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Coronavirus latest: US death toll crosses 3,000

  • March 31, 2020
  • Over 780,000 COVID-19 cases have been reported worldwide, with more than 37,000 deaths
  • The US death toll crossed 3,000 and the country has over 163,000 confirmed cases
  • Spain has banned funeral ceremonies amid the health crisis
  • Human testing on a coronavirus vaccine will begin in September

Updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC/GMT)

02:39 Here is the latest from across Latin America:

Panama: Under new quarantine rules, Panama will separate citizens by gender. Men would be allowed to go out to supermarkets and pharmacies on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, while women would be able to buy supplies on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Nobody will be allowed out on Sunday. The government has also limited the duration of the outing to two hours. The new measures are set to go into effect on Wednesday and last for 15 days. Latest figures: 1,075 infections, 27 deaths, 9 recovered.

Mexico: The government of Mexico declared a health emergency as the number of infections topped 1,000 on Monday. The officials also announced the lockdown measures will stay in place until the end of April, and cut down the maximum size of public gatherings from 100 to 50 people. At the same time, the country’s Health Ministry said people residing in the country would gradually return to work after April 30. Latest figures: 1,094 infections, 28 deaths, at least 35 recovered.

Brazil: President Jair Bolsonaro slammed self-isolation and other measures declared by local authorities as harmful to the economy. “You can’t impose any more quarantine than there already is,” he told Rede TV. Bolsonaro previously compared the coronavirus to a “little flu,” ignored appeals from health officials by meeting groups of his supporters, and warned that stricter measures could push the country toward “chaos.”

On Monday, opposition leaders called for Bolsonaro’s resignation over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. “Enough is enough,” about a dozen of the president’s rivals said in an open letter. “He is committing crimes, spreading false information, lying and inciting chaos.”  Latest figures from the country: 4,630 infections, 163 deaths, 120 recovered.

To understand how the Brazilian president polarizes public opinion over the COVID-19 pandemic, read this piece: Bolsonaro polarizes Brazil with lax coronavirus response

Venezuela: The authorities in Venezuela have been “90% effective” when it comes to containing the coronavirus pandemic, said President Nicolas Maduro. However, he warned the outbreak could still spread through local communities. In the next two weeks, the country should “definitely break the chain of contagion” and then move toward relative normality, he said on Twitter. Latest figures: 135 infections, 3 deaths, 39 recovered.

Ecuador: With the coronavirus spreading rapidly in Ecuador, the government has pledged to improve collection of dead bodies after complaints from the residents. Ecuador is under strict quarantine and curfew measures. Some residents of the country’s most populous city, Guayaquil, complained that the strict lockdown prevents them from disposing of their relatives’ remains, forcing them to keep the bodies at home. Latest figures: 1,966 infections, 62 deaths, 3 recovered.

El Salvador: Thousands of people queued up in San Salvador on Monday, in spite of a lockdown order, to seek subsidies promised by the government. Police used pepper spray to disperse the crowds, Previously, the government pledged to give $300 per household to people working informal jobs, such as house cleaners and street vendors, amid the coronavirus crisis. Latest figures: 30 infections, 0 deaths, 0 recovered.

02:10  Finance ministers and central bankers of the Group of 20 major economies will hold a second round of virtual talks on Tuesday to push ahead the coronavirus response, said Saudi Arabia, which currently holds the group’s rotating presidency. 

G20 leaders last week pledged a “united front” in the fight against the pandemic, saying they were injecting $5 trillion (€4.5 trillion) into the global economy to head off forecasts of a deep recession. 

01:20 The World Bank says economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region will take a hit this year on account of the massive public health crisis unleashed by the novel coronavirus. Under a worse-case scenario, the region could suffer its sharpest downturn since a devastating financial crisis more than two decades ago, the bank said. 

The bank’s report projects that growth in the region would slow to 2.1% this year from 5.8% in 2019 under a “baseline” forecast in which economic recovery takes hold this summer.

But under a worse case, in which the adverse effects of the virus spillover into next year, the region’s economy would contract 0.5%, the bank estimates.

In the World Bank’s base case, China, the world’s second-largest economy, would see growth slow from 6.1% last year to 2.3% this year. In the worse-case scenario, growth in China would come to a near halt with a tiny 0.1% gain. 

Read more:  Will coronavirus spark a wave of food nationalism?

00:42 The US military announced the first death of a service member due to the coronavirus. The disease claimed the life of a New Jersey Army National Guardsman who was hospitalized on March 21.

“Today is a sad day for the Department of Defense as we have lost our first American service member — active, reserve or Guard — to coronavirus,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in a statement, without providing more information on the victim. 

“This is a stinging loss for our military community, and our condolences go out to his family, friends, civilian co-workers and the entire National Guard community.”

Hours before announcing the guardsman’s death, the Pentagon said that 568 troops have so far tested positive for the virus, more than double the number declared on Thursday.

Over 450 Defense Department’s civilian employees, contractors and dependents have also tested positive.

00:15 Spain banned funeral ceremonies amid the coronavirus crisis, including vigils attended by friends and family in private homes, regardless of the cause of death. Under the orders announced on Monday, up to three people are allowed to attend a burial or a cremation. The attendees would also be required to maintain a safe distance.

Amid a nationwide lockdown, the government said that “religious celebrations and civilian funeral ceremonies are postponed until the end of the alert” which is currently set for April 11.

Spain has seen 7,340 coronavirus deaths, more than any other country except Italy, where the death toll stands at 11,591. Italian authorities have already implemented similar measures.

00:05 In Germany, consumer groups warn of online scammers taking advantage of the coronavirus crisis.

The fraudsters “want to take advantage of people’s worries and fears to enrich themselves,” said the head of the Federation of German Consumer Organizations, Klaus Müller.

Some people provide unreliable medical information, while others advertise non-existing online businesses to sell face masks and disinfectants, Müller told Germany’s Funke Medien Gruppe.

“The goods are allegedly in stock, but the payment is only possible in advance,” the activist said. “The goods are never delivered. The operator and the shops are not reachable and the buyers do not get their money back.”

Müller also warns against people trying to make money through price gouging, ramping up the prices of the highly sought-after products.

This includes online traders who “offer a set of toilet paper rolls for €20 ($22) or one liter of disinfectant fluid for €199.”

The coronavirus pandemic has set off a wave of panic-buying in Germany, leading to intermittent shortages of toilet paper and disinfectants.

00:00 Catch up on yesterday’s news here: More than 750,000 cases across the globe 

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

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