TOP OF THE HOUR:
— European Center for Disease Control finds more than 1 million confirmed coronavirus cases.
— Coronavirus deaths down in NY, but officials urge vigilance.
— Italy registered lowest number of coronavirus deaths in a month, with death toll rising by 433 in past 24 hours.
— British doctor protests outside Prime Minister’s office over lack of PPE.
— Pence says 150,000 coronavirus tests now being conducted daily.
BERLIN — The European Center for Disease Control says the continent now has more than 1 million confirmed cases and almost 100,000 deaths from the new coronavirus.
According to a tally posted on the ECDC website Sunday, Spain had the most cases in the region with 191,726, followed by Italy, Germany, Britain and France.
It listed Italy as having the most deaths in Europe, with 23,227, followed by Spain, France, Britain and Belgium.
According to the tally, Europe accounts for almost half the global case load and more than half the total deaths.
NEW YORK — The coronavirus death toll in New York dropped again, a sign that Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday means the state is “on the other side of the plateau” and that ongoing social distancing practices are working to stem the spread of the virus.
Cuomo said 507 people died on Saturday, down 43 from the previous day. Hospitalizations and other medical indicators are trending downward.
But Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio maintained their warnings that people in New York City and the rest of the state need to stay vigilant.
De Blasio blasted President Donald Trump, saying Sunday that the president is betraying his fellow New Yorkers by failing to push for billions of dollars in additional federal aid needed to help the city deal with the coronavirus economic crisis.
De Blasio referenced an infamous tabloid headline — “FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD” — from 1975 when then-President Gerald Ford denied assistance to spare New York from bankruptcy.
“Are you going to save New York City,” the mayor said, “or are you saying to New York City ‘drop dead?’”
MILAN — Italy on Sunday registered the lowest number of deaths of people with coronavirus in a month, with the death toll rising by 433 in the past 24 hours.
That brings the national total to 23,660, still the second-highest in the world after the United States. The number of positives rose by just over 3,000 to 178,972 — the lowest increase in more than a month.
Because of the lack of comprehensive testing, health authorities estimate that the number of cases and deaths have been significantly under-estimated.
Italy was the first western country to be hit by the coronavirus, in late February. While the epidemic curve continues to plateau, authorities have begun discussions on how to ease a nationwide lockdown, which has been extended through May 3.
Pressure on Italian hospitals continues to ease, but by just 26 beds on Sunday, with 25,033 people hospitalized and 2,635 in intensive care.
Paris has shut down part of its water system after discovering trace amounts of the virus in water used for cleaning streets and watering public gardens.
City Hall said in a statement Sunday that Paris drinking water remains safe.
A municipal water management laboratory discovered “tiny traces” of the virus at 4 of 27 sampling points in the city’s network for non-drinking water, the statement said. That network is distinct from the city’s potable water system.
After the discovery, the city suspended use of the non-drinking water network for public places and is using the potable water system instead.
The non-drinking water is pumped in from the Seine River and an adjacent canal, and is used for street cleaning, watering parks and in some city fountains. All Paris parks, gardens and fountains are closed to the public as part of France’s anti-virus lockdown.
LONDON — A British doctor held a lone protest outside Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office Sunday to highlight the lack of personal protective equipment for the country’s medical workers battling the coronavirus outbreak.
Meenal Viz is a junior clinical fellow with the U.K. National Health Service. He wore hospital scrubs and a facemask as he held a hand-drawn sign outside Downing Street that said, “Protect Healthcare Workers.”
She said she was demonstrating for vulnerable members of staff. The British government has been under fire for weeks over the distribution of PPE. At least 50 NHS workers have died after contracting the virus, including a pregnant nurse whose baby was delivered by emergency Caesarean operation.
“We are still in a position where we’re on our knees begging for PPE and if we had enough we wouldn’t have grannies stitching up our masks and we wouldn’t have pensioners raising money for the NHS,” said Viz, who is herself pregnant.
“The government should have been prepared a long time ago and that’s why we are in this position now.”
British officials are scrambling to source equipment and said a consignment of 84 tons, including 400,000 gowns, is on its way from Turkey.
WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence says 150,000 coronavirus tests are now being conducted daily in the U.S. but suggested that governors and not the federal government were to blame for numbers not being higher.
