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China says Wuhan has no more hospitalized coronavirus patients.
Wuhan, the original epicenter of the pandemic in China, now has no coronavirus patients in its hospitals, a government official said on Sunday.
The city, an industrial metropolis of 11 million, was the first to experience total lockdown and road bans as its hospitals became overwhelmed with patients. Officials reported 46,452 total infections and 3,869 deaths from Wuhan in a tally published Sunday, though critics believe the actual figures to be higher.
Once debilitated by the virus, Wuhan has been showing signs of recovery and each milestone has been celebrated. Capsule hospitals that had been set up in Wuhan stadiums and gymnasiums were cleared in March, and the government allowed outbound traffic on April 7 after ending its lockdown.
On Friday, health officials said that only one patient had a severe case of the virus in Wuhan. Officials said that as of Saturday the city still had 12 coronavirus cases, but no new infections.
“As our next step, we will carry out the demands of the central government in continuing to guard against transmissions from the outside and rebounds from within,” Mi Feng, the spokesman for China’s National Health Commission, said in a news conference on Sunday.
China on Sunday reported 11 new coronavirus cases in the mainland for the previous day. The latest official tally recorded a total of 82,827 confirmed cases, including 4,632 deaths.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson will return to work on Monday.
Weeks after entering the hospital for the coronavirus and being treated in an intensive care unit, Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain will return to 10 Downing Street on Monday to once again lead the government’s response to the pandemic.
Mr. Johnson is “raring to go,” a Downing Street spokeswoman said by telephone on Sunday.
While battling the virus, the prime minister had deputized Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to carry out certain duties. Mr. Johnson had revealed on March 27 that he was infected, but continued to work. When his condition worsened, he was admitted to St. Thomas’ Hospital in London on April 5. The next day, the prime minister was moved into intensive care after his condition deteriorated, and he was given oxygen treatment. The government said Mr. Johnson did not require a ventilator.
He was discharged on April 12 and was recuperating at Chequers, the prime minister’s country house.
In his absence, each evening a rotating roster of cabinet ministers and two expert advisers have given the nation a coronavirus update from Downing Street. The briefings are the antithesis of the fiery, freewheeling spectacle presided over by President Trump. There is none of the gladiatorial combat of Mr. Trump’s clashes with reporters, none of the awkward moments when the leader second-guesses the scientists and no fulsome expressions of praise by subordinates.
Yet despite the cultural differences, there are deeper parallels between the sessions. And now, Mr. Johnson faces what one cabinet member called “the political calculus of life and death”: how to ease the lockdown.
The question becomes more urgent as springtime temperatures rise and more people in Britain leave their homes. Already, officials said at a news briefing on Saturday, the number of passengers using London’s subway had risen after falling drastically during the lockdown.
On Sunday, Mr. Raab told Sky News that the government should act cautiously to avoid a second spike in infections and a second lockdown that would damage public confidence.
“We are at a delicate and dangerous stage, and we need to make sure that the next steps are sure-footed,” he said, adding that the government was “doing the homework” on what would happen in the next phase.
Britain had more than 152,000fgerman confirmed cases as of Sunday, and more than 20,000 deaths.
Children in Spain go outside for the first time in weeks as the country’s lockdown begins to ease.
Children took to the streets of Spain on Sunday for the first time in six weeks, as part of the government’s plan to gradually ease a nationwide lockdown in response to improved coronavirus numbers.
The rules allow children to take a stroll for one hour within one kilometer (0.6 miles) of their home, accompanied by an adult. And the sight of parents pushing strollers and teenagers riding skateboards brought a semblance of normalcy to Madrid and elsewhere.
Paulino Motter, a Brazilian resident of Madrid, said he and his 7-year-old daughter, Helena, had decided to take their usual morning walk to school, even though it was a Sunday. “I felt it was important to show her that the city has changed, but that her life can hopefully return to normal at some point,” Mr. Motter said.
Beatriz Teja was helping her 2-year-old son, Juan, steer his miniature blue racing bike down Calle Serrano, one of Madrid’s main shopping avenues. “I cannot believe that it is over 40 days since Juan has been out,” she said. “We hear all the time about health, but I really think that keeping a child at home for so long cannot in any way have been good for his health.”
