Australian mayor fined after violating stay-at-home orders and going out for beer
From CNN's Isaac Yee in Hong Kong
The mayor of Australian city Warrnambool has been fined $1,044 after being photographed drinking beer with others outside a liquor store this month -- a breach of stay-at-home orders in the state of Victoria.
Victoria’s social distancing rules state that “gatherings of more than two people are not allowed except for members of your immediate household and for work or education purposes."
In a statement released on Thursday, mayor Tony Herbert said "I made mistakes" and "I wish to apologies for them."
"I believed my actions to engage with business owners as part of my mayoral role was within the bounds of the law," Herbert added. "However, I realize I had inadvertently breached the new laws."
Speaking about the incident, first reported by public broadcaster ABC, Victoria Police told CNN: "Following reports of people gathering and drinking in a street outside a Warrnambool liquor store Tuesday 7 April, police can confirm they have issued four penalty notices for breaching Chief Health Officer directions."
Australia currently has 6,523 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, including 65 deaths.
7:32 a.m. ET, April 17, 2020
A crisis in care homes: Are the world's most vulnerable coronavirus patients being forgotten?
From CNN's Rob Picheta and Paula Newton
As countries tackle their own devastating coronavirus outbreaks with varying levels of success, one troubling trend has emerged: a crisis in care homes.
Staff in long-term care facilities around the world are reporting a swath of undiagnosed cases, a lack of protective equipment, and a gap in the numbers with their residents’ deaths often going unreported.
In the UK, a group of social care charities said they are "appalled by the devastation which coronavirus is causing in the care system," in an open letter to Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
Hancock and the British government have faced intense scrutiny over the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) available to care workers, and for the fact that the government's official coronavirus death figures do not record those who pass away in care homes.
Pete Calveley, the chief executive of Barchester Healthcare, said on Thursday that cases of confirmed or suspected coronavirus in care homes are “far more widespread than has previously been acknowledged.”
His company is caring for 663 residents with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 in 118 of its 236 care homes, he said.
These violations included a lack of protective equipment for staff, and an absence of dedicated quarantine space to isolate suspected coronavirus patients. A total of 15 facilities have so far been closed and their patients relocated.
Meanwhile, in Canada, public health officials revealed that nearly half of all coronavirus deaths are among residents of seniors’ homes.
Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, has said she expects to see more deaths in the coming days even as the growth rate in positive Covid-19 cases continues to decline in some parts of Canada. There are dozens of outbreaks in long-term care facilities across the country and some have reported multiple deaths and infection rates of one quarter to one half of all residents.
On Saturday a criminal investigation was launched in a Montreal area seniors’ home after 31 residents died in less than a month. While five residents were confirmed Covid-19 cases, the cause of 26 other deaths is under investigation as Quebec officials said the owners concealed information including medical records.
Hundreds of Canadians have already pulled their relatives out of long-term care facilities but others say their relatives are too vulnerable to leave.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford, whose province is now dealing with outbreaks at nearly 100 long-term care facilities, said "he speaks from experience" as he described how his mother-in-law remained in an at risk seniors’ home in the Toronto area.
7:12 a.m. ET, April 17, 2020
Pope Francis writes 'plan for resurrection' from coronavirus pandemic
From CNN's Delia Gallagher in Rome
Pope Francis has written a “plan for resurrection” from the coronavirus pandemic which calls for a united effort to end wars, care for the planet, and take care of the poor.
“Will we continue to look the other way with an accomplice’s silence in the face of the wars that are driven by the desire for domination and power?" the Pope wrote in an article entitled "A Plan for Resurrection," published Friday by Spanish Catholic magazine Vida Nueva.
“Will we adopt as an international community the necessary measures to stop the devastation of the environment, or will we continue to deny the evidence?” Francis asked.
In the article Pope Francis writes that the pandemic has shown the “fragility of what we are made of.”
“Borders fall, walls collapse, and all the fundamentalist discourses melt in front of an almost imperceptible presence,” the Pope wrote. “I hope we will find the necessary antibodies of justice, charity and solidarity."
6:49 a.m. ET, April 17, 2020
Prince William says 99-year-old Captain Tom Moore is "absolute legend"
From CNN's Lauren Kent in London
Prince William said Captain Tom Moore, the 99-year-old British War Veteran who walked 100 laps of his garden to raise money for the UK National Health Service, is an "absolute legend."
"I mean, it's incredible -- I did see it on the news the other night and I thought 'good on him,'" Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, told the BBC in a Friday interview. "He's amazing and what I love also is that he's a 99-year-old war vet, he's been around a long time, knows everything. And it's wonderful that everyone, kind of, has been inspired by his story and his determination."
Following his final laps yesterday, Tom Moore's children wrote on his fundraising JustGiving page, "We are so in awe of him as a father, a fundraiser and nation's treasure now."
Meanwhile, a Change.org petition calling for Moore to be knighted by Queen Elizabeth has received more than 500,000 signatures.
6:33 a.m. ET, April 17, 2020
London mayor calls for masks to be worn on public transport and in shops
From CNN's Lauren Kent in London
The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan called for masks to be worn on public transport and in shops, in a Friday interview with the BBC.
Khan said the UK is an "outlier" for not recommending masks and called for non-medical facial coverings such as bandanas, scarfs and reusable masks to be worn in public places.
