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The UME (Emergency Army Unit) attend the train station in Granada, Spain Tuesday March 17, 2020 - Sputnik International

Live Updates: Nations Tighten Security Measures Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

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Nearly 14,000 people have been infected with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) globally over the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of confirmed cases above 167,500, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said in a new coronavirus report.

According to the World Health Organisation, 167,511 cases have been confirmed worldwide, with 13,903 new incidents recorded over the past 24 hours. The global death toll has now risen by 862 to 6,606.

The novel coronavirus, now officially named COVID-19, was first registered in December 2019 in the Chinese city of Wuhan. The virus quickly spread to other countries around the globe, with Italy becoming the worst affected nation in Europe.

Last week, the WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, and urged all countries to activate and scale up emergency response mechanisms. 

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19:28 GMT 17.03.2020
European Union Imposes 30-Day Travel Ban, Closes External Borders
Razor wire is seen in front of an European Union (EU) sign during a protest against barbed wire fences along the border crossing between Slovenia and Croatia in Brezovica pri Gradinu, Slovenia, in this file picture taken December 19, 2015. - Sputnik International
'Enemy is the Virus': EU Imposes 30-Day Travel Ban Amid COVID-19 Pandemic
19:01 GMT 17.03.2020
EU Leaders Support Offer to Impose 30-Day Ban on Entry to EU, Germany to Start Implementing Measure Immediately - Merkel
18:41 GMT 17.03.2020
Pompeo Says ‘Couple’ of State Department Employees Tested Positive for COVID-19

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday that a couple of employees at the Department of State have tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

“We have had a couple of employees, count them on one hand, who have positive tests," Pompeo told reporters.

The secretary of state the infected employees had been treated in accordance with US guidelines and the State Department will do everything possible to ensure that its employees in Washington and across the world are safe.

According to Johns Hopkins University, the number of confirmed COVID-19 infections in the United States exceeds 5,700, and 94 people have died from the disease.

18:40 GMT 17.03.2020
COVID-19 Confirmed in Woman Working in IAEA Building in Vienna - UN Press Service

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - A woman working in the Vienna International Center (VIC) building, which is part of the International Atomic Energy Agency, has been diagnosed with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) the United Nations Information Service in Vienna said on Tuesday.

"Influenza case at Vienna International Centre now tested positive as COVID-19 ... The cleaner, who is employed by an outside contractor, fell ill at the VIC on 2 March 2020 after office hours and was assisted by three members of the UN Security and Safety team. The cleaner worked on 13 rooms on the 10th floor of the VIC's B building, which is part of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The relevant staff have been informed. The cleaner has not been in the building since 2 March," the information service said in a statement.

According to the statement, no other workers have developed any symptoms of the disease over the last 14 days.

As of Tuesday, Austria has recorded over 1,100 confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease and three related deaths. Eight patients have recovered.

18:30 GMT 17.03.2020
France's Number of Covid-19 Cases Increases by Over 1,000 to 7,730 in Past 24 Hours - Authorities

PARIS (Sputnik) - France's number of cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has increased by more than 1,000 over the past 24 hours, reaching 7,730, the head of the national health service, Jerome Salomon, said on Tuesday.

He added that the death toll from COVID-19 had climbed to 175.

18:21 GMT 17.03.2020
Public Crowds of Over 10 People Banned in Denmark - Prime Minister

Denmark's Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said that public crowds of more than 10 people will be banned in the country starting 10 am local time Wednesday.

All restaurants, bars, cafes, night clubs as well as gyms, tanning centres and tattoo parlours will be closed for two weeks until 30 March, the prime minister said. 

18:14 GMT 17.03.2020
Greece at War With 'Invisible Enemy' - Prime Minister

ATHENS (Sputnik) - Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Tuesday that the nation should act responsibly to counter the "invisible enemy," which is the new coronavirus.

"We are at war with an invisible enemy, who is not unbeatable. If we succeed in stopping the virus from spreading we will buy time for our health care system to respond to the emergency," he said in a televised address.

Mitsotakis said the government would spend an extra 2 billion euros ($2.2 billion) on measures aimed at salvaging the industry. He announced tax holidays and promised that his administration would do everything to protect jobs in affected sectors.

"We are at the start of a battle that will be difficult, especially in the next two months... But our biggest weapon is our attitude. The virus is communicable and we should change our habits accordingly," he said, adding Greeks should stay at home more.

The Greek government has ordered a shutdown of non-essential businesses starting Wednesday. The country has reported 35 new cases of infection, taking the tally to 387. One person has died since Monday, and the death toll now stands at five.

The country will ban entry to third-country nationals who are not EU citizens in a bid to limit the spread of the coronavirus, the deputy minister for civil protection said Tuesday.

"Starting 6 a.m. [4:00 GMT] on March 18, the country will bar people who are not from Greece or EU member states from entering, except in emergencies and for doing urgent work," Nikos Chardalias told reporters.

He said foreigners in self-isolation in Greece were free to leave at any time.

17:25 GMT 17.03.2020
Trump Says Hopefully No Nationwide Lockdown Will Be Needed Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - US President Donald Trump said during a press briefing on Tuesday that he is hopeful a nationwide lockdown in the United States will not be needed amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

“Hopefully we are not gonna need that," Trump said. "We think of everything, I mean, we have every idea that you mentioned well thought of. And you know, it’s a very serious step... It’s something we talk about, but we haven’t decided to do that."

17:21 GMT 17.03.2020
French Drugs Agency Limits Paracetamol Sales to Prevent Epidemic-Induced Shortages

PARIS (Sputnik) - The French National Agency for Medicines, ANSM, announced Tuesday that it would restrict over-the-counter sales of paracetamol amid concerns about potential drug shortages.

Paracetamol, also known as acetaminophen, is used to treat pain and fever. Health Minister Olivier Veran has recommended that coronavirus patients take the medicine instead of anti-inflammatories, which he said could worsen the symptoms.

"To guarantee their [paracetamol-based medicines] availability, starting March 18, 2020, pharmacies will be allowed to sell without prescription 1 pack of paracetamol (500 mg or 1g) per patient if they have no symptoms or 2 packs... if they show symptoms," the agency said.

Online sales of medicines containing paracetamol, ibuprofen and aspirin will be suspended, ANSM added.

France's Public Health Authority said Monday that the number of coronavirus cases in the country had reached 6,633. Of those, 148 people have died of virus-related complications.

17:15 GMT 17.03.2020
Italy's Covid-19 Deaths Up by 345 in Past 24 Hours, But Death Toll Reducing for Third Day Running - Civil Defence Service
17:12 GMT 17.03.2020
Trudeau Urges Canadians to Stay Home During COVID-19 Outbreak

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday urged Canadians to stay at home and avoid unnecessary outside trips during the novel coronavirus disease outbreak (COVID-19).

"Stay home as much as possible, do not go out unless you absolutely have to," Trudeau said during a press briefing.

The Prime Minister announced that Canada's cabinet will be meeting Tuesday afternoon to discuss additional measures to help the nation's economy.

"Tomorrow we will be making another major announcement on economic actions to support Canadians as quickly as possible," he said. "By the end of the week, we will have more to say about changes for the upcoming tax season."

Among other measures to protect public health, Trudeau highlighted the closure of all national parks and historic sites since Wednesday.

"Doors will be closed," he said.

Speaking of Canada's decision to close its borders to almost all foreigners, besides US citizens, Trudeau noted the high level of integration with the American economy.

"We are coordinating with the US authorities," he said.

As of Tuesday, Canada’s total number of confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) disease has reached 407, Chief Medical Officer Theresa Tam said. 

17:11 GMT 17.03.2020
UN Mission in Libya Urges All Sides to Halt Fighting Amid COVID-19 Pandemic - Spokesman

UNITED NATIONS (Sputnik) - The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) is urging all parties to conflict in that country to implement an immediate ceasefire to enable the authorities to rapidly respond to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, UN spokesperson Farhan Haq said in a press briefing on Tuesday.

"The UN mission in Libya, UNSMIL, joined the call by international partners on all parties to the Libyan conflict to declare an immediate humanitarian cessation of hostilities, as well as a halt to the continuing transfer of all military equipment and personnel into Libya," Haq said. "That's in order to allow local authorities to rapidly respond to the unprecedented public health challenge posed by COVID-19."

Haq noted that UNSMIL continues to facilitate the intra-Libyan dialogue on the political, military and economic tracks and calls on the Libyan parties to demonstrate unity in facing the pandemic.

Libya has been torn apart between two rival governments since the US-supported overthrow and assassination of the country’s long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Tensions escalated last year after the Libyan National Army began its operation to retake the capital of Tripoli, where the rival Government of National Accord is seated.

17:09 GMT 17.03.2020
US Markets to Stay Open Through Novel Coronavirus Pandemic - Mnuchin

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The White House is determined to keep New York Stock Exchange and other financial markets operating through the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic even if it means reducing the number of hours they stay open, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said during a media briefing on Tuesday.

"Everybody wants to keep it open," Mnuchin said. "We may get to a point where we shorten the hours if that’s something they need to do. But Americans should know we are going to do everything to make sure that they have access to the money in their banks, to the money in their 401(k)s and to money in stocks."

17:08 GMT 17.03.2020
Pakistan's Punjab Denies Reports About 1st Coronavirus-Related Death - Provincial Head

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Usman Buzdar, the chief minister of Punjab province in Pakistan, on Tuesday denied reports that the first coronavirus-related death in the country had happened in his province.

Earlier in the day, media reported, citing Punjab's health minister, Yasmin Rashid, that the provincial authorities registered the country's first fatality from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). According to the Dunya News broadcaster, the patient arrived in Pakistan from Iran and was transferred to the hospital in critical condition.

"We have received test reports of Imran Ali, who lost his life in Mayo Hospital, and his cause of death was not #COVID19. So far Punjab has 8 confirmed cases and are being provided best available treatment. I urge everyone that these are testing times & we should act responsibly!" wrote on Twitter.

Pakistan has so far registered 195 cases of the coronavirus infection.

17:06 GMT 17.03.2020
US Africa Command Cancels Phoenix Express Military Exercise Due to Coronavirus Pandemic

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The US military called off a second military exercise with African partner nations in two days due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Africa Command (AFRICOM) said in a press release on Tuesday.

"Exercise Phoenix Express 2020… has been cancelled for force protection considerations. The decision not to proceed with the exercise comes in response to the global effort to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) while minimizing exposure of US and partner nation service members to this virus," the release said.

On Monday, AFRICOM cancelled the annual African Lion military exercise.

Phoenix Express, originally scheduled for 5-18 April in the Mediterranean Sea, was designed to improve regional cooperation in maritime security operations, the release said.

16:46 GMT 17.03.2020
Finland to Shut Borders From March 19 - April 13 Over COVID-19 - Interior Ministry

HELSINKI (Sputnik) - Finland will limit the movement of people across its borders between March 19 and April 13 due to the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the Interior Ministry said on Tuesday.

So far, Finland has registered 319 laboratory-confirmed cases of the disease. On Monday, the country's government declared a state of emergency in connection to the growing epidemic.

"The border movement of Finland will be limited on Thursday, March 19, at midnight, in accordance with the decision of the government. Border crossing points will be closed and internal border control will take effect," the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry also said that the restrictions would not apply to maritime and air cargo transportation, nor to trucks. Passenger traffic through the Vainikkala border crossing with Russia has been suspended, as have border crossings between Finland, Norway and Sweden.

The ministry noted that public events with over 10 people were banned as well.

16:39 GMT 17.03.2020
EU Expects COVID-19 Vaccine to Come Onto Market in Europe by Fall - von der Leyen

BRUSSELS (Sputnik) - The EU expects a vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), which is being developed in Europe, to come into the market by the fall, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Tuesday.

16:37 GMT 17.03.2020
US Treasury Secretary Says Trump Approved Deferral of $300 Bln For Tax Payments

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - President Donald Trump has approved the deferral of some $300 billion in tax payments to the Internal Revenue Service to help Americans weather the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said on Tuesday.

“We aim to allow $300 billion in tax deferrals,” Mnuchin  told a media briefing. He added that individuals can defer up to $1 million in payments to the IRS without being charged for penalties and interest, while corporations can defer $10 million in tax payments.

16:14 GMT 17.03.2020
London Mayor Announces Cancellation of Planned Events in Trafalgar Square Due to COVID-19

MOSCOW, March 17 (Sputnik) - All events scheduled to take place in Trafalgar Square in London have been cancelled until further notice after the UK government issued new measures advising against all mass public gatherings to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Mayor of London Sadiq Khan announced on Tuesday in a statement.

“Our Trafalgar Square celebrations are key moments that bring communities together from across the capital, but the Government has advised that large gatherings should not take place so we will be cancelling them until further notice,” Khan remarked.

The cancellation will affect planned celebrations for St. George’s Day and the Sikh festival of Vaisakhi in April, and scheduled celebrations for the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Fitr in May, according to the mayor’s statement.

“It is vital that we take all necessary precautions to ensure the health of all in our city,” the mayor said.

On Monday, the UK government issued stringent social distancing methods to curb the coronavirus disease, including advisories against all public gatherings and non-essential travel.

The UK Department of Health and Social Care on Tuesday recorded its largest day-on-day increase in the number of confirmed cases since the start of the coronavirus disease outbreak. As of 09:00 GMT, the UK has now confirmed 1,950 cases of COVID-19 in the country, an increase of 407 in the previous 24 hours.

16:13 GMT 17.03.2020
US STRATCOM Confirms No Coronavirus Infections, Operations ‘Continue Normally’ - Commander

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The US Strategic Command (STRATCOM) reports that none of its personnel have been infected with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and the command continues to operate normally, STRATCOM commander Charles Richard told reporters on Tuesday.

“We have zero people in STRATCOM headquarters or our components that tested positive,” Richard said during a telephone press briefing.

Richard pointed out that all STRATCOM personnel are taking serious preventive measures to protect themselves from being infected with the virus.

STRATCOM operations "continue normally" at this time, Richard added.

On Monday, US Joint Staff surgeon Paul Friederichs said that the Defense Department has limited capabilities to treat infectious diseases like the COVID-19 because its multi-bed field hospitals are designed mainly for trauma care.

