Here is a look at the latest coronavirus news from around the world.
Japan extends travel warnings to 49 countries, including U.S. and Britain
Japan has extended its highest travel warnings to 49 countries, including the United States, Canada and Britain, as well as all of China and South Korea.
The country is urging Japanese citizens not to visit places where coronavirus infections are escalating, the foreign ministry said in a statement Tuesday. The ministry also said returnees and visitors from those nations will be tested for the virus at airports when they arrive and requested to self-quarantine at home or designated facilities for 14 days.
The number of confirmed cases among people arriving at Tokyo’s international airports has surged recently, officials said, citing them as the main sources of infections in Japan.
Japan now has about 2,700 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, including 712 from a cruise ship, with 67 deaths.
WHO warns COVID-19 epidemics “far from over” in Asia and Pacific
The World Health Organization warns that while attention has shifted to epicentres in Western Europe and North America, COVID-19 epidemics are “far from over” in Asia and the Pacific.
Urging governments at all levels in the region to stay engaged in efforts to combat the virus, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific, Dr. Takeshi Kasai says, “This is going to be a long-term battle and we cannot let down our guard. We need every country to keep responding according to their local situation.”
He said the WHO realizes there is no one-size-fits-all approach but there are common tactics. “Those are: finding, isolating and testing case early, tracing and quarantining contact quickly, and putting in place multiple public health interventions to place physical distance between people to slow and stop transmission.”
Takeshi also cautioned that countries still need to prepare for large-scale community transmission.
“We need to be clear that even with all of these measures, the risk will not go away as long as the pandemic continues. Rather, these measures can buy us valuable time to prepare,” he said.
South Korea sending special flights to evacuate citizens from Italy
South Korea says it will send two special flights to evacuate more than 500 citizens and their families from Italy, which is coping with a devastating coronavirus outbreak that has killed more than 11,000 people.
Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip on Tuesday said all evacuees arriving on Wednesday and Thursday will be tested and quarantined for two weeks at designated facilities if even one of them is found to have the virus.
South Korea has been strengthening border controls to prevent the virus from re-entering the country amid broadening outbreaks in Europe, North America and beyond. The country will enforce two-week quarantines on all arrivals from abroad starting Wednesday.
South Korea’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention says at least 518 of the country’s 9,786 coronavirus infections have been linked to arrivals from abroad, with most of the cases detected over the past three weeks.
Third Australian state bans sale of guns and ammunition as sales surge due to coronavirus
A third Australian state has temporarily banned the sale of guns and ammunition to recreational and sporting shooters as sales surge due to the new coronavirus.
Victoria’s move on Tuesday followed similar restrictions in Queensland and Western Australia state last week.
Victorian Police Minister Lisa Neville says federal and state leaders had agreed to curb gun sales at a meeting to co-ordinate government responses to COVID-19 outbreaks.
Neville says she is concerned that applications to buy guns in Victoria have more than doubled in a week from 1,000 to 2,200 last week.
Professional shooters, security guards and farmers will continue to have access to new firearms and ammunition.
Opera star Placido Domingo resting at home after catching coronavirus
Opera star Placido Domingo says he is resting at home after catching the new coronavirus.
The tenor said in a statement Monday that he feels fine.
He was reportedly hospitalized in Mexico after publicly acknowledging on March 22 that he had tested positive for COVID-19 and said he was going into isolation.
Domingo, who has long-standing ties to Mexico, had suffered from a fever and a cough.
Domingo wrote that “from the very first symptom I was, as usual, under medical supervision, given my age and my comorbidity.”
“My thoughts right now are with those who suffer and with all those who are generously working to save lives,” he said. “I thank everyone for your affection and once again I recommend everyone to stay safe at home. See you soon.”
The 79-year-old opera singer’s illness comes after his own glittering career had recently been stained by sexual misconduct revelations.
Mexico broadens shutdown as coronavirus cases reach 1,094, with 28 deaths
Mexico’s government has broadened its shutdown of “non-essential activities” to the private sector and prohibited gatherings of more than 50 people to fight the spread of the new coronavirus.
The one-month emergency measures will be in effect from March 30 to April 30. Mexico had previously stopped non-essential government services and banned mass gatherings.
The move came as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Mexico reached 1,094, with 28 deaths.
Health Undersecretary Hugo López-Gatell said Monday that Mexicans would be urged to stay off the streets for one month, but announced no sanctions for not doing so. Mexico will ask older people at greater risk to stay home, even if they work in so-called essential sectors like health care or law enforcement.
López-Gatell said traffic in recent days appears to have fallen by about 60%, but added that more was needed.
The measures appeared to be largely voluntary and did not appear to prohibit the street markets that remain active in Mexico.
South Korean children to start new school year at home next week
South Korean children will start the new school year at home beginning next week as schools prepare to move classes online in the face of the coronavirus threat.
South Korean Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun on Tuesday said authorities were finalizing plans to begin online classes at some schools on April 9 before expanding further.
He also said the country will have to reschedule college admission processes to ease disruption for high-school seniors.
He didn’t give an estimate on how long the unprecedented remote learning would last.
South Korea had postponed the beginning of the new school year at kindergartens, elementary, middle and high schools three times amid the spread of the virus. The previous plan was to open on April 6, which was five weeks later than usual.
