Trump Stops U.S. Funding of World Health Organization: Live Coverage


Virus-related deaths in Britain may be 10 percent higher than the official toll.

Britain, with the fastest-growing outbreak in western Europe, has understated the human and economic cost of the coronavirus, according to new information released on Tuesday.

The government’s Office of National Statistics released figures indicating that deaths could be at least 10 percent higher than the official toll — 12,107 as of Tuesday — which does not take into account many people who die in nursing homes or at home.

More than 2,000 nursing homes, about 13 percent of the country’s total, have had coronavirus cases, said Dr. Chris Whitty, the government’s chief medical adviser. Workers in many of the homes have complained of an acute shortage of protective gear.

Care England, a charity representing independent care agencies, has estimated that nearly 1,000 Covid-19 deaths in nursing homes have gone uncounted. Two major home operators have reported 521 deaths in recent days, many of which are not yet included in official totals.

Critics say the government has focused on shoring up the National Health Service and its hospitals, neglecting the nursing home industry.

The financial outlook in Britain, which has almost 94,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, also darkened on Tuesday. The Office for Budget Responsibility, a fiscal watchdog group, said the country’s lockdown could shrink the economy by 35 percent in the second quarter, erasing 2 million jobs.

The government has been criticized for being slow to lock down the country, and for not providing more testing and more protective gear.

The undercounting of deaths in Britain, which had almost 94,000 confirmed coronavirus infections by Tuesday, parallels those in other countries, where many deaths outside of hospitals have not been included in the official counts.

One hint at the true toll comes from the number of deaths from all causes. In the week of March 28 to April 3, more than 16,000 people died in Britain — about 6,000 more than average for the time of year.

When Guayaquil, Ecuador’s business capital, was first hit by the coronavirus, the devastation was so great that bodies were piling up in the streets.

Now, as authorities begin to grapple with the scale of the crisis, they have reason to believe that the toll for the province that includes Guayaquil is likely many times larger than the official government figure of 173 dead.

The numbers are skewed because only those who test positive — dead or alive — are counted as coronavirus victims.

The usually bustling port city of about three million had 1,500 more deaths in March of this year than in the same month in 2019, Guayaquil’s mayor, Cynthia Viteri, said in an interview.

“They are not only dying from Covid,” she said, referring to the disease caused by coronavirus. “People with diabetes, hypertension, heart disease are dying from lack of medical attention, because the hospitals are saturated with the critically ill, because there aren’t places where women can give birth without getting infected.”

In addition, in the past two weeks, a special emergency team collected or authorized the burial of nearly 1,900 bodies from Guayaquil’s hospitals and homes, according to Ecuador’s government, which said that figure represented a fivefold increase in the city’s usual mortality rate.

To combat the spread of the virus, the city will resort to some of the most draconian quarantine measures in Latin America.

Security forces on Tuesday will begin cordoning off the contagion hot spots for up to three days at a time while medics go door to door looking for potential cases and sanitary workers disinfect public spaces.

Ms. Viteri, the mayor, said movement to and from the hard-hit neighborhoods, located mostly in the city’s poor periphery, will be completely cut off. City authorities will provide residents with food while the operation lasts.

“The situation isn’t grave — it’s extremely grave,” said Ms. Viteri. “And we still haven’t reached a high point of infections in Guayaquil.”

Doctors are questioning the care protocols for coronavirus patients, particularly the use of ventilators. That has led to a heated debate amid practitioners, with some warning that abandoning long-established policies could be dangerous.

In the video above, doctors at the center of the outbreak voice their fears about making the wrong decisions as the virus upends everything they thought they knew about treating patients in severe respiratory distress.

Governors and legal scholars are pushing back hard against President Trump’s assertion that he has the sole power to decide when to end social distancing measures that have hobbled the economy.

For weeks, Mr. Trump, while downplaying the seriousness of the pandemic, insisted that the states were in charge of the response. He left it up to governors and local officials to decide whether, when and how to restrict people’s movements, close businesses and ban public gatherings.

But on Monday, Mr. Trump, who is eager to restart the economy, said that he had the sole power to lift the restrictions states and cities had imposed, and that they “can’t do anything without the approval of the president.”

Legal experts and governors of both parties said that the president was wrong. “We don’t have a king; we have a president,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said on Tuesday.

The death toll in New York City, the center of the American outbreak, passed 10,000 on Tuesday, rising by more than 3,700 in a day, as officials began including people who were never tested for the virus but were presumed to have died from it.

That pushed that the number of fatalities nationally over 25,000, while the number of confirmed infections approached 600,000.

The city will soon — at last — have enough virus testing kits to meet the need, a key factor in making it safe to loosen restrictions, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

Governors in the New York area and on the West Coast are working together to come up with coordinated strategies for reopening the parts of their regions that have been shut down.

The reasons for wanting to restart the economy came into clearer focus on Tuesday, with the release of the International Monetary Fund’s prediction that the U.S. economy would shrink by 5.9 percent this year.

Moody’s predicted an unemployment rate in the United States between 9 percent and 16 percent in the second quarter. Anything over 10.8 percent would also be the worst since the Depression.

As Wuhan was engulfed by the coronavirus, the Chinese author Fang Fang worked late into the night, writing a daily chronicle of life and death in her home city, where the global pandemic began.

Her online diary, though sometimes censored, became vital reading for tens of millions of Chinese readers — a plain-spoken, spontaneous view into Wuhan residents’ fears, frustrations and hopes during their 11 weeks under lockdown in their homes.

