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Tuesday, March 24: Coronavirus global update

REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

The COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday, with more than 380,000 cases now recorded and infections reported from nearly every country.

As of 07.00 this morning more than 381,700 people have been infected across the world and over 16.550 have died but at the same time 102,429 people have recovered.

CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK IN NUMBERS (updated continuously)

TRACKING THE SPREAD OF THE VIRUS


All the latest news in brief as it happens

22.10 Finland to close restaurants, mulls capital region blockade

Finland’s government on Tuesday rushed forward a law to close all restaurants, cafes and bars until the end of May and mulled a possible blockade of the capital region to contain the coronavirus outbreak, it said.

The Finnish parliament began an immediate late evening hearing to adopt the law which would take effect as soon as possible.

Earlier on Tuesday, the government convened all parliamentary groups to discuss a possible blockade of the capital region around Helsinki, the epicentre of Finland’s 792 confirmed COVID-19 cases and one death.

21.40 South African Airways to suspend all domestic flights as country braces for lockdown

South African Airways (SAA) said on Tuesday it will suspend all its domestic flights from Friday to April 16 in support of the national lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a 21-day lockdown from midnight on Thursday in an address to the nation on Monday, as the number of confirmed cases jumped by 128 to 402. On Tuesday the number climbed to 554.

21.23 Turkey’s coronavirus death toll up seven to 44, with 343 new cases -minister

Turkey’s death toll from the coronavirus increased by seven to 44 on Tuesday as the number of confirmed cases rose by 343 to 1,872, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.

He said on Twitter that 3,952 tests had been conducted in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of tests carried out in Turkey to

19.41 Greece says coronavirus to drive economy into recession

Greece’s economy will contract this year because of the coronavirus lockdown but the projected recession will be temporary, the finance minister said on Tuesday.

It was a rapid re-estimation as the minister had projected eight days ago that the economy would weather the coronavirus storm and grow just over 0%.

“The situation in Greece’s economy has deteriorated and continues to deteriorate,” Christos Staikouras said in a televised address. “The crisis is deep, it will become deeper and the economy will turn into recession in 2020.”

19.40 Trump says would love to see businesses re-open by Easter

President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he would like to see U.S. businesses re-open by Easter, which is April 12 this year.

“I’d love to have it (businesses) open by Easter. I will tell you that right now,” he said on Fox News during a discussion of U.S. economic shutdowns aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus.

19.30 Coronavirus has already erased Ireland’s budget surplus – minister

Ireland had already likely used up its projected budget surplus of 0.7% of gross domestic product on coronavirus-related fiscal measures before the additional support announced on Tuesday, Irish Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said.

“We came into 2020 with a growing surplus, it’s fair to say that all of that has now been used in responding back to the public health needs that we had just over two weeks ago and also due to the very sudden decline in tax revenue that’s likely to take place in March,” Donohoe told a news conference.

19.19 UK health minister calls for more London Tube trains to avoid overcrowding

Britain’s health minister Matt Hancock has called for an increase in trains operating on the London Underground system to prevent members of the public being at risk of contracting coronavirus on packed carriages.

Last week, London mayor Sadiq Khan announced the Tube would reduce the number of trains as workers were told to stay at home.

“We should have more Tube trains running,” Hancock said at a press conference. “There is no good reason in the information I have seen that the current levels of Tube provision should be as low as they are.”

19.18 Vietnam health ministry reports rise in coronavirus cases to 134

Vietnam’s health ministry reported an additional 11 coronavirus cases on Tuesday, taking the Southeast Asian country’s tally to 134, though it reported no deaths.

Vietnam had said in mid-February that all its then-16 confirmed coronavirus cases had recovered, but it has since been battling an influx of imported cases from overseas visitors and Vietnamese citizens escaping outbreaks elsewhere.

Restaurants in Vietnam’s business hub, Ho Chi Minh City, must remain shut until March 31 to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, the city’s ruling body said on Tuesday.

Nearly 47,000 people are in quarantine and 24,300 tests have been carried out in Vietnam.

