Coronavirus Live Updates: Chaos at American Airports, U.K. Issues Warning on Travel to U.S.

Here’s what you need to know:

Image
Credit…Al Drago for The New York Times

A top health official said on Sunday that stronger effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus would roll out over the next several weeks, a period he characterized as crucial for controlling the outbreak.

Appearing across a number of Sunday morning news programs, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that travel bans enacted last week have helped curb transmission, but that U.S. citizens would have to make personal sacrifices and comply with government guidelines to avoid a “worst-case scenario.”

On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Dr. Fauci cautioned, “Americans should be prepared that they are going to have to hunker down significantly more than we as a country are doing.”

While the Trump administration has banned international travelers coming from high-risk countries and regions, such as China, Iran, and much of Europe, Dr. Fauci said domestic travel restrictions hadn’t been seriously discussed.

“I don’t see that right now or in the immediate future,” he said on “This Week.” “But remember, we are very open-minded about whatever it takes to preserve the health of the American public.”

The administration’s evaluation of the virus’s impact comes as many companies, universities and school districts are already announcing voluntary closings and suspension of normal operations. Last week, over a dozen states began to shutter public schools, and colleges and universities worldwide announced class suspensions and plans to move to online instruction.

In an interview with Brianna Keilar on CNN, Dr. Fauci said that progress was being made with companies like Walmart and CVS to improve diagnostic and testing capabilities. But he cautioned that disruptions to daily life were likely to continue.

“For a while, life is not going to be the way it used to be in the United States,” he said. “We have to just accept that if we want to do what’s best for the American public.”

Meanwhile, Daniel Goldman, who as the top investigator for the House Intelligence Committee played a leading role in the impeachment of President Trump, has tested positive, a House official confirmed on Sunday.

Mr. Goldman left the committee earlier this month. The panel’s chairman, Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, said Sunday that neither he nor any of his other aides were exhibiting symptoms. Mr. Schiff had already canceled public events and directed his staff to work from home.

The United States began a new week on Sunday in a profoundly different place than it was seven days ago.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, there would be no Sunday worship in many churches. No “Selection Sunday” for college basketball tournaments. No trips to the library in Los Angeles, or Broadway shows in New York, or visiting Grandma at a Florida nursing home.

By Sunday morning, known cases of coronavirus in the United States exceeded 2,700, spread across 49 states, prompting the mass cancellation of events and the reordering of American public life. Just one week ago, fewer than 500 cases of the illness had been diagnosed in the country. President Trump, who had initially refrained from getting tested, finally underwent testing for the virushis results were negative, his doctor said.

Nationwide, businesses, schools and public officials continued to struggle with an outbreak that has left more than 50 people dead in the country and upended nearly all aspects of public life. More than 400 new cases have been reported in each of the last three days alone.

At Columbia in New York, the university’s president, Lee C. Bollinger, said that “one of the members of our community has been infected.” In a statement, the university asked those able to leave their dorms to do so by Tuesday.

Officials announced the deaths of a woman in New York City and a man in Rockland County on Saturday, the state’s first attributed to the virus. And two members of the State Assembly tested positive for the coronavirus. Pressure is growing for broader shutdown of New York City.

Some elected officials said on Sunday that the city was moving far too slowly to place restrictions on public life. They pointed out that bars and restaurants on Saturday night in many parts of the city were still relatively crowded, elevating the risk that the coronavirus would continue to spread rapidly.

City Council members have begun calling on Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio to close restaurants and bars. “Something has snapped in the last 12 hours,” Councilman Mark D. Levine, a Manhattan Democrat, tweeted. “Today must be the day we move to #ShutDownNYC.”

Mr. Cuomo appeared to acknowledge the pressure. “The decision each of makes now will impact us all tomorrow,” he wrote on Twitter. “STAY HOME.”

In contrast, Puerto Rico’s governor, Wanda Vázquez, ordered those on the island to stay indoors from 9 p.m. until 5 a.m. from Sunday night until at least March 30, saying that residents had failed to comply with requests to observe social distancing. She also ordered all businesses to close except for supermarkets, pharmacies, gas stations and banks.

