World News

Peter Summers/Getty Images(LONDON) -- The prime minister of the U.K., Boris Johnson, and the most senior lawmaker in charge of the country's health service have tested positive for coronavirus after developing mild symptoms.

In a video posted on his official Twitter page, the prime minister said he was tested for the illness after suffering a high temperature and a persistent cough, and will now be self-isolating. Johnson will continue to lead the government via video-conference calls.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock also announced that he too has tested positive for coronavirus and will continue working from home while he self-isolates.

"After experiencing mild symptoms yesterday, the Prime Minister was tested for coronavirus on the personal advice of England's Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty," a Downing Street spokesperson said. "The test was carried out in No 10 by [National Health Service] staff and the result of the test was positive. In keeping with the guidance, the Prime Minister is self-isolating in Downing Street."

"He is continuing to lead the government's response to coronavirus," the spokesperson added.

The diagnoses come just days after Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, announced he had tested positive for coronavirus. Buckingham Palace released a statement saying that the Queen was in "good health" and is "is following all the appropriate advice with regards to her welfare." She last had contact with the prime minister on March 11.

The prime minister was adamant that he would continue to be able to lead the country while working from home.

"But be in no doubt I can continue, thanks to the wizardry of modern technology, to communicate with all my top team to lead the national fightback against coronavirus," he said in a video address.

Johnson also paid tribute to the staff of the U.K.'s National service and the more than 600,000 volunteers from the British public who have signed up to assist health workers to fight the spread of coronavirus.

"I want to thank everybody who's working to keep our country going through this epidemic," he said. "And we will get through it… So thank you to everybody who's doing what I'm doing, working from home, to stop the spread of the virus from household to household."

The news that Johnson has tested positive comes towards the end of one of the most dramatic weeks in British history. On Monday, the prime minister declared a "moment of national emergency" – as he announced that across the U.K. the public could only leave the house for one form of daily exercise and essential shopping, while gatherings of more than two people have been banned.

Cases of the novel coronavirus have been steadily rising in the country, with 11,816 cases confirmed so far and 578 deaths attributed to the virus, according to the latest data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

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Aaron Chown - WPA Pool/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Princess Charlotte and Princes George and Louis are paying tribute to people on the front lines of the fight against the novel coronavirus.

Kensington Palace shared a video of Prince William and Duchess Kate's three children clapping for first responders and others in the medical field.

The video is part of the viral Clap for Our Carers campaign, which, according to the BBC, is meant to be a morale booster for those on the giving and receiving ends of the applause.

"To all the doctors, nurses, carers, GPs, pharmacists, volunteers and other NHS staff working tirelessly to help those affected by #COVID19: thank you. #ClapForOurCarers #ClapForNHS," read Kensington Palace's caption.

To all the doctors, nurses, carers, GPs, pharmacists, volunteers and other NHS staff working tirelessly to help those affected by #COVID19: thank you.#ClapForOurCarers #ClapForNHS

— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) March 26, 2020

The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University reports that as of Friday, there have been more than 533,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide, and over 24,000 deaths.

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Samir Hussein/WireImage(NEW YORK) -- Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan are reportedly making California their new home.

People magazine and The Sun reported Thursday that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex left Vancouver Island, Canada, where they’d been staying since the royal couple announced their decision to step back as members of the royal family, for a permanent spot in Meghan’s hometown of Los Angeles.

Their move occurred before the border between Canada and the U.S. closed last Saturday amid the coronavirus pandemic, sources told the publications.

According to People magazine, the royal couple has "been living in a secluded compound and haven’t ventured out amid the coronavirus pandemic."

"Because of the current circumstances, it made sense for the couple to relocate at an earlier date before travel restrictions, which could remain in operation for a significant amount of time, were put in place by the government," said ABC News Royal Contributor Omid Scobie.

Harry, Meghan and their son, Archie, have been living in Canada since the royal couple announced their decision in January to step back as senior members of the royal family. They will officially step down as senior working royals on March 31.

The news comes after Disney announced Thursday that Meghan would be narrating the new Disneynature film, Elephants, which hits Disney on April 3. The film will be Meghan’s first professional endeavor since stepping back from the royal family.

In their new roles, they’ve expressed their desire to establish a new nonprofit organization, a spokesperson for the Sussexes said in February.

"Given how the U.S. will play a significant role in their future philanthropic endeavors, it was always in the cards for the Sussexes to move to L.A. later this year," said Scobie.

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JSABBOTT/iStock(NEW YORK) -- At least 23 sailors aboard the Navy aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt have become infected by the novel coronavirus, according to two U.S. officials.

