March 27 coronavirus news

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3:58 a.m. ET, March 27, 2020

Confusion and delays as airlines scramble to catch up with travel restrictions

From CNN's Sandi Sidhu

Liz Lord, an American citizen from Maryland, was on a bus traveling in India when Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered a complete nationwide lockdown on Wednesday.

After scrambling to find transportation, she made it back to the Indian capital New Delhi through 30 hours on taxis and buses. Once there, she had less than 6 hours to find a flight out of the country due to the new international travel suspensions.

But she has found herself stranded yet again today, with her flight canceled and no communication from the airline.

"International flight travel restrictions were extended until April 14 and all of our flights were canceled. Unfortunately my airline didn't tell me directly as they said they would if any changes were made to my flight," she told CNN.
"I saw it through their Twitter page ... As of right now, if I Google my flight for March 29, it says it's still scheduled."

She said she has tried to reach out to anybody who can help -- the US embassy, Maryland officials, even speaking out on social media and to news outlets.

"We do want to come home, and many of us are willing to go through any medical exam or home quarantine that is necessary ... rather than having to wait three weeks," she said.

Watch more here:

3:58 a.m. ET, March 27, 2020

China's Xi Jinping calls on Trump to boost cooperation, state media reports

From CNN's Shanshan Wang in Beijing

US President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping leave a business leaders event at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on November 9, 2017.
US President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping leave a business leaders event at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on November 9, 2017. Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty Images

Chinese President Xi Jinping told US President Donald Trump during a phone call on Friday that he hoped their two countries could “work together to boost cooperation in epidemic control and other fields,” according to an account of the conversation published by Chinese state media.

Xi also said that China is “willing to work with all parties, including the United States” in combating the pandemic and that he was “very concerned and worried about the epidemic development in the US,” according to China’s Xinhua news agency.

"Chinese people sincerely hope that the United States will soon control the spread of the epidemic (and) reduce the losses brought by the epidemic to the American people," Xi is reported to have told Trump during the call.

"To China and the US, cooperation serves the interests of the two countries and conflict can only hurt both. Cooperation is the only correct choice. It is hoped that the US will take substantive actions in improving Sino-US relations, and the two sides will work together to strengthen cooperation in areas such as containing the epidemic, and develop a relationship of no conflict, no confrontation, mutual respect, and win-win cooperation," Xi is reported to have said.

The White House has not yet released a readout or statement on the conversation and its contents.

According to Chinese state media, Trump offered thanks to China for providing medical supplies to the United States to fight the epidemic, and for "strengthening exchanges in the medical and health fields between the two countries, including cooperation in the development of effective anti-epidemic drugs."

In a tweet earlier today, Trump said it had been a "very good conversation." He added, "Much respect!"

3:31 a.m. ET, March 27, 2020

Angela Merkel says restrictive measures in Germany will continue

From CNN's Fred Pleitgen in Berlin

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks to the media to announce further measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus after she held a teleconference with the governors of Germany's 16 states on March 22 in Berlin, Germany.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks to the media to announce further measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus after she held a teleconference with the governors of Germany's 16 states on March 22 in Berlin, Germany. Clemens Bilan - Pool/Getty Images

The partial lockdown and restrictive emergency measures in place in Germany will continue for a while, said German Chancellor Angela Merkel today.

“Right now is not the time to be talking about the loosening of these measures,” she said. 

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany is currently doubling about every 5 days, she said, adding that it needs to go down to every 10 days for a loosening of measures to even become an option.

Financial fallout: After a G20 video conference call and an EU heads of state conference call, she also reiterated Germany's position against Eurobonds, saying the European Stabilization Mechanism is the right instrument to deal with the financial fallout from the coronavirus crisis.

“We made clear from the German side, but also others did as well, that this is not the opinion of all states," Merkel said in reference to Spain and Italy's desire to try new ways to deal with the crisis and asking for Coronabonds.

Social distancing: Merkel added that while she is busy and working well in quarantine, she, like many German citizens, misses personal social contact.

“I miss that I can’t be in the cabinet meetings and can’t see the people there. And I miss having personal contacts," she said. 

3:22 a.m. ET, March 27, 2020

Indian migrant workers could undermine the world's largest lockdown

From CNN's Priyali Sur and Ben Westcott

Thousands of migrant workers are attempting to leave India's major cities after a nationwide total lockdown left them without jobs or pay.

The potential mass migration may undermine attempts by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government to prevent the localized spread of the coronavirus, with some workers even attempting to make the journey on foot, due to widespread closures of public transport.

Migration of labor: According to government statistics, every year more than nine million migrant workers move from India's rural areas to large population centers to find work at construction sites or factories, sending money back to their home towns and villages.

But with those industries closed by the government lockdown, many have been left with little choice but to attempt the return journey home.

Migrant worker Bablu Ehrewal, 24, used to work at a mall construction site earning $7 a day (500 rupees). Construction stopped this week when the lockdown came into effect. Now he is stuck in a slum with 70 other migrant construction workers in the state of Madhya Pradesh and hasn't been paid in 20 days.

Without money, he can't afford food, and with the trains shut, his only option may be to walk home.

"It is better than living here with nothing and starving to death," he said of the choice.

