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Monday, March 16: Coronavirus global update

REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

Globally just under 170,000 are infected and over 6,500 have died while more than 77.500 have recovered. (Monday, March 16th at 08.00.)

CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK IN NUMBERS (continuously updated)


16.58 Turkey, Cafes, cinemas, gyms to close as of midnight tonight

The Turkish Interior Ministry announced that as of midnight tonight cafes, cinmeas, swimming will have to suspend operations.

16.17 Number of confirmed coronavirus cases in UK rises to 1,543

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the United Kingdom has risen to 1,543 the health ministry said on Monday.

The number was up from 1,372 on Sunday. The number of deaths remained at 35, it said.

16.07 Paris to close city parks

Paris will close its parks until further notice in order to reduce the risk of coronavirus infections, Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo said in a statement on Monday.

Hidalgo said that there were still lots of people in the city’s parks, despite government recommendations for social distancing as coronavirus infections are growing quickly.

16.01 Moscow bans outdoor events, limits indoor events capacity, schools to shut down 

Moscow on Monday banned all outdoor events and limited indoor public events to no more than 50 people until April 10, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said in a blog post on his personal website, amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Sobyanin also said that all state schools in the city would be closed from March 21 until April 12.

15.54 Bosnian region declares state of disaster

Bosnia’s autonomous Bosniak-Croat Federation declared a state of disaster on Monday, which will enable it to introduce emergency measures to halt the spread of the coronavirus, the region’s Prime Minister Fadil Novalic said.

Bosnia has reported 24 cases of the new virus so far, 20 of them in the country’s other autonomous region, the Serb Republic.

15.53 Germany wants early restaurant closures, non-essential shops closed

Early closures for restaurants, shutting non-essential shops and a ban on church services are new measures the German government wants to introduce to slow the spread of coronavirus, mass-selling newspaper Bild reported on Monday.

The government’s crisis committee made the recommendations to the country’s 16 states, which run their own security, health and educational affairs and must decide on which measures to apply, Bild said.

15.50 Chile to close borders to foreign travelers beginning Wednesday

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera said on Monday Chile would close its borders to foreigners beginning on Wednesday to limit the spread of coronavirus in the South American nation.

Pinera confirmed 155 cases of the virus in Chile.

15.45 Norwegian Air to cancel 85% of flights and lay off 90% of staff

Norwegian Air will cancel 85% of its flights and temporarily lay off 7,300 employees as result of the growing coronavirus crisis that has strangled demand for air travel, the carrier said on Monday.

U.S. President Donald Trump extended his restrictions on travel from Europe on Saturday to include Britain, Norwegian’s biggest destination for transatlantic flights, while other nations also severely limited air traffic.

15.27 Turkey suspends mass prayers in mosques

Turkey suspended mass prayers in mosques until the risk of coronavirus outbreak passes, the head of Turkey’s religious directorate, Ali Erbas said on Monday.

Speaking to reporters, Erbas said the mosques will be kept open for individual prayers.

15.09 Dutch coronavirus infections rises by 278 to 1,413, 24 deaths

The number of confirmed coronavirus infections in the Netherlands rose by 278 to 1,413, the National Institute for Public Health (RIVM) said on Monday.

The death toll rose by four to 24 from Sunday, the RIVM said.

15.08 Egypt to halt flights from Thursday

Egypt will halt all air traffic from its airports starting Thursday until March 31 to prevent the spread of coronavirus, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said on Monday.

Egypt will sanitize hotels during the closure, he said in a televised news conference, adding that tourists currently staying in the country would be able to complete their vacation.

15.01 Saudi asks people to stay at home unless absolutely necessary

Saudi Arabia’s health minister on Monday said he hoped people would stay inside their homes and not go out unless absolutely necessary due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Speaking in a televised conference about coronavirus in the kingdom, the minister also said a suspension of work for the private sector was under consideration.

14.50 Tunisian land border with Libya closed

Tunisia’s land border with Libya has been closed due to the coronavirus, Transport Minister Anouar Maarouf said on Monday.

