- The German government is reportedly set to close borders with France, Austria and Switzerland on Monday morning
- US restrictions on travelers from Europe cause chaos, hours-long delays at US airports
- Over 100 people were reported dead in Spain during the last 24 hours
- Spain, France, Austria are suspending public life in a bid to curb the outbreak
- Local elections in France and Bavaria are going ahead
Updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC/GMT)
14:33 In Spain, the number of people infected with the novel coronavirus has grown by a third in the last 24 hours and is now at 7,753, the authorities said on Sunday. Over 100 people have died during the previous day, with the death toll now at 288.
14:15 Germany’s borders to Austria, Switzerland, and France will be closed starting Monday morning in a bid to stem the spread of the coronavirus, according to the Spiegel magazine and the mass-circulation Bild newspaper. However, German authorities will keep the crossing open for commuters as well as the delivery of goods.
There was no immediate information on the possible closure of other border crossings, including those towards Poland, Denmark, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic.
13:51 The German premiere of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” set to performed in Hamburg on Sunday, has been delayed over the coronavirus outbreak.
13:40 UK football star Wayne Rooney slammed the British government and football officials for treating players like “guinea pigs.” The 34-year Rooney believes the authorities waited too long before halting football games in the England.
“Why did we wait until Friday? Why did it take (Arsenal couch) Mikel Arteta to get ill for the game in England to do the right thing?” he asked in a column for the Sunday Times.
13:23 Police in Greece have arrested 96 people for breaking coronavirus lockdown terms since Thursday. Bars and restaurants have been closed and Greece has started closing beach resorts. All tourism accomodations are to be closed until April 30.
13:13 Austria has began enforcing a nationwide curfew on Sunday, according to the APA news agency, with police patrols deployed. Previously, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said that gatherings of five or more people would be banned. Starting Monday, violators would face a fine of up to €2,000 ($2,220).
13:02 German rail operator Deutsche Bahn (DB) is cutting down on its regional train services as a result of the drop in commuters due to coronavirus, according to a DB spokeswoman. The official said tickets would also no longer be checked on regional trains to protect employees and passengers.
12:54 British food retailers have written an open letter asking customers to stop panic-buying.
“We understand your concerns but buying more than is needed can sometimes mean that others will be left without. There is enough for everyone if we all work together,” the letter, signed by Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Aldi, Lidl and others, said. Social media users over the past week have been uploading pictures of empty supermarket shelves, with toilet rolls, pasta and canned food especially in demand.
12:37 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says his government plans to use anti-terrorism tracking technology to locate people who have been in contact with those infected by the coronavirus.
“We will very soon begin using technology … digital means that we have been using in order to fight terrorism,” Netanyahu said, describing the virus as an “invisible enemy that must be located.”
Avner Pinchuk, a privacy expert with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, told Reuters that these cyber capabilities could include real-time tracking of patients’ cellphones to identify quarantine breaches, as well as scanning metadata to find out where they had been and who they had been with.
“I am troubled by this announcement. I understand that we are in unique circumstances, but this seems potentially like overreach,” Pinchuk said. “Much will depend on how intrusive the new measures are.”
Netanyahu said he had requested approval from the Justice Ministry, as such measures could violate citizens’ privacy.
12:29 Britain has advised against all nonessential travel to the United States over coronavirus concerns. The announcement came after the US said it would not accept travelers from the UK and Ireland from Tuesday.
12:03 Zimbabwe’s defense minister has said the coronavirus outbreak is God’s way of “punishing countries,” in the West for imposing sanctions against Zimbabwe.
“They must feel the effects of coronavirus and understand our pain,” Defense Minister Oppah Muchinguri said during a speech in the northern town of Chinhoyi. “They are now staying indoors. Their economies are screaming just like they did to our economy.”
Zimbabwe has not yet confirmed any coronavirus cases, although neighboring South Africa has reported 51.
The US and the European Union first slapped sanctions on senior Zimbabwean officials over human rights abuses committed under ousted ex-President Robert Mugabe. The measures targeted senior regime officials and government institutions, including travel bans on Mugabe and his inner circle.
Many Zimbabweans reacted to the minister’s comments on Twitter, saying they were appalled. ”To say I’m gobsmacked is an understatement,” wrote law professor Alex Magaisa. “How does a senior minister utter such rubbish?”
11:28 Turkey has set up quarantine stations to house more than 10,300 Muslims returning from pilgrimages to Islam’s holy sites in Saudi Arabia. Pilgrims will be kept in isolation for 14 days in an effort to fight the coronavirus. Ankara has stepped up measures in recent days, such as shutting universities and schools, and halting flights to several countries. Turkey has confirmed six cases of the virus so far — the latest one was a returning pilgrim.
11:19 The coronavirus pandemic has caused huge disruptions to daily life, including in the world of sports. You can keep abreast of all the latest sports developments here.
11:05 The death toll from coronavirus in Iran has jumped to 724, with 113 new fatalities reported in the past 24 hours. The figures were announced in a tweet from a health ministry official, who also said the number of infected people had reached 13,938.
