As the death toll due COVID-19 nears 4,300, with over 119,100 infected in at least 114 countries, the epicentre of the outbreak has now shifted to Europe from China, with Italy alone recording 827 deaths so far. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the outbreak a pandemic, pointing to the “alarming levels of spread and severity”. To contain the outbreak, many countries have banned travellers.
Global markets are also facing the brunt of the outbreak and are in the red, underlining the economic damage of the coronavirus. Dow Jones dropped 1,600 points, or 6.4 per cent while Euro Stoxx 50 futures fell over 5 per cent to its lowest level since 2016. Japan’s Nikkei lost 3.3 per cent; Australia’s benchmark fell 3.7 per cent and South Korea’s Kospi crumbled to a four-year low of 2.7 per cent.
In India, the BSE Sensex opened 4.65 per cent lower, falling as much as 1,800 points to 34,038.47. The broader Nifty was trading nearly 500 points lower at 9,964.15, 4.73 per cent fall.
Here is the latest global news on the coronavirus outbreak, and measures taken to tackle its spread. You can also follow our live blog on COVID-19 for the latest news.
US bans travellers from Europe for 30 days
With the exception of the United Kingdom, travellers from across Europe have been barred from entering the US for a period of 30 days. President Donald Trump Wednesday said the new rule would come into effect from Friday midnight. Americans in Europe would be allowed the return after being subject to multiple screenings, he added. The measure has been taken as the European Union has “failed to take the same precautions” as his administration regarding the outbreak of coronavirus.
“This is not a financial crisis. This is just a temporary moment in time that we will overcome as a nation and a world,” Trump said, adding that “(the US) is marshalling the full power of the federal government and the private sector to protect the American people.”
“We have the best economy, the most advanced healthcare, and the most talented doctors, scientists, and researchers anywhere in the world,” Trump added.
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There are more than 1,000 people infected by the virus in the US, including, now, Tom Hands and his wife Rita Wilson.
China records fewer coronavirus cases, but has a new worry
There were 24 new cases of coronavirus in China, where over 81,000 people are already infected and more than 3,000 people have died. Of the fresh cases, five arrived from Italy and one from the US. This poses a new challenge for the country: keeping the virus from re-entering from abroad.
Beijing’s city government has announced that all overseas travellers will be quarantined for 14 days on arrival.
‘Europe is the new China’: The epicentre of coronavirus has shifted
Europe has emerged the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, after cases in China slowed. Italy, which is worst-hit, has recorded 827 deaths and 12,462 infections. Several parts of the country are in lockdown, with restrictions imposed on some 62 million people. The government has announced a $28 billion package to tackle the virus.
“If you want to be blunt, Europe is the new China,” said Robert Redfield, the head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Several other countries in Europe have reported their first deaths due to coronavirus, including Sweden, Ireland, Belgium, Bulgaria and Albania. Spain now has more than 2,000 cases.
In other news, Britain has announced a $39 billion package to combat coronavirus. The Bank of England earlier this week slashed its key interest rate by half a percentage point to 0.25%.
In Germany, where there are 83 million people, German Chancellor Angela Merkel claims up to 70 per cent could test positive for the coronavirus. Till now, there are some 1,300 cases.
In Iran, cases near 10,000 as toll rises to over 350
Iran, also badly affected by coronavirus, has nearly 10,000 cases, including Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri. Iran’s ministers for cultural heritage, handcrafts and tourism, and for industry, mines and business have also infected. Over 350 people have died in the country.
Meanwhile, Kuwait has shut down its country for two-weeks due to the spread of the disease. Saudi Arabia has reported 24 cases, Qatar has 262 cases
Amid the coronavirus outbreak, many are asking whether to pursue a sport that perhaps requires physical contact. Skipping sports is not necessary. That three young students from Kerala, who were evacuated from Wuhan, recovered and went home, showed that being young and fit is an advantage in the battle against coronavirus.
From the world of sports: NBA suspends season
The NBA has suspended its season until further notice after a Utah Jazz player tested positive for the virus. In a statement, it said it would use the hiatus to determine the next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.
In India, there is a question mark over the Indian Premier League (IPL), scheduled to begin on March 29 and the India Badminton Open championship. India’s one-day international matches against South Africa, with the opening game to be played in Dharamsala on Thursday, are likely to be played behind closed doors.
India quarantines itself as cases rise to 60
In India, the government has taken an unprecedented decision to suspend all visas — except diplomatic, official, UN/ international organisations, employment, project visas — till April 15. Visa free travel facility granted to OCI (Overseas Citizenship of India) card holders is also kept in abeyance. The Centre’s move is expected to impact the aviation and tourism sectors.