Samara Heisz/iStock(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now infected more than half a million people around the world since the first cases were detected in Wuhan, China, in December.
There are more than 549,000 diagnosed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, and over 24,000 people have died, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.
The United States has nearly 86,000 cases of COVID-19, the highest number in the world. At least 1,300 people have died in the U.S.
Here’s how the news is developing Friday. All times Eastern:
9:18 a.m.: UK Prime Minister, UK Health Secretary test positive for COVID-19
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Friday morning that he has tested positive for the coronavirus.
“Over the last 24 hours I have developed mild symptoms and tested positive for coronavirus,” Johnson said in a tweet. “I am now self-isolating, but I will continue to lead the government’s response via video-conference as we fight this virus. Together we will beat this.”
U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock on Friday said he too has tested positive for COVID-19 and is self-isolating.
Hancock said his symptoms are “very mild” and he would continue to work from home.
8:20 a.m.: NYC mayor projects half of city will be infected
In New York City — the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic — Mayor Bill de Blasio projects “over half the people in this city will ultimately be infected.”
“For over 80% [there] will be very little impact,” de Blasio told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America. “But 20% of the people infected, it’s going to be tough, and for some of them, it will be fatal.”
New York City has over 23,112 diagnosed cases — more than a quarter of the confirmed cases in the country.
At least 365 people have died in New York City, twice as many deaths as any state.
The mayor said the city has enough hospital supplies to get through this week and next week but “that’s all I can guarantee, and after that unfortunately, we think this crisis is going to grow through April into May. “
“We need help now. When the president says the state of New York doesn’t need 30,000 ventilators, with all due respect to him, he’s not looking at the facts of this astronomical growth of this crisis,” de Blasio said. “A ventilator means someone lives or dies … if they don’t get a ventilator, a lot of people won’t make it.”
The city needs 15,000 ventilators, he warned.
“We have some, and I’m thankful for that, but it has to keep coming,” de Blasio said. “The president has to make that contract happen with the companies that can create ventilators not just for New York City and New York state, but for the whole country. This is going to get worse before it gets better … all parts of this country are going to need them.”
De Blasio called the president’s goal to reopen the country for Easter “a false hope.”
“It would be better for the president to be blunt with people that we’ve got a really tough battle ahead,” the mayor said. “Throw in the military who are not yet being fully engaged, and they’re ready, but the president has to give the order. Build those ventilators, get the supplies all over this country. People are going to need it in April and in May.”
7:29 a.m.: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson tests positive for COVID-19
United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Friday morning that he has tested positive for the coronavirus.
“Over the last 24 hours I have developed mild symptoms and tested positive for coronavirus,” Johnson tweeted. “I am now self-isolating, but I will continue to lead the government’s response via video-conference as we fight this virus. Together we will beat this.”
Johnson was tested on the advice of England’s chief medical officer, according to a Downing Street spokesperson.
“We will get through it,” Johnson said in a video message Friday.
5:19 a.m.: Michigan health system develops contingency plan to deny ventilators and ICU treatment
A Michigan health system has come up with a contingency plan for doctors to make life-or-death decisions when treating patients in the coronavirus pandemic.
A draft letter from Henry Ford Health Systems outlining the plan to families was widely shared on Twitter late Thursday night. The plan, typed on what appeared to be hospital letterhead, said that coronavirus patients with the best chance of surviving will be “our first priority,” while those who are “extremely sick and very unlikely to survive” will receive “pain control and comfort measures” rather than ventilators and intensive care treatment.
“Treating these patients would take away resources for patients who might survive,” the letter stated. “This decision will be based on medical condition and likelihood of getting better.”
Responding to a flurry tweets about the letter, Henry Ford Health Systems confirmed its accuracy but clarified that the policy has not yet been implemented.
“With a pandemic, we must be prepared for worst case,” the company tweeted. “With collective wisdom from our industry, we crafted a policy to provide guidance for making difficult patient care decisions. We hope never to have to apply them. We will always utilize every resource to care for our patients.”
4:37 a.m.: South Africa cases top 1,000 as country begins three-week lockdown
The number of confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in South Africa has topped 1,000, the country’s health minister said Friday.
Africa’s most industrialized economy has the highest national total of known cases on the continent.
South Africa also recorded its first two deaths from COVID-19, both of which occurred in the Western Cape province.
“This morning, we South Africans wake up with sad news that we now have our first deaths resulting from COVID-19,” South African Health Minister Zweli Mkhizethe said in a statement Friday.
Friday marked the start of a three-week nationwide lockdown in South Africa, aimed at curbing the rising number of cases.
3:30 a.m.: Trump and Xi discuss coronavirus crisis
U.S. President Donald Trump said he spoke to Chinese President Xi Jinping about the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump posted about the telephone conversation on Twitter early Thursday morning, saying they discussed the situation “in great detail.”
“Just finished a very good conversation with President Xi of China,” Trump tweeted. “Discussed in great detail the CoronaVirus that is ravaging large parts of our Planet. China has been through much [and] has developed a strong understanding of the Virus. We are working closely together. Much respect!”
Just finished a very good conversation with President Xi of China. Discussed in great detail the CoronaVirus that is ravaging large parts of our Planet. China has been through much & has developed a strong understanding of the Virus. We are working closely together. Much respect!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 27, 2020
Xi told Trump that “China and the United States should unite to fight the epidemic” and that he hoped “the United States will take substantive actions to improve Sino-U.S. relations,” according to Chinese state television network CCTV.
The Chinese president also emphasized that the relationship between their two countries is “at a critical juncture” and that “cooperation is the only right choice,” according to CCTV.
Trump has clashed with China over the global fight against the novel coronavirus, which emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019. The U.S. president reportedly angered Beijing officials this month when he repeatedly referred to COVID-19 as “the Chinese virus.”
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