The spike in the number of cases from three earlier this week is leading the Navy to order the ship to stop in Guam, so all 5,000 sailors aboard can be tested for exposure to the virus. It is a major cause of concern for defense officials, as the tight quarters in aircraft carriers hold the potential for even more infections among the ship's crew.

On Tuesday, officials disclosed that there were three cases of COVID-19 aboard the ship marked the first time that infections had been detected aboard a U.S. Navy ship at sea.

By Thursday, the number of infected sailors shot up to 23, according to two U.S. officials.

"As testing continues, additional positive cases of COVID-19 have been discovered aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt," Admiral Mike Gilday, the chief of naval operations, said in a statement. "We are taking this threat very seriously and are working quickly to identify and isolate positive cases while preventing further spread of the virus aboard the ship."

He added, "No Sailors have been hospitalized or are seriously ill."

At an earlier Pentagon briefing on Thursday, Thomas Modly, the acting secretary of the Navy, told reporters that the increase in infected sailors would lead to testing of the ship's entire crew.

Modly said the aircraft carrier would remain pierside in the U.S. territory with the crew limited only to the ship's pier. A U.S. official told ABC News that the carrier is expected to arrive in Guam late Thursday.

"Our medical team aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt is performing testing for the crew consistent with [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidelines, and we are working to increase the rate of testing as much as possible,' Gilday said in his statement.

"Immediate priority will be symptomatic Sailors, those in close contact with Sailors who have tested positive already, and essential watch standers," he continued. "We are isolating those who test positive. Testing will continue as necessary to ensure the health of the entire ship's crew."

Modly had earlier described the symptoms of infected sailors aboard the carrier as being "very mild" -- namely body aches and sore throats.

Gilday said he expected additional positive tests to emerge after the large scale testing of the ship's crew begins and that any sailors who test positive will be transported to U.S. Naval Hospital Guam for further examination. . "We're taking this day by day," he said. "Our top two priorities are taking care of our people and maintaining mission readiness. Both of those go hand in glove."

Gilday added, "We are confident that our aggressive response will keep USS Theodore Roosevelt able to respond to any crisis in the region."

On Tuesday, Gilday told reporters it was unclear if the sailors became infected with the coronavirus following the ship's most recent port of call in early March to Da Nang, Vietnam.

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omersukrugoksu/iStock(NEW YORK) -- An American detained by Iran for over 600 days on spurious charges has been hospitalized with symptoms consistent with the novel coronavirus, according to his family's spokesperson.

Michael White, 48, has not yet been confirmed to have the virus, known as COVID-19, but there are deep concerns about his safety as Iran struggles to contain its outbreak, with over 29,000 Iranians infected and over 2,200 killed.

His family has spent weeks expressing concern about his health, saying his immune system is compromised by cancer and urging Iranian authorities to return him to the U.S. One week ago, he was granted a medical furlough and released to the custody of the Swiss government, which has looked after U.S. interests and citizens in Iran since the U.S. embassy was shuttered in 1979.

"His situation is urgent," family spokesperson Jonathan Franks said in a statement Wednesday night. "It is in everyone's interest during this health crisis to facilitate Michael's immediate medical evacuation."

Former New Mexico governor and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson, often a mediator with rogue regimes that have detained Americans, has made a formal request to senior Iranian authorities for White's immediate return to the U.S., Franks added.

As a condition of White's medical furlough, he is not allowed to leave the country, but his family is concerned that the Iranian health care system, already weak and even further strained by the virus, is dangerously insufficient.

White has been experiencing fever, fatigue, cough, and shortness of breath and was hospitalized Wednesday in a crowded ward specifically for COVID-19 patients, according to Franks.

"The United States will continue to work for Michael's full release as well as the release of all wrongfully detained Americans in Iran," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement last week after White was granted medical furlough.

There are at least three other Americans also being held by the Iranian government. The family of former FBI agent Bob Levinson announced Wednesday that U.S. officials believe Levinson, the longest-held American hostage who has been missing inside Iran since March 2007, died at some point in Iranian custody, but before the COVID-19 outbreak.

Iran has been overwhelmed by its coronavirus outbreak, which has mushroomed through its prison system as well. Iranian authorities have released more than 85,000 prisoners on temporary leave to stem that spread, with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei saying last week the state will pardon 10,000 more.

But none of the Americans detained have been on that list. Instead, even with two inmates confirmed to have COVID-19 down the hallway, Siamak Namazi's request for temporary release was denied last Tuesday, according to his lawyer Jared Genser.

"It is outrageous that even now, under such dangerous conditions, Iran refuses to show the basic humanity and decency it has so vociferously demanded from others and instead continues to inflict senseless suffering upon my family," Babak Namazi, his brother, said in a statement at the time.

