The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.
TOP OF THE HOUR:
— Turkey sends resources to Italy and Spain.
— Experts say virus could kill up to 240,000 Americans.
— Britain’s largest banks scrap dividend payments.
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey has sent a planeload of masks, hazmat suits, goggles and disinfectants to Italy and Spain to help the countries combat the new coronavirus outbreak.
State-run Anadolu Agency said a military cargo plane carrying the medical equipment took off from an air base near Ankara on Wednesday.
The equipment was produced by military-owned factories and sewing workshops.
The items were being sent in crates displaying — in Italian and Spanish — the words of 13th century Sufi Poet Jalaluddin Rumi: “There is hope after despair and many suns after darkness.”
The report did not say how many masks and other equipment were dispatched.
LONDON — Britain’s largest banks are scrapping dividend payments amid pressure to secure cash for businesses struggling with the fallout of the COVID-19 crisis.
The Bank of England’s Prudential Regulation Authority requested the suspension of all plans to return money to shareholders. All outstanding dividend payments from last year will also be cancelled.
Barclays, Lloyds and NatWest are among the banks accepting the move.
The PRA says the decisions “are a sensible precautionary step given the unique role that banks need to play in supporting the wider economy through a period of economic disruption, alongside the extraordinary measures being taken by the authorities.’’
The authority also expects bonuses to be cancelled for senior staff members.
The move may offer a moment of redemption for the big banks, many of whom suffered reputational damage following the 2008 financial crisis.
Royal Bank of Scotland CEO Alison Rose says the institution is “focused on ensuring we support our customers and help them to navigate the immediate and longer-term challenges they are facing as a result of COVID-19.”
SINGAPORE — Singapore will introduce a new bill aimed at offering temporary relief to businesses and individuals who cannot fulfill contractual obligations, such as rent payments and scheduled events, because of COVID-19.
The bill, which will be introduced in parliament next week and will be in place for at least six months, will prevent contracting parties from taking legal action such as forfeiting a deposit placed for a wedding that will be postponed, or terminating leases on commercial property for rent that has gone unpaid.
For individuals, the minimum amount of debt before filing for bankruptcy has been raised from S$15,000 to S$60,000. The threshold for companies to apply for insolvency has also been raised tenfold to S$100,000.
The relief measures come as Singapore has imposed further stringent social distancing rules on its residents. Gatherings have been limited to 10 persons or fewer, and people in Singapore who intentionally do not abide by the 1-meter (3-foot) social-distancing rule in a public place could be fined and jailed.
As of March 31, Singapore has a total of 926 cases of COVID-19 cases, and has since had three deaths.
MOSCOW — Russia has sent a planeload of medical aid to the United States amid the growing coronavirus pandemic.
A military aircraft loaded with medical equipment and masks took off from Moscow early on Wednesday morning, according to the Defense Ministry.
Footage from the Russian Defense Ministry showed boxes of equipment inside an Antonov An-124 Ruslan aircraft at Moscow’s Chkalovsky Airbase.
The delivery follows a phone call between Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday, when the two leaders discussed cooperation in the fight against the new coronavirus. A Kremlin statement said the call took place at Washington’s initiative.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Trump accepted Russia’s aid “with gratitude” and added “Offering aid to the American colleagues, the president (Putin) is assuming that when American production of medical equipment and materials picks up speed, they will be able to reciprocate if necessary,” Peskov was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.
NEW YORK — As the number of coronavirus deaths continues to surge in the United States, officials are warning the disease could kill between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans, even if people continue to stay home and limit their contact with others.
Experts made the prediction at a Tuesday media briefing with President Donald Trump. But they said they hope the figure won’t soar that high if everyone does their part to prevent the virus from spreading.
“I want every American to be prepared for the hard days that lie ahead,” said Trump, who also extended social distancing guidelines until April 30. “We’re going to go through a very tough two weeks.”
The U.S. recorded a big daily jump of 26,000 new cases, bringing the total to more than 189,000. The death toll leaped to over 4,000, including more than 1,000 in New York City.
NEW DELHI — Police in New Delhi have filed a criminal case against clerics of an Islamic religious sect for organizing a gathering last month in violation of COVID-19 safety measures such as social distancing.
Police said Wednesday they will question Maulana Saad and others of Tablighi Jamaat who have also been booked under India’s Epidemic Disease Act that restricts religious gatherings. They could be punished with six months in prison.