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said on Saturday that adults would also be allowed outdoors to take a stroll or exercise from May 2 if the improvement in Spain’s coronavirus figures continues.
On Sunday, the country reported 288 deaths overnight — the first time that the daily number of fatalities had fallen below 300 since March 18, shortly after the lockdown came into force.
Two Dutch mink farms are quarantined after the animals are infected with the virus.
Two mink farms in the Netherlands have been quarantined after the animals were found to have the coronavirus, the Dutch Agricultural Ministry said on Sunday.
It is believed to be the first time that minks were reported to be infected during the pandemic.
The minks’ symptoms included respiratory problems, the ministry said in a statement, and they are believed to have contracted the virus from farm employees.
The agriculture minister, Carola Schouten, said that mink farmers, veterinarians and researchers would now be required to report any respiratory problems or increased mortality in minks in the country. The order does not extend to other livestock, since they do not appear to be susceptible to the virus, the statement said.
Investigations have begun to determine the source of the infections, the statement said, and air and dust samples were taken near the farms to test for traces of the virus. As a precautionary measure the department advised people to avoid cycling or walking within about 1,300 feet of the farms.
Masked Hong Kong crowds resume antigovernment protests amid the outbreak.
A few hundred people gathered at a Hong Kong mall to belt out protest songs and anti-police slogans on Sunday evening in the first sizable public demonstration since a second wave of coronavirus cases subsided in the semiautonomous Chinese city this month.
The crowds were pushed out by hundreds of police officers holding pepper-spray rifles and wearing ballistic goggles and surgical masks under their helmets. The protesters also wore masks, which is the norm in Hong Kong now but which also carried a second meaning: Masks became a symbol of resistance after the government banned them in October to prevent demonstrators from concealing their identities at unsanctioned rallies.
The police have been swift to charge offenders caught defying rules put in place because of the virus, including those who broke mandatory home quarantine or gathered in nonwork settings in groups larger than four. Violations can lead to jail sentences and fines.
After two weeks in which no or single-digit new coronavirus cases were reported in Hong Kong, calls to resume antigovernment demonstrations started to circulate after officials cracked down on the protest movement with new arrests.
The public has also been angered by the Chinese central government’s assertive rhetoric over what it considers its right to intervene in the territory’s affairs.
In North Korea, which has reported no coronavirus cases, rumors fly about the health of Kim Jong-un.
The same secrecy that has led to a widespread belief that North Korea is experiencing a coronavirus outbreak even though it has reported no cases is now fueling speculation that the nation’s leader, Kim Jong-un, has fallen ill from an unknown cause.
Depending on the news outlet or social media post, Mr. Kim, believed to be 36, is recuperating after a minor health issue like a sprained ankle, or he is “in grave danger” after a heart surgery. Or he has become “brain-dead” or is in a “vegetative state” after a heart-valve surgery gone wrong at the hands of a nervous North Korean surgeon or one of the doctors China dispatched to treat him.
Or Mr. Kim is grounded with Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.
The lack of real information from the hermetic country is giving rise to rampant rumor mongering, leaving North Korean experts, foreign officials and intelligence agencies to parse through it all for signs of the truth.
Mr. Kim last appeared publicly on April 11, when he presided over a Politburo meeting. Speculation about his health began swirling after he missed state celebrations for his country’s biggest holiday, the April 15 birthday of his grandfather and founder of North Korea, Kim Il-sung.
North Korea took drastic action against the virus, including closing the border with China, sooner than most other nations. Still, outside health experts hold deep reservations about the North’s ability to fight an outbreak that many fear has already spread widely.
Decades of isolation and international sanctions have ravaged North Korea’s public health system, and relief agencies including the World Health Organization have had to get special waivers to ship test kits, protective gear and other supplies there.
According to W.H.O. officials, North Korea has quarantined and then released more than 25,000 people. It has also begun testing hundreds of people for the virus.
U.S. roundup: Deaths near 50,000, and limited testing hampers states’ plans to reopen.
As the United States neared a sobering milestone — 50,000 deaths from the coronavirus — some states were moving to reopen. Governors of several states appeared on Sunday talk shows to lay out blueprints for restarting their economies. But even under the most optimistic estimates, it will be months, and possibly years, before Americans crowd into bars and squeeze onto subway cars as they once did.
