March 24 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Emma Reynolds, Mike Hayes and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 1:09 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020
38 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
4:55 a.m. ET, March 24, 2020

"This is the day I’ve been waiting for," says Wuhan resident after hearing lockdown will be lifted

From CNN's Nectar Gan

A resident dressed in a protective suit lines up with others to pick up pork which was delivered to their quarantined compound in Wuhan, in China's central Hubei province on March 18.
A resident dressed in a protective suit lines up with others to pick up pork which was delivered to their quarantined compound in Wuhan, in China's central Hubei province on March 18. Stringer/AFP/Getty Images

China plans to lift its lockdown on Wuhan -- ground zero of the coronavirus pandemic -- on April 8, more than two months after the city was sealed off from the outside world, marking a significant milestone in its battle against the deadly virus.

Similar lockdown measures will be lifted Wednesday for other cities in Hubei, a central province home to 60 million people, of which Wuhan is the capital -- provincial authorities announced Tuesday.  

“This is the day I’ve been waiting for,” Bo Hanlin, a photographer living in Wuhan who has been confined to his home for two months, told CNN.

Over the past week, there have been signs that the authorities wanted to gradually return life to normal in Wuhan, a city of 11 million people.

Some residents have been allowed to go back to work as long as their employers issue them a letter, Bo said, adding that he had not been able to because he does not have a company to issue him a letter. “I hope we’ll be allowed to leave our compound soon,” he said.

Food delivery services have gradually resumed over the past week, according to Bo, and some restaurants inside residential communities have reopened. But residents, apart from those returning to work, are still not allowed to leave their compounds, and supermarkets remain closed, he added.

Easing of restrictions: Starting from Wednesday, people in Hubei, except Wuhan, will be allowed to leave the province if they have a green QR code on their mobile phones, the provincial government said in a notice on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform.

The green code indicates they have no fever, are not a confirmed or suspected case, or a close contact of one. On April 8, the easing of restrictions will be extended to Wuhan, and residents with a green QR code will be able to leave the city and the province.

People from other parts of China will be allowed to enter Hubei and Wuhan if they can produce a green QR code, with no additional paperwork required. Businesses in Wuhan will also gradually resume operations, based on risk assessment, while the reopening dates for schools and universities remain to be determined, authorities said.

Infections fall to a trickle: The easing of travel restrictions comes as the number of reported new infections in Hubei dropped to zero for five consecutive days from March 19 -- from thousands of daily new cases at the height of the epidemic in February. On Tuesday, the province reported one new case in Wuhan, a doctor at the Hubei General Hospital.

Hubei has accounted for the majority of infections and deaths in China, with 67,801 cases and 3,160 fatalities reported as of Monday.

Read the full story here:

3:32 a.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Why soap, sanitizer and warm water work against Covid-19 and other viruses

From CNN's Sandee LaMotte


Tired of washing your hands for 20 seconds each time? Fingers starting to prune or feel like sandpaper?

Please don't stop.

Take heart that while you're scrubbing, you're also killing off a host of other nasty bacteria and potentially lethal viruses that have plagued humans for centuries -- including influenza and a number of different coronaviruses.

How did such a simple thing as soap and warm water -- and alcohol-based sanitizers -- obtain such power over these parasites?

The answer lies in their "skin" and your scrubbing technique.

Under the microscope, coronaviruses appear to be covered with pointy spires, giving them the appearance of having a crown or "corona" -- hence the name. Beneath the crown is the outer layer of the virus, which is made up of lipids, or what you and I would call fat.

Now imagine that coronavirus is your butter dish, covered with buttery fat. 

"You try to wash your butter dish with water alone, but that butter is not coming off the dish," Williams explained. "You need some soap to dissolve grease. So soap or alcohol are very, very effective against dissolving that greasy liquid coating of the virus."

What does getting rid of that outer layer do to the germ?

"It physically inactivates the virus, so it can't bind to and enter human cells anymore," Williams said.

Find out more here:

3:13 a.m. ET, March 24, 2020

A dozen countries in the Middle East and Asia are asking the IMF for economic help

From CNN's Hira Humayun


A dozen countries in the Middle East and Central Asia have reached out to the International Monetary Fund requesting financial support due to the coronavirus outbreak, according to a blog post by the IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia department director, Jihad Azour.

Azour said work is ongoing to “expedite approval” of requests for assistance, especially for countries already struggling with other issues.

