Italian Oncologist Treats Coronavirus Patients at Their Homes

An Italian oncologist and his team are treating coronavirus patients at their homes, as intensive-care units at hospitals have reached capacity.The director of the oncology ward at Piacenza Hospital in the Emilia-Romagna region on the border with Italy’s hardest-hit Lombardy region, Luigi Cavanna, and head nurse Gabriele Cremona rushed to help patients fight the new COVID-19 during the early phase of the epidemic.Cavanna has been prescribing antiviral drugs and Hydroxychloroquine to patients with the new coronavirus symptoms.”This disease can be stopped, and its spread can be stopped, because if we give (patients) an anti-viral drug, which prevents the virus from replicating, not only we can prevent the person from becoming ill, but we can probably also prevent the disease from spreading,” Cavanna said.Cavana and his team have treated more than 100 patients at home and less than 10 percent of them had to be admitted to the hospital. The other 90 percent responded successfully to home treatment and have been recovering.“Just seeing us walking in, some of them, even in their suffering were almost moved, because they thought, ‘Someone is coming to see us’. Under our monster-like appearance (referring to protective gear) they could see human features, and the impact is moving. More than one person told us: ‘It will end the way it will end, but you’ve come and for me that’s already great.’ For a doctor, this means the world,” Cavanna said.The health authority in Emilia Romagna and its regional administration have supported what has become known as the “Piacenza model,” and other teams there are practicing it.Other Italian regions have shown interest in the strategy, which could be especially successful in areas less affected by the coronavirus epidemic. 

Can Eating Limes and Drinking Clorox Water Prevent You from Catching COVID-19?  

As the coronavirus continues to spread in Haiti, some people are embracing traditional remedies as a way to prevent or cure the deadly virus. VOA talked to Haitians at an open-air market about what they believe can prevent them from being infected or perhaps even heal them.“They say there’s no cure for it, but we can eat limes and drink water with Clorox to stay alive,” a female street merchant told VOA.“I hear people say you should eat limes and eat certain leaves to stay healthy,” a male street merchant said.Haiti currently has 18 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with more than 400 people quarantined while they await test results, the public health ministry announced Friday.VOA Creole asked Pierre Hugues Saint-Jean, president of the national Association of Pharmacists, if there’s any validity to the traditional remedies being touted on the streets.“There actually has been a debate about the virtues of certain plants. Some people say ginger, others say limes, some people are talking about aloe,” Saint-Jean said. “Just because it’s a plant doesn’t mean it has no scientific validity. But you have to study the plant, isolate the active substances contained in the plant and then conduct (scientific) studies.”A flatbed truck travels on the streets of Port-au-Prince on April 3, 2020. The sign says “Coronavirus is lethal. Wash your hands, protect yourself.”Saint-Jean said this kind of in-depth study can determine what preventive attributes the plant may hold that perhaps later could be used to treat illnesses.Traditional cures are part of the Haitian culture and are widely used. Native tropical plants such as moringa, palma christi, verbena and aloe are routinely used to treat health ailments such as colds and flu. In fact, the health ministry has a special branch devoted to traditional medicine.“If we talk about lime as a cure, I can tell you that limes have a lot of positive attributes. Limes have an abundance of vitamin C, which helps to reinforce the immune system,” explained Cajuste Romel, vice president of the national pharmacists association.Some people are taking drugs such as chloroquine, sold on the streets of Port-au-Prince, as a preventative measure. Chloroquine (phosphate) is an effective antimalarial drug, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.“Any pill I find being sold on the street (as a cure) I will buy it because I’ve got problems,” a customer at an open-air market told VOA.Saint-Jean said he understands why people believe the drug can cure them.“Laboratory tests on chloroquine had some positive results on malaria, and recent tests have shown that it does have a level of success against the coronavirus, that’s why researchers are studying,” he said.This street merchant, shown in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on April 3, 2020, believes eating limes and drinking water infused with Clorox will keep her healthy.As of now, there is no cure for the highly contagious COVID-19, although researchers have begun searching for one. Health experts say a vaccine will not be available in 2020.Romel told VOA that taking chloroquine preventatively is not a good idea.“Chloroquine cannot prevent you from being infected with the coronavirus,” he said.  As for adding Clorox (bleach) to water, the pharmacist advised caution.“Clorox is one of the best disinfectants that exist on Earth. It’s not only efficient but also accessible,” he told VOA. “But it worries me (to hear people are drinking it in water) because it’s also toxic. That’s why you have to be very careful about how much you are adding to the water you’re drinking.”Romel said he hopes the government will include the proper proportion of Clorox to water in its coronavirus public advisories.“Haitians think if they can smell the Clorox, then it’s more effective,” Romel noted. “The truth is the stronger the smell, the more toxic it is.”  

