April 16 coronavirus news

By Julia Hollingsworth, Adam Renton, Rob Picheta and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 12:22 PM ET, Sun December 27, 2020
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10:21 a.m. ET, April 16, 2020

FDA asks people who have recovered from Covid-19 to donate blood plasma

From CNN Health's Jacqueline Howard

The US Food and Drug Administration on Thursday put out a call for recovered Covid-19 patients to donate blood plasma which could potentially be used 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.

Patients who are fully recovered from Covid-19 for at least two weeks are encouraged to consider donating plasma, the FDA said. 

Recovered patients can contact their local blood or plasma collection center to schedule an appointment to donate. The FDA noted in its 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. 

"Prior experience with respiratory viruses and limited data that have emerged from China suggest that convalescent plasma has the potential to lessen the severity or shorten the length of illness caused by Covid-19. It is important that we evaluate this potential therapy in the context of clinical trials, through expanded access, as well as facilitate emergency access for individual patients, as appropriate," FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said in the announcement. "Those individuals who have recovered from Covid-19 could have an immediate impact in helping others who are severely ill. In fact, one donation has the potential to help up to four patients."

Some context: According to the FDA, more than 1,040 sites and 950 physician investigators nationwide have signed on to participate in an effort led by the Mayo Clinic to expand access to plasma. 

The FDA also noted in its announcement that several clinical trials are underway to evaluate the safety and efficacy of convalescent plasma and the FDA has granted several single patient emergency investigational new drug applications as well.

10:01 a.m. ET, April 16, 2020

There are now more than 100,000 coronavirus cases in the United Kingdom

From CNN’s Sarah Dean in London

More than 100,000 people have tested positive for coronavirus in the United Kingdom, according to new data from the Department of Health.

Of the 327,608 people who have been tested, 103,093 have coronavirus, the department said on Twitter Thursday.

The total number of hospital deaths in the UK stands at 13,729.

Read the Department of Health's tweet:

10:11 a.m. ET, April 16, 2020

Analysis of UK coronavirus deaths reveals that 91% of people had pre-existing conditions

From CNN's Mick Krever in London

Hospital workers wheel a concealment trolley, typically used for transporting bodies, to the mortuary at Lewisham Hospital on April 16, in London.
Hospital workers wheel a concealment trolley, typically used for transporting bodies, to the mortuary at Lewisham Hospital on April 16, in London. Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

An analysis of United Kingdom deaths in March involving the novel coronavirus revealed that pre-existing conditions are present in 91% of cases, with the most common pre-existing condition being heart disease, the UK Office of National Statistics (ONS) said in a report Thursday. 

According to the report, of the 3,912 deaths involving Covid-19 that occurred in England and Wales (excluding Scotland and Northern Ireland) in March, there was at least one pre-existing condition in 91% of cases.

"Ischaemic heart disease was the most common main pre-existing condition found among deaths involving Covid-19 and was involved in 541 deaths (14% of all deaths involving Covid-19)," the report said. 

Gender and age also played a major factor in the rates of death, according to the ONS analysis. 

"Across all age groups, males had a higher rate of Covid-19 deaths compared with females," said the report. "The rate was double that of females."

"The rate of death due to Covid-19 increased significantly in each age group, starting from age 55 to 59 years in males and age 65 to 69 years in females; overall, one in five deaths were in age group 80 to 84 years," the report said.

Overall, Covid-19 was the third most frequent underlying cause of death in March, behind "dementias and Alzheimer disease" and "ischaemic heart diseases."

Some context: The overall mortality rate in March was significantly lower than the five-year average from March 2015 to March 2019.

"This could, in part, be because of the colder winters experienced in 2015 and 2018, which led to a higher number of deaths in the winter months," said the report.

The number of deaths for March and February are likely to increase as the Office of National Statistics receives more death registrations.

9:37 a.m. ET, April 16, 2020

Video diaries from 2 NYC doctors capture what it looks like on the front lines

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Two doctors shared what it looks like inside New York City hospitals as health care workers continue to battle coronavirus.

“Every day has been stressful,” Dr. Matthew Bai of Mount Sinai Queens hospital said in a video. “Things just happen one thing after another …One patient comes in, has a cardiac arrest, and you work on them, and they get pronounced and then you have no time to process this and have to move on to the next patient.” 

Bai said that patients all have rooms now, whereas some were previously in hallways. Dr. Erick Eiting documented his night shift at Mount Sinai Beth Israel hospital through video footage, saying before his shift he was “looking forward to trying to make a difference.” 

Eiting noted the varying ages of coronavirus patients, with some in their 20s and others in their 80s. 

“I think the most interesting or most bizarre presentation was somebody who came in with leg cramps and turns out they have coronavirus. So we're just seeing people with all kinds of symptoms,” Eiting added. 

Bai said he looks forward to “the day that things are somewhat back to normal and I get to see my family in person, give my wife and 17-month-old daughter a big hug.”

