April 22 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger, Adam Renton, Rob Picheta and Zamira Rahim, CNN

Updated 8:51 p.m. ET, April 22, 2020
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3:49 a.m. ET, April 22, 2020

The Chinese city of Harbin, home to more than 10 million people, has banned public gatherings

From journalists Karina Tsui and Alexandra Lin in Hong Kong

This photo taken on April 21, 2020 shows officials keeping watch at a checkpoint in the border city of Suifenhe, in China's northeastern Heilongjiang province. A cluster of coronavirus cases in the provincial capital Harbin has forced officials to tighten restrictions on movement.
This photo taken on April 21, 2020 shows officials keeping watch at a checkpoint in the border city of Suifenhe, in China's northeastern Heilongjiang province. A cluster of coronavirus cases in the provincial capital Harbin has forced officials to tighten restrictions on movement. Stringer/AFP/Getty Images

All public gatherings have been banned in Harbin, the capital of China's northernmost Heilongjiang province, after an uptick in novel coronavirus cases were recorded in the city.

Seven locally transmitted infections were recorded in Heilongjiang on Tuesday, according to China's National Health Commission, prompting authorities to ramp up social restrictions.

The provincial government said in a statement that all 10 million-plus residents of the city will only be allowed to socialize with people in their respective households.

Currently, there are 54 reported coronavirus cases in Heilongjiang province. Of the 54, a total of 52 cases are from Harbin.

Harbin is located about 300 miles (480 kilometers) northwest of Suifenhe, a Chinese city on the Russian border where a spike in cases was reported last week.

3:42 a.m. ET, April 22, 2020

Pope Francis prays for European unity

From CNN’s Livia Borghese in Rome 

Pope Francis has prayed for European unity during early morning mass from the chapel of his residence on Wednesday.

"In this time in which so much unity is needed, among us, among the nations, we pray today for Europe, so that Europe will have this unity, this fraternal unity that the founding fathers of the European Union have dreamed of," Pope Francis said.

His words come ahead of an EU Council meeting on Thursday to discuss a recovery package for the economic crisis the bloc is experiencing due to the pandemic.

3:23 a.m. ET, April 22, 2020

Chinese airlines have some very cheap deals right now

From CNN's Maggie Hiufu Wong in Hong Kong

From offering tickets at the cost of a vegetable to multi-seat discounts, Chinese airlines are rolling out a series of deals to attract travelers in the run-up to Labor Day -- the first major holiday since the nation came to a standstill due to Covid-19.

Recording a loss of 39.8 billion yuan ($5.6 billion) in the first quarter of 2020, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China, the country's aviation industry is taking its first steps toward recovery as lockdown measures ease.

Some airlines have been offering wild deals -- dubbed "bok choy-price" tickets by local media because they're as cheap as vegetables -- on domestic routes to attract fliers.

Read more about the deals here:

3:07 a.m. ET, April 22, 2020

Sydney's famed Bondi Beach will partially reopen next week

From CNN's Eric Cheung

An empty Bondi Beach is seen in Sydney, Australia on April 22.
An empty Bondi Beach is seen in Sydney, Australia on April 22. Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images

Australia will partially reopen Bondi Beach for swimming and surfing on April 28, authorities announced Wednesday.

Paula Masselos, the mayor of Waverley, said access will be provided for surfers and ocean swimmers between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays. All land-based activities on the beach like jogging, sunbathing and gathering socially is still suspended.

"We’ve worked hard to come up with these strict measures as a way of helping people exercise safely in the water and manage strict social distancing," she said.

The new measures will also be applied to Bronte Beach in eastern Sydney.

2:52 a.m. ET, April 22, 2020

Man jailed for spitting at police while claiming he had coronavirus

From CNN's Samantha Beech

A 21-year-old man was sentenced to six months in prison for domestic assault and spitting at police while claiming he had coronavirus, London's Metropolitan Police said in a statement Wednesday.

The man was arrested on suspicion of domestic assault on a woman and criminal damage to her property on Monday. Met Police said the man told authorities he had Covid-19 and while being put into a police van, he spat at two officers. He was later charged for assault on emergency workers in addition to assaulting the woman.

While in custody, police said the suspect told them he did not have coronavirus or any symptoms. He appeared in custody at Barkingside Magistrates' Court on Tuesday, where he pleaded guilty and was sentenced.

"I hope he spends his period in prison to reflect on his behavior, and that his prison sentence sends a message to others who are willing to commit domestic offenses and to target police officers whose job it is to protect Londoners," police inspector Alexis Manley said in a statement.
2:40 a.m. ET, April 22, 2020

Top infectious disease specialist believes a second wave of Covid-19 later this year is "likely"

From CNN's Jake Kwon in Seoul, South Korea

Employees work on the production line of testing kits used in diagnosing the coronavirus at the Boditech Med Inc. headquarters in Chuncheon, South Korea on April 17.
Employees work on the production line of testing kits used in diagnosing the coronavirus at the Boditech Med Inc. headquarters in Chuncheon, South Korea on April 17. Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

Jung Eun-kyeong, the director of South Korea's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, believes that it is likely the country will see a second wave of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

"Unless herd immunity is achieved through natural spread or through vaccines, come autumn or winter season, because most of the people do not have immunity, there is a likely possibility," Jung said.

