Coronavirus latest: US health chief warns of ‘9/11 moment’

  • US Surgeon General warns of the “hardest” and “saddest” week of most Americans’ lives
  • Spain sees its third consecutive daily decline in deaths; Italy’s daily fatality rate is the lowest in two weeks
  • Greece puts a second migrant camp in quarantine
  • Australia opens criminal investigation into why sick cruise ship passengers were allowed to disembark in Sydney

Updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC/GMT)

18:40 Scotland’s top medical expert was caught ignoring her own advice on staying at home during the outbreak. People across the UK slammed Chief Medical Officer Catherine Calderwood after photos of her in the coastal town of Earlsferry were published in The Sun newspaper. Calderwood admitted she visited her second home on Scotland’s east coast over two consecutive weekends, despite urging the public to avoid traveling. “I did not follow the advice I am giving to others,” Calderwood told a news conference. “I am truly sorry for that.”

18:30 Serbian Swiss-born footballer Aleksandar Prijovic has been sentenced to three months in-home detention for flaunting Serbia’s strict lockdown rules. The 29-year-old striker was arrested with more than a dozen partygoers at a hotel in Belgrade on Friday. He pleaded guilty to breaking the emergency order which bans gathering of groups larger than five.

Prijovic, who plays for Al Ittihad in Saudi Arabia and the Serbian national team, is the second famous footballer to face punishment over isolation rules in the Balkan nation. Last month, Real Madrid striker Luka Jovic returned to Serbia and then left his mandatory 14-day home quarantine, triggering outrage. The 22-year-old athlete blamed local officials, saying they “did their job unprofessionally and did not give me precise instructions on self-isolation.” He faces a fine and up to three years in jail.

18:20 France has reported 357 coronavirus deaths in hospital, lower than the previous two days, bringing the country’s total death toll to 8,078. The overall tally includes 5,889 patients who died in hospital and 2,189 people in old age homes and other medical facilities, a government statement said.

18:10 Singapore has quarantined 20,000 migrant workers in their dormitories, after linking a number of new coronavirus cases to two buildings. Authorities have reported 120 new infections, by far the largest day-to-day jump since the outbreak reached the city-state. The latest figure mark a 60% percent increase over the previous day, when 75 new cases were registered. The rich Asian country has seen 1,309 infections and six deaths.

17:55 Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, a medical doctor by vocation, has re-registered as a medical practitioner and will be working one shift per week to help the country’s anti-coronavirus effort, his office said on Sunday. The 41-year-old Varadkar has worked as a doctor for several years before entering politics. His decision to return to medicine comes after his government launched a massive recruitment drive among retired or non-practicing health professionals. The country’s Health Service Executive (HSE) said over 70,000 people signaled they were ready to rejoin.

17:45 Police in Australia have opened a criminal investigation into why a cruise ship was allowed to disembark in Sydney, resulting in more than 10% of the country’s total coronavirus cases. The Ruby Princess, owned by British-American cruise operator Carnival, docked in Sydney Harbour on March 19 after 11 days at sea. 

Border and health authorities had allowed some 2,700 passengers to leave with only minimal checks, even though about a dozen passengers showed respiratory symptoms before they disembarked.

Ruby Princess cruise ship (picture-alliance/dpa/AAP/S. Saphore)

The Ruby Princess is now in Botany Bay, but due to dock further south at Port Kembla on Monday

17:30 With another 73 people dying of COVID-19 in Turkey, the country’s death toll has now reached 574. Turkey has also registered 3,135 new cases for a total of 27,069 infections, the country’s Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter. 

After ordering a mandatory confinement order for everyone older than 65 and younger than 20, Turkish authorities revised the decision on Sunday and said seasonal agricultural workers and employees aged 18-20 would be exempt.

17:05 Residents of India turned off their lights and lit candles, lamps, and flashlights in a show of solidarity after Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged them to “challenge the darkness spread by the coronavirus crisis.” The event, on Sunday night, also saw people shout, cheer, and gather at their doors, balconies and windows. The show of solidarity lasted for nine minutes.

Ahmedabad residents light candles and oil lamps (Reuters/A. Dave)

This scene in Ahmedabad was repeated in homes and apartment blocks all over India

16:55 The novel coronavirus responsible for the current pandemic has a good chance of becoming “seasonal,” said Anthony Fauci, one of the most senior figures in the Trump administration’s virus response team. He said it was unlikely that the virus would be completely eradicated this year and that the US could see the “beginning of a resurgence” during the next flu season. Speaking on CBS’s Face the Nation, Fauci also warned that US states without lockdown measures are putting themselves at risk.

