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New Orleans jazz patriarch Ellis Marsalis dead at 85

Jazz artist Marsalis dies at 85

Ellis Marsalis Jr., jazz pianist, teacher and patriarch of a New Orleans musical clan that includes famed performer sons Wynton and Branford, has died after battling pneumonia brought by the new coronavirus, one of his sons said late Wednesday.

He was 85.

Ellis Marsalis III confirmed in an Associated Press phone interview that his father's death was sparked by the virus that is causing the global pandemic. "Pneumonia was the actual thing that caused his demise. But it was pneumonia brought on by COVID-19," he said.

He said he drove Sunday from Baltimore to be with his father as he was hospitalized in hard-hit New Orleans, and others in the family spent time with him, too.

Four of the jazz patriarch's six sons are musicians: Wynton, trumpeter, is America's most prominent jazz spokesman as artistic director of jazz at New York's Lincoln Center. Branford, saxophonist, led The Tonight Show band and toured with Sting. Delfeayo, a trombonist, is a prominent recording producer and performer. And Jason, a percussionist, has made a name for himself with his own band and as an accompanist. Ellis III, who decided music wasn't his gig, is a photographer-poet in Baltimore.

In a statement, Mayor LaToya Cantrell said of the man who'd continued to perform regularly in New Orleans until December: “Ellis Marsalis was a legend. He was the prototype of what we mean when we talk about New Orleans jazz. He was a teacher, a father, and an icon — and words aren’t sufficient to describe the art, the joy and the wonder he showed the world."

Because Marsalis opted to stay in New Orleans for most of his career, his reputation was limited until his sons became famous and brought him the spotlight, along with new recording contracts and headliner performances on television and tour.

"He was like the coach of jazz. He put on the sweatshirt, blew the whistle and made these guys work," said Nick Spitzer, host of public radio’s American Routes and a Tulane University anthropology professor.

The Marsalis "family band" seldom played together when the boys were younger but in 2003 toured East in a spinoff of a family celebration that became a PBS special when the elder Marsalis retired from teaching at the University of New Orleans.

Harry Connick Jr., one of Marsalis' students at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts, was a guest. He's one of many now-famous jazz musicians who passed through Marsalis' classrooms. Others include trumpeters Nicholas Payton and Terence Blanchard, saxophonists Donald Harrison and Victor Goines, and bassist Reginald Veal.

Marsalis was born in New Orleans, son of the operator of a hotel where Marsalis met touring black musicians who couldn't stay at the segregated downtown hotels where they performed. He played saxophone in high school; he also played piano by the time he went to Dillard University.

Although New Orleans was steeped in traditional jazz, and rock 'n' roll was the new sound in the 1950s, Marsalis preferred bebop and modern jazz.

Spitzer described Marsalis as a “modernist in a town of traditionalists.”

"His great love was jazz a la bebop — he was a lover of Thelonious Monk and the idea that bebop was a music of freedom. But when he had to feed his family, he played R&B and soul and rock ‘n’ roll on Bourbon Street," Spitzer said.

The musician's college quartet included drummer Ed Blackwell, clarinetist Alvin Batiste and saxophonist Harold Battiste playing modern.

Ornette Coleman was in town at the time. In 1956, when Coleman headed to California, Marsalis and the others went along, but after a few months Marsalis returned home. He told the New Orleans Times-Picayune years later, when he and Coleman were old men, that he never figured out what a pianist could do behind the free form of Coleman's jazz.

Back in New Orleans, Marsalis joined the Marine Corps and was assigned to accompany soloists on the service's weekly TV programs on CBS in New York. There, he said, he learned to handle all kinds of music styles.

Returning home, he worked at the Playboy Club and ventured into running his own club, which went bust. In 1967 trumpeter Al Hirt hired him. When not on Bourbon Street, Hirt's band appeared on national TV — headline shows on The Tonight Show and The Ed Sullivan Show, among others.

Marsalis got into education about the same time, teaching improvisation at Xavier University in New Orleans. In the mid-1970s, he joined the faculty at the New Orleans magnet high school and influenced a new generation of jazz musicians.

