Coronavirus latest: More than 750,000 cases across the globe

  • More than 750,000 COVID-19 cases have been reported worldwide, with more than 35,000 deaths
  • Human testing on a coronavirus vaccine will begin in September
  • Hungary has increased Premier Victor Orban’s emergency powers for an indefinite period of time 
  • Thieves have stolen a Van Gogh painting from a museum that was closed due to the outbreak

Updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC/GMT)

19:03 Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza has revealed the country’s lockdown measures will remain in place “at least until Easter,” which this year ends on April 12, nine days after the current measures are due to expire.

Meanwhile, the Czech Republic has extended its two-week restrictions it placed on the population to April 11, news agency CTK has reported. To slow down the spread, gatherings of more than two people in public spaces have been banned.

18:53 Grammy-winning US country singer John Prine has been hospitalized with COVID-19, his family has announced. “He was intubated on Saturday evening, and continues to receive care, but his situation remains critical,” his family wrote on Twitter.
 

 
Spanish opera singer Placido Domingo has also tested positive for COVID-19, he shared on Facebook. The 79-year-old is being treated in hospital in Mexico

18:14 New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, has pleaded for more medical volunteers as a Navy hospital ship pulled into port to aid the stricken-city’s plight. Coronavirus deaths have continued to mount in New York as hospitals struggled to house patients in what authorities say could be a preview of what other communities across the US will soon face.

“Please come help us in New York now. We need relief,” Governor Cuomo said as the number of dead in New York State climbed past 1,200, with most of those victims dying in New York City. He added: “Whether it’s Detroit, it’s New Orleans, it will work its way across the country.”

A US Navy hospital ship with 1,000 beds arrived in New York to help relieve the crisis gripping the city. The USNS Comfort, also sent to New York City after 9/11, will be used to treat non-coronavirus patients while packed hospitals deal with those with COVID-19.

“Anyone who says this situation is a New York City-only situation is in a state of denial. You see this virus move across the state, you see this virus move across the nation. There is no American who is immune to this virus,” Cuomo said.

Almost half of the United States 150,000 cases have been reported in the state of New York.

The navy’s USNS Comfort, which has space for 1,000 beds and a dozen operating rooms, is docked in New York City’s harbor

17:31 A public health official in France has reported the country’s highest daily death toll to date, with an additional 418 deaths, taking the total number of fatalities to 3,024 from the virus. The country has recorded more than 40,000 coronavirus cases, and still has more than 5,000 people in intensive care, as healthcare systems in certain parts of the country become overwhelmed with the crisis.

17:28 Italy’s Deputy Health Minister Pierpaolo Sileri said the latest data demonstrated that the country was on course to start seeing “a drop in the number of people infected within seven to 10 days.”

Nevertheless, Italy’s world-topping death toll has increased by 812, in the past 24 hours, to 11,591.

The number of infections recorded since the start of the crisis last month has surpassed 100,000, meaning only the United States has more coronavirus cases than the Mediterranean country.

17:27 The small German state of Saarland has joined Bavaria in extending the deadline for the lockdown. In Saarland, measures will continue until April 20; in Bavaria, until April 19. Germany’s 14 other states do not have such extreme lockdowns in place. Instead, imposing stringent social distancing measures that prevent more than two people from meeting. The states of Brandenburg and Saxony have officially extended these measures until April 19 and April 20 respectively.

The head of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Chancellery, Helge Braun, said on Saturday that Germany as a whole should not expect nationwide restrictions to be lifted until at least April 20, no other state has yet officially announced such long extensions.

17:09 Vilnius, Lithuania, will use drones to check whether locals are following lockdown measures. The city government said the drones will be equipped with loudspeakers in order to convey public service announcements and warnings and that they would alert police if necessary. The country’s lockdown measures are in place until April 13 and include the closure of all non-essential shops as well as people only being allowed to converge in groups of no more than two.

16:36 There is no proof that wearing medical face masks out in the open helps the general public protect themselves from the coronavirus infection, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said. On the contrary, there is a greater risk that people will remove the masks improperly and infect themselves, the WHO’s director of emergency programs Michael Ryan has said.

“Our advice: we do not recommend wearing a protective mask if you are not sick,” Ryan said. 

The comment follows the implementation of new coronavirus prevention measures in Bulgaria and Austria, where starting Monday people are required to wear face masks when out in public.