16:40 The death toll in Canada has jumped by over 20% in a single day, reaching 258, with 1,502 new infections, bringing the overall total to 14,436 cases. In a bid to partially offset the economic impact of the outbreak, the government is offering full-time jobs to army reservists. Canada has around 31,000 reserve military personnel, with most of them serving one evening a week and one weekend a month. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that bolstering military ranks would also “ensure our communities are well supported.”

16:35 Italy has just recorded its lowest death toll in over two weeks. According to the civil protection service, another 525 have died, taking the overall death toll to 15,887. The number of deaths was the lowest since March 19. “This is good news but we should not let our guard down,” civil protection service chief Angelo Borrelli told reporters. Even so, 91,246 people remain ill with the novel coronavirus, a rise of 2,972. Nearly 22,000 have recovered.

16:30 Here is our roundup of COVID-19 stories from across the world:

United States: The US should brace for “the hardest and the saddest week of most Americans’ lives,” the country’s surgeon general has said. The death toll has topped 8,400 and is rising fast. “This is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment, only it’s not going to be localized,” Surgeon General Jerome Adams, one of the most senior health officials in the country, told Fox News on Sunday. The White House has projected that between 100,000 and 240,000 people in the US will die before the epidemic runs its course.

European Union: Several EU countries say their infection rates are slowing, giving rise to hopes that the end of the crisis might be in sight. On Sunday, Spain reported 674 deaths — the lowest fatality figure in 10 days and said 6,023 more people were newly infected — about 1,000 fewer than the day before. Italy also reported its first-ever reduction in the number of patients requiring intensive care, from 4,068 on Friday to 3,994 on Saturday. Germany reported a third consecutive day of falling infection numbers, from 6,174 reported on Friday to 5,936 on Sunday.

Pakistan: Authorities in Pakistan have quarantined 20,000 Muslim worshipers and are searching for thousands more who defied a ban on large meetings to attend an Islamic gathering in Lahore. Over 100,000 people are believed to have attended the March 10-12 event including several foreign nationals.

United Kingdom: Queen Elizabeth has urged British people to show “good-humored resolve” and exercise self-discipline in a special address on the COVID-19 outbreak. “I hope in the years to come, everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge, and those who come after us will say that the Britons of this generation were as strong as any,” she said, according to remarks released before her TV address aired on Sunday evening.

China: With many countries ordering masks, ventilators and COVID-19 testing kits from China, the Asian superpower says it has made $1.44 billion, €1.33 billion exporting medical equipment since March 1. However, the Netherlands and Spain have rejected masks and test kits, saying that the supplies were faulty.

Ecuador: After videos of abandoned dead bodies surfaced online, the country’s vice president has vowed to make amends. “We have seen images that should never have happened and as your public servant, I apologize,” he said. The videos, shared on social media, showed corpses on the streets of Guayaquil in the country’s southeast. The port city has so far born the brunt of the coronavirus outbreak, which has claimed 172 lives.

16:05 The organization behind Germany’s register of intensive care (ICU) bed availability has contradicted reports that there are almost 40,000 intensive care beds in hospitals nationwide. “We cannot confirm this number in any way,” a spokeswoman for DIVI told the business publication Handelsblatt. Figures published by the register on Friday showed that 13,346 ICU beds are occupied, while 10,074 are free. Nearly 2,700 of the beds were used to treat COVID-19 patients.

Read more: Sweden mulls U-turn on coronavirus restrictions

16:00 The pandemic is also set to hinder the marking by Muslims of the Holy month of Ramadan, which begins on April 23.. Egypt has prohibited Iftar events, where poor people can usually break their fast for free at sunset. Instead, the public is asked to donate cash or groceries to charity, the country’s ministry in charge of mosques said. The North African country has seen 71 deaths from a total of 1,070 confirmed infections.

15:25 The US Surgeon General says next week will be “the hardest and the saddest week of most Americans’ lives. Interviewed on Fox News Sunday, Jerome Adams said worsening coronavirus pandemic would be “our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment,” in a reference to the Japanese attack that prompted the US’s entry into World War II and the September 11, 2001, terror attacks.

Describing an expected surge in fatalities from COVID-19, Adams said the death toll is “not going to be localized. It’s going to be happening all over the country.” To date, 8,503 people have died from a total of 312,249 confirmed infections in the US.

15:20 New York State Governor Cuomo Andrew Cuomo says a further 594 people have died over the past 24 hours, taking the state’s overall tally to 4,159. There were 8,327 new cases, making a total of 122,031 infections.

But he said the number of people discharged from the hospital was three times as great as the number of newly hospitalized people, relieving stress on the healthcare system.

The state accounts for more than a third of all US cases and more than 40% of deaths.

