Coronavirus Live Cases Tracker: World Coverage

The Four Percent


Istanbul deaths suggest a wider outbreak than Turkey admits.

Turkey has surpassed China in its number of confirmed coronavirus cases, as the tally rose to more than 90,000 by Monday, with deaths reaching at least 2,140, according to official government figures. But the true death toll may be much higher.

Data compiled by The New York Times from records of deaths in Istanbul indicate that Turkey is grappling with a far bigger calamity from the coronavirus than official figures and statements indicate. The city alone recorded about 2,100 more deaths than expected from March 9 to April 12, based on weekly averages from the last two years, far more than officials reported for the whole of Turkey during that time.

While not all those deaths are necessarily directly attributable to the coronavirus, the numbers indicate a striking jump in fatalities that has coincided with the onset of the outbreak, a preliminary indicator that is being used by researchers to cut through the fog of the pandemic and assess its full toll in real time.

The government maintains that it acted swiftly, stopping flights and border crossings from five of the most affected countries in February and closing schools, restaurants and bars in mid-March when the first case of infection was confirmed.

But by then, the statistics compiled by The Times show, the damage was done. And medical professionals say that Turkey did not do enough to halt international travelers, and neglected contact tracing and community care.

“In February, they did nothing, although it was known the disease was there,” Dr. Sinan Adiyaman, head of the Turkish Medical Association, said in an interview.

The government announced its first death from Covid-19 on March 17. But the statistics compiled by The Times suggest that even around that time, the number of deaths overall in Istanbul was already considerably higher than historical averages, an indication that the virus had arrived several weeks earlier.

Any death statistics in the midst of a pandemic are tricky to pin down and must be considered preliminary. Many European countries are engaged in trying to improve their death statistics, which they now acknowledge are incomplete.

Russians in the Caucasus mountains march shoulder-to-shoulder to protest lockdown measures.

In scenes reminiscent of anti-lockdown protests last week in Michigan and Wisconsin, hundreds of Russians took to the streets of a city in the Caucasus mountains on Monday demanding the resignation of the local governor and the lifting of his stay-at-home order.

The protest in Vladikavkaz, the capital of North Ossetia, was organized by political opponents of the governor, Vyacheslav Bitarov, a Kremlin ally who was appointed to his post by President Vladimir V. Putin in 2016.

Unlike President Trump, Mr. Putin has urged citizens to obey quarantine restrictions and show “discipline and responsibility” in managing an outbreak that he described on Sunday as “under total control” but still not at its peak in Russia.

A mainly Christian pocket in a largely Muslim region, North Ossetia has a long record of loyalty to Moscow, which it looks to for protection and funding. The pandemic, however, has scrambled allegiances and political calculations.

Videos on social media showed people marching shoulder-to-shoulder in Vladikavkaz, in violation of social distancing recommendations backed by the Kremlin. They chanted slogans against the regional government and called on Mr. Bitarov to resign.

Russian news outlets blamed the protest on supporters of Vitaly Kaloev, an infamous former businessman and member of the regional council. Mr. Kaloev was jailed in Switzerland in 2004 for the murder of a Swiss air traffic controller whom he blamed for a plane crash that killed his wife and children.

Released from prison after just three years following intense lobbying by Moscow, Mr. Kaloev returned to a hero’s welcome in North Ossetia, but has bridled in recent years at being passed over by the Kremlin in favor of Mr. Bitarov.

The threat is as real as can be to Jhoanna Mariel Buendia, 27, a nurse who treats Covid-19 patients in the intensive care unit of a hospital in York, England.

Last month, her aunt, Araceli Buendia Ilagan, 63, an associate supervisor in the cardiac surgical intensive care unit of a hospital in Miami, died of the disease. An uncle, a nurse in California, is hospitalized with the virus.

Ms. Buendia is one of four nurses from the Philippines sharing a house in York.

“The common denominator is that we’re all scared,” she said.

Western countries rely heavily on health care workers from other parts of the world — about one-sixth of the nurses working in the United States are immigrants — and even with that recruitment, there are labor shortages. The Philippines produce particularly large numbers of nurses.

In response to the pandemic, the Philippine government has temporarily barred health workers from leaving the country, saying that going abroad would put them at risk, and that they were needed at home.

Oil prices fell sharply on Monday over growing concerns that the collapse in demand has far outstripped attempts to curb production and store the excess supply.

