World COVID-19 update: U.S. expects 100,000 deaths; Oregon declares disaster

The latest on the coronavirus pandemic. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.

This collection of files from the Associated Press was posted by Black Press Media at 9 a.m., Sunday, March 29.

TOP OF THE HOUR:

  • Connecticut and Oregon added to list of states under disaster declaration
  • 2 Sri Lankan villages sealed off after positive coronavirus tests
  • Mnuchin says decision to reopen business will be health decision not economic
  • Fauci warns U.S. will have “millions of cases” of COVID-19 and more than 100,000 deaths

More than 100,000 deaths predicted for the U.S.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. government’s foremost infection disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, says the U.S. will certainly have “millions of cases” of COVID-19 and more than 100,000 deaths.

As the U.S. tops the world in reported infections from the new coronavirus, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases predicts 100,000-200,000 deaths from the outbreak in the U.S.

The U.S. is currently reporting more than 124,000 cases and more than 2,100 deaths.

Fauci was speaking to CNN’s “State of the Union” as the federal government is discussing rolling back guidelines on social distancing in areas that have not been hard-hit by the outbreak.

Fauci says he would only support the rollback in lesser-impacted areas if there is enhanced availability of testing in place to monitor those areas. He acknowledged “it’s a little iffy there” right now.

With Oregon and Connecticut, states with disasters declared extends to 18

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has added Connecticut and Oregon to the list of states where a disaster has been declared due to the coronavirus. A disaster declaration makes a state eligible for federal assistance to supplement state and local efforts to respond to the pandemic.

The White House said Sunday that Trump had approved the two new disaster declarations.

The addition of Connecticut and Oregon brings the list of states where a disaster has been declared to 18, along with Guam and Puerto Rico.

Sri Lanka seals off two villages

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lankan authorities have sealed off two villages as a part of stringent measures designed to contain the spreading of the coronavirus. The number of confirmed cases in the Indian ocean island nation has now risen to 115 with one fatality.

The villages of Atalugama and Akurana were sealed off after several COVID-19 patients were reported from those areas.

More than 6,00 people have been arrested and 1,533 vehicles seized for violating curfew.

Health before economics, U.S. Treasury Secretary says

WASHINGTON — U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says a decision whether to reopen the nation back for business as early as Easter will be a health decision not an economic one.

Mnunchin acknowledges surging unemployment numbers and declining GDP as 1 in 3 Americans remain under government orders to stay at home to slow the coronavirus that has killed over 2,000 Americans.

But he says President Donald Trump’s top objective is the health of the American public.

Mnuchin tells “Fox News Sunday” and CBS’ “Face the Nation” that his own top focus is getting stimulus money from the just-passed $2.2 trillion aid package from Congress immediately into the hands of workers and businesses.

He said American workers will get direct deposits of money in three weeks, while a federal program aimed at helping half the workforce by encouraging small business to take out loans to hire back their workers for eight weeks will be up and running by Friday.

He said the stimulus package should help keep the economy and workers afloat for 10 weeks, and if more time is needed to stem the coronavirus, the administration will assess what else is needed at that time.

Louisiana warns health system can be overwhelmed

WASHINGTON — Gov. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana warns the quick spread of the coronavirus could soon overwhelm the state’s health care system.

Edwards said on ABC’s “This Week” that Louisiana is on a trajectory to overwhelm its health care system and will need more ventilators by the end of the first week of April. He says the state will be out of hospital beds several days into April.

He said they have orders out for more than 12,000 ventilators through the national stockpile and private vendors, but Louisiana so far has only been able to get 192.

He made a plea to the people of Louisiana to shelter at home in an effort to slow the spread in the state, which per capita has the third highest number of cases and second highest number of deaths in the country.

Muscovites told to stay home

MOSCOW — The Russian capital has deployed trucks equipped with loudspeakers to broadcast a message discouraging Muscovites from using parks and asking them to stay at home.

A video posted by a journalist for the Interfax news agency showed a truck parked Sunday at an entrance to Patriarch’s Ponds, blaring the message as a handful of people strolled through the popular park.

Non-essential businesses in Moscow were closed beginning Saturday. About two-thirds of the 1534 coronavirus infection cases reported in Russia occurred in Moscow.

14-year-old boy dies in Portugal

LISBON, Portugal — The Portuguese health minister says a 14-year-old boy with COVID-19 has died. Authorities said the boy had prior health conditions.

Minister Marta Temido said the boy tested positive for the coronavirus but health expert still need to investigate if he died of the disease caused by the virus or other health problems.

Portugal reported Sunday it has 119 total deaths from the virus and 38,042 infections.

Pelosi says delay in crisis will be deadly

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says President Donald Trump shouldn’t be rushing to reopen schools and businesses amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The top Democrat in Congress says the government should be “taking every precaution” and that there needs to be more testing for the virus in place to determine if areas currently showing fewer infections are truly at lower risk.

Speaking to CNN’s State of the Union, Pelosi said Trump’s “denial” early in the crisis was “deadly.”

She says: “As the president fiddles, people are dying, and we have to take every precaution.”

Pelosi says Congress will have to investigate whether Trump heeded advice from scientific experts as part of an after-action report on the pandemic response. She asks: “What did he know and when did he know it?”

Panama to allow cruise ships to use canal

PANAMA CITY — Panama will allow two Holland America cruise ships to pass through the canal on their way to Florida even though one of the ships has confirmed COVID-19 cases.

The Health Ministry says it will allow the passage because of the health risks to passengers aboard the Zaandam. No passengers or crew will be allowed to disembark and the timing of the transit wasn’t immediately clear.