All Americans Should Wear Nonmedical Masks, US Government Recommends

All Americans should wear nonmedical masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the U.S. government is recommending.The new guidelines, from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention amid the coronavirus pandemic, were announced Friday by President Donald Trump.Trump stressed the recommendation was voluntary and said he would not be following it.“You can do it. You don’t have to do it. I’m choosing not to do it,” he told reporters.“Somehow, sitting in the Oval Office behind that beautiful Resolute Desk, wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens — I just don’t see it,” Trump elaborated.Some lack symptomsThe U.S. surgeon general, Dr. Jerome Adams, said donning the masks was, however, a good idea to try to prevent the virus from spreading, since many infected with it do not show any symptoms.“We now know from recent studies that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms,” he said. “This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity — for example, coughing, speaking or sneezing.”The president and other officials stressed that people should not use the medical-grade masks, which are in short supply and needed by first responders and health professionals.“The CDC is recommending that Americans wear a basic cloth or fabric mask that can be either purchased online or simply made at home,” Trump said.He also announced that he was invoking the Defense Production Act to halt the export of “scarce health and medical supplies by unscrupulous actors and profiteers.”“We need these items immediately for domestic use,” Trump said. “We have to have them.”FILE – Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a news conference on the coronavirus at Rideau Cottage, in Ottawa, Ontario, March 29, 2020.Canada, meanwhile, warned the Trump administration about halting the supply of masks to its neighbor and ally.“The level of integration between our economies goes both ways across the border,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday. “It would be a mistake to create blockages or reduce the amount of back-and-forth trade of essential goods and services, including medical goods, across our border. That is the point we’re making to the American administration right now.”Canada will “pull out all the stops” to prevent the United States from blocking the exports of some medical equipment, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said.Warning from 3MA major manufacturer of the N95 respirators was also upset about the Trump administration’s action.There are “significant humanitarian implications of ceasing respirator supplies to health care workers in Canada and Latin America, where we are a critical supplier of respirators,” 3M, a Minnesota-based multinational conglomerate, said in a statement Friday. “In addition, ceasing all export of respirators produced in the United States would likely cause other countries to retaliate and do the same, as some have already done. If that were to occur, the net number of respirators being made available to the United States would actually decrease.””I don’t blame ‘em — they can push back if they want,” Trump said when asked by VOA about the company’s comment. “We’re not happy with 3M.”FILE – N95 respiration masks are seen at a 3M laboratory that has been contracted by the U.S. government to produce extra marks in response to the coronavirus outbreak, in Maplewood, Minnesota, March 4, 2020.The pandemic has yet to peak in the United States, amid an estimation by the White House that 100,000 to 240,000 people in the country could die of the new coronavirus  in the next couple of months, even if social distancing was strictly followed.The response coordinator for the White House coronavirus task force, Dr. Deborah Birx, said the numbers go could higher if there was another big outbreak in a major metropolitan area similar to the one in New York City.She noted officials were continuing to watch the situation in Detroit and Chicago and expressed new concern about the states of Colorado and Pennsylvania, as well as Washington, D.C.“The models show hundreds of thousands of people are going to die” in the United States, the president said. “I want much less than that. I want none. But it’s too late for that.”Biggest jumpNew York state registered its biggest single-day increase in COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations, Governor Andrew Cuomo said.He said 562 people had died of the virus in the last 24 hours, adding that there were more than 100,000 confirmed infections in the state.This is the “highest single increase in the number of deaths since we started,” he said Friday.Looking ahead, in the near term, Cuomo warned that more people were going to die in hospitals because of a lack of ventilators.New York is the epicenter of the outbreak in the United States, the country with the most COVID-19 cases.  As of Friday, according to FILE – Patients wearing face masks and personal protective equipment wait on line for COVID-19 testing outside Elmhurst Hospital Center, March 27, 2020, in New York City.The economic health of the nation also is in jeopardy. Economists are forecasting the U.S. unemployment rate soon will surpass levels seen during the global financial crisis 12 years ago.A total of 701,000 jobs were lost last month, according to the U.S. Labor Department, but its data did not include those Americans who lost employment in the past two weeks and filed claims.”The devastating news in the March jobs report demands our next step be to go bigger and further assisting small business, to go longer in unemployment benefits and to provide additional direct payments,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement after the Friday release of the Labor Department number.“We must also provide the desperately needed resources for our hospitals, health systems, health workers and state and local governments on the front lines of this crisis,” she said.Hardships to increaseWhite House economic officials said they would not sugarcoat the damage that the pandemic was doing to the U.S. economy.“The whole pandemic and its consequences have come on exponentially faster” than anyone expected, Larry Kudlow, director of the U.S. National Economic Council, told reporters Friday at the White House. “Those numbers and those hardships are going to get worse before they get better.”Loans backed by the U.S. government began going out on Friday to small businesses so they could keep workers on their payrolls amid a widespread shutdown of the economy because of stay-at-home orders in a majority of states.The White House also announced Friday that anyone who is expected to be in close proximity to either the president or Vice President Mike Pence “will be administered a COVID-19 test to evaluate for pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic carriers’ status to limit inadvertent transmission.”The tests were to be initiated on Friday. Journalists in the room for the coronavirus task force briefing were not tested, indicating that close proximity apparently means those who may come within a distance of a meter or two of Trump or Pence.

