April 15 coronavirus news

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8:36 a.m. ET, April 15, 2020

United Kingdom says WHO has "important role" to play in leading coronavirus response

From Luke McGee

Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab leaves number 10 Downing street in central London after the daily Covid-19 briefing on April 15. Raab, who is filling in for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, will participate in a G7 leaders conference call on Thursday.
Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab leaves number 10 Downing street in central London after the daily Covid-19 briefing on April 15. Raab, who is filling in for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, will participate in a G7 leaders conference call on Thursday. Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images

The United Kingdom believes the World Health Organization (WHO) has an “important role” to play in leading the global response to the coronavirus outbreak, the prime minister’s official spokesperson said, adding there are no plans to withdraw funding.

The comments put the UK at odds with President Trump, who has criticized the WHO’s response and announced a suspension of funding.

 “Our position is the UK has no plans to stop funding the WHO which has an important role to play in leading the global health response,” the prime minister’s spokesperson said Wednesday.

 “Coronavirus is a global challenge and it is essential countries work together to tackle this shared threat, the spokesperson added. “In terms of how we contribute to the WHO, that is an assessment of the WHO’s needs and is not based on other country’s funding.”

Some context: Earlier this week, the UK announced it would boost its contribution to the WHO by £65 million ($81 million).

The Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is filling in for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, will participate in a G7 leaders conference call on Thursday.

According to the prime minister's spokesperson, Raab will underline the need for “global collaboration” to deal with the crisis, including the speed and scale of a vaccine and testing internationally.

“We will also discuss economic concerns and how to support struggling nations,” the spokesperson said.

8:23 a.m. ET, April 15, 2020

There's been a flattening of coronavirus cases in the US, Fauci says

From CNN's Gisela Crespo

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during an interview Wednesday that the US is seeing a flattening out of new coronavirus cases.

Except for a few cities where cases haven't peaked yet, "there's no doubt what we've seen over the last several days is a flattening out," Fauci said.

"Even when you get to New York, it's actually starting to come down regarding admissions, hospitalizations, needs for intensive care and intubation," Fauci told NBC.

"Hopefully that trend will continue. … As I say, I'm a very cautious person, but we are seeing some light at the end of the tunnel," Fauci added.

8:23 a.m. ET, April 15, 2020

Finland lifts movement restrictions in capital region

From Niamh Kennedy

From left: Finnish Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo, Prime Minister Sanna Marin and Justice Minister Anna-Maja Henriksson attend a press conference in Helsinki, Finland, on April 15.
From left: Finnish Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo, Prime Minister Sanna Marin and Justice Minister Anna-Maja Henriksson attend a press conference in Helsinki, Finland, on April 15. Markku Ulander/Lehtikuva/AFP/Getty Images

Finland will lift restrictions on movement in its capital Helsinki and the surrounding region, Uusimaa, later on Wednesday, the government has announced.

The government said the legal grounds for continuing to restrict movement "are no longer considered to exist."

"When the travel restrictions entered into force on 28 March, Covid-19 incidence in the region of Uusimaa was increasing significantly faster than in the rest of the country," the government said. "While Uusimaa still has the highest number of Covid-19 cases, the gap with the rest of the country has narrowed.”

Despite the plan to lift movement restrictions, the Finnish government is still advising against all unnecessary travel.

Some context: Last week, the Finnish government announced that that restrictions on schools, museums, theaters enacted on March 16 would remain in place until May 13.

Finland has recorded 3,161 cases of coronavirus, and 64 deaths, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare.  

8:25 a.m. ET, April 15, 2020

Fauci: "We don't have all the answers" on antibody protection

From CNN's Gisela Crespo

A scientist works to validate antibody tests with samples from recovered coronavirus patients at a Mirimus, Inc. lab, in Brooklyn, New York, on April 10.
A scientist works to validate antibody tests with samples from recovered coronavirus patients at a Mirimus, Inc. lab, in Brooklyn, New York, on April 10. Misha Friedman/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says experts "don't have all the answers" when it comes to antibodies.

In an interview on the "Today" show, Fauci was asked to comment on a report out of South Korea's CDC that found coronavirus had been reactivated in a number of patients thought to have recovered.

"We don't know how common that is," Fauci said. "It's likely an uncommon event and won't have a public health impact."

"The things that we don't know is that -- in general with viruses we deal with all the time -- when you develop an antibody after infection, it almost invariably means you're protected. We don't absolutely know that for sure yet," Fauci said.

He added there is also uncertainty about how long antibodies can protect a person.

"So are you protected for a month or two or three, a half a year or a year? We need to get experience to know that," Fauci said.

8:20 a.m. ET, April 15, 2020

"Great deal of variability" expected when social distancing guidelines are relaxed, Fauci says

From CNN's Gisela Crespo

Customers practice social distancing while lining up to shop at the Presidente Supermarket in Miami, Florida, on April 13.
Customers practice social distancing while lining up to shop at the Presidente Supermarket in Miami, Florida, on April 13. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Wednesday that "there is going to be a great deal of variability" when thinking about relaxing social distancing guidelines.

