The latest on the coronavirus pandemic. 

California saw its first daily decrease in intensive care hospitalizations during the coronavirus outbreak, a key indicator of how many health care workers and medical supplies the state needs, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday.

The rate of all virus hospitalizations has slowed this week. Those in the ICU need the highest level of care, and so it was particularly encouraging that the number of patients in those rooms actually dropped 1.9% on Wednesday to 1,132.

The virus can cause severe breathing problems, and ventilators are a key tool in keeping the sickest patients alive.

Newsom has been building the state’s stockpile and earlier this week was confident enough of the supply to send 500 to other states.

California hospitals have more than 11,000 ventilators, and two-thirds aren’t being used, he said.

China reports 42 new cases of coronavirus

BEIJING — China on Friday reported 42 new coronavirus cases, 38 of them imported, along with one additional death in the hardest-hit city of Wuhan.

Another 1,169 suspected cases or those who tested positive but were not showing symptoms, were being monitored under isolation. China now has reported a total of 81,907 cases and 3,336 deaths from the virus.

Seattle anticipates nice weather, closes parks

SEATTLE — The city of Seattle will close its largest and most popular parks this weekend, fearful that sunny weather will draw crowds and expose people to COVID-19.

Mayor Jenny Durkan said Thursday the city will close 15 parks Friday at 11 p.m. through Monday morning. The parks with gates will be locked, and Seattle Parks and Recreation employees will be present.

The city’s more than 400 neighborhood parks will remain open, with social distancing regulations in effect.

Men not getting tested as much as women

WASHINGTON — Men are not getting tested as much for the coronavirus as women.

Yet, when men do get tested, a higher percentage test positive for the virus.

Dr. Deborah Birx used the numbers to remind men “about the importance of health care” during a briefing Thursday at the White House.

So far, Birx says, 56% of the people tested for COVID-19 are female, and 16% of them tested positive for the virus.

But for the men, 23% tested positive.

Birx made a plea for men experiencing symptoms that could be a result of the virus to get tested, saying “we appreciate you engaging in that.”

Birx serves as the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator.

U.S. expels 10,000 migrants at the border during outbreak

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration has carried out nearly 10,000 summary deportations or “expulsions” since March 21, using emergency public health measures during the coronavirus outbreak that have given U.S. Customs and Border Protection broad authority to bypass immigration laws, officials said Thursday.

The measures have allowed the agency to quickly turn away most unauthorized migrants – sending them back across the U.S.-Mexico border. The moves have dramatically slashed the number of detainees held in border stations, where they fear the coronavirus could spread, the officials said. Customs and Border Protection has fewer than 100 detainees in custody, down from nearly 20,000 at this time last year during the border crisis, officials said.

Since the implementation of the rapid expulsions, migration levels have fallen to near their lowest point in decades, with unlawful border crossings down 56 percent, said acting CBP commissioner Mark Morgan. Morgan also acknowledged that the United States has all but closed its borders to asylum seekers who are fleeing persecution, including those who attempt to enter legally at U.S. ports of entry.

Democratic lawmakers have accused the administration of defying U.S. laws and exceeding the authority of the coronavirus public health order, but Morgan defended the emergency measures as a necessary step to stop the spread of the disease.

Read the full story on the expulsion of migrants here.

U.S. states share, get creative in hunt for medical supplies

With the federal stockpile drained of protective gear, states are turning to each other, private industries and anyone who can donate in a desperate bid to get respirators, gloves and other supplies to doctors, nurses and other front-line workers.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services confirmed Wednesday that the federal cupboard is officially bare at least through this month after it was able to fulfill just a sliver of states’ requests.

The development is not a complete surprise. Last month, President Trump told governors to take care of their own needs. States said they were trying but that bidding in a global marketplace for the supplies was highly competitive and expensive, pitting states against each other, their own hospital systems and other countries, including the U.S. government.