Chung says officials decided to keep schools shut because it would be difficult to ensure the safety of children when “not a small number of new patients are emerging every day.”
U.N. Security Council votes by e-mail for first time due to coronavirus
The U.N. Security Council has unanimously adopted four resolutions, with its 15 members voting by e-mail for the first time because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Members voted Monday to keep troops in Sudan’s restive Darfur region until the end of May and maintain the U.N. political mission in Somalia until June 30. They extended the mandate of the U.N. panel of experts monitoring sanctions against North Korea until April 30, 2021, and stressed the importance of supporting the U.N.’s far-flung peacekeeping operations.
The U.N.’s most powerful body has been meeting by video conference because of COVID-19, which has hit New York City, where the U.N. has its headquarters, exceedingly hard. The last council meeting at U.N. headquarters was on March 12.
National Guardsman is first U.S. service member to die from coronavirus, Esper announces
U.S. Secretary of Defence Mark Esper says a New Jersey Army National Guardsman is the first U.S. service member to pass away because of the new coronavirus.
The guardsman died on Saturday, according to the Pentagon. The person had tested positive for COVID-19 and had been hospitalized since March 21.
“This is a stinging loss for our military community,” Esper says in a release, “and our condolences go out to his family, friends, civilian co-workers and the entire National Guard community. The news of this loss strengthens our resolve to work ever more closely with our interagency partners to stop the spread of COVID-19.”
China report one death and 48 new cases
China on Tuesday reported just one new death from the coronavirus and 48 new cases, all brought from overseas.
The epicentre of Wuhan and surrounding province of Hubei again reported no new domestic cases, bringing the city closer to being reopened to the rest of the province and, eventually, the country.
China has recorded 81,518 cases since the virus was first detected in Wuhan in December, and 3,305 deaths. A total of 76,052 virus patients have been released, and 2,161 remain in care.
95 new infections raise Washington, D.C. total to 495, with nine deaths
The District of Columbia has announced 94 new COVID-19 infections, raising the total to 495, with nine deaths.
Mayor Muriel Bowser’s government, in co-ordination with neighbouring governors Larry Hogan of Maryland and Ralph Northam of Virginia, issued a stay-at-home order Monday for Washington’s approximately 700,000 residents. Bowser has declared a state of emergency, shuttered all schools and ordered all non-essential businesses to close.
White House and Capitol tours have been cancelled and the National Zoo, Smithsonian museum network and Kennedy Center have closed.
Trump says U.S. will send surplus equipment to Europe to help combat coronavirus
U.S. President Donald Trump says America will be sending surplus equipment to European nations to help them combat the new coronavirus.
Trump says as U.S. companies ramp up production of ventilators, the U.S. will be able to send excess ventilators to Italy, France, Spain and other hard-hit countries when possible.
Trump, speaking at a coronavirus briefing in the White House Rose Garden, says he spoke with the Italian prime minister on Monday and that the U.S. will be sending about $100 million in medical and hospital items to Italy.
EPA provides more guidance for Americans during coronavirus crisis
The Environmental Protection Agency has a message for Americans – watch what you flush.
“Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is encouraging all Americans to only flush toilet paper,” the agency says in a statement.
Americans are using far more disinfecting wipes in the coronavirus outbreak, the EPA noted, but disposing of them improperly threatens plumbing, sewer and septic systems.
EPA news statements on aspects of the pandemic shutting down economies and societies around the globe have been limited and include addressing the effectiveness of disinfectants.
The EPA says it’s critical that the nation have “fully operational waste water services” to contain the virus and protect against other health risks.
Azar says U.S. has tested more than one million samples for coronavirus
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar says the U.S. has tested more than 1 million samples for the coronavirus – a number he says exceeds that of any other country.
It wasn’t clear if that figure represented actual patients or samples processed. With a population of over 330 million, 1 million patients tested would represent about one-third of one per cent of all Americans.
By comparison, South Korea has tested roughly twice as many people as a percentage of its population.
Public health experts have estimated the U.S. should be testing between 100,000 and 150,000 patients daily to track and contain the virus.
Azar said the U.S. is testing “nearly 100,000 samples per day.”
Coronavirus impacts Colombia’s armed conflict
The new coronavirus is even having an impact on Colombia’s armed conflict.
One of the nation’s last guerrilla groups – the National Liberation Army – has announced a unilateral ceasefire beginning April 1.
The rebel group says in a statement it will cease hostilities “as a humanitarian gesture with the Colombian people, who are suffering from the devastation of the coronavirus.”
The United Nations secretary general had urged a ceasefire and welcomed the news.
Louisiana Governor extends stay-at-home order as coronavirus deaths spike
Gov. John Bel Edwards says he will extend Louisiana’s stay-at-home order through the end of April as the number of Louisiana deaths from the COVID-19 disease jumped significantly overnight.
Louisiana’s health department reported 185 residents have died from the disease caused by the virus, an increase of 34 from a day earlier. Edwards has said Louisiana has the second-highest COVID-19 death rate per capita among states, and he has warned the New Orleans region is running low on ventilators the hardest-hit patients need.
Nancy Pelosi wants House ready to act on bill
Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she wants the House to be ready as soon as it returns to approve a fourth bill boosting the economy and strengthening the response to the virus.
