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Monday, March 23: Coronavirus global update

REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

More countries imposed lockdown measures as coronavirus cases across the globe ballooned, led by a sharp rise in infections in Europe. Italy banned travel within the country, nearly one in three Americans were ordered to stay home and New Zealand said it will move to its highest alert level imposing self-isolation.

CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK IN NUMBERS (updated continuously)

TRACKING THE SPREAD OF THE VIRUS


All the latest news in brief as it happens

20.19 South Africa to implement a 21-day lockdown from midnight Thursday

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday that the government would impose a nationwide 21-day lockdown from midnight on Thursday to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

In an address to the nation, Ramaphosa said the army would be deployed to assist the police during the lockdown. South Africans will still be able to leave their homes to buy food, seek medical care and collect social grants, Ramaphosa added.

20.17 France reports 186 more deaths, raising total to 860

French health authorities reported 186 new deaths from coronavirus on Monday, taking the total to 860 or an increase of 28%, with the toll rising more sharply than the last three days as the country is about to enter its second week of lockdown.

During a press conference, Health Minister Olivier Veran added the number of cases had risen to 19,856, which is a rise of about 20% in 24 hours.

Veran said 2,082 people were in a serious condition needing life support, up 19% compared to Sunday, another increase compared to the last three official tallies

19.54 Death toll in UK rises by 54 to 335

A further 54 people have died in the United Kingdom after testing positive for the coronavirus, bringing the total number of deaths to 335, the government said on Monday.

The number of confirmed cases rose to 6,650 on Monday from 5,683 on Sunday.

19.52 UEFA formally postpones Champions League, Europa League final

This season’s Champions League final, Europa League final and women’s Champions League final, all due to be played in May, have been formally postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, European soccer’s governing body UEFA said on Tuesday.

“No decision has been taken on rearranged dates,” said UEFA in a statement. All three competitions are currently suspended along with almost every European domestic league because of the coronavirus.

UEFA last week postponed the Euro 2020 tournament until next year.

19.04 Polish banks limit foreign currency withdrawals

Polish banks have had to limit foreign currency withdrawals for customers in recent days due to cash shortages because of coronavirus-related transport curbs, but most problems are being resolved, bank lobby head Krzysztof Pietraszkiewicz said on Monday.

Central bank governor Adam Glapinski said last week that lenders would be supplied with hard currency for clients if necessary.

“Some banks have withheld or limited cash withdrawals in foreign currencies for a few hours or a few days. For logistical reasons in such situations as an epidemic, there may be transport problems, such as airplane restrictions,” Pietraszkiewicz told Reuters.

18.53 UAE asks its students abroad to return home within 48 hours

The United Arab Emirates decided on Monday that all its students studying abroad to return home within 48 hours as a precautionary measure due to coronavirus fears, state news agency WAM reported.

The decision includes UAE students on scholarships or studying on their own expenses, WAM added.

18.47 Czech government extends ban on most shops, movement

The Czech government has extended an order closing most shops and restaurants and limiting people’s movement until April 1, continuing measures to curb the spread of the new coronavirus, Interior Minister Jan Hamacek said on Monday.

The order was due to expire on Tuesday morning. Grocery stores, drugstores, pharmacies, gas stations and other shops, including restaurants that fill takeaway orders, can still operate, while travel to work or family is allowed.

18.43 Coronavirus pandemic “accelerating”, WHO says it advising Olympics on risk

The coronavirus pandemic is “accelerating”, with more than 300,000 cases now recorded worldwide and from nearly every country, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, called for political commitment and said he would address the Group of 20 leaders this week and ask them to work together to boost production of vital protective gear for health care workers.

Dr. Mike Ryan, head of WHO’s emergencies programme, asked about the Tokyo 2020 Games due to open on July 24, said he believed a decision would be made “very soon” regarding their future.

18.27 England coronavirus death toll rises by 46 to 303 – health authorities

A further 46 people in England have died after testing positive to coronavirus, health authorities said on Monday, taking the total number of deaths to 303.

That is up from 37 deaths on Sunday. National Health Service England said the patients whose deaths were announced on Monday were aged between 47 and 105 years old and all had underlying health conditions

17.44 Merkel’s initial coronavirus test came back negative – spokesman

Angela Merkel’s initial test for coronavirus came back negative, a government spokesman said on Monday, adding that the German chancellor would undergo further tests.

Merkel went into quarantine on Sunday after coming into contact with a coronavirus-infected doctor. German Vice-Chancellor Olaf Scholz said earlier on Monday that Merkel was healthy but working from home.

17.34 Pakistan army says to help impose nationwide restrictions

The Pakistani army said on Monday it would help to impose nationwide restrictions to contain the spread of the coronavirus following a request from the government.