Tunisia, which has confirmed 20 cases of the coronavirus, has imposed restrictions on flights with some European countries and stopped sea travel.

14.47 Lufthansa’s Austrian unit suspends all flights from Wednesday night

Lufthansa’s Austrian unit Austrian Airlines said on Monday it would temporarily stop flight operations due to worldwide travel restrictions and falling passenger numbers from Wednesday night.

The halt was currently planned to last until March 28, the carrier said.

14.45 Ferry company Stena Line to cut 950 jobs in Sweden

Ferry company Stena Line will cut 950 jobs in Sweden as a result of the coronavirus outbreak and the travel restrictions imposed by several countries, the company said on Monday.

The company was experiencing a “drastic decline” in travel bookings as a result, with the worst effect experienced in Scandinavia, it said. “At present, it is estimated that passenger operations will not recover before the peak season in summer,” the company said in a statement.

14.43 Virgin Atlantic to ground up to 85% of fleet

Virgin Atlantic, the UK-based airline, said it would ground 75% of its fleet by 26 March and by up to 85% at points in April, as it cancelled more flights due to coronavirus.

Virgin, which is 51% owned by Richard Branson’s group and 49% owned by U.S. airline Delta, said it will also ask staff to take eight weeks unpaid leave over the next three months to try to cut costs but avoid job losses.

14.41 Anger mounts over UK government’s decision to keep schools open

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced a backlash on Monday over his decision to keep schools open, with angry parents keeping their children at home and complaining that other countries were doing more to stop the spread of coronavirus.

14.27 Germany halts flights from Iran and China

Germany’s transport ministry plans to halt flights from Iran and China in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus, newspaper Bild reported on Monday, citing government sources.

The two countries are experiencing large outbreaks of the virus, which is now spreading rapidly in Europe as well.

14.05 UK to discuss social distancing measures for elderly 

British Prime Minister will discuss proposals for social distancing measures to protect the elderly from coronavirus at a government emergency meeting on Monday, his spokesman said.

Johnson has also asked finance minister Rishi Sunak to chair economy and business response to the outbreak committee, the spokesman said, adding that the tax authority was ready to help all businesses including airlines suffering due to coronavirus.

14.01 Kazakhs told to work remotely where possible

Kazakhstan instructed local companies on Monday to allow their employees to work remotely where possible due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“Today all companies, state-owned and private, that can switch to remote work must do so,” Labour and Social Protection Minister Birzhan Nurymbetov told a briefing.

13.50 Greece imposes 14-day quarantine on new arrivals, shuts retail stores

Greece said on Monday people arriving in the country from abroad will be placed in a two-week quarantine, while retail stores will be shut effective on Wednesday.

Supermarkets, pharmacy stores and food delivery services were exempted from the latest measures, the country’s alternate government spokesman said.

13.47 EU to take measures on its external borders within hours, Macron condemns unliteral closure of borders

Measures will be enacted on the European Union’s external borders in the coming hours, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the EU’s Ursula Von der Leyen and Charles Michel agreed on Monday, Macron’s office said.

Macron also condemned unilateral border control measures taken by some European Union countries in a bid to control the coronavirus outbreak, following a phone briefing with Germany’s Angela Merkel and other EU officials.

13.29 UK rail operators ask government for bailout

Companies running rail services in Britain have asked the government for a bailout to help deal with the fallout from a plunge in demand due to people working from home because of coronavirus, a source familiar with the situation told Reuters.

13.21 Armenian government declares state of emergency for one month

The Armenian government on Monday declared a state of emergency from March 16 until April 16 to slow the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.

Armenia has reported 30 coronavirus cases so far. One patient has recovered, and more than 300 people remain in quarantine, authorities say.

13.20 France’s Macron condemns unilateral border control measures

French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday condemned unilateral border control measures taken by some European Union countries in a bid to control the coronavirus outbreak, following a phone briefing with Germany’s Angela Merkel and other EU officials.