States also have begun working together, whether its forming regional alliances to create greater purchasing power or sending excess supplies to hot spots.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said this week his state, the nation’s most populous, plans to spend nearly $1 billion a month to buy 200 million masks with the idea of distributing them throughout the Western U.S. State officials have said they won’t be setting up a new supply chain, but rather sharing with states that have a high need. California had spent $1.4 billion on medical equipment even before announcing its ramped-up purchases.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said her state has joined with others in the Great Lakes region to gain buying power. By last week, Michigan, which has more cases than all but two other states, had spent $130 million on medical supplies to address the crisis.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock said his state has received five times as many masks from neighboring North Dakota as from the national stockpile. Vermont officials said they’ve worked with other New England states to acquire protective gear.

Read the full story on states’ efforts to scare up medical gear here.

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New York Stock Exchange Chief Security Officer Kevin Fitzgibbons rings the opening bell on Thursday, while recognizing Randy Timmons in Albany, Ga., and thousands of employees of the Proctor & Gamble Company. New York Stock Exchange via Associated Press

Wall Street caps best week since 1974 on latest Fed stunner

NEW YORK — Wall Street closed out its best week in 45 years on Thursday after the Federal Reserve launched its latest titanic effort to support the economy through the coronavirus outbreak.

The central bank announced programs to provide up to $2.3 trillion in loans to households, local governments and businesses as the country tips into what economists say may be the worst recession in decades. It’s the latest unprecedented move by the Fed, which has rushed to ensure cash gets to parts of the economy that need it after markets got snarled by a rush of investors pulling cash out of the system.

The stock market is not the economy, and that distinction has become even more clear this week. The S&P 500 rose 1.4 percent Thursday, the same day the government announced 6.6 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week as layoffs sweep the nation. For the week, the S&P 500 jumped 12.1 percent, its best performance since late 1974. Markets will be closed for Good Friday.

Stock investors are continuously looking ahead to where the economy will be a few months or more in the future. From mid-February through late March, they sent stocks down by a third on expectations that a steep recession was imminent, before the economy really began to crunch.

In the last few weeks, though, investors have sent the market back up nearly 25 percent following promises for massive aid from the Fed, other central banks and governments around the world, even as evidence piles up that the recession fears were prescient. This week, some investors have begun to look ahead to the economy possibly reopening amid signs the outbreak may be peaking or plateauing in several of the world’s hardest hit areas.

”The market is solely focused on the number of cases,” said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial. “The question is when can the restrictions be lifted? That’s what the market is focused on, when does America open up for business again?”

The S&P 500 rose 39.84 points to 2,789.92. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 285.80, or 1.2 percent, to 23,719.37, and the Nasdaq climbed 62.67, or 0.8 percent, to 8,153.58.

Read the full Wall Street story here.

U.S. gig workers and self-employed face delays in jobless aid

WASHINGTON — After Rich Cruse saw about $3,000 in income for his photography business quickly disappear to the coronavirus, he tried to apply for unemployment benefits in California. But like many states, his isn’t yet accepting claims from the self-employed like him.

That’s left Cruse, 58, earning just meager pay driving for Uber Eats near San Diego. And he worries about the health risks.

“I wear a mask and am practically eating hand sanitizer,” he said. “It’s not what I am supposed to be doing.”

Even as nearly 17 million Americans have sought unemployment benefits in the past three weeks — a record high, by far — millions of people appear to be falling through the cracks. They can’t get through jammed phone systems or finish their applications on overloaded websites. Or they’re confused about whether or how to apply.

And now there is a whole new category of people — gig workers, independent contractors and self-employed people like Cruse. The federal government’s $2.2 trillion economic relief package for the first time extended unemployment aid to cover those workers when they lose their jobs. Yet most states have yet to update their systems to process these applications.

The struggles at U.S. unemployment systems run by the states contrasts with the smoother and more robust protections that many European governments provide for millions who have been thrown out of work as a result of the viral outbreak. In France, for example, 5.8 million people — about a quarter of the private-sector workforce — are now on a “partial unemployment” plan: With the government’s help, they receive part of their wages while temporarily laid off or while working shorter hours.

Many European governments seek to subsidize wages in downturns so that workers can remain attached to their employers. By contrast, the U.S. approach typically is to provide support to those who’ve lost jobs. But unemployment aid doesn’t cover everyone. It can be limited to six months or less.

Some economists argue that the European approach explains why unemployment rates there don’t spike as high in downturns as in the United States, and fewer workers drop out of the workforce compared with the United States.