19.08 Italy coronavirus deaths rise by 743 in a day

The death toll from an outbreak of coronavirus in Italy has grown by 743 to 6,820, the head of the Civil Protection Agency said on Tuesday, reversing a decline in fatalities seen over the last two days.

On Monday 602 people died. That followed 650 deaths on Sunday and 793 on Saturday — the highest daily figure since the contagion came to light on Feb. 21.

The total number of confirmed cases in Italy rose to 69,176 from a previous 63,927, an increase of 8.2%, in line with Monday’s growth rate, the Civil Protection Agency said.

18.54 UK to open temporary London hospital to tackle coronavirus outbreak

Britain will open a new temporary hospital next week at the Excel exhibition centre in London to treat as many as 4,000 people, health minister Matt Hancock said on Tuesday.

Britain has had more than 8,000 cases of coronavirus and 422 deaths, with London hospitals coming under particular pressure.

“We will next week open a new hospital, a temporary hospital, the NHS Nightingale hospital, at the Excel centre in London,” Hancock said at a news conference.

18.51 Britain seeking 250,000 volunteers to help health service

Britain is seeking 250,000 volunteers to help the National Health Service (NHS) and vulnerable people hit by the coronavirus crisis, health minister Matt Hancock said on Tuesday.

“We are seeking a quarter of a million volunteers, people in good health, to help the NHS, for shopping, for delivery of medicines and to support those who are shielded to protect their own health,” Hancock told reporters.

Hancock also said that the UK has now bought 3.5 million coronairus antibody tests.

18.46 Trump is prepared to use emergency act if needed, says VP Pence

President Donald Trump is prepared to use the Defense Production Act but industry has been stepping forward, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said on Fox News on Tuesday.

He also said that the White House coronavirus task force has not discussed a nationwide lockdown, as has been done in other countries to counter the spread of the coronavirus.

Pence said during a Fox News town hall that Trump initiated the act that allows the president to mandate production, but added: “Every time we’ve asked American industry to step forward, they’ve said yes. No one has said ‘no.'”

18.22 Ireland tightens coroanvirus restrictions, boosts rescue package

Ireland banned all non-essential travel within the country and shut non-essential retail on Tuesday to battle coronavirus as it significantly increased income support for those already left unemployed and workers at risk of joining them.

The additional measures are on top of some three billion euros already committed to boost sick pay, fund the health service and offer assistance to businesses, Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said.

Ireland has reported 1,125 cases and six deaths so far.

18.06 U.S. lawmakers nearing deal for $32 billion aviation sector bailout

U.S. lawmakers are nearing agreement on a package of grants for passenger and cargo airlines and contractors worth $32 billion as part of a massive U.S. stimulus and rescue package amid the massive travel demand falloff because of the coronavirus outbreak, three people briefed on the matter said.

The deal is expected to include $25 billion in grants for passenger airlines, $4 billion in grants for cargo carriers and $3 billion for contractors like caterers. All funds would be directed toward payroll costs. The final deal is also expected to include another $29 billion in loans for passenger and cargo airlines. Airlines have warned that without cash grants they could be forced to layoff hundreds of thousands of people.

17.59 Death toll in UK jumps by 87 to 422

A further 87 people have died in the United Kingdom after testing positive for coronavirus, bringing the total number of deaths to 422, the government said on Tuesday.

The number of confirmed cases rose to 8,077 on Tuesday from 6,650 on Monday.

17.46 Russia to close nightclubs, cinemas 

Russian government has told the country’s regions to close nightclubs and cinemas to slow the spread of the coronavirus, it said in a statement on Tuesday.

It also asked officials to prepare a list of Russian citizens willing to return to Russia from other countries hit by the coronavirus, the government said.

17.41 Death toll in Italy’s Lombardy rises by around 400 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 400 in a day to more than 4,175, a source familiar with the data said on Tuesday.

The figure compared to some 320 deaths on Monday, and if confirmed it might dash hopes of an improvement in the situation which seemed to be emerging in the previous two days.

The number of cases in the region, which includes Italy’s financial capital Milan, increased by some 1,940 to roughly 30,700.