Siamak and Babak's father Baquer, 83, also a dual U.S.-Iranian citizen, is also imprisoned. A former official of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and Iranian provincial governor, Baquer was detained in February 2016 after he traveled to Tehran to advocate for his son's release.

While in custody, he's had emergency surgery because of a severe heart condition, with his family concerned about his deteriorating health in poor prison conditions.

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oonal/iStock(CASALPUSTERLENGO, Italy) -- An 86-year-old woman in the crisis-hit region of Lombardy, Italy, has made a full recovery after being hospitalized with the novel coronavirus, offering a rare glimmer of hope as the country continues to struggle with the pandemic.

The elderly woman, identified as "Gianna" by Elia Delmiglio, the mayor of Casalpusterlengo, had been hospitalized for seven weeks after contracting COVID-19 during an unrelated hospital stay.

Delmiglio captured the moment on video when Gianna was finally released from the town's local hospital on Tuesday, saying that “among the many stories of pain and suffering, Gianna's recovery gives us a great deal of hope.”

“In these weeks she fought with all her forces and thanks to an unbelievable work by doctors and nurses, she managed to recover from coronavirus,” Delmiglio wrote in a Facebook post. “A big thank you to all medical operators that work in our structures and help people in need with a great deal of dedication, love and competence… Forza Gianna, and all the people that are still fighting.”

In the video, Gianna is seen being wheeled through the hospital to rounds of applause from the staff.

In Italian, a tearful Delmiglio can be heard saying: "Hello Gianna, great! 86 years and you don't feel like it. Is everything OK? We can't hug you but ... don't make me cry now. You must be happy because you were very lucky. Seven weeks out of the world. Send me a kiss with your hand, can you do that?"

Gianna’s inspiring recovery offers a great deal of hope to a region of Italy that has been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The country now has 74, 386 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus and 7,503 deaths, according to the latest data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

At least 9,362 Italians have also recovered from the illness, which can have serious consequences for the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.
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DNY59/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Federal prosecutors in New York will announce drug charges Thursday against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and other government officials, sources familiar with the matter told ABC News.

The charges include narco-terrorism conspiracy, cocaine importation conspiracy and weapons possession conspiracy. Geoffrey Berman, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, will formally discuss the charges at a news conference.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The family of retired FBI Special Agent Bob Levinson, who vanished in Iran 13 years ago, said Wednesday they are now convinced he died in captivity, though when is not clear.

Levinson's wife Christine and their children said the U.S. government had informed them he was likely dead and they had accepted it -- even as President Donald Trump, who has made Levinson's case a cudgel to hammer the Iranian regime with, said at a White House briefing Wednesday evening, "No, I don't accept that he's dead. I don’t accept it."

In a statement, the Levinson family -- all tireless advocates including his daughter Sarah Moriarty, who testified in Congress again last month to press lawmakers to help bring him home -- said they had grudgingly heard the news they've dreaded for 13 years.

"We recently received information from U.S. officials that has led both them and us to conclude that our wonderful husband and father died while in Iranian custody. We don’t know when or how he died, only that it was prior to the COVID-19 pandemic," the Levinsons said. "It is impossible to describe our pain. Our family will spend the rest of our lives without the most amazing man we have ever known, a new reality that is inconceivable to us. His grandchildren will never meet him. They will only know him through the stories we tell them."

It wasn't immediately clear why the Trump administration told the family that Levinson almost certainly had died as an Iranian hostage if the president himself wasn't convinced of it.

Sources have long told ABC News that bitter disagreements have existed for years inside the U.S. intelligence community, with the FBI less willing to assess their former comrade as having died a hostage than their counterparts at CIA, who reached that conclusion many years ago. Whether any new intelligence informed the recent assessment he had died was not immediately known, though the Trump administration has this year repeated demands that Levinson be returned home.

"I mean, I have to say this, and they have been making this statement to the family I believe, but it's not looking good. He wasn't well for years anyway in Iran. It's not looking promising," Trump said at the White House Wednesday when he was asked about Levinson. "I’m telling you it's not looking great but I won't accept that he's dead. They haven't told us that he's dead but a lot of people are thinking that that is the case. Feel badly about it."

Some officials said they were blindsided by Trump's remarks.

While working as a CIA contractor, the retired FBI agent, who would be 72 now, vanished on Iran's Kish Island on March 9, 2007. Documents his family obtained by an Iranian source and provided to ABC News last fall appeared to show that Iranian military prosecutors ordered him detained on the island on suspicion of spying and held him for months at a military airfield even after he slipped into a coma that they said was caused by his diabetes.