The new U.S. economic relief package does include $350 billion in loans for small companies that agree to retain or rehire their employees. These loans are forgiven if they’re used for wages. But that program is off to a rocky start. And Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has already asked Congress for more money given the tidal wave of applications for the loans.

British Prime Minister Johnson out of intensive care as his condition improves

LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s condition has improved and he has been moved out of intensive care where he was treated for three days with COVID-19, his office said Thursday.

In a statement, a spokesman at 10, Downing Street said Johnson “has been moved this evening from intensive care back to the ward, where he will receive close monitoring during the early phase of his recovery.”

Johnson had been in intensive care at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London, near his residence, for three days after his symptoms worsened. He tested positive for the new coronavirus two weeks ago and at first had only “mild” symptoms.

His condition appeared to be improving over the past day or so. Earlier Thursday, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who has been deputizing for the prime minister during key meetings, said Johnson was “making positive steps forward.”

Raab told Britons earlier it was too early to ease restrictions on public activity imposed March 23 to try to slow the spread of the virus.

The original restrictions were for three weeks, a period that ends Monday. But after chairing a meeting of the government’s crisis committee, COBRA, Raab said no decision on lifting the government’s stay-home order and business closures would be made “until evidence clearly shows that we’ve moved beyond the peak” of the outbreak.

Raab said “we’re starting to see the impact of the sacrifices we’ve all made, but the deaths are still rising and we haven’t yet reached the peak of the virus.”

He said the government and its scientific experts would assess the evidence again next week.

Read the full story about Boris Johnson here.

Gov. Cuomo says virus killed a ‘breathtaking’ 799 New Yorkers in a single day

NEW YORK — Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday said a “breathtaking” record 799 people died in New York state from coronavirus in one day and warned against underestimating the killer pandemic.

The new spike in deaths has pushed the total statewide toll over 7,000, about half the national total.

“I understand the data, but you’re dealing with 799 lives,” Cuomo said. “It’s so shocking, breathtaking. I don’t even have words for it.”

The governor said the pandemic has now far eclipsed the horror of 9/11 — and admitted that he never thought any New Yorker would experience such mass death in a generation.

“There’s no explosion but it … just ripples through society with the same randomness,” he said.

The terrible toll could be even worse. New York City said Thursday that 824 people died in the five boroughs alone. The city and state are using different methodologies for counting victims, leading to discrepancies.

An even bigger issue is the fact that thousands of New Yorkers who have died at home of apparent coronavirus are not being included in any official tallies, studies say.

Even as he shook his head in disbelief at the soaring death toll, Cuomo showed data that suggests the worst of the crisis has eased for now as the growth in new hospitalizations and intensive care has dipped significantly.

He credited New Yorkers with leaning into social-distancing recommendations like avoiding in-person annual religious observances like Easter, Passover and Ramadan.

“Every day is tough on many levels,” Cuomo said. “But every day we stay tough we are saving lives.”

Read the full story about New York here.

Senate deadlocks on latest coronavirus relief package for small businesses

WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats on Thursday blocked a Republican effort to add $250 billion to an overwhelmed small business loan program, the latest political standoff in the weeks-long effort to pump trillions of federal dollars to businesses and families dealing with the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., tried to approve $250 billion in new funding for the Paycheck Protection Program during a brief Senate session through a fast-track method that requires no objection from senators.

There is widespread, bipartisan support to add money to the small business program. But Democrats say they won’t agree to the new spending unless there are safeguards to ensure all businesses can access the capital, including directing some of the money to small banks. They also wanted to add $100 billion for the healthcare system, and $150 billion for state and local governments.

Congress already approved $350 billion for the paycheck program — money that is quickly running out as small businesses have flooded local banks to apply. Earlier this week, Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin requested that congressional leaders approve the additional funding.

Democrats objected to the resulting legislation proposed by McConnell and McConnell objected to the Democrats’ counterproposal, leading to the current stalemate.

McConnell accused Democrats of holding Americans’ paychecks “hostage.”

Read the full story about the Senate bill here.

Fauci insists he’s ‘somewhat serious’ about not shaking hands ever again

The top pandemic doctor said Thursday he was “somewhat serious” when he said Americans “may never shake hands again,” and suggested the nation faces a long and difficult battle with the coronavirus pandemic.