17.40 Armenia closes down enterprises, bans outdoor movements without passport -PM

Armenia on Tuesday closed down 1,000 enterprises, leaving only grocery stores, pharmacies and banks open for at least a week, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said in televised address.

Pashinyan said only people over the age of 65 would be able to go shopping between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. every day and banned all people from walking on the streets without their passport.

17:07 Pentagon leaders suggest outbreak could last for months

Senior Pentagon leaders said on Tuesday that the coronavirus pandemic which has hit the United States could continue for months.

“I think we need to plan for this to be a few months long at least and we’re taking all precautionary measures to do that,” U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said when asked how long the outbreak may last and how long the military would continue the support efforts to counter it.

16:59 India on lockdown for 21 days

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday the government would impose a nationwide lockdown from midnight for 21 days to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

“There will be a total ban on venturing out of your homes,” Modi said in a televised address.

16:52 G7 officials vow to maintain fiscal expansion

G7 finance ministers and central bank governors on Tuesday pledged to expand fiscal and monetary actions for as long as necessary to restore growth and confidence battered by the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Group of Seven largest world economies said: “We will do whatever is necessary to restore confidence and economic growth and to protect jobs, businesses, and the resilience of the financial system. We also pledge to promote global trade and investment to underpin prosperity.”

16:27 Virus to drive Greek economy into recession

Greece’s economy will contract this year because of the coronavirus lockdown, the country’s finance minister said on Tuesday, but the projected recession will be temporary.

It was a rapid re-estimation as the minister had projected eight days ago that the economy would weather the coronavirus storm and “grow just a little over 0%”.

15:56 Pentagon says 174 service members have Covid-19

The Pentagon said on Tuesday that 174 service members had the coronavirus, an increase of 41 cases from the day before.

In a daily update, the Pentagon added that 59 civilian employees, 61 dependents, and 27 contractors had also tested positive.

15:36 Wall Street jumps on hopes of 2tn dollar stimulus

Wall Street jumped at the open on Tuesday as signs that Washington was nearing a deal on a $2 trillion economic rescue package gave a shot of optimism to markets reeling under the biggest selloff since the global financial crisis.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1,130.26 points, or 6.08%, at the open to 19,722.19. The S&P 500 opened higher by 107.04 points, or 4.78%, at 2,344.44. The Nasdaq Composite gained 335.47 points, or 4.89%, to 7,196.15 at the opening bell.

15:08 Norwegian unemployment doubles in one week to 10.9%

Norwegian unemployment has risen five-fold this month as companies announced mass layoffs and shutdowns amid efforts to combat the coronavirus outbreak, the country’s labour agency said on Tuesday.

Registered unemployment rose to a post-World War Two high of 10.9%, up from 5.3% a week ago and just 2.3% at the end of February, data from Norway’s Labour and Welfare Agency (NAV) showed.

14:45 Britain to outline airline support package soon – Sunak 

British finance minister Rishi Sunak said he expects to make an announcement soon on discussions over a support package for the airlines industry, which has been devastated by travel restrictions, to limit the spread of coronavirus.

“Airlines and airports … have been particularly impacted by what is happening,” Sunak told lawmakers.

14.20 Poles will be allowed to leave home only if justified -govt

Poland will impose further constraints on citizens to prevent the spread of coronavirus including a lockdown, with leaving home only allowed if justified, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Tuesday.

“We are doing so to prepare for the increased wave of infections,” Morawiecki told a news conference.

The government will also limit gatherings and the number of people allowed to travel on public transport at one time, in order to decrease number of citizens on buses and trams.

13.55 Thai leader to invoke emergency powers

Thailand’s leader said on Tuesday he would invoke sweeping emergency powers in the face of surging coronavirus infections, and in a sign of toughening official action a man was arrested over allegations of creating panic on social media.

Thailand and neighbouring Cambodia were among Southeast Asian countries accused by New York-based Human Rights Watch of using the pandemic to crack down on criticism. Both countries reject the accusations and say their measures are needed to keep order and combat disinformation.

Thailand has the region’s second highest number of virus cases after Malaysia, with a total of 827 after 106 new infections were reported on Tuesday. Four people have died.