Canada Warns US Against Halting Supply of Masks Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Canada is warning the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump about halting the supply of masks needed by first responders in the international battle against the coronavirus.  
“The level of integration between our economies goes both ways across the border,” said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday. “It would be a mistake to create blockages or reduce the amount of back-and-forth trade of essential goods and services, including medical goods across our border. That is the point we’re making to the American administration right now.”  
Canada will “pull out all the stops” to prevent the United States from blocking the exports of some medical equipment, said Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland.  
The Trump administration Thursday invoked the Defense Production Act to require 3M, a Minnesota-based multinational conglomerate, to prioritize orders from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for N95 respirators.  
There are “significant humanitarian implications of ceasing respirator supplies to healthcare workers in Canada and Latin America, where we are a critical supplier of respirators,” the company said in a statement Friday. “In addition, ceasing all export of respirators produced in the United States would likely cause other countries to retaliate and do the same, as some have already done. If that were to occur, the net number of respirators being made available to the United States would actually decrease.”FILE – N95 respiration masks are seen at a 3M laboratory that has been contracted by the U.S. government to produce extra marks in response to the coronavirus outbreak, in Maplewood, Minnesota, March 4, 2020.Asked by VOA about 3M’s response to the order, the director of the U.S. National Economic Council, Larry Kudlow, indicated he had not yet read the letter but said “let me take a look at it.”  
Health care workers across the country continue to complain about a shortage of the protective equipment. The demand may surge even more in the coming days amid anticipation the Centers for Disease Control will recommend that Americans, especially in coronavirus hot spots, cover their mouths to prevent widening infections.  
Trump suggested Thursday people could put scarves on their faces instead of using conventional masks.  
The pandemic has yet to peak in the United States, amid an estimation by the White House that in the next couple of months as many as 240,000 people in the country could die of the new coronavirus.  
The state of New York has registered its biggest single-day increase in COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations, according to its governor, Andrew Cuomo.  
In the last 24 hours, 562 people had died of the virus in New York, said Cuomo, announcing there are more than 100,000 confirmed infections in the state.FILE – Patients wearing face masks and personal protective equipment wait on line for COVID-19 testing outside Elmhurst Hospital Center, March 27, 2020, in New York City.This is the “highest single increase in the number of deaths since we started,” he remarked Friday.   
Looking ahead, in the near term, the governor warned that more people are going to die in hospitals due to a lack of ventilators.  
New York is the epicenter of the outbreak in the United States, the country with the most COVID-19 cases.  
As of Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University, there are more than 245,000 COVID-19 cases in the country, with nearly 6,600 deaths. 
The virus is projected to become the top killer in the country on peak days this month, according to a daily tracker set up by an organization of assisted living facilities.  
The economic health of the nation also is in jeopardy. Economists are forecasting the U.S. unemployment rate soon will surpass levels seen during the global financial crisis 12 years ago.   