16:32 The UK has announced a plan to help Brits stranded abroad return home. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the UK government was working with airlines to arrange flights to repatriate British citizens.

He encouraged Brits living abroad who still have access to commercial flights to travel home “without delay.” The plan to work with airlines to charter planes followed the example of other European countries such as Germany.

Raab was standing in for Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the coronavirus daily briefing who is currently in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19.

The UK has over 22,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and over 1,400 have died.

15:54 Indigenous leaders in South America have issued a plea for help, warning that the coronavirus pandemic poses an “existential threat” to their communities.

With billions of people across the globe under lockdown due to the virus, tribes in the Amazon and Chaco regions have been calling on governments to ensure their territories are protected against outsiders possibly carrying COVID-19.

“Indigenous people living in voluntary isolation are especially vulnerable to infectious disease as they don’t have any immunity at all against most diseases,” said Claudette Labonte, from the Congress of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA).

“We call on governments to intensify surveillance and protection of indigenous territories,” Labonte, a member of the Kamuyeneh community in French Guiana, told news agency AFP.

15:17 India has been criticized for its handling of the pandemic, according to DW’s Delhi correspondent Manira Chaudhary. 

She said: “There are critics who are saying that these measures should have been taken much earlier, in the middle of February, and that it was not good that the lockdown was announced with just four hours’ notice.” 

Chaudhary also expanded on the financial impact of the impact on the world’s second most populous nation. “The Indian economy consists of a large sector of informal economy and thousands of migrant workers who cross borders of states every single day to bigger cities to earn their livelihood they suddenly found themselves out of livelihood overnight. They have been saying that they don’t want to die of starvation. They have families to look after. And they are going back to their villages and their towns and really unsanitary and overcrowded conditions.”

“In rural areas in India the health care system is not that good. The number of hospitals is low, the number of doctors even lower. And we may even see a bigger outbreak if this exodus continues.”

Chaudhary argues that despite similarities between India and China in terms of population, there are some key differences. She said: “It’s important to also remember that the population density in India is twice as high as that of China. So the danger is far bigger. And the rural health care and structure is not that well developed. And the COVID-19 Task Force has already admitted that India is going into the Phase 3 of community transmission. And when it comes to the testing kits and ventilators we are still falling behind on that number.”

14:26 The European Commission is working on the EU’s next budget, which it says will have a key role in aiding economic recovery. Work has already begun on the new draft for the seven-year proposal, beginning 2021, spokesman Eric Mamer revealed. 

“The multi-annual financial framework is an excellent tool in order to ensure this because obviously it allows us to deploy investments straight across Europe,” Mamer said.

An EU leaders’ summit in February on the spending plan highlighted the disagreements between various member states, with fiscally conservative countries claiming the commission’s proposed 1.14% contribution of gross national income was too ambitious.

The Union is bracing itself for a severe recession this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, and leaders are at loggerheads over how to shore up the bloc’s economy.  Italy and Spain want eurozone bonds, a debt mutualization instrument that could help bring down their borrowing costs and ease access to funds. They are backed by France, but Germany, the Netherlands and Austria oppose the move. 

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said over the weekend, in an interview with news agency DPA, that she held concerns about liability for the bonds, in apparent support of her native Germany’s stand. But Mamer wasn’t ruling anything out. “All options are on the table,” he insisted. “Everyone has their vision for the best way to get out of the crisis.”

14:04 The EU has released a list of the “critical workers” it believes must be allowed continued freedom of movement, despite emergency measures meaning a tightening of borders among member states. “Many of them have jobs that are important for us all to get through the crisis,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.

The Commission does not have the power to override member states’ wishes so the list is only advisory but von der Leyen said: “It is particularly important that those working in sectors that are critical to fight the coronavirus can reach their workplace rapidly. These are the people working in the healthcare sector, in childcare, elderly care, firefighters and police officers, transport workers.”

Other recommended jobs of importance on the list includes food sector workers, seasonal harvesters, health researchers, communications network technicians, people working on essential infrastructure, and those transporting medical protective gear.

14:03 Members of a Colombian leftist rebel group will unilaterally impose a ceasefire due to the pandemic, in line with a recent UN appeal, peace facilitator Norway has revealed. Norway has been involved for a number of years as a go-between for the Colombian government and the National Liberation Army (ELN). The ceasefire will be in place thoughout April, the Norwegian Foreign Ministry said.