Watch the videos from both doctors:

9:44 a.m. ET, April 16, 2020

Coronavirus cases in Africa are rising, Red Cross official says

From CNN's Amanda Watts

Health workers get dressed in protective gear as they prepare to takes samples during a community COVID-19 coronavirus testing campaign in Abuja, Nigeria on April 15.
Health workers get dressed in protective gear as they prepare to takes samples during a community COVID-19 coronavirus testing campaign in Abuja, Nigeria on April 15. Kola Sulaimon/AFP/Getty Images

Coronavirus cases in Africa are on the rise, according to Dr. Simon Missiri, regional director for Africa, International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC).

"We are watching Africa climbing the curve,” Missiri said.

Missiri said the initial phase of messaging and fighting rumors about the coronavirus is over, “now it’s time to move to response.”  

Africa is now reporting more than 17,000 cases and about 900 have lost their lives, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization (WHO) regional director for Africa, said.

A number of countries have seen a rapid increase in the last week and "we understand very well, the impact on Africa will be very severe," Moeti said.

Moeti also said President Trump’s funding cut to the WHO will hurt more than just the fight against coronavirus. The US helps fund polio eradication, HIV treatment and malaria programs, Moeti added.

The US is also an "important strategic player,” guiding Africa through decision making, Moeti said. 

“We value relationship with the US,” she said.

9:27 a.m. ET, April 16, 2020

There have been more than 30,000 coronavirus-related deaths in the US

There are at least 639,664 cases of coronavirus in the US and 30,985 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally of cases in the country.

As states begin to include “probable deaths” in their counts, so will Johns Hopkins. In the upcoming days, these changes may show a surge of deaths in the US.

On Thursday, Johns Hopkins has reported 1,553 new cases and 141 reported deaths. 

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

2:12 p.m. ET, April 16, 2020

Facebook put warning labels on 40 million posts in March to fight coronavirus misinformation

From CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan

Facebook put warning labels, but did not remove, 40 million posts on its platform in March that contained false or misleading claims about the coronavirus, a Facebook vice-president revealed Thursday.

The company has in recent months has also “removed hundreds of thousands of pieces of misinformation that could lead to imminent physical harm” like false claims that “drinking bleach cures the virus and theories like physical distancing is ineffective in preventing the disease from spreading,” Guy Rosen, Facebook’s vice-president of integrity, wrote in a blog post released Thursday.

Facebook is working with a network of 60 fact-checking organizations around the world that review posts in more than 50 languages, Rose said.

9:07 a.m. ET, April 16, 2020

Prince William opens the United Kingdom's second coronavirus field hospital

From CNN's James Frater and Lauren Kent

Britain's Prince William speaks via videolink as he officially opens the NHS Nightingale Hospital Birmingham, in the National Exhibition Centre (NEC), England, Thursday, April 16. T
Britain's Prince William speaks via videolink as he officially opens the NHS Nightingale Hospital Birmingham, in the National Exhibition Centre (NEC), England, Thursday, April 16. T Jacob King/Pool/AP

Prince William opened the United Kindgom's new National Health Service field hospital in Birmingham via video link on Thursday, Kensington Palace said in a statement. It is one of seven NHS locations to open across the UK.

The coronavirus field hospital will be called NHS Nightingale, after the pioneering nurse Florence Nightingale. Other hospital sites include London, Manchester, Bristol, Harrogate, Exeter and Washington. 

"The new NHS Nightingale Hospital has been constructed inside the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) and is the second of seven hospitals being built around England in response to the Covid-19 outbreak. The hospital, which will have a workforce of doctors, nurses, therapists and support staff, will provide beds for general medical Covid-19 patients," the palace said in a statement.

Some context: Last week, the NHS Nightingale twitter account said, "We've created extra capacity to ease pressure on hospitals across the Midlands in response to #coronavirus. Starting with 500, the hospital has the capacity to scale up to 4,000 beds if needed."

8:56 a.m. ET, April 16, 2020

FEMA union urges Trump to use wartime-era law for more protective equipment

From CNN's Priscilla Alvarez

The union representing Federal Emergency Management Agency employees is joining growing calls for the Trump administration to utilize the full authorities provided by the Defense Production Act to shore up more protective equipment to fight Covid-19, according to a letter obtained by CNN.  

The wartime-era law, which gives the government more control during emergencies to direct industrial production, has been a point of contention between states and the Trump administration.

Some context: While President Trump has invoked the law in some instances during the coronavirus pandemic, the shortage of critically needed supplies has fueled calls to use the law in its full capacity. 

The letter is the first time FEMA's union, which represents 3,000 employees, has joined that push. 

"We will not flatten the curve unless every front-line worker in the public and private sector who has a job where telework is not available has access to appropriate personal protective equipment," said the letter, written by Steven Reaves, president of FEMA's union. 

The letter is expected to be sent to lawmakers later Thursday.