15:15 German police have registered several violations of the national lockdown rules, including a group of 25 mostly drunk people in the southwest city of Wiesbaden and a so-called “corona party” in an old woodshed in a village Fintel in the country’s north. Also, a man spat on a woman while standing in a line in a supermarket during an apparent row about safe distancing rules. Police in the southern city of Friedrichshafen say the man is wanted on assault charges.

14:55 Greece has placed a migrant camp under quarantine after a 53-year-old resident tested positive for COVID-19. The Afghan man has been transferred to a hospital in Athens. Earlier this week, Greek authorities quarantined another facility, where 20 migrants tested positive. Athens has repeatedly warned of potential outbreaks and urged EU assistance for the overflowing camps, that were built for around 8,000 migrants and refugees but are currently home to some 42,000 people.

14:45 About 20 million jobs are at risk in Africa if the continent’s economies shrink sharply due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to an African Union (AU) study. Although the continent currently accounts for just a fraction of total cases, the number of infections is expected to rise sharply, which could spark large drops in gross domestic product (GDP). 

African economies are already facing an impending global economic downturn, plummeting oil and commodity prices and an imploding tourism sector. AU said African governments could lose up to 30% of their fiscal revenue, estimated at $500 billion (€463 billion) in 2019.

On Sunday, Ethiopia announced its first death from COVID-19. The country of more than 100 million people has recorded just 43 cases.

14:25 Several guerrilla movements in southeast Asia have declared a unilateral truce due to the current pandemic. In southern Thailand, Muslim separatist militia Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) said it would halt its activities to allow for aid to be brought into the region, the Bernama news agency reported. Last Wednesday, the communist New People’s Army (NPA) in the Philippines also announced a limited ceasefire “as a direct response to the appeal of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres” who called for a global truce.

14:12 Austria has reported 270 new coronavirus cases but noted that 491 people have recovered. The daily rate of new infections has also continued to drop. “These are some hopeful figures, but now…we must remain consistent and not give up,” said Health Minister Rudolf Anschober. The country’s Health Ministry put the total number of infections at 11,997, with the virus claiming 204 lives.

Meanwhile, the Netherlands said 115 people have died of the virus in the previous 24 hours, bringing the total death toll to 1,766. The number of confirmed infections has reached 17,851, jumping by 1,224 cases since yesterday.

Read more: Coronavirus: Greece quarantines migrant camps

13:50 Another 621 people died of the coronavirus in the UK, the authorities said on Sunday, with the combined death toll now at 4,934. The country has so far registered 47,806 cases, with new cases jumping by 5,903 over the previous day.

13:40 A home smell test could help people detect if they were infected with the new coronavirus, according to a lab in Israel. While the loss of smell or taste has not yet been officially recognized as a COVID-19 symptom by the World Health Organization, preliminary studies indicate it is present in the majority of infected patients.

People who suspect an infection should do the test at home by smelling items such as peanut butter, vanilla, black pepper, mint, vinegar, vodka, or garlic, and then regularly rate their perceptions at the SmellTracker website. And changes would be processed by an algorithm and could indicate the onset of the disease. according to Neurobiology Professor Noam Sobel.

Read more: What you need to know about the coronavirus

13:30 China has sold 3.86 billion face masks to foreign buyers since March 1, as well as 16,000 ventilators, 2.84 million COVID-19 testing kits, and millions of items of protective clothing, a customs representative said on Sunday. The combined value of medical exports has reached 10.2 billion yuan ($1.44 billion, €1.33 billion), said customs official Jin Hai, adding that over 50 countries had bought the Chinese goods. However, nations including Spain, the Netherlands, Turkey and Croatia have complained over the quality of products they have received from the Asian powerhouse, with the Dutch government recalling 600,000 masks out of a shipment of 1.3 million. Spain rejected thousands of testing kits, describing them as unreliable.

13:15 In Albania, coronavirus cases have spiked for three days in a row, with authorities saying the surge was due to people not sticking to social distancing measures. The Balkan country reported 28 new cases on Sunday. So far, 361 people have been infected and 20 died in the nation of 2.86 million people. In addition to social distancing, the government has also been imposing 400-hour lockdowns on the weekends.

13:10 In the UK, the new Labour leader Keir Starmer has accused the government of making “serious mistakes” in their coronavirus response. In an article published in the Sunday Times, Starmer said authorities failed to provide enough protective equipment for medical workers and were behind on testing. He also called for a “national vaccine program” against the virus. The 57-year-old Starmer won a landslide victory in the contest to succeed Jeremy Corbyn.