14:00 Art thieves have taken advantage of coronavirus closures in the Netherlands to break into a museum and steal a Van Gogh painting. 

Read more: Van Gogh painting stolen from Dutch museum during coronavirus lockdown

13:43 Pharmaceutical and medical devices firm Johnson & Johnson has revealed that human testing of its experimental vaccine for COVID-19 will begin by September and that it could be available for emergency use in early 2021. J&J also stated it had committed more than $1 billion (€900 million), together with US agency Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, to co-fund vaccine research. A race is underway across the globe to develop a vaccine, but experts have warned it could take more than a year for one to be ready. A patient was given Moderna Inc’s vaccine in a trial earlier this month, making it the front-runner to make a viable option available.

13:34 Hungary’s parliament has passed a controversial bill that greatly increases the power of the country’s far-right prime minister Victor Orban. The premier had said the move is necessary to fight the spread of coronavirus. Orban has asked to extend a national state of emergency that would give his government the right to pass special decrees in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Orban has gradually expanded his powers during his 10 years in office. 

Read more: Hungary passes law allowing Viktor Orban to rule by decree

13:26 A top German tennis official has said he expects Wimbledon, scheduled for June 29-July 12, to be canceled on Wednesday. Dirk Hordorff, vice president of the German tennis federation, told French newspaper daily L’Equipe: “This is not a rumour, they will announce that they are cancelling Wimbledon,” he said. In addition, Hordoff said postponing it until the autumn was not an option due to conditions meaning the grass would be too damp.

13:25 Germany’s Interior Ministry and several of its state-level counterparts have confirmed to public broadcaster NDR that Germany has indefinitely stopped deportations of refused asylum-seekers to Afghanistan due to the pandemic and associated travel restrictions.  The German government began chartering flights in 2016 to deport nationals from the war-torn country who had been refused asylum in Germany. The 16 German states had the power to individually make decisions in such cases, and collaborated to deport rejected asylum-seekers. The deportations have been a flashpoint in German politics, with right-wing extremist politicians using the issue to stir up antipathy against refugees and migrants by demanding a more Draconian application of the laws across the board.

Read more: Coronavirus likely to halt deportations to war-torn Afghanistan

Afghanistan has reported 120 confirmed cases of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, four of which were fatal. However, decades of war have crippled the country’s health system, which had only begun to rebuild in recent years. The country ranks as near-last in several human development indices.  Social scientist Friederike Stahlmann, who just returned to Germany from the Afghan capital, Kabul, told NDR that there is a lack of tests and health infrastructure to help stem the virus there. “An uncontrolled spread of the coronavirus in Afghanistan appears inevitable, also because the vast majority of the population does not have the possibility to take self-protection measures,” she said.

12:45 Here is the latest from across Europe

Germany: Germany’s coronavirus death toll increased by about 15%. The council of economic advisers said a recession in Germany in the first half of this year is “inevitable.” More than one in 10 medium-sized companies are threatened with bankruptcy due to the pandemic, according to the German Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and over a quarter of German companies are expected to implement reduced working hours over the next three months. Latest figures: 62,435 infections, 541 deaths, 9, 211 recovered.

Austria: Face masks are now mandatory for people when shopping and in all other settings where people can come into close contact. Latest figures: 9,200 infections, 108 deaths, 636 recovered.

France: French companies have asked to place 2.2 million workers on temporary leave, and partial unemployment is being widely considered. France’s finance minister Bruno Le Maire called on firms using state aid to keep afloat not to pay out dividends to shareholders this year. Latest figures: 40, 174 infections, 2,606 deaths, 7,202 recovered.

Italy: Italians must brace for a “very long” lockdown, the government said, despite the rate of coronavirus infections having slowed down to under 6% for the first time. The warning from ministers and health officials came as Italy’s toll rose by 756 on Sunday – well below Friday’s record of 969. Latest figures: 97,689 infections, 10,779 deaths, 73,880 recovered.