16:11 GMT 17.03.2020
Brazil Confirms First COVID-19 Death - Health Ministry

RIO DE JANEIRO (Sputnik) - Brazil, the country with the largest number of coronavirus cases in Latin America, has registered the first fatality caused by the COVID-19 disease on its soil, the Health Ministry said on Tuesday.

The ministry tweeted that it "confirms information about the first death caused by the coronavirus."

It has not provided any details about the victim.

As of Monday, Brazil has had 234 COVID-19 cases. More than 180,000 people, meanwhile, have tested positive for the disease globally, and over 7,000 of the patients have died.

16:10 GMT 17.03.2020
German Agriculture Minister Says Country Well-Stocked With Food

BERLIN (Sputnik) - German Agriculture Minister Julia Kloeckner assured the nation on Tuesday that the supply of food to stores would not be disrupted.

"The food supply in Germany is secure. To put it simply: supermarkets will stay open. everything else is false reporting," she told reporters at a press conference.

Her comments come in the wake of reports that the coronavirus outbreak has prompted people to stock up on essentials.

She said some people on the internet were spreading fake stories about shortages, leading to panic shopping.

"It is not funny. It is inappropriate when someone acts in this way and contributes to confusion among the population," she said.

Turning to goods traffic within the European Union, Kloeckner said that any restrictions on cross-border travel would not apply. She suggested creating green corridors for trucks carrying perishable goods to avoid bottlenecks.

16:07 GMT 17.03.2020
Vietnam Airlines Suspending Flights to France, Malaysia Over COVID-19

BANGKOK (Sputnik) - Vietnam Airlines is suspending flights to France starting from 17 March and to Malaysia from 18 March over the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, the company said on Tuesday.

"Due to the current situation in France and limited operating conditions, Vietnam Airlines will temporarily suspend services between Vietnam and France starting 17 March 2020," the company said in a press release.

It added that in Southeast Asia, Vietnam Airlines would "temporarily suspend flights between Vietnam and Malaysia from 18 March to 31 March 2020 as per the Malaysian Government's temporary border closure announcement."

The company also said that flights to the UK and Germany would operate as planned, and that affected passengers would be able to change their flight route or departure date free of charge.

France has so far confirmed over 6,600 cases with 148 deaths, according to the country's health agency, Sante Publique. Vietnam, on the other hand, has reported nearly 60 cases of the disease but no fatalities, according to the World Health Organization's latest data.

16:07 GMT 17.03.2020
Coronavirus 'Worse Than 9/11' For Airlines - US Treasury Secretary

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The effects of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak on the airline industry in the United States is worse than the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said during a press briefing on Tuesday.

"I think, as you know, this is worse than 9/11 for the airline industry. They’re almost ground to a halt," Mnuchin told reporters.

15:40 GMT 17.03.2020
Erdogan Discusses With Merkel, Macron, Johnson Coronavirus, Idlib, Turkey's Relations With EU by Phone - Erdogan's Administration

ANKARA (Sputnik) - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has held a televised conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to discuss the situation around the coronavirus disease, the developments in Syria's Idlib province, the migration crisis and Turkey's relations with the European Union, the administration of the Turkish leader said on Tuesday.

"During the four-way negotiations between the leaders of Turkey, the United Kingdom, France and Germany, the sides have discussed joint effort on fighting coronavirus spread, as well as humanitarian assistance to the residents of Syria's Idlib, the problem around migrants, the situation in Libya and the Turkish-EU relations," the Turkish presidential administration said in a statement.

Erdogan intended to meet with Merkel and Macron in Istanbul in person, but it was decided to hold a televised conference instead, due to the coronavirus disease pandemic. The talks lasted 75 minutes.

 

15:26 GMT 17.03.2020
Queen Elizabeth Cancels Annual Garden Parties, Will Leave London for Windsor Castle - Buckingham Palace

Queen Elizabeth has cancelled her annual garden parties and will leave for Windsor Castle a week earlier than planned amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Buckingham Palace said on Tuesday.

The 93-year-old monarch will remain there beyond the Easter period, the palace added.

"In consultation with the Medical Household and government, a number of public events with large numbers of people due to have been attended by the queen, and other members of the royal family, in the coming months will be cancelled or postponed," a statement by the palace reads.

15:24 GMT 17.03.2020
US Treasury to Provide $10 Billion Capital to US Businesses Amid Coronavirus - Mnuchin

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The Federal Reserve is stepping into the commercial paper market with a $10 billion funding from the US Treasury to avert a cash crunch from the coronavirus that could threaten day-to-day funding for businesses, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said on Tuesday.

“I have just sent Chairman Jerome Powell a letter confirming that I approve the establishment of the CPFF to provide liquidity to the financial system pursuant to Section 13(3) of the Federal Reserve Act and the Board’s Regulation A,” Mnuchin said in a statement, referring to the letter sent to the Fed Chair Powell on the Commercial Paper Funding Facility established by the central bank.

The Fed said in a separate statement that the Treasury will provide $10 billion of credit protection to the CPFF.

15:18 GMT 17.03.2020
Nissan Halts Production at UK Factory Over Covid-19 Pandemic

Japan's Nissan has suspended production at its biggest factory in Britain due to the new coronavirus-linked impact, the carmaker said on Tuesday.  

"Further measures are currently under study as we assess supply chain disruption and the sudden drop in market demand caused by the COVID-19 emergency," it said in a statement, as cited by Reuters.

The factory produced about 350,000 out of Britain's 1.3 million cars last year. 

15:14 GMT 17.03.2020
Egypt's Red Sea Province Quarantines All Hotel Workers for Two Weeks - Reports

CAIRO (Sputnik) - Amr Hanafi, the governor of Egypt's Red Sea province, has ordered a quarantine of tourism sector employees in connection with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, al-Masry al-Youm newspaper reported on Tuesday.

A German citizen, who had spent part of their vacation in the province, later became the first person to be diagnosed with COVID-19 in Egypt.

The governor ordered that a number of measures be taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. In particular, tourism workers will be prohibited from leaving their places of employment, including hotels, tourist villages, bazaars and restaurants, for 14 days.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Egyptian Health Ministry announced about 40 new cases of coronavirus infection and two new fatalities over the past day. The country has reported a total of 166 cases.

15:04 GMT 17.03.2020
Austria Suspends Flight Traffic With Great Britain, Ukraine, Russia From Wednesday - Interior Minister

Austria is suspending flight traffic with Great Britain, Ukraine and Russia starting from Wednesday, the country's interior minister said. 

14:54 GMT 17.03.2020
Number of Confirmed Covid-19 Cases in UK Rises to 1,950 in 24 Hours

"As of 9 am on 17 March 2020, 50,442 people have been tested in the UK, of which 48,492 were confirmed negative and 1,950 were confirmed as positive," the government said, as quoted by Reuters.

Britain reported its first confirmed coronavirus case on 31 January. The death toll from the new coronavirus stands at 56.

14:53 GMT 17.03.2020
No Coronavirus Cases Confirmed Yet in Syria - WHO

GENEVA (Sputnik) - Syria has yet to register a single case of coronavirus (COVID-19) infection despite access to tests in the country, World Health Organization spokesman Christian Lindmeier said on Tuesday.

"There are no cases of coronavirus in Syria. It has now become possible to conduct tests both in the territory under the control of the government, and in the north-west, which is controlled by the opposition," Lindmeier said at a briefing.

