53m ago / 9:04 AM UTC
South Korea extends ‘strengthened social distance’ for two weeks
South Korea will extend “strengthened social distance” for two more weeks ending on April 19, government officials said on Saturday.
Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun has expressed concern over rising infections linked to recent arrivals amid broadening outbreaks in Europe and the United States.
“We very well know that continuing social distancing comes with massive costs and sacrifice,” Chung said after a meeting on anti-virus measures on Saturday, referring to the economic implications. “But if we loosen things right now, the effort we so far invested could pop and disappear like a bubble.”
South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed 94 new cases on Saturday, bringing the national total to 10,156 cases. While the country’s caseload has slowed from early March — when it reported around 500 new cases a day — there’s alarm over a recent steady rise in infections in the Seoul metropolitan area where around half of the country’s 51 million people live.
2h ago / 8:23 AM UTC
China pays tribute to those who died in epidemic with day of mourning
China mourned the thousands of “martyrs” who have died in the coronavirus outbreak on Saturday, flying the national flag at half mast throughout the country and suspending all forms of entertainment.
At 10 a.m. local time, the country observed three minutes of silence to mourn those who died, including frontline medical workers and doctors. Cars, trains and ships sounded their horns and air raid sirens wailed.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, with other leaders, including Li Keqiang, Li Zhanshu, Wang Yang, Wang Huning, Zhao Leji, Han Zheng and Wang Qishan, attend National Mourning for #COVID19 victims in Beijing at 10 am Sat during the National Mourning Day. pic.twitter.com/gjYnq899vN
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) April 4, 2020
Chinese President Xi Jinping and other Chinese leaders paid silent tribute in front of the national flag, with white flowers pinned to their chest as a mark of mourning, state media reported.
The day of mourning coincided with the start of the annual Qingming tomb-sweeping festival, when millions of Chinese families pay respects to their ancestors. More than 3,300 people in mainland China have died in the epidemic as of Saturday.
2h ago / 7:46 AM UTC
Pressure grows on U.K. soccer stars to cut pay as crisis deepens
After days of mounting pressure, the top soccer clubs in Britain said Friday they would ask their players to take a 30 percent pay cut as the sport grapples with the damaging fallout from the coronavirus crisis.
“The overriding priority is to aid the health and wellbeing of the nation and our communities, including players, coaches, managers, club staff and supporters,” the Premier League said in a statement following a pivotal meeting earlier in the day.
It remains to be seen how players — whose wages span a wide spectrum in a league with no salary cap — will respond to the request following calls from government ministers to cut their often-astronomical wages.
The Associated Press
3h ago / 7:15 AM UTC
After resisting efforts to shut doors, Hobby Lobby has closed all stores
OKLAHOMA CITY — Hobby Lobby announced that the ongoing coronavirus crisis is prompting it to close its stores until further notice.
In a statement, the Oklahoma City-based crafts retail chain said it also is furloughing all of its store employees and many of its corporate and distribution workers.
Hobby Lobby had resisted efforts to close its stores as nonessential services, saying its sale of fabric was essential. A team enforcing Denver’s shelter-in-place order had issued citations to Hobby Lobby stores. On Thursday, deputies in Dallas County, Texas, served Hobby Lobby with cease-and-desist orders for it to close or be found in violation of the county’s order closing all nonessential businesses to fight the spread of COVID-19.
Hobby Lobby describes itself as the world’s largest privately owned arts-and-crafts retailer with more than 900 stores in 46 states with more than 43,000 employees, according to the chain’s website.
Matt Johnson and Phil Helsel
26m ago / 9:31 AM UTC
Hospital at NYC’s Javits Center starts taking patients
A 2,500-bed emergency medical facility being run by the U.S. Army in New York’s the Javits Center began taking COVID-19 patients Friday night, the governor’s office said.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the center, which had initially been planned to take non-virus patients, would instead take only those suffering from the coronavirus illness.
The New York City area has been called the epicenter of the coronavirus epidemic in the United States, and as of 5 p.m. Friday it had more than 56,000 cases with 1,867 deaths in the city itself, according to the city’s health department.
Cuomo said in a statement Thursday that he asked President Donald Trump to allow the Javits Center facility to take COVID-19 patients, and the president agreed to the request. Cuomo thanked Trump for his quick action in the matter.
The Defense Department said Friday that in addition to the Javits Center, COVID-19 patients would also be taken at federal medical stations set up at convention centers in New Orleans and Dallas.
After 9/11, we served as a staging area for first responders & our staff played a small part in the recovery effort. We’re proud to step up again for #NewYork. Thank you to our electricians, carpenters, freight handlers, engineers, plumbers, cleaners & security officers. #covid19 pic.twitter.com/eNsUDhjzBc
— Javits Center (@javitscenter) April 4, 2020
3h ago / 7:16 AM UTC
Americans stranded in Russia after last flight canceled just before takeoff
Hundreds of Americans are stranded in Russia after the last flight scheduled to leave the country was canceled as they sat on the plane Friday.
Aeroflot flight 102, which was scheduled to fly from Moscow to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, was preparing to depart when the pilot announced that the trip had been called off.
“A couple of people just started shouting,” said Joe Democritos, an English teacher trying to get back to New Jersey. “They were saying ‘I refuse to leave the plane. I will not leave the plane,’ in Russian, then they got the police to escort people off the plane.”
The U.S. Embassy in Moscow issued several alerts this week encouraging citizens to book the Aeroflot flight, noting that it “may be the last flight available this month” due to strict travel restrictions from the Russian government.
Embassy spokesperson Rebecca Ross called the cancellation “inexplicable” in a series of tweets. “To those of you who were boarded on Aeroflot 102 today only to have it canceled moments before takeoff, we understand and share your frustration.”
Renowned ballet dancer Julian Mackay was on the plane and took to social media to document the confusion. Videos posted to the Montana native’s Instagram account show bewildered travelers trying to get information from airport staff.
The State Department is working to organize a charter flight for citizens, but it requires the approval of the Russian government, according to an alert on the Embassy website. Passengers have been encouraged to seek lodging for the time being.