Spain: The Health Ministry registered 812 new deaths over the past 24 hours, marking the first decline in the number of deaths in a 24-hour period since last Thursday. Spain currently has the second most deadly outbreak after Italy. Spain is the only country with a significant number of cases that has a experienced a downward trend of three days or more, prompting the foreign minister to say the cases appear to be flattening out. Latest figures: 85,195 infections, 7,340 deaths, 16,780 recovered.

Slovenia: Italy’s neighbor has made face masks and gloves mandatory in most indoor public spaces. The government has also banned citizens from traveling around the country. Slovenians will no longer be permitted to leave their municipality of residence. Latest figures: 756 infections, 11 deaths, 10 recovered.

UK: To meet its shortage in medical workers, the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) has asked airline cabin crew laid off during the coronavirus crisis, especially those with first aid training, to work in makeshift new hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients in cities including London, Birmingham and Manchester. Meanwhile, Prince Charles who had tested positive for COVID-19, is out of self-isolation after seven days and is in good health, his spokesman revealed. Latest figures: 19,522 infections, 1,228 deaths, 135 recovered.

11:58 Germany does not foresee an early end to or loosening of the current coronavirus restrictions, according to government spokesman Steffen Seibert. “We need all measures in place, undiminished,” Seibert said on Monday in Berlin. 

“The speed of the virus’ spread is still far too high to allow the restrictions to be relaxed,” he said, adding that Chancellor Angela Merkel was “convinced that it would be irresponsible to raise hopes that cannot be fulfilled afterwards… Then we would come out of the frying pan into the fire.”

Merkel would be the first to announce the easing of the measures “on the basis of the facts,” Seibert said. “She would be happy to do so, because she knows that these restrictions demand a lot from many people at times,” he added. Merkel is also set to evaluate the efficacy of the measures on Wednesday during a telephone conference with state premiers. 

“We will be able to see [how effective the measures are] towards the end of this week or the beginning of next week. All decisions on how long the measures must be maintained for will be based on this,” he said.

“It will always be about one question: Will the number of people infected, and therefore the number of people severely affected, develop in such a way that our health care system can still be protected from being overburdened?” Seibert said. “This will pass.”

11:46 Economists estimate that around 25% of German companies will have to resort to short-time work to weather the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. But what exactly is it and how does it work? DW explains: Short-time work: A vital tool in Germany’s armory against coronavirus

11:32 Berlin is set to open a new clinic for up to 1,000 coronavirus patients by April or May, according to the city’s health senator, Dilek Kalayci. The preparations for the hospital are going “quite well,” Kalayci told Radio Berlin-Brandenburg (RBB), adding that the situation in Germany’s capital city is “still manageable” with the current facilities in place. 

As of Monday morning, 2,462 people in Berlin were confirmed as having the virus, with a citywide death toll of 11.

11:25 Japanese organizers and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided on Monday that the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games would start on July 23, 2021, and run until August 8, Kyodo news reported.

Last Tuesday, following several weeks of uncertainty, the IOC and the Japanese government succumbed to pressure from athletes and sporting bodies around the world and agreed to push back the Games because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier on Monday, Toshiro Muto, the chief executive of the Games, had said the committee was moving “in the direction” of honoring tickets bought for the 2020 Games at the rescheduled event, or providing refunds in case of scheduling changes.

It is the first peacetime delay in the 124-year history of the modern Olympics and represents a huge blow for Japan, which invested $13 billion (€11.8 billion) in the run-up to the event, and raised $3 billion from domestic sponsors. Muto said it was too early to estimate what the additional costs of the delay would be. 

Read more: Tokyo 2020 postponement poses Herculean financial challenge

11:17 The state premier of the southern German state of Bavaria, Markus Söder, has said the coronavirus “curve is flattening slightly” but that it was too soon to specify when restrictions would be lifted, instead extending them until April 19.

10:47 Colombia has imposed a nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. From drones in the sky to serenades on the street, police have got creative in their attempts to encourage citizens to comply with the curbs on their movements. Watch DW’s latest report here:

10:30 The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) is asking airline cabin crew who have been laid off during the coronavirus pandemic to go to work in temporary new hospitals being built to treat COVID-19 patients.

The NHS said airlines including easyJet and Virgin Atlantic are writing to thousands of staff — especially those with first aid training — asking them to work at hospitals being built inside convention centers in London, Birmingham and Manchester. 

