Skip to main content
Publish date:

Up to the minute: A plea for supplies

Associated Press

LONDON (AP) — The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected more than 307,200 people and killed more than 13,000. The COVID-19 illness causes mild or moderate symptoms in most people, but severe symptoms are more likely in the elderly or those with existing health problems. More than 92,000 people have recovered so far, mostly in China. 


— British doctors and nurses plea for more protective equipment. 

— Pakistan lowers number of confirmed coronavirus cases. 

— Czech government sending supplies to Italy.

— Romania has reported its first death due to the coronavirus. 

Supply chain is broken

LONDON — British doctors and nurses are making urgent pleas for more protective equipment as the number of coronavirus patients in U.K. hospitals soars.

Almost 4,000 medical workers signed a letter to the Sunday Times saying front-line staff felt like "cannon fodder." They warned that medics would die if they did not receive better equipment.

The letter said that intensive-care doctors and anaesthetists "have been carrying out the highest-risk procedure, putting a patient on a ventilator, with masks that expired in 2015."

Britain's coronavirus outbreak is not expected to peak for weeks, and already staff at some hospitals have complained about shortages of ventilators and protective equipment like face masks, safety glasses, gloves and protective suits.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said that hospitals would receive new stocks of protective equipment by Sunday afternoon. 

The government has also ordered thousands of ventilators and has struck a deal with private hospitals to use thousands of beds and 20,000 medical staff to treat coronavirus patients.

Pakistan cases revised upward

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan's top health official has revised the country's number of confirmed coronavirus cases to 646 cases. That's down from the more than 700 confirmed cases reported a day earlier. 

Zafar Mirza, the special assistant to prime minister Imran Khan, said the figures he was presenting came from all provincial health authorities. He said the total suspected cases are 5650. 

Out of the confirmed cases, 292 tested positive in southern Sindh province, 152 in Punjab, 104 in Baluchistan, 31 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 55 in Gilgit Baltistan, 11 in Islamabad and one in Pakistan controled Kashmir. 

Czech government sends masks to Italy

PRAGUE — The Czech government is sending to Italy about 100,000 face masks and respirators that were among hundreds of thousands seized in the country earlier this week.

Czech authorities used emergency powers to raid a warehouse and seize 680,000 masks and 28,000 respirators on Tuesday.

The state was negotiating to acquire those badly needed masks and respirators with a private company but before reaching a deal the price significantly increased, prompting the seizure.

Interior Minister Jan Hamacek later acknowledged it turned out that 101,600 of the protective gear were sent by China's Red Cross to fellow Chinese nationals living in Italy and apologized for the Czech move.

Czech police are investigating how those masks from China ended up in a warehouse located in northwestern town of Lovosice.

Czech Foreign Minister Tomas Petricek said on Sunday he would explain the situation to his Italian counterpart and the masks will be transported to Italy early next week.

First death in Romania

CRAIOVA, Romania — Romania has reported its first death due to the coronavirus. 

Authorities said Sunday the victim was a 67-year-old man with terminal cancer who returned March 6 from France, where he had been receiving treatment. 

The man died while in the intensive care unit of a hospital for infectious diseases in the southwestern city of Craiova.

Romania has 367 confirmed cases of people infected with the coronavirus. The country will close its borders to foreigners Sunday night and curfews will be enforced.

Sealing hospital

WARSAW, Poland — A hospital in Poland has been sealed off and a quarantine ordered for all patients and employees after a 38-year-old patient tested positive for the coronavirus. 

Nearly 70 people are now quarantined in Provincial Hospital of Lung Diseases and Tuberculosis in Wolica, near the central Polish city of Kalisz. 

No one can leave the hospital until further notice and no one can enter.

The patient with COVID-19 has been transported to another hospital in severe condition.

Pope: Virus is 'shaking humanity'

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis is seeking to unite Christianity across denomination in prayer against the new virus ''shaking humanity.''

The pope held his weekly Sunday blessing in his private library in the Apostolic Palace over virus concerns. He urged all Christians to join in reciting the ''Our Father'' prayer next Wednesday at noon. 

The pope said he would lead a global blessing to an empty St. Peter's Square on Friday. The ''Urbi et Orbi,'' blessing is normally reserved for Christmas Day and Easter and will be broadcast to the faithful.

The double prayer initiative of such a global and ecumenical nature is highly unusual and suggests the urgency with which the Vatican views the pandemic. 

The pope began streaming his audiences earlier this month after the Vatican joined Italy in implementing drastic lockdown measures.

Closing bars, casinos in Australia

PERTH, Australia – Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has closed the country's bars, clubs, cinemas and casinos to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Morrison said the drastic measures nationwide would start Monday and also include sporting and religious venues. Restaurants and cafes will be restricted to takeout service only, but schools remain open. 

Morrison said the rules were implemented because people disregarded social distancing requirements. 

He said the restrictions would be in place for at least six months, but added that the time frame could be reconsidered if the health situation changes.

Earlier Sunday, Morrison unveiled a 66.4 billion Australian dollar ($38.50 billion) stimulus package that includes cash payments for eligible small businesses and welfare recipients.

Australia has confirmed more than 1,000 coronavirus cases, including seven deaths.

Spain's caseload jumps

MADRID — Health authorities in Spain say confirmed coronavirus infections have risen by over 3,600 in one day. 

The jump in cases from Saturday to Sunday is down from nearly 5,000 the day before. 

Spain is Europe's hardest hit country behind Italy and has 28,572 infections and 1,720 deaths. 

Spain is completing its first week of lockdown measures to keep people at home. Non-essential stores have been closed.