Pence tells NBC’s “Meet the Press” that, “if states around the country will activate all of the laboratories that are available in their states, we could more than double that overnight.”
He said the nation has “sufficient testing today” for states to begin reopening their economies as part of the initial phases of guidelines the White House released this week.
Governors from both parties have said that while they do have more labs that could increase testing in many areas, they often are unable to do so because of federal delays.
Pence was also asked about President Donald Trump tweeting that Democratic governors in Minnesota, Michigan and Virginia should “liberate” their states — even though officials there are following many of the Trump administration’s own guidelines about slowing the spread of coronavirus.
Pence sidestepped those, saying, “This president wants to reopen the American economy as soon as we can safely and responsibly do it.”
PARIS — France will make an exception to its strict virus confinement measures to allow families to visit relatives in nursing homes starting Monday.
More than 7,000 people believed to have the virus have died in French nursing homes, without family at their sides because of virus protection measures.
France banned all nursing home visits early in the pandemic, and many residents have been confined to their rooms for weeks, because the virus has been especially dangerous for the elderly. Several other European countries hard-hit by the virus have imposed similar bans.
Health Minister Olivier Veran acknowledged the danger of isolation for care home residents, and announced Sunday that visits will be allowed starting Monday “under extremely limited conditions.”
No more than two family members will be allowed, and they will not be able to touch their elderly loved ones, he said.
SOAVE, Italy — Italy’s representative to the World Health Organization says it is too early for the country to transition to a “Phase Two” of greater freedom of movement while living alongside the virus.
Walter Ricciardi told SKYTG 24 on Sunday “it is absolutely too early” and some regions remain in Phase One. He cautioned it is important not to rush.
“We have to wait until we can count the number of new cases on one hand, not the four-digit growth that we are having,” Ricciardi said.
He endorsed a plan being drafted by Italy’s health minister that calls for continuing social distancing, reinforcing the health care system and offering more diagnostic testing.
But he acknowledged that a lack of testing remains an issue, particularly in Lombardy, which has borne the brunt of the pandemic in Italy. (edited)
LONDON — Britain reported 596 more coronavirus-related hospital deaths on Sunday to raise the total to 16,060.
The health department’s latest daily number is down 292 from the previous day’s 888 deaths. Britain posted a record daily death toll of 980 just over a week ago.
Sunday’s count is the lowest since April 6 when 439 deaths were reported.
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — Slovakia will test all employees in the country’s nursing homes for the new coronavirus because of the growing number of infected people in those facilities.
Prime Minister Igor Matovic says 40,000 people will be given rapid tests to determine which of the homes have been hit by the virus.
Full tests that give more precise results will follow.
Of the 12 people who have died of COVID-19 in Slovakia, seven were clients in a nursing home in the town of Pezinok located just northeast of the capital of Bratislava.
Government figures released Sunday show Slovakia has 1,161 people infected with the new coronavirus.
HARARE, Zimbabwe — Zimbabwe’s president extended the country’s lockdown until May 3, warning of an upsurge in coronavirus infections.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa said mines and the manufacturing sector will be allowed to reopen to help the country’s stalled economy.
The southern Africa country has been on lockdown for three weeks and it was to end at midnight.
Zimbabwe has so far recorded 25 cases of COVID-19 and three deaths. But like most Africa countries, it is bracing for a dramatic increase in cases as WHO and other researchers predict a steep rise in cases in a continent plagued by weak health systems and shortages of water necessary to prevent spread of the virus.
As of Sunday, 52 of Africa’s 54 countries had recorded cases of COVID-19, with 21,000 cases and 1,055 deaths.
ISTANBUL — Turkey’s health minister has said a total of 2,017 people have died of the novel coronavirus, with 127 new deaths in the past 24 hours.
Fahrettin Koca, in figures tweeted Sunday, said 3,977 new infections were confirmed in the past day, bringing the total number to 86,306.
The minister also said 11,976 people have recovered so far in Turkey, including 1,523 in the past 24 hours.
LONDON — An industry group estimates thousands of deaths related to COVID-19 in British nursing homes have not been reflected in official figures.
The National Care Forum represents non-profit nursing home providers and says its research suggests 4,040 people have died after contracting the illness in British nursing homes.
The figures are based on data from nursing and residential care homes looking after 30,000 people, which is 7.4% of Britain’s nursing home population. They reported 299 confirmed or suspected deaths from the new coronavirus during the week ending April 13, which is triple the number in the preceding month.