13.53 Romania to enforce strict lockdown

Romania will restrict movement during the day and completely ban people over the age of 65 from leaving their homes from Wednesday to slow the spread of coronavirus, President Klaus Iohannis said on Tuesday.

The European Union state, which has recorded 762 coronavirus infections and eight deaths, declared a state of emergency on March 16.

From Wednesday, people will be allowed to leave their homes only for work, with a signed note from their employers, and to buy groceries. The elderly will be required to stay confined at all times and the army will be used to supplement police personnel, Iohannis said.

A nationwide night-time curfew came in effect on Monday. The restrictions will likely extend through the 30-day state of emergency.

13.43 Egypt declares two-week curfew from 7.00pm to 6.00am 

Egypt has declared a curfew from 7.00pm to 6.00am  for two weeks starting Wednesday to counter spread of coronavirus, the prime minister said.

Most public service providers will shut their doors during the curfew period and those who violate the curfew will be subject to measures under Egypt’s emergency laws, Prime Minster Moustafa Madbouly said.

13.41 Swiss coronavirus cases top 8,800, with 86 deaths – health agency

The number of confirmed cases in Switzerland of infections with the new coronavirus has risen to 8,836 people by midday on Tuesday from the 8,060 reported on Monday, the Federal Office of Public Health said.

The number of deaths rose to 86 from 66.

13.39 Singapore to shut bars, limit gatherings 

Singapore will close bars and entertainment venues including discos and cinemas among new measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the health ministry said on Tuesday.

The regulations – including limits on gatherings outside work and school to 10 persons or fewer – will take effect from 11:59 p.m. local time on March 26, and will be in place at least until April 30, the ministry added.

13.03 Indonesia cancels national exams, affecting more than 8 million students

Indonesia has cancelled the country’s upcoming National Examination over concerns about the spread of coronavirus, a move that will affect more than eight million high school students, education minister Nadiem Makarim said on Tuesday.

The decision came as the Southeast Asian country announced its biggest daily rise in coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of people infected to 686, with 55 deaths.

12.59 Australia limits numbers at weddings, funerals to curb coronavirus spread

Australia banned people from eating in shopping centre food courts and limited the number of people at weddings, funerals and social gatherings.

Prime Minister Morrison said businesses involved in beauty therapy, tattoo parlors, physio therapists and other allied health services could no longer operate. Real estate open houses and auctions were also banned, he said.

Weddings could go ahead only with five people present, including the celebrant, while funerals could proceed with 10 people at most and outdoor social gatherings should also be limited to 10, Morrison added.

12.50 Spain reports 6,600 new coronavirus cases overnight, over 500 dead

The number of new coronavirus cases in Spain jumped on Tuesday to 39,673 from 33,089 cases registered on Monday, the health ministry reported on Tuesday. All 14% of infected cases concern health workers.

The number of fatalities rose to 2,696 overnight from 2,182, the ministry said.

12.37 Austria to use more rapid corona tests for broad scale testing

Austria will start using more rapid tests to be able to test hundreds of thousands of people as quickly as possible, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said on Tuesday.

So far, the Alpine country with a population of 8.8 million has tested around 24,000 people with nearly 4,500 cases confirmed.

The government is still collecting data regarding the effectiveness of its measures to curb the spread of the virus and will give an update on that on Friday, Kurz said.

12.28 Trump says ‘not easy’ to get face masks, ventilators to U.S. states

U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday acknowledged the difficulty in procuring crucial healthcare supplies amid the coronavirus pandemic, saying the “world market… is crazy” and that it “is not easy” for the federal government help U.S. states obtain face masks and ventilators.

12.18 Kazakhstan suspends exports of food staples

Kazakhstan has suspended exports of buckwheat, sugar, potatoes, carrots, onions and cabbages until at least April 15, the Central Asian nation’s Agriculture Ministry said on Tuesday.

The Nur-Sultan government this month declared a state of emergency until the same date over the coronavirus outbreak. Kazakhstan has confirmed 67 cases of the disease so far and has locked down its two biggest cities.