Read more: Coronavirus lockdown impacts small business in Britain

12:50 Thousands of prisoners in Morocco are to be released in order to reduce the risk of a coronavirus outbreak, the country’s Justice Ministry said on Sunday. The nation’s King Mohammed VI pardoned a total of 5,654 prisoners. They were selected based on their age, health condition, time served and their conduct while behind bars, the authorities said. The north African country has so far confirmed 919 infections and 59 deaths amid the global pandemic.

12:46 The president of Czechia Milos Zeman has slammed the EU over its response to the pandemic. “Unfortunately, the EU has failed in this matter,” he told the Blesk newspaper. The 75-year-old leader, well-known for his outspoken remarks, criticized the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, who opposed the closing of the borders in the EU despite not being “an expert.” Zeman also warned of an “epidemic explosion” the Czech Republic opened its borders. “It would be like pouring oil or gasoline to the fire,” he said.

Read more: Germany eases border rules to allow in harvest workers amid coronavirus crisis

12:35 Tokyo has reported a record increase in coronavirus infections, with 143 patients confirmed in the previous 24 hours, the city’s authorities said on Sunday. The majority of the infected are younger than 50, including many in their 20s and 30, a health official said. The Japanese capital, with its 14 million inhabitants, has now registered over 1,000 infections, around one-third of the national total. Authorities said 73 people have lost their lives nationwide.

12:30 Queen Elizabeth has urged British people to show “good-humored resolve” and exercise self-discipline as the country sees hundreds of COVID-19 victims a day. “I hope in the years to come, everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge, and those who come after us will say that the Britons of this generation were as strong as any,” she said, according to remarks released before her special TV address aired on Sunday evening.

This is only the fourth time that the British monarch has made a non-Christmas address since taking the throne in 1953. The Queen’s son and heir to the British crown, 71-year-old Prince Charles, was among some 42,000 confirmed coronavirus patients in the UK. The country has seen over 4,300 people die, including over 700 yesterday. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also been diagnosed with the virus.

11:30 The government of Italy is set to propose a five-point plan to slowly reopen the country as its devastating outbreak shows signs of subsiding, according to Health Minister Roberto Speranza.

Italy has been the hardest-hit country in Europe, with more deaths from COVID-19 than any other nation, but the contagion is slowing and there are signs of impatience along with lockdown fatigue among businesses and citizens.

Speaking to La Repubblica newspaper, Speranza said the government would keep social-distancing rules, develop home medicine tools to treat people, and massively increase testing.

Testing millions of Italians should reveal “how many Italians have been infected, if and how they are immune, how many and in which areas they can return to a normal life,” the health minister said.

Speranza also discussed the creation of coronavirus-focussed hospitals and creating an app to track the infected, as well as give them remote access to medical care.

Speranza urged caution, saying there would be “no single day on which we will be able to say ‘it’s all over,'” and that it would be “irresponsible” to promise a date for a return to normality.

  • A person rides a scooter into front of Beijing'd Center for disease control, prevention and research (Imago Images/UPI Photo/S. Shaver)

    Coronavirus: Timeline of the global spread of COVID-19

    Pneumonia-like virus hits Wuhan

    On December 31, 2019, China notifies the World Health Organization of a string of respiratory infections in the city of Wuhan, home to some 11 million people. The root virus is unknown and disease experts around the world begin working to identify it. The strain is traced to a seafood market in the city, which is quickly shut down. Some 40 people are initially reported to be infected.

  • Chinese medical staff carry a box outside a hospital (Reuters/Str)

    Coronavirus: Timeline of the global spread of COVID-19

    First death in China

    On January 11, China announces the first death from the coronavirus — a 61-year-old man, who had shopped at the Wuhan market, dies from complications with pneumonia. Like SARS and the common cold, scientists identified that the new virus is in the coronavirus family. It is temporarily named 2019-nCoV. Symptoms include fever, coughing, difficulty breathing, and pneumonia.

  • Japan warning Coronavirus (Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon)

    Coronavirus: Timeline of the global spread of COVID-19

    Virus reaches neighboring countries

    In the following days, countries such as Thailand and Japan begin to report cases of infections in people who had visited the same Wuhan market. In China, a second fatality is confirmed in the city. By January 20, three people have died in China and more than 200 are infected.

  • Chinese workers rush to build a hospital in Wuhan to deal with the coronavirus outbreak (AFP/STR)

    Coronavirus: Timeline of the global spread of COVID-19

    Millions under lockdown

    China places Wuhan on quarantine on January 23 in an attempt to limit the spread of the virus. Transportation is suspended and workers attempt to quickly build a new hospital to treat infected patients, which total over 830 by January 24, as the death toll climbs to 26. Officials eventually extend the lockdown to 13 other cities, affecting at least 36 million people.

