Coronavirus latest: Nearly a million cases worldwide as US prepares for ‘horrific’ two weeks

  • Global death toll exceeds 47,000 as the number of infections nears one million
  • Germany has prolonged its lockdown measures until at least April 19, with country’s death toll nearing 1,000
  • Both Spain and Italy have more than 100,000 cases
  • The US is preparing to halt all domestic flights

Updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC/GMT)

02:47 Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has stated that parents who require childcare during the coronavirus outbreak will be able to access it without being charged for it, and that centers that look after children will remain open. Morrison also said the spread of COVID-19 in the country was slowing, and that parliament would resume next Wednesday.

Meanwhile, in Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales (NSW), police have revealed that enforcement of restrictions on personal movement would last three months, in light of the PM’s statement about the slowing of the outbreak. “When is the turn-off period for these orders? It is 90 days,” state police commissioner Mick Fuller said in a televised press conference.

After a federal government order limiting social gatherings to two people, Australian states have instructed their authorities to issue financial penalties of up to A$11,000 ($6,672, €6,102) to citizens who violate the restrictions. In NSW, home to almost a third of Australia’s 25 million population, police have also threatened jail terms of up to six months for people who flout the newly imposed restrictions.

02:35 The United States death toll has surpassed the 5,000 mark. Almost half of those deaths have occurred in the state of New York. Data released by Johns Hopkins University showed that 5,116 people had lost their lives so far due to COVID-19. 

02:05 Health workers in Colombia have taken to the streets of Bogota, in ambulances with sirens blazing, to show their support for colleagues and protest at what they believe are unnecessary salary delays amid the country’s COVID-19 outbreak.

The paramedics, doctors and nurses, all of whom were escorted by police, stopped in front of a clinic in the north of the capital to applaud colleagues working inside. There have been more than 1,000 registered coronavirus cases in the Latin American country, and 17 people have died as a result of contracting the disease.

01:46 Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti has asked the city’s people to wear face masks when they leave the house in an effort to combat the spread of SARS-CoV-2.

Garcetti told reporters the masks can be homemade, like a bandana, and don’t have to be N-95, which are needed for medical personnel. The United States’ second most populous city is also stepping up its attempts to get businesses to comply with a “Safer at home order” and will shut off water and power to businesses deemed non-essential if they refuse to stop operating even after being warned.

01:23 The coronavirus has caused the deaths of 884 people over the last 24 hours in the United States, a new one-day record for the country that has by far the highest number of infections in the world, according to data released by the Johns Hopkins University.

That record figure brought the total death toll in the United States to 4,475. Meanwhile, the number of registered cases rose by 25,200 over the same period, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 213,372.

00:59 Germany’s social distancing measures are to remain in place until at least April 19. To read more about what that will entail, click here: Coronavirus: Germany extends social distancing restrictions until April 19

00:54 British Airways (BA) is expected to announce the suspension of 36,000 employees as it grapples with the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. The airline, which has grounded most of its fleet, has been negotiating with the Unite union for over a week. BA and Unite have reached a rough agreement, according to the BBC, but are yet to sign on some of the finer details of the deal.

Many passenger airlines are letting employees go at a record-breaking pace. Some are putting workers on temporary leave, in which they are paid their salaries, thanks partly to government aid, or asked to work shorter hours. Germany’s Lufthansa is putting 27,000 of its 35,000 employees on short hours under a government support program that will ensure they get most of their pay while the pandemic reduces air traffic. In other cases, employees are losing their jobs outright, and are then given priority for medical training programs.

The trend is less pronounced in the United States, where passenger carriers are receiving $50 billion (€45.7 billion) in government funds, under the condition that they do not cut jobs for the next six months. US President Donald Trump, though, has announced he is considering grounding all domestic flights.

00:45 Here is a round up of the latest updates from Latin America: 

Brazil: President Jair Bolsonaro, who has claimed social distancing measures are needlessly damaging Brazil’s economy, has found himself at the center of a row over spreading fake news. Bolsonaro posted a video on Wednesday of a market supposedly hit by shortages caused by the outbreak. But he was forced to take it down hours later after reporters found the same market well stocked. Bolsonaro previously described COVID-19 as a “little flu,” and condemned the reaction to it as “hysteria.” Meanwhile, Brazil’s health minister has described the South American country’s death toll as very worrying.

Latest figures for Brazil: 5,717 cases, 201 deaths, 127 recovered

Chile and Argentina: A Chilean consul in the Argentine city of Rosario has died from COVID-19, Chile’s Foreign Ministry confirmed on Wednesday. Fernando Labra contracted the coronavirus, which led to his hospitalization and isolation in Argentina after he presented symptoms on his return from Chile.

Latest figures:

3,031 cases and 16 deaths in Chile, 234 recovered

1,133 cases, 32 deaths in Argentina, 248 recovered

Mexico: A top diplomat thanked two Chinese charities for donating medical supplies to help stem the coronavirus outbreak in an online message that went viral. “Thank you China!!!” Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard wrote in a Twitter post. Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has previously courted controversy by holding rallies and public addresses, actions that have been criticized by human rights groups.

Latest figures for Mexico: 1,215 cases, 29 deaths, 35 recovered

Ecuador: The mayor of Ecuador’s most populous city revealed that the first of four refrigerated containers had arrived for the storage of corpses that authorities had failed to pick up due to quarantine restrictions. Cynthia Viteri, the mayor of Guayaquil, said that the containers would be used to hold the bodies of citizens who had died at home and in hospitals, both as a result of the coronavirus and of other causes.

Latest Ecuador figures: 2,758 cases, 98 deaths, 58 recovered

00:25 Here’s a recap of the global figures:

932,605 confirmed cases

46,809 deaths

193,177 recovered worldwide

00:00 Catch up on yesterday’s news here: Coronavirus latest: More than 200,000 infections in United States

jsi/sri (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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