SPAIN, March 15: Spain and France imposed stringent measures to combat the rapidly spreading coronavirus outbreak, the death toll kept climbing in China and the United States extended a travel ban.
In Spain, the government plans to put its 47 million inhabitants under partial lockdown from Monday as part of a 15-day state of emergency plan, a draft of an official decree seen by Reuters said.
France will shut shops, restaurants and entertainment facilities from Sunday with its 67 million people told to stay home in a country where the number of cases has doubled in 72 hours.
Mainland China had 20 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections on March 14, the National Health Commission said on Sunday, up from 11 the previous day. The total number of confirmed cases in mainland China so far is 80,844. The death toll from the outbreak in mainland China had reached 3,199 as of the end of Saturday, up 10 from the previous day.
In the United States, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a coronavirus aid package early on Saturday that would provide free testing and paid sick leave. President Donald Trump extended a travel ban to Britain and Ireland, a day after Washington suspended travel from certain European countries for 30 days beginning at midnight on Friday.
Trump tested negative for the coronavirus, two days after he stood next to a Brazilian official who was tested positive.
Interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus: open tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser
- Some 153,864 people have been infected by the coronavirus across the world and 5,800 have died, according to a Reuters tally.
- The number of new coronavirus cases imported into mainland China from overseas surpassed the number of locally transmitted new infections for the first time on Friday, according to data released by the National Health Commission.
- The Spanish government draft measures say that from Monday all citizens must stay home except to buy food, go to the pharmacy, to the hospital, or to work or for other emergencies.
- Spain is the second-hardest hit country in Europe after Italy, with 5,753 cases recorded on Saturday, up by a third from Friday even as health authorities in Madrid, which has the highest number of cases, stopped testing people with only mild symptoms.
- Italy agreed a series of measures to improve health controls in factories, offices and other workplaces that have been allowed to stay open during the country’s lockdown.
- The British government will ban mass gatherings from next week, an escalation of its crisis plan that critics had said was too relaxed.
- Germany urged people returning from Italy, Switzerland and Austria to self-isolate for up to two weeks. Germany also said it was amending a decree issued this month that required a government agency to approve exports of protective equipment such as masks, goggles and gloves.
- In France, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said the country must “close all non-essential locations, notably cafes, restaurants, cinemas, nightclubs and shops.” However, he said Sunday’s local elections would go ahead under strict sanitary conditions.
- Several hundred anti-government “Yellow Vest” protesters demonstrated in Paris, defying a ban on mass gatherings.
- Norway is to shut its ports and airports from Monday, although exemptions will be made for Norwegians returning from abroad as well as for goods, Prime Minister Erna Solberg said on Saturday.
- Greece said on Saturday it banned all flights that were still operating to and from Italy, after reporting two more fatalities from the coronavirus, raising the total number of deaths in the country to three.
- The Russian government said on Saturday it was closing the country’s land border with Poland and Norway to foreigners from midnight as a precautionary measure.
- The Czech government shut most shops and restaurants for 10 days on Saturday. The surprise move came after other restrictions in recent days, including closing schools and banning public events such as sports games or concerts.
- In Denmark, Copenhagen health authorities confirmed the first death of a person infected with coronavirus on Saturday, when an 81-year old patient died in a hospital in the city.
- The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a coronavirus aid package early on Saturday that would provide free testing and paid sick leave, in a bid to limit the economic damage from a pandemic that has shuttered schools, sports arenas and offices.
- President Donald Trump said he had taken a coronavirus test but his temperature was “totally normal,” as he extended a travel ban to Britain and Ireland. Washington suspended travel from certain European countries for 30 days beginning at midnight on Friday.
- Honduras issued a country-wide red alert for two weeks starting on Saturday. The Central American country reported its third case earlier this week.
- Ecuador’s government on Saturday announced the closure of its borders from Sunday to all foreign travelers, after local authorities confirmed a second death from the infection.
- Japan will aim to spearhead cooperation among major nations around the world to support a weakening global economy, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said, warning that policy coordination was critical to fight “disruptions” in world financial markets.
- Abe said Japan is still preparing to host the Olympics, despite rising global concern about the viability of the summer Games.