Former Bush administration senior official Ladan Archin, who was born and raised in Tehran and is familiar with how Iranian military officials communicate, deemed the two 2007 documents to likely be authentic. Archin, who served as the Defense Department's Iran country director, examined the files last fall following the odd admission by Tehran's judicial system to a United Nations body that an open case against Levinson existed despite 12 years of denials by the regime that he ever was detained there.

Archin provided a more precise translation of the documents than a U.S. government translation given to the Levinsons years ago. It revealed that the word "judicial" in the apparent 2007 arrest order had been inadvertently omitted in the version originally given to the family. This was significant given Tehran's statement to the United Nations about a judicial case against him, which they later claimed was not an admission they held him.

"He is here using the cover of a tourist while conducting various meetings, taking pictures and gathering information," an Iranian counterintelligence official appears to have informed military prosecutor Hojatol-Islam Bahrami in March 2007, who then ordered Levinson's immediate arrest by "MOIS (Ministry of Intelligence) brothers" in a handwritten reply on the typed memo.

A spokesman for Iran’s U.N. Mission, Alireza Miryousefi, wrote on Twitter Wednesday in response to the news that "Iran has always maintained that its officials have no knowledge of Mr. Levinson's whereabouts, and that he is not in Iranian custody."

ABC News also reported last year that Levinson's case had been set aside by the Obama administration during negotiations for the Iran nuclear deal, senior officials of both the Obama and Trump administrations confirmed, while a handful of other Americans were set free in 2016. One of those freed was Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, who wrote in a memoir last year that an Iranian source indicated Levinson, or answers to his fate, were withheld by the regime as a future bargaining chip for their interests.

"Initially Levinson -- or a complete accounting of what had happened to him -- was to be a part of the deal, but the Rouhani administration decided there was no political value of the time in acknowledging after eight years that yes, Iran had been responsible for his disappearance," Rezaian wrote in his book, Prisoner: My 544 Days in an Iranian Prison -- Solitary Confinement, a Sham Trial, High-Stakes Diplomacy, and the Extraordinary Efforts It Took to Get Me Out.

Levinson’s case has long been vigorously championed by acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grennell, who until recently was U.S. Ambassador to Germany.

With the novel coronavirus pandemic forcing Americans to avoid gatherings, even funerals, the large Levinson family is left to mourn in solitude and continue to wonder what happened to the husband, father and grandfather.

"If not for the cruel, heartless actions of the Iranian regime, Robert Levinson would be alive and home with us today. It has been 13 years waiting for answers. Thirteen years since we last saw him or had any contact with him. How those responsible in Iran could do this to a human being, while repeatedly lying to the world all this time, is incomprehensible to us. They kidnapped a foreign citizen and denied him any basic human rights, and his blood is on their hands. Bob Levinson should have spent his last moments surrounded by his family and all the love we feel for him. Instead, he died alone, in captivity thousands of miles away, in unbelievable suffering. His body has not yet been returned to us for a proper burial. We don’t even know when, or even if, his body would be returned to us. This is the very definition of cruelty," the family said in its statement.

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Oleksii LIskonih/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump said he no longer needs to refer to the novel coronavirus as the "Chinese virus," but his top diplomat is continuing to tie the outbreak to the Chinese city where it first exploded, as a way to push back on what he called the Chinese Communist Party's "disinformation campaign."

In brief remarks after hosting the G7 foreign ministers' meeting on Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo continued his department's war of words with Chinese officials as the pandemic continues to claim lives and costs economies around the world.

His push seems to have caused a small rift in the G7 alliance, which failed to agree on a joint statement after Pompeo insisted that it include the term "Wuhan virus," according to two sources familiar with the matter.

"The Chinese Communist Party poses a substantial threat to our health and way of life, as the Wuhan virus clearly has demonstrated," Pompeo said at the department, blasting Beijing for providing assistance to other countries and then "claiming that they are now the white hat."

Foreign ministers from the seven countries -- U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom -- met via video teleconference on Wednesday, after the U.S. canceled the annual meeting, scheduled for Pittsburgh, because of the COVID-19 outbreak. While they discussed a range of foreign crises where the allies are working together, their first focus was on the pandemic, that has shut down the global economy and killed over 18,500 people.

Amid that global fight, Pompeo and the State Department have waged a second battle to blame the Chinese government for the outbreak, especially after Chinese officials elevated conspiracy theories churning on the web that falsely accused the U.S. military of starting the outbreak.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian pushed those theories on Twitter, prompting the State Department to summon the Chinese ambassador in Washington and dress him down and Pompeo to call his counterpart Yang Jiechi, director of the CCP's Office of Foreign Affairs.