"I'm lobbying our government's experts and our government to change the advice," Khan said. "If you really can't stay at home, if you really have to use public transport and you can't keep your social distance, then wear a non-medical facial covering."
The UK government guidelines on social distancing do not mention masks or facial coverings. In a Downing Street press conference on April 3, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van-Tam said there is "no evidence that general wearing of facemasks by the public who are well effects the spread of the disease in our society."
The World Health Organization is standing by its recommendation to only wear a mask if you are sick or caring for someone who is sick.
According to the WHO website: "If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with suspected 2019-nCoV infection." It also says: "Masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water."
But a growing number of countries have nonetheless updated their advice, urging their citizens to wear masks if they leave the house.
In a series of Friday tweets, Khan added, "It breaks my heart that 20 London bus workers have lost their lives to #COVID19. It could easily have been my dad & his friends. I‘m taking part in this minutes silence at 11am with @UnitetheUnion and urge all Londoners to join us."
"Today I announced additional action to keep drivers safe, with middle-door only boarding on buses from Monday on top of enhanced cleaning & new protective screens on drivers’ cabs. Our transport workers are heroes and we must do everything we can to protect them," Khan said.
6:17 a.m. ET, April 17, 2020
Denmark's children head back to school after coronavirus closures
From CNN's Susanne Gargiulo
This week, as younger children across Denmark walked onto school grounds, school bags on their backs and holding parents by the hand, things seemed almost normal. Almost.
Jimmy Skov Glasdam Adetunji, head of secondary education at the Hendriksholm School in Rodovre, just outside Copenhagen, spent Wednesday going through classrooms with a measuring stick to ensure the 440 students could be seated at least two meters (six feet) apart when they arrived on Thursday.
He had split the schoolyard into six sections with red and white barrier tape, and sent a detailed diagram to parents outlining staggered arrival times, routes, breaks and lunch times.
"I can't wait to see the kids again," Adetunji said. "But we will obviously have to talk about the pandemic and the rules and why our playground is now marked by police tape. So, it's going to be a contrast between fun and seriousness."
A few miles away, in Bronshoj, Philip Mundt was dropping his six-year old son Emil for his first day back. "He is so excited," Philip said, laughing. "All the way here, he's been talking about how he's going to see his friends and that this is the best day of his life. He is really looking forward to this."
Schools across Denmark raised flags in celebration as they welcomed back younger students this week, with an excitement comparable to a first day of school. And it is the first day of school in over a month, after Denmark announced widespread closures on March 11 to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
The country was among the first in Europe to close borders, shops, schools and restaurants, and to ban large gatherings, among other measures. Now, it is one of the first to begin reopening.
Singapore considers cruise ships as temporary shelter for foreign workers
From CNN's Isaac Yee in Hong Kong
Singapore is considering using cruise ships to house foreign workers who have recovered and tested negative for the novel coronavirus, according to a statement released by the Ministry of Tourism.
"Cruise ships are being considered as they have readily available rooms and en-suite toilets," according to the statement released on Friday. The Ministry of Tourism added the possibility of moving foreign workers onto cruise ships "is to further manage Covid-19 transmission and to allow health measures to be implemented more effectively in existing dormitories."
Two cruise ships are being considered and could accommodate up to 2,000 workers. The government says the ships will only be activated if there is “need to supplement other temporary accommodation.”
Last week the government said it would start rehousing some migrant workers from dormitories to empty apartment units, military camps, and floating hotels known as flotels used by offshore workers.
Singapore has seen a spike in locally transmitted cases over the past week, according to the Ministry of Health. At least 2,689 of the 4,427 confirmed cases in the city are linked to foreign workers living in dormitories.
5:27 a.m. ET, April 17, 2020
Colin Kaepernick is donating $100,000 to virus relief efforts to aid communities of color
From CNN's Christina Maxouris
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick announced Thursday he was contributing $100,000 to a coronavirus relief fund, which will go toward aiding black and brown communities affected by the pandemic.
The fund, which launched as part of the activist's "Know Your Rights" campaign, will focus on food, shelter relief, education, personal protective equipment and incarcerated populations to help stop spread of the virus and provide further resources.
"Black and brown communities are being disproportionately devastated by Covid-19 because of hundreds of years of structural racism," Kaepernick says in a video posted to his Twitter. "That's why we've established the "Know Your Rights" Camp Covid-19 Relief Fund to help address these issues."
Nigerian tailors are hand-making PPE to help fight coronavirus
From CNN's Aisha Salaudeen
As the world experiences a shortage of personal protective equipment in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, tailors in Nigeria are responding by hand-making equipment like overalls and face masks.
Rising demand, panic buying, hoarding, and misuse have disrupted the global supply of PPE, according to the World Health Organization, putting lives at risk.
Now, tailors in Abia state, in the southeast of the country, are using local fabrics, cotton, and polypropylene to sew PPE for people looking to protect themselves.
"I sew different types of clothes here in Aba and I usually buy my materials from China," said one of the tailors, Queen Duruibe. "But when coronavirus happened, they (her suppliers) started telling me how bad things are, that there are no materials and face masks are scarce. "So I thought to myself that if things are so scarce, I can actually start producing them myself."
With cases of Covid-19 rising in Nigeria, the Abia state government released a 12 million naira ($31,000) grant to support tailors to make the protective gear.
So far, tailors in Aba, the state's commercial nerve center, have produced 200,000 face masks and 3,000 overalls, the agency said.