- Indonesia’s capital city will close all schools and order remote teaching for at least two weeks, Jakarta’s governor said on Saturday, as the first cases were also reported in other parts of the archipelago. Indonesia’s transport minister has been hospitalized in Jakarta after contracting coronavirus, a government official said, the country’s most high-profile confirmed case so far.
- Mainland China had 11 new confirmed cases on Friday, up from eight cases a day earlier, but only four of those - all in the virus epicenter of Hubei province - were locally transmitted, according to data released on Saturday.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
- The death toll from infections in Iran rose on Saturday to 611, state TV said, citing a health ministry official who put the total number of those diagnosed with the disease at 12,729.
- The United Arab Emirates said it was shutting major tourism and cultural venues, including the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum and the Ferrari World theme park, from March 15-31, as Gulf states stepped up measures.
- Jordan said it would stop all incoming and outgoing passenger flights from Tuesday as it tightens border controls and bans public gatherings and events to combat the spread of coronavirus.
- Yemen’s Saudi-backed government said on Saturday it was suspending all flights to and from airports under its control for two weeks starting on March 18, except for flights with humanitarian purposes.
- The Palestinian Authority suspended prayers in mosques and churches in the occupied West Bank on Saturday, and Gaza’s Hamas rulers said all the enclave’s border crossings would be shut for travel.
- Rwanda has confirmed its first case of coronavirus, an Indian citizen who arrived in the East African nation from Mumbai on March 8, the Health Ministry said.
- Other African nations to have reported cases of the virus include Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria, Senegal, Togo, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Sudan, Kenya and Ethiopia.
- Senegal’s President Macky Sall on Saturday ordered all schools and universities closed for the next three weeks and religious festivals canceled. French authorities were trying to arrange emergency travel from Morocco to bring back hundreds of French nationals who found themselves unable to leave after flights to European countries were suspended.
- Sudan has ordered the closure of schools and universities for one month from Saturday, the prime minister’s office said, adding that all public gatherings such as weddings and social events, will also be banned.
- Austria is making 4 billion euros ($4.4 billion) immediately available to deal with the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, the conservative-led government said as it ditched a central pledge to balance its budget.
- Switzerland will make 10 billion Swiss francs ($10.52 billion) available in immediate aid to mitigate the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
- The Indonesian government has prepared a 120-trillion-rupiah ($8.1 billion) stimulus package to support its economy.
- Japan’s government is expected to cut its assessment of the economy in a monthly report due later this month.
- Norway’s central bank said on Friday it had offered the first in a series of extraordinary loans to the banking industry, along with a surprise half-point cut in its key policy interest rate.
- France will help all companies in which the French state has a stake to weather the coronavirus crisis, its finance minister said on Friday, putting the growing cost of measures to soften the economic fallout at “dozens of billions”.
- Germany’s KfW state development bank has roughly half a trillion euros in support available to help support Europe’s largest economy, which risks being stricken by the coronavirus epidemic, the Economy Minister said on Friday.
- China’s central bank cut the cash that banks must hold as reserves on Friday for the second time this year, releasing 550 billion yuan ($79 billion) to help its coronavirus-hit economy.
- A gauge of stocks across the globe bounced back on Friday led by a late rally on Wall Street, after U.S. President Donald Trump freed up $50 billion to tackle the pandemic.
EVENTS CANCELED, POSTPONED, PARED BACK
- Walt Disney Co will close its theme parks in California and Florida and its resort in Paris from this weekend through the end of the month, the company said on Thursday.
- The impact of the coronavirus on sport swept into the southern hemisphere, with the cancellation of the Australian Formula One Grand Prix adding to an unprecedented shutdown of elite events and competitions around the globe.
- India suspended domestic soccer until the end of this month while domestic cricket was put on hold indefinitely.
- The World Trade Organization’s major biennial meeting, due to be held in Kazakhstan in June, was canceled, setting back its efforts to update the global rules of commerce.
- All elite soccer matches in England, including the Premier League, were suspended until April 4 on Friday, English soccer’s governing bodies said in a joint statement.
- The filming in Mexico of a big budget Steven Spielberg-produced Amazon mini-series, starring Spanish actor Javier Bardem, has been suspended due to concerns about the coronavirus, according to a letter sent to cast and crew on Friday and seen by Reuters.
- Dubai said on Saturday it was temporarily suspending operations at four major theme parks and tourist attractions until the end of March.