Poland Divided Over Having Presidential Vote During Pandemic

Poland’s parliament is preparing to vote Friday on legislation that would transform the country’s May presidential election entirely into a mail-in ballot due to the health risks of having public voting stations during the coronavirus pandemic. The proposal by the populist ruling Law and Justice party to go forward with the May 10 election is controversial.  Opposition candidates say having the election during the pandemic is undemocratic and it should be postponed. They argue that opposition presidential candidates stand no chance against conservative President Andrzej Duda because they cannot campaign due to a strict ban on gatherings. Duda, meanwhile, still profits from heavy coverage on state media. Critically, even one faction in the ruling coalition is strongly opposed to holding the vote, raising speculation in Poland that Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki’s government could be toppled by the crisis.  Jaroslaw Gowin, center, the head of a faction within the ruling conservative coalition, speaks to reporters about his proposal to postpone a presidential election in Poland by two years in Warsaw, Poland, April 3, 2020.Surveys show that a large majority of voters in this European Union nation of 38 million want the election to be postponed due to the pandemic. Kamil Bortniczuk, a lawmaker with the faction opposed to the voting, told the radio broadcaster RMF FM his group would try to convince ruling party lawmakers “that Poles today do not want elections in such conditions and they cannot be prepared so quickly.” “There is not enough time to gain confidence among citizens in such a way of voting, and thus in the results of the election,” Bortniczuk said. Law and Justice officials insist that the current election timeline — voting on May 10 with a runoff on May 24 if no candidate wins 50% in the first round — is dictated by the constitution and should not be changed. The leader of the ruling party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, insisted Friday that to postpone the election “would be completely illegal.” He said “there is no reason to postpone it at the moment if it is conducted in a safe way from a health point of view.” Poland has had far fewer coronavirus infections and deaths than fellow EU countries like Italy and Spain, but the numbers have been accelerating in recent days, reaching 2,946 infections and 57 deaths on Friday.  Some Polish media outlets have suggested the country’s true numbers are actually much higher due to low levels of testing. Polish media have also reported about people dying of pneumonia who most likely have COVID-19 but who do not show up in the statistics because they were not tested. The debate over the mail-in vote shares similarities with efforts in the United States by Democrats seeking widespread voting by mail in the November presidential and congressional elections. So far, the Democrats have not gotten the billions of dollars in federal funding required to move to widespread voting but say they will keep pressing the issue. 

EU Suspends Taxes, Customs Duties on Medical Equipment

The European Commission said Friday that it was temporarily suspending taxes and duties on the import of medical equipment and protective wear from outside the European Union.In a video statement, Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen said the commission recognized the needs of hospitals and health care workers and was making the move to ease pressure on prices for crucial equipment.She gave the example of Italy, where customs duties of 12 percent and a value-added tax of 22 percent are levied on some face masks or protective garments imported from countries like China. The new cuts would lower prices by one-third.Likewise, she said, an average 20 percent VAT on ventilators would be removed.She said the tax and duty cuts would be applied retroactively to January 30 and be in place at least four months, longer if necessary.