“This challenge will be especially daunting for the region’s fragile and conflict-torn states -- such as Iraq, Sudan, and Yemen -- where the difficulty of preparing weak health systems for the outbreak could be compounded by reduced imports due to disruptions in global trade, giving rise to shortages of medical supplies and other goods and resulting in substantial price increases,” he said.

Azour did not specify all of the countries that had requested support, but said the IMF's executive board will consider a request from the Kyrgyz Republic for emergency financing "later this week."

2:54 a.m. ET, March 24, 2020

While mainland China eases lockdown, restrictions tighten in Hong Kong and Macao

Passengers wear protective suits and face masks as they arrive at Hong Kong airport, Monday, March 23, 2020.
Passengers wear protective suits and face masks as they arrive at Hong Kong airport, Monday, March 23, 2020. Kin Cheung/AP

Residents of China's Hubei province -- ground zero of the coronavirus pandemic -- received good news today when government officials announced the lockdown they have been living under for the past few months will be lifted on Wednesday.

For those in Wuhan, where the virus was first discovered, those restrictions are set to remain in place until April 8.

The announcement follows news that part of a popular section of China's Great Wall will be reopened to the public.

Mainland China's coronavirus cases have slowed to a trickle. On Monday, the country reported the first case in Hubei province in six days. It was among 78 additional cases reported as of the end of day Monday -- 74 of them imported.  

And while nearly 82,000 people have been infected, 3,277 of whom have died, more than 73,000 have recovered.

But while restrictions may be easing on the mainland, the country and its semiautonomous territories are tightening their borders to stem the number of imported cases.

Beijing: Chinese authorities announced today that all international travelers arriving in Beijing, regardless of their final destinations, will be quarantined and tested for the coronavirus at designated government facilities at their own expense. The procedures will also apply to people arriving in Beijing after entering China through a different port of entry within the past 14 days.

Hong Kong: On Monday, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said most non-residents will be banned from entering Hong Kong from midnight Wednesday local time. Non-Hong Kong residents arriving from Macao, Taiwan and mainland China will be allowed to enter the city, under the provision that they have not traveled abroad within the past 14 days. Travelers will also not be allowed to transit through the airport.

The city's government is also seeking to pass a law banning the sale of alcohol at bars with the aim of enforcing social distancing. Some 8,600 licensed bars, restaurants and private clubs have been asked to voluntarily stop selling alcohol before a law is potentially passed.

The strict new measures come as the number of confirmed infections in the city has almost doubled in the past week, with many of the cases imported from overseas.

Macao: Most non-residents will be banned from entering the territory starting tomorrow, including all foreign nationals. Visitors from mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan who have not traveled to foreign countries can enter, but they will be required to undergo medical observation for 14 days.

2:39 a.m. ET, March 24, 2020

People are stocking Little Free Libraries with food and goods during coronavirus pandemic

From CNN's Ryan Bergeron

Brookview Elementary's Little Free Library has turned into a Little Free Pantry. 
Brookview Elementary's Little Free Library has turned into a Little Free Pantry.  Courtesy Shelly Anderson

As grocery store shelves sit bare during the coronavirus pandemic, good Samaritans across the US are taking it upon themselves to turn "Little Free Libraries" into "Little Free Pantries."

Little Free Libraries are public bookcases that allow for book-sharing within neighborhoods and communities. Anyone can take or leave a book.

Now, many of these honor-system book cabinets are stocked with things like canned food, pasta and even toilet paper for those in need.

Shelly Anderson filled a Little Free Pantry in Woodbury, Minnesota. For her, it was a chance to do something positive.

"This is an uncertain time. I think being able to provide something to anyone is worth it," she said.

She first heard about the idea from a friend and decided to ask her kids' elementary school about converting their Little Free Library into a free pantry.

"After we got approval, we went through our pantry and found all the things that would be essential -- toilet paper, paper towels, some noodles and fruits."

Read more about it here:

2:19 a.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Justin Trudeau is running Canada and bath-time simultaneously

From CNN’s Paula Newton in Ottawa 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gives a coronavirus briefing from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on March 23.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gives a coronavirus briefing from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on March 23. Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press via AP

The news was not good. Not only did Justin Trudeau’s wife Sophie Gregoire test positive for the coronavirus after a trip to the UK, but that meant the Canadian Prime Minister would have to quarantine immediately, along with his three children.

Although huddled together in historic Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Gregoire would need to be isolated from her own family. And there would be no nanny, no grandparent, no cook, no one to help.

Trudeau has effectively taken on single parenthood, while leading Canada’s effort to battle a once-in-a century pandemic.