In the Omaha, Neb., area, officials reported the first known instance of community spread. In Illinois, a nursing facility where a woman tested positive for the virus was placed on lockdown. And in Pittsburgh, where the first local cases were announced on Saturday, city leaders urged bars to promote social distancing by limiting the number of people they allowed inside.

Two American emergency-room doctors — one in Washington State and one in New Jersey — were in critical condition with Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, the American College of Emergency Physicians said on Saturday. Dr. William Jaquis, the organization’s president, said it was unclear whether the doctor in Washington, who is in his 40s, had contracted the virus at the hospital. The physician in Paterson, N.J., who is 70, had been leading his hospital’s emergency preparedness.

Georgia said on Saturday that it would push back its presidential primary, originally scheduled for March 24, until May 19 — becoming the second U.S. state to delay voting in response to the outbreak. Officials in the next four states scheduled to vote in the primary — Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio — have indicated that they intend to hold their elections on Tuesday as planned.

Authorities in Texas began preparing judges for the possibility that they may have to be ready to order the quarantine of coronavirus patients who refuse to isolate themselves.

And in some areas, officials were making provisions to house and isolate large numbers of people with the virus. But when officials in Washington State chose two locations to house people exposed to the virus, they picked poorer neighborhoods, drawing ire from local officials who noted that their communities had not yet experienced any cases. Dana Ralph, the mayor of Kent, south of Seattle, said residents wondered whether their neighborhoods were being sacrificed to protect wealthier ones.

The closing of schools in more than a dozen states continues to create concerns that children may miss meals and parents may not be able to stay home from work. After Los Angeles Unified School District said that it was closing, school officials said they would open 40 family resource centers to provide child care and meals to students whose parents cannot get out of work. North Carolina on Saturday became the latest state to close its public schools.

As the U.S. government rushed on Saturday to implement Mr. Trump’s restrictions on travel from Europe, part of an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus, chaos ensued at some of America’s biggest airports.

In Dallas, travelers posted photos on Twitter of long winding lines in the airport. In New York, customs agents in paper and plastic masks boarded a flight from Paris. And in Chicago, where travelers reported standing in line for hours, Gov. J.B. Pritzker of Illinois tagged Mr. Trump in a series of angry tweets about the long waits, saying, “The federal government needs to get its s@#t together. NOW.”

Paige Hardy, an American student who left behind her graduate studies in London because she feared a broader travel ban, said a series of confusing announcements in the air and upon landing in Dallas led to alarm on the plane late Saturday. She posted a video on Twitter of travelers being asked to raise their hands if they had been in mainland Europe. Because of the delay, she also missed her connecting flight.

“It truly felt like an apocalyptic scenario,” said Ms. Hardy, who left many of her belongings behind in England and was unsure whether she would be able to return.

The confusion came as concern spread about the coronavirus pandemic, which has now been identified in more than 2,700 people in the United States and has prompted Mr. Trump to declare a national emergency.

“At this time, we are working quickly with our partners to operationalize a plan which will outline where these travelers will be routed and what the screening process will be,” said Marcus Hubbard, a spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of Homeland Security, said on Twitter that he was aware of the delays and was working to add staffing.

American Airlines said on Saturday that it would suspend almost all of its long-haul international flights beginning Monday in response to decreased demand in the face of the coronavirus pandemic and U.S. restrictions on international travel. The airline said the suspensions would last until at least May 6 and would represent a 75 percent decline in international capacity compared with the same period last year.

The Vatican said on Sunday that its traditional services during the week before Easter, which usually draw tens of thousands of people, would not be open to the public next month.

Holy Week, the week before Easter — which falls on April 12 this year — features a series of events presided over by the pope, including a celebration of Good Friday, which in recent years has been held at the Colosseum in Rome.

