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Coronavirus live news: global deaths near 90,000 as US says isolation measures are working

Coronavirus live news: global deaths near 90,000 as US says isolation measures are working
Boris Johnson still in intensive care; US protective equipment stockpile nearly empty; virus could push 500m people into poverty. Follow the latest updates.
  • The cluster effect: how social gatherings were rocket fuel for coronavirus

  • The number of daily coronavirus-related deaths in Spain slowed on Thursday as 683 fatalities were recorded in 24 hours.
    The total of people who have succumbed to the virus now stands at 15,238, the health ministry said.
    People in Madrid are seen applauding healthcare staff from their apartments yesterday, as they have been doing every day at 8 pm since the crisis started.Confirmed infections across the country rose to 152,446 from 146,690 on Wednesday.Scientists and politicians in Germany have this morning presented some fascinating preliminary findings of a forensic study of the outbreak in the Heinsberg municipality on the Dutch border, which has been called “Germany’s Wuhan”.
    For the “Covid-19 case cluster study”, scientists from the university of Bonn went back to the town that saw the first two fatalities from the virus in Germany and interviewed and tested 1,000 residents. Researchers are also trying to work out exactly how the virus got transmitted at a carnival eventin the area on 15 February.
    After analysing around half of the tests, the study’s director, Prof Hendrick Streeck said on Thursday morning that 14% of the population in the area had developed immunity after contracting the novel coronavirus. Previous estimated had put the infection rate at only around 5%.
    Streeck said the fatality case rate of the virus in the area had also turned out to be considerably lower than the currently currently registered for the country as a whole. In Heinsberg, only 0.37% of people who contracted the virus had died.
    The latest figure for Germany as a whole, as calculated by Johns Hopkins University, is 1.98%.
  • Indian and Pakistani troops in Kashmir are locked in cross-border fighting over the disputed region, despite surging coronavirus outbreaks.
    Indian Army data reviewed by Reuters shows there were 411 ceasefire violations by Pakistan’s military in March, the highest number in a single month since at least 2018.
    In comparison, 267 violations in March 2019 were recorded by the Indian Army.
    Kashmir has long been a source of conflict between the neighbours, but tension has grown after New Delhi withdrew its autonomy last August, splitting it into federally-administered territories.
    Both countries claim the region in full, but rule only parts of it.
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  • Meanwhile in Poland, some measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 will be lifted after Easter, its deputy health minister has suggested.
    During a news conference, Waldemar Kraska, said some restrictions would be eased in order to support the country’s economy.
    Poland’s schools, hotels, restaurants, shopping malls and cinemas are currently closed as part of the restrictions.
    Economists predict that the economy will shrink by 3.5% in 2020, triggering a steep rise in unemployment from the current level of 5.5%.
    “After Easter we will want to turn on the economy a little,” said Kraska.
    As of Thursday, 5,341 people had tested positive for the virus, while 164 had died in the country.
    On Monday, Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party pushed through measures allowing its presidential election to go ahead in May by postal vote.Restrictions to slow the spread of coronavirus in Ireland could remain in place for a period of weeks, its health minister has said.
    Citizens were ordered to stay at home on March 27 until at least this Sunday.
    But Simon Harris told broadcaster Virgin Media it was “highly likely” that the restrictions will be extended tomorrow.Garda officers conduct checks on pedestrians and motorists in Dublin city centre on April 8.
  • Garda officers conduct checks on pedestrians and motorists in Dublin city centre on April 8. Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP via Getty Images
    He added that Ireland would have to move onto a “different terrain” after that.
    “In relation to the roadmap, there is going to be a point in this country where we will have to live alongside the virus, for want of a better phrase, where sadly people will still get sick and sadly some people will still die but it is at a rate that is sustainable for our doctors to manage,” said Harris.
  • Italy may start to lift current lockdown restrictions by the end of April if the spread of the disease in the country continues to slow.
    Prime minister Giuseppe Conte told the BBC on Thursday:
    We need to pick sectors that can restart their activity. If scientists confirm it, we might begin to relax some measures already by the end of this month.
    He warned that restrictions would only be eased gradually, adding that Italy could not lower its guard to the threat of the virus.
    On Wednesday, there were 542 coronavirus-related deaths in Italy, lower than 604 the previous day. The death toll now stands at 17,669.
    The number of people in intensive care also declined from 3,792 to 3,693.
  • Russia has reported a record one-day rise of 1,459 new cases of Covid-19, bringing its national total to 10,131.
    The number of reported related deaths also increased by 13 to 76 on Thursday, the national coronavirus crisis response centre said.