Pelosi, D-Calif., and two House committee chairmen told reporters they want the package to improve broadband and water infrastructure, bolster hospitals and state and local governments and extend direct payments to Americans. They said it should also strengthen safety requirements for first responders and medical workers and broaden workers’ leave for caring for relatives.
The House left Washington on Friday after approving the $2.2 trillion economic relief bill that President Donald Trump has signed, and plans to return as soon as April 20.
Canadian nursing home sees seven COVID-19 deaths, 24 staff members infected
A Canadian nursing home has seen seven COVID-19 deaths and at least 24 staff members infected.
The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit says the outbreak at Pinecrest Nursing Home in Bobcaygeon, Ontario is believed to be the largest in the province.
The health unit says 10 other staff members are awaiting test results, and another person in the community has died in a case linked to the nursing home.
Health officials say social distancing appears to be helping slow spread of virus in Seattle
Public health officials and researchers say social distancing appears to be helping slow the spread of COVID-19 in the Seattle area, where many of the first U.S. deaths occurred.
Dr. Jeff Duchin, the public health officer for Seattle and King County, says a new analysis by the Bellevue-based Institute of Disease Modeling provides a powerful indication that the region needs to double-down on the policies it’s already adopted.
In two papers released Monday, the Institute for Disease Modeling acknowledged that much remains unknown about rates of infection, but based on available data and a variety of assumptions, its computer models suggest that a measure of transmission – an estimate of how many people are infected by each person who is already infected – has fallen.
Air Canada announces temporary layoffs
Air Canada will temporarily lay off more than 15,000 unionized workers beginning this week as the airline struggles with fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
The layoffs will continue through April and May amid drastically reduced flight capacity from the Montreal-based airline. Canada’s largest airline says the two-month furloughs will affect about one-third of management and administrative and support staff, including head office employees, in addition to the front-line workers.
The carrier is also cutting between 85% and 90% of its flights, cancelling most of its international and U.S. routes in response to the global shutdown. Earlier this month Air Canada’s flight attendant union said 5,149 cabin crew would be temporarily laid off.
UN official concerned about COVID-19 in Syria
The U.N. humanitarian chief is warning that the 10 cases of COVID-19 and one death confirmed in Syria are just “the tip of the iceberg” and judging from other countries “a devastating impact” can be expected on vulnerable communities.
Mark Lowcock told the U.N. Security Council that “all efforts to prevent, detect and respond to COVID-19 are impeded by Syria’s fragile health system,” noting only around half of the country’s hospitals and primary health care facilities were fully functional at the end of 2019.
He said efforts to prevent and combat the virus are also are impeded by high levels of population movement, challenges to obtaining critical supplies including protective equipment and ventilators, and difficulties of isolating in crowded camps for the displaced with “low levels of sanitation services.”
Pentagon orders 8,000 additional ventilators
The Pentagon has ordered an additional 8,000 ventilators, with delivery of the first 1,400 by early May. The $84.4 million order was placed with several suppliers under existing Defence Logistics Agency contracts.
A Pentagon spokesman, Air Force Lt. Col. Michael Andrews, identified the four suppliers as Zoll, Combat Medical, Hamilton Medical, and VyAire. Andrews said delivery locations will be prioritized by FEMA and the Department of Health and Human Services. These are in addition to the 2,000 ventilators that the Pentagon previously said it would make available to FEMA from Defence Department stockpiles.
San Francisco Bay Area leaders extend shelter at home orders
The leaders of six San Francisco Bay Area counties are extending their shelter at home orders until May 1.
The region of seven million people was the first in the United States to issue such an order, and it has been credited for helping address the influx of coronavirus patients at local hospitals.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed thanked residents for following the order during the weekend, saying compliance was much better than the previous weekend when some people flocked to parks and beaches.
At least 130 people have died in California from COVID-19.
Democrat Nydia Velazquez has presumed coronavirus infection
New York Rep. Nydia Velazquez, a Democrat who attended Friday’s House session to pass a $2 trillion rescue package, says Monday in a statement that she has a presumed coronavirus infection.
Velazquez, who represents parts of Brooklyn and Manhattan, stood within feet of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic and Republican leaders at a signing ceremony after the bill was passed.
Velazquez, 67, says in the statement that she began to feel ill Sunday morning and spoke to the Capitol’s attending physician by phone. She says she was diagnosed with a presumed infection but has mild symptoms and is isolating at home, as the doctor recommended.
St. Petersburg mayor orders wide-ranging lockdown
The mayor of St. Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city, has ordered a wide-ranging lockdown.
The measure sets the same conditions as in Moscow. Residents are ordered to stay at home except for medical emergencies, buying food and medication, disposing of garbage and walking pets within 100 metres (320 feet) of home. It also allows people to go to their workplaces if required.
St. Petersburg, with a population of about 5.5 million, has reported 50 cases of the coronavirus and one death.
Cardinal close to Pope Francis tests positive for coronavirus
Pope Francis’ vicar for Rome has tested positive for the coronavirus in the first case of a cardinal close to the pope known to be infected.
Cardinal Angelo De Donatis had been in touch with Francis in recent weeks – apparently not in person, however – over the cardinal’s initial decision to close all Rome churches in line with an Italian government shutdown decree.
De Donatis reversed himself after Francis intervened, and allowed diocesan churches to remain open for individuals to pray.
The pope is technically bishop of Rome, but he delegates the day-to-day running of the diocese to his vicar, De Donatis, 66. The Rome church said De Donatis was in good condition at Rome’s Gemelli hospital and was receiving antiviral treatment.