When asked how he could teach something as free-wheeling as jazz improvisation, Marsalis once said, "We don't teach jazz, we teach students."

In 1986 he moved to Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. In 1989, the University of New Orleans lured him back to set up a jazz-studies program.

Marsalis retired from UNO in 2001 but continued performing, particularly at Snug Harbor, a small club that anchored the city's contemporary jazz scene — frequently backing young promising musicians.

His melodic style, with running improvisations in the right hand, has been described variously as romantic, contemporary, or simply "Louisiana jazz." He's always on acoustic piano, never electric, and even in interpreting old standards there’s a clear link to the driving bebop chords and rhythms of his early years.

He founded a record company, ELM, but his recording was limited until his sons became famous. After that he joined them and others on mainstream labels and headlined his own releases, many full of his own compositions.

He often played at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. For more than three decades he played two 75-minute sets every Friday night at Snug Harbor until he decided it was exhausting. Even then, he still performed on occasion as a special guest.

On Wednesday night, Ellis III recalled how his father taught him the meaning of integrity before he even knew the word.

He and Delfeayo, neither of them yet 10, had gone to hear their father play at a club. Only one man — sleeping and drunk — was in the audience for the second set. The boys asked why they couldn't leave.

"He looked at us and said, “I can't leave. I have a gig.' While he's playing, he said, 'A gig is a deal. I'm paid to play this set. I'm going to play this set. It doesn't matter that nobody's here.”

Marsalis' wife, Dolores, died in 2017. He is survived by his sons Branford, Wynton, Ellis III, Delfeayo, Mboya and Jason.



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Feds: Man intentionally derailed LA train near hospital ship

Train aimed at hospital ship

A train engineer intentionally drove a speeding locomotive off a track at the Port of Los Angeles because he was suspicious about the presence of a Navy hospital ship docked there amid the coronovirus crisis, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

The locomotive crashed through a series of barriers and fences before coming to rest more than 230 metres from the U.S. Navy Hospital Ship Mercy on Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a release.

Nobody was hurt.

Eduardo Moreno, 44, was charged with one count of train wrecking, prosecutors said. It wasn't immediately known if he has an attorney.

Moreno acknowledged in two separate interviews with law enforcement that he intentionally derailed and crashed the train near the Mercy, according to the criminal complaint.

“You only get this chance once. The whole world is watching. I had to," Moreno told investigators, according to the complaint. "People don’t know what’s going on here. Now they will.”

Moreno said he was suspicious of the Mercy and believed it had an alternate purpose related to COVID-19 or a government takeover, an affidavit states. Moreno stated that he acted alone and had not pre-planned the attempted attack.

In an interview with FBI agents, Moreno stated that “he did it out of the desire to ‘wake people up,’” according to an affidavit.

“Moreno stated that he thought that the USNS Mercy was suspicious and did not believe ‘the ship is what they say it’s for,'" the complaint said.

Phillip Sanfield, spokesman for the Port of Los Angeles, said the locomotive never came close to the Mercy.

“It would have had to have gone several hundred yards through a parking lot and cross a water channel to reach the ship,” Sanfield said. “ The tracks are nowhere near the Mercy.”

The engineer wasn’t a port employee but apparently was working for Pacific Harbor Line Inc., a train company that handles cargo in the port and connects to major railroad lines, Sanfield said. The company didn't immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

A small fuel leak was quickly controlled and port operations weren’t seriously affected, Sanfield said.

Moreno was arrested by a California Highway Patrol officer who witnessed the crash and captured him as he fled the scene. The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Port of Los Angeles Police are now leading the investigation.

The CHP officer reported seeing “the train smash into a concrete barrier at the end of the track, smash into a steel barrier, smash into a chain-link fence, slide through a parking lot, slide across another lot filled with gravel, and smash into a second chain-link fence,” according to an affadavit.

The Mercy arrived in port this week to provide a thousand hospital beds to take the load of regional medical centres expecting a surge of COVID-19 patients.



New York City deaths top 1,000 with worst to come

1,000+ dead in NYC

New York authorities rushed to bring in an army of medical volunteers Wednesday as the statewide death toll from the coronavirus surged past 1,900 and the wail of ambulances in the otherwise eerily quiet streets of the big city became the heartbreaking soundtrack of the crisis.