13.17 AB Foods shuts Primark stores 

Associated British Foods has been forced to close 74 Primark fashion stores in continental Europe due to government measures to combat coronavirus, while sales have fallen in those still open, it said on Monday.

Shares in AB Foods, which also owns major sugar, grocery, ingredients and agriculture businesses, slid 13% by 1108 GMT after it also said it could not provide earnings guidance for the full 2020-21 year due to the uncertain outlook.

12.58 Germany advises against all non-essential travel abroad

Germany is advising its citizens to refrain from all non-essential trips abroad due to the spread of the coronavirus, a spokeswoman for the foreign ministry said on Monday.

She added there were currently thousands of Germans abroad who would like to return and that the ministry was currently in discussions with airline Lufthansa about repatriating them.

12.51 Japan advises people to avoid travelling

Japan plans to widen travel warnings to much of Europe urging people avoid trips there as the coronavirus pandemic spreads, public broadcaster NHK said.

Japan will widen a level three advisory, which already applies to much Italy, to surrounding areas in Europe, NHK reported. That notice urges people to avoid all travel and asks Japanese resident there to prepare for possible evacuation.

12.48 Spain’s coronavirus death toll rises to 297 from 288

Spain’s tally of coronavirus cases rose to 8,744 on Monday and the number of fatalities rose to 297, said Fernando Simon, the head of the country’s health emergency centre.

The previous tally was 7,753 cases on Sunday, with 288 fatalities.

12.46 Iran confirms 1,053 new cases in the last 24 hours

Iran’s death toll from the new coronavirus has reached 853 with 129 new deaths in the past 24 hours, a health ministry official tweeted on Monday, adding that 14,991 people have been infected across Iran.

“In the past 24 hours we had 1,053 confirmed new cases of coronavirus and 129 new deaths,” Alireza Vahabzadeh tweeted.

12.43 Qatar says prohibits orders in restaurants, cafes

Qatar says prohbits until further notice orders in restaurants, cafes and presence of seated customers, organising of gatherings in halls, expect delivery services

12.42 Kenya raids shop selling fake coronavirus kits

Kenyan authorities raided a shop on Monday that was alleged to be selling fake coronavirus testing kits, as the World Health Organisation confirmed there were at least 327 cases on the African continent.

Police detained staff and locked the facility, witnesses told Reuters journalists at the scene, after the shop had been advertising testing kits online.

12.41 EU leaders set to hold video conference on virus on Tuesday

European Council president Charles Michel said he had called a video conference of EU leaders on Tuesday to discuss the coronavirus and the bloc’s response.

“I have decided to call a video conference with the European Council members on Tuesday 17 March to follow up on our EUCO (European Council) actions on COVID-19,” Michel, who chairs summits of EU leaders, said on Twitter on Monday.

12.39 Dubai closes bars, lounges

Dubai is closing all bars and lounges in the emirate with immediate effect until the end of March due to the coronavirus outbreak, according to a government circular issued on Monday.

A Dubai government media office spokeswoman did not immediately comment when contacted by Reuters.

12.30 Morocco to close eateries, sports and entertainment venues today

Morocco will close eateries, cinemas, theatres, sports, public clubs, baths, and other entertainment venues starting from today over coronavirus fears, the Interior Ministry said.

Markets, and shops selling necessary goods as well as restaurants offering a delivery service are exempt, the ministry said in a statement.

12.27 Hungary to close borders to international passengers

Hungarian PM Orban announced that borders will be closed to international passenger traffic while cinemas will be shut and restaurant’s opening hours limited

12.26 Algerian to suspend travel with Europe

Algeria will suspend all sea and air travel between it and Europe from Thursday over the coronavirus, Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad said in a statement.

Algeria said on Sunday it would suspend all travel to and from France starting on Tuesday, adding that Air Algerie would arrange emergency flights to bring back citizens.

12.02 Switzerland cancels parliament session, virus cases rise

Switzerland canceled a session of its national parliament, the government held crisis talks and the Swiss stock market plunged on Monday as new coronavirus cases accelerated.

