April 23 coronavirus news

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7:43 a.m. ET, April 23, 2020

Twitter expands its coronavirus policy to ban incitement against 5G and cell towers

From CNN's Brian Fung

Twitter has expanded its ban on coronavirus misinformation to include tweets that spread false and misleading claims about 5G technology and posts that incite people to acts of violence against cell towers, the company said in a blog post on Wednesday.

The social media giant said the new policies add to existing bans on unverified claims that risk creating “widespread panic, social unrest, or large-scale disorder.”

In recent weeks, the internet has been awash in false claims suggesting that 5G, the ultra-fast wireless technology, is responsible for the spread of the coronavirus.

Technologists and researchers have said there is no connection between the two, and that attempts to sabotage communications networks threaten to put more lives at risk.

6:48 a.m. ET, April 23, 2020

American Red Cross says it plans to implement antibody testing to help screen for Covid-19 plasma donors

From CNN Health's Jacqueline Howard

Antibody testing could help identify who can donate convalescent plasma for the treatment of Covid-19, according to the American Red Cross.

The American Red Cross said in a statement on Wednesday that it is working to implement antibody testing to help screen for recovered Covid-19 patients who could donate blood plasma to help ill patients fight the disease.

The idea is that convalescent plasma, the liquid part of blood, from recovered patients contains antibodies that could help strengthen the immune response of other patients still battling infection. Last week, the US Food and Drug Administration announced that patients who are fully recovered from Covid-19 for at least two weeks are encouraged to consider donating plasma.

While "thousands of potential donors" responded to that call, less than 10% initially met the FDA's eligibility criteria to donate, according to the American Red Cross statement. The criteria include having a verified Covid-19 diagnosis and either being symptom free for at least 28 days prior to donation or symptom free for at least 14 days prior to donation while also having a negative Covid-19 test result.

Belinda Ofilos, collection specialist, takes blood from a donor during a blood drive by the American Red Cross on March 31 in Norwood, Massachusetts.
Belinda Ofilos, collection specialist, takes blood from a donor during a blood drive by the American Red Cross on March 31 in Norwood, Massachusetts. Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald/Getty Images

"The Red Cross is currently reviewing and requesting additional information from individuals who have submitted donor information. However, this is a complex process as we work to ensure each potential donor is appropriately screened and has the proper documentation to ensure ... every convalescent plasma product collected is safe for a patient battling Covid-19,” the American Red Cross said in its statement on Wednesday.

"We are encouraged that FDA approved Ortho Clinical Diagnostic’s Covid-19 Antibody Test through an Emergency Use Authorization last week. The Red Cross is working with our partner, Creative Testing Solutions (CTS), to implement this test in the near future," the statement said in part. "This automated test has the potential for a high throughput, enabling the collection of convalescent plasma from the many donors who do not currently have a confirmed positive Covid-19 diagnosis, and need an antibody test to confirm their eligibility to participate in the convalescent plasma program."

For now, recovered patients can contact their local blood or plasma collection center to schedule an appointment to donate. The FDA noted in its previous announcement that it has launched a new webpage with information on blood and plasma collection centers, and the American Red Cross also set up a website for interested donors.

6:46 a.m. ET, April 23, 2020

Indonesia to begin security operation to enforce Eid travel ban

From Jamaladdin Masrur in Jakarta

Authorities stop vehicles on a highway in Pekanbaru, Indonesia, on April 22, amid social restriction measures to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Authorities stop vehicles on a highway in Pekanbaru, Indonesia, on April 22, amid social restriction measures to curb the spread of coronavirus. Dedy Sutisna/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Indonesia will deploy 175,000 military personal, police and public order officers to enforce travel restrictions for the upcoming Eid holiday, according to National Police Spokesman High Commissioner Asep Adi Saputra.

The security operation will run from April 24 until May 31, to enforce a ban on traveling home for Eid.

The ban was announced this week, but it remains unclear just how fully it will be enforced. The government will not be able to impose official sanctions for the travel ban until at least May 7.

Police have also set up 19 check points around the city of Jakarta as part of the operation.

Jakarta is one of several jurisdictions considered “red zones” for Covid-19, in which stronger restrictions have been issued to contain the virus.

6:13 a.m. ET, April 23, 2020

Seniors with Covid-19 show unusual symptoms, doctors say

From Judith Graham

Older adults with Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, have several "atypical" symptoms, complicating efforts to ensure they get appropriate treatment, according to physicians.

Covid-19 is typically signaled by three symptoms: a fever, an insistent cough and shortness of breath. But older adults — the age group most at risk of severe complications or death from this condition ― may have none of these characteristics.

Instead, seniors may seem "off" — not acting like themselves ― early on after being infected by the coronavirus. They may sleep more than usual or stop eating. They may also seem unusually apathetic or confused, losing orientation to their surroundings.