  • China is showing increasing concern over asymptomatic cases of Covid-19, ordering closer monitoring and reporting of “silent” carriers of the virus.
    According to a report in the People’s Daily, a State Council body has issued directions that screening for such cases – where people are diagnosed with Covid-19 and are infective even though they develop no symptoms – must be stepped up.
    Close contacts of confirmed cases, people involved in cluster outbreaks, and travellers from high-risk areas should all be targeted, the report said.
    It said medical institutions were now ordered to report such infections online to disease control departments within two hours of detection, and an epidemiological survey completed within 24 hours. The survey includes an investigation of the patient’s contacts.
    China has only been including asymptomatic cases in its daily tallies this month. They are an estimated 18-31% of cases, according to Shanghai-based infectious disease doctor Zhang Wenhong.
  • The US senate has told members not to use video conferencing app Zoom over security concerns, the Financial Times reports.
    Senators have been asked to find an alternative platform to aid remote working, according to a person who told the FT that they had seen the warning.
    However, the senate is believed to have stopped short of imposing an official ban on Zoom Video Communications Inc’s services.A woman lifts her glass and cheers with friends during a virtual happy hour amid the coronavirus  crisis on April 8 in Virginia, in the US.
  • A woman lifts her glass and cheers with friends during a virtual happy hour amid the coronavirus crisis on April 8 in Virginia, in the US. Photograph: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images
    Usage of the app has skyrocketed after lockdown measures were put in place around the world, meaning that millions of people are unable to see their loved ones, and many are working from home.
    But the influx of users has raised concerns about issues including its lack of end-to-end encryption and uninvited guests joining meetings.
  • The latest coronavirus data from Spain is “encouraging” and the country is close to the beginning of a decline in the epidemic, its prime minister has said.
    “The fire starts to come under control,” Pedro S├ínchez told parliament on Thursday. His comments came before a vote on the extension of a state of emergency by another two weeks until 26 April.
  • More from our project marking 100 days since the Chinese government first warned the world about the new coronavirus.
    My colleagues Laurence Topham and Katie Lamborn have compacted the last three months into a whirlwind eight-minute video charting the development of the pandemic:
  • A hundred days after a Chinese government website announced the discovery of a “pneumonia of unknown cause”, it has become clearer that the dynamics behind the virus’s rapid expansion across the globe have relied heavily on “cluster effects”.
    Each of the countries most heavily hit by the pandemic have reported similar stories of social, cultural or religious gatherings where large numbers spent numerous hours in close company – holding hands, kissing, sharing drinks from the same glass – which then turbo-charged the spread of the pandemic.
    “One pattern we are seeing across the globe is that wherever there was singing and dancing, the virus spread more rapidly,” said Prof Hendrik Streeck, a virologist at the University of Bonn whose team of researchers has spent the last week carrying out the first “Covid-19 case cluster study” in Heinsberg.
    You can read more on how social gatherings became rocket fuel for Covid-19 below:
  • The UK government’s emergency committee is scheduled to meet today to discuss the coronavirus lockdown.
    Dominic Raab, who is deputising for prime minister Boris Johnson while he remains in intensive care with the virus, will lead the COBRA summit ahead of an April 16 deadline to review the current restrictions.
    But government sources have made it clear the lockdown is likely to be extended. On Thursday morning, culture secretary Oliver Dowden told Sky News:
    “We are beginning to make progress on this, we’ve not seen the acceleration you would have expected had we not introduced this, the curve is beginning to flatten.
    “This is the moment that we need to stick to the path we’ve chosen.
    “The British people have really come behind this, we shouldn’t be giving up this Easter weekend, that is the number one thing.”
    The UK’s daily death toll is nearing that of the highest daily figures reported in hard-hit Italy and Spain. On Wednesday, 938 fatalities were announced, bringing the total to 7,097.
    You can read more on this from my colleagues Heather Stewart and Rowena Mason here:
  • U2 has given €10m to support healthcare workers during the coronavirus outbreak in Ireland.
    The band’s donation will be used to source and buy personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline staff.
    RTE has reported the money is part of a scheme involving Irish aircraft leasing company Avolon, which is working with companies to raise funds to buy PPE from China.
    The first delivery arrived at Dublin airport earlier this week.
    The Irish government is already spending more than €200m securing additional equipment from the country, with Aer Lingus transporting the stock from Beijing to Dublin on dozens of flights.
    I’m Amy Walker. You can get in touch with tips or follow me on Twitter (@amyrwalker).
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