11.38 Liberia reports first coronavirus case

Liberia reported its first coronavirus case on Monday, a ministry official said.

“I can confirm that we have a case and we are managing it,” said Chief Medical Officer Francis Kateh. He didn’t provide further detail on the patient’s identity.

11.37 Thailand records 33 new cases

Thailand has recorded 33 new cases of coronavirus bringing the total to 147

11.36 Malaysia reports 125 new cases

Malaysia reported 125 new coronavirus cases on Monday, with most linked to a religious gathering attended by around 16,000 people.

The new cases bring the total tally to 553 in the country, which remains the worst affected in Southeast Asia.

11.30 Georgia bans all foreigners from entering the country

11.24 Coronavirus impact will last at least to Q3 

The German economy ministry said it no longer expected an economic upswing in the first quarter because of the impact of the coronavirus on growth, with the economy unlikely to stabilise before the third quarter at the earliest.

11.01 Thailand plans to close schools, bars and theaters

Thailand plans to close down schools, bars, theaters and other entertainment centres to curb the spread of coronavirus as well as to postpone next month’s Thai New Year holiday to limit travel, a government spokeswoman said on Monday.

10.59 Philippines impose home quarantine

The Philippines imposed strict home quarantine measures and a halt on work and transport across its main island of Luzon on Monday, putting half of the population on lockdown in an aggressive bid to quell rising cases of coronavirus.

10.46 Spain mulls border closures

Closing Spain’s borders is among the options under consideration to help stem the coronavirus outbreak, Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska told radio station Cadena Ser on Monday.

10.09 Armenia to discuss declaring state of emergency

Armenia’s government will discuss declaring a state of emergency later on Monday in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said.

10.00 BA-owner, easyJet, Air France KLM make drastic cuts

The owner of British Airways and easyJet, Europe’s no.3 and no.4 airlines, said they would ground aircraft on an unprecedented scale in a battle to survive the travel restrictions and European lockdowns now convulsing the industry.

Air France KLM, one of many airlines around the world that has been hit by the coronavirus outbreak, said it was stepping up cost saving measures to deal with the impact.

09.35 China says imported coronavirus cases have become main risk

China’s foreign ministry said on Monday that imported coronavirus cases involving travellers entering the country from abroad have become the main risk.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters during a briefing that health checks and quarantine measures are being imposed equally to Chinese nationals and foreigners entering China from overseas.

09.20 Kingfisher shuts French, Spanish stores, Hypovereinsbank to close 101 branches

Home improvement group Kingfisher said on Monday all 221 of its Castorama and Brico Dépôt stores in France have closed until April 14 in line with government advice on coronavirus, while its 28 stores in Spain have also shut until March 29.

Germany’s Hypovereinsbank said it is closing 101  branches.

09.04 Coronavirus crackdown leaves Honduras in near lockdown

The Honduras was in a state of near lockdown on Monday after the government decided to send public and private sector workers home, temporarily call off flights, and suspend public transport to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

The violent, impoverished Central American nation rolled out the measures late on Sunday in a bid to snuff out the virus which has so far infected six people in the country.

08.52 French airports group ADP to consider closing some areas

French airports group ADP said on Monday that it would be considering closing down some areas in its main Paris airports to deal with the coronavirus outbreak, and added it was expecting a major financial hit due to the virus.

06.45 Turkey reports 12 new coronavirus cases 

Turkey identified 12 new cases of the coronavirus, bringing its total to 18, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Monday, marking the highest daily rise since the country announced its first case last week.

06.26 Mexico registers first coronavirus death

Mexico has registered its first death due to coronavirus, according to Mexican media reports on Sunday and two people familiar with the matter.

Veteran broadcaster Joaquin Lopez-Doriga said on Twitter that businessman Jose Kuri had died after testing positive for coronavirus following a trip to the United States.

05.49 NZ bans mass gatherings, promises fiscal package

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern banned gatherings of 500 people or more on Monday, as said there would be zero tolerance for anyone who violates the country’s new self-islolation rules to prevent the coronavirus from spreading.

Ardern also said the preliminary advice from the treasury department was that the economic impact from the COVID-19 could be greater than the global financial crisis.

03.32 S.Korea reports 74 new coronavirus cases

South Korea reported 74 new coronavirus infections on Monday, slightly lower than a day ago, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The new cases bring the country’s total to 8,236.

03.27 Peru to close borders

Peru will close its borders to curb the spread of coronavirus, President Martin Vizcarra announced on Sunday.

Vizcarra also called on citizens to self-quarantine for 15 days.

03.02 New York, LA shut bars and restaurants

Bars, restaurants, theatres and movie houses in New York and Los Angeles were ordered to shut down and several nations in South and Central America closed their borders in the latest moves around the world to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

02.36 Mainland China reports 16 new cases and 14 more deaths

Mainland China had 16 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections on Sunday, the National Health Commission said on Monday, down from 20 a day earlier.

That brings the total number of confirmed cases in China so far to 80,860.

01.57 U.S. clinical trial for coronavirus vaccine to begin Monday

A clinical trial to evaluate a vaccine designed to protect against the new coronavirus will begin on Monday, the Associated Press reported, citing an unnamed U.S. government official.

The first participant in the trial, which is being funded by the National Institutes of Health and taking place at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle, will receive the experimental vaccine on Monday, the AP reported

01.37 Italy’s coronavirus toll surges

Italy recorded 368 more deaths from the coronavirus outbreak on Sunday, its biggest one day rise, amid growing concern about the ability of its strained health system to cope with the relentless increase in new cases.

01.03 Colombia cancels classes

Classes at Colombia’s public schools and universities will be canceled from Monday to contain the spread of the coronavirus, President Ivan Duque said on Sunday.

The Andean country has reported 34 cases of COVID-19 and has introduced a string of measures – including closing its border with Venezuela and stopping foreign visitors from entering its territory – to contain the disease.

00.36 Guatemala registers first death 

Guatemala has registered its first fatality from coronavirus infection, an elderly man who had recently visited Madrid, Health Minister Hugo Monroy said on Sunday.

00.24 France preparing confinement order

France is preparing an order that would put its inhabitants under partial lockdown to combat the coronavirus epidemic, sources aware of the planning said on Sunday, a move that would tighten further restrictions on public life.

It was not clear whether the government had taken a final decision to order people to stay in their homes or how long the confinement would last.

00.19 Long lines at major U.S. airports ‘unacceptable,’ U.S. fixing problem

Long lines and delays at U.S. international airports for returning U.S. travelers being screened for coronavirus are “unacceptable” and the government has made adjustments to fix the problem, a senior U.S. official said on Sunday.

00.03 Czech Republic restricts movement of people

he Czech Republic tightened restrictions on Sunday to combat the new coronavirus outbreak, banning people from moving around except for work, essential shopping and other necessary activities until March 24.

Prime Minister Andrej Babis said the new measures would take effect from midnight, adding the government recommended that those who can work from home or take holidays.

LATE SUNDAY EVENING

Slovenia to shut down its air traffic from Tuesday

Slovenia will shut down its air traffic from Tuesday in an attempt to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, a government spokesman told reporters on Sunday.

Venezuela orders ‘collective quarantine’

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Sunday ordered businesses to close and citizens to remain in their homes in six states and the capital of Caracas starting on Monday to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Serbia launches state of emergency

Serbia has introduced a state of emergency to halt the spread of coronavirus, President Aleksandar Vucic said on Sunday after meeting top government and health officials in Belgrade.

Lebanon launches countrywide shutdown

Lebanon declared a medical state of emergency on Sunday, announcing a sweeping shutdown that included the closure of its airport and most public institutions and private companies as it looks to rein in coronavirus.

Costa Rica closes bars and discos

The Costa Rican government has ordered the closure of all bars and discos to combat the spread of coronavirus as the tally of registered infections in the Central American country rose to 35, the health ministry said on Sunday.

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