World COVID-19 update, 9:30 p.m., March 24: Asian market surge; ‘cacophony of coughing’

Stock markets buoyant in early trading; grim hospital scene in New York

The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected more than 422,000 people and killed over 18,000. The COVID-19 illness causes mild or moderate symptoms in most people, but severe symptoms are more likely in the elderly or those with existing health problems. More than 107,000 people have recovered so far, mostly in China.

These files were assembled by the Associated Press and posted by Black Press Media at 9:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 24.

TOP OF THE HOUR:

  • South Korea reports 100 new coronavirus cases in past 24 hours.
  • Brazil President maintains coronavirus concern is overblown.
  • LA health officials backtrack on announcement that child died from coronavirus.
  • Communist guerrillas in Philippines to observe ceasefire during pandemic.

Asian shares jump after Dow sees biggest gain since 1933

NEW YORK (AP) — Shares opened sharply higher in Asia on Wednesday after the Dow Jones Industrial Average surged to its best day since 1933 with Congress and the White House nearing a deal on injecting nearly $2 trillion of aid into an economy ravaged by the coronavirus.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index jumped 5.3%, while Hong Kong added 3% and Sydney climbed 3.6%. Markets across Asia were all up more than 2%.

The Dow burst 11.4% higher, while the more closely followed S&P 500 index leaped 9.4% as a wave of buying around the world interrupted what has been a brutal month of nearly nonstop selling. Investors released some frustration that had pent up over days of watching the U.S. Senate stalemate over the crucial rescue package.

Despite the gains, investors were far from saying markets have hit bottom. Rallies nearly as big as this have punctuated the last few weeks, and none lasted more than a day. Economists and investors alike are still expecting to see some dire economic numbers in the days and weeks ahead.

“Today was a good day, but we would not necessarily see this as turnaround time,” said Adam Taback, chief investment officer for Wells Fargo Private Bank.

Trump wants to re-open the country and economy within weeks

As virus deaths accelerate in the U.S., President Donald Trump has gone against the advice of scientists and top health experts, claiming he will reopen the country and its ailing economy in weeks, not months.

Around the globe, India, with 1.3 billion people, or one-sixth of the Earth’s population, ordered the biggest lockdown in the world, adding to the growing list of countries and American states that have told people to stay home. Just when it looked as if Italy might have turned the corner, officials reported a jump in new cases and deaths. And Spain had so many corpses it commandeered an ice rink to store them.

More than 400,000 people worldwide have been infected and over 18,000 have died, according to a running count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

Here are some of AP’s top stories Tuesday on the world’s coronavirus pandemic. Follow APNews.com/VirusOutbreak for updates through the day and APNews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak for stories explaining some of its complexities.

Talks on $2T bill to ease economic pain from virus drag on

WASHINGTON (AP) — Unprecedented legislation to rush sweeping aid to businesses, workers and a health care system slammed by the coronavirus pandemic remained snagged on Capitol Hill Tuesday night, despite predictions by negotiators that a deal was at hand.

After days of pressure, unusual partisanship in a crisis, and intense haggling over the fine print, negotiators were almost done with a $2 trillion bill to respond to what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called “the most serous threat to Americans’ health in over a century and quite likely the greatest risk to America’s jobs and prosperity that we’ve seen since the Great Depression.” The final details proved nettlesome as Trump administration officials continued negotiations deep into the night.

Yet even as the public-health crisis deepened, President Donald Trump expressed eagerness to nudge many people back to work in coming weeks and held out a prospect, based more on hope than science, that the country could be returning to normal in less than a month.

“We have to go back to work, much sooner than people thought,” Trump told a Fox News town hall. He said he’d like to have the country “opened up and just raring to go” by Easter, April 12. But in a White House briefing later, Trump said “our decision will be based on hard facts and data.”

