Germany reports early progress with new infection rate “flattening off slightly”
The drastic measures imposed in Germany to slow the spread of the new coronavirus have begun to have an effect. While the number of new cases continues to rise, the head of the country’s public health agency says the rate of increase is slowing.
“We are seeing signs that the exponential growth curve is flattening off slightly,” Lothar Wieler, President of the Robert Koch Institute, said Monday. He cautioned that he would only be able to confirm the positive trend with more data by mid-week, but said: “I am optimistic that the measures are already having an effect, which is very early because they have only been in place for a week.”
The epidemic does continue to spread fast, Wieler cautioned, with 22,672 cases confirmed in Germany on Monday, an increase of 4,062 since Sunday. There have been 86 deaths blamed on the disease in Germany.
Wieler repeatedly warned that Germans to heed the latest restrictions on social contacts, announced Sunday by Chancellor Angela Merkel. The chancellor, now quarantined herself after close contact with a doctor who was later diagnosed with COVID-19, has banned gatherings of more than two people who do not live in the same household.
– Anna Noryskiewicz
India banning all flights as virus lockdowns clear the roads – and the poisonous air
With 19 of India’s 28 states under complete lockdown orders and partial curbs being enforced in six others to combat the spread of the new coronavirus, about 1 billion people are now largely off the streets.
All but essential business and most ground transport has been shut down. The government decided Monday to stop all domestic passenger flights from Tuesday at midnight. International flights were banned last week.
The government announced the new restrictions as the number of COVID-19 cases in the country started rising sharply, with private labs now also allowed to administer tests.
The widespread lockdowns have at least helped clear India’s noxious air, vastly improving air quality in cities including Delhi, Gurugram, Lucknow, and Kanpur, which typically rank among the world’s most polluted.
On Monday, the air quality index (AQI) in Delhi was around 50, or “good” – rare for the Indian capital, which usually remains in the “unhealthy” to “hazardous” zones with an AQI between 250 to 350. On the worst days of the year in the winter, the AQI in Delhi can exceed 999, the highest figure air quality monitors can even register.
– Arshad R. Zargar
Senate resumes negotiations on mammoth COVID-19 relief package
U.S. Senators returned to Capitol Hill Monday morning to resume negotiations after hitting a partisan wall Sunday night as they craft another coronavirus relief bill expected to cost the nation as much as $2 trillion.
Republicans say they’ve already made big concessions, with some calling the bill “unemployment insurance on steroids,” but Democrats say there aren’t enough protections for workers and some are upset over what they’re calling a new “slush fund” in the bill.
Watch the video below for CBS News correspondent Nancy Cordes’ explanation of what the proposed legislation would do, and when it might pass.
Fear for Lupus patients after Trump wrongly touts vital drug as COVID-19 treatment
Two of the drugs President Trump has touted as treatments for the new COVID-19 disease, in spite of the fact that the Food and Drug Administration has not yet approved them for such use, are vital medications for patients with Lupus.
Amid reports that people with the debilitating disease were already struggling to fill their long-standing prescriptions, the Lupus Foundation of America released a statement saying it recognized that the possible new use “means that these drugs may be in high demand in the coming weeks.”
“We are actively working with our medical and scientific advisors, other patient groups, partners, and the federal government to take steps that ensure people with lupus will be protected from a disruption in access to critical medications,” the foundation said, adding that “hospitals and clinics that treat people with lupus also are working to ensure that those with existing prescriptions will be able to continue their course of treatment.”
The FDA last week was forced to walk back Mr. Trump’s claim that chloroquine had already been approved for use as a COVID-19 treatment.
Nigeria reports chloroquine poisonings after Trump says drug “approved” for COVID-19
Authorities in Lagos, Nigeria say hospitals have seen cases of chloroquine poisoning after U.S. President Donald Trump touted the drug as a treatment against the new coronavirus.
Mr. Trump on Thursday said the anti-malarial drug had been “approved” to treat COVID-19 by America’s Food and Drug Administration, only for the head of the agency to row back and say it had not yet been given a definitive green light.
The drug has recently been used to treat coronavirus patients in China and in France, where some researchers said it showed great promise, though scientists agree that only more trials would determine if it really works and is safe.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, when asked whether there’s any evidence that the drug is useful for COVID-19, replied bluntly: “No.”
He said the hopes Mr. Trump expressed were based on “anecdotal” information.
“It was not done in a controlled clinical trial, so you really can’t make any definitive statement about it,” Fauci said.
China accuses U.S. of wasting “precious time” by “politicizing the epidemic”
China’s foreign ministry says the U.S. is “completely wasting the precious time” Beijing had won in attacking the global coronavirus outbreak that originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a daily briefing Monday that the U.S. has attempted to “discredit others and look for a scapegoat to shift its responsibilities.”