Cabin crew who sign up to serve will be doing so in a support capacity under the supervision of doctors and nurses. “We have all needed the NHS at some point in our lives and so we are so proud that our crew can now help to support the NHS at this crucial time,” said Tina Milton, director of cabin services for easyJet.

As reported in our 07:14 update, easyJet has grounded all commercial flights across Europe with no restart date in sight. Virgin Atlantic has stopped most flights and urged governments to help airlines stay in business amid a global grounding of flights.

10:27 All Austrians will have to wear face masks while shopping, the government announced on Monday. Under the new measures, supermarkets will have to hand out and distribute protective gear to shoppers as they arrive. 

People are also obliged to wear masks in situations in which people come into close contact with one another, said Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. “It’s not part of our culture, and it will be a big adjustment for us, but it’s necessary that we take this step to further reduce transmission,” he said. 

The country currently has almost 9,000 confirmed cases and a death toll of 86, according to Johns Hopkins University.

10:20 The director of the Spanish Health Ministry’s Center for Coordination of Health Alerts and Emergencies, Fernando Simon, has tested positive for coronavirus.

10:07 Spain has announced 812 new deaths over the past 24 hours, bringing the country’s total death toll to 7,340, according to Health Ministry figures. It marks the first decline in the number of deaths in a 24-hour period since last Thursday. Spain currently has the second most deadly coronavirus outbreak after Italy. 

The country also reported a total of 85,000 confirmed cases of the virus, becoming the third nation to surpass China in infections after the US and Italy.

09:31 A recession in Germany in the first half of this year is “inevitable” due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the country’s council of economic advisers. Output could shrink by up to 5.4% this year, while in the best-case scenario, gross domestic product (GDP) could drop by as little as 2.8%. That best-case scenario would be dependent on a short time frame for coronavirus-related restrictions on businesses, and a speedy economic recovery, the council said.

09:23 Slovenia banned citizens from traveling around the country and made mask use mandatory from Monday on. Under the new measures, people will not be able to leave their municipality of residence and will have to wear masks and gloves in most indoor public spaces. 

Interior Minister Ales Hojs warned that the fine for violating the new restrictions would be €400 ($444), and said the government “might impose even tougher restrictions if the epidemic continues to spread.”

“The hardest phase of the fight against coronavirus is ahead of us,” said Prime Minister Janez Jansa on Sunday. Slovenia currently has 730 confirmed coronavirus cases and 11 recorded deaths.

09:08 Doctors in Germany called for a “massive expansion” of production of personal protective equipment on Monday. “Politicians and businesses must now address the lack of protective equipment by all available means,” read a statement issued by the Marburger Bund, the largest doctors’ association in Europe. 

“A lack of adequate protective equipment must not put the health of people who want to help other people with all their might, at risk,” said Dr. Susanna Johna, the chair of the group, which represents around 70% of hospital doctors in Germany. 

Johna added that the equipment deliveries made so far have been “far from sufficient” and that many companies still have capacity to produce more supplies, including protective masks, glasses, coats and suits. “We need pragmatic and unconventional solutions to deal with the crisis,” the statement read.

08:46 More than one in 10 medium-sized companies are threatened with bankruptcy due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to Eric Schweitzer, the president of the German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK). 

“What is worrying is not only the absolute number of feared bankruptcies, but also the rapidly rising concrete worries of insolvency within the last three weeks,” said Schweitzer, referencing an unpublished survey involving a total of 15,000 companies. Additionally, 40% of medium-sized companies in the travel and hospitality industry are in acute danger of declaring bankruptcy, he said.

08:32 The number of coronavirus infections in Germany rose by 4,751 to 57,298, according to the Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s public health and disease control authority. The number of deaths also increased by 66 to 455.

08:24 Prisoners rioted at a facility housing violent offenders in southern Iran, breaking cameras and causing other damage, state media reported. The state-run IRNA news agency quoted Fars province’s Governor Enayatollah Rahimi as saying the unrest broke out at the Adel Abad Prison, the largest in the city of Shiraz. No one was wounded, and no one escaped.

On Friday, 70 prisoners escaped a prison in western Kurdistan province after reportedly beating guards. Several of the inmates later returned to the prison.

08:16 Moscow has entered its first day of a full lockdown, following an abrupt announcement of the new rules by the city’s mayor late on Sunday. Sergei Sobyanin announced the regulations after residents ignored official advice to self-quarantine over the weekend. 