“The army chief of staff has ordered the deployment of all available troops and medical resources according to requirements,” a military spokesman, Major General Babar Iftikhar, said in an announcement broadcast live on television news channels.

17.22 Death toll in Italy’s Lombardy rises by around 320 in a day – source

The death toll from an outbreak of coronavirus in the northern region of Lombardy, which has borne the brunt of Italy’s contagion, has risen by around 320 in a day to more than 3,770, a source familiar with the data said on Monday.

The number of cases in the region, which includes Italy’s financial capital Milan, increased by more than 1,550 to roughly 28,760.

Monday’s figures represent an improvement on Sunday, when there were 361 deaths and 1,691 new cases. On Saturday there were 546 deaths and 3,251 new cases.

17.11 G7 finance officials plan coronavirus response call on Tuesday-source

Finance ministers and central bank governors from the G7 wealthy democracies plan to hold a conference call on Tuesday morning to discuss their coronavirus response efforts, a source familiar with the plans said.

16.57 Jordan extends coronavirus curfew, to deliver food to homes nationwide

Jordan said on Monday it would extend a curfew indefinitely, with supermarkets and other stores closed, and deliver food across the country to try to rein in the coronavirus.

Confirmed cases in the country of 10 million have steadily risen within a week to 112 cases from six. There have been no deaths.

Minister of State for Media Amjad Adailah said the government had made arrangements with municipal councils to deliver enough bread, water, gas cylinders and basic medicines across the country for the rest of the week.

16.51 Austria mobilises military reserves to fight coronavirus

Austria is mobilising its military reservists for the first time since World War Two, asking them to fight the coronavirus outbreak by helping with food supplies, medical support and police operations, the defence minister said.

Around 3,000 soldiers – 10% of the reserves – will for three months take over coronavirus-related tasks from soldiers whose military service expires in May, defence minister Klaudia Tanner told a news conference.

16.49 EU to provide 20 mln euros in humanitarian aid to Iran

The European Union will send 20 million euros in humanitarian aid to Iran, which is subject to U.S. sanctions, to help alleviate the coronavirus, and will also support Tehran’s request for IMF financial help, the EU’s top diplomat said.

“We’ve not been able to provide a lot of humanitarian help but there is some 20 million euros in the pipeline … that we expect to be delivered over the next weeks,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a video news conference on Monday.

16.48 Zimbabwe records first coronavirus death – health minister

Zimbabwe recorded the first death of a coronavirus patient on Monday, the health minister said, and urged the nation not to panic.

Obadiah Moyo identified the patient as a 30-year-old man who had recently travelled abroad and had a pre-existing condition.

“He had other concurrent serious medical conditions, which made him vulnerable. I wish to urge the nation not to panic because of this death,” Moyo told reporters in Harare, urging all those who came into contact with the deceased to go for screening.

16.31 Wizz Air could ground entire fleet if coronavirus crisis deepens

Wizz Air warned on Monday that grounding of its entire fleet remained a “distinct possibility” as global travel restrictions could make international flying for commercial purposes “untenable or impossible”.

The Hungary-based low-cost carrier said it cut its capacity by 30% in March and grounded 85% of its fleet this week, and has also implemented more cost-cutting measures to stem the impact from lower travel demand due to the coronavirus pandemic.

16.25 Tunisia orders army into streets to enforce coronavirus lockdown

Tunisia’s President Kais Saied on Monday ordered the army to deploy in the streets to force people to respect a lockdown imposed to halt the spread of coronavirus, the office of the presidency said in a statement sent to Reuters.

Tunisia has 89 confirmed cases of the virus. It imposed a curfew last week and a general lockdown from Sunday that keeps people in their homes except to buy necessities.

16.20 Gulf residents urge end to voice-call bans

Residents in the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf states are urging telecom firms to further ease restrictions on free internet calls as coronavirus separates families and forces people to work and study from home.

The UAE’s two telecommunications firms Etisalat and Du said they recently enabled Microsoft Teams over both wifi and mobile data connections as well as Blackboard, Zoom and CloudTalk — but appear to continue to block more popular applications.

16.16 Corona-hit Denmark extends lockdown until April 13

Denmark will extend until April 13 a nationwide lockdown that has closed schools and restaurants and kept most public sector workers at home in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus, the country’s prime minister said on Monday.

16.15 EU competition chiefs allow suppliers to coordinate to combat coronavirus

EU antitrust regulators gave the green light on Monday for suppliers to coordinate distribution of scarce products to cope with the coronavirus outbreak without fear of breaching cartel rules, but warned against price gouging.