States continued to be hampered by a shortage of testing capacity, leaving them without the information that public health experts say is needed to track outbreaks and contain them. The nation conducted about 1.2 million tests from April 16 to April 22, up from about 200,000 tests from March 16 to March 22, according to data from the Covid Tracking Project.
“We are not in a situation where we can say we are exactly where we want to be with regard to testing,” Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, said in an interview with Time.
Inside the White House, officials were discussing replacing Alex M. Azar II, the health and human services secretary, after a string of news reports about the administration’s slow response to the pandemic and a separate controversy about an ousted department official, two senior administration officials said.
As the virus has spread into suburbs and rural towns in the United States, overwhelming hospitals and emergency medical workers, it has taken a toll on scores of volunteer emergency response units. Many of them are the sole responders in critical situations, because large swaths of the country have no nearby hospitals equipped to deal with Covid-19 patients.
A for-profit company bought three struggling hospitals in West Virginia and Ohio. Doctors were fired, supplies ran low and many in need of coronavirus care had to travel elsewhere. Then the doors shut for good.
Fringe activists in Germany are protesting the country’s lockdown, despite broad support for the rules.
A number of fringe activists in Germany staged a protest on Saturday against the country’s lockdown measures, calling for the restrictions to be dropped even as Chancellor Angela Merkel has drawn praise for her response to the outbreak and Germany plans to ease some social distancing rules.
Several hundred people met in front of the Volksbühne, or people’s stage, a theater in the Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz in Berlin that has long been a center of activity for left-leaning progressive culture. The protest followed similar demonstrations over the last five weeks and drew on conspiracy theories that the German state is using the outbreak to take power from the people.
Some shouted “I want my life back” others held up signs that read “Protect constitutional rights.”
More than 154,000 cases have been reported in Germany with more than 5,600 deaths. Compared to hard-hit Spain and Italy, the death rate in Germany has been relatively low. Experts have said that part of the reason for the difference is widespread testing and treatment and a trusted government whose social distancing guidelines are widely observed.
Last week, Ms. Merkel announced the gradual opening of stores and public places while mandating that people stay five feet apart.
At the protest on Saturday, the police took down the names of 105 protesters and gave out tickets for resisting orders and ignoring social distancing rules.
“There are sporadic allegations that this is turning into a police state,” Thilo Cablitz, a spokesman for the Berlin police, said during the protests. “That is not at all true, because what it is really about is merely ensuring that infection protection rules are observed.”
Markus Decker, a correspondent for the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland, said in a radio interview that those participating in the protest were “an illustrious mixture of people, some of whom describe themselves as left-wing.”
“But also of people who clearly belong to the right spectrum,” he said.
The key obstacle in planning for this pandemic was money. Will it be the same for the next?
Early in 2018, 30 microbiologists, zoologists and public health experts from around the world gathered at the headquarters of the World Health Organization in Geneva to draw up a priority list of dangerous viruses — specifically, those for which no vaccines or drugs were in development.
It included “Disease X”: a stand-in for all of the unknown pathogens, or devastating variations on existing pathogens, that had yet to emerge. The coronavirus now sweeping the world, officially SARS-CoV-2, is a prime example.
Ultimately it wasn’t science that stopped significant action from being taken on finding ways to deal with “Disease X.” According to some infectious-disease experts, the scientific tools already exist to create a kind of viral-defense department — one that would allow the pursuit of a broad range of global projects, from developing vaccines and drugs that work against a wide range of pathogens to monitoring disease hot spots and identifying potential high-risk viruses, both known and unknown. What’s lacking is resources.
The work that stalled included efforts to design panviral drugs and vaccines that would be effective against a wide range of strains: all types of influenza, for instance, or a substantial group of coronaviruses rather than just one.
One key obstacle: Such drugs and vaccines are unlikely to be profitable, making them unappealing to pharmaceutical companies.
But as the Covid-19 pandemic unfolds, systems of global cooperation and investment have started to emerge. And the conversation about what it would take to prepare for the next pandemic has started.
In Kashmir, a lockdown worsens a mental health crisis.