Muscovites will be allowed to travel to and from jobs judged essential, travel for medical emergencies and to buy food or medicines. They will also be allowed to go outside to take out trash and walk their dogs within a 100-meter (330-foot) radius of their homes.

The isolation rules will be policed by a system of facial recognition cameras placed throughout Moscow. The lockdown also coincides with the start of a “non-working” week announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin last week.

07:48 A resumption of football matches behind closed doors could contribute to the well-being of the population, according to former top German football official, Andreas Rettig.

Rettig, the former managing director of the German Football League (DFL),  suggested in a column in Kicker magazine that politicians should give the sport a special status, as the games could be something that people “look forward to and talk about.” 

“Since there is no foreseeable time at which normal life will begin again, if restrictions are reduced, playing what Germans call “ghost games” could contribute to the diversion and thus to the well-being of people,” he wrote. German football is suspended at all levels until at least April 30, while matches aren’t expected to resume until June.

07:45 In Germany, asparagus might become a rare delicacy this year. The harvest relies on experienced eastern European teams of farm laborers. But border lockdowns and travel bans have starved German farms of labor just as the harvest is due. Watch DW’s latest report here:

07:14 Budget airline easyJet announced that it will ground all of its flights indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

“At this stage there can be no certainty of the date for restarting commercial flights. We will continuously evaluate the situation based on regulations and demand, and will update the market when we have a view,” the statement read.

07:09 India does not plan to extend its 21-day lockdown, the government said on Monday.  The lockdown, which has left millions of its 1.3-billion population with no source of income, is set to last until April 15. 

The announcement follows struggles to maintain the flow of essential supplies, and to stop tens of thousands of people from fleeing big cities like Delhi and Mumbai for the countryside. India currently has 1,071 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 29 recorded deaths.

07:02 Toyota has announced it will stop production in Europe until at least April 20. Its European plants are in France, the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic, Poland, Turkey and Portugal. The automaker also stopped production in Russia, through Friday.  However, its plants in China resumed normal production on Monday, according to spokeswoman Kayo Doi.

07:00 An aide to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has tested positive for coronavirus, putting the health of the 70-year-old leader in question. Israeli media said the aide is currently in good condition.

06:57 Over a quarter of German companies are expected to implement short-time work, the temporary reduction of working hours, over the next three months, according to the Ifo Institute for Economic Research. 

The short-time work rate of 25.6% would mark a 10% increase from three months ago, and the highest level in Germany since 2010, when reduced work programs were introduced on a wide scale to curb the impact of the global financial crisis.

The automobile, mechanical engineering and electronics industries are set to be the most affected, with respective rates of 41%, 33% and 32%. Meanwhile, the chemicals and food industries are not expected to be heavily impacted. 

However, the full effect of the coronavirus pandemic may not be reflected in the study’s numbers, as the industry responses were received in mid-March, according to Klaus Wohlrabe, the head of the Ifo Business Survey.

06:25 Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index fell by 1.57%, or 304 points on Monday. That drop follows a near 4% rise on Friday and Tokyo’s announcement of more rigid travel bans. The broader Topix index dropped by 1.64%.

05:45 In Belarus, President Alexander Lukashenko is ignoring the coronavirus pandemic — the strongman has even encouraged people to continue business as usual, falsely claiming that working with tractors and in the fields has healing power for agricultural laborers. Watch DW’s latest report here:

05:44 Meanwhile in Sweden, the government maintains that citizens can be trusted to act responsibly for the greater good and will stay home if they experience any COVID-19 symptoms. Watch DW’s latest report here:

05:41 Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday announced an A$130 billion (€72 billion) ($79.86 billion) package to save jobs and aid the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

The package includes an A$1,500 “job keeper” payment, to be made to employers every two weeks for each worker. “Our goal is to protect the lives and livelihoods,” said Morrison. 

“We will pay employers to pay their employees and make sure they do, to keep them in the businesses that employ them and to ensure they can get ready together to bounce back on the other side.”

05:17 Japan is set to ban the entry of foreigners traveling from the United States, South Korea and most of Europe, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported on Monday. 

The country may also ban travel to and from some countries in southeast Asia and Africa, it said, citing government sources. Japan currently only bans the entry of people from some parts of South Korea, China, and some European nations.