As hot spots flared around the country in places like New Orleans, Detroit and Southern California, New York City was the hardest hit of them all, accounting for the majority of the state's deaths, with bodies loaded onto refrigerated morgue trucks by gurney and forklift outside overwhelmed hospitals, in some cases in full view of passing motorists. And the worst is yet to come.

“How does it end? And people want answers," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. "I want answers. The answer is nobody knows for sure.”

Across the U.S., Americans braced for what President Donald Trump warned could be “one of the roughest two or three weeks we’ve ever had in our country." The White House projected 100,000 to 240,000 deaths in the U.S. before the outbreak is over.

Meanwhile, European nations facing extraordinary demand for hospital intensive-care beds are putting up makeshift hospitals, unsure whether they will find enough healthy medical staff to run them. London is just days from unveiling a 4,000-bed temporary hospital built in a huge convention centre to take non-critical patients so British hospitals can stay ahead of an expected surge.

In a remarkable turnaround, rich economies where virus cases have exploded are welcoming help from less wealthy ones. Russia sent medical equipment and masks to the U.S. Cuba sent doctors to France. Turkey dispatched masks, hazmat suits, goggles and disinfectants to Italy and Spain.

Worldwide, about 900,000 people have been infected and over 44,000 have died, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University, though the real figures are believed to be much higher because of testing shortages, differences in counting the dead and large numbers of mild cases that have gone unreported.

The U.S. recorded over 190,000 infections and more than 4,100 deaths.

In New York, at least 78,000 people have volunteered as medical reinforcements, according to state officials. The group includes recent retirees who are willing to go back to work, health care professionals who can take a break from their regular jobs and people between gigs.

Few have made it into the field yet, as authorities vet them and figure out how to use them, but hospitals are expected to begin bringing them in later this week.

Health care workers who have hit the ground already, many brought in by staffing agencies, have discovered a hospital system becoming overwhelmed.

“I have never seen so many human beings in an ER at one time in my entire life,” said Liz Schaffer, a nurse from St. Paul, Minnesota, who had her first shift Tuesday at Mount Sinai Hospital. “Shoulder to shoulder. It is a sight I never thought I would see. Patients are dying every day. Every single day.”

With New York on near-lockdown, the normally bustling city streets are so empty that a single siren, to some, is no longer the easily ignored urban background noise.

“After 9-11, I remember we actually wanted to hear the sound of ambulances on our quiet streets because that meant there were survivors, but we didn't hear those sounds, and it was heartbreaking. Today, I hear an ambulance on my strangely quiet street and my heart breaks, too,” said 61-year-old Meg Gifford, a former Wall Streeter who lives on Manhattan's Upper East Side.



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Hospitals ill-equipped to handle pandemic in Europe

Europe ill-prepared

?

As increasing numbers of European hospitals buckle under the strain of tens of thousands of coronavirus patients, the crisis has exposed a surprising paradox: Some of the world's best health systems are remarkably ill-equipped to handle a pandemic.

Outbreak experts say Europe's hospital-centric systems, lack of epidemic experience and early complacency are partly to blame for the pandemic's catastrophic tear across the continent.

"If you have cancer, you want to be in a European hospital," said Brice de le Vingne, who heads COVID-19 operations for Doctors Without Borders in Belgium. "But Europe hasn't had a major outbreak in more than 100 years, and now they don't know what to do."

Last week, the World Health Organization scolded countries for "squandering" their chance to stop the virus from gaining a foothold, saying that countries should have reacted more aggressively two months ago, including implementing wider testing and stronger surveillance measures.

De le Vingne and others say Europe's approach to combating the new coronavirus was initially too lax and severely lacking in epidemiological basics like contact tracing, an arduous process where health officials physically track down people who have come into contact with those infected to monitor how and where the virus is spreading.

During outbreaks of Ebola, including Congo's most recent one, officials released daily figures for how many contacts were followed, even in remote villages paralyzed by armed attacks.



As residents shelter, goats take to streets in Welsh town

Goats wander empty streets

 

Un-baaaaa-lievable: This wild bunch is completely ignoring rules on social distancing.