"This is crazy talk," Pompeo said Wednesday of those theories, calling them part of a "disinformation campaign that the Chinese Communist Party is engaged in to try to deflect on what has really taken place here."

That's a reference to the Chinese government's initial rejection of U.S. offers to help study the virus by sending scientists and experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to Wuhan. That lack of transparency let the virus spread, Pompeo added, calling for more "transparency" from Beijing.

But it seems U.S. allies wanted to avoid using the term "Wuhan virus" at a time when the World Health Organization has been urging all countries to work together. Two sources familiar with the matter told ABC News that Pompeo and the U.S. delegation wanted a joint statement from the G7 countries to include the term, but it was opposed by others, with no joint statement specific to the pandemic issued in the end.

Asked about that, Pompeo declined to comment specifically on the joint declaration, but told reporters there are "a handful of places like the [Iran nuclear deal] where we have tactical differences about [how] to achieve our strategic outcomes" with allies.

But in response to calls for the U.S. to work with China, Pompeo said American officials "desperately want to work with every country around the world," including China, but have been rebuffed by Beijing.

Beyond the G7, Pompeo's attacks also contrast with Trump's more conciliatory tone on Tuesday. In an interview with Fox News, he said he wasn't going to use the phrase "Chinese virus" anymore, not because it's been criticized for stigmatizing Asians and sparking threats against Asian Americans, but because he no longer needed to.

"Everyone knows it came out of China, but I decided we shouldn't make any more of a big deal out of it," Trump said.

In contrast, the State Department and China's Foreign Ministry continue to engage in a fierce back-and-forth on Twitter, which notably, the Chinese government has barred its public from accessing.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying accused State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus of "lying and slander" after Ortagus highlighted that authorities in Hubei province ordered labs to stop testing and destroy samples, while officials arrested or reprimanded doctors for speaking out on social media about the outbreak.

"Please take some time to understand the situation before you speak," Hua tweeted.

Ortagus fired back with the hashtags "CovidCoverup" and "ChinaTransparencyNow," again accusing Chinese authorities of refusing "to admit human-human transmission until Jan. 20, with catastrophic consequences."

On Jan. 20, Dr. Zhong Nanshan, a Chinese official helping lead the coronavirus response, announced the virus can be transmitted person to person, six days after WHO said Chinese doctors had "no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission."

A little over two months later, with over 400,000 cases worldwide, it's now clear that is not the case.

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Ivan Cholakov/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- The Pentagon is halting all overseas travel for U.S. troops for up to 60 days in an effort to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus, according to a top U.S. official.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the order applies to all servicemembers, Defense Department civilian personnel and their families. However, there will be some exceptions, including the partial drawdown of American forces already underway in Afghanistan, as outlined in a deal signed by the U.S. and the Taliban last month.

"The purpose is to make sure that we're not bringing the virus back home, infecting others, that we're not spreading it around the military," Esper said of the move, first reported by Reuters on Wednesday.

DOD also raised its Health Protection Condition (HPCON) level globally to "Charlie" -- the second highest level which indicates sustained community transmission.

Only essential personnel will be allowed onto military bases worldwide, and the installations will limit entry points. Personnel on the bases will also be required to practice social distancing, officials said.

These moves are just some of the ways the Pentagon has steadily increased restrictions on its personnel and implemented measures aimed at mitigating the spread of the deadly virus over the last several weeks.

As of Wednesday morning, the Pentagon confirmed that 227 service members had tested positive for COVID-19 -- up from 174 confirmed cases the previous day.

Those individuals now include three Navy sailors aboard a U.S. aircraft carrier, an Army recruit training at Fort Jackson in South Carolina and more than two dozen members of the National Guard.

And while the department has suspended several overseas military exercises with partner nations and training efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, it has allowed training stateside to continue largely unchanged.

Asked in a town hall event on Tuesday why units were still congregating in formations, Esper said the department has to maintain readiness, including physical fitness.

"You can't get social distancing in a submarine or even in a tank, right? I've been in both," he said. "But you take prudent measures as best you can, given the situation you're in, given your mission and whatnot."

He continued, "That's what we call upon commanders and senior [non-commissioned officers] at all levels to do: assess their situation, and if you can avoid putting people in -- a large number of people in small rooms, you should do it. Hold your meeting outside, or maybe meet in smaller groups. Get that social distancing as best you can."

Still, during the same town hall, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley conceded the changes made to prevent the spread of the virus will have an impact on military readiness.

"There will be an impact to readiness, but I think it will be on the lower end as opposed to significant," he said.

