March 29 coronavirus news

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6:32 a.m. ET, March 29, 2020

Spain records highest increase of coronavirus deaths -- but infection rate drops

From CNN's Tim Lister and Laura Perez Maestro in Madrid

Spain recorded another 838 deaths from the coronavirus infection, according to new figures from the Spanish Health Ministry on Sunday, bringing the country's death toll to 6,528.

Although the increase was the highest yet recorded, the percentage increase fell, from 17% to 14% -- the lowest since March 16.

The total number of active or current coronavirus cases rose to 57,560 from 54,273 -- an increase of 6% -- which is sharply lower than on recent days. On Saturday, the number of active cases recorded rose by 8.8%.

Health personnel outside the emergency entrance of the Severo Ochoa Hospital on March 28, in Madrid, Spain.
Health personnel outside the emergency entrance of the Severo Ochoa Hospital on March 28, in Madrid, Spain. Carlos Alvarez

A total of 4,907 people are now in intensive care in Spain, an increase of more than 300 since Saturday. But the Health Ministry also reported that a total of 14,709 people had recovered from the illness, a rise of nearly 20% from the previous figure of 12,285.

Health officials predict "stabilization phase": On Saturday senior health officials said they expected Spain is entering a stabilization phase in the spread of the virus. But the government has decided to further tighten restrictions on people’s movements for the next two weeks.

7:14 p.m. ET, March 29, 2020

Coronavirus deaths pass 2,000 in US, with at least 121,289 cases

More than 2,000 people have died from the coronavirus in the United States as of 6 a.m. ET Sunday, according to a CNN count compiled through data on state health department websites.

There are 2,046 deaths reported as of Sunday. The US reached 1,000 deaths on Thursday.

There are at least 121,289 cases of coronavirus in the US as of Sunday, according to CNN Health's tally of cases detected and tested through US public health systems.

The total includes cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as all repatriated cases.

For the most up-to-date US numbers compiled by CNN, please check this map which automatically refreshes every 10 minutes: 

https://www.cnn.com/interactive/2020/health/coronavirus-us-maps-and-cases/

6:11 a.m. ET, March 29, 2020

China says its local epidemic transmission is "basically blocked"

From Alexandra Lin in Hong Kong

Workers in protective gear wait for passengers arriving at the railway station in Wuhan, China on March 28, after travel restrictions into the city were eased following two months of lockdown.
Workers in protective gear wait for passengers arriving at the railway station in Wuhan, China on March 28, after travel restrictions into the city were eased following two months of lockdown. Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images

The local epidemic transmission of the novel coronavirus in China is “basically blocked,” National Health Commission spokesperson Mi Feng said on Sunday.

The current number of confirmed cases in the country dropped to fewer than 3,000 on March 28, therefore local transmission has been blocked, Feng said at a press conference.

However, he added that the possibility of a new wave of transmission from imported cases remains high, as there are 693 confirmed imported cases from 42 countries.

Here's some background: China is closing its border to most foreigners amid fears of imported novel coronavirus cases causing a second outbreak in the country where the infection was first detected.

In a statement last week, the government said that "in view of the rapid spread of Covid-19 across the world, China has decided to temporarily suspend the entry into China by foreign nationals holding visas or residence permits" as of March 28.

4:41 p.m. ET, March 29, 2020

UK should prepare for 'significant period' of lockdown measures, says minister

From CNN's Sam Tapfumaneyi

A woman walks past a butcher's shop this weekend in Brixton, south London.
A woman walks past a butcher's shop this weekend in Brixton, south London. Peter Summers/Getty Images

The UK public should prepare for a "significant period" where lockdown measures are in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus, Cabinet minister Michael Gove has said.

"There are different projections as to how long the lockdown might last,” Gove told Sky News' Sophy Ridge on Sunday.

“I can’t make an accurate prediction, but everyone does have to prepare for a significant period when these measures are still in place,” Gove said speaking later on the BBC's Andrew Marr on Sunday.

UK lockdown: In the UK people are banned from leaving their homes apart from for a few limited reasons after Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed the most stringent restrictions seen in Britain since the end of World War II.

Police will break up public gatherings and fine people flouting rules, Johnson said in a televised statement on Monday evening, dramatically ramping up the country's response to the growing coronavirus pandemic.

Johnson, who has himself tested positive for the coronavirus, will write letters to 30 million households across the UK urging people to stay home, and telling the public: "We know things will get worse before they get better."

Increased testing: Gove told Sky News this morning that 10,000 people were being tested for coronavirus daily, with the government hoping to increase this to 25,000 a day. Health care and social care workers are "first in line" for those tests, Gove added.

Rising death toll: More than 1,000 people have died from coronavirus in the UK as of 27 March, and more than 17,000 have tested positive for the virus, according to figures from the Department of Health and Social Care.