According to him, thirty-four tests performed in Damascus came back negative. The World Health Organization (WHO) is closely monitoring the situation, in particular in the north-west regions of the country.

On March 11, the WHO declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. More than 185,000 cases in 155 countries and territories have been confirmed. Over 80,000 patients have recovered, but more than 7,300 have died.

14:51 GMT 17.03.2020
Tehran Says Kuwait Pledged $10Mln to Help Fight Coronavirus

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Kuwait has pledged $10 million to help Iran’s fight against the coronavirus, Iran’s Foreign Ministry said on Saturday.

"The Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Ahmed Nasser Al-Sabah, during a telephone conversation with the Iranian Foreign Minister said that $10 million of humanitarian aid will be sent by Kuwait to Iran to combat the spread of coronavirus," the ministry said in a statement.

Iran remains one of the worst affected nations outside China, with only Italy counting more cases.

With over 15,000 cases and more than 850 fatalities, Iran has received help from China, Russia, and several European nations despite the US-imposed sanctions in place against the country.

Oil-rich Gulf neighbour Kuwait currently counts around 130 cases, with the initial spike of cases traced back to Iran.

Earlier this month, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic after cases were confirmed in over 140 countries worldwide.

14:50 GMT 17.03.2020
Number of Covid-19 Cases in New York State to Peak in 45 Days - Governor Cuomo

NEW YORK (Sputnik) - The number of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in New York State is expected to peak in about 45 days, Governor Andrew Cuomo said during a press briefing on Tuesday.

"The expected peak is around 45 days," Cuomo told reporters.

Cuomo added that at the point of reaching the peak, there will be a need for 55,000 to 110,000 hospital beds to treat infected patients. At present, New York State has 53,000 beds.

14:36 GMT 17.03.2020
Moldovan Parliament Declares 60-Day State of Emergency Over Coronavirus - Speaker

CHISINAU (Sputnik) - Moldovan lawmakers decided at their urgent meeting on Tuesday to introduce a 60-day state of emergency in the country due to the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country, Parliament Speaker Zinaida Greceanii said.

Under the Moldovan legislature, the government initiates the introduction of the state of emergency, and lawmakers make the final decision.

"The main topic of our meeting today is the introduction of a 60-day state of emergency due to the coronavirus. The draft decision of the parliament has been passed unanimously," Greceanii said.

Moldova has registered 29 COVID-19 cases.

14:35 GMT 17.03.2020
Pakistan Registers First Coronavirus-Related Death - Reports

NEW DELHI (Sputnik) - The authorities of Pakistan's Punjab province have registered the first fatality related to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), media reported on Tuesday, citing provincial Health Minister Yasmin Rashid.

According to the Dunya News broadcaster, the patient arrived in Pakistan from Iran and was transferred to the hospital in critical condition.

Speaking at a press conference, Rashid recommended that residents avoid unnecessary trips and stay home to prevent the illness from further spreading, the media added.

Pakistan has so far registered 195 cases of the coronavirus infection, six of them in Punjab.

On March 11, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak of the new coronavirus a pandemic. More than 185,000 cases in 155 countries and territories have been confirmed. The majority of the patients have recovered, but more than 7,300 have died.

14:34 GMT 17.03.2020
Number of COVID-19 Cases in Belgium Surpasses 1,200 With 10 Fatalities - Health Ministry

BRUSSELS (Sputnik) - The number of cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Belgium has increased by 185 over the last 24 hours, which brings the total toll of those infected to 1,243, the Health Ministry said on Tuesday.

According to the ministry, 10 patients have already died from the disease.

The country has already closed schools, museums, theatres and restaurants in a bid to contain the pandemic.

On Monday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen proposed a 30-day ban on all non-essential travel to the European Union to contain the spread of COVID-19, with exemptions for EU citizens returning home and health care workers.

In a separate development, Belgium's flag carrier, Brussels Airways, decided on Tuesday to temporarily suspend all flights until April 19 due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

"Given the extraordinary circumstances caused by the worldwide Coronavirus crisis, Brussels Airlines has decided to temporarily suspend its flight operations from 21 March 2020," the airline said in a statement.

The airline added that as of Tuesday, "the airline will gradually reduce its flight schedule until 20 March. From 21 March until 19 April included, all flights will be suspended."

14:32 GMT 17.03.2020
Lombardy Running out of Beds in Hospitals, Grateful to Receive Respirators From Red Cross

GENOA (Sputnik), Anastasia Levchenko - Lombardy, Italy’s worst-hit region by the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), is running out of beds and is grateful to receive 30 new respirators from the Italian Red Cross for patients in intensive care, Giulio Gallera, Lombardy's regional councillor of welfare, said on Tuesday.

"Yesterday in Lombardy, we almost ran out of all the beds for intensive care. When I heard that 30 new respirators would be donated by the Italian Red Cross, I almost started crying. Starting today, we will give hope to 30 Lombards who have difficulties with breathing," Gallera said, as quoted by the Italian Red Cross in a press release.

The Italian Red Cross has decided to donate the equipment brought by the Chinese Red Cross to the hospitals in Lombardy.

Chinese doctors from the country's Red Cross arrived last week to help Italy cope with COVID-19. Now, they are visiting hospitals in northern Italy together with a team from the Italian Red Cross.

According to the latest data from the Italian ministry of health, Lombardy has had more than 14,500 confirmed cases of COVID-19, which is half of Italy’s total.

14:31 GMT 17.03.2020
WHO Praises Russia for Support Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - A World Health Organization (WHO) official praised on Tuesday Russia's support and help with supplies amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

"I am pretty happy to say that the Russian Federation is helping us with support and supplies ... We are using their tests as well," Dr Dorit Nitzan, health emergencies and operation management coordinator at the WHO Regional Office for Europe, said at a virtual press conference.

The global number of COVID-19 cases has exceeded 185,000, with the death toll amounting to 7,330. As many as 80,236 people have recovered. Russia has registered 114 cases, most of them are imported. Five people have been discharged from hospital.

14:28 GMT 17.03.2020
'No Need For Any Drastic Decisions at This Stage' for Tokyo 2020 Games - IOC

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said that it remains fully committed to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. 

14:23 GMT 17.03.2020
CureVac Denies Washington Requested to Reserve Production for US

German vaccine developer CureVac was not asked by Washington to reserve production slots and its scientists were not lured to move to the United States, the firm's acting Chief Executive Franz-Werner Haas told journalists on Tuesday, according to Reuters.  

14:20 GMT 17.03.2020
WHO Says There Is Need for 'Bold' Measures in Europe Over Covid-19

There is a need for bold measures in all European countries as the continent is the "epicentre" of the new coronavirus pandemic, the World Health Organization's (WHO) regional office for Europe said.

"Every country, with no exceptions, needs to take their boldest actions to stop or slow down the virus threat," Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, told a press conference.

"Thinking that 'this does not concern me,' is not an option," Kluge said.

14:19 GMT 17.03.2020
OSCE's Watchdog Scales Back Election Monitoring Activities Due to Coronavirus

WARSAW (Sputnik) - The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) said on Tuesday it scaled back election observation activities in connection with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

"Election observation activities of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) are being temporarily limited in some places, as countries around the OSCE region restrict cross-border travel in response to increased health risks," the organization said.