New Delhi state Health Minister Saytendra Jain told reporters the sect’s headquarters in the Indian capital has been sealed off from outsiders after police evacuated more than 1,500 people believed to have been exposed to the new coronavirus during the religious gathering.
Jain told reporters that paramedics have admitted 441 Muslim worshipers to hospitals in the Indian capital and more than 1,100 have been quarantined for testing. He said that of the capital’s 97 new coronavirus cases, 24 are traced to the religious gathering.
India has 1,238 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, including 35 deaths.
A 21-day nationwide lockdown that began March 24 has resulted in the suspension of train and airline service and effectively kept 1.3 billion Indians home for all but essential trips to places like markets or pharmacies.
The religious sect said in a statement Tuesday that due to the sudden cancellation of rail services across the country a large group of visitors who had to depart by way of railways got stuck on the group’s premises. It said it had stopped the religious discourse on March 22, two days before the countrywide lockdown began.
KAMPALA, Uganda — Several members of a well-known children’s choir are among the growing number of coronavirus cases in Uganda.
President Yoweri Museveni late Tuesday announced that members of the Watoto Children’s Choir had been in quarantine after traveling abroad. The 11 people affected make up one-fourth of the East African nation’s 44 virus cases. Nearly all of Africa’s 54 countries now have the virus.
LOS ANGELES — A Southern California nursing home has been hit hard by the coronavirus, with more than 50 residents infected — a troubling development amid cautious optimism that cases in the state may peak more slowly than expected.
Cedar Mountain Post Acute Rehabilitation in Yucaipa has been told to assume that all its patients have the COVID-19 virus, San Bernardino County Department of Public Health Director Trudy Raymundo said. As of Tuesday, 51 residents and six staff members had tested positive. Two patients have died, including an 82-year-old woman who had existing health problems.
The nursing home east of Los Angeles isn’t accepting new residents and the facility has been closed to visitors under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s two-week-old stay-at-home order, Raymundo said.
The announcement came as Newsom said extraordinary efforts to keep people home have bought the time needed to prepare for an expected peak surge of coronavirus cases in coming weeks.
Newsom said the slower-than-forecast increase in cases means the peak is now likely to occur in May, though he was reluctant to say whether that means the impact on the state won’t be nearly as dire as initially feared.
BEIJING — China’s National Health Commission on Wednesday reported 36 new COVID-19 cases, one day after announcing that asymptomatic cases will now be included in the official count.
The commission said all but one of the new cases was imported from abroad, while seven more deaths from the disease had been reported over the previous 24 hours. The commission did not say if any of the new cases were asymptomatic but on Tuesday reported that, of a total of 1,541 asymptomatic cases now being isolated and monitored for symptoms, 205 had come from overseas.
The move to disclose the number of asymptomatic cases comes amid scrutiny of China’s reported figures, which previously only included people who exhibited symptoms. While the proportion of people who have contracted the virus but remain asymptomatic is currently unknown, scientists say these “carriers” can still pass COVID-19 onto others who do end up getting sick.
As China’s domestic outbreak has largely abated, some questioned whether the country’s failure to count asymptomatic cases would lead to a resurgence of infections. China, where the virus was first detected in December, has recorded a total of 81,554 cases of COVID-19 and 3,312 deaths from the disease.
China’s Health Commission also announced Wednesday that asymptomatic cases being isolated and monitored had fallen by 174 from the previous count to 1,367. While 130 new cases were recorded, 302 were eliminated and released and two were reclassified as confirmed cases., although the commission did not say whether the reclassified cases had originated in China or abroad.
CENTRAL, La. — Buses and cars filled a church parking lot as worshipers flocked to hear a Louisiana pastor who is facing misdemeanor charges for holding services despite a ban on gatherings amid the coronavirus pandemic.
A few protesters turned out Tuesday evening, too, including a man shouting through a bullhorn against the gathering at the Life Tabernacle Church. Another demonstrator held up a sign reading: “God don’t like stupid.”
Afterward, as people began leaving the church, some chatted outside the front doors and many appeared to not be adhering to social distancing recommendations to remain at least six feet apart. Hugs and handshakes were shared freely as people said their goodbyes and departed.
Hours earlier, Pastor Tony Spell was issued a summons for holding services previously at the church in violation of the governor’s order banning gatherings of 10 or more people.
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