He added that the U.S. should “stop politicizing the epidemic, stopand other countries.”
China’s health ministry says Wuhan has now gone five consecutive days without a new infection, showing the effectiveness of draconian travel restrictions that are slowly being relaxed around the country.
At the same time, China is stepping up measures to prevent the virus from being brought back from overseas, requiring international flights into Beijing to first stop at airports outside the capital for inspection.
– Associated Press
World Health Organization warns criminals posing as staff as fraud efforts mount
The World Health Organization says criminals are increasingly posing as WHO officials in an effort to swipe information or money from people during the coronavirus crisis.
Spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said Monday that attackers are using “multiple impersonation approaches” such as fraudulent phone calls and phishing on email and through social media.
The U.N. health agency said it is working to confirm and debunk such attempts and alert local authorities. It has set up a website to help people prevent fraud during the coronavirus outbreak.
“Always take time to think about a request for your personal information, and whether the request is appropriate,” WHO said.
WHO says its official emails come from the “who.int” domain.
– Associated Press
OECD chief says virus demands “sizeable, credible, internationally coordinated” response
Governments scrambling to defend their own economies against the coronavirus pandemic are being urged to coordinate to ward off a long-term global recession and future waves of infections. The head of the OECD group of advanced economies said the coordination ought to exceed both the 1930s New Deal and the Marshall Plan, which rebuilt Europe after World War II.
A global recession looks “increasingly likely” in the first half of this year, “and we must act now to avoid a protracted recession,” said Angel Gurria, secretary-general of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
“Only a sizeable, credible, internationally coordinated effort can deal with the immediate public health emergency, buffer the economic shock and develop a path towards recovery,” he said in a weekend statement.
While many governments are unveiling titanic spending packages against the COVID-19 pandemic, exceeding even the 2008 financial crisis, there has so far been no collective action plan from fora such as the G7 or G20.
Summer Olympics in Tokyo headed for almost certain delay
The Tokyo Olympics are going to happen,as planned.
This became clear after the International Olympic Committee on Sunday announced it was considering a postponement and would make a final decision within four weeks. Major Olympic nations like Canada and Australia have added pressure by saying they will not send teams if the games are staged this year, over fear of the still-spreading coronavirus disease.
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach sent a letter to athletes explaining the decision, while also acknowledging the extended timeline might not be popular.
“I know that this unprecedented situation leaves many of your questions open,” he wrote. “I also know that this rational approach may not be in line with the emotions many of you have to go through.”
– Associated Press
Hong Kong to ban all non-resident arrivals over virus
Hong Kong will ban all non-residents from entering the financial hub from Wednesday, its leader said Monday, as it tries to halt a recent spike in virus infections from people returning from abroad.
“From midnight of March 25, all non-Hong Kong residents flying in from overseas will not be allowed into the city,” Chief Executive Carrie Lam said, adding the order would be in place for at least two weeks.
Japan requiring 2-week quarantine for all visitors from U.S.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Monday that Japan will require all visitors from the United States to be quarantined for 14 days. That includes Japanese and Americans and is effective Thursday through the end of April.
He cited escalating COVID-19 infections around the world, especially in the U.S. and Europe in recent weeks.
Japan on Sunday raised a travel advisory for the U.S., urging the Japanese citizens not to make nonessential trips to the U.S.
Abe noted the U.S. recently took similar measures and urged Americans not to make nonessential trips to Japan and required a 14-day quarantine for entrants.
He said Monday’s quarantine requirement is in line with measures taken by other countries.
– The Associated Press
Secret Service employee tests positive
The U.S. Secret Service says one of its employees has COVID-19, but it’s not saying whether that employee is an agent.
The service said in a statement early Monday that an employee tested positive for the disease and is in quarantine.
It said it did a thorough check and determined the employee hasn’t had contact with any other Secret Service employee or person the service protects for almost three weeks.
South Korea ramps up screenings of air passengers from Europe
South Korea says it tested more than 1,440 passengers arriving from Europe for the coronavirus as the country tightens border controls to prevent the illness from re-entering from the West.
The office of Prime Minister Chung Se-kyun on Monday said 152 of the passengers who arrived on Sunday were tested at airport isolation facilities after exhibiting fever or respiratory symptoms.
The office says the other 1,290 passengers were taken to an employee training center of the SK business group in Incheon and that six of them have so far been sent home after testing negative.
South Korea began testing all passengers arriving from Europe on Sunday and enforcing 14-day quarantines on South Korean nationals arriving from Europe and foreigners entering the country from Europe on long-term stay visas.
Chung says his government is also considering expanding the measures to passengers arriving from North America.
– The Associated Press