Countries across the world are taking measures to halt the spread of coronavirus. It has infected more than 182,000 people across the globe and thousands with the virus have died.
Here are the latest updates:
France’s government is pledging 45 billion euros (£41 billion) in aid for small businesses hurt by the spreading coronavirus.
That is in addition to tens of billions already promised for French employees forced to stop working because of store and restaurant closures and strict new confinement measures.
French finance minister Bruno Le Maire announced the new aid after another dark day for French markets. The makers of Renault, Peugeot and Citroen cars suspended all production and other companies were forced to sharply curtail activity to stem the virus’ spread.
The aid will include tax breaks and a “solidarity fund” for struggling small businesses across the economy.
France now has more than 6,600 cases of the virus, including 148 deaths.
A third Australian government politician has tested positive for the coronavirus ahead of the planned resumption of parliament next week following a scheduled two-week break.
New South Wales state senator Andrew Bragg said that he had suffered flu-like symptoms and tested positive for the virus after attending a friend’s wedding on March 6. Authorities said at least six wedding guests have contracted the virus.
Queensland state senator Susan McDonald said she tested positive on Monday after becoming unwell on Friday evening. Home affairs minister Peter Dutton, who is also from Queensland, tested positive after showing symptoms a day earlier. Mr Dutton has since been discharged from the hospital but remains in isolation at home. Ms McDonald was admitted to a hospital on Monday, which is standard procedure in Queensland regardless of the severity of symptoms. Mr Bragg is expected to self-isolate at home.
Thank you @FIFAcom friends: Arsene Wegner, Mauricio Pochettino, @CaseyStoney, Aliou Cisse, Jose Mourinho, Jill Ellis, Giani Innfantino, for such great support to @WHO in the fight against #COVID19! Only with solidarity, acting as one, can we kick out #coronavirus! https://t.co/HpnLMzXHIK— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) March 17, 2020
Politicians have been told to bring the minimum staff back to the national capital, Canberra, when Parliament resumes to legislate an economic stimulus package meant to stave off a recession due to the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak.
Also, Australia’s highest court has decided not to sit as a full bench to hear cases until at least August because of the coronavirus. The High Court announced on Tuesday that hearings that were to be heard by what is known as a full bench of seven or five judges will be postponed starting next week.
– SOUTH KOREA
South Korea has further postponed the beginning of the new school year by two weeks to protect students from the spread of the coronavirus.
Education minister Yoo Eun-hye said that schools nationwide would now reopen on April 6, which is five weeks later than usual. It was the third time the country has delayed the start of new school terms amid the Covid-19 outbreak.
The Education Ministry is also looking closely into the rise of infections among people under the age of 19, which rose from 379 on March 7 to 505 on March 14.
Wuhan, the city at the centre of China’s coronavirus outbreak, recorded just one new case on Tuesday as officials said they believed the country was over the worst of the crisis. Another 20 cases were recorded around the country, including nine in Beijing. All were reported among people who arrived from overseas.
Beijing has required all arrivals to undergo 14 days of quarantine but has not closed its borders. Other Chinese cities have adopted similar measures, even as authorities work to restart industries that are key to global supply chains.
With foreign universities closing classes, thousands of Chinese people studying overseas are seeking to return home, shifting the focus from domestic containment to preventing infected people from bringing the virus back with them.
Wuhan has closed emergency field hospitals and state broadcaster CCTV on Tuesday reported the nation is now counting down to its final domestic cases. With the infection still growing overseas, China has sent personal protective gear and medical experts to Italy, Iran and other nations grappling with the epidemic.
– SRI LANKA
Sri Lanka said it will add more quarantine centres to help fight coronavirus in the Indian Ocean island nation.
Army commander Lt Gen Shavendra Silva said that 23 army vacation bungalows will be used as quarantine centres for a group of travellers who arrived recently from London.
The government, meanwhile, said it has imposed new measures to limit gatherings.
Sri Lanka has confirmed 28 cases of the virus, with no deaths so far.
Even one child dying from #COVID19 is one child too many.— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) March 16, 2020
We must protect vulnerable populations, incl. children, from infection by aggressive efforts to reduce transmission. This includes test all suspect cases, isolate & care for cases and quarantine contacts.#coronavirus
– UNITED STATES
President Donald Trump insists the US can be “rolling again” quickly after the coronavirus outbreak if “we do this right”.
A day earlier, Mr Trump urged the American public to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people. He also urged the elderly to stay at home and practice social distancing for the next couple of weeks.
The US president said Americans’ public health and the US economy can be protected through what he says are “shared sacrifices” and “temporary changes”.
The president added that, “if we do this right, our country and the world frankly, but our country, can be rolling again pretty quickly”.
Across the United States, more than 4,660 people have been infected by the Covid-19 virus and 95 people have died.
India said it will bar all passengers — including Indian citizens — from entering the country on flights from the European Union, Turkey and the UK beginning on Wednesday.
According to a statement issued by India’s aviation regulator, travellers coming from or transiting through the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar will be required to undergo a 14-day quarantine when they arrive.
Arrivals from China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, France, Spain and Germany are already subject to similar restrictions, while many border points with neighbouring Pakistan, Bangladesh and Burma have been shut.
India’s tourist ministry announced this week that it is shutting down the Taj Mahal, its famous “monument of love”, to visitors.
Germany has launched a drive to bring home thousands of tourists stranded in popular winter vacation spots across the globe — particularly people on package holidays in Morocco, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines, the Maldives and Egypt.
Foreign minister Heiko Maas said the government is spending up to 50 million euros on the effort to bring Germans home over the coming days in co-operation with airlines including Lufthansa.
He did not give a precise number of stranded Germans but said there was a particularly large number in Morocco, with around 4,000 or 5,000. He said that “even if we will do everything humanly possible, we cannot in every case provide a solution within 24 hours”.
He said his ministry has issued a formal warning against tourist travel to any country.
Meanwhile, Germany’s Volkswagen said it will close most of its European plants for two weeks due to uncertainty about demand for cars and supplies of parts amid the outbreak.
Turkey is bringing home more than 3,600 of its citizens who have been stranded in nine European countries after the government suspended flights to 20 destinations over the coronavirus outbreak.
Foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the citizens will be returned to Turkey later in the day, on board 34 Turkish Airlines flights.
He said the returnees will be placed in quarantine for 14 days in Istanbul and in the nearby city of Kocaeli.
The number of deaths has jumped from 309 to 491 in 24 hours and new infections have risen to 11,178, nearly 2,000 more than a day earlier.
The numbers were reported by Spain’s health emergency centre director, Fernando Simon. With a population of 46 million, Spain has surpassed South Korea’s infection total and edged closer to Iran’s.
Spanish police started enforcing land border checks on Tuesday after the country, which is already under strict lockdown measures, banned people from entering or exiting the country in an attempt to contain the spread of the illness.
At the La Jonquera border, a key crossing point for trucks from and to France in north-eastern Spain, masked agents of Spain’s national and Catalan regional police stopped cars and trucks, checked documents and redirected some of the vehicles back to France.
Spanish citizens and residents are allowed to return home, and goods are allowed in and out.
Health officials have ordered coronavirus testing for everyone who returned from European countries in the last 14 days.
The decree released by the country’s public health watchdog also outlines mandatory testing for everyone who returned from abroad in the past month and exhibited flu-like symptoms.
Previously, testing in Russia has been limited to people who showed symptoms and either returned from countries severely affected by the pandemic or had contact with those who had already been diagnosed with the virus.
The measure is one of the many Russian authorities took this week to tackle the spread of Covid-19 in the country, which has reported 93 cases.
On Monday, the cabinet announced that Russia’s borders would be closed to all foreigners starting on Wednesday. Authorities in different Russian regions imposed restrictions on public events and recommended people should work and study from home.
In Moscow, all schools will be closed from Saturday and all mass gatherings of more than 50 people are banned.
City authorities also require travellers from all European countries along with the United States, the UK and Russia’s ex-Soviet neighbours Ukraine and Belarus to self-isolate for 14 days upon return.
Ontario, Canada’s largest province, has declared a state of emergency.
State premier Doug Ford said all organised events of over 50 people are prohibited.
Mr Ford added that all restaurants and bars will be closed except for takeaways or delivery. Grocery stores, chemists, corner shops and public transit will remain open.
Schools, child care centres and theatres are also closed in Canada’s most populous province.
He said no expense will be spared to support Ontarians in need.