Medical professionals say social distancing needs to be stepped up, not relaxed, to slow the spread of infections. At the White House briefing, the public-health authorities said it was particularly important for people in the hard-hit New York City metropolitan area to quarantine themselves for 14 days, and for those who have recently left the city to do the same.

Olympics delayed as US nears a deal on $2 trillion in relief

NEW YORK (AP) — The Tokyo Olympics were put off to next year as coronavirus deaths and infections surged in Europe and the U.S. on Tuesday, with New York warning it is about to get hit by a “bullet train.” Stocks soared as Washington lawmakers closed in on a nearly $2 trillion deal to help businesses and ordinary Americans pull through the crisis.

Around the globe, India, with 1.3 billion people, or one-sixth of the Earth’s population, ordered the biggest lockdown in the world. A flicker of hope that Italy might be turning the corner faded after officials reported an increase in new cases and deaths. And Spain had so many bodies it commandeered an ice rink to store them.

More than 415,000 people worldwide have been infected and over 18,500 have died, according to a running count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

In New York City, one of the biggest hot spots, authorities rushed to set up thousands of hospital beds for potential victims. The number of cases is doubling every three days, threatening to swamp the city’s intensive care units in the weeks ahead, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. The state has recorded more than 200 deaths, or one-third of the U.S. total.

“One of the forecasters said to me: `We were looking at a freight train coming across the country,”’ the governor said. “We’re now looking at a bullet train.”

Key medical glove factories cutting staff 50% amid virus

Malaysia’s medical glove factories, which make most of the world’s critical hand protection, are operating at half capacity just when they’re most needed, The Associated Press has learned.

Health care workers snap gloves on as the first line of protection against catching COVID-19 from patients, and they’re crucial to protecting patients as well. But medical-grade glove supplies are running low globally, even as more feverish, sweating and coughing patients arrive in hospitals by the day.

Malaysia is by far the world’s largest medical glove supplier, producing as many as three out of four gloves on market. The industry has a history of mistreating migrant workers who toil over hand-sized moulds as they’re dipped in melted latex or rubber, hot and exhausting work.

The Malaysian government ordered factories to halt all manufacturing starting March 18. Then, one by one, those that make products deemed essential, including medical gloves, have been required to seek exemptions to reopen, but only with half of their workforce to reduce the risk of transmitting the new virus, according to industry reports and insider sources. The government says companies must meet domestic demand before exporting anything. The Malaysian Rubber Glove Manufacturers Association this week is asking for an exception.

“Any halt to the production and administrative segments of our industry would mean an absolute stoppage to glove manufacturing and it will be disastrous to the world,” said association president Denis Low in a statement released to Malaysian media. He said their members have received requests for millions of gloves from about 190 countries.

‘Cacophony of coughing’: Inside NYC’s virus-besieged ERs

NEW YORK (AP) — A “cacophony of coughing” in packed emergency rooms. Beds squeezed in wherever there is space. Overworked, sleep-deprived doctors and nurses rationed to one face mask a day and wracked by worry about a dwindling number of available ventilators.

Such is the reality inside New York City’s hospitals, which have become the war-zone-like epicenter of the nation’s coronavirus crisis.

Faced with an infection rate that is five times that of the rest of the country, health workers are putting themselves at risk to fight a tide of sickness that’s getting worse by the day amid a shortage of needed supplies and promises of help from the federal government that have yet to fully materialize.

“You’re on 100% of the time — no matter what,” said Dr. Jolion McGreevy, medical director of The Mount Sinai Hospital emergency department. “It’s been a month of full force, and that’s certainly very stressful.”

Patients initially showed up with fairly mild symptoms, ranging from a runny nose to a mild fever, concerned they contracted coronavirus. That shifted over the past week, McGreevy said, and now hospitals are receiving far sicker patients in need of life-saving intervention.