At the same time the department is working to protect the force, it's also providing personnel and resources to state governments whose health care systems are expected to be overrun with patients suffering from the virus.

On Friday, the U.S. Navy hospital ship USNS Mercy is set to arrive in Los Angeles. And three Army field hospitals are being deployed this week to New York and Washington.

There are also more than 10,700 National Guard personnel currently responding across 50 states, three territories and the District of Columbia.

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Tim P. Whitby - WPA Pool/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, becoming the first member of Britain's royal family to announce a positive test for the COVID-19 virus.

"He has been displaying mild symptoms but otherwise remains in good health and has been working from home throughout the last few days as usual," a Clarence House spokesperson said in a statement. "The Duchess of Cornwall has also been tested but does not have the virus."

"In accordance with Government and medical advice, the Prince and the Duchess are now self-isolating at home in Scotland," the spokesperson said. "The tests were carried out by the NHS in Aberdeenshire where they met the criteria required for testing."

It is not known from whom Prince Charles, 71, caught the virus due to the "high number of engagements he carried out in his public role during recent weeks."

Charles joined members of his family -- including Queen Elizabeth and sons Princes William and Harry and their wives Kate and Meghan, respectively -- at a Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey on March 9.

Charles later saw his 93-year-old mother Queen Elizabeth on March 12, but the queen "remains in good health," according to a statement from Buckingham Palace.

“Her Majesty The Queen remains in good health," the palace said Wednesday. "The Queen last saw The Prince of Wales briefly after the investiture on the morning of 12th March and is following all the appropriate advice with regard to her welfare."

Queen Elizabeth left her home at Buckingham Palace for Windsor Castle on March 19, one week earlier than she had planned to leave for her Easter holiday, according to Buckingham Palace. The queen and her husband, Prince Philip, are likely to stay at Windsor Castle beyond Easter Sunday.

The U.K. is asking people to stay at home as it tries to slow the spread of the coronavirus, of which there are now more than 425,000 diagnosed cases around the world, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

The U.K. government's advice to avoid mass gatherings has led to the postponement of the famous ceremonial Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, St. James’s Palace and Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace announced last week.

Buckingham Palace also announced last week it has canceled several upcoming events -- including annual garden parties -- that were to be attended by large crowds and members of the royal family.

Bars, restaurants and clubs in the U.K. have been ordered to close and schools have switched to virtual learning.

Prince Charles's two oldest grandchildren, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, are now being home-schooled by Prince William and Kate after their private school in London closed last week.

William and Kate, as the youngest, most senior members of the royal family, have taken on an increased public role amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited the London Ambulance Service 111 control room in Croydon, England, last week to thank dispatchers who have been taking emergency calls from the public.

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JazzIRT/iStock(MADRID) -- Members of the Spanish Armed Forces made a disturbing discovery as they disinfected nursing homes in the battle against the country's rising number of novel coronavirus cases.

Soldiers found corpses left behind in their beds at nursing homes in at least four locations, two government sources told ABC News on Tuesday.

They also found elderly residents living in extreme and unsanitary conditions, without having received appropriate care, according to the sources.

Nursing homes in Spain have seen drastic cuts to staffing amid the pandemic, with many being reduced to only essential workers who are reportedly overwhelmed and unable to meet all the demands, a Spanish Interior Ministry official told ABC News.

The sources did not disclose where the nursing homes were located, but they said that an investigation by the Interior Ministry had been launched.

Supreme Court Prosecutor Manuel Dolz Lago will be in charge of the case.

Spain is among the countries that have been hit the hardest by the virus.

The country has 39,600 cases, making it the fourth most affected region behind China, Italy and the United States. At least 2,800 people have died.

The revelation about the nursing homes comes on the same day that preparations were being made to turn an ice rink in Madrid into a makeshift morgue for coronavirus victims.

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omersukrugoksu/iStock(NEW YORK) --Iran rejected coronavirus aid provided by Doctors Without Borders, an international medical humanitarian organization, which had sent a team of medical staff and a field hospital to Iran.

"Since the national mobilization for confronting corona is ongoing, and the medical capabilities of Iranian Armed Forces are entirely at its service, Iran does not need hospitals established by foreigners and such presence is irrelevant," an adviser to Iran’s health minister, Alireza Vahhabzadeh, tweeted on Monday.

The Islamic Republic is the hardest hit country in the region with a death toll of at least 1,934 and 24,811 officially confirmed infection cases, the spokesman of the health ministry, Kianoush Jahanpour said on Tuesday, Iranian Students’ News Agency reported.
On Sunday, the official website of the Doctors without Borders /Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) stated that a "team of nine emergency and intensive care unit (ICU) doctors" along with logisticians to run the unit were sent to Isfahan, the second worst-affected province of the country after the capital city of Tehran.