Thus, the watchdog will not observe North Macedonian snap parliamentary election scheduled for 12 April and the parliamentary elections in Serbia set for April 26.

The organization has not yet decided on other elections and will make decisions based on the recommendation of national authorities and situation with the coronavirus.

14:18 GMT 17.03.2020
EU Nations to Each Decide on Travel Restrictions in Coordinated Manner - EC

BRUSSELS (Sputnik) - Each EU member state will decide whether to implement temporary travel restrictions to limit the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), but all are invited to coordinate their steps at the EU level, European Commission spokesman Adalbert Jahnz said on Tuesday.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen proposed on Monday that travel from third-party countries to the European Union's borderless Schengen zone be banned temporarily.

"From the legal perspective, we are talking about a coordinated set of national decisions. This is why the form in which we have made this recommendation to the member states is... that we are inviting the heads of state to take this measure," he told reporters.

Any travel restrictions will be enforced under respective national laws, he said further in response to whether the commission would take any action if there was a lack of compliance with jointly made decisions on travel.

The commission also recommended that restrictions would not be applied to migrants who need international protection for humanitarian reasons, Jahnz said. He urged EU nations to balance their epidemic response with obligations under international laws.

14:17 GMT 17.03.2020
Saudi Capital to Distribute Sanitizers for Free Amid COVID-19 Pandemic - Reports

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The Saudi capital of Riyadh will distribute sanitation products for free among its residents in a bid to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), media reported on Tuesday.

According to Al Arabiya broadcaster, the municipal authorities will hand out the products at traffic lights and in several mosques across the city. In addition, after receiving authorization of the Saudi Food and Drug Authority, the municipality has increased the production of sanitizers and disinfectants.

So far, a total of 133 confirmed cases of the disease have been registered in Saudi Arabia.

14:17 GMT 17.03.2020
Almost 50,000 Safety Masks Stolen in Germany's Cologne Amid COVID-19 Outbreak - Police

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Unknown criminals have stolen almost 50,000 safety masks from a hospital warehouse in the German city of Cologne, the local police said on Tuesday.

"Almost 50,000 safety masks have been stolen from the Cologne hospital's logistics centre on Schanzenstrasse in [the district of ] Mülheim, Cologne," the police said in a statement published on the Presse Portal website.

The theft was discovered and reported to the police by an employee.

According to data by the Robert Koch Institute, as of Monday, there are 6,012 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Germany.

14:16 GMT 17.03.2020
Work Underway to Develop COVID-19 Self-Tests - WHO Europe Official

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Efforts are currently underway to develop self-tests for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), an official from the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Europe said on Tuesday, adding that the watchdog was following these developments with interest.

"The work is underway to try to develop self-tests," Dr Richard Pebody, the High Threat Pathogens Infectious Hazard Management team leader at the WHO Regional Office for Europe, said at a video conference.

He added that the WHO was watching the efforts with interest and hoped it could play a role in them the future.

According to the latest data, more than 180,000 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed worldwide. Over 80,000 patients have recovered, but more than 7,000 others have died.

14:14 GMT 17.03.2020
Deputy Moscow Mayor Refutes Claims of Plans to Close Russian Capital for Quarantine

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Anastasia Rakova, deputy Moscow mayor for social development, refuted on Tuesday media reports saying that the Russian capital will be closed for quarantine amid the coronavirus disease pandemic.

"As information that Moscow will allegedly be closed for quarantine is spreading in media, I tell you that this is not true. These reports are fake. I ask you to be guided by the official information provided by the emergency response team," Rakova told reporters.

13:58 GMT 17.03.2020
Sweden to Shut Universities, Senior High Schools Over COVID-19 Pandemic - Prime Minister

STOCKHOLM (Sputnik) - Sweden will close all educational institutions for learners aged 16 and older beginning on 18 March over the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said on Tuesday, adding that students will be transferred to distance learning.

"Starting tomorrow [Wednesday], all Swedish gymnasiums [senior high schools] and educational institutions for adults should switch to distance learning," Lofven said at a press conference.

In addition, the government is considering the closure of kindergartens and elementary schools. If the decision is made, parents performing community-critical work will receive assistance in childcare. A similar measure was taken in Norway, where kindergartens remain open to children of health workers, firefighters and police officers.

So far, over 1,000 people have been infected with the virus in Sweden and seven patients have died, according to the data of the World Health Organization.

13:53 GMT 17.03.2020
Archbishop of Canterbury Suspends Public Worship Amid Coronavirus Outbreak - Report

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York, Justin Welby and John Sentamu, have called for Church of England churches to put public worship on hold and become a "different sort of church" in the coming months to face, the Daily Mirror reports.

Earlier, the UK government announced strict measures to try to contain the spread of the Covid-19 infection, putting restrictions on public gatherings, transport and working.   

13:52 GMT 17.03.2020
Russia Registers 114 COVID-19 Cases, 10 People Get Infection Inside Country - Official

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Russia has registered 114 cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) so far, and ten people have got infected already inside the country, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said on Tuesday.

"As many as 114 infected persons are currently registered in 26 regions of the Russian Federation. Of them, five have already recovered and have been discharged from hospital. One hundred and nine people are in hospitals, of whom 106 have a mild form of the disease, with no symptoms," Golikova said at Russian President Vladimir Putin's meeting with the cabinet.

She specified that 104 cases were imported, and ten people got infected after contact with those arriving from abroad.

According to the urgent response centre, the new COVID-19 cases have been registered in 15 constituent entities across Russia.

The centre also said that over 16,000 people, who had arrived from countries with the tough epidemiological situation, remained under medical control in Russia amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

13:43 GMT 17.03.2020
Putin on Covid-19: Situation Under Control in Russia, Mass Spread Prevented Thanks to Timely Measures

Russian President Vladimir Putin has described steps taken by European nations to contain the coronavirus as reasonable and stressed that the situation in Russia is under control as well thanks to timely measures that helped to stop the mass spread of the infection.

Earlier in the day, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said that Russia had registered 114 cases of the coronavirus so far, and ten people have got infected already inside the country.

"As many as 114 infected persons are currently registered in 26 regions of the Russian Federation. Of them, five have already recovered and have been discharged from hospital. One hundred and nine people are in hospitals, of whom 106 have a mild form of the disease, with no symptoms", she said during Russian President Vladimir Putin's meeting with the cabinet.

13:19 GMT 17.03.2020
World Health Organisation Holds Q&A Session on Coronavirus Pandemic - Video
the logo of the World Health Organization (WHO) at their headquarters in Geneva - Sputnik International
WHO Holds Press Conference on Coronavirus Outbreak in Europe – Video
13:19 GMT 17.03.2020
Candidate to Replace Merkel as Chancellor Tested Positive for Coronavirus
Friedrich Merz, right, member of the German Christian Democratic Party - Sputnik International
Merkel's Potential Successor Friedrich Merz Tests Positive for Covid-19
13:12 GMT 17.03.2020
Trump Administration to Request Massive Economic Stimulus Package Amid Coronavirus Outbreak
A man wears a mask while walking under the marquee of The Castro Theatre in San Francisco, Monday, 16 March 2020. Officials in six San Francisco Bay Area counties issued a shelter-in-place mandate Monday affecting nearly 7 million people, including the city of San Francisco itself. The order says residents must stay inside and venture out only for necessities for three weeks starting Tuesday in a desperate attempt by officials to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. - Sputnik International
Trump Administration to Seek $850Bln to Staunch Economic Free-Fall Caused by COVID-19 - Reports
13:02 GMT 17.03.2020
Businesses and Schools in NYC on Lockdown Due to Covid-19 Pandemic
12:55 GMT 17.03.2020
The Covid-19 Death Toll in the Philippines Rises to 14
12:53 GMT 17.03.2020
Malaysia Confirms First Coronavirus-Related Death - Reports

BANGKOK (Sputnik) - A 60-year-old man who has died of complications related to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has become Malaysia's first fatality due to the outbreak, media reported on Tuesday.

According to Malaysia's The Star newspaper, citing a local disaster management committee, pastor David Cheng from Emmanuel Baptist Church died at a hospital in the northwestern state of Sarawak. The local health department is still trying to identify where and when the man contracted the disease, the newspaper added.

To date, Malaysia has confirmed over 550 cases of the disease on its soil. The majority of the patients are believed to have been infected during a mass Islamic religious event near the capital of Kuala Lumpur that took place from 27 February to 3 March.

12:51 GMT 17.03.2020
Iran to Receive Humanitarian Aid From Russia Amid Covid-19 Pandemic
People queue in line to receive packages for precautions against COVID-19 coronavirus disease provided by the Basij, a militia loyal to Iran's Islamic republic establishment, from a booth outside Meydane Valiasr metro station in the capital Tehran on March 15, 2020. - Iran on March 15 announced that the new coronavirus has killed 113 more people, the highest single-day death toll yet in one of the world's worst-affected countries. - Sputnik International
Russia Sends Iran Humanitarian Aid to Help in Coronavirus Fight
12:47 GMT 17.03.2020
Russia Sends Iran Humanitarian Aid to Help in Coronavirus Fight - Deputy Foreign Minister
People queue in line to receive packages for precautions against COVID-19 coronavirus disease provided by the Basij, a militia loyal to Iran's Islamic republic establishment, from a booth outside Meydane Valiasr metro station in the capital Tehran on March 15, 2020. - Iran on March 15 announced that the new coronavirus has killed 113 more people, the highest single-day death toll yet in one of the world's worst-affected countries. - Sputnik International
Russia Sends Iran Humanitarian Aid to Help in Coronavirus Fight
12:43 GMT 17.03.2020
Britons Advised to Stop Non-Essential Travel Anywhere in the World

British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab has advised British nationals to stop all non-essential travel globally for the next 30 days.

"With immediate effect, I have taken the decision to advise British nationals against non-essential travel globally, for an initial period of 30 days and of course subject to ongoing review," Raab told parliament, as quoted by Reuters. 

12:35 GMT 17.03.2020
UEFA Decides to Postpone Euro 2020 Tournament
UEFA Euro 2020 mascot Skillzy poses for a photo with the official match ball at Olympiapark in Munich, Germany, March 3, 2020 - Sputnik International
Euro 2020 Postponed Until 2021 Amid Coronavirus Outbreak - Norwegian Football Federation
12:21 GMT 17.03.2020
Covid-19 Vaccine, Anyone? Volunteers Wanted in China to Try Newly Developed Vaccine
A nurse holds a swabs and test tube kit to test people for COVID-19, the disease that is caused by the new coronavirus, at a drive through station set up in the parking lot of the Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich., Monday, 16 March 2020. - Sputnik International
Chinese Scientists Begin Recruiting Volunteers for Clinical Trials of COVID-19 Vaccines
12:20 GMT 17.03.2020
No Problems With Supplies in Stores in Russia Amid Covid-19 Pandemic - PM

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said on Tuesday that there were no problems with supplies of goods and food to stores amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and that the authorities were closely monitoring the situation.

"People are buying a lot of products now. In fact, there are no problems. We have very stable supplies. We monitor the situation with retail chains. The most important thing is that we monitor the average cost of consumer basket for each region up to the store level. It is online information, not some kind of statistical calculations," Mishustin said during the visit to the coronavirus information centre.

According to Mishustin, the monitoring system allows to ensure timely deliveries of all necessary products to stores. However, no problems have been observed so far, he added.

12:08 GMT 17.03.2020
Japan's Olympic Committee Deputy Chief Tests Positive for Covid-19 - Statement

In a statement issued via the Japan Football Association, the country's Olympic Committee Deputy Chief Kozo Tashima said:

"Today, my test result showed positive for the new coronavirus."

He added that he had been on a business trip since February 28, first heading to Belfast for the AGM of the International Football Association Board and then visiting Amsterdam for a UEFA meeting to give a presentation on Japan’s bid for the 2023 women’s World Cup.

The 2020 Summer Olympics are scheduled to begin on 24 July and run for over two weeks until 9 August. However, due to the new coronavirus pandemic, chances are that the games won't be held as planned. 

12:01 GMT 17.03.2020
Nationwide 'State of Disaster' Declared in Bosnia Amid Covid-19 Pandemic - Prime Minister

A nationwide state of disaster over coronavirus has been declared in Bosnia to enable coordination of emergency activities between its two autonomous regions, Prime Minister Zoran Tegeltija said.

On Monday, the Bosniak-Croat Federation and the Serb Republic declared emergency situations separately each.

Bosnia has reported 26 Covid-19 cases so far, with no deaths.

11:55 GMT 17.03.2020
Thai Prime Minister Says Country Will Not Close Borders Over COVID-19

BANGKOK (Sputnik) - Thailand is not planning on closing off its borders over the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said on Tuesday.

Last week, Bangkok stopped issuing visas to citizens of 18 countries.

"We are not planning for a total shut down of the borders or of the country. We continue applying the limitations that were adopted in recent days and that concern the people entering Thailand from countries with the highest risk of infection. The persons not covered by these limitations can enter the country as usual," the prime minister said in a speech broadcast by Thai PBS TV channel, after a cabinet meeting.

He added that the cabinet had issued a decree on COVID-19 response measures.

The Thai government has, however, cancelled the three day-holiday for Songkran, the country's New Year, Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said.

"We have made the decision to cancel the Songkran holidays in mid-April and make them workdays," Charnvirakul said, adding that this was a necessary measure to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Thailand currently has 177 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to the nation's health ministry.

11:49 GMT 17.03.2020
Watch Deserted Streets of Paris Amid Travel Resrictions Announced by President Macron
Central Paris amid Covid-19 outbreak - Sputnik International
Paris on Lockdown Due to Covid-19 Outbreak - Video
11:13 GMT 17.03.2020
All Problems With Coronavirus, Energy Market Have Effect on Russian Economy - Putin

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The problems linked to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) global spread and energy market have an effect on the Russian economy, President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday.

"We can all see all of the problems appearing because of the coronavirus, prices for energy sources, we see consequences for the world's stock exchanges, for the exchange rate and so on. All of this will have an impact on our economy, in one way or the other, the way it functions," Putin said.

10:57 GMT 17.03.2020
British Airways Says It Plans to Reduce Number of Pilots as Measure to Survive the Coronavirus Crisis

British Airways is going to reduce an unspecified number of pilots in an attempt to spend less amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis, UK pilot union BALPA said, as quoted by Reuters. 

The CEO of British Airways said last Friday it would have to make job losses but did not elaborate on that. 

In a statement on Tuesday, BALPA said it was disappointed with the airline's decision to reduce the number of pilots. 

"While we do not underestimate the magnitude of the problem facing BA and other airlines we are extremely disappointed that a company like BA with a strong balance sheet and cash reserves has rushed into redundancy consultation," BALPA General Secretary Brian Strutton said, as quoted by Reuters. 

10:52 GMT 17.03.2020
1,178 New Covid-19 Cases Confirmed in Iran in Past 24 Hours - Health Official

"The death toll is 988 ... with 1,178 new infected people in the past 24 hours, now the total number of infected cases is 16,169 across the country," said health ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur, quoted by Reuters. 

10:46 GMT 17.03.2020
Vienna Airport to Reduce Flights to Minimum - Spokesman

Vienna Airport has announced on Tuesday it plans to suspend all scheduled flights, except freight flights.

"Vienna Airport will still be operating, especially to enable freight flights and flights to bring people back home," a spokesman said, as quoted by Reuters. 

10:40 GMT 17.03.2020
Number of Covid-19 Cases in Spain Rises to 11,178 - Health Ministry

The death toll from the Covid-19 infection stands at 491, the Spanish Health Ministry said. 

10:34 GMT 17.03.2020
Afghan Diplomat Says 'Hard to Control' COVID-19 Spread Amid Refugee Exodus From Iran

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Afghanistan has so far not seen a "massive" spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on its soil but finds it difficult to control the situation amid the repatriation of its refugees from virus-hit Iran, Ambassador to Russia Dr Mohammad Latif Bahand said.

According to official data, nearly 70,000 Afghans had returned from Iran over the past 20 days. The first week of March saw the inflow of Afghan refugees and migrant workers doubling compared to the same period in late February

"The first infected individual recovered on March 12 and was discharged. And maybe because there [are] a lot of refugees now returning to Afghanistan in connection with the events in Iran, the situation is hard to control. But there has not been a massive disease spread yet," Bahand said.

He added that a task force had been created under the second vice president to tackle the virus situation.

Afghanistan has so far confirmed 21 coronavirus cases. Iran, meanwhile, is suffering from the biggest outbreak after China and Italy, with nearly 15,000 cases of infection and over 850 deaths.

10:31 GMT 17.03.2020
Kremlin Has No Confirmed Information on G20 Gathering to Discuss COVID-19

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The Kremlin has seen media reports on the idea to hold a G20 summit on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), but there are no official details on the issue so far, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday.

"I do not know if there has been some [information] via the diplomatic channels, but we have not received any detailed information so far. We have seen the reports in the media, perhaps it makes sense to check with the Foreign Ministry," Peskov said.

10:26 GMT 17.03.2020
Nur-Sultan, Almaty Will Be CLosed For Quarantine Starting Thursday - Kazakh Government

ALMATY (Sputnik) - Kazakhstan is closing Almaty and Nur-Sultan for quarantine amid the coronavirus disease outbreak (COVID-19) starting Thursday, the government's press service said.

There will be restrictions on the travel of people and vehicles in and out of the quarantine zones.

10:18 GMT 17.03.2020
19 People Detained in Turkey Over 'Provocative' Coronavirus Social Media Posts

According to Turkey's interior ministry, as cited by the local media, the detainees made "unreliable and provocative posts on social media about the coronavirus outbreak in the country in an attempt to mislead the citizens and cause panic and fear in the society." 

10:16 GMT 17.03.2020
Kremlin Considers Minsk's Complaints Over Russia's Measures on COVID-19 Unfair - Spokesman

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The Kremlin considers Minsk's criticism of Moscow's decision to temporarily close the border with Belarus amid the global spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) unfair, presidential spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said Tuesday.

"In general, I can repeat that our government chief informed Belarus — our allies, partners and friends — via his counterpart in advance about these measures, so, of course, we understand the emotions and so on, but we consider this criticism of Russia unfair, especially in the situation where we are all fighting coronavirus," Peskov said.

On Monday, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko questioned Moscow's decision to temporarily close the border, adding that his phone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin was planned.

"As far as I know, there was no conversation yesterday. I do not know yet if there will be a conversation today, at the moment it is not on the president's agenda," Peskov said.

10:14 GMT 17.03.2020
Number of COVID-19 Cases in Austria Rises to 1,132 - Health Ministry

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The number of confirmed coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in Austria has increased to 1,132, the Health Ministry informed on Tuesday.

It publishes updates on the situation with COVID-19 at 8:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. local time (07:00 and 14:00 GMT).

The country has carried out 10,278 tests so far, with 1,132 coming back positive. The death toll stands at three.

Meanwhile, the overall number of infected in the Philippines has reached 187, according to the county's Health Department.

"As of 12nn today [04:00 GMT], the Department of Health [DOH] reports 45 new cases (PH143-PH187) of COVID-19. The total number of cases in the country is now at 187. The DOH also reports the second Filipino who recovered from COVID-19, which brings the total number of recoveries to 4," the department wrote on Facebook.

Per the last report by the World Health Organization, there are over 167,000 confirmed cases throughout the world, with over 150 countries affected by the pandemic.

10:05 GMT 17.03.2020
Two WHO Staffers Tested Positive for Covid-19 - Official

"The staff had left the office and then at home showed symptoms and were confirmed with COVID-19," WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier told journalists, as quoted by Reuters.

"We do therefore have two confirmed cases," Lindmeier added. 

09:06 GMT 17.03.2020
Live From Paris as France Goes on Lockdown Amid Coronavirus Outbreak
08:52 GMT 17.03.2020
Uruguay Shuts Border With Argentina Amid Coronavirus Fears

Uruguay has decided to completely close its border with Argentina as a measure to combat the spread of the new coronavirus (COVID-19), Uruguay's President Luis Lacalle Pou said.

"We talked today [Monday] with the authorities of almost the entire region, and with Argentina in particular, we decided to completely close the border, including the river border," Lacalle Pou said at a press conference.

According to the president, air, land and sea borders will be closed at midnight on Tuesday (03:00 GMT) except for the traffic of goods and necessities. Uruguay's nationals and permanent residents will be allowed to return home.

To date, Uruguay and Argentina have registered 29 and 65 coronavirus cases, respectively.

08:51 GMT 17.03.2020
Japan to Continue Olympic Preparations Despite Coronavirus Pandemic

Japan will continue with preparation for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games as scheduled and will go ahead with the torch relay from Fukushima later this month, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said on Tuesday.

“We will continue to work closely with the IOC [International Olympic Committee], the organizing committee and the Tokyo metropolitan government to steadily proceed with the events as scheduled. We intend to hold the games as they have always taken place,” Suga said at a news conference in Tokyo, broadcast by the NHK.

Suga added that world leaders had approved the decision.

The number of coronavirus cases has exceeded 800 in Japan — excluding those infected on the Diamond Princess cruise liner — and 182,000 globally, throwing into question Tokyo’s hosting of the event, which is scheduled to take place from late July to August.

Earlier this month, the IOC canceled the lighting of the Olympic torch in Greece due to the coronavirus pandemic.