South Korea's response to the pandemic has been hailed as one of the world's best, in large part due to a massive push by health officials to conduct widespread testing.

At least 10,694 people have contracted the virus in the country, killing 238, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Jung also revealed the preliminary results of a study on retesting positive cases. In the six tests completed so far, the virus did not separate during the cultivation study.

"We understand that the contagiousness is either zero or very low," Jung said.

Read more about patients who retested positive for the virus:

2:28 a.m. ET, April 22, 2020

This town in California is testing every resident for coronavirus and antibodies

From CNN’s Augie Martin in San Francisco

A medical professional administers a coronavirus test at a drive-through testing location in Bolinas, California on April 20. 
A medical professional administers a coronavirus test at a drive-through testing location in Bolinas, California on April 20.  Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

A remote Northern California hamlet became one of the first places in the world Monday to attempt to comprehensively test all of its residents for Covid-19 and the antibodies believed to make one immune from infection.

The community-wide free testing effort in Bolinas, California, is voluntary. The town is one of two communities taking part in the new study launched by the University of California, San Francisco, with the aim of gaining a more complete understanding of how the virus invisibly spread during the initial shortfall of comprehensive nationwide testing.

Testing began in Bolinas -- a town of fewer than 2,000 people -- on Monday, and residents have four days to visit a pop-up center to receive nasal swabs and a finger prick test.

On Saturday, April 25, the second community, the vastly different and densely populated Mission District of San Francisco, will begin testing, with some 6,000 residents having four days to get their swabs and jabs.

More than 700 people have been tested in Bolinas so far, according to venture capitalist Jyri Engestrom, one of those responsible for making the project a reality.

Along with donations from several tech entrepreneurs, a GoFundMe page was launched to help raise the approximately $400,000 needed for the operation. Engestrom notes that 93% of the over 150 donors on GoFundMe donated less than $5,000, and said they have raised around $300,000 to date.

The study is led by a team of researchers from the UCSF Division of HIV, Infectious Diseases and Global Medicine at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.

“All our public health decisions, including when it will be possible to relax regional and statewide shelter-in-place orders, are driven by rough assumptions about how this virus behaves based on very limited data,” said Bryan Greenhouse, an associate professor of medicine at UCSF and a CZ Biohub Investigator. “Studying in detail how the virus has spread in these two distinctive communities will give us crucial data points that we can extrapolate to better predict how to control the virus in similar communities nationwide.”
2:32 a.m. ET, April 22, 2020

India has stopped using Covid-19 rapid test kits after some were found to be faulty

From CNN's Swati Gupta in New Delhi

The Indian Council of Medical Research has advised all states to discontinue the usage of rapid test kits for the next two days after some of them were revealed to be defective.

The council is sending teams to validate kits already in use so they can assess which ones are faulty and trace them back to the manufacturers.

Raman R Gangakhedkar, the head of the council, said positive samples were showing "too much variation" and required investigating.

The rapid testing kits were deployed in India last week. The health ministry has repeatedly said that the kits should be used only for surveillance and to determine epidemiological trends.

India had tested a total of 462,621 samples from 447,812 individuals as of April 21, according to the council. 

2:04 a.m. ET, April 22, 2020

Coronavirus is both a crisis and an opportunity for China's aggressive new diplomacy

Analysis by CNN's James Griffiths in Hong Kong

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, China has struggled to control the narrative around its role in the crisis.

Is Beijing a noble victim, ably controlling an unforeseeable viral outbreak and now assisting other countries in their own efforts, or the villain, ultimately to blame for the misery spreading around the world?

Considerable effort has been expended in pushing the first line. China has donated large amounts of medical supplies to parts of Europe and Africa. China's state media, which has an outsized influence in much of the developing world, has also played up praise from the World Health Organization (WHO) and others of its response to and recovery from the initial outbreak, in stark contrast to many parts of the world now struggling to cope.

The coronavirus crisis presents a key opportunity for China to solidify its status as a superpower and global leader, particularly as the United States has struggled to contain the outbreak, and US President Donald Trump has alienated some allies with his "America first" approach to the crisis.

At the same time, however, Beijing has not been able to avoid intense scrutiny and criticism -- mainly, but not solely from Washington -- over how initial delays in the country's response may have squandered vital opportunities to contain the now global pandemic, as well as skepticism over its reporting of coronavirus figures and the country's recovery.

Read the full analysis: