March 25 coronavirus news
Starting from 11:59 p.m. local time (6:59 a.m. ET) on Wednesday, New Zealand will elevate its "Alert Level" to 4.
The country has also declared a state of national emergency.
All citizens who don't work in essential services have been told to stay at home. Public transport and domestic air travel will be limited to people undertaking essential services.
The move comes as coronavirus cases in the country jumped by 30% on Wednesday, according to Ashley Bloomfield, New Zealand’s director of health. There were 47 new confirmed cases and three new probable cases, bringing the country’s count up to 205.
On Wednesday evening, New Zealanders received the following emergency alert on their phones. The message tells citizens to "act as if you have Covid-19."
"This message is for all of New Zealand. We are depending on you," it reads.
The alert signs off with the Maori phrase “Kia kaha," which means stand tall, or stay strong.
Nearly 15,000 of the 52,976 coronavirus patients in the United States are in the greater New York City metro area, the country's largest population center.
The rapid spread of the virus has prompted authorities to take a series of drastic measures -- asking most residents to stay home, releasing inmates from prisons where the virus could spread, and closing streets to create outdoor space for residents to exercise while still abiding by social distancing guidelines.
The Trump administration is particularly worried about the region. Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of the White House's coronavirus task force, has advised anyone who has visited the area to self-quarantine for the next 14 days.
“About 56% of all the cases in the United States are coming out of that metro area and 60% of all the new cases are coming out of the metro New York Area and 31% of the people succumbing to this disease,” said Birx.
Experts say that other major cities in the US and worldwide could be forced to make similar choices in the coming days and weeks. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said his city is about six to 12 days behind the surge in coronavirus cases and deaths reported in New York City. On Tuesday, he enacted an emergency order requiring most residents to stay in their homes.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has asked his constituents to stay home and avoid riding the tube, which has been operating at limited capacity.
Moscow is ready to help Washington in the fight against the coronavirus outbreak if necessary, according to the Russian ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov.
"Our test kits have shown their high quality in China, Iran, have been transferred to Italy. Ordinary Americans should know -- Russia, if necessary, will be ready to help the United States as it has repeatedly offered assistance in putting out fires in California," said Antonov, as cited in the Russian state-owned news agency Sputnik.
The US faced its deadliest day of the outbreak on Tuesday, with at least 163 people dying. The death toll rose past 700, as the World Health Organization warned the country could be the next epicenter of the virus.
Brazilians have been tricked by the media over a "little flu," according to president Jair Bolsonaro. Families should still go out to eat despite coronavirus fears, says Mexico's President Andres Manuél Lopez Obrador. And Nicaragua's leader Daniel Ortega has all but disappeared, while political marches and rallies continue.
As global leaders race to contain the brutal threat of a growing pandemic, a triumvirate of denial has emerged in Latin America, with the leaders of Brazil, Mexico and Nicaragua downplaying the danger of a looming outbreak.
More than half the population of the United States has been ordered to stay at home as states ramp up efforts to contain the novel coronavirus.
The situation now: At least 15 states and 30 municipalities have ordered more than 166 million people, or 51% of the US population to stay home, according to data compiled by CNN using US Census population estimates.
What's next: At least two additional states and five municipalities will have orders going into effect later this week for their full population.
The total: When all orders take effect, more than 180 million people will be impacted by the orders, or 55% of the US population.
The White House and Senate leaders struck a major deal early Wednesday morning over a $2-trillion package to provide a jolt to an economy struggling through the coronavirus pandemic.
The deal caps days of marathon negotiations that produced one of the most expensive and far-reaching measures in the history of Congress.
"Ladies and gentleman, we are done," White House legislative affairs director Eric Ueland said right before 1 a.m. ET. "We have a deal."
Negotiations have spanned around the clock since last Friday.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is expected to take to the floor to announce that a deal had been reached on the proposal.
The full details have yet to be released.
But over the past 24 hours, the elements of the proposal have come into sharper focus, with $250 billion set aside for direct payments to individuals and families, $350 billion in small business loans, $250 billion in unemployment insurance benefits and $500 billion in loans for distressed companies.
Pakistan will suspend all domestic flights from Thursday until April 2, in an attempt to combat the spread of Covid-19, according to government officials.
Passenger train services will be suspended immediately until March 31.
Pakistan has reported 972 cases and seven deaths from the coronavirus, according to the country’s health ministry.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Imran Khan announced a rescue and stimulus package worth about 1.13 trillion rupees ($7 billion), aimed at supporting various sectors of society and the economy during the pandemic.
Demand for coronavirus tests at some US commercial labs continues to exceed capacity, even as millions of tests have become available. Test turnaround times range from 24 hours to a week or more, according to labs contacted by CNN.
Quest Diagnostics: One of the largest US clinical laboratories said current turnaround time for coronavirus tests is on average four to five days, from the time of specimen pickup to the time results are delivered, though some results may not be provided for about a week.
“Although we are rapidly expanding testing capacity, demand for the testing is growing faster, and we cannot accommodate everyone who wants testing and meet tight turnaround time expectations,” Quest said in a statement.
TriCore Reference Laboratories: The New Mexico-based lab said its turnaround time is about five days.
Eurofins: A spokesperson for laboratory network Eurofins said its labs are running up to 5,000 tests a day, many in 24 hours, but also said, “due to the backlog, unprecedented demand, pressures on our supply chain, and shipping delays … our turnaround time has been pushed beyond what we normally experience. At most, we are looking at results in 72 hours.”
BioReference Laboratories: While there had been a backlog in its facilities, the company said it has cleared it within a week of making their testing for Covid-19 available and cut its turnaround time to 24 hours for inpatients and 48 to 72 hours for the general public.
Dr. Alex Greninger, an assistant professor at the University of Washington's Department of Laboratory Medicine, said unprecedented demand is the driving factor of such wait times for test results.
Faster delivery of tests is critical to conserve personal protective equipment, he said.
“It’s not just about testing but about getting results in a clinically actionable time frame. The faster you get results, the less protective equipment you use and the quicker you can get a patient properly isolated,” Greninger said.
With less than four months to go until the scheduled start of the Olympic Games on July 24, the fanfare around Tokyo 2020 had been well underway.
Tokyo was already covered with posters and fliers, hotels to house tourists were ready to receive guests and new venues like the Olympic stadium had been built. Tickets had been selling quickly among residents, too.
But then the coronavirus pandemic accelerated around the world.
Doubts set in: Nearly 70% of people in Japan did not expect the Games to be held as scheduled, according to a Kyodo News survey conducted last week.
This film predicted it: As speculation mounted over the Games' fate, a scene from the iconic 1988 anime film “Akira,” which spookily predicted not only Tokyo 2020, but that it would be canceled, trended online.
Postponement announced: A growing chorus of teams and athletes called for the Games to be postponed. That announcement finally came on Tuesday, when IOC president Thomas Bach and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced the Games’ postponement to 2021. They agreed to keep the name as Tokyo 2020 and said the Olympic flame would stay in Japan.
Unprecedented: The Olympics have never been rescheduled in peacetime. In 1916, 1940 and 1944, the Games were canceled because of world wars.
Questions remain: Japan must now prepare for the mammoth task of rescheduling the Olympics, but it is unclear who would cover the additional costs arising from the Games’ postponement.