Since Italy began locking down cities to try to contain the coronavirus, two of the pope’s weekly events, which also draw large crowds — his Wednesday general audience and his Sunday Prayer — have been livestreamed from the library in the papal palace. Last Sunday, the prayer was shown on two large screens in St. Peter’s Square, which has since been closed.

The Vatican said those two events would continue to be shown by livestream on the Vatican News website through Easter. It gave no details about how the Holy Week celebrations would be carried out.

Italy has been the European country hardest hit by the virus, with more than 21,000 people infected and 1,441 deaths.

Yet even as the country is locked down, Italians are still getting their voices heard. At precisely noon on Saturday, millions of Italians, from Piedmont to Sicily, leaned out of windows or stood on their balconies to applaud the health care workers in hospitals and other front-line medical staff who have been working round the clock to care for coronavirus patients.

Several politicians have tested positive for the coronavirus, and on Friday, Giorgio Valoti, the 70-year-old mayor of Cene, a small town northeast of Milan, died. His son, Alessandro, announced the death on Facebook.

Nike said on Sunday that it would shut all of its stores in the United States, Canada, Western Europe, New Zealand and Australia from Monday until March 27 to fight the spread of the coronavirus.

Stores in South Korea, Japan, most of China and in many other countries will continue normal operations, the company said in a statement.

The Nike store closings come days after the company encouraged its workers in the United States to work from home if possible, starting on Monday.

They followed similar moves by companies like Urban Outfitters, which said on Saturday that it would shut all its stores until further notices, and Apple, which said that would close its stores outside mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan for two weeks.

Spain and France announced drastic countrywide restrictions this weekend to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Spain on Saturday ordered all residents to confine themselves to their homes — and to leave only to buy food, go to work, seek medical care or assist older people and others in need.

On Sunday, officials reported nearly 8,000 cases of coronavirus and 288 deaths, cementing its status as the European country hit the hardest after Italy, which on Saturday reported 175 new deaths, with a total of 1,441, and 2,795 new cases, with the total crossing 21,000.

The Spanish government has ordered all schools, restaurants and bars to close, extending measures that various regional authorities, including in Madrid and in Catalonia, had taken on Friday.

Amid concerns that the crisis is fueling territorial tensions within Spain, the country’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, was to meet with its regional leaders via video link on Sunday to discuss how to enforce a nationwide state of emergency. Politicians from the Basque and Catalan regions have warned his central government not to take over the management of health care, which is under the remit of regional administrations.

The Spanish authorities said that Mr. Sánchez’s wife, Begoña Gómez, had tested positive for the virus.

France announced the closing of all “non-indispensable” businesses as of midnight, including restaurants, bars and movie theaters, after a sharp uptick in coronavirus cases. French cases doubled over the last 72 hours to about 4,500. There have been 91 deaths, and 300 coronavirus patients are in critical condition — half of them under 50 years of age.

On Sunday, France’s transportation minister said the country would begin reducing plane, train and bus services between cities. Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, in a news conference with Ecology Minister Élisabeth Borne, said cargo services would continue, as would city metro services.

“We have to limit our movements as much as possible,” Ms. Borne said. “Long-distance trips must be kept to what is strictly necessary.”

In Germany, which has also been hit hard by the coronavirus, factories will continue to churn out automobiles — at least for the time being, carmakers said on Sunday.

Volkswagen, the world’s largest carmaker, has closed or is planning to temporarily close factories outside Germany, including one in Chattanooga, Tenn. But its German locations are continuing to operate, a company spokesman said. BMW factories are also operating “according to plan,” a BMW spokesman said.

Yet German factories may soon run short of workers. About 800,000 people work for car companies or parts suppliers in Germany, almost as many as work in the car industry in the United States. The German government has not yet imposed a nationwide lockdown, but schools in many regions are suspending classes. Assembly line employees may not be able to come to work because they need to care for their children.

As countries across Europe impose lockdowns and restrict travel, Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain is facing a swelling tide of opposition to his government’s more relaxed measures to stem the coronavirus.

