Countries across the world are taking measures to halt the spread of coronavirus. It has infected hundreds of thousands of people across the globe.
Here are the latest updates:
Italy has become the country with the most coronavirus-related deaths, surpassing China.
The death toll in Italy was a stark illustration of how the outbreak has pivoted towards Europe and the United States.
Italy, with a population of 60 million, has recorded at least 3,405 deaths, or roughly 150 more than in China — a country with a population that is over 20 times larger.
Italy reached the bleak milestone the same day that Wuhan, the Chinese city where the coronavirus first emerged three months ago, recorded no new infections, a sign that the communist country’s draconian lockdowns were a powerful method to stop the spread of the virus.
UN and Italian health authorities have cited a variety of reasons for Italy’s high toll, key among them its large elderly population, who are particularly susceptible to developing serious complications from the virus. Italy has the world’s second oldest population after Japan, and the vast majority of Italy’s dead — 87% — were older than 70.
Thousands of people attended an ordination ceremony for a Catholic bishop on the Indonesian island of Flores despite calls from authorities to avoid mass gatherings to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Images of the ordination ceremony posted on social media showed people inside the Ruteng cathedral seated next to each other and not complying with social distancing measures.
A priest who attended the ceremony estimated that about 4,000 people gathered inside and around the church.
Sebastian Rida, a Catholic resident of Ruteng who witnessed the ceremony, said officers from the local health agency asked people to use masks and hand sanitisers, but not everyone did.
Indonesia has 309 confirmed cases of the virus and 25 deaths.
Russia has reported its first coronavirus-related death, a 79-year-old woman who died in hospital in Moscow.
Health officials said she was hospitalised last week and suffered from a variety of chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.
Russia has registered 147 cases of the coronavirus. The authorities have taken a variety of measures to slow the spread of the disease, such as closing the borders for foreigners and testing of everyone returning from countries affected by the pandemic.
Starting from next week, all schools will be closed. The government has repeatedly urged Russians to stay home and limit all contacts.
Today we met virtually with business leaders convened by @wef. My colleagues & I encouraged the private sector to help speed the #COVID19 response by committing specific expertise. We also hope they will contribute through the Solidarity Response Fund https://t.co/mRCMYYtASW. pic.twitter.com/QYt6lF44DR
— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) March 18, 2020
Pakistani authorities have closed shrines of Sufi saints in the capital and elsewhere and visits to museums, archaeological and tourist sites were banned as cases of coronavirus jumped to 301, mostly in pilgrims returning from Iran.
Two people who had returned from Saudi Arabia and Dubai became Pakistan’s first victims when they died on Wednesday.
It spread panic among those who were not taking infections seriously.
Pakistani authorities on Thursday were planning to quarantine hundreds of pilgrims who returned from Iran. These pilgrims will be kept at isolated buildings in central Pakistan for two weeks.
Pakistan has already shut schools.
The Dutch government is limiting entry to the country for 30 days from Thursday evening in its latest effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The entry ban covers all non-essential travel into the country for visitors from outside the European Union, the United Kingdom and countries that are part of Europe’s passport-free travel zone known as Schengen.
Exceptions also will be made for travelLers with residence permits for the Netherlands and people in “vital” occupations such as health workers.
As of Wednesday, the Netherlands had recorded 58 coronavirus-related deaths in the outbreak and 2,051 positive tests.
Australia is banning incoming passengers who are not citizens, permanent residents or direct family members of residents.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said 80% of cases of coronavirus detected in Australia have been people infected overseas or by direct contact with someone who had been infected overseas. Overseas arrivals are currently expected to self-isolate for 14 days.
– NEW ZEALAND
New Zealand is closing its border to people who are not citizens or residents from Friday.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she had become increasingly concerned that visitors to New Zealand have not been properly isolating themselves for 14 days as required. There are a few exceptions, including children and partners of residents.
Mexico’s health department has confirmed the country’s first death related to coronavirus.
The department wrote on Twitter that the person began showing symptoms on March 9 and had diabetes.
Mexico has 118 confirmed cases of infection and officials expect the numbers to rapidly increase in the coming weeks.
