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Coronavirus: The latest updates from around the world

Governments are tackling the pandemic which has killed more than 8,000 people worldwide.

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A worker sprays disinfectant at a pelican enclosure at a reptile park in Jakarta, Indonesia (AP)

A worker sprays disinfectant at a pelican enclosure at a reptile park in Jakarta, Indonesia (AP)

A worker sprays disinfectant at a pelican enclosure at a reptile park in Jakarta, Indonesia (AP)

The coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 8,000 people worldwide.

More than 82,000 people have recovered so far, mostly in China.

HEALTH Coronavirus
(PA Graphics)

Here are the latest updates from countries around the world:

– FRANCE

In an unprecedented move during peacetime, the army has started evacuating critical coronavirus patients from eastern France, the country’s worst-hit region.

Defence minister Florence Parly said six patients were being transferred on a military plane to ease the pressure on the hospitals of Mulhouse and Colmar. They were being moved to military hospitals in southern France. The transfer is expected to be the first of several.

On Monday, President Emmanuel Macron announced that a makeshift army hospital will be constructed in eastern France, housing around 30 intensive care beds.

France is Europe’s third worst-hit country in terms of fatalities from Covid-19. Health authorities report at least 7,730 confirmed cases, including 175 who have died.

– GREECE

Authorities have imposed movement restrictions for migrants and refugees at camps on islands near the Turkish coast as part of public safety measures for the pandemic.

Migrants at camps on Lesbos and four other islands will only be allowed to visit towns on the islands in small groups and for limited periods, the Migration Affairs Ministry said. The ministry said it was also speeding up plans to build detention facilities on the islands or convert existing sites.

Although no infections have been confirmed at the camps, severe conditions of overcrowding and ongoing arrivals are a major source of concern for Greek authorities.

The new restrictions, valid for 30 days, mean that many charity group workers will not be allowed access to the camps.

– PHILIPPINES

President Rodrigo Duterte has declared a unilateral ceasefire with communist guerrillas to focus on fighting the outbreak which has prompted him to place the northern third of the country under quarantine.

He is ordering the military and police to stop offensives against New People’s Army guerrillas during the ceasefire, which is to start Thursday and end on April 15. The government urged the Marxist guerrillas to respond with their own ceasefire so health workers and medical supplies can move unimpeded.

– SOUTH AFRICA

South Africa has become Africa’s new coronavirus focus of concern as cases have nearly doubled to 116 from two days before. The country with the most cases in sub-Saharan Africa says 14 of the new ones were from local transmission – and six were in children under 10.

– UKRAINE

More than 35,000 Ukrainians are stranded abroad awaiting evacuation, infrastructure minister Vladyslav Krykliy said. He asked the government to allocate £3.3 million for flights to bring them back home. Earlier this week 175 flights brought more than 33,000 back home.

– RUSSIA

Authorities are working to help tens of thousands of Russian tourists facing difficulties returning home. According to Russia’s state tourism watchdog Rosturizm, there are 100,000 still abroad.

More than 1,000 found themselves trapped in Montenegro after its air space was closed, and the situation is “difficult” in Latin America and Moldova as well.

– IRAN

President Hassan Rouhani defended his government’s response to the outbreak in the face of of widespread criticism that officials acted too slowly and may have even covered up initial cases before infections rapidly spread.

Firefighters disinfect a street in western Tehran
Firefighters disinfect a street in western Tehran (Vahid Salemi/AP)

Iran has been the hardest hit country in the region. Another 147 have died, pushing the death toll to 1,135 in the biggest 24-hour rise yet, making up roughly 90% of the over 18,000 confirmed cases in the Middle East. Its leadership announced Tuesday that “millions” could die if people keep travelling and ignore health guidance.

Mr Rouhani said the government had been “straightforward” with the nation and announced the outbreak as soon as it learned about it on February 19.

– ISRAEL

The Health Ministry said 90 more people had tested positive, bringing the country’s overall number to 427, a day after authorities issued a new series of guidelines that put Israelis in near-shutdown mode.

Israel has ordered tens of thousands into home quarantine, turned hotels into hospitals and is setting up drive-through testing centres.

A food market in Tel Aviv
A food market in Tel Aviv (Oded Balilty/AP)

In a nationwide address, PM Benjamin Netanyahu warned of catastrophic consequences if people do not follow safety instructions. “This is a huge crisis. We are only at the start of the campaign.”

Most controversially, the Israeli government has instructed the Shin Bet internal security service to start deploying phone surveillance technology to help curb the spread of the coronavirus by tracking the moves of the infected.

– IRAQ

A week-long curfew came into effect in Baghdad where streets were largely empty of people and cars, and most shops were closed. Only pedestrians were allowed on the streets to buy food and medicine.

Armed police were seen patrolling the city and setting up roadblocks. Some pilgrims defied the curfew to observe the annual Shiite Muslim commemoration of the death of Imam Mousa al-Kazim.

Demonstrators in Tahrir Square, the hub of Iraq’s anti-government protest movement, issued a statement that they were suspending protests to help stop the spread of the virus. Iraq has had 11 deaths among 154 confirmed cases of the virus.

Shiite pilgrims in Baghdad
Shiite pilgrims in Baghdad (Hadi Mizban/AP)

– EGYPT

Authorities are closing shops to encourage people to stay at home. Coffee shops and restaurants were closed in Cairo, a city of more than 20 million, while plain-clothed security forces urged people to go home.

– RUSSIA

Authorities are closing all of the country’s schools for three weeks starting next Monday.

Russian education officials said it would be an extended spring break, with the opportunity to continue studies remotely.

Russia has so far reported 114 confirmed cases of the new virus. The country’s government has taken vast measures to prevent the disease from spreading, including closing the borders to foreigners starting from Wednesday and ordering coronavirus testing for everyone who returned from European countries in the last 14 days.

Authorities in different Russian regions imposed restrictions on public events and recommended that people work and study from home. Last week, Moscow officials announced the closing of all schools in the city and banned gatherings of more than 50 people.

The Eiffel Tower
In France, people are only allowed to leave their homes for necessary activities such as shopping for food, going to work or taking a walk (AP)

– SOUTH AFRICA

The country has 116 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, nearly double the number announced two days ago.

Fourteen of the new cases are from local transmission, a worrying development in the country, which has the most cases in sub-Saharan Africa.

South Africa is one of the world’s most unequal countries, and authorities are rushing to prevent the spread of the virus to teeming low-income neighborhoods and crowded public transport.

Six of the newly announced cases are children under 10. Authorities in Gauteng, the province that includes the commercial hub of Johannesburg, say family members of a woman and her daughter who tested positive fled quarantine, but were tracked down by police.

Queues at the Hungarian border
Romanian and Bulgarian cars queue to cross the border from Hungary for Romania at the border station of Nagylak (AP)

– KYRGYZSTAN

The country has reported its first three cases of the virus.

Kyrgyz health officials said the three men diagnosed with the virus had returned from Saudi Arabia recently.

The infected men, along with 90 people who arrived in Kyrgyzstan on the same flight, are in isolation. Kyrgyz authorities are working to establish who else the men were in contact with.

The government had already taken measures to prevent the disease from spreading in the country. On Monday, all of Kyrgyzstan’s schools and universities were shut down for three weeks. Cinemas, nightclubs, restaurants and cafes with more than 50 seats available are also closed for the time being. All international trains and buses have been cancelled.

Virus outbreak in Malaysia
The Johor-Singapore Causeway lies empty in Johor Bahru, Malaysia (AP)

– SOUTH KOREA

The mayor of the South Korean city worst-hit by the coronavirus says 87 new cases have been discovered from local nursing hospitals, raising concerns about a possible spike in infections after they had waned over the past week.

Daegu mayor Kwon Young-jin said 74 of the cases came from a single hospital and that the 57 patients who were infected would be transferred to other facilities for treatment.

The infections at nursing homes were not fully reflected in national figures announced by South Korea’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC), which said the cases in Daegu rose by 46.

The KCDC says 116 cases and 10 deaths have been linked to a hospital in Cheongdo, near Daegu, where infections surged among patients at a psychiatric ward.

South Korea has confirmed at least 8,413 coronavirus cases, including 84 deaths.

Virus Outbreak Iraq
People cross an empty bridge on the Tigris River in Baghdad (AP)

– SAUDI ARABIA

The leaders of the world’s 20 biggest economies are trying to organise a virtual meeting next week to discuss a coordinated response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Saudi Arabia, which currently leads the G20 presidency, said it is communicating with countries to convene the virtual meeting of leaders.

The kingdom said the G20 will act in any way deemed necessary to alleviate the impact of the pandemic and will put forward a coordinated set of policies to protect people and safeguard the global economy.

Cleaning at a temple in Thailand
A volunteer cleans at Wat Traimit temple in Bangkok (AP)

– CANADA

A government official said Canada and the United States are working out the details of a mutual ban on non-essential travel between the countries.

– TAIWAN

Foreigners have been banned from entering the island.

Chen Shih-zhong, Taiwan’s health minister and commander of the Central Epidemic Epidemic Command Centre, announced the ban that starts on Thursday. Taiwanese people returning home will have to quarantine at their houses for 14 days.

Taiwan has 77 cases of infection with the virus that causes Covid-19.

The outbreak in Paris
A woman walks in a deserted corridor of the metro in Paris (AP)

– UNITED STATES

Hawaii’s governor is encouraging travellers to postpone their island vacations for at least the next 30 days.

The governor is directing bars and clubs to close and for restaurants to focus on takeaways, delivery and drive-through service. He called for gatherings to be limited to a maximum of 10 people.

Officials have closed schools and facilities and postponed events to prevent the disease from spreading widely in the community and overwhelming the healthcare system. Hawaii has recorded 14 cases of the new coronavirus.

Sri Lanka
Sri Lankan commuters wait for transport at a fairly deserted railway station in Colombo (AP)

– NORTH KOREA

Kim Jong Un has admitted the country lacks modern medical facilities in a rare assessment of its system and said improving its health care was “crucial” as he marked the construction of a new hospital.

Mr Kim’s remarks after the groundbreaking for the new hospital in Pyongyang come amid worries that a coronavirus epidemic in the impoverished country could be devastating due its chronic lack of medical supplies and outdated medical infrastructure.

North Korea has engaged in an intense campaign to guard against Covid-19, though it has steadfastly claimed no-one has become ill. Many foreign experts doubt that.

PA