Her account has recently drawn bitter condemnation from zealous Chinese nationalists who have called plans to publish a translation in English an effort to malign the government and undermine the heroic image of Wuhan. Fang Fang, who uses her pen name rather than her birth name, Wang Fang, said that she did not want to be cast as either a cheerleader for the government or as a reflexively embittered critic.

She called herself a witness, highlighting the bravery of doctors, street cleaners and neighbors helping neighbors, while vowing to hold to account officials who let the virus spread. She began the diary on Jan. 25, two days after the Wuhan lockdown began.

“If authors have any responsibilities in the face of disaster, the greatest of them is to bear witness,” she said in an interview. “I’ve always cared about how the weak survive great upheavals. The individuals who are left out — they’ve always been my chief concern.”

Last week, the governor of Jakarta, the capital, imposed a partial shutdown, restricting transportation within the city and a banning religious, social and cultural gatherings. Other major cities in the metropolitan area imposed similar restrictions.

Turkey’s Parliament passed a law on Tuesday that would allow for the release of up to 90,000 prisoners to ease overcrowding and protect detainees from being infected.

The new law is set to reduce sentences and give early release to 45,000 people in minimum-security prisons, and 45,000 from regular prisons, which amounts to nearly one third of the total prison population. Those released will be ordered to stay at home, as Turkey has been gradually restricting the movement of its population.

The releases will not include those convicted of terrorism-related crimes, an exemption that covers most political prisoners and people imprisoned after an attempted coup in 2016.

The Ugandan musician and opposition politician Robert Kyagulanyi, popularly known as Bobi Wine, has come up with a plan to help Africans who have become targets of xenophobia in China: fly them out.

The announcement comes days after Africans in the Chinese city of Guangzhou said they had been subjected to forced evictions and arbitrary quarantines as Beijing ramped up efforts to fight against imported coronavirus cases. Anti-foreigner sentiment grew in the southern Chinese city after a recent cluster of cases was reportedly linked to its Nigerian community.

In a statement posted on Twitter, Mr. Wine said he had partnered with an American businessman to airlift Africans and African-Americans affected by the attacks “to a country in Africa that is willing to receive them.”

Together with Neil Nelson, chief executive of the Atlanta Black Star media firm, the two were also ready to evacuate to the United States those who hold American citizenship or permanent residency.

Videos and images of Guangzhou’s black residents facing harassment from police, sleeping in the streets and being refused service in stores and restaurants have surfaced online. On Monday, McDonald’s apologized after a video circulated online showing an employee at one of its restaurants in Guangzhou holding up a sign that read, “From now on, black people are not allowed to enter the restaurant.”

The incidents in China have drawn condemnation from leaders across the African continent, with nations including Nigeria and Uganda summoning their Chinese ambassadors. The authorities in China have said they have “zero tolerance for discrimination” and have promised to work to improve conditions.

The official Chinese news agency Xinhua said on Tuesday that 111 people from African countries had tested positive for the coronavirus in Guangzhou. More than 4,500 Africans there have been subject to nucleic acid testing since early April, the report said, citing the local authorities.

“Some believe the virus means that God is displeased with them, or maybe it is a punishment for a sin so they don’t want others to see that they are sick,” said Dr. Emad Abdul Razzak, a consulting psychiatrist at Iraq’s Health Ministry.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis of Greece said in a televised national address on Monday that the “return to normal life will happen gradually and in phases,” as he cautioned citizens against visiting each other ahead of the Orthodox Easter celebrations this week.

“This is the most critical week,” Mr. Mitsotakis told the Greek people, after thanking them for their trust and discipline.

The death toll in Greece, where at least 2,145 out of about 10.7 million people have tested positive for the virus, reached 101 on Tuesday, local media reported.

The Greek government implemented social distancing measures before the first coronavirus death in the country on March 12, and has made it mandatory for citizens to text the government or fill out a form every time they leave their house.

But not all churches in Greece have accepted the restrictions, with some priests violating the government’s instructions ahead of Orthodox Easter. On Sunday, a priest in Athens gave holy communion to citizens from the back door of a church and then argued that communion doesn’t transmit the virus, while others communed inside a church in Corfu, according to local reports.

Nikos Hardalias, the deputy minister for civil protection, condemned their actions on Sunday and asked the prosecuting authorities to intervene.

“Churches will be closed to the public throughout the Holy Week,” Mr. Hardalias said on Monday, adding that the majority of the church and public have abided by the rules, with just the two exceptions.

“Some need to finally realize that they are not more faithful Christians than others,” he said.

More than 100 million children could be at risk for measles because countries are suspending immunization programs to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection, international public health leaders warned on Monday.

Reporting was contributed by Richard Pérez-Peña, Karen Zraick, Anton Troianovski, Oleg Matsnev, Sophia Kishkovsky, Monika Pronczuk, Wudan Yan, Patrick Kingsley, Aaron E. Carroll, Elisabetta Povoledo, Raphael Minder, Aurelien Breeden, Richard C. Paddock, Ceylan Yeginsu, Abdi Latif Dahir, Megan Specia, Melissa Eddy, Carlotta Gall, Ben Dooley, Makiko Inoue, Keith Bradsher, Edward Wong, Paul Mozur, Kai Schultz, Hari Kumar, Elaine Yu, Kate Taylor, Sebastian Modak, Alissa J. Rubin, William J. Broad, Miriam Jordan, Annie Correal, Ben Dooley, Makiko Inoue, Jose Maria Leon Cabrera and Anatoly Kurmanaev





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