- LA becomes first US city to offer county-wide testing
- Sri Lanka reimposes lockdown measures
- Italy retakes mantle of second-deadliest outbreak in Europe from UK
- South Korea says ‘zero’ cases of infection stemming from April 15 election
- Airbus reports massive loss, signals distress
- New data suggests 1 in 6 US nursing homes suffered COVID-19 clusters
- 500k coronavirus tests obtained by Maryland from SK haven’t yet been used
- NYT hammers Brazil’s Bolsonaro for denying outbreak
- UN warns about virus spreading in Syria, Yemen
- Eurozone GDP contracts 3.8%
- UK NHS allows hospitals to remove minority workers off the front lines
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German public health officials announced yesterday that Germany’s infection rate had ticked higher over last week since the German government started allowing some shops to reopen, raising the possibility that Germany – Europe’s undisputed leader in tamping down the outbreak – might need to reimpose the lifted lockdown measures.
Meanwhile, in Japan, local press reported yesterday that PM Shinzo Abe would extend his nationwide ‘state of emergency’ order for a month as the health officials discover more evidence that the virus has deeply penetrated Japanese society, despite jokes about Japanese culture, which isn’t big on inter-personal contact, is itself a form of social distancing.
But on Thursday morning, tiny Sri Lanka reimposed its 24-hour lockdown after officials detected a jump in infections.
After briefly taking the No. 2 spot from Italy yesterday, the UK is once again on track to clinch the mantle of “second-most deadly outbreak in Europe” following the latest revision to the UK death toll, announced yesterday, which added thousands of home deaths to the official tally.
Looking ahead on Thursday, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases has moved above 3.1 million, while the number of deaths is nearing 210k.
As far as the curve is concerned, both the pace of new deaths…
…and new cases…
…has begun to slow across the US and Europe.
With the number of domestically transmitted infections down to virtually zero, South Korean officials revealed Thursday morning that the country’s April 15 elections had resulted in no new coronavirus infections. And now that two weeks – the typical incubation period – have passed since since the vote, it’s become clear that none of the 29 million Koreans who cast ballots had been infected.
In the US, a new report has confirmed what many experts had suspected: the number of publicly reported coronavirus cases in US nursing homes has soared.
More than 1 in 6 facilities nationwide has detected infections among residents or staff, according to new data released by states such as Michigan, Maryland, Kentucky and South Carolina.
On Wednesday evening, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti said all Los Angeles County residents will be able to obtain free coronavirus testing, even if they are not displaying symptoms, as LA becomes the first city to offer county-wide testing.
As the battle to reopen America rages, a local Louisiana newspaper has uncovered a “secret plot” being organized by Republican state legislators to overturn Gov. John Bel Edwards’ decision to extend his state’s emergency order until May 15. Louisiana has been one of the hardest-hit states in the country, with 593 confirmed cases and 39 deaths for every 100,000 people, while also being ground-zero for the outbreak in the federal prison system that has killed dozens of prisoners already, including a female prisoner who gave birth by C-section.
A group of Republican legislators in Louisiana is quietly working to overturn the Democratic governor’s stay-at-home order, the Advocate newspaper reported.
Emails obtained by the Advocate revealed a plan to invoke an obscure provision that would allow a majority in either chamber of the Republican-controlled state to repeal Edwards’ public-health emergency. Edwards’ handling of the outbreak in his state has been widely praised, including by President Trump. But the devastating hit to the state’s economy, which relies heavily on tourism, have put hundreds of thousands of jobs and businesses in the state at risk.
After reporting dismal Q1 earnings on Wednesday, the CEO of European aerospace giant Airbus – the “Jewel of the European economy” as the NYT called it – warned “we are now in the midst of the gravest crisis the aerospace industry has ever known.”
The company reported a net loss of 481 million euros ($520 million) for Q1, a dramatic reversal from last year. In that period, it could not deliver 60 planes, partly because airlines are seeking to put off payment.
Following yesterday’s historic contraction in US Q1 GDP, the EU followed suit on Thursday and reported its sharpest economic reversal since pan-European record keeping began in 1995.
Eurostat data showed a “seasonally-adjusted” contraction of 3.8% for eurozone countries, and a 3.5% contraction for all EU member states (including those – like Switzerland and Norway – who don’t use the euro).
European shares sloughed off the GDP reading, which was widely expected, as investors in Europe and Asia focused on the positive news from a study of remdesivir.
Early in April, UN workers raised the alarm about an outbreak in war-torn Syria as the coronavirus swept across the Middle East. Now, the UN is ringing the alarm once again, warning that the virus could be spreading more or less undetected across war-torn Yemen and Syria. Specifically, a new cluster has been discovered in Yemen, adding to the country’s already sizable array of problems.
We’d like to reminder our American readers that while governors have largely led their states through the outbreak, there have been several notable instances of grandstanding and perhaps undeserved PR spin. One such example arrived on Thursday as the Washington Post reported that the ~500,000 coronavirus tests obtained by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan – something he called an “exponential, game-changing step forward” – have yet to be used.
Finally, in the UK, evidence that the virus is disproportionately deadly for NHS workers from minority backgrounds (1/5th of nurses and half of doctors in London are from minority backgrounds) has led it to allow hospitals to move minority workers off the front line to try and tamp down the “disproportionate” deaths among them.
Minorities make up nearly 3/4ths of the health care workers known to have died from the virus.
As Brazil develops into the world’s newest viral “hot spot”, the NYT bashed Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro for his continued refusal to acknowledge the crisis: Nearly 500 Covid-19 deaths were reported in Brazil on Tuesday, the highest single-day death toll yet. When asked about the milestone, President Jair Bolsonaro replied: “So what? I’m sorry. What do you want me to do?”
Bolsonaro’s refusal to acknowledge the outbreak’s severity has left Brazil with one of the lowest testing rates in the world. But fears that the outbreak is far more widespread than official numbers suggest haven’t translated to the images of brutality and chaos seen in Wuhan earlier this year.
However, some hospitals have begun reporting familiar scenes of patients crammed into hallways, as the world waits to see if the outbreak will overwhelm Brazil’s health-care system.
We’ve been closely following the outbreak in Russia in recent days as the confirmed case total has soared, alongside a jump in deaths. And as the outbreak worsens, Russian criminal gangs are increasingly trafficking in vital medical equipment. Russian police on Thursday exchanged gunfire with members of a mafia crew suspected of trafficking in illicit ventilators during a raid in a suburb of Moscow.
The interior ministry told Dow Jones that seven people had been detained, and five placed under house arrest, for allegedly selling the “unregistered” ventilators in the Moscow suburb of Gzhel.
A Russian digital media website reported that eight suspected gangsters had been arrested while trying to sell 100 ventilators for 70 million rubles (about $96,000). President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly warned criminals against exploiting the outbreak for profits.