‘Imaginary clock’: Governors reject Trump’s virus timeline

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Governors across the nation on Tuesday rejected President Donald Trump’s new accelerated timeline for reopening the U.S. economy, as they continued to impose more restrictions on travel and public life in an attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The dismissal of Trump’s mid-April timeframe for a national reopening came from Republicans and Democrats, from leaders struggling to manage hot spots of the outbreak and those still bracing for the worst. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, the head of the National Governors Association and a Republican, called the messaging confusing since most leaders are still focused on enforcing the restrictions, not easing them. He accused the White House of running on a schedule made of some “imaginary clock.”

The pushback suggests Trump’s talk of an early reboot is unlikely to gain traction. In most cases, it’s state leaders — not the federal government — who are responsible for both imposing and lifting the stay-at-home orders and other restrictions intended to stop the contagion.

But the governors’ reaction also revealed the striking disconnect and growing tensions between Trump and the state leaders closer to the front lines of a crisis that threatens to overwhelm U.S. hospitals and claim thousands of lives.

The president is eager to get the U.S. back to work as the crisis takes a political toll and the economy, which had been the cornerstone of his re-election bid, begins to wobble. The economic damage could be worse than the death toll from the virus, he has said. As soon as next week, Trump wants to take another look at recommendations about business closures and self-isolation, and said Tuesday the country could reopen by Easter Sunday — less than a month away. “Our people want to return to work,” he said.

Korea: Cases exceed 1,000

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea reported 100 more cases of the new coronavirus over the past 24 hours, raising the country’s total to 9,137.

The 100 additional cases were up from 76 reported a day earlier. But they still show a continued slowdown of virus cases in South Korea, compared with late last month when a daily jump of new cases once recorded more than 900.

The state-run Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement that 34 of the 100 cases were reported in the Seoul metropolitan area.

There have been concerns about a small but steady increase in infections in that area, while the number of new infections in previously hard-hit areas in the southeast has been significantly declining.

The KCDC says the southeastern region on Wednesday reported 19 new cases over the past 24 hours.

It says nationwide fatalities from the virus increased to 126, up from 120 on Tuesday.

Brazil: President says crisis is overblown, blames media

RIO DE JANEIRO — President Jair Bolsonaro is sticking with his contention that concern about the new coronavirus is overblown, and has accused Brazilian media of trying to stoke nationwide hysteria.

Bolsonaro said in a nationally televised address that the media had seized on the death toll in Italy, which he said is suffering so severely because of its elderly population and colder climate.

The president said: “The virus arrived, we are confronting it, and it will pass shortly. Our lives have to continue, jobs should be maintained.”

Bolsonaro added that certain Brazilian states should abandon their “scorched earth” policy of prohibiting public transport, closing business and schools, and calling for mass confinement at home for their residents.

As he spoke, some Brazilians who are home in self-isolation protested what they view as his blase attitude toward the pandemic by leaning from their windows to bang pots and pans.

About 2,200 people in Brazil have been infected so far, with 46 dead.

Officials backtrack on report of coronavirus killing a child

LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles County health officials have backtracked on their announcement that a child died from coronavirus, saying it’s possible the death was caused by something else.

During their daily briefing Tuesday, the county health department said the unidentified child from the city of Lancaster was among four new deaths.

Hours later, after Governor Gavin Newsom had cited the death of the teenager as evidence the virus can strike anyone, the county issued a new statement. It said while the youth had tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, it was a complex case and there may be an “alternate explanation” for the death.

The health department released no details but Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris told the Los Angeles Times the boy suffered septic shock, a reaction to a widespread infection that can cause dangerously low blood pressure and organ failure. Parris said the boy’s father also has coronavirus and worked in a job where he had close contact with the public.

Communist fighters vow to observe ceasefire

MANILA, Philippines — Communist guerrillas in the Philippines say they will observe a ceasefire in compliance with the U.N. chief’s call for a global halt in armed clashes during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Communist Party of the Philippines says New People’s Army guerrillas were ordered to stop assaults and shift to a defensive position from Thursday to April 15. The rebels said the ceasefire was a direct response to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s call for a ceasefire in all armed conflicts to fight the illness together.