12.09 UAE airports to suspend all passenger flights as of Thursday

Dubai Airports and Abu Dhabi Airport said they will suspend all passenger flights as of 11:59 pm local time on Thursday for two weeks, with the exception of evacuation flights, as part of measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

The latest statements from the United Arab Emirates’ main airports came after the government announced early on Monday that all passenger and transit flights to and from the country would be suspended after 48 hours.

11.55  Iran death toll from coronavirus close to 2,000 – Health Ministry

Iran’s death toll from the coronavirus outbreak increased by 122 in the past 24 hours to 1,934, Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said on Tuesday.

The total number of people diagnosed with the disease increased by 1,762 in the past 24 hours, to 24,811, he added on state TV.

11.47 Wizz Air suspends all flights to and from Varna over coronavirus

Wizz Air has suspended all flights to and from Bulgarian city of Varna in an attempt to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, the low-cost carrier said in a statement on Tuesday.

Flights to and from the airport in the Black Sea port will be cancelled from March 25 until May 1, the company said.

11.41 South Africa’s coronavirus cases reach 554, country braces for lockdown

South Africa’s confirmed number of coronavirus cases rose to 554 on Tuesday from 402 a day earlier, as businesses raced to make plans for a nationwide lockdown from midnight on Thursday.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the 21-day lockdown in an address to the nation on Monday, saying Africa’s most advanced economy needed to escalate its response to curb the spread of the outbreak

11.15 Philippine reports 90 new coronavirus infections, two deaths

The Philippine health ministry reported 90 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday, the single largest daily increase of confirmed cases in the country, bringing the total to 552.

It also reported two new deaths, among 35 in the country so far, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told a regular news conference.

11.09 Malaysia reports 106 new coronavirus cases; total at 1,624

Malaysia reported 106 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, taking the total to 1,624, with 15 deaths.

The Ministry of Health said 43 of the new cases were linked to a mass religious gathering, which has already been connected to more than 60% of the total infections in the country.

10.59 Indonesia reports biggest daily rise in coronavirus cases

Indonesia on Tuesday confirmed 107 new coronavirus cases, the biggest daily increase to date in the Southeast Asian country, bringing the total number of cases to 686, Health Ministry official Achmad Yurianto said on Tuesday.

Seven more people had died of the disease as of Tuesday, bringing the total number of deaths to 55, he said, adding 30 people had recovered from the virus.

10.55 Vietnam closes Ho Chi Minh City restaurants to curb virus outbreak

Restaurants in Vietnam’s business hub, Ho Chi Minh City, must close until March 31 to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, the city’s ruling body said on Tuesday.

Ho Chi Minh City has recorded 39 cases of the virus, most of which were imported from Europe, and has already closed cinemas, clubs, bars, massage parlours and karaoke lounges since the virus outbreak began.

10.52 Swedish banks still unaffected by pandemic 

Sweden’s financial stability and the country’s banks are still not affected by the turmoil on financial markets, the financial markets minister said on Tuesday.

“We have not seen that the difficult situation for companies thus far has affected the banks or the financial stability. The banks are still financially stable,” Financial Markets Minister Per Bolund told a news conference after meeting with the country’s Financial Stability Council.

10.50 Sportswear company Puma sets short-time work for 1,400 staff

German sportswear company Puma announced on Tuesday that 1,400 staff would switch to shorter work hours until April 13 due to the coronavirus and said its three top executives would not take their full pay for April.

Germany allows for companies to apply for state aid to keep people working but switch to shorter hours.

Puma said earlier this month it was abandoning the 2020 guidance it gave on Feb. 19 that had assumed the crisis would be short-lived.

10.42 UK shares join global rebound on Fed stimulus

UK shares regained some poise on Tuesday, as massive stimulus measures announced by the U.S. Federal Reserve and others soothed nerves even as Britain went into a lockdown.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 index rose 3.7% following strong gains in Asia, as investors took cheer from the Fed’s offer to expand asset purchases by as much as needed to stabilize financial markets.

Battered shares of Carnival Corp jumped 8% to the top of the index, while BP and Royal Dutch Shell gave the biggest boost as oil prices jumped.

UK midcap shares also rose 3%.

