By The Associated Press
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:
— Fauci says he’s been “puzzled” by way the coronavirus affects people differently.
— World Health Organization receives donations and pledges to cover $675 million in aid.
— Thailand to begin nationwide curfew on Friday.
— Russian Foreign Ministry: U.S. paid for half of medical supplies sent from Russia.
WASHINGTON — The top U.S. infectious disease official says medical experts are no closer to figuring out why some seemingly healthy people infected by the new coronavirus develop only mild or no symptoms but others become very sick.
Dr. Anthony Fauci says on NBC’s “Today” show he’s been “puzzled from the beginning” of the coronavirus pandemic.
Fauci is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He says it’s “very strange” how the virus can be “completely devastating” and lead to “viral pneumonia and respiratory failure” in one person and be “absolutely nothing” in another person.
Fauci says he’s been working in infectious diseases for almost 50 years but doesn’t “fully understand exactly what the mechanism of that is.”
He says finding the answer is going to require natural history studies, which follow people over time while collecting their health information.
PARIS — France is pushing for stronger solidarity between European Union member states to provide an economic stimulus to restart the economy following the virus crisis.
French Finance minister Bruno Le Maire in English warned Thursday “economic recovery in Europe and throughout the world will be long, drawn out, difficult and costly. There will be no miracle solution.”
He called for a solidarity effort between Europeans, especially Italy and Spain, which are the most hardly hit by the pandemic on the continent.
France will propose the European Union to set up an “exceptional and temporary joint fund” dedicated to helping all member states’ economic recovery in the coming years.
GENEVA — The World Health Organization says it has received donations and pledges to cover its initial appeal for $675 million in support for the first three months of its response to the new coronavirus outbreak.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says $677 million in donations and pledges had been received by Tuesday. The appeal was launched in February.
Some $300 million is for WHO operations and the rest is for the U.N. health agency’s partners or in bilateral support.
Tedros says more support will be needed and a second “Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan” is being finalized.
BUCHAREST, Romania — Romania’s health minister is on his way to northern Suceava county to evaluate the situation in the region hardest hit in the country by the new coronavirus pandemic.
Nelu Tataru’s trip comes as the interim director of the county’s main hospital resigned Thursday amid the infection of a large number of the medical staff.
Suceava county has nearly 25% of Romania’s 2,738 confirmed cases of COVID-19, while 200 of Romania’s 357 medical staffers infected with the coronavirus are also there.
The county has been under a severe quarantine since Monday. Only transports of food and medical supplies are allowed.
Prosecutors in Suceava are investigating irregularities reported in the administration of coronavirus tests, which may have caused delays in the testing of medical staff.
BANGKOK — Thailand’s prime minister announced a nationwide curfew starting Friday to combat the spread of the new coronavirus.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has been slowly tightening restrictions since the country’s cases began rising sharply in mid-March. Thailand announced 104 new confirmed cases of the disease on Thursday, bringing its total to 1,875.
The restrictions are still not as sweeping as some other countries, where people have been told to stay home throughout the day except for necessary tasks. The Thailand curfew is at night beginning at 10 p.m.
The government last week enacted a one-month state of emergency allowing it to impose harsh restrictions not normally allowed under law. They include the power to implement curfews, censor the media, disperse gatherings and deploy the military for enforcement.
DHAKA, Bangladesh — A total of 327 Japanese citizens left Bangladesh on a chartered plane Thursday to return home amid the coronavirus crisis.
Sohel Kamruzzaman is spokesman of the state-run Biman Bangladesh Airlines and says the Japanese citizens left the South Asian nation’s capital as authorities confirmed five deaths and 56 cases of infection.
Bangladesh is enforcing a nationwide lockdown until April 11 to help contain the deadly virus from spreading.
MOSCOW — The Russian Foreign Ministry says the United States paid for half of the medical supplies Russia sent as “humanitarian aid” this week amid the growing coronavirus pandemic.
The other half of the cost was sponsored by Russia’s state investment fund.
A military aircraft loaded with medical equipment and masks took off from Moscow early Wednesday morning following a phone call between Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump. The two leaders discussed cooperation in the fight against the new coronavirus.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the shipment “humanitarian aid” and says Trump accepted it “with gratitude.”
The U.S. Department of State issued a statement Thursday saying it purchased the supplies from Russia. Russia’s Foreign Ministry clarified the U.S. only paid for half of the supplies.
Reports of Russia selling medical supplies to the U.S. elicited outrage among Kremlin critics as the number of coronavirus cases in Russia continues to grow. Hospitals across the country complained about shortages of protective gear and equipment needed to treat the coronavirus patients.