The Holy See has said six people have tested positive for the virus in the Vatican, none of them the pope or his closest advisers.
Italy to extend nationwide lockdown until at least April 12
Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza says Italy will follow the recommendation of scientists and extend a nationwide lockdown at least until April 12.
The lockdown decree currently runs until April 3, and doctors and other health experts have been cautioning that Italy’s cases of COVID-19 haven’t reached their peak yet, despite some encouraging numbers.
Speranza says the national scientific technical committee recommended “extending the containment measures at least until Easter,” April 12. He added: “The government will move in this direction.”
Italy has more than 100,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus infections and nearly 11,600 deaths of infected persons.
WHO official says there’s ‘no specific evidence’ to suggest wearing masks has any particular benefit
The World Health Organization is citing “some evidence” that wearing face masks – if used improperly – could actually do more harm than good in the fight against the spread of the coronavirus.
WHO emergencies chief Dr. Michael Ryan said he was unaware of a move by officials in Austria to require people to wear face masks when they go to supermarkets.
With some countries facing shortages of masks, Ryan reiterated that WHO believes generally they should be worn by people who are ill, to prevent them from spreading the virus, and by health care workers who really need them.
“But there is no specific evidence to suggest that the wearing of masks by the mass population has any particular benefit – in fact, there’s some evidence to suggest the opposite,” he said.
Ryan didn’t elaborate beyond citing “risks” linked to fitting masks improperly, though he appeared to be alluding to how hands can carry virus up to or near the face as the masks are put on.
Turkey’s Erdogan announces launch of aid campaign to support low-income families
Turkey’s president announced the launch of an aid campaign to support low-income families who are being hit by the virus outbreak.
In an address to the nation following a Cabinet meeting, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he was donating seven months of his salary to the campaign.
Erdogan also said Turkey planned to send a cargo plane load of medical supplies to Spain to help the country combat the virus.
A ship carrying medical aid has also been dispatched to Italy, Erdogan said.
Italy sees slowdown in rate of new coronavirus cases
Italy is seeing a continued slowdown in the rate of its new confirmed coronavirus cases while registering a record number of people cured as it enters its third week into a nationwide lockdown.
Another 812 people died in the last day, bringing Italy’s toll to 11,591 and maintaining its position as the country with the most dead.
Overall, Italy added 4,050 new infections Monday, bringing its official total to 101,739 and keeping its place as the European epicentre of the pandemic and second only to the U.S. Epidemiologists say the real number of Italy’s caseload, however, is as much as five to 10 times more than the official number, but that those cases aren’t being counted because Italy is only testing people with severe symptoms. Of those infected, 14,620 have been declared cured, including a record 1,590 in the past day.
State Department arranges repatriation of some 25,000 American citizens stranded abroad
The State Department says it has successfully arranged the repatriation of some 25,000 American citizens stranded abroad in more than 50 countries due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Department officials say they are continuing to ramp up evacuation efforts and that more than 100 flights for U.S. citizens have been scheduled for the coming weeks. About 9,000 Americans have registered for those upcoming flights and there is still space available on many.
Many of those stranded are in Latin American countries, notably Peru, where some Americans have been quarantined by authorities.
Meanwhile, department health officials said there are 75 confirmed coronavirus cases among employees at the 220 U.S. embassies. Inside the United States, the officials said there are 30 confirmed cases of the virus at State Department offices in nine cities.
Czech government extends sweeping restrictions
The Czech government has extended its sweeping restrictions that are meant to help curb the outbreak of the coronavirus.
A travelling ban that allows people just to go to work and do essential shopping will be in place until at least April 11. Retail businesses, except food stores and pharmacies, also will remain closed until the same date.
The state of emergency that gives the government some extraordinary powers to deal with the pandemic also is set to expire on April 11, and parliamentary approval will be needed for any further extension.
In a new measure, all Czechs returning home from abroad, not just those arriving from the 19 worst hit countries by the crisis, will have to be quarantined for two weeks.
Spanish Air Force cargo plane arrives with 1 million quick tests
A Spanish Air Force A400M cargo plane has arrived with 1 million quick tests for the new coronavirus.
The flight from Shanghai also brought masks and personal protection equipment for health workers in Spain, which has the third-highest number of reported infections in the world, after the United States and Italy.
Spanish Defence Minister Margarita Robles said the plane landed Monday at the Torrejon de Ardoz base, about 20 kilometres (12 miles) from Madrid, with almost 14 metric tons of cargo.
In neighbouring Portugal, a shipment of 1 million masks and 200,000 tests also arrived from China.
Germany’s Merkel again tests negative for coronavirus
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has again tested negative for the new coronavirus.
Merkel went into self-quarantine on March 22 after learning that a doctor who had administered a vaccine to her days earlier had tested positive.
Her office said Monday that despite now testing negative three times, the 65-year-old leader would continue to work from home “in the coming days.”
British government forms partnership with airlines to repatriate thousands of Britons
The British government has formed a partnership with airlines to repatriate tens of thousands of Britons stranded around the world as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said at the government’s daily briefing that those people who are still able to board commercial flights should book their tickets as soon as possible.
“Don’t run the risk of getting stranded,” he said.