“When we attempt to get back to normal, we have to have in place the ability, when it starts to try and rear its ugly head, we can absolutely suppress it,” Fauci told NBC News.

Fauci said he was optimistic that the U.S. might be able to limit the death toll to close to 60,000, much lower than the 100,000 or more that models predicted just a couple of weeks ago.

He dismissed conspiracy theories that the soaring toll is a liberal hoax, although he didn’t address reports that the actual death toll is much higher because people who die at home in the pandemic are not necessarily being counted.

He appeared to pour cold water on the idea touted by President Donald Trump and some of his right-wing supporters that the nation can largely return to normal by May 1.

The virus “determines the timetable,” Fauci said, repeating a mantra that he has used to push back against Trump’s impatience to roll back social-distancing edicts.

He also took an oblique slap at Trump for failing to adequately plan for a pandemic. The president dismantled a White House team that tracked infectious diseases, blew off early warnings from aides about coronavirus and repeatedly downplayed its threat to Americans.

“When you’re talking about getting back to normal, we know now that we can get hit by a catastrophic outbreak like this,” Fauci said. “It can happen again, so we really need to be prepared to respond in a much more vigorous way.”

Fed rolls out $2.3 trillion plan to stabilize economy

WASHINGTON  — The Federal Reserve is taking additional steps to provide up to $2.3 trillion in loans to support the economy. The money will target American households and businesses, as well as local governments besieged by the coronavirus outbreak.

The Fed said Thursday that it is activating a Main Street Business Lending Program authorized by the CARES Act, the largest economic relief package ever passed by Congress.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the Fed’s role was to “provide as much relief and stability as we can during this period of constrained economic activity.”

In addition, the Fed activated a loan program for municipal governments, as well as additional support for the Paycheck Protection Program, which the Small Business Administration rolled out last week. The program provides loans to businesses with fewer than 500 employees.

The Main Street lending program “will make a significant difference for the 40,000 medium-sized business that employ 35 million Americans,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.

The government’s pay protection plan for small businesses is off to a rocky start. They have had difficulty getting banks to provide the loans. The banks have said that the government has not made clear how they should process such loans, even what forms are required.

The Fed announced the new infusion of cash on the same day the U.S. reported applications for unemployment benefits last week reached a staggering 6.6 million. That means more than one in 10 workers have lost their jobs in just the past three weeks to the coronavirus outbreak.

Read the full story.

Fauci: Don’t assume virus fades in warm weather

WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, says don’t assume the coronavirus will fade during warm weather.

Fauci told ABC’s “Good Morning America” there’s precedent with other infections like influenza that “when the virus gets warmer that the virus goes down in its ability to replicate, to spread.”

Anthony Fauci

Dr. Anthony Fauci at a press conference at the White House on Wednesday, April 8. Associated Press/Alex Brandon

But Fauci added “having said that, one should not assume that we are going to be rescued by a change in the weather. You must assume that the virus will continue to do its thing. If we get some help from the weather, so be it, fine. But I don’t think we need to assume that.”

He was asked about the New York Times story that research indicates the coronavirus that began circulating in New York in mid-February came mainly from Europe, not Asia.

“I think that’s probably correct,” Fauci said. He notes that “Europe became the epicenter pretty quickly after China really exploded with their cases.”

Crew member of USS Theodore Roosevelt in ICU

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Navy says a member of the crew of the USS Theodore Roosevelt who tested positive for coronavirus on March 30 was admitted to the intensive care unit at U.S. Naval Hospital Guam.

The carrier has been docked at Guam since March 27 with a coronavirus outbreak that has sidelined the warship and infected 416 members of its 4,860-member crew.

The sailor who is in ICU had been in 14-day isolation. As recently as Wednesday, the Navy said there had been zero hospitalizations among the coronavirus-infected crew members.

The Navy says the number of COVID-positive cases among the Roosevelt crew stood Thursday at 416, up from 286 on Wednesday.

Federal stocks of protective equipment nearly depleted

WASHINGTON  — The Strategic National Stockpile is nearly out of the N95 respirators, surgical masks, face, shields, gowns and other medical supplies desperately needed to protect front-line medical workers treating coronavirus patients.