LISBON, Portugal — Portugal’s parliament and government have extended by two weeks the country’s state of emergency.
Temporary legal changes have given authorities enhanced powers to help slow the spread of the new coronavirus and allows the declaration of a lockdown. There are government fears that people will be reluctant to stay at home during the approaching Easter weekend.
The new measures also will allow authorities to order nursing home staff to work and will be able to order the elderly into hotels for their safety.
Officials will be allowed to release some prisoners, while others may receive pardons.
Portugal has officially recorded 9,034 cases of COVID-19, with 209 deaths attributed to it.
LONDON — One of the U.K.’s biggest coach companies says it will suspend operations from midnight Sunday after a collapse in journeys during the coronavirus pandemic.
National Express says it is “no longer viable” to maintain a limited network of coach services to help people with essential travel.
The use of planes, trains and coaches has fallen to negligible levels. But concerns have been raised about a recent spike in car journeys.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is self-isolating after testing positive for coronavirus, expressed his concern about that increase in a tweet: “Please do not leave your house unless absolutely necessary. It really will save lives.”
BEIRUT — Syria’s government has extended the closures of mosques until April 16, which is nearly a week before the start of the holy month of Ramadan.
The government also extended its ban on visits to prison and detention facilities to stop the spread of the new coronavirus. Rights groups have called on governments in the region to release thousands of political detainees held in crammed and unhygienic facilities.
In government controlled Syria, 10 cases of the coronavirus and two deaths have been reported but there are concerns the virus may be more widespread.
In rebel-controlled northwest Syria, the World Health Organization says it is increasing preparedness and testing capacities.
The region is home to nearly 4 million people but most have been displaced by the war and health facilities have been targeted in repeated government military offensives. Testing facilities were only delivered to the war-battered region late last month. There are up to 900 tests are available in the northwest.
BERLIN — The chairman of the World Medical Association says China’s figures on the new coronavirus infections aren’t credible.
But German doctor Frank Ulrich Montgomery says the numbers aren’t credible in many other countries, either.
Montgomery says the recent low Chinese numbers were “nonsense” and suggested Beijing was intentionally providing false figures. The radiologist and former head of the German Medical Association says other countries are also working with uncertain figures because better data often isn’t available.
Montgomery cited the lack of proper testing as one reason why many developing countries are reporting low infection rates.
He called for the World Health Organization to do more to impress on governments in poorer nations the need to take measures to restrict the spread of the pandemic.
Montgomery warned that if the virus takes hold in megacities such as Cairo, “then it’s going to get really dangerous.”
WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci says those on cruise ships who are not sick need to disembark “as quickly as possible” to prevent further spread of the virus.
The top U.S. infectious disease official says those on the ships who are sick with the new coronavirus obviously need medical attention.
Fauci told “CBS This Morning” on Thursday that some of those passengers on cruise are Americans and the others need to be safely returned to their home countries.
Dozens of cruise ships are either lined up at Port Miami and Port Everglades or waiting offshore due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Federal, state and local officials have been negotiating over whether Carnival’s Holland America cruise ships, the Zaandam and Rotterdam, would be allowed to dock at Port Everglades this week.
But the company’s Coral Princess is coming, too, with what that ship’s medical center called a higher-than-normal number of people with flu-like symptoms.
NEW YORK — New data shows the new coronavirus is hitting every part of New York City but especially hard in neighborhoods that tend to be poorer and are more likely to have several people living under one roof.
Data released by city health officials show that residents in the immigrant-rich Jackson Heights, Elmhurst and Corona sections of Queens have tested positive for the virus in far greater numbers and at higher rates per capita than in wealthy in mostly white parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn.
People living in one Queens zip code just south of LaGuardia Airport were roughly four times as likely to have tested positive as people in the gentrified section of Brooklyn that Mayor Bill de Blasio calls home.
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The U.S. territory of Puerto Rico is reporting its first underage cases of COVID-19.
The Health Department says a 4-year-old girl and a 17-year-old teen are among the more than 300 people who have tested positive for the coronavirus.
The government has reported 12 deaths as health officials warn the peak of cases is not expected until early May.
ATHENS, Greece — Greece’s Coast Guard has banned swimming in the sea, speargun fishing and recreational water sports as part of lockdown measures to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.
The country is in the second week of a lockdown. People are allowed to leave their homes for essential reasons including walking a pet or exercising.
But the Coast Guard says swimming, underwater fishing and water sports are not permitted.
Greece has thousands of kilometers of coastline and access to the sea and beach activities are massively popular.
Greece has 1,415 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 50 deaths.
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