"With a lot of conditions, older adults don't present in a typical way, and we're seeing that with Covid-19 as well," said Dr. Camille Vaughan, section chief of geriatrics and gerontology at Emory University.

Read the full story here.

6:04 a.m. ET, April 23, 2020

More than 842,000 cases recorded in the US

From CNN's Joe Sutton

A member of the medical staff at ProHEALTH Care Circle urgent care clinic performs coronavirus testing in the parking lot of their clinic in Staten Island, New York on April 22.
A member of the medical staff at ProHEALTH Care Circle urgent care clinic performs coronavirus testing in the parking lot of their clinic in Staten Island, New York on April 22. David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

At least 842,624 cases of coronavirus have been recorded in the US, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally of cases. The total number of deaths is 46,785.

States are beginning to include "probable deaths" in their counts. This may look like a surge of virus related deaths.

CNN is tracking COVID-19 cases here.

5:39 a.m. ET, April 23, 2020

WHO is "indispensable partner" in coronavirus fight – Merkel

From CNN's Nadine Schmidt in Berlin

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is an “indispensable partner” in the fight against coronavirus and Germany supports its mandate, the country’s Chancellor Angela Merkel says.

Her comments put her at odds with US President Donald Trump, who has suspended funding for the international body and accused it of “severely mismanaging” the pandemic.

In an address to the German parliament, Merkel said international cooperation was “extremely important” to defeat the outbreak.

At a European level, Merkel says she will work with other leaders to ensure there is a rapid response to the changing situation, adding that Germany ought to be prepared to pay more into the EU budget.

“Our consultations today won't yet be about nailing down details or deciding on the extent but one thing is already clear: in the spirit of solidarity, we should be prepared -- over a limited period of time -- to make… much higher contributions to the EU budget,” she said.

5:27 a.m. ET, April 23, 2020

Merkel vows European solidarity - rejects common European debt

From CNN's Fred Pleitgen in Berlin

German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a meeting of the German parliament in Berlin, Germany on April 23.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a meeting of the German parliament in Berlin, Germany on April 23. Michael Sohn/AP

Ahead of a key European Union summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has vowed European solidarity.

Merkel made the remarks in a speech in German parliament on Thursday saying Germany would support other EU members during the coronavirus pandemic.

"Europe is not Europe if it does not understand itself as a unified Europe. Europe is not Europe if we do not stand up for one another in times of emergency that no one is at fault for," Merkel said in her speech.

The German chancellor added that her government is in favor of a European stimulus package to help the block’s economy recover.

"A European stimulus package could help could support the necessary upswing in the coming years," Merkel said.

At the same time Merkel reiterated her rejection of common European bonds. The so-called corona bonds would help hard-hit countries borrow money at better conditions.

But Merkel said such a measure would take too long to implement as all European countries would have to agree to a change of EU treaties. 

“This would be a long and difficult process and not one that could help in the current situation because right now it is about helping fast and to have instruments at hand quickly that can help mitigate the effects of the crisis,” Merkel said. 

 Read more about "corona bonds" here.

5:20 a.m. ET, April 23, 2020

Singapore reports more than 1,000 new cases for fourth day in a row

A general view shows a migrant workers' dormitory in Singapore on April 19.
A general view shows a migrant workers' dormitory in Singapore on April 19. Ore Huiying/Getty Images

New coronavirus cases hit four figures for a fourth consecutive day in Singapore on Thursday as the Southeast Asian city state grapples with a second wave of infections centered around migrant worker dormitories.

A total of 1,037 new cases were recorded as of 12 p.m. today local time, the country's Ministry of Health said in a statement.

The vast majority of new cases are work permit holders residing in foreign worker dormitories, the statement said. Among the new cases, 21 are Singaporean citizens or permanent residents.

4:40 a.m. ET, April 23, 2020

Germany is on "thinnest ice" and risks squandering Covid-19 gains, Angela Merkel warns

From CNN's Fred Pleitgen in Berlin

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned that Germany risks squandering the gains it has made in slowing down the spread of Covid-19 if the country opens up too quickly.

"This interim result is fragile. We are on thin ice, one could even say on thinnest ice," Merkel said while addressing the German parliament on Thursday.

The German federal and state governments recently agreed to a flurry of measures to loosen some of the physical distancing restrictions implemented to combat Covid-19, including allowing smaller shops to reopen. 

"I fully support the decisions made by the federal government and the states by conviction," Merkel said, "but their implementation worries me. Partially, they appear to be very bold, maybe too bold."

After the loosening of some restrictions, many people flocked into shopping areas and pedestrian zones this week, leading top German virologists to warn against complacency. Merkel echoed those calls in her speech in parliament.

"Let us not squander what we have achieved and risk a setback," Merkel said.

Germany has reported more than 150,000 coronavirus infections, according to Johns Hopkins University. The death toll has risen to 5,094, the country’s center for disease control, the Robert Koch Institute said on Thursday.