The Department of Health and Human Services told The Associated Press Wednesday that the federal stockpile was in the process of deploying all remaining personal protective equipment in its inventory.

The HHS statement confirms federal documents released Wednesday by the House Oversight and Reform Committee showing that about 90% of the personal protective equipment in the stockpile has been distributed to state and local governments.

HHS spokeswoman Katie McKeogh said the remaining 10% will be kept in reserve to support federal response efforts.

Read the full story.

Runners may be exposing themselves to virus even when 6 feet apart

The rule is now familiar, if not utterly routine, for anyone who has ventured outdoors in the middle of the pandemic: Whether walking the dog, buying groceries, or taking out the trash, you should stay more than six feet apart to contain the novel coronavirus.

But anyone who goes outside to exercise may need to keep an even greater distance from other runners and joggers, a new European study says, in order to properly practice social distancing.

Researchers at KU Leuven in Belgium and the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands found that someone infected with the virus could pass on respiratory droplets to people more than six feet behind them through a kind of vacuum they form as they cut through the air.

“When you are moving — running, cycling, walking — you are actually creating an area behind you that is often called a slipstream,” Bert Blocken, who coordinated the study, told the Brussels Times.

Athletes often use these slipstreams to run or bike at a higher speed, Blocken said.

According to a series of simulations run by his team, a jogger moving at about 2.5 miles per hour was likely to come into contact with the slipstream, and thus, the droplets, of someone exercising as much as 50 feet ahead.

The study suggests that runners and cyclists may want to avoid moving directly behind another person and falling into their slipstream, Blocken said, by moving side by side or by in a staggered formation.

When such a formation is unavoidable on narrow paths or sidewalks, those seeking an outdoor workout should stay at least 15 feet apart when walking, 33 feet when running or cycling slowly and 65 feet apart for more vigorous exercise, he told the Globe and Mail.

Slovakia orders lockdown for 5 Roma communities

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — Slovakia’s authorities have ordered a lockdown of five poor settlements where the Roma live separated from the majority population after 31 people there tested positive for the coronavirus.

Prime Minister Igor Matovic announced the lockdown, the first in Slovakia, on Thursday, saying “I’ll be glad if you understand the necessity of the decision.”

The military health personnel started the testing on Friday in 33 such settlements where the poorest of the poor Roma live, often without access to running water and without sewage systems. Authorities fear such conditions would result in a rapid spreading of the infection.

The testing in the settlements was requested by Roma activists.

Initially, authorities were focusing on over a thousand of those Roma who recently returned from abroad from countries seriously hit by the epidemic, including Britain. A total of 816 had been tested as of Wednesday. Slovakia has 682 infections, and two people have died.

Iran may ban mass gatherings during Ramadan

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s supreme leader is suggesting that mass gatherings in the Islamic Republic may be barred through the holy Muslim fasting month Ramadan amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made the comment Thursday as Iran is trying to restart its economic activity after suffering one of the world’s worst outbreaks. Ramadan is set to begin in late April and last through most of May.

Khamenei urged Shiite faithful to pray in their homes during Ramadan. Shiite typically pray communally, especially during Ramadan.

Iran has reported over 67,000 confirmed cases of the new virus, with nearly 4,000 deaths. However, experts have repeatedly questioned those numbers, especially as Iran initially downplayed the outbreak in February amid the 41st anniversary of its 1979 Islamic Revolution and a crucial parliamentary vote.

Belgian armed forces called to deal with outbreaks in nursing homes

BRUSSELS — Authorities in the French-speaking Walloon region have requested the support of Belgian armed forces to tackle the worrying situation at nursing homes, where several hundred residents have died because of COVID-19.

According to official figures released this month, a third of the deaths linked to the deadly virus in the region of southern Belgium have been registered in resting homes.

Christie Morreale, the Walloon health minister, said Thursday that her request for help has been granted by Belgian federal authorities. A total of 116 nursing homes in the region have been hit by a COVID-19 cluster, a situation where at least 10 cases of the new coronavirus have been confirmed.