With humans sheltering indoors to escape the new coronavirus, mountain goats are taking advantage of the peace and space to roam in frisky clumps through the streets of Llandudno, Wales.

Andrew Stuart, a video producer for the Manchester Evening News, has been posting videos of the furry adventurers on his Twitter feed and they are racking up hundreds of thousands of views.

He said the goats normally keep largely to themselves, in a country park that butts up against Llandudno. But now emboldened by the lack of people and cars, the long-horned animals are venturing deeper into the seaside town. The U.K. has been in lockdown for the past week to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

"There's no one around at the moment, because of the lockdown, so they take their chances and go as far as they can. And they are going further and further into the town," Stuart told The Associated Press in an interview Tuesday from his parents' pub in Llandudno, where he is waiting out the pandemic.

His videos show the goats munching on people's neatly trimmed hedges and trees in front yards and loitering casually on empty streets as if they own the place.



Coast Guard: Cruise ships must stay at sea with sick onboard

Cruise ships must stay at sea

The U.S. Coast Guard has directed all cruise ships to remain at sea, where they may be sequestered “indefinitely" during the coronavirus pandemic, and be prepared to send any severely ill passengers to the countries where the vessels are registered.

For most of the South Florida's cruise ships, that means the Bahamas, where people are still recovering from last year's hurricanes.

The rules, which apply to any vessel carrying more than 50 people, were issued in a March 29 safety bulletin signed by Coast Guard Rear Admiral E.C. Jones, whose district includes Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Puerto Rico.

More than two dozen cruise ships are either lined up at Port Miami and Port Everglades or waiting offshore, the Miami Herald reported. Most have only crew aboard, but several still carry passengers and are steaming toward South Florida ports. Carnival notified the SEC Tuesday that it has more than 6,000 passengers still at sea.

Federal, state and local officials have been negotiating over whether two Holland America cruise ships that had been stranded off the coast of Panama with sick and dead passengers would be allowed to dock at Port Everglades this week. More than 300 American citizens are on the two ships.

The Zaandam, which set sail in early March on a South American cruise, is carrying sick passengers and crew, while passengers not showing symptoms were transferred to a sister ship, the Rotterdam, sent to the region to help. Both ships cleared the Panama Canal and are sailing toward Florida. Two of four deaths on the Zaandam have been blamed on COVID-19 and nine people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the company said.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday that the state's healthcare system is stretched too thin to take on the coronavirus caseload from the Zaandam. “Just to drop people off at the place where we're having the highest number of cases right now just doesn't make a whole lot of sense," DeSantis said.

President Donald Trump said later that he would speak with his fellow Republican. “They're dying on the ship,” Trump said. “I'm going to do what's right. Not only for us, but for humanity.”

Under normal conditions, when a passenger or crew member become too ill for the ship's medical team to care for, they call the Coast Guard to provide a medical evacuation to an onshore hospital. Under the new rules, sick passengers would be sequestered indefinitely on board.

“This is necessary as shore-side medical facilities may reach full capacity and lose the ability to accept and effectively treat additional critically-ill patients," the memo said.

The document requires all ships in U.S. waters to report their numbers of sick and dead on board each day or face civil penalties or criminal prosecution.



White House projects 100K to 240K US deaths from virus

Up to 240K projected deaths

President Donald Trump on Tuesday warned Americans to brace for a “rough two-week period” ahead as the White House released new projections that there could be 100,000 to 240,000 deaths in the U.S. from the coronavirus pandemic even if current social distancing guidelines are maintained.

Public health officials stressed that the number could be less if people change their behaviour.

“We really believe we can do a lot better than that,” said Dr. Deborah Birx, the co-ordinator of the White House coronavirus task force. That would require all Americans to take seriously their role in preventing the spread of disease, she said.

Trump called American efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus “a matter of life and death” and urged the public to heed his administration’s guidelines. He predicted the country would soon see a “light at the end of the tunnel” in the pandemic that has killed more than 3,500 Americans and infected 170,000 more.

"I want every American to be prepared for the hard days that lie ahead,” Trump said. “We're going to go through a very tough two weeks."

