March 20 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Joshua Berlinger, Julia Hollingsworth, Adam Renton, Steve George and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 9:27 p.m. ET, March 20, 2020
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8:37 a.m. ET, March 20, 2020

UK asks 65,000 retired nurses and doctors to come back to work

From CNN’s Sharon Braithwaite in London

An NHS sign points towards a coronavirus testing pod at Kings College Hospital in Camberwell, south London, on March 11.
An NHS sign points towards a coronavirus testing pod at Kings College Hospital in Camberwell, south London, on March 11. Richard Baker/In Pictures via Getty Images

The United Kingdom's National Health Service (NHS) has asked 65,000 nurses and doctors who retired in the last three years to return and help tackle the “greatest global health threat” in a century.

Medical personnel with up-to-date skills and experience, including retirees, will be surveyed on what type of role they could do. Those who join the “NHS army” will be given a full induction and online training to help them to hit the ground running, said the NHS in a statement released Thursday.

“As the health service gears up to deal with the greatest global health threat in its history, my message to former colleagues is ‘Your NHS Needs You,’” said Ruth May, chief nursing officer for England.

Final-year medical students and student nurses are also being offered the chance to take temporary roles on full pay to boost frontline capacity even further, the agency said.

Similar measures are being implemented in other European countries as thousands of medical students are being fast-tracked into early service in an attempt to boost health systems across the continent that are struggling to cope with the coronavirus outbreak.

Read our full story on medical students being fast-tracked here.

8:34 a.m. ET, March 20, 2020

Russia supports virtual G20 summit on coronavirus

From CNN’s Nathan Hodge in Moscow

World leaders attend a family photo session at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, in June 2019.
World leaders attend a family photo session at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, in June 2019. Kim Kyung-Hoon/Pool/Getty Images

Russia is in favor of convening a virtual G20 Leaders’ Summit on coronavirus next week, which would be “meaningful” for coordinating an international response to the pandemic, according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

“The technical parameters are being worked through diplomatic channels, the organization of video communications,” Peskov said in a conference call with reporters. “This will be our first experience doing this.”

Earlier this week, the Saudi Arabia G20 press office put forward plans to convene the summit.

Russia has had a relatively low number of reported coronavirus cases, with 199 confirmed, according to the country’s coronavirus response headquarters. 

Peskov downplayed reports in local media about shortages of masks and other equipment, saying there was enough protective equipment "for those who work with patients ... serve the population ... take tests ... [and] for those who meet passengers of aircraft and other vehicles arriving from dangerous countries.” 

The Kremlin spokesperson added there was “no need” for Russian President Vladimir Putin to take a coronavirus test, as he was feeling healthy and has continued his work.

“We are all in the same boat” when it comes to efforts by Russian and international scientists to work toward developing a vaccine, Peskov added.

8:31 a.m. ET, March 20, 2020

Infectious disease experts says two negative tests are needed after recovering from coronavirus

From CNN Health’s Arman Azad

A nurse holds a coronavirus testing kit at a drive through station in Royal Oak, Michigan, on March 16.
A nurse holds a coronavirus testing kit at a drive through station in Royal Oak, Michigan, on March 16. Paul Sancya/AP

Two negative tests — taken 24 hours apart — are currently needed to “feel safe in going out into society” after being diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, but that may change as we learn more about the virus, according to an infectious disease expert.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, explained the possible shift during a live-streamed conversation with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

“If you test positive, when is it OK to interact with others?” said Zuckerberg, relaying a viewer’s question.

Fauci responded that “strictly speaking, if you are positive, you have the virus in you. And the way you determined positive was you got a nasal swab in your nasopharynx and you cultured the virus.”

The “strict guideline” for going back out into society is two negative tests a day apart, Fauci said, to confirm that “you’re not shedding virus anymore, so you can feel free to go out.”

But “that might change,” Fauci said. “It may be more flexible, when we get a better feel for what the real bracket of time [is] of people shedding” the virus.

8:23 a.m. ET, March 20, 2020

Coronavirus deaths in Spain soar over 1,000

From Max Ramsay

A member of Spain's UME (Military Emergency Unit) disinfects outside the Cabuenes hospital in Gijon, Spain on March 18.
A member of Spain's UME (Military Emergency Unit) disinfects outside the Cabuenes hospital in Gijon, Spain on March 18. Alvaro Fuente/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Deaths from Covid-19 in Spain hit 1,002 on Friday, an increase of 235 in the past day, according to a Spanish health ministry official.

There have now been 19,980 total cases recorded, said Fernando Simón, director of the Spanish Coordinating Centre for Health Alerts and Emergencies, at a daily briefing.

The 16.5% increase in cases recorded (up 2,833) was slower than in previous days, but Simón warned that many factors affect the number of cases confirmed.

Some 1,141 of the recorded cases have been put into intensive care, Simón said. Some of the first people taken into intensive care are now being released, he added, though those numbers remain low.

Some 10,542 of the total recorded cases have been hospitalized, which is 52% of the total, Simón said.

On Thursday there had been 17,147 cases with 767 deaths.