In an open letter, nearly 350 scientists and doctors called on him to immediately impose the kind of social distancing steps that countries like Italy, France and Spain have adopted.

They warned that Britain’s approach — in which the government has talked of impending moves like quarantining older residents and closing schools but pushed off the timing for 10 days or longer — was putting lives at risk.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the British broadcaster Sky News that the action plan under consideration including asking Britons over 70 to self-isolate for up to four months to reduce their risk of contracting the virus. The government is also expected to ban large gatherings starting next week and to order people over age 70 to remain at home.

The rate of infection in the country has been climbing as rapidly as elsewhere in Europe. Britain had at least 1,140 confirmed cases and 10 deaths as of Sunday, and the United States this weekend extended its ban on travelers from most of Europe to include those coming from Britain, as well.

On Sunday, Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office also advised against “all but essential travel to the U.S.A., due to restrictions put in place by the U.S. government” on foreign nationals arriving from Britain and Ireland from Monday.

The scientists’ letter, which was also signed by 33 experts outside Britain, including from Harvard, Cornell and the University of California, Berkeley, said: “We consider the social distancing measures taken as of today as insufficient, and we believe that additional and more restrictive measures should be taken immediately, as it is already happening in other countries across the world.”

They sharply criticized the British government’s apparent embrace of the theory of “herd immunity,” under which the spread of the virus to a significant percentage of the population is viewed as acceptable, even beneficial, because it would build up immunity in the public and make Britain more resilient in the face of future outbreaks.

The government’s chief scientific adviser laid out that theory in interviews last week, seemingly as a way to justify the country’s more relaxed approach to social distancing. But officials have since clarified that encouraging mass infections is not part of its strategy.

Israeli court officials, citing the coronavirus pandemic, said on Sunday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s long-awaited trial on bribery and other corruption charges, scheduled to begin on Tuesday, would be delayed at least until May 24.

The announcement came hours after Mr. Netanyahu said on Saturday night that digital and technological means would be employed to track citizens known to have contracted the virus — an extraordinary measure that he said had been drawn from Israel’s war on terrorism.

In a televised address, he said that Israel was “at war” against an “invisible enemy.” Acknowledging that the surveillance would impinge on personal privacy, Mr. Netanyahu said he had sought and received permission from the Justice Ministry.

As the country’s caseload rose to nearly 200, the government mandated the closure of all leisure venues starting on Sunday, including cafes, restaurants, gyms and cultural institutions. Public gatherings are to be limited to 10 people, and workers have been told to work from home if possible.

Many other countries increased restrictions or said they might do so:

  • Kenya on Sunday ordered the immediate closure of all schools and suspended travel for all persons coming from any country with reported coronavirus cases. All people who have entered into Kenya in the last 14 days must self-quarantine.

  • Hong Kong said on Sunday that people arriving from the United States, Britain, Ireland and Egypt would have to undergo a 14-day home quarantine beginning Thursday.

  • Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, said on Sunday that all international arrivals would have to self-isolate for 14 days and that cruise ships arriving from foreign ports would be banned.

  • Norway said on Sunday that starting Monday it would close its borders to all foreign nationals who do not have a residence permit.

  • Cyprus said on Sunday that foreign nationals would be allowed in the country only if they can present a medical certificate from their country of origin, and they would be placed into quarantine for 14 days. President Nicos Anastasiades said the measure would take effect on Monday. Any students from Cyprus who stay abroad while attending school will be given 750 euros, around $835, by the government to manage expenses, he said. He also announced the suspension of all private business operations.

  • Bulgaria will ban incoming flights from Italy and Spain as of midnight (2200 GMT) on March 17 as part of measures to contain the spread of coronavirus, its transport minister, Rosen Zheliazkov, said on Sunday, according to news reports. He said that Bulgarians who wanted returning from these countries would have Monday and Tuesday to do so and would face 14 days of quarantine.

  • Kazakhstan’s president, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, declared a national emergency starting on Monday and lasting until April 15, including quarantine measures and travel restrictions in and out of the country.