The move by the European Competition Network (ECN), made up of the European Commission and national competition agencies in the 27-country bloc, came after Britain eased its competition laws to allow supermarkets work together and even ration products.

16.01 Hungary assessing option of national lockdown to combat virus -PM

Hungary’s government is weighing the option of a national lockdown to combat the coronavirus, Prime Minister Viktor Orban told lawmakers on Monday as his cabinet sought to raise emergency powers it says are needed to tackle the outbreak.

“We are considering this option, and what option specifically would make the most sense,” Orban said.

“Different countries have adopted different approaches: a curfew does not mean that nobody can leave their house, that is not needed and would not be possible,” he said.

15.54 Confirmed coronavirus infections in Netherlands rise 13%, 34 new deaths

The number of confirmed coronavirus infections in the Netherlands increased by 13% from a day earlier and 34 more people died, Dutch health authorities said on Monday.

The number of infections increased at the slowest pace in percentage terms since the first coronavirus case was reported in the Netherlands on Feb. 27.

There were 545 new infections, taking the total to 4,749. The death toll rose to 213, with victims aged between 55 and 97. The average age was 82.

15.35 U.S. surgeon general says outbreak ‘to get bad’ this week

The U.S. surgeon general issued his starkest warning to date on Monday about the health risk posed by the coronavirus outbreak, warning Americans that the crisis was “going to get bad” this week.

The country’s top public health official, Surgeon General Jerome Adams, sounded the alarm as nearly one-third of Americans awoke to “stay at home orders.”

15.25 German minister: Harder to repatriate Germans as airports close

The German government has repatriated some 120,000 of an estimated 200,000 tourists stranded overseas by the coronavirus in recent days, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Monday.

Attention was now increasingly turning to travellers in more remote countries like Chile, Mexico, New Zealand and Gambia, from where repatriation presented a greater logistical challenge, he said.

The government was working with travel companies to bring their customers home but was also chartering its own flights where necessary he said, adding that arranging flights had become more difficult as countries closed air space and airports.

15.22 Merkel is well, awaiting coronavirus test result – spokesman

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is awaiting the result of a test to establish whether she has coronavirus after visiting a doctor who has tested positive for the illness, her spokesman said on Monday.

“The chancellor is well,” Steffen Seibert said during a regular government news conference. He declined to say when the test results are expected. Merkel went into quarantine on Sunday.

14.56 US Treasury Secretary urges Congress to pass $2 trillion economic bill

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Monday called on the Senate to quickly pass a massive economic relief bill saying it was urgently needed to support small businesses, workers and industries such as U.S. airlines amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The legislation, still being hammered out, would offer government loans for small companies to pay employees for two months and forgive the debt if they rehire the workers later, Mnuchin said in an interview on Fox Business Network. He added that a provision to assist domestic airlines was still being negotiated.

Source: Reuters
Peter Rostas doesn’t want to have any reason to use the gun he was buying, but the young Hungarian father of one was taking no chances with a coronavirus epidemic he fears may bring out the worst in some people.

“It’s a precautionary measure,” Rostas, 33, said as he queued outside a small Budapest shop selling non-military grade weapons that require no licence. “I’d rather be laughing later than find myself in a conflict with nothing but a broomstick.”

14.30 German minister: Govt will take stakes in firms where needed but won’t preannounce that

The German government will take stakes in German companies struggling with the fallout from the coronavirus outbreak if necessary but it will not announce that in advance, German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said on Monday.

He said the German government could help companies but would not be able to offset lost sales.

14.29 Abu Dhabi’s Etihad to temporarily cut staff wages

Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways will temporarily halve salaries for management and cut other staff wages by a quarter in April due to the impact of the coronavirus on travel demand, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The state owned carrier, which will suspended all passenger flights for two weeks from Wednesday, did not immediately respond to request for comment.

14:02 UK in talks with Amazon over tests delivery

Britain has approached Amazon and other companies about using their services to step up the delivery of coronavirus tests to frontline health workers, the Financial Times reported on Monday.

The government has said it is trying to step up the delivery of tests to health workers so they know when they can and cannot work.

14.00 South Africa’s confirmed cases jump by 128 to 402

South Africa’s Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said on Monday that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases had risen to 402, a jump of 128 since Sunday’s announcement that could worry public health experts concerned about the country’s readiness to deal with the epidemic.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has declared a national state of disaster and imposed measures like travel bans to curb the spread of coronavirus. He is expected to address the nation later on Monday on new measures to mitigate the impact of the virus.

13.40 Japan Post may cut as many as 10,000 jobs – Nikkei

Japan Post Group and its labour union will start talks on reviewing its workers and it may cut as many as 10,000 jobs, equal to 5% of its workforce, the Nikkei business daily reported on Monday.