Eight months after India revoked Kashmir’s semiautonomous status and brought the region fully under its authority, doctors there say that a state of hopelessness has morphed into a severe psychological crisis.
And a nationwide lockdown that India imposed last month to fight the coronavirus has worsened the problem, the medical professionals say. Police officers block roads with coils of glistening concertina wire. Any residents who step out of their homes, especially in Kashmir’s towns and cities, risk being beaten up.
With that combination of factors at play, mental health workers say Kashmir is witnessing an alarming increase in depression, anxiety and psychotic events. While hard data is difficult to come by, local medical professionals say they are seeing a rise in suicides and an increase in already high rates of domestic abuse.
The Kashmir Valley, tucked into the Himalayas, has few resources to cope. The area has been mired in conflict for decades, with its majority-Muslim population agitating for independence or at least more autonomy from India, which is majority Hindu and controls most of Kashmir. Pakistan controls a smaller slice.
Over all, Kashmir has fewer than 60 psychiatrists. Dr. Majid Shafi, a government psychiatrist, said that last year he saw 100 patients a week. Now he sees more than 500.
“This is just the tip of an iceberg,” Dr. Shafi said. “The crisis is growing.”
China changes its rules again on the export of medical supplies.
China has again changed its regulations on the export of N-95 respirators, surgical masks, ventilators, infrared thermometers and other medical supplies, making it slightly easier to sell them overseas but also putting on importers more of the burden for quality checks.
Millions of coronavirus testing kits, as well as smaller numbers of respirators and other equipment, have been piling up at factories and airports in China as companies and Beijing regulators try to sort out Chinese customs rules. The new rules resolve some of the confusion.
China ordered nearly a month ago that medical supplies could be exported only if they met Chinese technical standards for quality. That posed a problem: Many supplies had been manufactured for years in China to meet the technical standards of foreign countries, which are often different.
The new Chinese customs agency rules issued late Saturday say that goods may meet either Chinese or foreign quality standards. But for the first time, the rules require that not only the exporter but also the importer overseas must attest that the goods meet quality standards before the items are allowed to leave China.
Beijing officials “don’t want to take any responsibility or liability for counterfeit or defective products,” said Omar Allam, the chief executive of a trade consulting firm in Ottawa.
A less social Ramadan to help contain the virus.
Sprawling banquets that convened crowds of relatives have shrunk to modest meals for immediate family. Imams who led prayers in packed mosques have been addressing the faithful over Zoom. And stay-at-home orders and social distancing guidelines have sapped the nighttime jubilance of cities with large Muslim populations, from Cairo to Jakarta to Dearborn, Mich.
For the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims, the holy month of Ramadan is a social and spiritual high point, a time to gather with friends and family, and to focus on fasting, prayer and scripture.
But the coronavirus is transforming this Ramadan across the world, clearing out mosques, canceling communal prayers and forcing families to replace physical gatherings with virtual meet-ups.
Ramadan, which most Muslims began observing on Friday or Saturday, is the month when Muslims believe God revealed the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad. Fasting from dawn to dusk for those who are able during this month is one of the five pillars of Islam.
But the pandemic has added danger to many of the ways that Muslims have observed Ramadan for generations, forcing modifications.
Some mosques, where people normally pray shoulder to shoulder and crowds spill into the streets, have made efforts to space out the faithful to prevent contagion. Others, from Paris to Brooklyn to Mecca, toward which all Muslims pray, have shut their doors altogether.
The rigors of fasting have birthed a range of social customs. Families stay up all night or wake up before sunrise to eat. Breaking the fast and the nighttime meals that follow are opportunities to gather with relatives, entertain guests and, for the wealthy, give charity by offering drop-in meals at street banquets for the poor.
But for many, this will be a Ramadan like no other, observed more at home than at the mosque, more online than in person, and amid greater uncertainty about the future.
Israel’s health minister steps down amid accusations over his handling of lockdown measures.
Israel’s health minister is stepping aside amid accusations that he presided over the easing of pandemic-related restrictions in ways that benefited major donors to his sect of ultra-Orthodox Judaism.
The minister, Yaakov Litzman, a follower of the Ger dynasty of Hasidic Judaism, said that he would step down from the post he has held since 2015 as controversy grows over the ministry’s decision to let Ikea stores reopen last week while indoor shopping malls and many other retailers were kept closed.