  • Jordan said that it was suspending all incoming and outgoing passenger flights, that schools and universities would be suspended for two weeks, and that mosques, churches, gyms, cinemas, youth centers and swimming pools would close.

  • The number of deaths in Iran increased by 113 in the past 24 hours, raising the overall death toll to 724, an Iranian health official said on Twitter on Sunday, adding that nearly 14,000 people had been infected in the country.

  • The Afghan government closed all schools and universities for a month and asked people to avoid weddings and engagements — events that usually draw thousands. The war-torn country, which shares a porous border with Iran, reported its 11th case on Saturday, but limited testing makes it hard to gauge how widespread the outbreak is.

  • The governor of Jakarta, Indonesia, said that schools in the capital would close for two weeks. The country’s transportation minister, Budi Karya Sumadi, has tested positive.

  • Singapore has closed all its 70 mosques for five days to disinfect them, after the spread of the virus in Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore was connected to a gathering of 16,000 people at a mosque near Kuala Lumpur. Four cases in Singapore have been linked to that gathering.

  • Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand said that all foreigners and citizens arriving in the country after Sunday night would have to isolate themselves for 14 days.

  • Nepal said it would enforce a 14-day quarantine for all arrivals starting from Saturday, with Nepalis allowed to do so at home and foreigners subject to “self-quarantine.”

  • Namibia reported its first two cases: a Spanish couple who arrived there on Wednesday and who are both now under quarantine.

  • The president of Colombia ordered the border with Venezuela closed.

  • Poland, with 68 cases, will close its borders to all noncitizens on Sunday, and is suspending all international air and rail travel for at least 10 days; the authorities said they would also close businesses and cancel public gatherings of more than 50 people. The Czech Republic and Slovakia have announced similar measures.

  • In Denmark, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said that all foreigners who did not have an essential purpose for visiting the country would be turned away; the measures will be in effect until at least April 13.

Manila, the densely populated capital of the Philippines, went under lockdown on Sunday as the government sought to assure citizens that the heavy presence of security forces did not herald a return to martial law.

To stop the spread of the coronavirus, President Rodrigo Duterte’s government has banned public gatherings, suspended classes for a month, imposed a limited curfew and restricted travel in and out of the Manila metropolitan area. Soldiers and police officers set up checkpoints on Sunday morning, stopping vehicles and checking the temperatures of people inside.

Mr. Duterte announced the measures on Thursday, emphasizing that they were to protect the public and that there would be no return to military rule. Many Filipinos have vivid memories of decades of martial law under President Ferdinand Marcos, who was driven out of power in 1986.

“Do not be afraid of the soldiers — these are your soldiers,” Mr. Duterte said. “The armed forces is there to serve you and they are under orders from civilian authorities.”

Mr. Duterte, an admirer of Mr. Marcos, placed the southern island of Mindanao under martial law for more than two years after an Islamist uprising there. During that time, he mused that it might become necessary to extend it to the whole country.

Carol Araullo, head of a civic group, Bayan, said Mr. Duterte’s lockdown order “appears to focus mainly on limiting the movement of the people rather than addressing the more urgent health requirements and economic needs” of Manila residents. She said it included no provisions for a quarantine system or free testing for the capital’s many poor people, nor did it deploy “doctors, nurses and other health workers in the communities.”

The Philippines has confirmed 111 coronavirus infections and eight deaths. A lawmaker said Sunday morning that an employee of the Philippine House of Representatives had died after testing positive for the virus.

“The whole House of Representatives is saddened,” the lawmaker, Rep. Jericho Nograles, said in a radio interview. “At the same time, we are also worried about the people he had contact with.”

China’s capital, Beijing, is toughening its rules for international arrivals, requiring everyone arriving from overseas to spend 14 days at a quarantine site beginning on Monday.

All arrivals will have to pay for their own quarantine stay, officials said on Sunday. Beijing announced a mandatory quarantine last week, but allowed arrivals to complete the two-week isolation at home or in a hotel. The new rules will allow limited exceptions for home quarantine.