Where there are not any commercial options because of the virus-related lockdown measures put in place around the world, Raab said the government will provide up to 75 million pounds ($93 million) of financial support to enable special charter flights – operated by British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, easyJet, Jet2 and Titan Airways – to fly stranded travellers back.
WHO’s emergencies chief says case counts in hard-hit countries are ‘potentially stabilizing’
The World Health Organization’s emergencies chief says coronavirus case counts in hard-hit countries like Italy and Spain are “potentially stabilizing,” but it’s no time to let up on tough measures to limit and track the spread of the virus.
“It is our fervent hope that that is the case,” Dr. Michael Ryan told reporters. “But we have to now push the virus down, and that will not happen by itself.”
Ryan, speaking at a regular WHO news conference, said “we should start to see stabilization” in the wake of lockdowns and “stringent measures” in Italy, Spain and elsewhere over the last two weeks.
He said case-counting in an epidemic reflects the reality of transmission for at least the previous two weeks.
“The cases you see today are almost like a historical, in the same way when we’re told that we’re looking at galaxies through a telescope, that we’re seeing light from a billion years ago,” he said. “We’re seeing a reality that existed before.”
Number of coronavirus cases in Turkey surpasses 10,000
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Turkey passed 10,000, while those who lost their lives from the virus reached 168.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca reported 1,610 more infections in the past 24 hours, increasing the total in the country to 10,827.
He also reported an additional 37 fatalities.
Turkey has so far conducted nearly 77,000 tests.
Putin, Trump discuss possible co-operation in fight against coronavirus
Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Donald Trump discussed possible co-operation between the two countries in the fight against the novel coronavirus in a telephone call.
A Kremlin statement said the call took place at Washington’s initiative.
The leaders also discussed the world oil market, where prices have fallen since Russia rejected an OPEC proposal to cut production; demand for oil has lowered amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Group of sailors on navy submarine test positive for coronavirus, Dutch defence ministry says
The Dutch defence ministry says a group of sailors on a navy submarine has tested positive for the coronavirus.
The ministry reported 15 members of the 58-strong crew of the Dolfijn were tested after developing mild flu symptoms.
The submarine is breaking off its current voyage and heading back to the northern Dutch port of Den Helder two weeks earlier than planned. The crew will be quarantined to prevent further spread of the virus.
The Dutch nationwide death toll in the virus outbreak rose by 93 Monday to 864.
UN agency urges world’s top powers to commit $2.5 trillion to help developing nations
A United Nations agency is urging the world’s top powers to commit $2.5 trillion to help developing nations weather the novel coronavirus outbreak, including a “Marshall Plan” for health recovery.
Just days after influential G20 nations announced plans to inject $5 trillion into an ailing global economy, the UN Conference on Trade and Development insisted the developing world should not be left out.
UNCTAD says the $2.5 trillion in support should come through “Marshall Plan”-style grants, debt forgiveness, and access to assets known as special drawing rights.
The International Monetary Fund on Friday estimated that emerging markets have “finance needs” totalling $2.5 trillion, calling that a “lower-end estimate” that their own reserves cannot satisfy.
Richard Kozul-Wright, head of globalization and development strategies at UNCTAD, said the coronavirus crisis has forced a lot of change, and “ideas that were previously deemed odd” are suddenly in play.
Greece announces 56 new coronavirus cases, five deaths
Greece has announced another 56 confirmed coronavirus cases and five deaths, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 1,212, with a total of 43 deaths.
The country has carried out more than 15,000 tests.
Lockdown order in Moscow to continue for at least two weeks
The lockdown order in Moscow that obliges most of the Russian capital’s residents to stay in their homes is to continue for at least two weeks.
The initial order by Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, which went into effect Monday, did not specify a time period. But the city’s office for monitoring the spread of the coronavirus says it will remain in effect through April 14.
The order allows Moscow’s 13 million to go out only to shop for food and medication, dispose of garbage, walk their pets in proximity to their homes or go to work if their presence is required.
U.S. Navy hospital ship arrives in New York
A Navy hospital ship has arrived in New York City to help relieve the coronavirus crisis gripping New York City’s hospitals.
The USNS Comfort has 1,000 beds and 12 operating rooms that could be up and running within 24 hours. It’s expected to bolster a besieged health care system by treating non-coronavirus patients while hospitals treat people with COVID-19.
New York City, the epicentre of the U.S. outbreak, reported Sunday that its toll had risen to 776.
Florida governor doesn’t want cruise ship to dock in state
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis doesn’t want the people on a cruise ship where four people died and others are sick to be treated in Florida.
DeSantis says it would be “a mistake” to bring them into South Florida, which already has a high and growing number of coronavirus infections. He says the area’s hospital beds need to be saved for residents and not “foreign nationals.”
He says he wants the cruise line to arrange to have “medical personnel dispatched to the ship.”
Officials say in addition to the four dead, more than 130 Zaandam passengers and crew have symptoms. Four doctors and four nurses were on board to treat 1,243 passengers and 586 crew members, many of whom are American or Canadian, says Holland America, which is owned by Miami-based Carnival Corp.
A sister ship, the Rotterdam, took on passengers who didn’t appear to be infected. They were allowed through the Panama Canal on Sunday night and are about three days from Florida.
Japanese PM Shinzo Abe urges WHO to help accelerate development of medicine, vaccines
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe urged the head of the World Health Organization to help accelerate development of medicine and vaccines for the coronavirus by promoting information sharing and co-operation among countries.
