Coronavirus: Latest updates from around the world

29 March 2020, 20:34

Virus Outbreak Pakistan
Virus Outbreak Pakistan. Picture: PA

The United States leads the world with more than 120,000 reported cases.

Worldwide coronavirus infections have surpassed the 660,000 mark, with more than 30,000 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Here is the latest on the situation from around the world:

– Syria

Syria has reported the first coronavirus death in the war-torn country, which has five confirmed infections.

State news agency SANA said a woman died on reaching an emergency room and tested positive for the virus, without saying where it happened.

Syria has closed schools, restaurants and nightclubs, and imposed a night-time curfew last week aimed at preventing the virus’s spread.

Its health care system has been battered by nearly a decade of civil war, leaving the country particularly vulnerable.

– Canada

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said he will continue to self-isolate at home even though his wife has recovered from coronavirus.

Mr Trudeau said although he was careful, he will remain in isolation for now because he was in the same home as someone who tested positive.

Mr Trudeau said wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau has taken their three children to the prime minister’s summer residence in Harrington Lake, Quebec.

Sophie Trudeau received clearance from her doctor and Ottawa Public Health on Saturday.

Mr Trudeau’s office said on March 12 she had tested positive for coronavirus after returning from a trip to London.

The prime minister and his family have been in self isolation at home since then. He and the children have not shown symptoms.

– US

The US government’s foremost infection disease expert, Dr Anthony Fauci, says the US will certainly have “millions of cases” of Covid-19 and more than 100,000 deaths.

As the US tops the world in reported infections from the new coronavirus, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases predicts 100,000-200,000 deaths from the outbreak in the US.

The US is currently reporting more than 124,000 cases and more than 2,100 deaths.

Dr Fauci was speaking to CNN’s State Of The Union as the federal government is discussing rolling back guidelines on social distancing in areas that have not been hard-hit by the outbreak.

Dr Fauci says he would only support the rollback in lesser-impacted areas if there is enhanced availability of testing in place to monitor those areas. He acknowledged “it’s a little iffy there” right now.

– Portugal

The Portuguese health minister has said a 14-year-old boy with Covid-19 has died. Authorities said the boy had prior health conditions.

Minister Marta Temido said the boy tested positive for the coronavirus but health expert still need to investigate if he died of the disease caused by the virus or other health problems.

Portugal reported on Sunday it has 119 total deaths from the virus and 38,042 infections.

HEALTH Coronavirus
(PA Graphics)

– North Macedonia

North Macedonia has reported two more deaths to raise the death toll to six. They are both men in their 30s.

More than 9,000 people in the country of 2.1 million are in quarantine or in self-isolation. The country is also under curfew.

– Serbia

Pet owners in Serbia are furious over the populist government’s decision to ban even a brief walk for people with dogs during an evening curfew to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.

Angry dog owners have flooded social networks, warning that the ban could harm their dogs’ health and cause frustration and anxiety for both the animals and their owners.

Veterinarian Nenad Milojkovic said protecting animal rights is a test for a society during hard times such as an epidemic. He said skipping the evening walk could worsen the condition for the dogs with urinary problems and “aggravate basic hygienic conditions in people’s homes.”

Serbia’s government made the decision on Saturday, revoking a previously introduced 20-minute permission for dog owners to walk their pets.

Serbia has imposed some of the harshest measures in Europe against the spread of the new coronavirus, including a total ban on movement for people over 65 years and a curfew from 5pm until 5am.

– Norway

Norwegian health authorities say they are set to start performing random coronavirus tests, following the experiment Iceland has done.

Citing officials at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Norwegian public broadcaster NRK said on Sunday such random testing among all citizens will provide answers to two key questions: how many of those who appear to be infected actually have the coronavirus and how wide the spread of the virus is.

NRK said Iceland, with its 12,000 random tests among its population of 340,000, has the largest number of tests per capita in the world. Norway, a nation of 5.4 million, has so far reported 4,054 coronavirus cases with 25 deaths.

Virus Outbreak Vatican
Italian police cars patrol an empty St Peter’s Square amid restrictions to contain the Covid-19 virus (Andrew Medichini/AP)

– Vatican City

Pope Francis is backing the UN chief’s call for a ceasefire in all conflicts raging across the globe to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. He also said his thoughts are with those constrained to live in groups, citing in particular rest homes for the elderly, military barracks and jails.

During his traditional Sunday blessing, the Pope called for “the creation of humanitarian aid corridors, the opening of diplomacy and attention to those who are in situations of great vulnerability”.

He cited UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres’s appeal this past week for a global truce “to focus together on the true fight of our lives” against the coronavirus.

Francis, as he has throughout most of the coronavirus emergency due to bans on public gatherings, addressed the faithful from his private library in the Apostolic Palace, and not from a window overlooking St Peter’s Square as is tradition.

– Spain

Spain says it has hit a new daily record for coronavirus deaths, with 838 fatalities in the last 24 hours for a total of 6,528, the world’s second-highest death count behind Italy.

Sunday’s number is slightly up from Saturday, when 832 people were reported to have died from the virus.

Virus Outbreak Spain
Health workers applaud in support of the medical staff at La Paz hospital in Madrid, Spain (Manu Fernandez/AP)

The number of infections rose by more than 6,500 from Saturday to Sunday for a new total of 78,797. The rate of that increase in infections, however, continues to decrease.

Spain has been in lockdown for two weeks under a national state of emergency.

Prime minister Pedro Sanchez’s Cabinet will approve on Sunday a new decree to tighten those controls and impede workers from commuting to work in all industries unrelated to health care and food production and distribution, for two weeks.

– Australia

Australia has announced that public gatherings will be limited to two people, down from 10, and has enacted a six-month moratorium on evictions for those who cannot pay their rent.

Prime minister Scott Morrison announced the new measures on Sunday night after earlier in the day flagging a 1.1 billion Australian dollar (£546 million) welfare package.

Australia had 3,966 confirmed cases of the virus as of Sunday, including 16 deaths.

– India

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi apologised to the public on Sunday for imposing a three-week national lockdown.

“I apologise for taking these harsh steps that have caused difficulties in your lives, especially the poor people,” Mr Modi said in his monthly address, broadcast by state radio. “I know some of you will be angry with me. But these tough measures were needed to win this battle.”

Virus Outbreak India
An Indian migrant worker carries a child on his shoulders as they wait for transportation to their village following the lockdown (Altaf Qadri/AP)

The unprecedented lockdown order, which came into effect on Wednesday to keep India’s 1.3 billion people at home for all but essential trips, is meant to prevent the spread of the virus from surging and overwhelming India’s already strained healthcare system.

Health officials have confirmed 867 cases of coronavirus, including 25 deaths. Experts have said local spreading is inevitable in a country where tens of millions of people live in dense urban areas in cramped conditions with irregular access to clean water.

The lockdown has caused tens of thousands of people, mostly young male day labourers but also families, to flee their New Delhi homes, and has effectively put millions of Indians who live off daily earnings out of work.

– Sweden

The coronavirus pandemic is not keeping Swedes at home. The Swedish authorities have advised the public to practise social distancing and to work from home, if possible, and urged those over age 70 to self-isolate as a precaution.

“Sweden is an outlier on the European scene, at least,” said Johan Giesecke, the country’s former chief epidemiologist and now adviser to the Swedish Health Agency, a government body. “And I think that’s good.”

Virus Outbreak Sweden
The streets of Sweden’s capital are quiet but not deserted (David Keyton/AP)

Prime minister Stefan Lofven, warning of “many tough weeks and months ahead,” announced Friday that as of Sunday, gatherings would be limited to 50 people instead of 500. The government said weddings, funerals and Easter celebrations would be affected.

For now, the Swedish government maintains that citizens can be trusted to exercise responsibility for the greater good and will stay at home if they experience any Covid-19 symptoms.

– New Zealand

New Zealand has reported its first death from Covid-19. Health authorities said Sunday the victim was a woman in her 70s.

She was admitted to a West Coast hospital last week with what they initially thought was flu, and hospital staff did not wear full protective equipment.

As a result, 21 members of staff have been put in self-isolation for two weeks.

The country has reported 514 cases of Covid-19. Last Wednesday, New Zealanders began a strict four-week lockdown.

– China

The city at the centre of China’s coronavirus outbreak has reopened tube trains and long-distance train services in another step towards ending restrictions that confined millions of people to their homes.

Virus Outbreak China
China is allowing people who were under lockdown in Hubei to leave the province at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak (Ng Han Guan/AP))

Passengers in Wuhan in the central province of Hubei had to wear masks and be checked for fever after service resumed Saturday, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

It said signs were posted telling passengers to sit with empty seats between them.

Most access to Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, was suspended on January 23.  The last controls that block residents of Wuhan from leaving Hubei are due to be lifted on April 8.

Meanwhile, the first cargo train to Europe since the start of the outbreak left for Germany on Saturday carrying car parts, electronic productions, optical communication fibre and medical supplies, Xinhua reported.

– Brazil

Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro has staked out the most deliberately dismissive position of any major world leader, calling the coronavirus pandemic a momentary, minor problem and saying strong measures to contain it are unnecessary.

Mr Bolsonaro called it “a little flu” and said state governors’ aggressive measures to halt the disease were crimes.

Virus Outbreak Brazil
A volunteer carries supplies to be distributed in the Rocinha slum of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Leo Correa/AP)

Mr Bolsonaro said he feels Brazilians’ natural immunity will protect the nation.

“The Brazilian needs to be studied. He doesn’t catch anything. You see a guy jumping into sewage, diving in, right? Nothing happens to him. I think a lot of people were already infected in Brazil, weeks or months ago, and they already have the antibodies that help it not proliferate,” Mr Bolsonaro said.

“I’m hopeful that’s really a reality.”

– Pakistan

Pakistan has said the number of people testing positive for Covid-19 is increasing, raising the country’s total number of confirmed patients to 1,495.

Health authorities also report another death of a man in the country’s commercial hub, Karachi, increasing the death toll to 12.

A breakout shows the largest Punjab province has 557 patients, and southern Sindh province has 469.

Southwestern Baluchistan, which borders Iran and Afghanistan, has 133, and Khyber Pakhtukhwa, which borders Afghanistan, has 188. The Gilgit Baltistan region has 107 patients, while the federal capital, Islamabad, has 39. Pakistan controlled Kashmir has two confirmed cases.

The count shows there is an increase of 87 cases, with seven of the patients stated to be in critical condition.

Germany Virus Outbreak
Angela Merkel during the recording of her first direct TV address to the nation (Bundesregierung/Steffen Kugler/AP)

– Germany

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in her first address to the nation on the coronavirus pandemic, calmly appealed to citizens’ reason and discipline to slow the spread of the virus.

She acknowledged, as a woman who grew up in communist East Germany, how difficult it is to give up freedoms, yet as a trained scientist emphasised that the facts do not lie.

Then she popped into her local supermarket to pick up food, wine and toilet paper to take back to her Berlin apartment.

For her, it was a regular shopping trip, but photos snapped by someone at the grocery shop were shared worldwide as a reassuring sign of calm leadership amid a global crisis.

By Press Association

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