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, said the numbers are “sobering” and called on Americans to “step on the accelerator” with their collective mitigation efforts.

“We are continue to see things go up,” Fauci said. “We cannot be discouraged by that because the mitigation is actually working and will work."

Birx said pandemic forecasts initially predicted 1.5 million to 2.2 million deaths in the U.S. But that was a worst-case scenario, without efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus through social distancing.

Birx said states that have not yet seen a spike in cases as New York has could take action to flatten the curve of rising hospitalizations and deaths.

As for the projection of 100,000-240,000 deaths, Fauci of the National Institutes of Health said: “We don’t accept that number, that that's what it's going to be. ... We want to do much better than that.”

The comments came after Trump announced Sunday that he was extending to April 30 the social distancing guidelines that urged Americans to cease social gatherings, work from home, suspend onsite learning at schools and more in a nationwide effort to stem the spread of the virus.

It was an abrupt reversal for Trump, who spent much of last week targeting April 12 as the day he wanted to see Americans “pack the pews” for Easter Sunday services.

Trump called the data “very sobering” saying it was his understanding that the 100,000 deaths was a minimum that would be difficult to avoid. He also sought to rewrite his past minimization of the outbreak, saying he rejected those who compared the new coronavirus to the flu — when in fact he repeatedly did so publicly.

“This could be helluva bad two weeks,'” Trump said.

Many states and local governments already have stiffer controls in place on mobility and gatherings.

Birx said the experiences of Washington state and California give her hope that other states can keep the coronavirus under control through social distancing. That’s because they moved quickly to contain the early clusters of coronavirus by closing schools, urging people to work from home, banning large gatherings and taking other measures now familiar to most Americans, she noted.

“I am reassured by looking at the Seattle line,” she added. “California and Washington state reacted very early to this.”

Trump spoke after another troubling day for the stock market, which has been in a free fall as the cononavirus ground the economy to a near-halt and left millions unemployed. The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged more than 400 points, or roughly 1.9%, to seal the worst first-quarter finish of its 135-year history.



US death toll passes 3,500; eclipses China's official count

US toll eclipses China's

The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus climbed past 3,500 Tuesday, eclipsing China's official count, as New York's mammoth convention centre started taking patients to ease the burden on the city's overwhelmed health system and the tennis centre where the U.S. Open is held was being turned into a hospital.

Also, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, the brother of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, disclosed that he has become infected and has quarantined himself in his basement.

Elsewhere around the world, hard-hit Italy reported that the infection rate appears to be levelling off and new cases could start declining, but that the crisis is far from over. Spain, too, struggled to fend off the collapse of its hospital system. Vladimir Putin's Russia moved to crack down on quarantine violations and “fake news” about the outbreak. And China edged closer to normal as stores in the epicenter city of Wuhan began reopening.

Worldwide, more than 800,000 people have been infected and over 39,000 people have died, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University. Italy and Spain accounted for half the deaths, while the U.S. had around 3,550 by midday, eclipsing China's official toll of about 3,300.

New York was the nation's deadliest hot spot, with about 1,550 deaths statewide, the majority of them in New York City.

A Navy hospital ship with 1,000 beds that docked in New York on Monday was expected to begin accepting non-coronavirus patients on Tuesday. A 1,000-bed emergency hospital set up at the Javits Convention Center began taking patients Monday night. And the Billie Jean King USTA National Tennis Center was being transformed into a hospital.

The crisis became personal for the governor with word that his brother was infected. Chris Cuomo tweeted that he suffered fever, chills and shortness of breath but will continue broadcasting from his basement.

On Monday, the governor pleaded for help from volunteer medical workers, and close to 80,000 former nurses, doctors and other professionals were already said to be stepping forward.

New York City sought to bring in 250 out-of-town ambulances and 500 paramedics and emergency medical technicians to help its swamped EMS system. The city's ambulances are responding to about 6,000 calls a day, or 50% more than average, authorities said. Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said a five-day stretch last week was the busiest in the history of the city's EMS operation.

Figures on deaths and infections around the world are supplied by government health authorities and compiled by Johns Hopkins. But the figures are regarded with skepticism by public health experts because of different counting practices, a lack of testing in places, the numerous mild cases that have been missed, and perhaps government efforts to downplay the severity of the crisis.