6:39 a.m. ET, March 29, 2020

Patients in Norway to take part in Covid-19 treatment research study

From CNN's Inga Thordar

Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images
Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

Patients in Norway will be the first to take part in a major international research study for a promising treatment for Covid-19, initiated by the World Health Organization.

The WHO study, named Solidarity, is starting to treat its first patient at Oslo University Hospital, the Norwegian government said in a statement. The study will be led by John-Arne Røttingen, Director of the Research Council of Norway.

The plan is for the study to be extended to 22 hospitals throughout Norway. Among treatments to be tested are the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine/plaquenil, the Ebola drug remdesivir and an HIV treatment (lopinavir/ritonavir) either alone or together with a drug for hepatitis (interferon-β1a).

Throughout the study, researchers around the world will gather information on the effectiveness of the treatments on patients' survival and how long they need intensive care and hospitalization.

6:39 a.m. ET, March 29, 2020

Australia to limit gatherings to two people in public and close outdoor areas

From CNN's Hilary Whiteman in Brisbane

People spend time at St Kilda Beach in Melbourne, Australia on March 28.
People spend time at St Kilda Beach in Melbourne, Australia on March 28. Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images

Australia will limit gatherings to two people, among other new measures to fight the novel coronavirus, from Monday onwards, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

Gatherings will be limited to two people in public spaces and in other areas, down from a ceiling of 10 people implemented earlier, Morrison said at a press conference on Sunday.

All public outdoor areas, including playgrounds and skate parks, will also be closed.

Morrison said all residents “must stay home,” except to shop for necessities, medical care, exercise, work or education. He urged people aged over 70 to stay at home and self-isolate.

He also announced a six-month moratorium on evictions.

Returnees quarantined: On Sunday, 1,600 people who returned to Australia on international flights went into quarantine at hotels in major cities, Morrison added.

5:00 a.m. ET, March 29, 2020

How Russia is using authoritarian tech to curb coronavirus

From CNN's Mary Ilyushina in Moscow

Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP
Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP

Russia under President Vladimir Putin has pioneered authoritarian tech: Last year, the Kremlin leader approved measures that would enable the creation of a "sovereign" Russian internet, able to be firewalled from the rest of the world.

The Covid-19 pandemic is now giving Russian authorities an opportunity to test new powers and technology, and the country's privacy and free-speech advocates worry the government is building sweeping new surveillance capabilities.

Perhaps the most well-publicized tech tool in Russia's arsenal for fighting coronavirus is Moscow's massive facial-recognition system. Rolled out earlier this year, the surveillance system had originally prompted an unusual public backlash, with privacy advocates filing lawsuits over unlawful surveillance.

Coronavirus, however, has given an unexpected public-relations boost to the system.

Read the full story here.

4:59 a.m. ET, March 29, 2020

Singapore cancels citizen’s passport for breaching home quarantine requirements

From Chermaine Lee in Hong Kong 

Singapore canceled the passport of a citizen for breaching stay-at-home notice requirements, according to a statement from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority released on Sunday.

The 53-year-old male Singaporean citizen was reported to arrive at Singapore from Indonesia on March 19, after Singapore imposed a mandatory 14-day home quarantine on all travelers from March 16. He was required to be quarantined, but decided to return to Indonesia on the same day.

On March 24, he returned to Singapore again and was asked to be quarantined for another 14 days.

The Ministry of Health is investigating his breach of stay-at-home notice requirements.

Draconian measures: Singapore has introduced new laws governing social distancing during the coronavirus outbreak that could see offenders serve six months in jail.

Those who do not keep at least 1 meter (3.2 feet) apart, or who meet in groups of more than 10 people outside of work or school, could face a fine of up to 10,000 Singapore dollars ($7,000) and/or up to six months' imprisonment.

4:20 a.m. ET, March 29, 2020

South Korea to expand two-week quarantine to all incoming travelers

From CNN's Jake Kwon in Seoul

Airport staff are seen wearing facemasks to protect themselves from Covid-19 inside Incheon International Airport on March 10, in Incheon, South Korea. 
Airport staff are seen wearing facemasks to protect themselves from Covid-19 inside Incheon International Airport on March 10, in Incheon, South Korea.  Ezra Acayan/Getty Images

All travelers entering South Korea will be subjected to two weeks of mandatory quarantine starting midnight on Wednesday, April 1, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun announced Sunday.

"The measure will also include short-term foreign visitors in order to practically block the entry for unimportant purposes, such as tourism," Chung said during a Central Disaster Relief headquarters meeting. 

Those who don't have an address in the country will be quarantined in a government provided facility for two weeks at their own expense.

Previously, the mandatory quarantine order was for travelers coming into South Korea from the US and Europe.