Guterres issued the call on Monday, saying, “It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives.”

The communist insurgency has raged mostly in the Philippine countryside for more than half a century in one of Asia’s longest-running rebellions. The rebels said their ceasefire is unrelated to a similar move by the military and police but said it can foster the possible holding of preliminary talks to resume long-stalled peace negotiations.

Mining executive to help lead fight in Australia

CANBERRA, Australia — Australia’s prime minister has announced a national COVID-19 co-ordination commission to manage private and public sector co-operation on the health and economic crisis.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison named former iron ore mining executive Neville Power as executive chairman of the commission that will work with all levels of government on issues including maintaining supermarket supply chains and rising unemployment.

Morrison has also announced Australia has stepped up testing for the new coronavirus to one of the highest rates in the world. Australia’s 162,747 tests to date is a rate 4.7 times higher than Britain and 25 times higher than the United States.

China reports 47 new cases, says they came from abroad

BEIJING — China’s National Health Commission has reported 47 new COVID-19 cases, all of which it says were imported infections in recent arrivals from abroad.

No new cases were reported in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the country’s outbreak. Wuhan will remain locked down until April 8, while the two-month lockdown of surrounding Hubei province ended at midnight Tuesday.

As the number of domestic community transmissions has dwindled, China is shifting its focus to individuals coming into the country from affected regions like the U.S. and Europe.

Starting on Wednesday, all individuals arriving in China’s capital from overseas must take a COVID-19 test in addition to being quarantined, the Beijing municipal government said in a notice. Those who have entered the city within the last 14 days will also undergo mandatory testing.

Governor slams “coronavirus party”

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear says the state has surpassed 160 coronavirus cases as a few dozen new cases were diagnosed in the past day.

He says one of the new cases stemmed from a “coronavirus party.” The governor didn’t give any details about the event but he quickly denounced it.

Beshear says, “Anyone who goes to something like this may think that they are indestructible, but it’s someone else’s loved one that they are going to hurt.”

Gun stores deemed not essential businesses

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles County sheriff says gun shops are not essential businesses and ordered them to stop selling to the public during the coronavirus pandemic.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva says the stay-at-home order covering the county’s 10 million residents, was only meant to keep open businesses that support police departments and other security companies. Instead, he says gun shops used what he calls a “loophole” to stay open and many attracted long lines of customers.

Villanueva says the stay-at-home order is not a reason for “everyone to be panic gun-buying or rushing to stores, which is now what we’re seeing.”

He says gun shops have complied and deputies have not had to issue any citations.

Second Amendment advocates are upset and say plan to challenge stay-at-home order in court.

All who leave NYC should self-quarantine

WASHINGTON — The woman in charge of the U.S. response to the coronavirus says everyone leaving the New York metro area should self-quarantine for 14 days.

Deborah Birx said at a White House briefing that people leaving the hardest hit area of the United States might not be sick, but could have been exposed to the virus. She advises people heading for Long Island, or Florida, North Carolina or other states to stay home for two weeks.

Birx says about 56% of the cases in the United States are coming out of the New York metro area.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is advising President Donald Trump on the pandemic, says about one per 1,000 people leaving New York are infected. He says that’s eight to 10 times more than in other areas.

Diplomats asked to hunt for medical supplies

WASHINGTON — State Department officials say U.S. diplomats abroad have been told to reach out to foreign governments and private companies to find out if they have excess medical supplies they would be willing to sell to the United States to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

The officials say the State Department has created a tracking system to match countries and firms with the equipment they may have with needs identified by U.S. states. The officials stress the effort is not an appeal for donations and that equipment meeting those needs would be purchased.

They say it is an attempt to find countries and companies with excess supplies that could help meet the soaring domestic U.S. demand for personal protective equipment, ventilators and other items. The officials couldn’t say whether any countries or companies have yet responded positively.

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