Russia Detains Activists Trying to Help Hospital Amid Virus

An activist doctor who had criticized Russia’s response to the coronavirus outbreak was forcibly detained as she and some of her colleagues tried to deliver protective gear to a hospital in need.  Dr. Anastasia Vasilyeva of the Alliance of Doctors union was trying to take more than 500 masks, sanitizers, hazmat suits, gloves and protective glasses to a hospital in the Novgorod region about 400 kilometers (about 250 miles) northwest of Moscow on Thursday when she and the others were stopped by police on a highway.They were accused by police of violating self-isolation regulations, currently in place in many regions, including Moscow and Novgorod. The group was taken to a police station and held for hours, and the activists had to ask hospital workers to come to the station to pick up the gear.  After a night in custody, Vasilyeva appeared in court on charges of defying police orders. Two long court hearings later, she was ordered to pay fines totaling the equivalent of $20.”It was not about the money for them, It was about breaking me,” Vasilyeva said afterward. “But I’m even more convinced that we’re doing the right thing, and we will definitely keep on doing it.”Stay-home orderTwo weeks ago, Russia reported only a few hundred coronavirus cases and insisted the outbreak was under control. As the virus spread and more infections were reported this week, however, residents of Moscow and other cities were ordered to stay home.On Friday, officials reported 4,149 cases in the country, four times more than a week ago. The government sought to reassure the public that Russia has everything it needs to fight the outbreak and even sent planeloads of protective gear and medical equipment to Italy, the U.S. and other countries. Still, hospitals across the country complained about shortages of equipment and supplies, and earlier this week, the union began a fundraising campaign to buy protective gear for hospitals.Vasilyeva, who has become the most vocal critic of the Kremlin’s response to the virus, accused authorities of playing down the scale of the outbreak and pressuring medics to work without sufficient protection.”We realized that we can’t just sit and watch; otherwise it is going to be too late,” she said in a tweet Monday announcing the campaign.After being released from the police station, Vasilyeva was almost immediately detained again and charged with defying police orders. Video posted on Twitter by activists shows a dozen police officers gathering around Vasilyeva and two of them dragging her into the station.Assault accusationAccording to Ivan Konovalov, spokesman of the Alliance of Doctors, Vasilyeva was physically assaulted in the process and even fainted briefly. “We thought we may run into some difficulties, but no one could even imagine anything like that,” said Konovalov, who accompanied Vasilyeva to the Novgorod region.  The incident elicited outrage from other activists.”Why are they harassing this person, because she brought masks for the doctors? Bastards,” tweeted opposition politician Alexei Navalny, who supports the Alliance of Doctors and works closely with Vasilyeva.  Natalia Zviagina, Russia director of Amnesty International, said in a statement that “it is staggering that the Russian authorities appear to fear criticism more than the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.””By keeping her behind bars, they expose their true motive — they are willing to punish health professionals who dare contradict the official Russian narrative and expose flaws in the public health system,” Zviagina said.Russian military planes with medical supplies sit at Batajnica military airport near Belgrade, Serbia, April 3, 2020. The Russian Defense Ministry said it has sent medical and disinfection teams to Serbia to help fight the coronavirus.With the outbreak dominating the agenda in Russia, anyone who criticizes the country’s struggling health system becomes a thorn in the Kremlin’s side, said Abbas Gallyamov, a former Kremlin speechwriter-turned-political analyst.  “The pressure will continue, because right now the most important political issue is on the table: How will the voters see the authorities after the crisis —as effective and acting in people’s interests, or ineffective, out of touch with the people, and in need of being replaced?” Gallyamov said.  Doctors’ unions say a shortage of protective equipment is one of the most pressing problems amid the outbreak. Konovalov said the Alliance of Doctors has gotten about 30 requests for protective gear from hospitals and medical facilities across Russia, and 100 more generic complaints about a lack of protective equipment.  Ambulance workers complainAndrei Konoval, chairman of the Action medical union, echoed that sentiment.”It is a serious problem that the authorities have started to solve, but not as fast as we want them to,” Konoval said, adding that his union is getting complaints from ambulance workers, who are often the first to come in contact with potentially infected patients.  Russian authorities sought to put a good face on the crisis. The Health Ministry said the outbreak has so far taken a “fortunate” course, while the Defense Ministry said it was sending another 11 planes with medical specialists and equipment to Serbia, a close ally of Moscow.In Moscow, which has the largest number of cases reported in the country, Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill was driven around the city in a van carrying an icon, praying for the epidemic to end. Media reports said the motorcade caused traffic jams as it traveled around the capital.