Holland America Line said via a Facebook post, “We greatly appreciate this consideration in the humanitarian interest of our guests and crew” and said it was working with authorities to finalize details.

The Zaandam and 1,243 passengers and 586 crew left Argentina on March 7. South American ports began denying it docking on March 15.

Holland America said Friday that four passengers had died of causes it did not describe, and that two had tested positive for COVID-19.

Panamanian officials initially denied the ships transit for health reasons. Panamanian pilots and other workers come aboard ships as they make their way through the tricky, narrow passage.

50,000 in Philippines violate quarantine regulations

MANILA, Philippines — Nearly 50,000 people have violated quarantine regulations and night curfews in the Philippines and officials warn that police will make more arrests to toughen the fight against the coronavirus.

Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar told The Associated Press that 49,333 violators have been apprehended in the two weeks since the main northern island of Luzon and other regions were placed under a month-long lockdown.

Many of those violators were treated leniently and allowed to go home after being warned or fined. But Eleazar says penalties will be stricter due to widespread defiance.

Curfew violators would be locked up if local ordinances in provinces and cities allow such arrests. Authorities will look for detention centres big enough to allow “social distancing” among those who will be arrested.

Officials on Sunday reported 343 new cases of the COVID-19 disease, bringing the country’s total to 1,418, including 71 deaths. It’s the biggest-single day jump in infections as the Philippines acquired more test kits and opened more testing centres.

Japan has more than 2,400 cases

TOKYO — Health officials in a Japanese prefecture of Chiba, near Tokyo, reported a total of 86 confirmed cases of the virus over the weekend in a mass infection at a facility for people with mental disabilities.

The Chiba prefecture said 58 people tested positive at the facility Hokuso Ikuseien on Saturday. Infections of 28 more people at the facility and their families were confirmed Sunday.

Another 26 staff members at Eiju General Hospital tested positive in Tokyo, where rapid increase of new cases have prompted the Japanese capital to request its residents to stay home. Tokyo reported 68 new cases Sunday, a new record for a single-day increase, bringing a prefectural total to about 430.

Japan has more than 2,400 cases, including 712 infected on a quarantined cruise ship near Tokyo, with 62 deaths.

Serbia: Angry dog owners flood social networks

BELGRADE, Serbia — Pet owners in Serbia are furious over the populist government’s decision to ban even a brief walk for people with dogs during an evening curfew to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.

Angry dog owners have flooded social networks, warning that the ban could harm their dogs’ health and cause frustration and anxiety for both the animals and their owners.

Veterinarian Nenad Milojkovic said protecting animal rights is a test for a society during hard times such as an epidemic. He said skipping the evening walk could worsen the condition for the dogs with urinary problems and “aggravate basic hygienic conditions in people’s homes.”

Serbia’s government made the decision on Saturday, revoking a previously introduced 20-minute permission for dog owners to walk their pets.

Serbia has imposed some of the harshest measures in Europe against the spread of the new coronavirus, including a total ban on movement for people over 65 years and a curfew from 5 p.m. until 5 a.m.

Random coronavirus checks come to Norway

OSLO, Norway — Norwegian health authorities say they are set to start performing random coronavirus tests, following the experiment Iceland has done.

Citing officials at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Norwegian public broadcaster NRK said Sunday such random testing among all citizens will provide answers to two key questions: how many of those who appear to be infected actually have the coronavirus and how wide the spread of the virus is.

NRK said Iceland, with its 12,000 random tests among its population of 340,000, has the largest number of tests per capita in the world. Norway, a nation of 5.4 million, has so far reported 4,054 coronavirus cases with 25 deaths.

Pope calls for cease-fire in all conflicts

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis is backing the U.N. chief’s call for a cease-fire in all conflicts raging across the globe to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. He also said his thoughts are with those constrained to live in groups, citing in particular rest homes for the elderly, military barracks and jails.

During his traditional Sunday blessing, the pope called for `’the creation of humanitarian aid corridors, the opening of diplomacy and attention to those who are in situations of great vulnerability.”

He cited U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ appeal this past week for a global truce `’to focus together on the true fight of our lives” against the coronavirus.

Francis, as he has throughout most of the coronavirus emergency due to bans on public gatherings, addressed the faithful from his private library in the Apostolic Palace, and not from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square as is tradition.

Flights resume in China’s coronavirus epicentre

BEIJING — Airline flights from the Chinese province at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak resumed Sunday in another step toward lifting restrictions that kept tens of millions of people at home.

The first flight took off from Yichang, a city in Hubei province, bound for the eastern city of Fuzhou with 64 passengers, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Most access to Wuhan, the city where the first coronavirus cases were reported in December, was suspended on Jan. 23. Restrictions spread to other cities in Hubei, cutting train, air and road links.

The government has been gradually relaxing restrictions since the Communist Party declared victory over the outbreak. Subway and bus service in Wuhan resumed Saturday and the city’s train station reopen.

Airports in Hubei were scheduled to have a total of 98 departing flights on Sunday, Xinhua reported.

Spain: Daily deaths hit a sombre new record

MADRID — Spain says it has hit a new daily record for coronavirus deaths with 838 fatalities in the last 24 hours for a total of 6,528, the world’s second-highest death count behind Italy.

Sunday’s number is slightly up from Saturday, when 832 people were reported to have died from the virus.

The number of infections rose by more than 6,500 from Saturday to Sunday for a new total of 78,797. The rate of that increase in infections, however, continues to decrease.

Spain has been in lockdown for two weeks under a national state of emergency. Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s Cabinet will approve on Sunday a new decree to tighten those controls and impede workers from commuting to work in all industries unrelated to health care and food production and distribution for two weeks.

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