Abe told Director-General Tedros Adhanom in a phone call that Japan is pursuing clinical research on flu drug Favipiravir with several other countries.
Japan’s Foreign Ministry says Tedros pledged WHO’s leadership in the development of medicine, vaccines and diagnostics.
Abe asked Tedros to make use of Japan’s $46 million contribution to the WHO to effectively provide technical assistance for health workers in developing countries where COVID-19 cases are sharply on the rise.
Two cruise ships complete journey through Panama Canal, on way toward Florida
The administrator of the Panama Canal says two Holland America Line cruise ships completed their journey through the waterway on their way to Florida.
Administrator Ricaurte Vasquez says coronavirus was the cause of death for at least two of the four people who died on the Zaandam. He says the pilots who led the Zaandam and Rotterdam through the locks would be placed in a 14-day quarantine.
The Zaandam, which left Argentina on March 7 with some 1,800 passengers and crew, had been denied entry to South American ports and was stranded off Panama for several days until the Central American nation decided to permit it to cross the canal.
Several hundred passengers were transferred Friday to a sister ship, the Rotterdam.
Portuguese government hopes wine producers will offer alcohol stocks for medical use
Portugal’s government is hoping the country’s wine producers will give up a half-million litres (132,000 gallons) of alcohol for medical use.
The country’s Farm Ministry says it will provide financial help for producers offering their alcohol stocks for use by hospitals and pharmaceutical companies.
It says alcohol for disinfection remains in short supply amid the new coronavirus outbreak.
UNESCO holds virtual meeting with science ministers to discuss international co-operation
The United Nations scientific agency UNESCO held a virtual meeting with science ministers from 73 countries to discuss international co-operation around COVID-19.
Open science is an issue UNESCO has been pushing for months. The agency’s leadership believes the global pandemic has highlighted the need to better share information to save lives.
UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay says “the COVID-19 pandemic has made us aware of the importance of science for both research and international co-operation. This crisis also shows us the urgency of better knowledge sharing.”
The meeting, which included representatives from the United States and Israel, addressed reducing the “knowledge deficit” between countries, strengthening the link between science and political decisions and allowing free access to scientific data.
Sri Lankan police say they will acquire properties of those who defy self-quarantine order
Sri Lankan police announced they will acquire the properties of those who defy the government’s order to undergo a 14-day self-quarantine after returning from abroad after March 10.
The announcement came after it was revealed that several people who tested positive for COVID-19 had not registered with the government’s self-quarantine program and hadn’t followed proper quarantine guidelines.
Health authorities have already sealed off two villages after it surfaced that several COVID-19 patients from those villages failed to follow self-quarantine procedures.
Sri Lanka’s second death due to Coronavirus was reported on Sunday. The number of confirmed cases has risen to 122.
Most of the positive cases involve those returning from abroad, especially from Italy, Britain and South Korea.
Prague working to secure shelters for homeless
The Czech capital is working on securing shelters for the homeless, including cheap hotels and hostels.
Prague’s City Hall says it wants to prevent an uncontrolled spreading of the coronavirus in their community and beyond it.
It adds it is also nearly impossible for the homeless to comply with the restrictions on movement imposed by the government to contain the outbreak of the coronavirus.
Several charities and volunteers will be taking care of people while they’re staying in the new locations.
Prague says it was inspired by the approach to the homeless in some major cities, including Chicago, London and Paris.
Putin says Russia has managed to slow coronavirus spread, but should be prepared for contagions to grow
Russian President Vladimir Putin says the country has managed to slow down the spread of coronavirus but should be prepared for contagions to quickly grow.
Russia has been relatively lightly hit by the outbreak, with 1,836 cases and nine deaths. But the number of new cases has mushroomed, forcing the authorities to brace up for the worst.
Putin hailed a lockdown declared Monday in Moscow and warned that other regions should prepare to take similar steps.
Speaking to his envoys in Russian provinces in a video call, a stern-looking Putin says they will bear personal responsibility for the availability of hospital beds, lung ventilators and other essential equipment. He says the authorities need to call professors of medical universities and students to help deal with the outbreak.
The Russian leader also talked about the need to counter “provocations, stupid gossip and malicious lies” about the outbreak.
U.S. government asks hospitals to report daily data on bed capacity, supplies, test results
The federal government is asking hospitals to report daily data on bed capacity, supplies and test results for COVID-19.
The hope is to better track the spread of the coronavirus outbreak across the country.
The White House coronavirus task force is already getting data from public health and private labs, but now hospitals are starting to do their own testing in-house. Officials want those results to build a real-time picture of what’s happening around the country. The government is building a technology-driven system to guide decisions about when to reopen parts of the country.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is asking the nation’s 4,700 hospitals to report the data to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Prince Charles completes seven-day quarantine
Prince Charles has ended his period of isolation after testing positive for the coronavirus.
The prince’s Clarence House office says Charles is in good health after completing the seven-day quarantine recommended by U.K. health authorities for people with COVID-19 symptoms.
Royal officials said last week the 71-year-old heir to the British throne was showing mild symptoms of COVID-19 and self-isolating at the royal family’s Balmoral estate in Scotland. His wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, tested negative but will be in self-isolation until the end of the week.