10.22 Laos records first two coronavirus cases – Thai Media

Laos has recorded its first two coronavirus cases, a news report on Thai state-owned media MCOT said on Tuesday, citing the Laos Health Ministry.

The two cases include a 28-year-old male hotel worker and a 36-year-old female tour guide, both in the capital Vientiane, a news report said.

The two patients have travelled abroad and work closely with foreigners. They are currently being treated at a hospital, the news report said.

10.21 European shares trudge higher as stimulus wave stems selloff

European shares attempted another rebound on Tuesday after slumping in the previous session, as a fresh round of monetary and fiscal stimulus offered some relief even as the coronavirus pandemic spreads rapidly across the globe.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index was up 3% at 0802 GMT, but still set for its worst month since 1987 as the health crisis threatened to crimp global growth, with some analysts seeing a 24% fall in European GDP in the second quarter.

Although investors have largely shrugged off macroeconomic data so far, all eyes will now be on a flash reading of activity surveys from the euro zone due later in the day for signs of the extent of the economic damage from the outbreak.

10.10 French Finance Minister:  Nationalisation is a last resort, but it cannot be excluded,

The French government has drawn up a list of companies (but refused to name them) that may need state support ranging from a capital injection to outright nationalisation, France’s finance minister Le Maire said.

“Nationalisation is obviously a last resort, but it is something that we do not exclude,” Le Maire said, comparing the current economic crisis to the Great Depression of 1929.

09.49 China says most of its imported coronavirus cases involve Chinese nationals

China’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday that most of the so-called imported cases of the coronavirus reported in the country so far involve Chinese nationals who have traveled to China from overseas.

Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters during a daily briefing that 380 of the 427 imported coronavirus cases involve Chinese nationals, without elaborating further.

09.45 Italian energy group Eni to review all Middle East projects

Italy’s Eni is reviewing its energy projects in the Middle East, the company’s regional executive vice president said on Tuesday, including those with the Abu Dhabi National Oil Co.

“We are reviewing all projects we have in the Middle East … and we will have a joint review of the projects with our partners in ADNOC,”

09.44 UK could strengthen punishment for flouting coronavirus measures-Gove

Britain could introduce stronger measures than 30 pound fixed penalty fines for people who flout new restrictions announced on Monday to slow the spread of coronavirus, Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said.

“The police have a range of enforcement tools, and of course fixed-penalty notices and fines are just one of them. If people do persist in behaving in an anti-social way, there are stronger measures that we have,” he told ITV on Tuesday.

09.43 China health commission says virus transmission risks remain

China cannot afford to let its guard down when it comes to combating the coronavirus, with the country still at risk from sporadic infections as well as those from overseas, a health official said on Tuesday.

Mi Feng, spokesman with the National Health Commission, told a press briefing that “prevention and control work could still not be relaxed”.

09.42 About half of Iran’s state workers are staying home – president

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday about half of all government employees were staying at home as part of measures to contain the coronavirus outbreak, state TV reported.

Iran is one of the hardest hit countries outside China, with more than 23,000 confirmed infections and more than 1,800 dead, according to the latest figures issued on Monday.

09.32 Thailand approves $3.3 bln stimulus to ease coronavirus impact, declared 1-month emergency

Thailand’s cabinet on Tuesday approved additional stimulus measures worth 107 billion baht ($3.25 billion) in a bid to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

The measures include cash handouts, soft loans, emergency loans, tax breaks, Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak told reporters after a cabinet meeting.

Thailand will be in an emergency mode from March 26 for a month to deal with the coronavirus outbreak, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha told a news conference on Tuesday.

The emergency decree will mean the prime minister will have the executive power to declare further measures to contain the virus, including giving extra authority to officials and allowing the setting up of checkpoints to reduce people movements, Prayuth said.

09.27 Germany to return to austerity policy once coronavirus crisis over – minister

The German government will return to its savings policy once the crisis is over, Economy Minister Peter Altmaier told ZDF broadcaster on Tuesday, adding that Europe’s largest economy had committed to paying debt back from 2023.

Germany on Monday agreed a package worth up to 750 billion euros ($812.25 billion) to mitigate the damage of the coronavirus outbreak on Europe’s largest economy, with Berlin aiming to take on new debt for the first time since 2013.

09.22 Kyrgyzstan moves to lock down major cities

Kyrgyzstan declared a state of emergency on Tuesday in its three biggest cities, including the capital Bishkek, a move that will allow authorities to lock them down after the number of coronavirus cases more than doubled in the Central Asian nation.

In addition to the cities of Bishkek, Osh and Jalal-Abad, local emergencies were also declared in three provincial districts, which will open the way for measures from banning layoffs to imposing curfews, the government said.

09.12 Norwegian Air secures NOK 300 mln cash infusion from state rescue package

Norwegian Air has fulfilled the first condition for taking part in a government-led rescue package for the airlines industry, securing an initial cash infusion of 300 million Norwegian crowns ($26.63 million), the budget carrier said.

Norway said on March 19 Norwegian Air could obtain credit guarantees worth up to 3 billion crowns to help weather the coronavirus crisis, but the airline must first meet a series of conditions.

08.33 Bahrain to execute package of 4.3 billion dinars as top priority to support economy – TV

Bahrain’s finance minister Sheikh Salman bin Khalifa Al Khalifa said on Tuesday that the government will execute a 4.3 billion dinars ($11.41 billion) package as soon as possible at the highest priority, Bahrain state TV reported.

08.28 Roche says limit tests to people with coronavirus symptoms

Roche reiterated on Tuesday that only those showing signs and symptoms of coronavirus-caused COVID-19 should be tested, as the Swiss drugmaker has said there is insufficient capacity to extend testing to the broader population.

“To safeguard supply, Roche strongly advises to focus COVID-19 testing on patients with signs and symptoms of the disease, not broad testing of the healthy population,” the company said in a statement.

08.22 Italy in favour of using ESM bailout fund with no conditionality – source

Italy is in favour of allowing the euro zone’s ESM bailout fund to provide financial support with no conditionality to the economies hit by the coronavirus outbreak, a government source told Reuters on Tuesday.

Euro zone finance ministers will discuss later in the day proposals by the European Commission to make use of the ESM to fight the economic impact of the pandemic.

08.21 French group Biomerieux gets U.S. approval for coronavirus testing product

Biomérieux, a French healthcare company specialising in diagnostics, said on Tuesday that it had won approval from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) for its ‘biofire®’ product aimed at testing for coronavirus.

Biomerieux added it was looking to scale up supplies of its biofire COVID-19 testing product at sites in the United States and that test kits would be available for commercial distribution in United States.

08.20 Taiwan’s coronavirus cases top 200 for first time

Taiwan’s government on Tuesday announced 20 new cases of the coronavirus, bringing the total to 215.

All new cases were imported, with the patients having travelled to countries including Britain, Ireland, Turkey and Indonesia, the government said in a statement.

08.05 Death toll in Turkey reaches 37 

Turkey imposed restrictions on Tuesday on grocery store opening hours and numbers of shop customers and bus passengers, adding to steps to combat the spread of the coronavirus after the country’s death toll from the illness rose to 37.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced the new death toll overnight and said the number of confirmed cases rose by 293 on Monday to 1,529, with a total of more than 24,000 tests carried out on people.

07.47 German coronavirus cases rise by 4,764 cases to 27,436 – Robert Koch Institute

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany has risen by 4,764 within a day to reach to 27,436, the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases said on Tuesday.

It said a total of 114 people had died, an increase of 28 from 86 published on Monday.

07.07 China’s Hubei province to remove travel bans starting March 25

The Health Commission for China’s Hubei province said on Tuesday it will remove all travel restrictions in and out of the province on March 25, with the exception of the city of Wuhan, the provincial capital and the epicentre of the country’s coronavirus outbreak.

Travel restrictions for leaving Wuhan will be lifted on April 8, and people will be able to leave on the basis of using a health code, the commission said.

06.23 IMF says Mideast, Central Asia countries asking for coronavirus support

The International Monetary Fund said it has been approached by a dozen countries in the Middle East and Central Asia who have asked for financial support in dealing with the coronavirus impact on their economies.