The price of the main U.S. benchmark, West Texas Intermediate, actually fell below zero — meaning that some sellers, fearing they would be unable to sell the oil and would have no place to put it, were willing to pay people to take it.

That stunning drop was largely a short-term aberration driven by the timing of futures contracts, but it highlighted the underlying severe damage to oil markets from the worldwide glut.

Other oil prices, less affected by futures, also fell, but not as drastically. Brent crude, an international benchmark, dropped more than 6 percent, below $27 a barrel — less than half its price two months ago.

With much of the world in lockdown because of the pandemic, global demand for oil has collapsed, leading to record surpluses.

On April 12, major exporters like Saudi Arabia and Russia agreed to cut production by 9.7 million barrels a day, beginning in May, but that was not nearly enough to compensate for the drop in demand. Analysts estimate that consumption in April will have fallen by three times that amount.

At the same time, oil storage tanks in the United States, especially in the crucial site of Cushing, Okla., are nearing their limits.

As a result, investors have little interest in bidding in the current round of West Texas Intermediate futures trading, which expires on Tuesday, for delivery of oil in May. Under those futures contracts, the crude is delivered to Cushing, but investors are worried that there will be no room to store it there.

The next futures contract for West Texas Intermediate, for delivery in June, fell about 12 percent on Monday, to around $22 a barrel.

The group proved a major blind spot in the coronavirus pandemic, exposing the starkly different experiences of rich expatriates and poorer ones in a city-state where 40 percent of residents are foreign born.

Most of the cases among migrant workers are mild or asymptomatic, and none have required critical care, perhaps explaining why the dormitory outbreaks at first went unnoticed. In total, 11 people in Singapore have died of Covid-19, a relatively low fatality rate.

Tens of thousands of Singaporeans have donated funds for the well-being of migrant workers, and the expectation is that the government will deliver on its vow to treat them better. For now, though, the country is reeling from the pandemic’s assault on some of its most defenseless people.

Those we’ve lost: Luis Sepúlveda, a noted Chilean writer exiled by Pinochet.

Credit…Marta Fernandez/Europa Press, via Associated Press

Luis Sepúlveda, a Chilean writer whose stay among Indigenous people in the Amazon led to his most celebrated novel and who was jailed during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, died April 16 in Oviedo, Spain. He was 70.

The cause was the novel coronavirus, according to Tusquets, his publishing house in Barcelona. Mr. Sepúlveda, who was hospitalized in February, was among the first wave of people in Spain to be diagnosed.

Spain said on Monday that 399 people had died from the coronavirus in the previous 24 hours, the smallest daily percentage increase since a lockdown was imposed in mid-March, up just 1.9 percent up from the previous day. The number of people discharged from hospital is continuing to rise, now surpassing 80,000 recoveries, another sign of improvement.

But another report released on Monday was far less heartening: The country’s central bank warned that the Spanish economy could shrink as much as 13.6 percent this year. It also said that unemployment could rise to almost 22 percent, even excluding the thousands of workers whose contracts have been temporarily suspended under a government program designed to avoid mass layoffs. Spain’s jobless rate was almost 14 percent in February, before the outbreak took hold.

Several Israeli hospitals have begun to allow deathbed visits by family members of coronavirus patients, breaking with the strict ban that is in place across much of the world.

Proponents say that one or two relatives making short bedside visits while clothed head-to-toe in protective gear is manageable for hospital workers, and that the benefits outweigh the costs.

Ronni Gamza, chief executive of Tel Aviv’s Sourasky Medical Center, said his hospital had adhered to the “default position” of barring all family visits to the coronavirus ward, but said it was over-the-top and, in his view, inhumane.

“We had anxiety, narrow thinking, a little bit of hysteria, and we were too conservative,” he said.

Israel’s hospitals have not been overrun like those in some countries, and the new visitation policy has been embraced by several major Israeli hospitals including Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, and Shaare Tzedek and Hadassah hospitals in Jerusalem.

Family visits, Dr. Gamzu said, require “less than one percent” of all the personal protective equipment his hospital uses. At peaks in the numbers of critical patients, Dr. Gamzu said, “You could say, ‘We are sorry, we do not have the capacity now.’ But to take that as a standard?”

Dr. Gamzu said he was urging Israeli health authorities to open nursing homes up for visits as well.