After the minister’s adviser's tweet, MSF confirmed in a statement that "its intervention in response to COVID-19 in Isfahan is currently put on hold," saying the organization is "waiting official confirmation about the next steps."

The decision has caused confusion about the real need of the Islamic Republic for medical aid in its fight against the coronavirus.

Sadegh Zibakalam, Iranian political expert described the move as an example of prioritizing "ideology over people’s health."

"Expelling Doctors Without Borders who had come to Iran to fight corona is a representation of politicization and prioritizing ideological considerations over everything else including people’s lives and health," he tweeted on Tuesday.

However, those who are in favor of the decision believe that the MSF help package was too small to cover needs of the country, saying it was meant to cover up the bigger damages the U.S. sanctions have caused for Iran’s health system.

Since May 2018, Washington reinstated several economic and trade sanctions on Tehran after President Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal. While medication and food are exempted from sanctions, transaction restrictions have affected Iran’s access to medical supplies, especially in the fight against the coronavirus.

"They think they are dealing with fools that they want to compensate suffocating people by sanctions on their economy, export and import, money transaction and economy merely by ten doctors and 1,000 masks," Pooria Astaraky, a supporter of the system, tweeted.

Some critical of putting MSF aid on hold believe that rejecting this help sends the wrong signal to the international bodies, making them think the country is not in lack of supplies as its officials state.

"When you reject foreign aid with any excuse, be it its small quantity or our lack of need, [that] makes your voice unheard [about sanctions]," wrote Bahman Daroshafai on his Twitter account.

Stopping MSF team is also widely advocated by those who follow a line of conspiracy theory considering foreign medical staff as potential spies.

"According to some monitoring results, these people are on mission for the U.S. to report about the coronavirus in Iran and hand it to the United States," Amin Nikdel, a hardliner advocate of the system, described the MSF mission in his tweet.

Nikdel’s claim refers to the speech of Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Khamenei on Sunday, when he accused the U.S. of creating the novel coronavirus.

"When there's such an allegation, can a wise man trust you," Ayatollah Khamenei said.

"You could be giving medicines that spread the virus or cause it to remain. Experience shows you can’t be trusted and you do such things," he added.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



sturti/iStock(WUHAN, China) -- While the number of novel coronavirus cases continues to rise in the United States, China has begun to regain a sense of normalcy as the number of cases in the country has dropped dramatically in recent days. One nurse living in China spoke to ABC News about her experience dealing with the pandemic and offered some advice to people in the U.S.

Kate Shi, 34, an in vitro fertilization nurse that lives in Qinhuangdao, China, told ABC News she spent "almost three weeks" under a self-quarantine with her parents at their home in Changsha, which is roughly 340 miles from the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, epicenter in Wuhan.

"I was visiting them for the Chinese holiday and then I found out that I couldn't leave to return to work," Shi said.

She added that "the biggest challenge at that time was to make them comply" with public safety measures by staying home.

"Our city didn't lock down like Wuhan, but it was strongly encouraged to stay inside and not leave," Shi said.

Like many Americans in dense cities staying inside with their parents, family or roommates, Shi said there she had a mental shift in her attitude to make it work.

"My parents' apartment was quite small and, I think at first, what I had to do was to adjust my mindset," she explained. "Having to stay at home does not mean that I lost my freedom or control over my life. It actually means I consciously make a decision to protect myself and my family from this virus."

Shi said that for her, it helped to maintain her normal routine and that she'd wake up at her normal work hours. Once the family adjusted to being at home together, they embraced the opportunity to be so close to each other, she said.

"I interacted a lot with my parents and took advantage of the time I had with them," she said. "We had a casual hour after dinner where we'd play cards. There was a lot of laughter. It was actually quite nice."

Shi said that she had to self-isolate for 14 days after her train ride back to Qinhuangdao and that she worked remotely until her time was up and the clinic could open up again for patients.

Now, Shi said that "most of the businesses are starting to open like normal. People are coming to work like they did before all of this started."

She explained, however, that not all restaurants have resumed business and that those that have been delivering food to people have not yet allowed diners inside.

"I wouldn't say we're back to normal yet, but we're well on our way," she said,

Shi also gave some advice to others who are living through lockdowns. "Be optimistic," she said. "But take it seriously."