Europe’s Hospitals Bow Under Weight of Coronavirus Crush

Setting up makeshift ICU wards in libraries and conference centers, embattled European medical workers strained Friday to save thousands of desperately ill coronavirus patients as stocks of medicine, protective equipment and breathing machines grew shorter by the hour.
A maelstrom of coronavirus deaths and job losses slammed the United States and Europe. Some 10 million Americans have been thrown out of work in just two weeks, the most stunning collapse the U.S. job market has ever witnessed. Global confirmed infections surged past 1 million and deaths hit 53,000, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.  
Experts say both numbers are seriously under-counted, due to the lack of testing, mild cases that were missed and governments that are deliberately underplaying the impact of the pandemic.  
Europe’s three worst-hit countries — Italy, Spain and France — surpassed 30,000 dead, over 56% of the world’s death toll. From those countries, the view remained almost unrelentingly grim, a frightening portent even for places like New York, the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, where trucks have been fork-lifting bodies outside overflowing morgues.
One Spanish hospital turned its library into a makeshift intensive-care unit. In France, space was being set aside for bodies in a vast food market. The French prime minister said he is “fighting hour by hour” to ward off shortages of essential drugs used to keep COVID-19 patients alive in intensive care.  
Philippe Montravers, an anesthesiologist in Paris, said medics are preparing to fall back on older drugs, such as the opiates fetanyl and morphine, that had fallen out of favor, as newer painkillers are now in short supply.  
“The work is extremely tough and heavy,” he said. “We’ve had doctors, nurses, caregivers who got sick, infected … but who have come back after recovering. It’s a bit like those World War I soldiers who were injured and came back to fight.”  
Some glimmers of hope emerged that Italy, with nearly 14,000 dead, Spain and France might be flattening their infection curves and nearing or even past their peaks in daily deaths.  
Spain on Friday reported 932 new daily deaths, just slightly down from the record it hit a day earlier. The carnage most certainly included large numbers of elderly people who authorities admit are not getting access to the country’s limited breathing machines, which are being used first on healthier, younger patients. More than half of Spain’s 10,935 deaths have come in the last seven days alone.
Some European officials are tentatively talking about the future, how to lift the nationwide lockdowns that have staved off the total collapse of strained health systems. Still, the main message across the continent was “stay at home.”
In France, the government warned Parisians not to even think about going anywhere for the Easter school vacation starting this weekend, setting up roadblocks out of the city to nab those with antsy children trying to escape lockdowns.
Beyond Europe, coronavirus deaths mounted with alarming speed in New York, the most lethal hot spot in the United States, which has seen at least 1,500 virus deaths. One New York funeral home had 185 bodies stacked up — more than triple its normal capacity.  
“It’s surreal,” owner Pat Marmo said, adding that he’s been begging families to insist hospitals hold their dead loved ones as long as possible. “We need help.”
Roughly 90% of the U.S. population is under stay-at-home orders, and many factories, restaurants, stores and other businesses are closed or have seen sales shrivel. Economists warned that U.S. unemployment would almost certainly top that of the Great Recession a decade ago and could reach levels not seen since the Great Depression in the 1930s.
“My anxiety is through the roof right now, not knowing what’s going to happen,” said Laura Wieder, laid off from her job managing a sports bar in Bellefontaine, Ohio.  
The pandemic will cost the world economy as much as $4.1 trillion, or nearly 5% of all economic activity, the Asian Development Bank said Friday.  
At least a million people in Europe are estimated to have lost their jobs over the past couple of weeks as well. Spain alone added more than 300,000 to its unemployment rolls in March. But the job losses in Europe appear to be far smaller than in the U.S. because of countries’ greater social safety nets.
Estimates in China, the world’s second-largest economy, of those who have lost jobs or are underemployed run as high as 200 million. The government said Friday it would would provide an additional 1 trillion yuan ($142 billion) to local banks to lend at preferential rates to small- and medium-sized businesses.
With more than 245,000 people infected in the U.S. and the death toll topping 6,000, sobering preparations were underway. The Federal Emergency Management Agency asked the Pentagon for 100,000 more body bags.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for others, especially older adults and people with health problems, it can cause pneumonia and lead to death. The World Health Organization said this week that 95% of the deaths in Europe were of people who were over 60 years old.
White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said U.S. infection data suggested that Americans need to emulate those European nations that have started to see the spread of the virus slowing through strict social distancing.  
The Trump administration was getting ready to recommend that ordinary Americans wear non-medical masks or bandannas over their mouths and noses when out in public so stocks of medical-grade masks could be preserved for those on the front lines.  
Shortages of critical equipment led to fierce competition between buyers from Europe, the U.S. and elsewhere. A regional leader in Paris described the scramble to source masks a “worldwide treasure hunt.”  
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said worldwide usage of essential drugs and disposable equipment, such as ventilator mouthpieces, used by intensive care units is “exploding in unimaginable proportions,” with a “nearly 2,000 percent increase” in demand “because it is happening everywhere in the world and at the same time.”  
Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned that New York could run out of breathing machines in six days. 

