Coronavirus Live Updates: Surgeon General Asks CDC To Consider Mask Use

The virus has killed more than 40,000 people worldwide and continues to spread at a rapid pace. Efforts to curb the outbreak have led to the global disruption of daily life and the economy, as schools and workplaces shutter in hopes of slowing transmission.

HuffPost reporters around the world are tracking the pandemic and the measures being taken to flatten the curve of transmission.

Read the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic below. (To see the latest updates, you may need to refresh the page. All times are Eastern. For earlier updates on the pandemic, go here.)

Surgeon General Asks CDC To Consider Mask Use — 4/1/20, 8:10 a.m. ET

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said Wednesday that he has asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to consider whether people should wear masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. He said this request follows new data on asymptomatic spread of COVID-19, which he did not specify.

“But if you choose to wear a face covering, this can’t come at the expense of social distancing,” Adams said on Twitter. He added that masks for the general public do not need to be N95, which are tight-fitting and medical grade.

Advising people to wear masks would be a reversal of his earlier plea to the public back in February to stop buying masks. He had insisted, again in a Twitter post, that masks are “NOT effective in preventing the general public from catching” the virus and that their purchase was limiting resources that health care providers needed.

Spain Becomes Third Country To Record 100,000 Infections  — 4/1/20, 7:45 a.m. ET

There are signs the infection rate is beginning to stabilize in Spain, even as the country becomes the third nation behind the U.S. and Italy to record more than 100,000 cases.

The daily death toll in Spain, which is two-and-a-half weeks into a national lockdown, rose to 9,053 from 8,189 on Tuesday, a new record, though the increase was lower in percentage terms than during the previous days. Total infections hit 102,136.

But the 24-hour increase of 7,719 was 1,500 fewer than the increase from the previous day, offering hope that the infection rate is slowing. However, HuffPost Spain reports (in Spanish) that ICUs are at risk of being overrun in up to six of the country’s autonomous regions.

‘Restrictions Until April 13’: Italy’s Lockdown Extended — 4/1/20, 6:15 a.m. ET

HPIT April 1

HuffPost Italy reported that the country will extend its lockdown until at least April 13.

“Our goal is to reduce the number of positive cases, reduce deaths and prevent our national health system from being hit by a further tsunami,” Health Minister Roberto Speranza said Wednesday.

After days of steep rises in cases, data this week has suggested the pace of growth in the number of total cases in Italy is slowing, with new infections coming in at 4,053 on Tuesday. Deaths have remained largely steady at over 800 a day. Italy was the first Western country to introduce quarantine measures and is nearing a month since being placed under lockdown.

Doctor’s Grim Warning For Australia’s Indigenous Communities — 4/1/20, 5:40 a.m. ET

HPAU April 1

HPAU April 1

Doctors in Australia are pleading with the government for coronavirus assistance in Indigenous communities, including basic masks and isolation facilities, in order to avoid hundreds of deaths. Indigenous Australians are extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 due to underlying health issues, such as diabetes, rheumatic heart disease and kidney disease, while Indigenous people over 50 have been advised to stay home “to the maximum extent practical.” The same advice was issued for people in the wider community with chronic illnesses over 60.

The Aboriginal community of Yarrabah is not only dealing with the shock of a government-enforced lockdown but is also grappling with the potential reality of what will happen if the virus reaches the town, just 45 minutes from the North Queensland city of Cairns. “If we don’t get to this, for a community like Yarrabah, that could be deaths in hundreds, and we need to avoid that at all costs,” Yarrabah Senior Medical Officer Dr. Jason King told HuffPost Australia. At least 4,860 cases have been confirmed in Australia and 21 people have died. Read more

UN Chief Says COVID-19 Is Biggest Challenge Humanity Has Faced Since WWII — 4/01/20, 5:30 a.m.

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic is the “greatest test” and challenge the world has faced since World War II, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Tuesday.

The pandemic is “attacking societies at their core,” Guterres said, adding that the world’s leading economies need to take “coordinated, decisive, inclusive and innovative policy action” to tackle the crisis — and to offer support for the “poorest and most vulnerable people and countries.”

For earlier updates on the pandemic, go here.

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