.

 


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