Fauci was asked about President Trump's remarks about the possibility that some states could lift stay-at-home orders before May 1.

"I'm certain, though even though I haven't discussed this with him, that he's talking about some of the states that have a very low level now, particularly those states with a low density of population and a lot of geographic lands," Fauci told NBC.

Fauci added that some states will do "nothing different because they are still in a really difficult situation, and you would not want to relax any of the physical separation guidelines, and others that would be doing really much better. So It's not going to be a one-size-fits-all."

8:13 a.m. ET, April 15, 2020

NYC mayor: "One false move, take our foot off the gas, we will regret it"

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt 

New York City Bill de Blasio said social distancing restrictions are still necessary to contain the spread of coronavirus in the city and that everyday New Yorkers are key to making sure the virus doesn’t accelerate again. 

“One false move, take our foot off the gas, we will regret it. We've got one chance … to contain this thing and then we can do a proper smart restart, and we do it too soon, I guarantee we'll regret it,” he told CNN.

De Blasio also said that the federal government has still not provided enough testing kits.

“We're creating our own tests here in New York City. We just couldn't wait any longer," the mayor said.

De Blasio said “the next phase” of coronavirus is months away. 

“To get to the next phase literally means getting to the point where we know each individual person who has contracted the coronavirus, we're tracing all of their contacts, we’re doing isolation and quarantine for anyone who needs, we’re testing all the time,” he said. 

Some context: The New York City Health Department is now reporting more than 3,700 “probable” Covid-19 deaths of individuals who have not been tested for the coronavirus but are presumed to be positive.

“We've all gone through hell here,” de Blasio said. "We should be honest about the full extent of this. And that bluntly, should inspire us to really get it right. This disease is ferocious.” 

De Blasio also called for more help from the federal government for the country’s biggest city and encouraged Congress to pass another stimulus package. 

“We're one of the economic engines of the country. We're not going to be able to provide basic services and have a normal society if we don't get help from the federal government,” he said.

Watch de Blasio's comments:

8:16 a.m. ET, April 15, 2020

CDC director: WHO "still is a great partner for us"

From CNN's Amanda Watts

Robert Redfield, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), speaks during a Coronavirus Task Force news conference at the White House on April 8.
Robert Redfield, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), speaks during a Coronavirus Task Force news conference at the White House on April 8. Chris Kleponis/Polaris/Bloomberg/Getty Images

CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield says the World Health Organization "has been a long-term and still is a great partner for us," despite President Trump cutting its funding Tuesday.

Here's what Redfield told CBS today:

"Those decisions that are made above related to some of the geopolitical issues, I have to leave to those that really have that expertise. But, for me and for CDC and the public health arena, we're continuing to work side by side with WHO to do the best that we can to limit the spread of disease and to protect the American people."

 Redfield added that, "It's important at this point that we leave the analysis of what could have been done better and what maybe we did well to once we get through this and get through the outbreak, we get it over."

8:08 a.m. ET, April 15, 2020

Japan could see 400,000 deaths if coronavirus is not contained

From CNN's Yoko Wakatsuki

Hokkaido University professor Dr. Hiroshi Nishiura, center, speaks in Tokyo on April 15.
Hokkaido University professor Dr. Hiroshi Nishiura, center, speaks in Tokyo on April 15. Kyodo News/Getty Images

More than 400,000 people could die of Covid-19 in Japan if nothing is done to contain the virus, according to a report released Wednesday by the Japanese Health Ministry and reported by public broadcaster NHK.  

The report also says 850,000 patients would need ventilators.

"If we receive the outbreak without any weapon to protect ourselves, the number of severe cases will exceed existing number of ventilators," Dr. Hiroshi Nishiura said, the head of the panel.

"All Japanese must change the pattern of action and help us to stop this outbreak as soon as possible," he added.

Some context: Japan officially declared a state of emergency on April 7, months after the first domestic cases of the virus appeared. On Wednesday a public health emergency was issued for all of Japan by the commander of the US Forces Japan (USFJ) amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.

8:09 a.m. ET, April 15, 2020

Fauci says number of coronavirus testing is "far, far greater" than 2-3 weeks ago

From CNN's Health Gisela Crespo

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci speaks during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus at the White House on April 13.
Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci speaks during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus at the White House on April 13. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the number of testing done in the US for coronavirus is "far, far greater" than two to three weeks ago. 

"I believe the last number we spoke about the day before yesterday or today was close to or even at or beyond 3 million tests," Fauci said this morning on NBC. "That's really far, far greater than we were two or three weeks ago."

Fauci said the country is continuing to escalate and accelerate testing capabilities "so that we would be able to have a significant number, measured in the millions, of tests each week."