  • People wearing masks wait in the railway station in Wuhan, where the coronavirus outbreak occured (Getty Images/X. Chu)

    Coronavirus: Timeline of the global spread of COVID-19

    A global health emergency?

    More and more cases are confirmed outside of China, including in South Korea, the US, Nepal, Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan. As the number of infections rises, the World Health Organization on January 23 determines that it’s “too early” to declare a global public health emergency.

  • French hospital (picture-alliance/dpa/S. Mortagne)

    Coronavirus: Timeline of the global spread of COVID-19

    Coronavirus reaches Europe

    On January 24, French authorities confirm three cases of the new coronavirus within its borders, marking the disease’s first appearance in Europe. Hours later, Australia confirms four people have been infected with the respiratory virus.

  • The hospital in Munich where the first case of German coronavirus is being held in quarantine

    Coronavirus: Timeline of the global spread of COVID-19

    First cases confirmed in Germany

    On January 27, Germany announces its first known case of the virus — a 33-year-old in Bavaria who contracted it during a workplace training with a visiting Chinese colleague. He is put under quarantine and observation at a Munich hospital. The following day, three of his colleagues are confirmed infected. The death toll in China reaches 132, with around 6,000 infected worldwide.

  • Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of the WHO

    Coronavirus: Timeline of the global spread of COVID-19

    WHO declares global health emergency

    On January 30, the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO) declares coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern in a bid to protect countries with “weaker health systems.” However, WHO Secretary-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus does not recommend trade and travel restrictions, saying these would be “an unnecessary disruption.”

  • People buy protective masks in the Philippines

    Coronavirus: Timeline of the global spread of COVID-19

    First death outside China

    The first death linked to the novel coronavirus outside of China is reported in the Philippines on February 2. A 44-year-old Chinese man had traveled from Wuhan to Manila before falling ill and being taken to hospital, where he later died of pneumonia.

  • The Diamond Princess berthed in Yokohama harbor (picture-alliance/dpa/kyodo)

    Coronavirus: Timeline of the global spread of COVID-19

    Bad ending to a cruise

    Also on February 3, the cruise ship Diamond Princess is quarantined off Yokohama in Japan after cases of the new coronavirus were found on board. As of February 17, the number of people infected has grown to more than 450, the largest cluster of cases outside of China. Several of the 3,700 passengers and crew onboard the ship are being or have been flown back to their home countries.

  • Tourist at the Colosseum (Reuters/R. Casilli)

    Coronavirus: Timeline of the global spread of COVID-19

    Italy under quarantine

    Cases in Italy rise dramatically, with 77 deaths and thousands of confirmed cases by March 3. Many countries instigate travel restrictions to northern Italy and tourist numbers plummet. On March 8, the Italian government put the entire Lombardy region into quarantine, affecting 16 million people. March 10 sees 168 fatalities in Italy, the highest in a single day.

  • People walk in front of sign showing stock markets (picture-alliance/Jiji Press/M. Taguchi)

    Coronavirus: Timeline of the global spread of COVID-19

    Economic woes

    European and US stock markets slump on March 6, leading to the worst week since the 2008 financial crisis. The effect on global business has been significant, with many companies reporting losses and the tourism industry and airlines badly hit. The EU pledge €7.5 billion ($8.4 billion) on March 10 in an investment fund to try to stop the Eurozone falling into a recession.

  • Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (picture-alliance/Photoshot)

    Coronavirus: Timeline of the global spread of COVID-19

    WHO declares outbreak as pandemic

    As worldwide cases top 127,000 and deaths pass 4,700, the World Health Organization designates the global outbreak as a “pandemic” on March 11. US President Donald Trump announces a travel restriction on people coming from the Schengen Zone in Europe, annoying the EU. German Chancellor Angela Merkel announces that in Germany, 70% of the population could get the virus.

  • A screen in Madrid shots Spain'd Prime Minister speaking as he announces a state of emergency for 15 days on March 13 (picture-alliance/dpa/AAB. Akbulut)

    Coronavirus: Timeline of the global spread of COVID-19

    Public life on hold in Europe

    On March 14, Spain joins Italy in imposing a near-total nationwide lockdown to prevent the virus spreading. The population of 46 million is told not to leave their homes unless for essential tasks. In France, cafés, restaurants and non-essential shops are closed as of March 15. Many public events in Germany are cancelled and schools close.

  • A stop sign and a plane approaching at the Washington National airport. picture-alliance/Photoshot)

    Coronavirus: Timeline of the global spread of COVID-19

    International travel severely restricted

    As of March 15, many countries impose strict travel bans or restrictions in an attempt to stop the spread of Covid-19. For example, New Zealand and Australia require all international passengers to self-isolate for 14 days after arrival in the country. The US extends a European travel ban to include the United Kingdom and Ireland.