Van Gogh masterpiece stolen from Dutch museum closed by virus

Van Gogh painting stolen

A painting by Dutch master Vincent van Gogh was stolen in an overnight smash-and-grab raid on a museum that was closed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, police and the museum said Monday.

The Singer Laren museum east of Amsterdam said “The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring 1884” by the Dutch master was taken in the early hours of Monday. By early afternoon, all that could be seen from the outside of the museum was a large white panel covering a smashed door in the building's glass facade.

Museum General Director Evert van Os said the institution that houses the collection of American couple William and Anna Singer is “angry, shocked, sad” at the theft.

The value of the work, which was on loan from the Groninger Museum in the northern Dutch city of Groningen, was not immediately known. Van Gogh's paintings, when they rarely come up for sale, fetch millions at auction.

Police are investigating the theft.

“I’m shocked and unbelievably annoyed that this has happened,” said Singer Laren museum director Jan Rudolph de Lorm.

“This beautiful and moving painting by one of our greatest artists stolen - removed from the community," he added. “It is very bad for the Groninger Museum, it is very bad for the Singer, but it is terrible for us all because art exists to be seen and shared by us, the community, to enjoy to draw inspiration from and to draw comfort from, especially in these difficult times.”

Police said in a statement that the thief or thieves smashed a glass door to get into the museum. That set off an alarm that sent officers rushing to the museum but by the time they got there the painting and whoever stole it were gone.

A team including forensics and art theft experts was studying video footage and questioning neighbours. Van Os said the museum's security worked “according to protocol,” but he added: “Obviously we can learn from this.”



Spain sees record virus deaths as world's hospitals struggle

Spain's death toll spikes

Spain's coronavirus deaths jumped by a record number Tuesday as the country's medical system strained to care for its tens of thousands of infected patients, and Italy opened a 200-bed field hospital at a fairgrounds in Milan to ease the pressure on overcrowded intensive care units.

As worldwide infections soared past the 800,000 mark, New York's governor begged for health care reinforcements, saying up to 1 million more workers were needed. The World Health Organization warned the pandemic is “far from over” in Asia even if the epicenter has shifted.

Russian lawmakers approved harsher punishments for violating quarantine regulations and spreading "fake news" amid the outbreak.

Spain and Italy struggled to avoid the collapse of their health systems, with Spain saying hospitals in at least half of its regions are at or very near their ICU bed limits.

Overnight, Spain recorded 849 new deaths, the highest daily toll since the pandemic hit the southern European country. It has now claimed the lives of 8,189, forcing Madrid to open a second temporary morgue after an ice rink pressed into service last week become overwhelmed.

Dozens of hotels across Spain have been turned into recovery rooms for patients in less-serious condition, and authorities are building field hospitals in sports centres, libraries and exhibition halls.

Authorities are moving breathing machines to regions with the highest number of ICU patients, and moving the patients themselves “has not been ruled out," said Dr. María José Sierra of Spain's health emergencies centre.

In northern Italy, the intensive care field hospital, built in 10 days, was unveiled at the Milan fairgrounds to help ease pressure on the health care system.

“We made a promise and we kept it,” said the head of the project, former civil protection chief Guido Bertolaso, who ended up catching the virus while on the job and had to work from his hospital bed.

Italy and Spain account for more than half of the 38,714 COVID-19 deaths reported worldwide and the U.S. has the most confirmed cases at 164,610, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Dr. Takeshi Kasai, the WHO's regional director for the Western Pacific, cautioned, however, that the risk in Asia and the Pacific "will not go away as long as the pandemic continues.

“This is going to be a long-term battle and we cannot let down our guard," Kasai said. "We need every country to keep responding according to their local situation.”

A 12-year-old girl became the youngest person to die in Belgium, which has counted 705 deaths so far, including 98 in the last day. It was not disclosed whether she suffered from any underlying condition. The country of about 11.5 million people has reported more than 12,705 infections.

