April 12 coronavirus news

By Amir Vera, Fernando Alfonso III, James Griffiths, Jenni Marsh and Amy Woodyatt, CNN

Updated 9:36 p.m. ET, April 12, 2020
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8:49 a.m. ET, April 12, 2020

Boris Johnson has been discharged from the hospital

From CNN's Simon Cullen

10 Downing Street on April 12.
10 Downing Street on April 12. Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty Images

United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been discharged from the hospital, a Downing Street spokesperson said.

“The PM has been discharged from hospital to continue his recovery, at Chequers,” the spokesperson said. “On the advice of his medical team, the PM will not be immediately returning to work. He wishes to thank everybody at St. Thomas’ for the brilliant care he has received."

The spokesperson added: “All of his thoughts are with those affected by this illness.”

Johnson's fiancée, Carrie Symonds, thanked the British National Health Service after a "very dark" week, she said Sunday in a series of tweets following his discharge from the hospital.

Symonds said, "I cannot thank our magnificent NHS enough. The staff at St Thomas’ Hospital have been incredible. I will never, ever be able to repay you and I will never stop thanking you." 

Johnson issued a statement Saturday thanking the National Health Service staff at St. Thomas' Hospital following his treatment for coronavirus, saying "I can't thank them enough. I owe them my life," according to the UK Press Association.

This is the first known statement from the Prime Minister since he entered hospital last Sunday night.

Some context: Johnson announced he tested positive for the novel coronavirus on March 27. He said he was experiencing "mild symptoms" and would continue leading the country, while self-isolating in his apartment in Downing Street.

But 10 days later, 10 Downing Street announced the 55-year-old was not getting better and was taken to St. Thomas' Hospital in London. He was moved to an intensive care unit (ICU) the next day after his condition deteriorated.

Johnson spent three nights in intensive care and received "standard oxygen treatment," according to his spokesman, but did not require mechanical or invasive ventilation.

He was moved out of the ICU on Thursday night. On Friday, a spokesperson said the Prime Minister was "able to do short walks" in between periods of rest and waved his thanks to staff.

9:05 a.m. ET, April 12, 2020

Spain begins gradual steps towards loosening coronavirus restrictions

From Alan B. Goodman, Laura Perez Maestro, and Tim Lister

Patients walks around a field hospital in Madrid on April 11.
Patients walks around a field hospital in Madrid on April 11. A. Ware/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Spanish government has stated to loosen some of the toughest restrictions on people’s movements imposed because of the coronavirus pandemic starting this week. 

Spain has been one of the hardest-hit countries, with hundreds of new deaths being reported every day and the highest death-rate in the world per million inhabitants.

People who can’t work at home and whose places of employment are reopening may return to work after the Easter holidays. The move is aimed at such sectors as construction and manufacturing – but non-essential retail outlets, bars and places of entertainment must remain closed. Restaurants can only offer take-out. Hairdressers will only be able go to clients’ homes but can’t open their salons and banks will have a minimum service with only a few branches open.

The government announced over the weekend that police would begin handing out 10 million protective masks at metro stations and other transport hubs to workers after the Easter break, while reiterating guidance on social distancing and regular washing of hands.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has cautioned that a return to normal life would be “progressive.”

“We can’t even know what kind of normality we’re returning to,” Sanchez said last week.

“The climb has been difficult, the descent will also be,” Sanchez told Parliament last week as the state of emergency was extended to April 26. Sanchez has warned that it may need to be further extended.

8:26 a.m. ET, April 12, 2020

South Korea to form a coronavirus treatment development support group

From CNN’s Jake Kwon in Seoul

South Korea announced Sunday that the government will form a vaccine development support group this week, which will involve members of government, academia, industry, research institutions and hospitals.

The joint support group will be led by the Ministries of Health and Science to form a quick decision-making system to aid in the development of treatment in South Korea.

Earlier in the week, President Moon Jae-in held a meeting during which he vowed to “provide all the financial, administrative, and policy support” for the development of a vaccine, according to Health Minister Park Neung-hoo.

"If we put their efforts together, we can develop both the vaccine and treatment in the fastest time possible," Park said at a briefing on Sunday. Such cooperation would cut down the time taken for administrative reasons and provide infrastructure or resources needed, Park said.

Race for a vaccine: This week, a study published in The Lancet medical journal warned that coronavirus lockdowns across the globe should not be completely lifted until a vaccine for the disease is found.

China's draconian restrictions on daily life appear to have halted the first wave of Covid-19 across much of the country, but the researchers used mathematical modeling to show that premature lifting of measures could result in a sweeping second wave of infection.

4:30 p.m. ET, April 12, 2020

Pope uses Easter Mass to call for unity in face of coronavirus pandemic

From Delia Gallagher in Rome

Pope Francis celebrates Easter Sunday Mass inside an empty St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican, Sunday, April 12.
Pope Francis celebrates Easter Sunday Mass inside an empty St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican, Sunday, April 12. Andreas Solaro/Pool Photo via AP

Pope Francis has said the world needs to be united in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, in a special address after Easter mass on Sunday.

“This is not a time for indifference, because the whole world is suffering and needs to be united in facing the pandemic,” the Pope said during his address, known as "Urbi et Orbi" (To the City and the World).

The Pope also called for an “immediate global ceasefire” and an end to weapons manufacturing.

Francis called on international leaders to relax sanctions and reduce or forgive debt for poorer countries. 