  • Sign reminding pedestrians to keep a distance (picture-alliance/EibnerT. Hahn)

    Coronavirus: Timeline of the global spread of COVID-19

    Germany imposes partial lockdown

    In a landmark televised address German Chancellor Angela Merkel announces far-reaching restrictions on everyday life on March 22, banning meetings between more than two people not from the same household outside of the workplace. The country has a surprisingly low death rate, a phenomenon attributed to a high level of testing, and a high number of intensive care beds.

  • COVID-19: Empty streets in London (picture-alliance/R. Pinney)

    Coronavirus: Timeline of the global spread of COVID-19

    Virus strikes at top as UK locks down

    On March 23rd Britain becomes the latest country to impose restrictions on personal freedoms, with people only allowed to leave their homes in a limited number of circumstances. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is diagnosed with the viruson March 27, as well as heir to the throne Prince Charles on March 25. Meanwhile, there are complaints that not everyone is taking social distancing seriously.

  • New York hospital ship (picture-alliance/Photoshot/J. Fischer)

    Coronavirus: Timeline of the global spread of COVID-19

    Grim milestone for the US

    On March 27 the US overtakes China in terms of the number of people infected, making it the country with the most cases of COVID-19. This came as President Donald Trump claimed that the nation would get back to work “pretty quickly.” At the same time, it emerged that more than 3 million Americans had lost their jobs due to the pandemic. New York is worst-hit, with a hospital ship sent to help out.

  • Palacia de Hielo being turned into a morgue (picture-alliance/Geisler-Fotopress)

    Coronavirus: Timeline of the global spread of COVID-19

    Spain’s surging death toll

    Spain also overtakes China in the number of COVID-19 cases on March 30, as the government toughens the severity of its lockdown. All non-essential activities are halted. Only Italy has a higher death toll than Spain. Most affected is the capital, Madrid. With funeral services overwhelmed, officials turn the Palacio de Hielo ice skating rink into a temporary morgue.

  • USA Coronavirus (Reuters/J. Redmond)

    Coronavirus: Timeline of the global spread of COVID-19

    More than a million

    On April 2nd the Johns Hopkins University announced on Thursday that there were more than a million confirmed coronavirus cases around the world. The US is the most affected with three times the number than China, where the virus emerged in December. Over 50.000 people have died — and the outlook remains grim.

    Author: Richard Connor


11:15 Spain has reported its third consecutive daily decline in the number of people dying from COVID-19 as the country confirmed another 674 deaths. The country’s health ministry said the figure, the lowest in 10 days, brought the death toll to 12,418. The total number of coronavirus cases has risen by 6,023 to 130,759, making Spain the second highest in the world, after the United States in terms of infections. It is, however, some 1,000 new infections down on the previous day’s total.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said on Saturday that his nation was “starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

10:55 The death toll in Switzerland has risen to 559, up 19 on the previous day’s total, the country’s Health Ministry reported. The number of people testing positive increased to 21,100 from 20,278.

Switzerland has tested almost 160,000 people after having its first case on February 25.

10:25 World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has taken to Twitter to explain what he is looking for when he is talking of solidarity and togetherness.

“I use the words ‘solidarity’  ‘together’ a lot. I mean it in a collective sense: People everywhere are experiencing unprecedented disruption due to COVID-19 and if we unite and take evidence-based public health measures, we will end the pandemic faster and emerge more harmonious,” he explained.

“What makes me optimistic is that in every conversation, literally, I’ve had since 31 Dec 2019, leaders from many countries, sectors, backgrounds creeds have agreed on the need to come together in the fight.”

10:10 Spain has reported its third consecutive daily decline in the number of people dying from COVID-19 as the country confirmed another 674 deaths.

The country’s Health Ministry said the figure, the lowest in 10 days, brought the death toll to 12,418. The total number of coronavirus cases has risen to 130,759 making Spain the second highest in the world, after the United States in terms of infections.

10:00 Here’s a round-up of the latest in Asia

Bangladesh: An economic stimulus package worth $8.5 billion (€7.9 billion) has been announced to stave off the financial impact of the pandemic. “I hope our economy will rebound,” Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said, adding that the country could reach close to its desired economic growth, “if the packages are implemented quickly.”

Japan: More than 130 people were newly infected with the novel coronavirus in Tokyo, according to Japan’s NHK public broadcaster, citing officials from the metropolitan government. It was the highest daily increase in COVID-19 cases so far, bringing the number of infections in the Japanese capital to more than 1,000.