Merchants at the open-air Machane Yehuda market in Jerusalem, which remains shuttered, staged an angry protest on Sunday, with signs labeling the marketplace “IKEA’s Jerusalem branch.” Merchants shouting, “Police state!” scuffled with police officers, who made a few arrests.
The Marker, a business newspaper, reported on Saturday that the Ger dynasty had received large financial donations from the owners of Ikea Israel, the local franchise of the Swedish home furnishings giant. In 2018, the gifts totaled around $700,000, the paper reported. The dynasty’s top rabbis were also invited to use a vacation home in Safed belonging to one of the Ikea Israel owners, the paper reported. Mr. Litzman and the store’s owners denied any impropriety.
The health ministry’s director general, Moshe Bar Siman-Tov, said on Sunday that allowing Ikea to reopen had been a mistake, but that Mr. Litzman had nothing to do with the decision.
Mr. Litzman’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic had drawn criticism after he was slow to impose restrictions in ultra-Orthodox communities that experienced severe outbreaks. He also violated social distancing rules, contracted the coronavirus himself, and caused other government officials to have to go into quarantine.
Mr. Litzman is not leaving the government, however: He will take over the Ministry of Housing and Construction.
Domestic abuse cases rise during London’s lockdown.
As people in Britain have hunkered down for weeks in close quarters during the coronavirus lockdown, the London police have arrested more than 4,090 people on domestic abuse offenses and recorded over 17,275 domestic abuse cases in the weeks from March 9 to April 19, according to the Metropolitan Police.
That amounts to a 9 percent increase over the same period last year.
Cmdr. Sue Williams of the Metropolitan Police said that the pandemic did not mean that those who suffer domestic abuse should stay silent or that offenders would not be brought to justice.
“The Covid-19 restrictions and ‘stay at home’ instruction is vital to managing this public health crisis, but unfortunately it has also left current and potential victims of domestic abuse even more vulnerable and isolated,” she said in a statement.
She said that anyone subject to abuse “should be assured that they can leave their homes to escape harm or seek help, and they will not be penalized in any way for not maintaining social distancing” or otherwise breaching lockdown restrictions.
Sophie Linden, London’s deputy mayor for policing and crime, said there had been an increase in calls to domestic abuse help lines across Britain along with a rise in domestic abuse cases around the world.
This month, Home Secretary Priti Patel began a campaign to publicize the help available to people suffering domestic abuse amid the pandemic and to encourage the public to support them.
Australia releases a coronavirus tracing app.
The Australian government released a voluntary coronavirus tracing app on Sunday, promising to protect the privacy of anyone who downloads it and arguing that the app will help the country continue to keep the virus suppressed.
Brendan Murphy, Australia’s chief medical officer, said he hoped that at least 50 percent of the population with smartphones would download the app, called COVIDSafe. It uses Bluetooth technology to trace interactions and notify people who have come in close contact with someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus.
“It is only for one purpose, to help contact tracing, if someone becomes positive, that is all it is for,” Mr. Murphy said.
Australian officials have said that all data will be deleted after the pandemic fades, and they have pledged to make the source code public. But that has not happened yet, and critics contend that the government has not done enough to make the app both easy to use and safe.
It is based in part on a contact tracing app in Singapore, where only a small portion of the population downloaded the software.
Doctors and public health experts said that even if it were flawed, it was an important tool for keeping a lid on the virus in a country that has already made enormous gains, with two states easing restrictions on Sunday to allow for larger gatherings — up to 10 people in Western Australia.
Tony Bartone, the president of the Australian Medical Association, said he would download the app himself and encourage patients, friends and family to do the same.
“The app simply automates a significant component of the current manual process of tracing who has come into contact with Covid-19,” he said.
Reporting was contributed by Tess Felder, Damien Cave, Tiffany May, Raphael Minder, Ben Hubbard, Keith Bradsher, Yonette Joseph, Mark Landler, David M. Halbfinger, Choe Sang-Hun, Sameer Yasir, Iliana Magra, Jennifer Kahn, Christopher Clarey, Michael Levenson, Jia Lynn Yang and Christopher F. Schuetze.
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