The postal group needs to reduce labour costs due to falling profitability of its financial business, the Nikkei said.

13.36 Shoppers desert UK high streets in coronavirus crisis, footfall down 41%

Shoppers deserted Britain’s high streets last week, with footfall down 41% according to Springboard, after the government advised people to stay at home and a growing number of businesses were either told to or chose to shut.

Pub were instructed to close on Friday, while cafes and restaurants were only allowed to offer take-out food and drink.

A growing number of chains, including McDonald’s and Primark, have shut completely in Britain until the coronavirus crisis abates.

13.32 Swiss cases rise by 1,046 to 8,060 -health agency

Swiss health authorities reported 1,046 (not 956) more coronavirus infections, bringing the total number of people who have tested positive in Switzerland and Liechtenstein to 8,060 as of midday on Monday.

The number of deaths rose by six from Sunday to 66, the Federal Office of Public Health said.

13.19 Azerbaijan Formula One GP postponed

Azerbaijan postponed its June 7 Formula One Grand Prix on Monday, leaving the stalled championship with a major rescheduling headache after already cancelling or calling off seven earlier races.

The latest postponement followed the cancellation of the Australian and Monaco rounds and the postponement of Bahrain, Vietnam, China, the Netherlands and Spain.

13.07 Second Egyptian military official dies

A senior Egyptian military official died on Monday from coronavirus, state newspaper Al-Ahram said, a day after state media announced the death of another senior military official.

Major General Shafie Abdel Halim Dawoud “died while fighting the coronavirus”, state television said, without giving any details. State media announced on Sunday that Major General Khaled Shaltout had died for the same reason.

13.03 Paris keeps banning gatherings on Seine river banks

Paris will maintain a ban on gatherings on promenades along the Seine river, the lawns of Les Invalides and the Champs de Mars around the Eiffel Tower in efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus, police said on Monday.

Paris police had initially ordered the ban for the past weekend only.

The ban will now last until lockdown measures ordered by French authorities are lifted.

12.50 Hungary govt expands tax relief measures, suspends evictions – PM Orban

Hungary’s government will extend further help to small business owners to help them weather the economic crisis unfolding in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and will suspend evictions, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Monday.

More than 80,000 small businesses will receive an exemption from tax payments until after the crisis, as will media companies that suffer from falling advertising revenue, Orban said in a televised statement.

Tax collections and evictions will be suspended, and maternity benefits will be extended until after the epidemic as well, Orban added.

12.48 Spain’s coronavirus death toll adds 462 overnight , deputy PM hospitalised with respiratory infection

The coronavirus death toll in Spain has reached 2,182, adding 462 fatalities overnight, the health ministry said on Monday.

The number of cases registered in Spain rose to 33,089 up from 28,572 cases on Sunday.

12.31 Italy’s Lombardy metalworkers to strike, want more firms shut

Metalworkers unions in Italy’s northern Lombardy region said on Monday they would strike to protect the health of their members because a government decree temporarily shutting many businesses due to coronavirus contained too many loopholes and exceptions.

The three main unions, FIOM, FIM and UILM, said in a statement that the list of companies that can continue working “has been excessively extended, covering areas of dubious importance” and allowing firms “excessive discretion” in applying for exemptions.

Lombardy is the Italian region worst hit by the epidemic, which killed 5,476 people nationwide up to Sunday.

12.11 Congo imposes 48-hour lockdown on mining province

Congo imposed a two-day lockdown in Haut-Katanga, an area rich in copper and cobalt, after two people tested positive for the coronavirus, the provincial governor said late on Sunday.

Jacques Kyabula Katwe said late on Sunday that the boundaries of the southeastern province, whose capital is the major mining hub of Lubumbashi, would also be closed.

12.09 Nigeria confirms first fatality 

Nigeria confirmed its first fatality from coronavirus, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control said in a tweet on Monday.

The patient was a 67-year-old man who returned following a medical procedure in the United Kingdom with underlying medical conditions including multiple myeloma and diabetes and was undergoing chemotherapy, the NCDC said.

11.59 Iran’s death toll from coronavirus climbs to 1,812 with 127 new deaths

Iran’s death toll from the new coronavirus has increased to 1,812, with 127 new deaths in the past 24 hours, a health ministry spokesman told state TV on Monday, adding that the country’s total number of infected people has reached 23,049.

Kianush Jahanpur said that in the past 24 hours, some 1,411 Iranians had been infected with the virus across the Islamic Republic, which has the worst outbreak in the Middle East.

11.57 Malaysia coronavirus cases up by 212 in biggest daily jump

Malaysia reported 212 new coronavirus cases on Monday, the biggest daily jump in the Southeast Asian country and bringing the total to 1,518.

About 970 of the total cases are linked to a religious gathering last month near the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, the health ministry said.

The death toll from the coronavirus infection rose to 14, the ministry said.

11.43 Icelandair cuts 240 staff, reduces management pay

Icelandair said on Monday it will cut 240 jobs, move 92% of remaining staff to part-time employment and cut management pay in a move to absorb the effect of the coronavirus outbreak on its business.

“These measures limit the number of layoffs and positively impact the company’s cash flow in the short-term,” Icelandair said in a statement.

11.34 Germany’s infection curve could be flattening off

There are signs that the exponential upwards curve in new coronavirus infections in Germany is flattening off for the first time thanks to social distancing measures in force, the head of the country’s public health institute said on Monday.

“We are seeing signs that the exponential growth curve is flattening off slightly,” said Lothar Wieler, head of the Robert Koch Institute. “But I will only be able to confirm this trend definitively on Wednesday.”

He said he was optimistic that measures taken so far in Germany, including school closures, instructions on hand-washing and strict warnings against public gatherings, were already having an effect.

11.15 Poland becomes third country calling for Olympic games postponement

Poland’s Olympic Committee, PKOL, has called on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to change the date of the Tokyo 2020 games scheduled for July due to the coronavirus pandemic, its spokeswoman said on Monday.

“Due to the changing situation – the introduction of the state of the epidemic in Poland and the increasing number of COVID-19 infections – Polish athletes have increasingly limited training options,” the PKOL said.

The other two countries calling for the postponement of the games were Canada and Australian.

11.03 Uzbekistan to lock down capital Tashkent

Uzbekistan will effectively lock down its capital city Tashkent from March 24 to prevent the spread of coronavirus, the Central Asian nation’s government said on Monday.

With all but one of Uzbekistan’s 46 confirmed cases registered in the city of more than 2.5 million, the government has already shut down public transit in the capital and ordered most businesses to switch to remote working.

10.57 UK considering closing non-essential retail -BBC political editor

Britain is considering closing all non-essential retail shops as it tightens measures to keep people at home over coronavirus, the BBC’s political editor reported on Monday.

“Government considering next steps like closing non-essential retail or whether to start treating people flouting the stay at home advice as acting against the law – all being discussed – huge decisions, nothing final,” Laura Kuenssberg said on Twitter.

10.31 Vietnam PM says risk of coronavirus community infection ‘very high’

Vietnam needs to strictly enforce restrictions on all air, sea and land movements within the country to curb the spread of coronavirus as the risk of community infection is “very high,” the Southeast Asian country’s prime minister said on Monday.

Vietnam will continue its measures to quarantine people “however much it costs”, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said in a statement on the government website.

10.13 Ireland likely to give further recommendations on public spaces

Ireland’s national public health emergency team is likely to recommend measures to government on Tuesday on how to implement social distancing in public spaces to battle the spread of coronavirus, Health Minister Simon Harris said.

“We won’t be making decisions based on Twitter trends, we’ll follow the public health advice and I quite frankly expect that it’s likely we’re going to be receiving further recommendations from them,” Harris told national broadcaster RTE on Monday after crowds gathered in some parks and beaches at the weekend.

10.12 European shares sink again as coronavirus deaths mount

European shares were stuck near seven-year lows on Monday after several countries expanded measures to curtail the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, with Italy banning even domestic travel as the number of fatalities there topped 5,400.

The benchmark STOXX 600 index was down 4.6% at 0806 GMT, with bourses in Germany, Spain and London leading declines.

The relentless spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has forced entire countries to self-isolate and brought economic activity to a grinding halt, driving the biggest global market sell-off since the 2008 financial crash.

10.11 Philippines coronavirus infections rise to 462

The Philippines’ health ministry reported on Monday 82 new coronavirus infections, bringing the total in the Southeast Asian nation to 462, while deaths remain at 33.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque said earlier on Monday that confirmed cases would rise as the country secures more test kits.

10.06 Hong Kong to ban all tourist arrivals, weighs suspension of alcohol sales

Hong Kong said on Monday it was banning all tourist arrivals to the global financial centre amid a spike in imported cases of the coronavirus, as it joins cities worldwide in the battle to contain the spread of the disease.

The government also said it was studying whether to suspend the sale of alcohol in licensed bars and restaurants in the city, which has 318 confirmed cases of coronavirus and four deaths.

09.45 Poland does not rule out more restrictions 

Poland cannot rule out imposing further constraints on citizens to prevent the spread of coronavirus, government spokesman Piotr Muller said on Monday.

Poland has shuttered schools, cinemas and theaters, while limiting public gatherings to no more than 50 people. It has also closed its borders to foreigners and introduced a “state of epidemic”, recommending its citizens to stay at home.

09.44 Montenegro reports its first death 

A 65-year old man from the Montenegrin town of Herceg Novi who died in hospital in the capital Podgorica on Sunday is the Adriatic country’s first victim of the coronavirus, the director of the Clinical Center of Montenegro.

“The man was transported to the Clinical Center of Montenegro … and unfortunately died shortly afterwards,” Jevto Erakovic said late on Sunday.

09.32 Qatar announces $150 million aid to Gaza to support UN programmes

Qatar announced $150 million in aid to the Gaza Strip over a period of six months, to support United Nations humanitarian programmes in the Palestinian territory and efforts to contain the new coronavirus outbreak, the state-run Qatari Committee to Rebuild Gaza said Monday on Twitter.

09.30 British broadcaster ITV says all TV advertising impacted by coronavirus

ITV,  Britain’s biggest commercial free-to-air broadcaster, said advertisers across all categories were deferring campaigns, and the rapidly changing situation meant it could not guide to ad sales or forecast its outcome for the year.

It said on Monday the coronavirus outbreak had caused it to suspend production on many programmes, and it had implemented contingency plans to enable it to continue to produce news and live output. It also pulled its dividend.

09.29 Jury trials suspended in England

The head of the judiciary in England and Wales on Monday ordered all jury trials to be suspended to allow new systems to be brought in to cope with government instructions for Britons to avoid unnecessary contact to prevent spreading coronavirus.

“My unequivocal position is that no jury trials or other physical hearings can take place unless it is safe for them to do so,” said Lord Chief Justice Ian Burnett in a statement.

“A particular concern is to ensure social distancing in court and in the court building.”

09.16 Primark closes all stores, stops orders

Primark is closing all of its stores around the world, a loss of roughly 650 million pounds ($760 million) worth of net sales a month, and will stop placing new orders with suppliers, its parent company said on Monday as the coronavirus outbreak deepens.

“A variety of work streams have been established to mitigate the effect of the contribution lost from these sales and all expenditure is being reviewed,” Associated British Foods said.

“We currently estimate being able to recover some 50 percent of total operating costs.”

09.10 Facebook to assist in fight against the virus

Facebook announced that Messenger will be partnering with developers to provide government health organisations with free services to respond to pandemic.

FB will be creating online hackathon, inviting developers to build messaging solutions that address challenges related to the virus.

08.49 UN to create global coronavirus fund -Norway foreign ministry

The United Nations will create a fund to support the treatment of coronavirus patients worldwide, Norway’s foreign ministry said on Monday.

“A multi-donor fund under UN auspices will provide predictability for our partners and help to make the efforts more effective,” Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soereide said in a statement.

08.48 Rouhani: U.S. should lift sanctions if it wants to help Iran amid coronavirus

The United States should lift sanctions if Washington wants to help Iran to contain the coronavirus outbreak, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday, adding that Iran had no intention of accepting Washington’s offer of humanitarian assistance.

“American leaders are lying … If they want to help Iran, all they need to do is to lift sanctions …. Then we can deal with the coronavirus outbreak,” Rouhani said in a televised speech.

08.30 Indonesia invokes emergency measures in Jakarta

Indonesia’s capital Jakarta shut cinemas and other public entertainment on Monday at the start of a two-week emergency period to try to slow the accelerating spread of the coronavirus in Southeast Asia’s biggest city.

The new measures, which include urging people to work from home, still fall short of the tougher lockdowns imposed by neighbours amid concerns among some experts that the archipelago of 260 million people is not doing enough to contain the virus. National police spokesman Muhammad Iqbal said 465,000 police across Indonesia would disperse any public gatherings “for the sake of public safety” though a photograph posted on social media of a packed commuter train in Jakarta quickly went viral.

08.21 Taiwan reports 26 new cases of coronavirus, total now 195

Taiwan’s government announced 26 new cases of coronavirus on Monday, bringing the total number to 195.

All but one of the new cases was imported, in people with travel histories to the United States, Spain, the Netherlands, France, Switzerland and Britain, the government said in a statement.

07.49 Malaysia says may extend movement curbs, to add stimulus

Malaysia’s prime minister said on Monday the government may consider extending movement restrictions by up to two weeks, and will announce more economic stimulus to soften the blow from the coronavirus outbreak and weak oil prices.

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said the national security council will meet on March 30 to decide on what to do after the current curbs on movement and businesses expire at the end of the month.

07.01 Philippines reports eight new deaths, 16 more cases

The Philippines’ health ministry on Monday confirmed eight new deaths because of the coronavirus outbreak and 16 more infections.

This brings country’s total deaths to 33 and confirmed cases to 396, said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

06.55 Australian coronavirus cases spike, cruise with sick passengers denied entry

Australians began living under strict new lockdown rules on Monday as coronavirus cases topped 1,600 and authorities denied entry to a cruise ship carrying hundreds on board complaining of respiratory illnesses.

As new restrictions closing non-essential services came into effect, there were clear signs of economic and social stress with long queues forming outside offices of the main welfare agency across the country.

06.30 Thailand reports 122 new coronavirus cases, raising total to 721

Thailand has 122 new coronavirus cases, raising the total to 721, a health ministry spokesman said on Monday at a news conference.

The new cases include 20 patients linked to previous cases, 10 new imported cases, and 92 cases that tested positive and are awaiting investigation into how they contracted the disease, Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a Public Health Ministry spokesman said.

06.22 Cambodia reports two new coronavirus cases, bringing total to 86

Cambodia reported two new coronavirus cases on Monday, bringing the total to 86, health authorities said.

“We have not yet found evidence of community outbreaks, but there is a possibility,” Cambodia’s Communicable Disease Control department said in a Facebook post on Monday.

05.45 Tokyo governor agrees with PM Abe on potential Olympics delay, cancellation not an option

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said on Monday that she agreed with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s latest comments that postponement of Olympics won’t be ruled out as an option due to the coronavirus outbreak, although she said cancellation was unthinkable.

04.05 S.Korea reports fewest new coronavirus cases since Feb. 29 peak

South Korea on Monday reported its lowest number of new coronavirus cases since the peak so far on Feb. 29 and the extended downward trend in daily infections has boosted hopes that Asia’s largest outbreak outside China may be abating.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said there were 64 new cases on Monday, taking the national tally to 8,961. The death toll rose by one to 110.

03.58 Harvey Weinstein tests positive for coronavirus in prison 

Former movie producer Harvey Weinstein, who is serving a prison sentence for sexual assault and rape, has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the head of the state corrections officers union.

Weinstein, 68, has been placed in isolation at Wende Correctional Facility, said Michael Powers, president of the New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association.

03.50 Olympics-Team Canada says it won’t participate in Games 

The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) and Paralympic Committee (CPC) said on Sunday that Team Canada would not be participating in the Olympic and Paralympic Games in the summer of 2020.

“The COC and CPC urgently call on the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to postpone the Games for one year and we offer them our full support in helping navigate all the complexities that rescheduling the Games will bring,” the committees said in a statement.

03.45 UAE suspends passengers flights

The UAE said it will suspend all passenger and transit flights to and from the country for two weeks over coronavirus fears, state news agency WAM said on Monday. Cargo operations will continue.

The UAE’s ministry of health has decided to close shopping and commercial centres, leaving open pharmacies and supermarkets, along with fish, vegetables and meat markets dealing with wholesalers, WAM reported. It will limit restaurants to delivery services.

03.41 Saudi imposes curfew to curb coronavirus spread

Saudi Arabia will impose a nationwide curfew starting on Monday after reporting a jump of almost a quarter in coronavirus cases, while the United Arab Emirates will suspend all passenger and transit flights to and from the country.

Saudi King Salman ordered a curfew – from 7 pm to 6 am for 21 days – to slow the spread of the coronavirus, state news agency SPA reported on Monday. The curfew will take effect on Monday evening.

03.23 China sees drop in new coronavirus cases; all new cases imported

Mainland China saw a drop in its daily tally of new coronavirus cases, reversing four straight days of gains, as the capital Beijing ramped up measures to contain the number of infections arriving from abroad.

China had 39 new confirmed cases on Sunday, the National Health Commission said, down from 46 a day earlier. All of them involved travellers arriving from abroad, many of whom are Chinese students returning home.

03.16  New Zealand announces move to enter lockdown over next 48 hours

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday the country will move into its highest alert level, with all-non-essential services, schools and offices to be shut over the next 48 hours.

The move means bars, cafes, restaurants and cinemas will be shut. Supermarkets and pharmacies will remain open, Ardern said, adding that the country was well supplied.

All schools will be closed from Tuesday, she said.

02.56 Venezuela prohibits company layoffs and suspends credit collections

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced on Sunday a series of economic measures to address the financial fallout from the spread of the coronavirus in the country, including prohibiting layoffs while also suspending rent payments and credit payments.

“We have the conscience and the absolute decision to protect all jobs in the country, to protect the entire operation of all companies and businesses in the country,” Maduro said during a live appearance on state television.