Pakistan says millions cannot afford lockdown

Pakistan: Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan won't implement a total lockdown because it will affect 25 percent of population living below the poverty line. 

He asked citizens to self-quarantine if they suffer from any coronavirus symptoms. He said Pakistan will overcome the virus if people cooperate and avoid socializing. 

Khan said Pakistan's economy is not strong enough to subsidize meals for the poor on lockdown. 

Minutes after Kahn's address to the nation, the Chief Minister of Pakistan southern Sindh province announced a complete lock down of his province for next two weeks. Sindh is the most affected province where nearly 300 people have tested positive for COVID-19. 

More airlines quit flying

DUBAI — The long-haul carrier Emirates has halted flights to over 100 destinations, cutting some 70 percent of its routes over the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The Dubai-based, government-owned airline is a crucial link in East-West travel and had still been flying into Beijing despite the virus outbreak.

Beijing flights, however, will end Monday. 

Some routes will be halted through the end of June. Before the crisis, Emirates flew to 145 destinations.

Tunisia orders stay at home

TUNIS — Tunisia said all citizens must stay at home in isolation for two weeks to stem the spread of the coronavirus. 

COVID-19 is still relatively localized in the North African country and has killed one person.

Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh said Sunday all non-essential members of the workforce should stay at home through April 4 and it will require "a lot of wisdom, responsibility and discipline."

Fakhfakh said the state will provide funding for vulnerable businesses, subsidies for laid off workers, and moratoriums on to bank loans. He also announced a two-month suspension of payment for electricity, water and telephone bills.

First death in Kosovo

PRISTINA, Kosovo - Kosovo authorities have reported the first COVID-19 death in the country.

The Infectious Clinic said the fatality was an 82-year old man from the village of Dumnica, Podujeva, 30 kilometers (20 miles) north of the capital, Pristina.

The patient went to the hospital a week ago with "mass pulmonary and pneumonia indications," and also suffering from other cardiac and lung chronic diseases.

He had contacted the virus from his son and daughter.

Kosovo has 28 cases as of Sunday. It is in a total lockdown with all its air and land border crossing points shut. Authorities have closed schools, cafes and restaurants and all shops except those offering food and medical supplies.

Germany to step up lockdown

BERLIN — German Chancellor Angela Merkel plans to hold a video conference with the governors of Germany's 16 states Sunday to discuss whether further measures are needed to prevent people spreading the coronavirus.

Germany's states have imposed varying levels of lockdown, causing a heated debate about which measures are appropriate to contain the virus.

Some officials have called for the rules to be the same nationwide.

While Bavaria has ordered people to stay indoors with few exceptions, Berlin still allows gatherings of up to 10 people.

Phone beeps when too close

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Dutch government sent an alert to mobile phones throughout the country Sunday urging people to keep 1.5 meters (five feet) apart after thousands of people flocked to beaches and parks a day earlier.

The Netherlands is a densely populated nation of 17 million but not in a total lockdown to battle the coronavirus. The government has banned gatherings of more than 100 people and told citizens not to get too close to one another.

"Follow government instructions: Stay 1.5 meters apart! Are you sick or have a cold? Stay at home. Protect yourself and people around you. Together against Corona," the NL Alert said in Dutch before adding in English: "Keep your distance to others."

Local authorities and police also warned people to keep their distance or urged them not to visit popular beaches along the Netherlands' North Sea coast, while a natural park organization tweeted that parks were "swamped with thousands of visitors" and urged people to go home or stay at home.

The country's public health institute said Saturday that 136 people have died in the Netherlands in the coronavirus outbreak. More than 3,600 people have tested positive for the virus.

Don't visit mother

LONDON — Sunday is Mother's Day in Britain, and the government has a stark message for millions of citizens: A visit to your mother could be life-threatening.

In a message to the nation, Prime Minister Boris Johnson implored Britons to forego family visits and Sunday lunches. He said "we cannot disguise or sugar coat the threat" that "if your mother is elderly or vulnerable, then I am afraid all the statistics show that she is much more likely to die from coronavirus."

On Friday, Johnson said that he hoped to see his 77-year-old mother on Mother's Day. His office later said that he would speak to her on Skype.

The U.K. government is scrambling to toughen its response to the coronavirus outbreak amid criticism it did not act quickly enough to close schools, pubs and restaurants.

Britain has 5,018 confirmed cases of the virus, including 233 deaths. The government says Britain will be facing a crisis on the scale of Italy's in two weeks if people do not heed instructions to stay home and avoid contact with others.

Tyrol cases reported

BERLIN — Authorities in Austria's western region of Tyrol have called on anyone who visited a bar in the Ziller valley earlier this month to watch for symptoms of the new coronavirus.

So-called apres-ski bars have emerged as a hub of infection, with tourists often carrying the virus back to their home countries and causing an outbreak there.

Officials said Sunday that Tyrol has recorded 839 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, at least 32 of which were in the Ziller valley.

Authorities said tracing possible contacts people had in bars is proving particularly difficult and urged anyone who visited bars there from March 8-15 to call a medical hotline if they feel symptoms.

Russia sends supplies to Italy

MOSCOW — Nine hulking Il-76 cargo planes are being loaded at the Chkalovsky military airport in Moscow as Russia prepares to send medical personnel and supplies to Italy to help the country's efforts against the coronavirus.

The mission is to begin Sunday, one day after Russian President Vladimir Putin offered the aid in a telephone conversation with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, whose country has confirmed more than 53,000 coronavirus cases and over 4,800 deaths.

The mission will include eight mobile medical teams along with medical equipment and aerosol disinfection trucks.

AP Logo little

The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.