April 20 coronavirus news

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4:57 a.m. ET, April 20, 2020

France won't return to normal for a long time, Prime Minister says

From CNN's Pierre Bairin in Paris

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe gives a press conference in Paris on April 19.
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe gives a press conference in Paris on April 19. Thibault Camus/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe says France won’t return to normal for a long time.

"Imagining that the situation is getting better would be a mistake," the prime minister said at his news conference on Sunday.

Philippe said that France had passed the peak of the epidemic. But the country is not going to return to normal soon because right now there is no vaccine and no treatment, he warned.

France has suspended all non-essential business until May 11.

Philippe said May 11 won’t be the end of the confinement, but a new phase. He said that measures for after May 11 will be announced in a couple of weeks and will be based on three main principles: social distancing, massive testing and isolation of people who have tested positive.

The prime minister indicated that schools won’t be reopening everywhere after May 11 and, in any case, would be operating differently. Authorities were considering options such as telling students to attend class on alternate weeks, or using bigger classrooms than usual.

The prime minister also announced that visits to nursing homes would be reauthorized as of Monday, but would be severely restricted. For example, physical contact would not be allowed, he said.

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

It's just past 9:30 a.m in London and 2 p.m. in New Delhi. Here's the latest on the pandemic

If you're just joining us, here's the main news to break since our last catch-up.

  • UK government under fire: Hospital leaders have criticized the government for making announcements about personal protective equipment supplies that cannot be delivered amid "critically low" stocks in some health trusts. That follows a public backlash after officials admitted on Sunday that PM Boris Johnson missed five emergency meetings in the early stages of the pandemic.
  • Germany's new daily case rate falls: Some 1,774 new infections were confirmed for Sunday, bringing the total number of cases to 141,672, according to the Robert Koch Institute, the country's center for disease control.
  • Spike in India: The country has recorded its highest single-day spike in cases since the coronavirus outbreak began, reporting 1,553 new infections. PM Narendra Modi has meanwhile asked his people to come together to face the challenge of the pandemic. "We are in this together," he wrote on social network LinkedIn.
  • New Zealand's lockdown: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the country would stay under its toughest lockdown measures for five more days, before the restrictions are eased slightly next week.
  • Australia beaches: Some beaches are reopening in Sydney -- but beachgoers will still be restricted to exercising, and won't be allowed to sunbathe. Meanwhile, students are back at school today in the country's vast and sparsely populated Northern Territory.
  • Singapore cases jump: The country has preliminary confirmed 1,426 new coronavirus cases as of midday on Monday. The vast majority of new cases are work permit holders residing in foreign worker dormitories.
4:19 a.m. ET, April 20, 2020

One of Australia's biggest cities is so quiet that kangaroos are hopping through the center

A kangaroo was spotted bouncing through an almost deserted South Australian city on Sunday amid the coronavirus lockdown, according to police.

With much of the country being told to stay at home, Adelaide -- a coastal city of more than 1.2 million people -- has become a much more attractive place for the country's iconic animal to hang out.

The kangaroo was caught on CCTV camera on Sunday morning. Officers watching the footage just happened to see the marsupial bouncing down the nearly empty streets, a South Australian police spokesperson told CNN.

The kangaroo narrowly escaped a road accident, before heading to Adelaide's West Parklands nature reserve, the spokesperson said.

Every now and then, kangaroos are spotted in Adelaide's suburbs, but it's not usual to see them bouncing down the central city streets, the spokesperson said.

"It was quite unique," the spokesperson said, adding that it was likely the quiet of the coronavirus lockdown that had drawn the kangaroo to the city.

3:44 a.m. ET, April 20, 2020

Singapore reports more than 1,400 new cases

Singapore has preliminary confirmed 1,426 new coronavirus cases as of midday on Monday, according to the country's Ministry of Health.

The vast majority of new cases are work permit holders residing in foreign worker dormitories, the ministry said in a statement.

Only 16 cases are Singaporeans or permanent residents.

3:34 a.m. ET, April 20, 2020

UK hospital leaders criticize government for PPE promises that can't be delivered

From CNN's Simon Cullen in London

Hospital leaders in the United Kingdom have criticized the government for making announcements about personal protective equipment supplies that cannot be delivered amid “critically low” stocks in some health trusts.

NHS Providers, which represents hospital trusts and ambulance services, says health workers need certainty about what they can expect.

“Bitter experience over the last few weeks has shown that until a consignment of gowns has landed, the boxes have been checked and the equipment tested, the NHS can’t count on the gowns being available for use at the front line,” NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson said.
“Given the current uncertainties over gown manufacture and supply, due to global shortages, we suggest that any future announcements on what gowns might be available for delivery, when, just focus on what we can be certain of.”

The NHS Confederation, which also represents hospital trusts and other NHS services, says the government’s announcements are making the situation worse.

“It would have been better had the government not made the announcement in the first place -- we know shipments in this supply chain are unreliable and even when they do arrive they are not always what is expected. In future the NHS will expect announcements when supplies have arrived not promises about what may or may not be delivered,” NHS Confederation chief executive Niall Dickson said.
"It now looks more likely that supplies of fluid repellent gowns could run out in some places but everything that can be done will be done to protect patients and staff.”

The UK government has faced intense criticism for its response to the coronavirus crisis, including the current shortage of PPE in hospitals.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden told Sky News on Monday that the government is “working around the clock” to deal with the issue, including delivery of a plane load of supplies that are stuck in Turkey.