02.04 Japan PM Abe says postponing Tokyo Olympics an option

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Monday that postponing the Tokyo Olympic Games may become an option if holding the event in “complete form” became impossible.

02.01 UK scientists to track mutations in coronavirus to map spread

UK scientists are to track the spread of the new coronavirus and watch for emerging mutations by using gene sequencing to analyse the strains causing thousands of COVID-19 infections across the country, Britain said on Monday.

Researchers will collect data from samples from infected patients in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, the government said in a statement.

01.58 Panama reports nearly 30% jump in new coronavirus cases

Panama health officials reported 68 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, up 28% from the previous day, bringing the total number of infected persons in the country to 313.

01.55  New Zealand reports 36 new coronavirus cases, total crosses 100

The number of coronavirus cases in New Zealand crossed the 100 mark on Monday as the country reported 36 new infections.

Of the new cases, two are related to community transmission, Ministry of Health’s Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said in a news conference.

00.08 Georgia locks down two regions

Georgia decided to lock down two southern regions in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus, the country’s prime minister said.

Giorgi Gakharia told a briefing that Marneuli and Bolnisi regions, bordering with Azerbaijan, would be locked down after a woman, who had contact with at least 90 people, after attending a relative’s death anniversary dinner, was diagnosed with a COVID-19.


Sunday, March 22

EUROPE

Italy banned travel within the country on Sunday as data showed a further 651 people had died from the disease, lifting the number of fatalities to 5,476.
Britain may need to impose curfews and travel restrictions to halt the spread of the coronavirus if people do not heed the government’s advice on social distancing, Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned on Sunday. Greece announced a lockdown on Sunday, restricting movement from Monday morning with only a few exceptions. T
The Spanish government sought to extend until April 11 a state of emergency that it has imposed to try to control Europe’s second-worst outbreak of coronavirus

AMERICAS

Nearly 1 in 4 Americans were under orders to close up shop and stay at home on Saturday. At least 23,941 cases of the virus have been reported in the United States and 306 people have died as of Saturday evening. The Canadian death toll from the outbreak jumped by more than 50% on Sunday, and officials threatened to punish people refusing to take precautions to fight the spread of the virus.
Panama health officials reported 68 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, up 28% from the previous day, bringing the total number of infected persons in the Central American country to 313.
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has denied the country’s healthcare system will collapse next month, contradicting his own health minister as the number of deaths in the country jumped 39% and confirmed cases topped 1,500.

ASIA

New Zealand said on Monday it will move to its highest alert level imposing self-isolation, with all-non-essential services, schools and offices to be shut over the next 48 hours as the number of coronavirus cases more than double.
Mainland China saw a drop in its daily tally of new coronavirus cases on Sunday, reversing four straight days of gains, as the capital Beijing ramped up measures to contain the number of infections arriving from abroad.
South Korea on Monday reported its lowest number of new coronavirus cases since the peak so far on Feb. 29 and the extended downward trend in daily infections that has boosted hopes that Asia’s largest outbreak outside China may be abating.
Australia started shutting down pubs, clubs, gyms and houses of worship on Monday after a jump in virus cases and after thousands disregarded social distancing advice and crowded beaches, bars and restaurants.

MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA

Saudi Arabia will impose a nationwide curfew starting on Monday after reporting a jump of almost a quarter in coronavirus cases, while the United Arab Emirates will suspend all passenger and transit flights to and from the country.
War-ravaged Syria on Sunday confirmed its first case of the coronavirus after weeks of rejecting opposition allegations that the disease had already reached a country with a wrecked health system
Iraq’s government has extended a curfew on travel in and out of Baghdad until March 28 as part of strict measures to prevent the coronavirus from spreading, it said in a statement on Sunday.
Iran’s death toll has reached 1,685 with 129 deaths in the past 24 hours, the health ministry’s spokesman told state TV on Sunday, adding that the total number of infected people in Iran had reached 21,638.

ECONOMIC FALLOUT

Partisan battles in the U.S. Senate stopped a $1 trillion-plus coronavirus response bill from advancing on Sunday, but talks continued over Democrats’ demands for more funding for medical care and state and local efforts to combat the pandemic.
Airlines cancelled more flights on Monday as Australia and New Zealand advised against non-essential domestic travel, the United Arab Emirates halted flights for two weeks and Singapore and Taiwan banned foreign transit passengers.
India’s biggest automaker Maruti Suzuki India and peers including Mahindra & Mahindra, Mercedes-Benz, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) as well as Hyundai Motor Co said they will halt car production in the country due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The impact of the coronavirus outbreak will put Europe into a recession but it should be transitory and the region should be back in positive GDP growth in the second semester, European Central Bank vice president Luis de Guindos said on Sunday.



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