At the first formal press briefing with his coronavirus task force on Feb. 26, President Trump said he didn't agree with the assessment of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that an outbreak was “inevitable” in the United States, noting that the country had just 15 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and no deaths attributed to the virus. “When you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that's a pretty good job we've done,” Trump said at the time. Ever since, Trump has been moving the goalposts on the pandemic, and on Sunday, with coronavirus cases and deaths mounting, Trump said that keeping the U.S. death toll between 100,000 and 200,000 would be “a very good job.”
In late November 2018, just over a year before the first coronavirus case was identified in Wuhan, China, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents at Detroit Metro Airport stopped a Chinese biologist with three vials labeled “Antibodies” in his luggage. The biologist told the agents that a colleague in China had asked him to deliver the vials to a researcher at a U.S. institute. “Inspection of the writing on the vials and the stated recipient led inspection personnel to believe the materials contained within the vials may be viable Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) materials,” says an unclassified FBI tactical intelligence report obtained by Yahoo News.
Chinese health authorities began on Wednesday reporting on asymptomatic cases of the coronavirus as part of an effort to allay public fears that people could be spreading the virus without knowing they are infected with it. China, where the coronavirus emerged late last year, has managed to bring its outbreak under control and is easing travel restrictions in virus hot spots. Up to now, the number of known asymptomatic cases has been classified, and it is not included in the official data, though the South China Morning Post newspaper, citing unpublished official documents, recently said it was more than 40,000.
While officials from Montreal to Moscow have placed populations under some form of lockdown designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus, one man continues to hold firm to the notion that the rest of the world has lost its mind: Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. “It is better to die on your feet than live on your knees!” Lukashenko told a Belarusian television reporter Saturday when asked whether the coronavirus could stop him from hitting the rink for a propaganda-filled hockey game. Lukashenko, one of the longest-serving leaders in the former Soviet Union, has been in power for over 25 years.
Syrian air defenses opened fire Tuesday night on missiles launched from Israeli warplanes on the central province of Homs, shooting down some of them, state media said. State TV said the warplanes fired the missiles while flying in Lebanese airspace. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor, said Israeli warplanes fired eight missiles at the Shayrat air base in Homs province.
State prosecutors in Venezuela have summoned opposition leader Juan Guaido for an alleged "attempted coup d'etat" and attempted assassination, Attorney General Tarek William Saab announced Tuesday. In a statement broadcast on state television, Saab said Guaido had been summoned to appear before prosecutors next Thursday following an investigation last week into the seizure of a weapons cache in neighboring Colombia that he said was to be smuggled into Venezuela. The subpoena was delivered to his head of security on Monday night, Saab said.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Monday defended his weekend handshake with the mother of drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, calling her a "respectable old lady" and seeking to cast his critics as the principal menace to the country. In a 30-second video posted on Twitter on Sunday, Lopez Obrador could be seen approaching Maria Consuelo Loera's car, parked on a dirt road on the outskirts of Badiraguato, a mountainous municipality in the northwestern state of Sinaloa. Surrounded by onlookers, Lopez Obrador told Loera she need not get out of the car, they shook hands and after a brief exchange he told her he had "received her letter."
Ezra Acayan/Getty The Philippines' main island Luzon, which has a population of more than 57 million, is on lockdown. Along with people's movements being restricted, soldiers are covering residents and the streets in disinfectant, and open coffins have been left on the roads as a warning to people to stay inside. On Sunday, the Philippines reported 343 new coronavirus cases in a day — its highest one day increase yet.
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President Trump on Sunday speculated that New York state hospitals are running short of respirator masks to protect doctors and nurses from the coronavirus because supplies are being stolen. How do you go from 10 to 20 [thousand masks per week] to 300,000? Ten [thousand] to 20,000 masks, to 300,000,” Trump said at a briefing by the coronavirus task force in the Rose Garden.
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Taiwan is seen as one of the few places in the world which has successfully stemmed the spread of the coronavirus without resorting to draconian measures. This all exploded over the weekend when a top WHO official appeared to avoid questions about Taiwan in a TV interview that has gone viral, attracting criticism and even accusations of bias. On Saturday, Hong Kong broadcaster RTHK aired an interview with Bruce Aylward, the WHO assistant director-general, who spoke to journalist Yvonne Tong on a video call.
Rep. Nydia Velazquez said Monday that she's been "diagnosed with presumed coronavirus infection," three days after she spoke on the House floor and stood near 80-year-old House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during the signing of the $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill. In a statement, Velazquez, D-N.Y., 67, said she first started feeling sick "in the wee hours of Sunday morning." At the advice of The Attending Physician, neither COVID 19 laboratory testing nor a doctor's office visit was recommended.
New York City's coronavirus death toll surpassed 1,000 on Tuesday as an overwhelmed health system embraced the arrival of hundreds of additional paramedics, EMTs and ambulances. The lifeline of health care support includes 500 paramedics and EMTs and 250 more ambulances, city officials said. A somber-sounding Gov. Andrew Cuomo said early Tuesday that more than 300 new deaths had been reported in the state in the previous 24 hours, a number rendered obsolete just hours later by the virus that has infected more than 75,000 statewide.
Citing a public health order to curb the coronavirus pandemic, the Trump administration is swiftly deporting unaccompanied migrant minors apprehended near the U.S.-Mexico border, upending a long-standing practice required under a federal law designed to protect children from violence and exploitation. Despite initially maintaining that the new measures would not apply to unaccompanied minors, Customs and Border Protection on Monday said its officials could deny entry to children who cross the southern border alone under an order by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC. The agency said some minors could be excluded from the CDC directive if a border official "suspects trafficking or sees signs of illness."
More than 3,000 people had died of the novel coronavirus in the US as of Monday night after a single-day death toll of more than 500. Previously, the highest death toll in 24 hours was 446 deaths, according to The Washington Post. The top US infectious-disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, told CNN the country could see "millions of cases" as the outbreak pans out, with 100,000 to 200,000 deaths.
Iran's president said on Wednesday that, with the advent of the coronavirus, the United States had missed a historic opportunity to lift sanctions on his country, though the penalties had not hampered its fight against the infection. On Tuesday, U.S Secretary of State Mike Pompeo raised the possibility that Washington might consider easing sanctions on Iran and other nations to help fight the epidemic, but gave no concrete sign it plans to do so. "The United States lost the best opportunity to lift sanctions," Hassan Rouhani said in a televised cabinet meeting.
MOSCOW—Amid a growing uproar in newly locked-down Russia, news broke on Tuesday that a doctor President Vladimir Putin met with just a week ago during a highly publicized visit to a coronavirus treatment facility has now tested positive for the infection himself. Widely disseminated photos of the visit showed Putin donning an orange hazmat suit, but he had also talked to Dr. Denis Protsenko extensively without protection and photographs show them together with very little "social distancing." Putin's spokesman says the Russian president is tested frequently for coronavirus infection and is just fine.
The United States has called on Venezuela's Juan Guaido to temporarily renounce his claim to the presidency as it recalibrates its strategy to oust leader Nicolas Maduro. The shift came after more than a year of faltering US-led efforts to oust the leftist Mr Maduro. Mr Guaido came under growing pressure from authorities, who on Tuesday summoned him to answer charges of attempting a coup.
Turkey's central bank on Tuesday added to its emergency program to help contain the economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak, as the country's number of confirmed cases surged 25% and the death toll climbed to 214. The bank introduced new measures to ease lenders' access to credit and support liquidity in the government bond market, before the latest data showed Turkey's caseload of Covid-19 rose to 13,531 from 10,827 from a day ago. The latest step, unveiled two weeks after the central bank's first round of emergency measures, amount to “Turkish QE,” or quantitative easing, said Timothy Ash, a strategist at Bluebay Asset Management in London.
As European and American healthcare systems creak under the strain, China has offered millions of face masks and teams of medical experts. As well as seeking to deflect criticism over initial Chinese missteps in handling the epidemic, analysts say, the campaign is a public relations opportunity in China's great power rivalry with the West and especially the United States. COVID-19 first emerged in a wild animal market last year in the Chinese city of Wuhan, but Beijing says the situation in China is now under control with domestic cases dwindling to zero.
As the temperature passed 50 degrees in Stockholm last week, people congregated in parks unable to resist socializing during the first signs of spring in the Swedish capital. The Swedish government has left it up to individuals to act responsibly and decide whether to stay home or not. Public gatherings of more than 50 people are prohibited but there are no restrictions on private meetings, meaning parties and corporate events can still go ahead.
In Israel, the coronavirus is spreading in ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities up to eight times faster than anywhere else in the country. Ultra-Orthodox Jews account for 12 percent of Israel's population, but they make up 40 to 60 percent of coronavirus patients at four of the country's largest hospitals, officials told Israeli media. Health experts said the virus is moving so quickly in these communities because the ultra-Orthodox have large families, don't trust the government, and pay little to no attention to secular media.
A large earthquake struck north of Boise Tuesday evening, with people across a large area reporting shaking. More than 2 million live in the region that could feel the Idaho quake, according to the USGS, with reports of shaking coming in from as far away as Helena, Montana, and Salt Lake City, Utah. Marcus Smith, an emergency room health unit coordinator at St. Luke's Wood River Medical Center, said the hospital, about 65 miles (104 kilometers) south of the epicenter, shook but the quake didn't interfere with the treatment of any patients.