“It’s an interesting challenge to run a G7 country in this situation, he’s doing it with kids running around in the background, they’re playing Lego, keeping busy. But you know it’s no different right now from what lots of other Canadians are doing, working from home right now,” said Cameron Ahmad, the Prime Minister’s communications director.

“He’s on the phone all day long, he has to print his own speeches, sometimes we hear the kids playing in the background, sometimes he has to go deal with bath time but he’s getting it done,” Ahmad told CNN.

Trudeau and his wife have three children: Xavier, 12, Ella-Grace, 11, and Hadrien, 6.

Trudeau's 11-year-old daughter Ella-Grace has become his photographer of sorts, snapping a photo of her father in his study while on a video conference with other G7 leaders. In the photo posted to Instagram, you can make out the images of six world leaders on the screen.  

Trudeau has been venturing out daily -- but only as far as the foot of his front steps -- to deliver an update to Canadians on the pandemic and to take questions from the media at a safe distance. 

“He’s enjoying being a dad right now and getting to spend much more time with his kids,” said Ahmad, acknowledging that Trudeau is coping as best he can, along with hundreds of millions of parents all over the world. 

2:03 a.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Hubei province will lift most lockdown measures on Wednesday

From CNN's Nectar Gan, Eric Cheung and Steven Jiang

China's Hubei province, ground zero for the worldwide novel coronavirus pandemic, is planning to lift nearly all lockdown restrictions across the province on Wednesday, authorities announced.

Similar measures will remain in place in Wuhan, the provincial capital, until April 8, authorities said on microblogging platform Weibo.

The mysterious illness that turned out to be Covid-19 was first reported in Wuhan in December. Authorities responded by locking down the province and forcing millions to remain indoors.

As of the end of the day Monday, Hubei had reported 67,801 coronavirus cases and 3,160 virus-related fatalities.

However, the rate of new infections has been brought down significantly -- the province has only reported one new infection in the past six days.

Nearly 82,000 people across mainland China have been infected, 3,277 of whom have died. More than 73,000 have recovered and been discharged from hospital.

1:51 a.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Macao is banning entry to most non-residents

From journalists Vanesse Chan and Eric Cheung in Hong Kong

Vehicles drive across a bridge on February 5 in Macao, China.
Vehicles drive across a bridge on February 5 in Macao, China. Anthony Kwan/Getty Images

Macao will ban most non-residents from entering the semiautonomous Chinese territory starting tomorrow, the city's leader said at a news conference Tuesday.

All foreign nationals will be denied entry into the city, Chief Executive Ho Iat-seng said.

Visitors from mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan who have not traveled to foreign countries can enter the city, but they will be required to undergo medical observation for 14 days.

Macao residents who are returning from overseas will be required to undergo medical observation for 14 days, Ho said.

The gambling mecca is one of Asia's most popular tourist destinations. Its economy is heavily reliant on gaming and tourist revenues, which have been severely impacted by coronavirus-related travel restrictions.

Twenty-five people in the city have contracted the virus, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University, 10 of whom have recovered.

1:40 a.m. ET, March 24, 2020

If you're just joining us, here's a quick catch up

People walk past closed shops in New Delhi on March 23, the first day of the lockdown.
People walk past closed shops in New Delhi on March 23, the first day of the lockdown. Manish Swarup/AP

Here are the latest developments on the coronavirus pandemic over the past few hours.

The situation in Asia today: Singapore reported its biggest one-day surge in cases since the outbreak began. Tokyo's governor warned that Japan's capital could be placed under lockdown if the number of coronavirus cases spike. Myanmar reported its first two cases. Beijing will quarantine and test all international arrivals, regardless of destination.

Australia: Hardest-hit state New South Wales reported 149 new cases on Monday, including 107 cases related to the Ruby Princess cruise ship. A woman passenger in her 70s died on Tuesday -- she was diagnosed with Covid-19 onboard the ship. The Northern Territory, South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland will enact border checkpoints on Tuesday and Wednesday.

More curfews and restrictions: India has expanded its mammoth lockdown to districts across 30 states and union territories, impacting about two thirds of the population. At least 16 US states have issued stay-at-home orders, which will impact 142 million people, or 43% of the US population. Albania has entered a strict 16-hour daily curfew.

Calls to postpone Olympics: New Zealand athletes became the latest to voice their support for postponing the 2020 Olympic Games, and are backed by the country’s Olympic committee. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is set to hold a call with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach this evening, as calls for a postponement grow louder.