"Take precautions," she added. "Find things that matter to you and that can make you productive during the day, and appreciate your time."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


ALEXEY DRUZHININ/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images(MOSCOW) -- Russia’s President Vladimir Putin donned a hazmat suit and breathing mask during a visit to a hospital housing coronavirus patients in Moscow on Tuesday, as the Russian government signalled the virus outbreak is becoming increasingly serious in the country.

Video aired on state media showed Putin being helped into the yellow suit by doctors at the Kommunarka infectious diseases hospital, which has been designated to treat coronavirus cases and where there are currently over 400 patients being treated for the illness.

The photo-op, which state television described as "spontaneous," came as Russian authorities for the first time acknowledged that the real number of novel coronavirus cases in Russia is likely significantly higher than the official figure.

In a televised meeting, Moscow’s mayor Sergey Sobyanin told him that a "serious situation is unfolding" in Russia and said that the official count of 495 cases was no longer providing the real picture.

"It doesn't matter. 400-500. The dynamic is high," Sobyanin told Putin. "Those who are in reality sick -- there is significantly more of them."
Why is Russia reporting so few COVID-19 cases? Some say it's a cover-up

Russia’s official coronavirus numbers have been strange. The country has recorded significantly fewer cases than other major countries and until last weekend the official total was under 200. But what made Russia an outlier was its number of confirmed cases in proportion to the quantity of tests it was carrying out. Russia has conducted more tests than almost any country but only 0.3% of those tested showed positive -- the second-lowest ratio in the world.

That figure has puzzled experts and led critics -- and increasingly even pro-government officials -- to suggest the government’s numbers could not be accurate. It had sparked accusations of a cover-up, although no solid evidence had emerged to support that. Other experts have suggested Russia’s testing regime was perhaps inadequate.

Sobyanin acknowledged that on Tuesday, telling Putin that it was clear large numbers of people with the virus were being missed by testing.

"The thing is the volume of testing is very low, and the real picture ... no one in the world knows," Sobyanin said, saying the situation was similar to other countries where it is assumed there are many people more with the virus who are untested.

"That is the objective scenario. I’m not saying it’s good or bad. It’s objectively like that everywhere," he said, rebuffing an intervention from Russia's deputy prime minister Tatiana Golikova, who noted Russia has carried out 163,000 tests. "And so all regions -- irregardless of whether they have sick people, or not -- all of them need to get ready,” Sobyanin said.

He asked Putin to introduce quarantine measures in all major Russian cities, that would tell elderly people to remain at home and said that Moscow is urgently increasing its testing regime.

As in other countries Russia must now seek to flatten the peak of infections to prevent its hospitals being overwhelmed, Sobyanin told Putin. "Otherwise the system simply won’t handle it," he said.

The admission combined with Putin’s visit to the hospital seemed to signal a shift in approach by authorities in Russia, where officials and state media have largely tried to project a sense of business as usual. Although Russia rapidly closed its border with China early in the outbreak and has since barred all foreigners from entry, at-home measures have been less stringent, worried about the economic impact it could have. In Moscow, most restaurants and shops have been working as usual and although there has been some panic buying -- largely of buckwheat and pasta -- many Russians have appeared skeptical about the virus.

Last week, Moscow’s authorities told people over 65 to remain at home and said they would be paid around $50 if they complied. So far though, they have avoided imposing a strict lockdown, such as that in France and Italy, and now the United Kingdom. Putin, who is 67, has also maintained many of his own public meetings -- traveling to Crimea for the anniversary of its takeover by Russia, and proposing that a national vote on change to the constitution go ahead in April.

The situation in Russia, though, appears to be worsening, following a trajectory similar to those in big western European countries. In a sign of the scale of the epidemic authorities now fear, Sobyanin told Putin that Moscow hoped to have around 5,000 hospital beds ready for patients suffering from the virus within 3-4 weeks. He said he intended to ask federal authorities to provide 5,000 more.

Experts had expressed concern that Russia's testing program may have been too narrow, focused only on those returning from outbreak centers abroad. The Russian test itself also appears to be significantly less sensitive than those used elsewhere -- according to the president of the American Association for Clinical Chemistry, perhaps as much as 10-16 times less.

Some critics had accused the government of deliberately concealing the real numbers. Those concerns have been fuelled by figures from Russia's state statistics agency showing Moscow has experienced a 37% jump in pneumonia cases this January compared to last year. Anastasia Vasilyeva, who leads Alliance of Doctors, a group that campaigns on healthcare issues, and an ally of the opposition leader Alexey Navalny, has accused authorities of failing to provide medical staff with sufficient protective gear and hiding COVID-19 cases as pneumonia. Last week, she posted an audio recording she said was from a doctor at a Moscow hospital complaining 240 beds had already been set aside for patients with severe "pneumonia."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


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