Malaysia: 179 new coronavirus cases have been reported in Malaysia, raising the total number of infections to 3,662 in Southeast Asia’s third-largest economy. The new cases include four fatalities, bringing the death toll to 61, the Health Ministry said.

India: The world’s second-most populous country is restricting the export of most diagnostic testing kits, as coronavirus cases surpassed the 3,500 mark, despite a three-week nationwide lockdown to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Thailand: A countrywide lockdown has nullified Thailand’s normally vibrant party scene and forced sex workers out of bars and onto empty streets. Red-light districts from Bangkok to Pattaya have fallen silent with nightclubs and massage parlors no longer open for business, especially as they are heavily reliant on tourists, currently barred from entering the country due to the pandemic. That has forced an estimated 300,000 people who work in the sex industry to seek employment elsewhere.

Philippines: The Chinese government has sent medical experts to the Philippines, as authorities considered extending a month-long lockdown on the country’s main island. The team of anti-epidemic medical experts has had “front-line experience in Hubei province to fight against the epidemic,” said China’s ambassador to the Philippines, Huang Xilian.

09:00 Chief of the Berlin police Barbara Slowik told German media outlet Tagespiegel that the 200,000 face masks that had been intercepted and taken to the United States, were going to be replaced in a separate shipment. On Friday, Germany accused the US of confiscating the protective face masks and described it as “an act of modern piracy.” The US denied any wrongdoing, and now a batch is on its way to Germany. Slowik said: “Our contractors, with whom we’ve had many dealings… have cooperated in good faith, and have stated that they were sent to the US, but replacements will be received.”

08:25 Authorities in Israel instructed health workers to cut back on testing and prioritize hospitalized cases due to a test shortage caused by Germany and South Korea.

“The supply line from Germany has been closed,” an Israeli Health Ministry official told Haaretz. “We don’t know under which government regulations, but some claim it is a result of the nationalization [of the factory].”

On the Korean side, one of the factories that produce the reagent necessary for the tests has stopped producing it. Israeli media said there was a shortage of raw materials.

More than 8,000 people have contracted the novel coronavirus in Israel. At least 46 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins figures.

08:10 Greece has quarantined a second migrant camp on its mainland after a 53-year-old man from Afghanistan tested positive for COVID-19, the Migration Ministry said.

The man lives with his family at the Malakasa camp some 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Athens along with hundreds of asylum seekers. He has subsequently been moved to a hospital in the Greek capital.

08:00 German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has urged citizens to maintain social distancing throughout the upcoming Easter period, while praising Germans for adhering to the rules implemented as part of the government’s lockdown measures that are in place until April 19.
Maas tweeted: “We must continue to do everything we can to avoid spreading the virus. Unfortunately, this also applies to the Easter period. It is impressive how the overwhelming majority adheres to the rules. This shows great community spirit and solidarity. This is exactly what we have to build on to get through the crisis.” 

07:45 The German rail network has reported a more punctual service due to dealing with fewer passengers since social distancing measures have been introduced.
The state-owned operator Deutsche Bahn said 84.2% of all long-distance trains had arrived on time in March, an increase of 4.1% on the same month in 2019.
Under Germany’s current lockdown measures, the country’s 16 states and the Merkel-led federal government have imposed restrictions on meetings of more than two people in public places and the use of public transport for non-essential purposes.

Read more: Angela Merkel sees ‘bit of hope,’ but keeps lockdown in place

07:30 Ecuador’s Vice President Otto Sonnenholzner has apologized after numerous corpses were left on the streets of Guayaquil as the novel virus rips through the port city.

Locals had published footage on social media showing abandoned bodies in the streets in the Latin American city that has suffered the most from the pandemic.

“We have seen images that should never have happened and, as your public servant, I apologize,” said Sonnenholzer, who is in charge of Ecuador’s virus response team.

The South American country has so far reported almost 3,500 cases, resulting in 172 fatalities.

07:10 The president of Iran has said “low-risk” economic activities are to resume from April 11 in the Middle Eastern country, which has reported more than 50,000 cases.

“Under the supervision of the Health Ministry, all those low-risk economic activities will resume from Saturday,” President Hassan Rouhani announced.

“Two-thirds of all Iranian government employees will work out of their offices from Saturday … the decision does not contradict stay at home advice by the health authorities.”

06:55 In Spain, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has called on other EU member states to show firm “solidarity” and a tighter community as European countries grapple with the debilitating coronavirus outbreak.

Sanchez said he believed that “Europe must set up a war economy and promote resistance, reconstruction and European recovery,” before adding, “If we continue to think small, we will fail.”

“Europe is suffering its greatest crisis since World War II. Our citizens are dying or struggling in hospitals saturated by a pandemic that represents the greatest public health threat since the 1918 flu,” Sanchez added.