Morreale said the military personal could help cater to residents or decontaminate premises infected with the deadly virus. She also asked doctors to volunteer to attend to patients in resting homes.

The situation is concerning too in the neighboring Flanders region, where more than 600 nursing home residents are suspected to have died as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 2,000 virus-related deaths have been recorded in the country with a population of approximately 11.5 million people.

Outbreaks of virus in Russia accelerate

MOSCOW — The number of coronavirus cases in Russia has surpassed 10,000.

The country’s health officials reported 1,459 new cases on Thursday, bringing Russia’s total to 10,131, with 76 deaths. Moscow accounted for 6,698 infections, authorities said.

The outbreak in Russia has picked up speed in recent weeks, with the number of cases growing exponentially and doubling every few days.

Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this month ordered most Russians to stay off work until the end of April as part of a partial economic shutdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus. He said some essential industries will keep operating, and grocery stores and pharmacies will remain open. All Russian regions have been on lockdown since the beginning of the month.

After recovery, some South Koreans still testing positive for virus

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea says at least 74 people who had been diagnosed as recovered from the new coronavirus tested positive for the second time after they were released from hospitals.

Jeong Eun-kyeong, director of South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Thursday health authorities were testing virus and serum samples to determine whether patients who tested positive again would be capable of transmitting the virus to others and whether their bodies had properly created antibodies.

She said some of the patients didn’t show any symptoms before their follow-up tests turned positive, while others were tested again because they were exhibiting respiratory symptoms. She said none of these patients so far have seen their illness worsen to serious conditions.

South Korean officials have been cautious about discussing the possibility that people could get re-infected with the virus after making a full recovery.

Lee Hyuk-min, a professor from Seoul’s Yonsei University College of Medicine, said it’s more likely that infections were re-activated after initially fading in patients whose bodies hadn’t fully developed immunity.

“Some people who had recovered from mild cases may not fully develop immunity, and in such cases of course, (infections) could re-activate after a certain period of time,” Lee said. “The other possibility is people being exposed to environments that affect their immune systems following their release from hospitals, which could also result in re-activation.”

Japan’s government criticized for being slow to react

TOKYO — Japan’s central government was dragging its feet and causing delays for Tokyo and other prefectures that want to take further steps than just asking their residents to stay home under the state of emergency.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared a month-long state of emergency Tuesday for Tokyo and six other prefectures, but so far is only asking the people to stay at home and reduce human interactions. Abe has been criticized for being too slow and lenient on the measures due to its concerns about hurting the economy.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Thursday additional measures such as shutdown requests for nonessential businesses should wait until experts and officials evaluate how the people’s social distancing worked.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike, who on Monday outlined her business closure plans, said she had to renegotiate with Abe’s government whose policy is more lenient. Koike said Tokyo is in dire situation with new cases surging by day and cannot hold nonessential business shutdowns for two more weeks.

Also Thursday, Aichi Gov. Hideaki Omura announced plans to declare his own local state of emergency Friday because the prefecture, home to Toyota Motor Corp., is excluded from Abe’s declaration despite the rapid surge of infections. Suga said the government does not plan to immediately add Aichi as an eighth prefecture and that any addition will require consultations with experts and other procedures.

Indian authorities seal ‘containment zones’

NEW DELHI — Indian authorities have identified and sealed dozens of hot spots in the Indian capital and the neighboring Uttar Pradesh state comprising residential districts to check the rising trajectory of new coronavirus infections.

Government statements late Wednesday said people will be supplied food, medicines and other supplies at their doorsteps and they will not be allowed to leave these areas.

Authorities also made it compulsory for people to wear face masks when stepping outdoors in areas not covered by these restrictions in the two states.

The sealing of hot spots came as the number of confirmed cases in India crossed the 5,000 mark, with 166 deaths, according to India’s Health Ministry.

India put its entire population of 1.3 billion, one-fifth of the worlds’ population, under lockdown for three weeks until April 14.

Although the new coronavirus cases are spread over roughly 40% of India’s districts, they are concentrated in India’s densely populated urban centers. Mumbai, previously known as Bombay, is the worst impacted.

India’s strategy is focused around identifying “containment zones” where efforts would be targeted on restricting the virus “within a defined geographic area” to break the chain of transmission.


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