Prince Charles Opens Fast-Tracked London Hospital

Prince Charles on Friday remotely opened the new Nightingale Hospital at London’s main exhibition and conference center, a temporary facility that will soon be able to treat 4,000 people who have contracted COVID-19.
Charles said he was “enormously touched” to be asked to open the temporary facility at the ExCel center in east London and paid tribute to everyone, including military personnel, involved in its “spectacular and almost unbelievable” nine-day construction.
“An example, if ever one was needed, of how the impossible could be made possible and how we can achieve the unthinkable through human will and ingenuity,” he said via video link from his Scottish home of Birkhall.
“To convert one of the largest national conference centres into a field hospital, starting with 500 beds with a potential of 4,000, is quite frankly incredible.”
The new National Health Service hospital will only care for people with COVID-19, and patients will only be assigned there after their local London hospital has reached capacity.
Charles, who earlier this week emerged from self-isolation after testing positive for COVID-19, said he was one of “the lucky ones” who only had mild symptoms, but “for some it will be a much harder journey.”
He expressed his hope that the hospital “is needed for as short a time and for as few people as possible.”
The hospital is named after Florence Nightingale, who is widely considered to be the founder of modern nursing. She was in charge of nursing British and allied soldiers in Turkey during the Crimean War of the 1850s, her selfless care earning her the reputation as the “Lady with the Lamp.”
Natalie Grey, the head of nursing at NHS Nightingale, unveiled the plaque formally opening the hospital on the prince’s behalf.
Further new hospitals are being planned across the U.K., including in Birmingham, Glasgow and Manchester, to alleviate the pressure on the NHS during the coronavirus pandemic.
“In these troubled times with this invisible killer stalking the whole world, the fact in this country we have the NHS is even more valuable that before,” said Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who also contracted COVID-19 and only emerged from his self-isolation on Thursday.
The number of people in Britain dying after testing positive for COVID-19 has been increasing sharply over the past couple of weeks. The latest U.K. figures showed that the number of people to have died increased in a day by 569 to 2,921.
Like many other countries, Britain is in effective lockdown, with bars and nonessential shops closed in order to reduce the rate of transmission, the hope being that it will eventually reduce the peak in deaths. Hancock would not be drawn across several interviews about when he expects the peak to be, beyond that it’s likely to occur in “coming weeks.”