President Trump shied away Wednesday from issuing domestic travel restrictions or a national lockdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic that, in a best-case scenario, is expected to kill between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans. Asked at a White House briefing if he was considering limiting domestic air travel, Trump said he was thinking about it, a phrase he frequently applies to subjects he wishes to avoid discussing. We're thinking about doing that, but at the same time we just, to start these airlines and to start this whole thing over again is very tough, John [Roberts, Fox News reporter].
Thomas Peter/Getty The US intelligence community has determined that the Chinese government concealed the extent of its coronavirus outbreak and gave false statistics to other countries, Bloomberg News reported, citing three US officials. Officials transmitted a classified report of their findings to the White House last week. Bloomberg described its sources as saying that the report's main conclusion was that China's public reporting of coronavirus cases was "intentionally incomplete" and that its numbers were fake.
Iran's parliament speaker has contracted the new coronavirus, the country's highest-ranking government figure yet to catch the disease, while in Israel, several top officials entered quarantine when the health minister tested positive on Thursday. Iran's parliament announced Ali Larijani's illness on its website, saying he was receiving treatment in quarantine. Iran, the regional epicenter of the virus, has been fighting one of the world's worst outbreaks.
The two states have instituted increasingly restrictive measures and are among the 23 states with stay-at-home orders. Both states are led by Democratic governors who have earned praise from President Donald Trump for their response to the crisis. The disease is still spreading in both states, and the number of new cases and deaths reported each day is still climbing.
A six-week-old infant has died of complications relating to COVID-19, the governor of the US state of Connecticut said Wednesday, in one of the youngest recorded deaths from the virus. Governor Ned Lamont tweeted that the newborn was "brought unresponsive to a hospital late last week and could not be revived." "Testing confirmed last night that the newborn was COVID-19 positive," Lamont said.
India will pull out of a three-week lockdown in phases, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday, as officials battle to contain the country's biggest cluster of coronavirus infections in the capital, New Delhi. Modi ordered India's 1.3 billion people indoors to avert a massive outbreak of coronavirus infections, but the world's biggest shutdown has left millions without jobs and forced migrant workers to flee to their villages for food and shelter. "Prime minister said that it is important to formulate a common exit strategy to ensure staggered re-emergence of the population once lockdown ends," the government quoted him as saying in a video conference.
Wuhan doctor Ai Fen, who expressed early concerns about the coronavirus to the media, has disappeared and is believed detained by Chinese authorities. Fen, the head of emergency at Wuhan Central Hospital, was given a warning after she disseminated information about the coronavirus to several other doctors. The reprimand from her boss came after Fen took a photo of a patient's positive test results and circled the words 'SARS coronavirus' in red.
Migrant workers looking to finally travel back to their jobs in Beijing and other major cities must cope with constantly changing quarantine policies enforced by local officials whose decisions often seem arbitrary. Following Rules The move to end the lockdown in Wuhan -- the city at the epicenter of Covid-19 -- later this week could spur even more problems. The opening of surrounding Hubei province last month spurred rare clashes between police from two different forces as authorities in neighboring regions sought to prevent a second wave of infections.
Border closures and strict lockdowns prompted by the Covid-19 crisis have disrupted the migrant trail through Central America and Mexico, forcing some would-be migrants to postpone their journeys – and stopping many others in their tracks. The result has been a deterrent more effective than any wall Donald Trump could build. Activists across the region have reported a steep decline in the number of migrants coming from Central America since the restrictions were implemented.
Associated Press/Alex Brandon The risk of conflict between the US and Iran is still very real amid the coronavirus pandemic. President Donald Trump on Wednesday warned Iran it would "pay a very heavy price" if US forces in the Middle East are attacked by it or its proxies. Meanwhile, the US has continued to hit Iran with sanctions amid the pandemic, prompting growing calls for the US to pump the brakes on pummeling the Iranian economy as it struggles to deal with coronavirus.
California's governor on Thursday said small businesses can keep up to $50,000 in sales tax receipts for the next year as the COVID-19 outbreak has forced people to stay home and many shops to close. The move means businesses with $5 million in sales or less will get up to a year to give the state up to $50,000 in sales taxes they collect from customers. It's essentially an interest-free loan aimed at keeping small businesses afloat in a state where the governor has ordered everyone to stay home to prevent the spread of a virus that has so far killed 233 people.
On Wednesday Iran warned the U.S. it was “warmongering during the coronavirus outbreak,” after it deployed Patriot air defense missiles to Iraq.
Thailand will introduce a six-hour night curfew in a bid to control the spread of coronavirus, authorities said Thursday, warning anyone who breached the order faced a two-year jail term. Exemptions will be made for essential staff, including medical workers, food and fuel transport staff, and postal services. The number of infections in Thailand has soared past 1,800 -- up more than 80 percent from a week ago -- and the death toll has nearly quadrupled to 15 as of Thursday.