In light of the present circumstances,” the Pope said, “may international sanctions be relaxed, since these make it difficult for countries on which they have been imposed to provide adequate support to their citizens, and may all nations be put in a position to meet the greatest needs of the moment through the reduction, if not the forgiveness, of the debt burdening the balance sheets of the poorest nations.”

Francis remembered those who are sick and have died due to Covid-19, as well as doctors, nurses and health care workers.

Images and a live streamed video from the Vatican showed an empty St. Peter's square.

A priest walks in St. Peter's Square on April 12.
A priest walks in St. Peter's Square on April 12. Antonio Masiello/Getty Images

7:48 a.m. ET, April 12, 2020

UK likely to be worst-affected country in Europe, expert fears

The UK is “likely to be one of the worst, if not the worst, affected countries in Europe,” Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust and a UK government adviser said Sunday.

"The numbers in the UK have continued to go up, I do hope that we're coming close to the number of new infections reducing, and in a week or two the number of people of people needing hospital reducing," he said, adding that he hoped the number of UK deaths would plateau and start to fall in a couple of weeks.

Some 9,875 people have died of coronavirus in the UK, and almost 80,000 cases have been confirmed, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.

He told BBC's Andrew Marr that Germany had so far managed to keep its numbers low by introducing testing at a "remarkable" scale early on and isolating those who had contracted the virus.

Farrar also said a second or third wave of coronavirus was "probably inevitable."

He said he thought a vaccine will be available during autumn this year, but that it will not be available on the scale required to protect people around the world.

WATCH: Farrar tells Amanpour: 'The lockdown cannot go into 2021'

7:21 a.m. ET, April 12, 2020

Spain adds more than 600 coronavirus deaths, the highest in three days

From CNN’s Al Goodman in Madrid and Abel Alvarado in Atlanta

Spain recorded 619 deaths due to coronavirus in the past 24 hours, according to new data from the Spanish Health Ministry on Sunday. 

This is the highest daily death toll for the past three days and represents a 3.7% increase. The total number of fatalities stands at 16,972.

There are currently 86,656 active cases in the country, and 62,391 people have recovered.

Lockdown extended, but restrictions eased: The nationwide lockdown has been extended to almost the end of April, for a total of six weeks. But the government, pointing to a much slower rate of increase in the number of deaths and of new cases, will ease restrictions on Monday for some workers, allowing construction sites and factories to resume activity.

7:20 a.m. ET, April 12, 2020

Archbishop of Canterbury says society can't go back to old ways after coronavirus

From CNN's Martin Goillandeau

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, says society cannot return to its old ways once the coronavirus epidemic has passed.

The Church of England’s most senior cleric recorded his Easter message on an iPad at his kitchen table, as large gatherings have been banned under social distancing rules.

 

“After so much suffering, so much heroism from key workers and the NHS and their equivalents all across the globe. Once the epidemic is conquered here and elsewhere, we cannot be content to go back to what was before – as if all was normal,” he said.

Archbishop Welby used his sermon to call for the “resurrection of our common life.”

“Even in the dark days of this Easter we can feed on hope. We can dream of what our country and our world will look like after the pandemic.”

“At this very difficult time in the life of the nation and of the world, our prayers today are especially with those who are suffering, with those who care for them, and for all who mourn,” the Archbishop said.

Easter under lockdown: The Pope told the world to "not yield to fear" ahead of Easter Sunday, which most Christians will mark from their homes instead of church. Francis himself will be livestreaming a service on YouTube.

7:17 a.m. ET, April 12, 2020

Colombia announces deaths of first two doctors as a result of coronavirus

From CNNE's Daniel Silva Fernandez 

Two doctors in Bogota, Colombia are the latest Covid-19 related fatalities in the country, the Minister of Health Dr. Fernando Ruiz announced on Saturday. 

The doctors were identified as Carlos Fabián Nieto, 33, and Dr. William Gutiérrez, 59. According to the minister, they were working in two of the most reputable medical institutions in the Colombian capital.

Ruíz said the two doctors who died received the best care and had the best protection, but he said "we are facing a phenomenon that in the world takes the lives of many people and among them, unfortunately, health workers."

According to figures from Johns Hopkins University, Colombia has more than 2,700 confirmed cases of the virus.

A police officer dances encouraging people to follow him from their balconies and windows as the force visits the neighbourhood to cheer people up during the lockdown imposed a preventive measure to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus in Bogota, on April 8.
A police officer dances encouraging people to follow him from their balconies and windows as the force visits the neighbourhood to cheer people up during the lockdown imposed a preventive measure to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus in Bogota, on April 8. RAUL ARBOLEDA/AFP via Getty Images

7:16 a.m. ET, April 12, 2020

Chinese city bordering Russia bans all types of gatherings

From Anna Kam and Alex Lin in Hong Kong

The Chinese city of Suifenhe, which borders Russia, has banned all types of gatherings in the city, the local government announced Saturday. 

Border closed and measures in place: After locking down the border with Russia on Thursday over fears of coronavirus transmissions, local authorities imposed stern measures in the city. Public gatherings are now banned and facilities are shut, according to the statement. 

Among the locations closed include hotels, travel agencies, public bath houses, tourist destinations, bars, karaoke bars, internet bars, cinemas, gyms, swimming pools and chess rooms.

Wet markets, supermarkets and pharmacies are considered "essential businesses" and will stay open, authorities said. 

Russia reports jump in cases: Russia reported its largest daily increase in cases since the outbreak began on Sunday, with the number of confirmed coronavirus jumping by 2,186 within 24 hours. This brings the total number of cases to 15,770, according to Russian state news agency TASS.