8:16 a.m. ET, March 20, 2020

A coronavirus recurrence is “conceivable” next season but its impact would be more modest, says Anthony Fauci

From CNN Health’s Arman Azad

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks to the press outside the White House on March 12.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks to the press outside the White House on March 12. Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Novel coronavirus may not recede completely at the end of this season but its impact will likely be more modest in a future wave, the top US infectious disease doctor said Thursday.

“Once we get by it, it is conceivable and maybe likely that when we get to the next season, we may see another blip of this, but it would really be different,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, during a live-streamed conversation with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

The new coronavirus “spreads too efficiently” to disappear like SARS did, said Fauci.

That means that even after this coronavirus outbreak is suppressed, a recurrence is “likely -- not inevitable, but likely," he added.

The comments came after Zuckerberg asked about the likelihood of another coronavirus wave, either in the fall or later.

Fauci said that while it may happen, multiple factors would blunt the impact of future outbreaks.

First, “a certain percentage of the population will already have been immune, a bit of what we call herd immunity.”

This means more people -- after recovering from coronavirus -- would be protected against future infections.

And if a second wave comes, “we likely, by that time, will have tested a number of drugs,” Fauci added. “Hopefully some of them will be effective in treatment.”

Finally, “we hopefully, within a year to a year and a half, would have a vaccine,” Fauci said.

“So although we’re preparing, and maybe expecting for it to come back, it’s not going to come back in the same circumstances as it first came.”

8:12 a.m. ET, March 20, 2020

Taiwan reports largest single day increase in coronavirus cases

From Isaac Yee in Hong Kong

Members of Taiwan's military take part in a drill to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, in New Taipei City on March 14.
Members of Taiwan's military take part in a drill to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, in New Taipei City on March 14. Sam Yeh/AFP/Getty Images

Taiwan confirmed 27 new cases of coronavirus Friday in its largest single-day increase since the outbreak began.

Twenty-four of the new cases were imported from countries including the UK, the US, Germany, France, Spain, Belgium and the Philippines, according to Taiwan's Center for Disease Control.

The spike in cases comes one day after Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen warned the "next 14 days will be a critical second stage in the epidemic response effort."

The new cases bring Taiwan's total number of cases to 135, including one death. 

8:08 a.m. ET, March 20, 2020

South African Airways suspends all international operations until May 31

From CNN's Brent Swails

A worker wearing a protective suit stands below a South African Airways plane on March 14, as it arrives in Polokwane, South Africa.
A worker wearing a protective suit stands below a South African Airways plane on March 14, as it arrives in Polokwane, South Africa. Guillem Sartorio/AFP/Getty Images

South African Airways (SAA) announced the immediate suspension of all international operations Friday until May 31, in response to the South African government’s coronavirus-related travel ban.

The airline also cited a “substantial decline in demand for air travel.”

Five of SAA’s international routes (Washington DC, New York JFK, London Heathrow, Frankfurt and Munich) are in countries listed as high risk in the South African government's travel ban.

The airline’s two other international legs, Perth and Sao Paulo, will also be suspended. SAA will continue to operate its domestic and regional routes.

8:03 a.m. ET, March 20, 2020

Iran registers 149 more deaths related to coronavirus

From Ramin Mostaghim in Tehran and Sugam Pokharel in Atlanta

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks about the coronavirus outbreak in Tehran, Iran on March 20.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks about the coronavirus outbreak in Tehran, Iran on March 20. Handout/Presidency of Iran/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Iran confirmed 149 more deaths from the novel coronavirus Friday, raising the country's overall death toll to 1,433, according to an announcement from Deputy Health Minister Alireza Raisi.

There has been an increase of 1,237 cases of coronavirus in the country in the last 24 hours, Raisi said on state television, bringing the total number of cases to 19,644.

A total of 6,745 patients have so far recovered, added the minister.

On Thursday, Iran had announced the same number of fatalities (149) since Wednesday, the country's highest spike in death toll over a 24-hour period since the coronavirus outbreak began.

Earlier on Friday Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei praised the country’s medical community and volunteers for their work in fighting the coronavirus outbreak.

“The sacrifices made were so dazzling that even foreigners felt obliged to admire them,” Khamenei said in his address to the nation to mark Persian New Year.

“There were also support groups, some of which offered their factories and even their houses with the aim of manufacturing the products needed for patients ... products such as gloves, masks,” he added.

“The Iranian nation showed its virtues through these groups,” Khamenei said.

In his address, the leader did not mention the nationwide anti-government demonstrations in Iran last year.

7:54 a.m. ET, March 20, 2020

States report over 4,500 new coronavirus cases during 24-hour period

From CNN's Amanda Watts

Health care staff prepare to test people for the coronavirus at a health center in Miami, Florida, on March 18.
Health care staff prepare to test people for the coronavirus at a health center in Miami, Florida, on March 18. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

US states reported 4,581 new cases of novel coronavirus over the last 24 hours, according to a tally by CNN.

CNN had tallied at least 8,898 cases with 149 deaths at 6 a.m. ET Thursday, rising to 13,479 total cases, with 196 deaths, one day later.

This is an increase of 4,581 cases and 47 deaths.

A week ago, on March 13, CNN was reporting 1,666 cases and 41 deaths.

These tallies include all cases detected and tested in the United States through the public health system across all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories. 

Members of the White House Task Force and public health officials have been warning the number of cases in the United States would be increasing as more testing is completed.