The death toll from an outbreak of coronavirus in Italy has climbed by 760 to 13,915, the Civil Protection Agency said on Thursday, slightly higher than the daily rise of 727 registered a day earlier. The number of new cases was steady, growing by 4,668 from a previous 4,782, bringing total infections since the outbreak came to light on Feb. 21 to 115,242. Thursday was the fourth consecutive day in which the number of new cases remained within a range of 4,050-4,782, seeming to confirm government hopes that the epidemic has hit a plateau, ahead of a hoped-for decline in the near future.
Shenzhen has become the first Chinese city to ban the sale and consumption of dog and cat meat. It comes after the coronavirus outbreak was linked to wildlife meat, prompting Chinese authorities to ban the trade and consumption of wild animals. Shenzhen went a step further, extending the ban to dogs and cats.
Singapore will shutter schools and most workplaces as the city-state unveiled a raft of stricter measures intended as a “circuit breaker” to slow the spread of coronavirus. Most workplaces, except for essential services and key economic sectors, will close starting on Tuesday, while the city-state will move to full home-based learning in its schools from Wednesday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in an address to the nation Friday afternoon. The action comes as confirmed cases of local transmission and unlinked infections in the country have risen in recent weeks.
California has not seen the surge in coronavirus cases that have overwhelmed cities like New York and Detroit in the past week, which suggests that the state's early and restrictive shelter-in-place orders could be slowing the virus's spread. California implemented one of the earliest and strictest orders to stay at home in the United States in mid-March, and as of Wednesday, there were 8,584 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 183 deaths in the state compared with the 76,000 cases and 1,714 deaths in New York. Dr Deborah Birx, the White House's coronavirus taskforce coordinator, said on Tuesday that she was “reassured by what California has been able to do” to help control the virus with physical distancing orders.
Astronomers have revealed the best evidence yet for an elusive cosmic oddity: the intermediate black hole. These medium-sized black holes are smaller than supermassive black holes, but larger than stellar-mass black holes. Supermassive black holes, it turns out, may form from intermediate-mass black holes.
Reuters Amazon has implemented a number of social distancing policies amid the coronavirus pandemic, but employees say the reality does not always match the rhetoric. A worker at an Amazon warehouse in Indiana sent Business Insider a photo that they allege shows managers huddled at a table next to a sign that states, "Please work together to ensure social distancing is happening." Amazon told Business Insider that it will investigate the incident.
Because an economy-wrecking pandemic isn't enough to deal with, the Trump administration is making aggressive noises at Iran. "Upon information and belief, Iran or its proxies are planning a sneak attack on U.S. troops and/or assets in Iraq," President Trump tweeted on Wednesday. The White House didn't provide any additional information about Trump's tweet or his claim of a "sneak attack" being planned.
Early this week, the streets of the central Israeli city of Bnei Brak were bustling with shoppers as ultra-Orthodox residents, obeying their religious leaders, ignored pleas to stay home in the face of the coronavirus threat. The city has become a lightning rod for anger and frustration by some secular Israelis who allege insular Haredi communities — with disproportionately high numbers of confirmed cases — are undermining national efforts to contain the virus. The pandemic also has threatened to upend deep-seated customs in the religious world, including blind obedience to religious leaders and the belief that religious studies and traditions take precedence over the rules of a modern state.
The U.S. topped 1,000 coronavirus deaths in a single day for the first time Wednesday, a daily death toll more than double that of two of America's most deadly illnesses – lung cancer and the flu. Death counts from the virus are difficult to keep up to date, but the Johns Hopkins coronavirus database – whose sources include the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the European CDC and the National Health Commission of China – shows that the U.S. hit 1,040 cases Wednesday at 10:25 p.m. EDT. Since the virus' first appearance in the U.S. in late January, 5,116 people have died and more than 215,000 have been infected.
Police in Pakistan will enforce a strict lockdown to prevent people from going to mosques to offer Friday prayers and fuel a rise in coronavirus infection, officials said, after failing to prevent large congregations last week. Health experts have warned of an epidemic in South Asia, home to a fifth of the world's population, that could easily overwhelm its weak public health systems. The government in Pakistan's southern province of Sindh, home to the country's largest city, Karachi, will enforce a "curfew-like" lockdown for three hours beginning 12 noon Friday to deter people from coming out of their homes for prayers, officials said.
Russian leader Vladimir Putin has decided to handle his duties remotely, the Kremlin said Wednesday, after the head of the country's main coronavirus hospital tested positive following a meeting with the president. Denis Protsenko, who met with Putin last week as the Russian leader visited the Kommunarka hospital in Moscow, said Tuesday he had been infected with the coronavirus but was feeling well. "The president prefers these days to work remotely," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists, shortly before Putin was due to hold a cabinet meeting by videoconference.