Coronavirus latest: World Health Organization warns the worst is yet ahead

The security checkpoing at the airport in Frankfurt, Germany on 18 April.
The security checkpoing at the airport in Frankfurt, Germany on 18 April. Copyright AP
By Luke Hurst with AFP
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"The worst is yet ahead of us," WHO chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned as some countries prepared to ease lockdown measures.


World Health Organization chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned on Monday the "worst is yet ahead of us" in the coronavirus outbreak.

"Let’s prevent this tragedy. It’s a virus that many people still don’t understand," he said.

The warning comes as some countries in Europe are set to ease lockdown measures this week, while others, such as the UK, continue in lockdown, with no plan made public for the easing of restrictions.

Europe’s worst-affected countries, France, Spain and Italy, which have all seen more than 20,000 people die as a result of COVID-19, are registering falling numbers of sick and dead after weeks of rising numbers.

Italy for the first time on Monday recorded fewer current coronavirus cases: 108,237 which is twenty fewer than the day before.

France had fewer hospitalisations but saw their death toll rise to above 20,000 as the director general of health warned that the epidemic was "very deadly" despite some hopeful progress.

The Netherlands recorded just 75 new cases of the virus after having more than 600 in a day earlier this month.

Follow our live blog below for the latest updates.

Coronavirus latest developments:

UK House of Commons returns from recess with plans for virtual proceedings

The UK House of Commons will return from recess tomorrow with plans for virtual proceedings.

For the first time, up to 120 members of parliament will be able to quiz ministers virtually via video conference.

MPs will have to approve the measures when they return from Easter recess, the House of Commons said.

“By initiating a hybrid solution, with steps towards an entirely virtual Parliament, we are enabling Members to stay close to their communities, while continuing their important work scrutinising the Government,” Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said.


Oil prices plunge below zero as demand falls

Oil prices plunged below zero on Monday as demand collapses amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The S&P 500 was also down 0.9% but the market’s most dramatic action was by far in oil, where benchmark U.S. crude for May delivery plummeted to negative $3.70 per barrel, as of 2:15 pm. Eastern time, AP reports.


Four day curfew in 31 Turkish provinces, Erdogan announces

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced a four-day curfew in 31 provinces to stem the spread of the coronavirus, AP reports.

The curfew will take effect on April 23 and end on April 26.

“The aim is to reduce the spread of the outbreak in a way that will make a return to normal after the Ramadan holiday possible,” Erdogan said in reference to the end of May.


France records more than 20,000 deaths

France has recorded 20,265 deaths since the beginning of the epidemic, an increase of 547 deaths in 24 hours, the health ministry said.

There has been a slight decrease in hospitalisations and people in intensive care units.

"Despite the efforts of French people to strictly respect the lockdown measures, physical and social distancing, and [have respiratory practices], this epidemic is very deadly," said director general of health Jérôme Salomon.

He also estimated that a large proportion of the French population had not been infected by the virus.

"More than 90% of the French population has not been in contact with this virus," Salomon said. "Collective immunity in France is low."


Coronavirus cases fall in Italy

The number of COVID-19 patients fell for the first time in Italy to 108,237, twenty fewer than the day before.

A total of 181,228 people have tested positive for coronavirus in Italy since the beginning of the epidemic with more than 24,000 deaths, the country's Civil Protection Authority announced on Monday.

There were 454 additional deaths in 24 hours.

Nearly 75% of the people who have tested positive are in home isolation with few or mild symptoms.

There are 2,573 patients in intensive care, a decrease of 62 patients since yesterday and 24,906 people hospitalised, a decrease of 127 people since yesterday.

Early antibody studies show a smaller proportion of public is infected, WHO says


A lower proportion of people, it appears, are infected with coronavirus, so there's a proportion of the public that is still susceptible, said Dr Maria Kerkhove at the World Health Organisation during their daily press briefing.

This is due to preliminary data from antibody tests. Despite flaws in the tests, she warned that it was looking like fewer people were infected than some previously thought.

Dr Kerkhove said lifting lockdown measures too quickly could lead to a resurgence of cases, especially if the population is vulnerable to the virus.


Rishi Sunak said the government has been "guided by the scientific advice" and made "the right decision at the right time" on maintaining a March football match in Liverpool.

He admitted that it was an "unprecedented situation" and later added: "There is light at the end of the tunnel but we're not there yet."

That's it for the UK government briefing.

Read our summary here:

People have to make decisions on whether they are in a risky situation, but it is difficult to legislate on all of that from a distance, she says. 

The guidance is very clear on what is safe to do and what is not.
Prof Doyle says she understands anxieties from frontline workers, and stresses that there is advice for "exceptional" circumstances where they may not have correct access to PPE.

Additional sources • AP

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