“Of course we would have wanted this flight from Turkey to take off yesterday. There’s been logistical challenges at the Turkish end, but we’re confident it will take off later today,” Dowden said.

The UK has reported more than 121,000 coronavirus cases, including 16,095 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

3:25 a.m. ET, April 20, 2020

How Australian airline Qantas is taking care of its grounded planes amid Covid-19

From CNN's Lilit Marcus

A Qantas jet sits on the tarmac at Sydney airport on March 10, in Sydney, Australia.
A Qantas jet sits on the tarmac at Sydney airport on March 10, in Sydney, Australia. Mark Evans/Getty Images

While millions of people around the world are cutting their own hair and inventing new recipes amid the Covid-19 pandemic, thousands of the world's commercial airplanes are also getting much-needed rest.

Qantas has shared a video revealing how its planes are being maintained and cared for while grounded during Australia's lockdown measures.

John Walker, the airline's Melbourne-based Head of Line and Intermediate Maintenance Operations, shared that the planes are getting plenty of TLC while they sit in hangars waiting for global travel to resume. 

"When you park an airplane, it's not just like parking a car," Walker explains. "You don't just switch it off and lock the doors." 

The planes are towed periodically around so that their wheels can rotate, and service members clean the inside and outside of the aircraft. Depending on the model of the plane, its engine must be turned on either every 15 or 30 days, and the cockpit window is covered in tinfoil so the front of the aircraft won't get too hot.

Read the full story here:

3:05 a.m. ET, April 20, 2020

Some Sydney beaches have reopened. But things aren't back to normal just yet

A surfer makes his way out at Maroubra beach on April 20, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. Coogee, Maroubra and Clovelly beaches in Randwick City reopened today for exercise only.
A surfer makes his way out at Maroubra beach on April 20, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. Coogee, Maroubra and Clovelly beaches in Randwick City reopened today for exercise only. Brook Mitchell/Getty Images

For weeks, Sydney's beach lovers have had to stay away from the sand and surf.

But starting Monday, some beaches in the city's eastern suburbs will be open for "exercise purposes only," according to the local authorities.

Randwick City Council said Coogee, Maroubra and Clovelly beaches would reopen for activities including "sand jogging and walking, swimming, surfing and other exercise activities."

Three weeks ago, all Randwick City beaches were closed to discourage large groups congregating at the beach.

"Living along the coast, I know how important our beaches are to the mental and physical health of so many in the community," said Mayor Danny Said.
"The past three weeks have been difficult as we’ve all had to make changes and sacrifices to our daily routines."

Not back to normal: Even though beachgoers are allowed back, they must maintain a distance of 1.5 meters (4.9 feet) between each other, limit groups to two people and move on once they have completed their exercise. Sitting or sun-bathing on the sand will not be permitted, the council said in a news release.

Additionally, two beaches on Queensland's Gold Coast -- Surfers Paradise and Coolangatta -- reopened on Monday.

2:47 a.m. ET, April 20, 2020

India reintroduces ban on e-commerce companies delivering non-essential items

From CNN's Swati Gupta in New Delhi

India has reintroduced a ban on the delivery of non-essential items by e-commerce companies -- reversing an earlier decision to lift the restriction.

In an order issued Sunday, the Ministry of Home Affairs said companies such as Amazon and Flipkart wouldn't be allowed to deliver non-essential items until May 3.

That reverses an earlier relaxation of lockdown restrictions introduced last week -- when the government said e-commerce companies could start delivering non-essential items. 

Nothing has changed for essential items. Since the lockdown was enacted last month, e-commerce companies have been allowed to deliver groceries and other essential goods. That remains the case.

2:32 a.m. ET, April 20, 2020

Japan is offering sex workers financial aid. But they say it's not enough to survive the pandemic

From CNN's Jessie Yeung, Junko Ogura and Will Ripley

Empty streets are seen in Kabukicho, Tokyo's entertainment district, on April 7.
Empty streets are seen in Kabukicho, Tokyo's entertainment district, on April 7. Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images

Mika is worried. As a sex worker in Japan, she used to see three or four clients a day -- then the coronavirus pandemic hit. Now, with people staying home and avoiding close contact, she's out of clients and out of money. 

With no savings or other sources of income, Mika says she is living off borrowed money. She has tried to find other jobs, but nobody's hiring in the middle of an economic crisis. At this rate, she might not be able to pay rent or afford basic necessities, let alone pay off the debt she has recently taken on.

"I'm worried if I will have a place to live or if I can find a job to get money to live," she said, using a pseudonym to protect her privacy. "I worry about (my health) of course, but now I worry more about how to survive."

Sex workers across Japan have been hit hard by closures and restrictions due to the pandemic. The entire country is under a state of emergency, with many businesses ordered to shutter and people advised not to go out. 

Japan has recorded nearly 11,000 coronavirus cases nationwide, including at least 236 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Softening the economic blow: The central government has launched a massive stimulus package worth 108 trillion Japanese yen ($1 trillion). After some controversy, sex workers are eligible to apply for aid, under certain conditions -- a move some activists have hailed as a sign of progress for an industry that has long suffered social stigma. 

But for many sex workers, the package offers little reassurance -- and its rules for eligibility seem opaque and restrictive. Some aren't sure how to apply for benefits without effectively outing themselves. 

"(The government) haven't clearly said they will help everybody," Mika said. "There are many people unable to eat and survive without working."

Read the full story here: