March 19, 2020 9:50:14 am
Latest coronavirus (Covid-19) global update today: The global death toll from the novel Coronavirus rose to 8,800 Thursday and the positive cases shot past 200,000 as governments across Europe, North America and Asia rolled out tough measures to put the brakes on the spread of the deadly pandemic. The disease has spread to over 140 countries so far.
However, in a big development, China reported no new local cases of the pandemic on Wednesday, for the first time since the outbreak of the disease. But, the country recorded a spike in infections imported from abroad. There were 34 cases that were brought in from abroad, the biggest daily increase in two weeks, according to the National Health Commission.
China has recorded the highest number of cases at 82,000, followed by Italy at 27,980 and Iran at 16,169 cases. From Belgium to Britain and the United States, governments across the world have imposed lockdown measures, forcing unprecedented social change and sending financial markets into a tailspin.
Malaysia reports 110 new coronavirus cases, total his 900
Malaysia on Thursday reported 110 new coronavirus cases, with the total number of cases increasing to 900. As per the health ministry, as quoted by Reuters, most of the new cases were linked to an religious gathering at a mosque attended by 16,000 people. Also, Malaysia will resort to deploying its army if the public continues to flout the two-week lockdown that the government imposed to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
Russia reports first coronavirus death
Russia said on Thursday a 79-year-old woman with underlying health issues who tested positive for the new coronavirus had died from pneumonia, the country’s first confirmed death resulting from the virus. Russia has reported 147 cases of the coronavirus.
Pakistan coronavirus cases double after pilgrims return from Iran
Pakistan’s coronavirus cases jumped after more pilgrims returning from Iran tested positive for the disease. The nation reported 204 cases on Wednesday from 94 two days ago, according to data by National Institute of Health. About 60% of the cases are people with recent travel history to bordering Iran, the country with the third-highest number of infections, as part of a pilgrimage to holy shrines, according to government data. The jump makes it South Asia’s most affected by the outbreak. Rest of the region has 166 cases with about 90% in India.
Two members of US Congress test positive for coronavirus
Two members of the US House of Representatives, Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida and Ben McAdams of Utah, said on Wednesday they had tested positive for the coronavirus, becoming the first members of Congress known to have contracted the respiratory illness. Diaz-Balart, a Republican, said in a statement he had been self-quarantining in Washington since voting on Friday on the floor of the House of Representatives. He said he had not returned home to South Florida because his wife’s pre-existing conditions put her at exceptionally high risk. The 58-year-old congressman said he developed a fever and headache on Saturday evening and was notified “a short while ago” that he tested positive.
McAdams said in a statement from West Jordan, Utah, that he had developed “mild cold-like” symptoms on Saturday evening after returning from Washington and isolated himself at home on Sunday. He and Diaz-Balart participated in House voting on a coronavirus response bill that went until late on Friday.
McAdams’ symptoms got worse and he took a test at a clinic on Tuesday on his doctor’s instruction. He learned on Wednesday that he had tested positive, the 45-year-old Democrat said. The House is currently in recess and due to return next week.
Donald Trump signs multi-billion coronavirus aid package
US President Donald Trump has signed into law a sweeping multi-billion emergency aid package to help Americans mitigate the adverse economic impact of the fast-spreading coronavirus that has killed over 8,800 people, including nearly 150 in America. The bill, called the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, includes provisions offering paid sick leave for impacted workers and free COVID-19 testing. It also boosts unemployment insurance, food assistance and federal funding for Medicaid as part of an ongoing effort by the US government to combat the rapid spread of the coronavirus pandemic. “Today, I have signed into law H.R. 6201, the ‘Families First Coronavirus Response Act’ (the “Act”). The Act makes emergency supplemental appropriations and other changes to law to help the Nation respond to the coronavirus outbreak,” Trump said in a statement.
US leads huge economic fightback against virus, EU shuts borders
To fight against the global economic havoc wreaked by coronavirus, the United States and Britain have led a multi-billion-dollar global fightback as the European Union shut its borders to travellers from outside for 30 days to stem the pandemic’s ferocious spread. The sweeping measures, never before seen in peacetime, have upended society worldwide and roiled financial markets on fears of a global recession.
New Zealand shuts border to all foreigners to curb spread of coronavirus
New Zealand shuts border to all foreigners to curb spread of coronavirus New Zealand closed its borders to all foreigners from midnight on Thursday, as it stepped up efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus in the country. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told a press conference that citizens and permanent residents can still return, but their options are running out as many commercial airlines are cancelling flights. “I’m not willing to tolerate risk at our borders,” Ardern told a media conference. “Today’s decision stops any tourist, or temporary visa holder such as students or temporary workers, from coming to and entering into New Zealand,” the prime minister said. New Zealand so far has 28 cases of coronavirus infection, but no deaths.
What is the current situation in China
With no new cases reported Wednesday, the Health Commission of the Hubei Province said the total confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus disease in Wuhan and Hubei remained at 50,005 and 67,800 respectively. The NHC said with 34 confirmed cases from the people arriving from abroad, the number of imported cases in China rose to 189. Of the 34,, 21 were reported in Beijing, nine in the Guangdong Province, two in Shanghai, one in the Heilongjiang Province and one in the Zhejiang Province, it said. China so far has reported a total of 80,928 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 of which 3,245 died, while 70,420 patients were discharged after treatment.
Australian shares drop as virus fears eclipse support packages
Australian shares closed 3% lower at a more than four-year low on Thursday, as an emergency stimulus package by the country’s central bank failed to ease worries about the coronavirus’ economic blow. The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) cut its cash rate to a record low of 0.25%, as widely expected, and launched quantitative easing for the first time. But with most of the sectors ending in negative territory, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index declined 3.4% to 4,782.90 at the close of trade. It has lost nearly 26 per cent of its value this month. “Until the spread of the coronavirus starts to plateau and there are any signs of improvement, or a vaccine … we’re going to see this period of volatility we have been experiencing, regardless of all this action from the central bank,” said Stephen Daghlian, market analyst at CommSec.
Oil rockets nearly 20% as investors hail coronavirus stimulus spending
Oil prices surged as much as nearly 20 per cent on Thursday, bouncing back from days of heavy losses in a relief rally that may yet be short-lived, analysts warned, but which was stoked by economic stimulus efforts to ward off a global coronavirus recession. Brent crude was up $2.10, or 8 per cent, at $26.98 a barrel by 0028 GMT after tumbling 13% on Wednesday in a third day of relentless selling. US oil gained $3.44, or 17 per cent, to $23.81 a barrel after slumping nearly 25 per cent in the previous session.
Coronavirus outbreak: How businesses, markets, industries weathering the impact
Indonesian president wants coronavirus testing to be ramped up
Indonesia needs to immediately widen its testing for coronavirus to ensure detection of more infections, President Joko Widodo said on Thursday. “I ask that the number of testing kits and the number of test centres are increased and we get more hospitals involved,” he said. On Wednesday, the Southeast Asian nation saw its biggest daily jump of 55 infections, for a total of 227 cases.
South Korea posted a jump in new coronavirus cases on Thursday, reversing days of slowing infections after a new outbreak emerged in a nursing home in the hardest-hit city of Daegu. The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 152 new cases, taking the national tally to 8,565.
The country had recorded fewer than 100 new infections for four days in a row until Wednesday. Among the new cases, 97 are from Daegu, southeast of Seoul, where the KCDC said at least 74 patients at a nursing home have tested positive for the virus this week.
Cases in India spike to 166
Meanwhile, in India, the number of positive cases jumped to 166 on Thursday. While Mumbai reported two fresh cases this morning, taking the total number of patients in Maharashtra to 47, in Tamil Nadu, authorities have identified what they call is a “domestic case.” Prime Minister Narendra Modi will today address the nation to talk about steps being taken against the virus. India is also looking at expanding the pool of random testing samples for COVID-19 to include patients with atypical pneumonia, which presents symptoms slightly different from pneumonia.
What is happening in Singapore
Singapore, a tiny city-state of less than 6 million people, had one of the earliest and biggest clusters of cases of the coronavirus in early February, before it began its rapid, inexorable expansion around the globe. Within weeks, the country’s tally of infections with the highly contagious virus that causes COVID-19 was overtaken by skyrocketing caseloads in South Korea, several European countries and the U.S.
Some strategies are proving more effective than others in containing the pandemic: pro-active efforts to track down and isolate the infected, access to basic, affordable public health care, and clear, reassuring messaging from leaders. East Asia’s experience with the 2003 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, which also originated in China, has likewise helped.
Singapore’s first case, confirmed on Jan. 23, was a 66-year-old man from Wuhan, the Chinese city where the disease was first detected in December.
Iran’s supreme leader to pardon 10,000 prisoners, including political ones
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will pardon 10,000 prisoners including political ones in honour of the Iranian new year on Friday, state TV reported. “Those who will be pardoned will not return to jail almost half of those security-related prisoners will be pardoned as well,” judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili told state TV on Wednesday. On Tuesday, Esmaili said Iran had temporarily freed about 85,000 people from jail, including political prisoners, in response to the coronavirus epidemic.
Over 400 non-residents stranded in Panama after attending a music festival
Between 400 and 500 nonresidents are stranded in Panama after attending a music festival, with many of them being quarantined at the concert site near the Caribbean beach of Playa Chiquita. Organizer James Baker of Manchester, England said those attending the event, called Tribal Gathering, included people from Spain, Canada, the United States, Denmark, France, Great Britain, and Hungary, as well as Costa Rica, Colombia, Chile and Mexico. Baker said authorities in Panama had instituted a requirement that all those seeking to leave had to prove they had been in Panama for at least 14 days amid the new coronavirus outbreak. Most of the estimated 2,300 attendees at the event, which ran from Feb. 29 to March 15, have been able to leave. But Baker said Wednesday that many of the remaining festival goers and staff may need help getting back to their home countries due to flight and transport cancellations related to the outbreak.
Australia’s largest airline announces it will suspend all international flights
Australia’s largest airline has announced it will suspend all international flights and stand down two-thirds of its 30,000 work force in response to the new coronavirus. Qantas’ announcement on Thursday follows plans announced on Tuesday to cut 90% of international passenger seats and 60% of domestic capacity. Qantas said the suspension won’t take effect until late March as the airline repatriates Australians following the government’s advice to its citizens on Wednesday not to travel anywhere overseas. Qantas subsidiary Jetstar will also suspend all international flights. Jetstar Japan and Jetstar Pacific have already stopped flying while Jetstar Asia will be grounded from March 23.
Scientists in China report disappointing results from first study completed on treatment
Scientists in China are reporting disappointing results from the first study completed on a potential COVID-19 treatment. A combination of two antiviral drugs that are used now to treat HIV _ lopinavir and ritonavir _ did not resolve symptoms quicker than usual care did. The study involving 199 hospitalised, severely ill patients was published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine. However, “intriguing“ signs were seen in some other results. There were slightly fewer deaths among those given the drugs but the comparison group that received just usual care also was sicker, making this information hard to interpret, two editors wrote in an editorial in the journal. Many other medicines are still being tested in various experiments including remdesivir, an experimental antiviral drug that has shown some promise against viruses similar to the one causing COVID-19.
Poland’s lab suspends test for coronavirus after employee tests positive
Poland’s biggest laboratory that is testing for coronavirus infections says it has suspended activity after one of its scientific employees tested positive for the virus. The employee was not involved in the diagnostic process. The head of the PZH laboratory in Warsaw, Grzegorz Juszczyk said in a statement Wednesday that people who recently had contact with the employee are being submitted to a quarantine and are waiting for the results of their own tests. Juszczyk said that three other laboratories in Warsaw are ensuring continuous testing, and there are other laboratories elsewhere in the country. The PZH laboratory will resume work as soon as possible, he said. A nation of 38 million, Poland has confirmed 287 cases of infection with coronavirus. Five of the patients have died.
Coronavirus cases in NYC near 2,000 as testing expands
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York provided new numbers on Wednesday that showed 2,382 people in the state had tested positive for the coronavirus, an increase of more than 1,000 since Tuesday. Mayor Bill de Blasio said later in the day that 1,871 people in New York City had tested positive, compared with 814 on Tuesday. Cuomo attributed much of the jump to an increase in testing. Of the 14,597 people to be tested so far, nearly 5,000 were tested on Tuesday.
UK braces for coronavirus shut down as London stations close
Britain is bracing for the virtual shut down of London as underground train stations across the capital closed and Prime Minister Boris Johnson mulled tougher measures to tackle the coronavirus crisis. As the COVID-19 outbreak sweeps across the world, governments, companies and investors are grappling with the biggest public health crisis since the 1918 influenza pandemic, panicked populations and imploding financial markets.
After ordering the closure of schools across a country that casts itself as a pillar of Western stability, Johnson on Wednesday said the government was ruling nothing out when asked whether he would bring in measures to lock down London.
Ebola-hit West African nations on alert amid coronavirus pandemic
People in the West African countries of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone are ramping up their efforts for a potential coronavirus outbreak, with many worried they will see a repeat of the chaos and misinformation associated with the 2014 – 2016 Ebola outbreak.
Although the virus has not yet hit the continent as hard as other parts of the world such as Europe, the World Health Organization (WHO) has expressed concern over the vulnerability of resource-poor countries with weak health systems. The 2014 – 2016 Ebola outbreak in West Africa highlighted serious flaws in emergency response systems, with the epidemic ultimately claiming over 11,000 lives by the time the outbreak was officially declared over. READ MORE
(With inputs from Associated Press, Reuters, Deutsche Welle)
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