Chinese officials have made a priority of controlling the spread of the virus in the capital. As of Saturday, the city had recorded 415 confirmed infections, including eight deaths and 353 people who have been treated.

As it tightens restrictions on people entering the country, the Chinese government also is leading a sweeping campaign to purge the public sphere of dissent, censoring news reports, harassing citizen journalists and shutting down news sites.

But Chinese journalists, buoyed by an outpouring of support from the public and widespread calls for free speech, are fighting back in a rare challenge to the ruling Communist Party.

They are publishing hard-hitting exposés describing government cover-ups and failures in the health care system. They are circulating passionate calls for press freedom. They are using social media to draw attention to injustice and abuse, circumventing an onslaught of propaganda orders.

The authorities have struggled to rein in coverage of the outbreak, in part because the Chinese public has resorted to innovative methods to preserve a record of what has transpired.

When the magazine Profile published a damning interview with a doctor who was warned not to share information about the virus as it first spread in Wuhan, the article disappeared. But Chinese internet users brought the story back to life, using emojis, morse code and obscure languages to render the interview in ways that would evade censors.

“This time the government’s control of free speech has directly damaged the interests and lives of ordinary people,” said Li Datong, a retired newspaper editor in Beijing. “Everyone knows this kind of big disaster happens when you don’t tell the truth.”

A 68-year-old Italian man who had been a passenger on the Costa Luminosa cruise ship died of Covid-19 on Saturday in the Cayman Islands, the hospital and government there said.

The ship left Fort Lauderdale, Fla., three weeks ago for a cruise in the Caribbean, returned and departed again on March 5. It now has 1,427 passengers onboard. Two other Italian passengers tested positive for the illness in San Juan, Puerto Rico, after one fell ill a week ago. The ship, which was turned away from Antigua and Spain, is scheduled to dock on Thursday in Marseille, France, where Italian passengers will be taken back to Italy, according to a statement on the company’s website.

The man had two heart attacks onboard the vessel and was evacuated and admitted to a hospital on Feb. 29 in critical condition, according to a statement from the Health City Cayman Islands Hospital. He developed a dry cough six days later but had no other coronavirus symptoms.

A test taken on Monday came back positive for the coronavirus three days later — and a day before the passengers who disembarked in San Juan were confirmed to have the virus. His death was caused by pneumonia, “with acute respiratory distress,” from the coronavirus disease, according to a doctor quoted in a news report.

The hospital has quarantined members of its staff and their families, and has been closed to new patients for two weeks, the statement said. The man’s wife was quarantined.

Despite the positive tests on the Italian passengers on Friday, the cruise line began stricter protocols, such as having dinner served by employees, only this past weekend, other passengers said.

The cruise line said it increased sanitary protocols late Saturday afternoon after receiving confirmation from the Puerto Rican government about the Italian couple hospitalized there.

“We confirm no guests or crew with health issues,” the company said in an email to The New York Times. It did not respond this weekend to specific requests for information about the man in the Cayman Islands.

Reporting was contributed by Mitch Smith, Mark Landler, Jonathan Weisman, Elisabetta Povoledo, Andrea Salcedo, Austin Ramzy, Tiffany May, Iliana Magra, Cliff Levy, Kristen Danis, Jason Gutierrez, Mariel Padilla, Robert Chiarito, Isabel Kershner, Mujib Mashal, Raphael Minder, Neil MacFarquhar, Jack Ewing, Najim Rahim, Livia Albeck-Ripka, Hannah Beech, Marc Santora, Julie Bosman, Richard Fausset, Johanna Berendt, Richard C. Paddock, Muktita Suhartono, Elian Peltier, Damien Cave, Javier Hernandez, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Mihir Zaveri, Patricia Mazzei, Frances Robles, Badra Sharma, Annie Karni, Abdi Latif Dahir and Zach Montague.

View original article here Source

Related Posts