Charles’ mother Queen Elizabeth II, 93, is at her Windsor Castle home west of London with her 98-year-old husband, Prince Philip.
Merkel’s spokesman says it would be ‘irresponsible’ to offer false hope of quick end to restrictions
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman says it would be “irresponsible” to offer false hope of a quick end to restrictions on public life in Germany, amid increasing calls for an exit strategy.
Germany is a week into a ban on gatherings of more than two people in public. It also has closed schools and most non-essential shops. Merkel’s chief of staff has made clear the measures won’t be loosened before April 20.
There has been little direct questioning of that, but increasing calls to map a way out of the restrictions. Merkel’s government wants to keep the focus on ensuring that Germany’s health system isn’t overstretched.
Merkel spokesman Steffen Seibert says the chancellor “would be the first who would announce the loosening of the measures on the basis of facts, and with pleasure.”
Germany has the world’s fifth-largest number of coronavirus cases but a relatively low death rate so far. Seibert says the increase in infections remains too fast to loosen restrictions.
Former cruise ship passenger dies of COVID-19 pneumonia, Japan’s health ministry says
Japan’s health ministry says a former passenger of a cruise ship, a woman in her 60s from Hong Kong, died of the COVID-19 pneumonia after being treated at a hospital.
She is the 11th victim from the Diamond Princess, on which 712 of the 3,711 people were infected during a two-week quarantine in the port of Yokohama, near Tokyo.
In all, Japan has about 2,600 confirmed cases and 65 deaths.
Dr. Fauci concerned about potential cases in smaller U.S. cities
The U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert told ABC’s “Good Morning America” the “dynamics of the outbreak” of the coronavirus in New Orleans and Detroit show signs that “they’re going to take off.”
He’s also concerned about smaller cities across the country.
“There are a number of smaller cities that are sort of percolating along, couple hundred cases, the slope doesn’t look like it’s going up,” Fauci said. “What we’ve learned from painful experience with this outbreak is that it goes along almost on a straight line, then a little acceleration, acceleration, then it goes way up.”
Fauci says that “very consistent pattern” is the same as what’s occurred in New York, Italy, France, Germany and Spain.
“We’re going to have all of these little mini outbreaks throughout various cities in our country,” he said.
Asked about how long the Trump administration’s recommended social distancing guidelines might be in effect, Fauci says, “I think April might do it … but we kept an open mind when we presented it to the president.”
Greeks will have to forgo their Easter traditions this year, government spokesman says
Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas says Greeks they will have to forgo their Easter traditions this year.
Orthodox Easter, which this year falls on April 19, is by far the largest religious holiday in Greece. Families and friends gather, often in summer homes or their native villages in the countryside and on islands, for church services and an Easter Sunday lunch of roasted lamb.
But the government has imposed strict restrictions on movement, banning anyone from travelling to islands unless they are permanent residents and imposing a lockdown on the country in an effort to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Rescheduled Tokyo Olympics set to open on July 23, 2021
The Tokyo Olympics will open next year in July, the same slot scheduled for this year’s games.
Tokyo organizers say the opening ceremony will take place July 23, 2021. That is almost exactly one year after the games were due to start this year. The IOC and Japanese organizers last week postponed the Olympics because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The rescheduled Olympics will start July 23, with the closing ceremony on Aug. 8. The Paralympics were rescheduled to Aug. 24-Sept. 5.
Over 12,000 health workers test positive for coronavirus in Spain
Authorities in Spain say 12,298 health workers in the country have so far tested positive for the coronavirus.
The figure is 14.4 per cent of the total reported infections, which rose on Monday above 85,000. It placed Spain ahead of China and only behind the United States and Italy in the list of nations with greater contagion.
Medical staff has been a cluster for contagion in Spain, where at least nine of Spain’s 17 regions are close or beyond their limit of occupation of intensive care units.
In the hard-hit Madrid region, the military was building additional field hospitals on Monday.
Portuguese government shutting down immigration service offices
Foreigners in Portugal awaiting an official decision on whether they can reside in the country are getting access to public services, such as health care and social security benefits.
The Portuguese government is shutting down the offices of its immigration service on Monday because of the coronavirus. That leaves foreigners waiting for a decision on their legal status in an administrative limbo.
The government says anyone who applied in writing for a residence permit before a state of emergency was declared on March 18 is allowed to work.
The immigration service offices hope to reopen on July 1.
Portugal, which has a population of just over 10 million, has recorded 6,408 cases of the COVID-19 disease and 140 deaths.
Japan pressured to declare state of emergency
An executive member of Japan’s main medical association urged government officials to consider issuing a state of emergency, saying it will be too late once the coronavirus infection reaches an explosive state.
Satoshi Kamayachi, an executive director of Japan Medical Association and a member of the government-commissioned panel of experts, says the situation warrants a declaration of a state of emergency.
He says most experts at a meeting earlier in the day suggested a state of emergency be issued.
Japan until now was seen as keeping the outbreak under control, but the number of new cases in Tokyo and other cities have spiked since last week. Nationwide, Japan has about 2,600 cases, including 712 from a cruise ship, with 64 deaths. About 1,000 have recovered.
Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike last Wednesday warned its residents that the city is on the verge infection explosion. She asked its 14 million residents to stay at home over the weekend and suggested a possibility of a hard lockdown in the capital city.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters Monday that Japan is on the edge, but has not reached a stage that requires a state of emergency.