The Spanish prime minister’s comments come in the wake of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen pushing for huge investments in the EU budget.

06:50 Thousands of medical students across Germany have been volunteering their services to support the fight against the coronavirus. It’s been a crash course in pandemic medicine for many. Read more here.

06:00 The number of infections in Germany has risen by 5,936. This figure is 100 less than Saturday’s, according to the Robert Koch Institute. The number of deaths increased by 184, taking Germany’s overall death toll to 1,342.

05:50 The Swedish government is seeking more powers to implement a lockdown or stronger restrictions on public life, according to Swedish media. The move comes as more and more countries around the world implement lockdowns on public life to attempt to halt the spread of COVID-19. Until now, Sweden has shown a markedly different attitude towards combating the virus, particularly in comparison with its Scandinavian neighbors.

05:30 New Zealand has reported 1,039 cases after health officials from the country announced the latest figures, showing an increase of 89 infections. Until now, New Zealand has registered one death attributed to the novel coronavirus.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said strict lockdown measures were working in preventing the spread of the outbreak.

“Our case rate and death toll is well below other comparable countries,” Ardern said at a news conference. “Yes, we had the benefit of time. Our distance and our early border and mass-gathering measures also made a difference there.”

05:15 Health officials in Australia have said they are cautiously optimistic about stemming the spread of COVID-19 but warned social distancing restrictions are set to remain in place for up to half a year.

Confirmed cases rose by 181 during the 24-hour period to early Sunday, bringing the country’s total to 5,635 infections. The death toll from COVID-19 now stands at 34.

New South Wales (NSW) Director of Health Protection Jeremy McAnulty said: “We want to be hopeful, but not to over-egg the figures.”

Health Minister Greg Hunt warned that despite the good signs, citizens will have to remain vigilant for another six months. “This is a difficult six-month period that we have to go through,” Hunt said on Sky News Australia.

04:50 New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo has revealed the Chinese government has sent a shipment of 1,000 ventilators to his state. The state of New York is currently buckling under pressure after suffering more than 100,000 coronavirus cases and Governor Cuomo praised the Chinese government for its help while admitting the US government’s stockpile of medical supplies is nowhere near enough.

“We’re all in the same battle here,” Cuomo said, acknowledging that the state of Oregon also volunteered to send 140 ventilators to New York. “And the battle is stopping the spread of the virus.”

Further aid has come from the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) donation of a million surgical masks for which Cuomo also expressed thanks.

Meanwhile, United Airlines has said it will dramatically reduce its flights to two New York City airports. United announced, starting from Sunday, it will go from 157 daily flights at Newark and LaGuardia airports to just 17.

01:52 The European aircraft manufacturer Airbus has transported 4 million protective face masks from China to Germany as part of its so-called air bridge mission, the company announced Sunday morning. 

An A350 aircraft landed in Hamburg loaded with the masks, which will be distributed to hospitals in Germany, France, Spain and Britain.

01:16 China’s National Health Commission reported 30 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, of which 25 were people who had recently arrived from outside the country. 

To prevent new cases arriving from abroad, China has been clamping down on international travel, banning entry to most foreigners and limiting foreign airlines to one flight per week.

Read more: Coronavirus: In Germany, medical students step up to fight COVID-19

00:03 EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called for more European solidarity through increased investment in the EU budget, saying “we need a Marshall Plan for Europe” to ensure economic stability during the coronavirus crisis. 

In an editorial published by Germany’s Welt am Sonntag newspaper, the EU chief wrote that “the many billions that need to be invested today, in order to avert a major catastrophe, will bind generations.”

00:00 Catch up on Saturday’s news here: New York sees worst 24 hours yet

President Trump said the US was heading into what could be the “toughest” weeks of its coronavirus epidemic. 

“This will be the toughest week, and there will be a lot of death, unfortunately,” Trump said, adding authorities were looking to focus on the hardest-hit regions.

In the three US “hot spots” of New York, Louisiana and Detroit, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said data analysis shows these areas hitting the “peak” of COVID-19 fatalities together in the next 6-7 days.

In reporting on the coronavirus pandemic, unless otherwise specified, DW uses figures provided by the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) Coronavirus Resource Center in the United States. JHU updates figures in real time, collating data from world health organizations, state and national governments and other public official sources, all of whom have their own systems for compiling information.
Germany’s national statistics are compiled by its public health agency, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). These figures depend on data transmission from state and local levels and are updated around once a day, which can lead to deviation from JHU.

wmr,jsi/rc (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)

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Article source: https://www.dw.com/en/coronavirus-latest-us-health-chief-warns-of-9-11-moment/a-53020490?maca=en-rss-en-all-1573-rdf