Health department figures released daily track only deaths in hospitals, which rose to 15,464 on Saturday. Data from Office for National Statistics showed that 217 deaths from the virus in nursing homes in England and Wales through April 3.
The forum’s Executive Director Vic Rayner says as long as death figures from nursing and residential care homes are excluded from real-time data, the government will be unable to properly plan protection.
Care home operators and staff say official figures likely underestimate the true toll in facilities that house some of the Britain’s oldest and most vulnerable people, cared for by often overworked and poorly paid staff.
WAYZATA, Minn. — About three dozen residents have been moved from a Minneapolis area senior living facility after an outbreak of the coronavirus made many staff members too sick to care for residents.
The Minnesota Department of Health tells the Star Tribune that the decision to relocate residents from Meridian Manor in Wayzata on Saturday came in consultation with state and local officials.
The department said a majority of staff members and administrators at the 50-bed facility became sick and were unable to care for residents. Five residents were sent to a hospital, some residents were relocated with family and others were being moved to a nearby long-term care facility.
BISMARCK, N.D. — The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in North Dakota has risen to 585, with the biggest jump coming in northeastern North Dakota, where a wind turbine plant has been temporarily idled during an outbreak of COVID-19.
The North Dakota Department of Health on Sunday reported 34 new cases in Grand Forks County, where the LM Wind Power facility is based in Grand Forks. Health officials did not report how many of the new cases are connected to the plant, where 110 cases were reported in early testing.
Statewide, the number of new cases rose by 57, with Cass County second with 15 new cases.
Illinois Senate Democrats are seeking more than $41 billion from the federal government in the next coronavirus relief plan, including $10 billion for a pension bailout.
Senate President Don Harmon made the request in a recent letter to U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and every member of the state’s congressional delegation.
In the letter, Harmon says it’s an “unprecedented situation” and the state will likely face “additional, unanticipated costs that could result in future requests for assistance.”
The Illinois Republican Party criticized the request on Twitter as ”brazenly using a global pandemic as an excuse” to fix the state’s longtime financial problems, including a massively underfunded pension system. Harmon’s office says Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan weren’t involved in drafting the letter, which was sent Tuesday.
ROME — The governor of the southern region of Campania has placed a tighter lockdown on the town of Saviano, near Naples.
It comes after video circulated showing several hundred people outside for the funeral of the town’s mayor, a doctor who died with coronavirus.
Regional governor Vincenzo De Luca said that the decision to stop people from leaving or entering the town was ’inevitable to prevent an outbreak.
Video shows hundreds of people lining a road as the hearse drove by, and helium balloons in the colors of the Italian flag released into the sky.
De Luca has taken a tough stance against calls by his colleagues in the north to loosen restrictions, saying if they go too far he would close the borders to Campania, which includes Italian treasures including Naples Bay, the Amalfi Coast and the Pompeii archaeological site.
ROME — The Italian coast guard is transferring 34 migrants from the Spanish rescue ship Aita Mari off the coast of the Sicilian capital Palermo onto a naval ship for quarantine.
The new arrivals will join 146 migrants from the German-run rescue ship Alan Kurdi, who were transferred on Friday to the Rubattino.
The Italian naval ship will remain a mile off the coast for the duration of the quarantine, which is being overseen by the Italian Red Cross.
BEIRUT — Lebanon’s Interior Ministry has announced that the nighttime curfew will be shortened by one hour to start at 8 p.m.
Sunday’s announcement comes days before the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan when observant Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset.
Nearly two thirds of the Mediterranean country’s 5 million people are Muslims, while a third are Christians.
Lebanon imposed a nighttime curfew last month in an attempt to limit the spread of the new coronavirus. Most businesses, schools and universities have been closed for weeks.
The ministry’s decision that will go into effect Monday and restaurants will be allowed to deliver food until the start of the curfew.
OSLO, Norway — Norway has released nearly 100 inmates from the country’s prisons to serve their sentences at home in efforts to reduce crowding in penitentiaries and contain the spread of COVID-19.
Director Lise Sannerud from the Norwegian Correctional Service says prisoners are being fitted with ankle monitors and some 94 inmates have now been released to serve their sentences at home.
There now 405 inmates in Norway who have been released from prison to serve their sentences at home.