The challenge would be especially daunting for fragile and conflict-torn states such as Iraq, Sudan and Yemen, Director of the Middle East and Central Asia Department, Jihad Azour, wrote in an online IMF blog.

05.32 Thailand reports 106 new coronavirus cases and 3 deaths

Thailand has recorded 106 new coronavirus cases and three more deaths, a health official said on Tuesday.

The country now has 827 cases and 4 fatalities since the outbreak began.

04.44 Macau announces new restrictions on HK, China visitors

Macau’s leader Ho Iat Seng said on Tuesday that visitors from the Chinese mainland, neighbouring Hong Kong and Taiwan who have travelled overseas in the past 14 days will be banned from entering the world’s biggest gambling hub.

Visitors from greater China account for more than 90% of overall tourists to Macau. Those who have not travelled abroad in the past two weeks will still be subject to 14 days of quarantine, Ho said.

04.40 NZ announces mortgage holiday, business finance support to cushion virus impact

New Zealand said on Tuesday that retail banks will offer a six-month principal and interest payment holiday for mortgage holders and small business customers whose incomes have been affected by the economic disruption from COVID-19.

The government and the banks will also implement a NZ$6.25 billion ($3.62 billion) business finance guarantee scheme for small and medium-sized businesses, to protect jobs and support the economy through this unprecedented time, Finance Minister Grant Robertson told a news conference.

04.16 Philippines reports 39 new coronavirus cases

The Philippine health ministry on Tuesday confirmed 39 new cases of the coronavirus, bringing the country’s total to 501.

The number of patients who have died from the virus is 33. There were 19 people who have recovered from the infection, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told reporters.

03.52 Beijing tightens quarantine rules for travellers from overseas -official media

Beijing’s city government is further strengthening quarantine rules for individuals who arrive in China from overseas, as the Chinese capital seeks to minimise coronavirus-related risks, Beijing Daily reported on Tuesday.

The paper, the official publication of the city’s Communist Party organisation, said all people entering the Chinese capital will be subject to centralised quarantine and testing for the coronavirus.

03.21 S.Korea reports 76 new coronavirus cases, total 9,037 -Yonhap

South Korea reported 76 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, taking its total infections to 9,037, the Yonhap news agency said, citing health authorities.

03.20 Mexico reports 367 coronavirus cases and 2 more deaths

Mexico had 367 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the country on Monday, up from 316 the day before, deputy health secretary Hugo Lopez-Gatell said, with a total of four deaths.

Previously the country had reported two deaths.

03.08 Thailand reports second death

Thailand reported its second coronavirus death on Tuesday, a heath ministry official said.

The country has confirmed 721 cases of infections.

00.50 Japan in talks with IOC to postpone Tokyo Olympics by 1 year – Sankei

Japan’s government is negotiating with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to postpone the Tokyo Olympic Games by a maximum one year, the Sankei newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will hold talks over the phone with IOC President Thomas Bach later on Tuesday, the paper said, citing a senior Japanese government official.

00.47 U.S. clinical trials of possible coronavirus treatments to start in NY today

Trump on Monday said a clinical trial for possible treatment of the deadly coronavirus will begin in New York soon, reiterating his belief that a combination of anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine and the antibiotic azithromycin could beat back the global pandemic.

“Clinical trials in New York will begin on existing drugs that may prove effective against the virus,” Trump said. “We have 10,000 units going and it will be distributed tomorrow.”

00.30 Trump says won’t allow long-lasting damage to economy from virus

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday he will not allow the coronavirus to do long-lasting damage to the U.S. economy and that he would consider how to move forward after a 15-day shutdown ends next week.

“America will again and soon be open for business,” Trump told a news conference at the White House. He added: “We are not going to let it turn into a long-lasting financial problem.”

00.13 As Brazil shuts down, one ‘essential’ gun manufacturer will continue operating

Brazil gunmaker Taurus SA will continue its manufacturing operations after the government decided that its functions are “essential,” the company said on Monday.

Taurus added it will adopt measures to ensure that its workers are not exposed to the coronavirus outbreak.



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