05:12 South Korean President Moon Jae-in announced that an “emergency disaster relief payment” of up to 1 million won (€737, $816) would be made to all households except the top 30% by income. 

“Citizens suffered from the coronavirus and they all deserve to be rewarded for their pain and participation in preventive efforts,” Moon said. South Korea is Asia’s fourth largest economy, and has largely managed to curb the spread of coronavirus in the country, with under 100 new cases reported daily over the last three weeks.

04:38 Vietnam’s prime minister on Monday asked major cities to prepare for a possible lockdown, as the number of confirmed cases in the country reached nearly 200. 

“Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City have to review and update plans to battle the virus, and have to stand ready for city lockdown scenarios,” Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said in a statement. “Major cities have to speed up and take advantage of each hour and minute to carry out defined measures.”

Vietnam took drastic measures early on in the pandemic, including implementing an aggressive contact-tracing program and quarantine measures. The country aims to keep the number of infections under 1,000.

04:00  Germany has taken in nearly 50 Italian coronavirus patients. Italy has been one of the world’s hardest-hit nations and Germany has received the patients after most of them were airlifted to hospitals in specially-equipped air force planes.

03:25 A newly set up police website in New Zealand to report incidents of lockdown transgressions has crashed due to the amount of traffic it has received. Since going live over the weekend, the website has crashed at least once due to high demand, and registered more than 4,000 incidents of bad behavior. Instances such as New Zealanders playing rugby or frisbee, and holding impromptu “corona parties” have all prompted the complaints.

Nevertheless, police commissioner Mike Bush told reporters the “vast majority” of people were complying with lockdown rules, but many were “passionate and determined” to make others toe the line as well.

03:00 Passengers on a virus-stricken cruise ship have entered the Panama Canal after they were told the cruise company was still looking for a port which will allow them to get off the ship.

The Panama Canal Authority said the Zaandam cruise liner had entered the canal, which connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans through the Central American country, on Sunday afternoon, after transferring healthy passengers to another ship and restocking supplies.

Holland America Line President Orlando Ashford confessed they were still looking for somewhere to dock after the mayor of Fort Lauderdale, the ship’s original destination, said the Florida city could not take the risk of accepting the passengers.

02:45 Some 4,000 nurses are set to go on strike in Papua New Guinea this week over concerns that the Pacific nation lacks the medical supplies and funding to deal with an outbreak. The potential strike comes in the wake of a sit-in by nearly 600 nurses in the capital of Port Moresby last Thursday over a lack of protective gear.

02:30 Argentina is extending a mandatory nationwide quarantine period until the middle of April. “We are going to extend the quarantine until the end of Easter. What do we aim to achieve? To keep the transmission of the virus under control,” President Alberto Fernandez said. The country has logged 820 COVID-19 cases and 20 deaths, although the increase in cases has slowed in recent days.

02:15 Two tweets by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro — in which he questioned quarantine measures aimed at combating the coronavirus — have been taken down by the social network for violating Twitter’s rules. Bolsonaro had posted videos where he contravened his government’s social distancing guidelines by mixing with supporters on the streets of the capital Brasilia and urging them to keep the economy going.

02:00 Mexico’s Health Ministry has confirmed 145 new coronavirus cases and four new deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of infections to 993 while the country’s death toll stands at 20.

01:45 Grammy-winning singer and songwriter John Prine has been hospitalized for coronavirus and is in “critical” condition, his family said on Twitter. “After a sudden onset of Covid-19 symptoms, John was hospitalized on Thursday. He was intubated Saturday evening, and continues to receive care, but his situation is critical.” 

01:30 Chinese President Xi Jinping has revealed the government will adjust support policies for small and medium-sized businesses, as the situation develops, to protect them from the negative effects of the outbreak, Chinese state television reported. As he visited a factory in the city of Ningbo, Xi said that Chinese companies should resume operation and production even as measures to curb the virus continue.

01:15 The World Health Organization (WHO) has dismissed suggestions that alcohol consumption can ward off the coronavirus. “Drinking alcohol DOES NOT protect you against #COVID19 and can be dangerous,” the UN’s health body tweeted. An estimated 300 people have died in Iran after drinking industrial alcohol that has been falsely touted as a remedy for the virus on social media.