Greek PM calls on cabinet ministers, lawmakers to donate half of their salaries
Greece’s prime minister is calling on all his cabinet ministers and the lawmakers of his centre-right New Democracy party to donate 50 per cent of their salaries over the next two months.
In a Facebook post Monday, Kyriakos Mitsotakis says the country’s politicians “must stand in the front line of solidarity.” He said the money generated from the “symbolic gesture” would be deposited in a special account set up to tackle COVID-19.
“We are all equal in the face of the health threat. But in the fight against it, each one of us must contribute according to their means,” Mitsotakis wrote in his post. “I am sure that the other (political) parties will also follow this choice.”
EU member states suspend airport slot requirements until Oct. 24
The European Council says EU member states have suspended airport slot requirements until Oct. 24.
The move aims to ease the impact of the coronavirus crisis on aviation and help airlines adjust to the falling demand caused by the epidemics.
Under EU regulations, airlines are required to operate 80 per cent of their allocated slots for take off or landing at a congested airport at a certain time of the day. If they don’t abide by this rule, they face losing their right to the slot.
“It seems clear now that this crisis will not be over very soon. Waiving the `use it or lose it’ rule until October will help mitigate the heavy economic impact on airlines and give them certainty over the whole summer season,” said Oleg Butkovic, the Croatian minister for the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure.
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said this month abandoning the rule temporarily will not only help the aviation industry, but also have a positive impact on the environment by not flying mostly empty planes to keep their slots.
Spain’s main coronavirus spokesman tests positive
Spain’s main spokesman in the coronavirus crisis has tested positive for the COVID-19 disease but the results need to be confirmed, authorities announced as the country of 47 million became the third to surpass China in number of infections.
Dr. Fernando Simon, who had become the Spanish government’s face and voice during the crisis, was replaced at Monday’s daily news conference by his deputy, Dr. Maria Jose Sierra.
Simon was initially praised for relaying calm and clarity in the early days of the crisis. But as infections and deaths for the virus mounted, he was heavily criticized for having played down the severity of the outbreak.
Sierra says the increase of daily cases had dropped from an average of 20 per cent before March 25, to 12 per cent in the past five days. She says the drop was due to social distancing and confinement measures in place for the past two weeks.
The official says the main worry for the government now was the pressure on the country’s intensive care units because it could arrive 2 or 3 weeks after the infection.
Sierra says,“Reducing the pressure on the ICUs will be important for considering de-escalation measures.”
Epidemiologist says coronavirus outbreak in Britain is ‘just about slowing’
One of the scientists advising the British government on the coronavirus pandemic says there are signs that the effective lockdown of much of the country is working.
Professor Neil Ferguson thinks the epidemic is “just about slowing” as a result of the social distancing measures the government has imposed over the past couple of weeks.
That’s evidenced by the number of new hospital admissions, he told BBC radio.
“It’s not yet plateaued so the numbers can be increasing every day but the rate of that increase has slowed,” he said.
Ferguson, who had to self-isolate himself a couple of weeks ago after showing signs of the COVID-19 illness, says the number of deaths will continue to rise on a daily basis as it is a lagging indicator. Latest figures show that 1,228 people in the U.K. who have tested positive for the virus have died.
The epidemiologist thinks that between 3 per cent to 5 per cent of people in London may have been infected, with between 2 per cent and 3 per cent in the country as a whole.
Laos institutes a nationwide lockdown
The Southeast Asian nation of Laos, which detected its first COVID-19 cases last week, has instituted a nationwide lockdown.
The state news agency KPL reports that Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith issued an order effective Monday through April 19 prohibiting all citizens and foreigners from leaving their accommodations except for essential activity such as buying food or medical care. Those engaged in agricultural production are allowed out according to rules from their local authorities.
All international checkpoints are closed except for transport of goods and to allow foreigners to return to their countries.
Laos has nine confirmed cases of the coronavirus with no deaths reported. The country of about 7.4 million people is one of the poorest in Asia.
Myanmar, which also reported its first COVID-19 cases last week, is closing its airports to all commercial passenger flights at midnight Monday through April 13. Exceptions are allowed with official permission for relief flights, all cargo flights and medical evacuations.
Myanmar, with a population of more than 56 million, is also one of the region’s poorer countries. It has 10 confirmed COVID-19 cases with no deaths.
British PM Boris Johnson’s chief adviser test positive for coronavirus
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, is the latest senior government figure to show symptoms of the coronavirus.
Johnson’s office says Cummings developed symptoms over the weekend and is self-isolating at home.
Johnson announced Friday he has tested positive for COVID-19 and has mild symptoms. Health Secretary Matt Hancock has also tested positive, while the chief medical officer of England, Chris Whitty, says he is self-isolating after showing symptoms.
Senior U.K. officials have been criticized for holding face-to-face meetings until recently, even while urging the rest of the country to stay home and avoid all but essential contact with others.
Cummings is a controversial figure – a self-styled political disrupter who helped lead Britain’s pro-Brexit referendum campaign in 2016. He has been blamed for briefing journalists that the U.K. was seeking “herd immunity” against the coronavirus by letting most of the population get it.
The government and its scientific advisers deny that ever was their strategy.
Sign up for the Coronavirus Update newsletter to read the day’s essential coronavirus news, features and explainers written by Globe reporters.