Coronavirus live updates: FDA gives drugs emergency approval to treat COVID-19

(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has claimed the lives of more than 34,000 people across the globe.

The new respiratory virus, which causes an illness known officially as COVID-19, has rapidly spread to every continent except Antartica since first emerging in China back in December. There are now more than 723,000 diagnosed cases of COVID-19, spanning across 177 countries and regions, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. At least 152,000 of those patients have recovered from the disease.

With more than 143,000 diagnosed COVID-19 cases, the United States has by far the highest national tally in the world, followed by Italy, China and Spain. The virus has spread to every U.S. state as well as Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico. At least 2,513 people have died in the United States, according to the latest count by Johns Hopkins University.

Here’s how the news is developing Monday. All times Eastern:

5:11 a.m.: EasyJet grounds all flights due to pandemic

EasyJet, one of Europe’s largest airlines, said it has grounded all aircraft due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“As a result of the unprecedented travel restrictions imposed by governments in response to the coronavirus pandemic and the implementation of national lockdowns across many European countries, EasyJet has, today, fully grounded its entire fleet of aircraft,” the airline said in a statement Monday morning. “At this stage there can be no certainty of the date for restarting commercial flights. We will continuously evaluate the situation based on regulations and demand, and will update the market when we have a view.”

In recent days, the British budget carrier has helped repatriate more than 45,000 people on over 650 rescue flights. The last of those rescue flights were operated on Sunday.

“We will continue to work with government bodies to operate additional rescue flights as requested,” the airline added.

3:00 a.m.: FDA gives anti-malaria drugs emergency approval to treat COVID-19

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a limited emergency-use authorization for two antimalarial drugs to treat those infected with the novel coronavirus.

In a statement released Sunday night, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced it had received 30 million doses of hydroxychloroquine sulfate and one million doses of chloroquine phosphate donated to a national stockpile of potentially life-saving pharmaceuticals and medical supplies. Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, which are oral prescription drugs used primarily to prevent and treat malaria, are both being investigated as potential therapeutics for COVID-19.

The statement noted that the FDA had issued an emergency-use authorization to allow both donated drugs “to be distributed and prescribed by doctors to hospitalized teen and adult patients with COVID-19, as appropriate, when a clinical trial is not available or feasible.”

Federal agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, are working together to plan clinical trials.

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