Read the full story here:

3:03 a.m. ET, March 27, 2020

Olympic postponement and coronavirus fallout could cost Japan $36 billion, economist warns

By CNN's Will Ripley and Junko Ogura in Tokyo

A Japanese economics professor has estimated Japan could lose up to $36 billion as it fights to contain the fallout triggered from the coronavirus outbreak and the postponement of the Olympics. 

Those astronomical costs include cancellation maintenance fees for more than three dozen Olympic venues, compensation for thousands who have already purchased condos in the Olympic athletes village, and billions in broadcasting rights and pre-paid advertising, according to Sayuri Shirashi, an economics professor at Keio University.

Logistical nightmare: "The damage is quite big," Shirashi told CNN. "If we do it next year, we don't know how successful this 2020 Olympics will be."

Japanese authorities this week announced the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics to next year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now organizing bodies face the mammoth task of resolving scheduling conflicts with other major sporting events and rescheduling Olympic qualifiers.

Unprecedented move: The Olympics have never been rescheduled in peacetime. In 1916, 1940 and 1944, the Games were canceled because of world wars.

2:48 a.m. ET, March 27, 2020

Sydney’s famous beach district has the most coronavirus cases in the country

From Hilary Whiteman in Brisbane

A general view of a closed Bondi Beach is seen on March 22 in Sydney, Australia.
A general view of a closed Bondi Beach is seen on March 22 in Sydney, Australia. Jenny Evans/Getty Images

The Sydney district of Waverley Council has reported more coronavirus cases than any district in Australia, Mayor Paula Masselos said in a statement today.

Waverley includes some of Sydney's famous beaches, including Bondi, Tamarama and Bronte.

“This is a message I did not want to have to share, but we now know Waverley Council currently has the highest number of Covid-19 cases in Australia, with 105 being recorded as at 8 p.m. on 25 March,” Masselos said.

“I cannot stress to you enough that we need to be more vigilant than ever in following social distancing. It is now more important than ever. I am appealing to the community to take ownership of their health and respect the restrictions we have in place," she added.

Bondi Beach closed last weekend after thousands of people were seen at one of the city’s most famous landmarks despite public health warnings to stay home and away from crowded areas.

2:30 a.m. ET, March 27, 2020

Do you wear contact lenses? You should switch to glasses to stop spreading the virus

From CNN's Sandee LaMotte

To reduce the spread of the pandemic, experts suggest it's time to put your contact lenses on the shelf and dazzle the world with your frames.

That's because wearing glasses can help you stop touching your face, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, a key way any virus is spread.

Contact lens users not only touch their eyes to put in and remove their lens twice or more a day, they also touch their eyes and face much more than people who don't wear contacts, said Dr. Thomas Steinemann, a clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

"You touch your eye and then you touch another part of your body," said Steinemann, an ophthalmologist at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio.

"You rub your eyes, then rub your face, scratch your face, put your fingers in your mouth, put your fingers in your nose," he added. "Some people are not very hygienic and may have forgotten to first wash their hands."

Read the full story here:

2:23 a.m. ET, March 27, 2020

Trump touts great success as US becomes world's worst virus epicenter

Analysis from CNN's Stephen Collinson

As America became the epicenter of the global coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump downplayed the escalating national crisis.

His comments at Thursday's afternoon briefing underscored the growing duality of the fight: While the President is telling a tale of great successes, front-line health care workers are facing grim scenes in hospitals in a growing number of hot spots.

All the evidence of the virus's advance suggests the situation is getting worse and that normal life could be weeks or months away. Once, Trump minimized the looming impact of the crisis. Now his assessments conflict with the reality of its deadly march.

Massive jump in cases: A week ago, there were a total of 8,800 confirmed infections in the United States and 149 deaths. On Thursday, that figure reached more than 82,000 with nearly 1,200 deaths.

Were those figures the result of a hurricane or a terrorist attack, their human toll would be more obvious, and it would be more difficult for the President to spin the situation. But as people die unseen in hospital wards and emergency rooms, the emotional impact of the accelerating tragedy is less obvious than it would be during a natural disaster.

Trump's contradicting message: On Thursday, a day that saw more reported deaths from Covid-19 than ever before in the United States -- Trump bizarrely turned the focus to what he said was a far lower mortality rate than he had expected.

And despite the clearly widening spread of the pandemic, Trump intensified a push to reopen the economy, saying he would issue a relaxation of some social distancing guidelines next week.

Any president and any administration would have been battered by combating a virulent "invisible enemy," as Trump calls it. But it's unlikely any other modern administration would spend so much time praising its own performance -- even as the crisis magnifies by the day.

Read the full analysis here:

2:09 a.m. ET, March 27, 2020

The Chinese government is investigating test kit maker that sent supplies to Spain

From CNN's Shanshan Wang in Beijing

A Chinese government regulatory group said today that it has launched an investigation into Bioeasy, a coronavirus test kit maker that sent supplies to Spain, that were later recalled

Yesterday, the Spanish government said it was recalling 9,000 kits after finding the results to be “unreliable.”

Bioeasy posted a statement on its WeChat social media account today, saying the nasopharyngeal swab samples might have been sampled and extracted and handled without strictly following the company's instructions, which reduced the accuracy.

The company added that it didn’t communicate instructions well with its customers.