National crisis-centre coronavirus spokesman Emmanuel Andre said Belgian authorities expect the disease to reach its peak in coming days, and that “we will arrive at a point where we’re close to saturation point at our hospitals.”

Russia registered 500 new confirmed cases in the biggest spike since the start of the outbreak, bringing its total to 2,337. Moscow has been on lockdown since Monday and many regions and cities have ordered similar restrictions.

According to measures passed by lawmakers, evading quarantine will be punishable by heavy fines or, if it leads to two or more people dying, by up to seven years in prison. Heavy fines are also outlined for those who spread misinformation about the outbreak, or up to five years in prison if it results in a death.

In New York, the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and health officials warned that the crisis unfolding there is just a preview of what other U.S. cities and towns will soon face. New York state's death toll climbed by more than 250 people in a day to over 1,200.

“We've lost over 1,000 New Yorkers," Cuomo said. "To me, we're beyond staggering already.”

Worldwide, 801,400 people have been infected and 170,325 have recovered, according to Johns Hopkins University.

China on Tuesday reported just one new death from the coronavirus and 48 new cases, claiming that all new infections came from overseas.



Harry and Meghan wind down Sussex Royal online presence

Plug pulled on Sussex Royal

Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex are walking away from their Sussex Royal website and Instagram profile as they prepare to become private citizens.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex officially step down as working senior members of Britain's monarchy today, and as part of their agreement with Harry's grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, they will no longer use the word "royal" in their branding.

On Monday, the couple announced the @SussexRoyal Instagram account, which was launched last year, will be retired, while its Sussex Royal website will not be updated.

In a statement, representatives for the pair explained: "Both the Instagram account and website will remain in existence online for the foreseeable future, although they will be inactive."

Harry and Meghan also shared one final message of encouragement and optimism with their 11.3 million @SussexRoyal followers as they reflected on life in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

"As we can all feel, the world at this moment seems extraordinarily fragile," they wrote.

"Yet we are confident that every human being has the potential and opportunity to make a difference - as seen now across the globe, in our families, our communities and those on the front line - together we can lift each other up to realize the fullness of that promise.

"What's most important right now is the health and wellbeing of everyone across the globe and finding solutions for the many issues that have presented themselves as a result of this pandemic."

They added, "As we all find the part we are to play in this global shift and changing of habits, we are focusing this new chapter to understand how we can best contribute. While you may not see us here, the work continues."

They went on to thank the online community "for the support, the inspiration and the shared commitment to the good in the world".

"We look forward to reconnecting with you soon. You've been great! Until then, please take good care of yourselves, and of one another," they concluded, signing off the note, "Harry and Meghan."

The couple, parents to baby son Archie, announced plans to retreat from the royal spotlight and become financially independent in January, when Harry and Meghan also temporarily relocated from the U.K. to Vancouver Island.

They recently jetted to the former actress' native Los Angeles, where they reportedly plan to set up a more permanent base.



Prince Charles ends quarantine, said to be 'in good health'

Charles out of isolation

British royal Prince Charles has emerged from self-isolation after a seven day quarantine following his coronavirus diagnosis.

Queen Elizabeth II's heir, 71, confirmed he had tested positive for the virus, Covid-19, last Wednesday after displaying mild symptoms and going into self-isolation.

However, on Monday, officials from his Clarence House residence confirmed he is "in good health" and has been given the all-clear to come out of quarantine.

"Clarence House has confirmed today that, having consulted with his doctor, the Prince of Wales is now out of self-isolation," a royal spokesman told the BBC.

Prince Charles spent his seven days of quarantine at his Birkhall home on the Balmoral estate in Scotland. His wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, 72, was also tested and did not have the virus, but also went into self-isolation.

Representatives Buckingham Palace previously confirmed that Queen Elizabeth last saw her son on 12 March.

According to British newspaper The Sun, a footman, who had been responsible for taking drinks and meals to the Queen, introducing guests, handling messages, and walking her beloved dogs, tested positive for the virus and is now in self-isolation.

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson is running the U.K. government from self-isolation after he also tested positive for the coronavirus last week, with his Health Secretary Matt Hancock another who has caught the potentially deadly bug. His top adviser Dominic Cummings is also self-isolating after displaying symptoms.



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