Authorities have been urging people to keep their distance in social situations and schools have halted classes.
Michel Barnier, the European Union’s chief negotiator for the future relationship with Britain after Brexit, said he has been infected with the coronavirus.
I would like to inform you that I have tested positive for #COVID19. I am doing well and in good spirits. I am following all the necessary instructions, as is my team.
For all those affected already, and for all those currently in isolation, we will get through this together.
— Michel Barnier (@MichelBarnier) March 19, 2020
Mr Barnier tweeted that he is doing well and is in good spirits.
“I am following all the necessary instructions, as is my team,” Mr Barnier said. “For all those affected already, and for all those currently in isolation, we will get through this together.”
The Costa Luminosa transatlantic cruise ship, which has recorded several cases of Covid-19 among its passengers, has docked in the French Mediterranean port city of Marseille.
More than 1,400 people are on the cruise. French authorities have allowed the ship entry and to stay for up to four days under strict conditions.
It is not known whether passengers will be allowed off, given the current stringent restrictions imposed in France amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Austria’s western province of Tyrol has placed all 279 municipalities under quarantine, banning anyone from leaving their town or village except to commute to work within the Alpine region.
The measures are a step up from those already in place for Austria as a whole because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Tyrol governor Guenther Platter said the extreme measures were necessary in light of the large numbers of infections with Covid-19. Tyrol has registered 474 cases — more than a quarter of Austria’s total of 1,646 cases.
The Croatian government is limiting entry to the country for 30 days, closing cafes and most shops and banning gatherings of more than five people in its government’s latest effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The entry ban includes all non-essential travel into the country. Only returning Croatian citizens and those from European Union countries transiting to their states will be allowed to cross as of Thursday.
Food shops, pharmacies and bakeries will remain open. Cinemas and museums have closed and religious gatherings are banned.
Croatia has recorded 99 confirmed coronavirus cases. One person who was infected with the virus has died.
The Danish government is now urging senior citizens to avoid public transportation.
Transportation minister Benny Engelbrecht said that “we have seen more senior citizens being severely affected by the coronavirus”.
“Elderly people can reduce the risk of being infected by avoiding bus, train and subway services. That is why we now come with this joint appeal,” he said in a statement with two of Denmark’s main organisations representing the interests of the elderly.
A four-star hotel in Madrid has begun operating as the country’s first medicalised hospital to help deal with the coronavirus outbreak.
Ambulances began arriving at the Ayre GH Colon hotel, which is near three city hospitals.
The hotel is expected to take in non-severe patients. A second hotel hospital is expected to open on Friday to serve hospitals on the capital’s eastern fringe.
The Madrid Hotel Business Association said it has placed 40 hotels with room for 9,000 people at the service of the Madrid region, which has had more than half of Spain’s cases so far.
Meanwhile, Spain has registered a 20% increase in new cases of coronavirus.
The total in the country is up by 3,431 to 17,147. The number of deaths from the virus was up by 179 to 767.
Monaco’s ruler, Prince Albert II, has also tested positive for coronavirus but a palace statement said his health is not worrying.
Albert, 62, appears to be the first head of state who has publicly said he has contracted the virus.
In a statement, the palace said he is being treated by doctors from the Princess Grace Hospital, named after his US actress mother.
It says Albert is continuing to work from his home office in the palace and is in constant contact with members of his government.
– UNITED STATES
US President Donald Trump said the government should take an equity stake in companies that need bailouts because of the devastating effects of coronavirus on the economy.
Mr Trump told a briefing he has executive authority to curb the impact on businesses.
STRONG & UNITED, WE WILL PREVAIL! pic.twitter.com/T6UCyaPRIy
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 18, 2020
“There’s a lot of executive power,” he said. “If we don’t have to use it, that would be a good thing, not a bad thing.”
Such a move would be an extraordinary reach by government into the private sector.
He said he would specifically target companies that did stock buybacks, rather than investing in infrastructure. Mr Trump also said he would back restrictions on executive bonuses and future buybacks from companies receiving federal support.
“More help is on the way,” Mr Trump said at a White House briefing on the spread of the virus.