Elisheva Stern was one of the first relatives given the chance to visit a dying patient, when she came to her father’s bedside earlier this month. “None of us want to say bye to our family,” she said. “But it’s really a gift.”

The Trump administration suggested that a Chinese laboratory may have been the source of the coronavirus outbreak, but a senior scientist at the lab in question has rejected the accusations, saying there are no signs that the virus was the product of human tampering.

The scientist, Yuan Zhiming, the director of a high-security virus research lab that is part of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, pushed back against the surge of speculation that the lab may have accidentally leaked the virus or was part of a conspiracy to release it.

“Without any evidence, and without any relationship to logic, he makes these allegations that are totally founded on speculation,” Mr. Yuan said of Senator Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican who was an early proponent of the theory that the lab was the origin of the virus.

“I’ve long engaged in biosecurity management and project management in laboratories, and I know this would have been impossible,” Mr. Yuan said in an interview aired over the weekend by CGTN, the Chinese television broadcaster.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last week that the Chinese government “needs to come clean” about the lab, and President Trump has kept the speculation alive, telling reporters that “more and more we’re hearing the story.”

But most scientists have dismissed the idea that the laboratory, built with French assistance, could have been the incubator, even inadvertently, of the new coronavirus. The French government has also said that there was no evidence of a link between the coronavirus and the lab.

But Mr. Yuan also ruefully suggested that no denial would halt the suspicions.

“I’m also sure that as long as the outbreak continues, especially abroad, these suspicions or discordant voices will never disappear,” he said.

After second wave of infection, Hong Kong has first day with no new cases.

Comments from the top United States diplomat in Kenya have caused an uproar after he said that only a small part of the country’s population was adhering to rules aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus.

In a Twitter post on Sunday, the ambassador, Kyle McCarter, wrote, “Only a fraction of the wananchi are wearing masks and social distancing,” using the Swahili word for citizens.

“None of us know the magnitude of this Wuhan flu,” he continued, “but we must take basic known wise precautions. It is only for a short time.”

The comment sparked outrage, with some noting that social distancing was an unimaginable luxury for poor people living in overcrowded and cramped conditions. Others also questioned how he came to his conclusion given that Nairobi was on partial lockdown and movement in and out of the city was banned. Mr. McCarter doubled down writing in a follow-up post, “The further you get from Nairobi the less compliance there is. Trust me.”

When Twitter user Allan Ogera questioned him on the number of masks the United States has donated to Kenya, Mr. McCarter retorted, “You would not be able to test in Kenya if not for USA marafiki,” which means ‘friends’ in Swahili.

Some social media users also criticized the ambassador’s decision to call the coronavirus “Wuhan flu,” saying he was “trying to please” President Trump who nominated him for the post in 2019 and who has insisted on calling the coronavirus the “Chinese virus.” The disease is thought to have first emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

Kenya has 270 confirmed coronavirus cases, according to the latest figures, and a total of 14 deaths. To curb the spread of the virus, authorities have mandated the wearing of masks, imposed a nationwide dusk to dawn curfew, closed the biggest shopping district in the capital and introduced partial lockdowns in four out of the country’s 47 counties.

About a third of Italy’s 3,420 public or publicly funded nursing homes, which serve around 80,000 people, participated in the survey, which also sought to monitor the difficulties these structures faced during the early weeks of the outbreak. Shortages of masks, gloves and other protective equipment were reported most frequently.

Authorities expect the further loosening of distancing measures will increase coronavirus infections, but not to critical levels. Hospital admissions in the country have decreased from a peak of 535 on April 1 to 319 on Sunday. Denmark had increased its ventilator capacity to 1,260, well above the current need, which on Sunday saw just 93 Covid-19 patients requiring them.

Denmark will also begin testing anyone with Covid-19 symptoms, starting Monday, and new test centers have opened across the country, the minister of health, Magnus Heunicke announced.

“Testing is one of the keys to how fast and how much we can reopen society,” he said on Monday.

Reporting was contributed by Hannah Beech, Richard Pérez-Peña, Karen Zraick, David M. Halbfinger, Elisabetta Povoledo, Tiffany May, Melissa Eddy, Carlotta Gall, Damien Cave, Abdi Latif Dahir, Megan Specia, Daniel Victor, Andrew Higgins, Ernesto Londoño, Raphael Minder, Seth Schiesel and Martin Selsoe Sorensen.



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