Ali Reza Zali, who is in charge of Iran’s response to the outbreak, said the pandemic may overwhelm the country’s health facilities: “If the trend continues, there will not be enough capacity,” he was quoted by the state-run IRNA news agency as saying.
11:01 Austria’s Tyrol province, which borders Italy, is ordering a one-week lockdown to stop the coronavirus from spreading. The new rules mean people will only be allowed to leave their homes to buy food and medicine, visit the doctor, walk the dog, or withdraw cash. Austria has 758 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and one death, and Tyrol is one of the country’s worst-hit regions.
10:52 Dozens of homeless people have been placed in quarantine in Hamburg after a coronavirus case was confirmed in one of the northern German city’s shelters. According to German media reports, around 300 people now have to undergo 14 days of isolation at the facility, which is usually reserved only for overnight stays.
The local health department said the measure aimed “to provide the best possible care to particularly vulnerable people,” adding that those with symptoms would undergo testing and, if necessary, be isolated within the shelter or given treatment.
10:43 Kazakhstan has declared a state of emergency barring all travel to and from the Central Asian country, with the exception of diplomats and those invited by the government. Kazakhstan has confirmed eight coronavirus cases.
10:37 France’s government says it will gradually reduce plane, train and bus services between cities from Sunday to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The country has already closed universities, schools, cafes and restaurants, and urged people not to travel.
“We have to limit our movements as much as possible. Long distance trips must be kept to what is strictly necessary,” Ecology Minister
10:24 British Health Secretary Matt Hancock says the government is planning further measures to tackle COVID-19, including isolating people aged over 70 for up to four months.
“We will be setting it out with more detail when it’s the right time to do so because we absolutely appreciate that that is a very big ask of the elderly and the vulnerable and it’s for their own self-protection,” Hancock wrote in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper.
He said authorities were also ready to ban mass gatherings if necessary. The UK government has been criticized for not taking measures already implemented in other European countries, such as increasing social isolation and preventing public gatherings.
10:08 More than 25 million people in the US don’t have health insurance, and many simply can’t afford to skip work and stay home if they get sick. That’s creating anxiety at a time when coronavirus is spreading rapidly. Read more here.
09:49 Malaysia’s Health Ministry says the country’s number of coronavirus cases has nearly doubled to 428, after 190 new infections were confirmed on Sunday. Most of the new diagnoses were linked to an Islamic ceremony attended by an estimated 15,000 people on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur in late February, the ministry said.
All of the people who were at the event, as well as their close contacts, were expected to be placed under mandatory quarantine for 14 days. Singapore and neighboring Brunei also announced several infections linked to the same religious event.
09:41 The coronavirus is continuing to spread, with first cases reported in the Seychelles, Uzbekistan and the Republic of the Congo. Rwanda, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea and Mauritania all announced their first cases on Saturday.
Read more: Coronavirus: The lessons to learn from Ebola
09:30 The Al-Aqsa mosque and Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem will shut their doors indefinitely as a precaution against coronavirus.
The complex, which is the third holiest site for Muslims, will still be open for outdoor prayers, Al-Aqsa mosque director Omar Kiswani said.
“The Islamic Waqf department decided to shut down the enclosed prayer places inside the blessed Aqsa mosque until further notice as a protective measure to prevent the spread of coronavirus,” Kiswani told Reuters.
09:22 Austria has announced further restrictions on public life, including an order to close restaurants and sports facilities from Tuesday. A statement from Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s office said gatherings of more than five people would be banned, while travelers from Britain, the Netherlands, Ukraine and Russia would no longer be allowed to enter the country unless they undertook two weeks of quarantine or had a health certificate
“Austrians are being summoned to isolate themselves,” the statement said. ”That means only making social contact with the people with whom they live.”
09:07 Russian news agencies are reporting that state-run Russian Railways will halt international passenger trains to and from Latvia, Ukraine and Moldova from March 17 in an effort to stop coronavirus from spreading. Russia has so far announced 59 infections.
08:51 New restrictions in place in the United States are causing chaos at a number of airports, with incoming travelers from Europe forced to wait hours for medical screenings before being able to pass through customs.
Governor of the state of Illinois JB Pritzker said the long lines at Chicago’s O’Hare airport were “unacceptable.”
Acting Homeland Security secretary Chad Wolf said it takes about one minute per screening, and that his office was working with airlines to expedite the checks.
08:48 Chinese state media is reporting that all international arrivals in the capital Beijing will be sent to quarantine facilities starting Monday.
08:33 German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer says the German military will help the country in its fight against coronavirus.
“We are planning at every level, so that we will be able to safely cover all critical areas — including administrative assistance,” the minister told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper. She added that reservists had been called up to report for service at Bundeswehr hospitals, she added.
08:25 Thai health authorities say the country has recorded its biggest daily jump in coronavirus cases since the outbreak began. Thailand’s total tally is now 114, after 32 new infections were reported on Sunday. The Health Ministry’s permanent secretary, Sukhum Kanchanapimai, said more than 50 people were still awaiting test results.
08:04 Millions of people in Italy have been living under lockdown for the past several days after the government announced an emergency decree. Journalist Megan Williams reports from her home in Rome on how residents are adjusting to their new way of life.
07:43 Taiwan has reported six new COVID-19 infections — its highest single-day increase since the outbreak began. All of the cases were linked to recent overseas trips to Egypt, Europe, Japan and Thailand. At a press conference on Sunday, Taiwanese Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung urged residents to avoid nonessential travel. Taiwan has so far reported 59 cases of coronavirus, including one death.
07:38 The central bank of the United Arab Emirates has announced a $27 billion (€24 billion) stimulus package to help the country’s banks deal with the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.
07:21 While public life in Italy, France and Spain has been brought to a standstill, people in Germany are also restricting their activities in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Read more about what Germany is doing here.
07:12 Polling stations have opened in the German state of Bavaria, where local elections are taking place despite the coronavirus crisis. Some 10 million people are eligible to cast ballots to elect mayors and councilors. The southern state has recorded more than 680 cases of COVID-19 — the second-highest number in the country after North Rhine-Westphalia. Local elections are also underway in France.
A voter casts their ballot in the Bavarian elections, which are going ahead despite coronavirus concerns
07:07 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial will be postponed by two months because of coronavirus restrictions. The case, which had been scheduled for March 17, is now set to begin on May 24. Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, faces charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. He has denied any wrongdoing.
06:48 Nationwide local elections in France are going ahead, despite a fresh round of restrictions announced by the government. The vote on Sunday is a key test for President Emmanuel Macron, who says the polls to elect mayors and councils should proceed to assure democratic continuity. However, there are concerns that health fears mean some voters may choose to stay home.
06:41 The Vatican says its Easter week celebrations will be held without a congregation due to the spread of COVID-19.
06:33 Many coronavirus patients have died of sepsis. Read more about the organ dysfunction and how it occurs here.
06:23 South Korea’s daily reporting of new coronavirus infections has fallen below 100 for the first time in more than three weeks, according to figures released by the country’s health authorities. They said there were 76 new cases recorded on Saturday, bringing the total number of diagnosed people to 8,162. The number of deaths also increased by 3, to 75.
06:08 El Salvador has declared a state of emergency and approved a partial suspension of the constitution to fight the coronavirus. The country’s Congress has approved a series of measures, including curbs on public gatherings and a restriction on free movement for 30 days. El Salvador has yet to record a confirmed case of COVID-19, but its announcement follows moves by other Central American countries, including Panama, Honduras and Guatemala, to ban public gatherings.
All passengers have to stay on board the Golden Princess cruise ship, waiting off the coast of Akaroa
05:46 Passengers on a cruise ship that docked in southern New Zealand are being barred from disembarking while three people on board undergo testing for the coronavirus. The Golden Princess, which is carrying 3,700 people, stopped at the tourist town of Akaroa, near Christchurch, on Sunday. A health official said the three passengers were quarantined by the ship’s doctor after one of them developed COVID-19 symptoms.
05:33 Police in the Philippines have started sealing off the capital to stop the coronavirus from spreading. Officers are checking temperatures and identification documents of people passing through dozens of checkpoints around Manila as part of a monthlong lockdown. All domestic flights to and from the densely populated city have been canceled. On Saturday, the country reported a total of 111 infections, including eight deaths.
03:40 Everyone who arrives in Australia will have to self-isolate for 14 days, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said. The measure, which comes into force from midnight Sunday, is aimed at stopping the further spread of the new coronavirus in the country.
02:12 The British government has advised its citizens against all but essential travel to Spain amid the coronavirus outbreak. Spain on Saturday put its 47 million population under partial lockdown to combat the virus’ spread. The UK also advised against travel to several other European countries including Poland and Estonia, as well as many countries in the Americas including Colombia and Panama. The US on Saturday extended its coronavirus travel ban to the UK and Ireland.
02:09 More than half of the 300 coronavirus patients in intensive care units in France are aged under 60, according to the head of the country’s public health agency. “It is urgent. Now is the time to change our behavior,” Jerome Salomon said. As of Sunday, France began implementing widespread restrictions on public life.
01:32 China, where the outbreak started, is now reporting more cases coming from outside the country than inside. The National Health Commission reported that 16 of the 20 new cases detected on Sunday involved people arriving from overseas.
01:25 The latest figures for France, which as of midnight closed all restaurants, cafes, theaters and nonessential shops, are 4,480 confirmed cases and 91 deaths.
01:18 Spain, where emergency measures to halt the spread of the virus were announced Saturday, currently has 6,391 cases confirmed. That’s an increase of more than 600 cases since Saturday. Spain has recorded 195 deaths.
00:40 DW’s Washington correspondent Alexandra von Nahmen shares a White House statement saying that the US president has tested negative for COVID-19. Donald Trump was tested after several members of a Brazilian delegation he met with a week ago came down with the virus.
00:30 Here’s a recap of the global figures:
- 156,102 confirmed cases globally
- 5,819 global deaths
- 72,624 recovered
00:02 Follow yesterday’s developments here: Coronavirus latest: Spain to go into partial lockdown over coronavirus
00:01 Sweeping restrictions across France, which will see restaurants, theaters and nonessential shops closed, came into force.
nm,se/sri (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)
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