00:55 Mainland China has reported 31 new coronavirus cases, including one locally-transmitted infection, the country’s National Health Commission said. The newly reported figure is a drop on the previous day, when 45 cases were recorded. The commission said in a statement on Monday that four new deaths from the virus had occurred, putting the cumulative death toll at 3,304. Since the outbreak erupted in December, the country has logged 81,470 infections.

00:45 The death toll in the US state of New York has surpassed 1,000, less than a month after the virus was first detected in the state. The first known infection was discovered on March 1 in a health care worker who recently returned from Iran. Now, with 776 deaths coming from New York city alone, the US state accounts for almost 40% of all deaths recorded in the country.

00:30 Here is the latest on the status of the outbreak across Europe:

Germany: Nearly 60,000 cases have been reported in Germany, while the death rate of less than 1% remains one of the lowest in the world. Meanwhile, the first plane carrying German nationals — previously stuck on a cruise ship off Australia — has started its journey to Frankfurt. Dozens of coronavirus cases were confirmed on the the Artania cruise which was carrying over 800 passengers. Three more planes to evacuate passengers were expected to take off within hours.

UK: The lockdown in the United Kingdom could continue for up six months, a key government medical advisor has revealed, despite initial confinement measures set to end in two weeks. The deputy chief medical officer for England, Jenny Harries said that even if the UK manages to flatten the curve in two weeks, she cautioned that a full return to normal life “would be quite dangerous.” The UK has reported almost 20,000 cases, with over 1,200 deaths.

France: France has performed its largest evacuation of COVID-19 patients to date from hospitals in the hard-hit east, stepping up efforts to free up intensive care units. Two specially equipped high-speed trains carried 36 patients from Mulhouse and Nancy toward hospitals along France’s western coast, where the outbreak has been minimal until now. The movements came as Germany sent a military plane for the first time to Strasbourg to move two coronavirus patients to a hospital in the German city of Ulm. In total, some 80 French patients have been hospitalized in Germany, Switzerland and Luxembourg.

Italy: The Italian government has said the country is in for a “very long” lockdown which would only be lifted gradually. While the mortality rate was slowing following a record 919 deaths on Friday, the government’s medical adviser Luca Richeldi said indications of the pandemic slowing down was “a reason for us to be even stricter.” Italy ranks second in the world in terms of infections, with almost 100,000 cases recorded so far.

Spain: Spain neared 80,000 cases and will almost certainly overtake China to become the world’s third ranked country within hours. Spain reported 838 COVID-19 related deaths in the 24 hours to Sunday, more than any other country in the world.

Russia: Moscow has announced a city-wide lockdown beginning on Monday, confining residents of the city to their homes. Some 12 million citizens will only be allowed to leave their homes to seek medical care, to travel to work if they provide essential services, to go to the nearest store or chemist, or to walk pets, but no more than 100 meters from their abode.

Switzerland: The death toll in Switzerland from coronavirus has climbed to 235 while the total number of cases stands at 13,213. The Alpine country has the highest number of cases per capita in the world and is deploying army medical units at hospitals to help in regions like Ticino, which borders hard-hit Italy, to help combat the outbreak.

The Netherlands: The number of reported cases in the Netherlands has passed the 10,000 mark as the country focuses on building up herd immunity, rather than a lockdown. A total of 771 people have so far died from the COVID-19 epidemic in the country and 10,866 have tested positive, the country’s institute for public health and environment (RIVM) said.

00:15 Panama has reported seven new deaths because of the novel coronavirus while the total number of confirmed infections has risen to 989, the government said in a statement.

00:05 US President Donald Trump has extended the country’s national “social distancing” guidelines to April 30 as the number of cases continues to rise in the country. The US leader said he expects the country “will be well on our way to recovery” by June 1 — abandoning his earlier goal of relaxing measures by Easter.

During a White House press conference, Trump said data indicates that the US death rate will likely peak in two weeks. He also remarked that limiting the number of deaths to 100,000 or 200,000 would constitute a “good job,” and that his administration has lowered the number of potential deaths from earlier estimates of more than 2 million.

00:00 Catch up on yesterday’s news here: US expecting up to 200,000 coronavirus deaths

jsi,kl,lc,ed,kp/aw (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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This article was originally published on this site.

This article was originally published on this site