08:50 GMT 17.03.2020
Russian Invitro Medical Company to Launch 2-Day Coronavirus Test in April

Russian private medical company Invitro will offer coronavirus (COVID-19) tests starting in mid-April, Invitro press service said.

The company expects the test results to take two days or more to come back.

Invitro is currently buying the necessary supplies.

The company plans to do the tests at four of its five labs in the country — in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk and Chelyabinsk.

The company did not say how much it would cost to take the test but intends it to be the same throughout the country and close to the cost price.

08:17 GMT 17.03.2020
There Was No Option But For UK to Adopt This More Draconian Approach to Coronavirus Outbreak - UK Epidemiologist Ferguson

"The measures which have just been taken, the earliest we'd expect to see an effect on the growth of the epidemic is about two to three weeks time," said Professor Neil Ferguson, an expert on the spread of infectious diseases at Imperial College London.

"I think we're still behind the epidemic seen in other European countries," he told BBC radio. "I overall think we've got the timing about right."

"Certainly there wasn't any time to lose," he said.

08:08 GMT 17.03.2020
Live From Berlin as Government Announces Shutdown
07:40 GMT 17.03.2020
Polish Ministers Screened for Coronavirus After One Tests Positive

"The results should be known today. All these persons remain in quarantine," the Prime Minister's Chief of Staff Michal Dworczyk said on Tuesday.

Polish ministers who were present at the most recent cabinet meeting have been tested for coronavirus after the environment minister said on Monday that he had tested positive.

06:48 GMT 17.03.2020
European Council Chief to Talk Tuesday With EU Leaders About Coronavirus Response

European Council President Charles Michel has called a video conference with EU leaders for Tuesday to discuss coronavirus response measures.

The video link-up is scheduled for 5 p.m. Brussels time (16:00 GMT).

The Belgian tweeted on Monday he had decided to call the extraordinary conference to follow up on the European Council's actions to counter the spread of the COVID-19 disease.

Efforts to contain the spread of the virus, provide sufficient medical equipment, boost vaccine and treatment research, and limit the economic fallout are likely to be discussed.

The World Health Organization declared Europe the new epicenter of the pandemic last week after the number of infections there spiked in comparison to China, where the virus emerged in December.

06:47 GMT 17.03.2020
President Maduro Imposes Nationwide Quarantine in Venezuela Due to Novel Coronavirus

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro declared quarantine throughout the country to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Partial quarantine in seven states has been on in Venezuela since Sunday.

"The entire country, 23 states and the metropolitan area, everything is under collective quarantine! The measure is tough and necessary," Maduro said in an address to citizens broadcast on his Twitter.

The president said there were new cases of COVID-19 in Venezuela. Over the past 24 hours, tests have revealed 16 new patients, the total number of infected people has reached 33.

06:40 GMT 17.03.2020
Number of COVID-19 Cases in Mexico Rises by 29 to 82 - Health Authorities

The number of coronavirus infection (COVID-19) cases in Mexico has increased by 29 over the past 24 hours bringing the total number of patients in the country to 82, the head of the Mexican Directorate General of Epidemiology Ricardo Cortes said on Tuesday.

"We currently have 82 confirmed cases with 90 percent of patients having mild symptoms. They receive ambulatory care. After tests, they are being sent home with caution," Cortes said.

According to the official, only two patients show heavy symptoms of viral respiratory infections.

On Sunday, the Mexican Education Ministry canceled training and sports activities at all levels of the educational system, including in private schools, for the period from March 20 to April 20.

The Mexican Health Ministry urges residents not to panic and assures them that all necessary restrictions and measures in connection with the spread of the COVID-19 virus are taken by the government in advance and in accordance with the current threat.

06:39 GMT 17.03.2020
Most New Coronavirus Cases in China Now Imported - Health Commission

A vast majority of new coronavirus cases in China are now being brought in from abroad, with 20 out of the 21 new cases reported over the past 24 hours imported from outside the country, China’s National Health Commission said on Tuesday.

The one new domestic case was registered in Wuhan, where COVID-19 is said to have originated and what was the epicenter of the pandemic before Europe worsened.

The commission said that it has now registered a total of 143 cases of imported coronavirus overall.

In addition to the 21 new cases across the mainland, China has registered 13 deaths, 930 recoveries, and a drop of severe cases by 202.

Although China remains the worst-hit country overall - with over 3,220 deaths from nearly 70,000 cases in the country alone - the severity of infections began to nosedive in late February.

The health commission last week officially confirmed that China was past its peak, and by Monday, the number of cases outside China overtook the number of cases inside.

06:38 GMT 17.03.2020
Russian Cabinet, Central Bank Introducing Measures to Minimise Impact of Coronavirus on Economy
Central Bank of Russia - Sputnik International
Russian Cabinet, Central Bank Introducing Measures to Minimise Impact of Coronavirus on Economy
06:02 GMT 17.03.2020
Ohio Governor Postpones Presidential Primary Set for Tuesday Due to Coronavirus Pandemic
A man in a surgical mask walks in front of a statue of first US President George Washington - Sputnik International
Ohio Governor Postpones Presidential Primary Set for Tuesday Due to Coronavirus Pandemic
05:58 GMT 17.03.2020
Ecuador Imposes Curfew, Limits Movement Within Country Amid COVID-19 Outbreak - President

The Ecuadorean authorities have declared a state of emergency due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, introducing a curfew and limiting movements across cities starting Tuesday, President Lenin Moreno said.

Moreno announced on Twitter that all public services with exception of security, health, and emergency ones are shut down.

"Starting March 17, a curfew from 21:00 until 5:00 is in effect. Also, starting this midnight, the inter-provincial transportation, domestic flights, and the private car traffic, will be suspended for 14 days," Moreno tweeted on Monday.

He added that to purchase medicine and food, one will have to use its vehicle on specific days depending on a license plate number. The ones ending with zero or even numbers are banned fro driving on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays, while the ones ending with odd numbers are banned on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

Cargo and medical vehicles will be allowed to move around without limitations.

As of Monday, Ecuador has 58 confirmed COVID-19 cases with two fatalities, according to the country's Health Ministry.

05:36 GMT 17.03.2020
Kyrgyzstan Temporarily Bans Entry to Foreigners Due to Coronavirus
05:34 GMT 17.03.2020
India Bans Travellers From Afghanistan, Philippines, Malaysia, as Precautionary Measure Amid Novel Coronavirus

India’s federal Health and Family Welfare Ministry has ordered a ban on travellers from Afghanistan, the Philippines, and Malaysia and prohibited any flights from these countries in view of the coronavirus pandemic.

05:07 GMT 17.03.2020
Ukraine to Suspend Bus, Air, Rail Services From March 18 to Contain COVID-19 - Minister

The Ukrainian cabinet decided to suspend bus, air and rail services, as well as subway operation from 10:00 a.m. GMT March 18 to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Infrastructure Minister Vladyslav Krykliy said Monday.

“The government’s decision for your safety: from 12:00 [local time] on March 18, 2020, railway, air, bus intercity and interregional passenger services in Ukraine are terminated. Subway stops operating in cities,” Krykliy wrote in his Telegram channel.

The cabinet imposed quarantine from March 12 to April 3 in all educational establishments and banned public events.

Earlier, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy instructed the cabinet to take appropriate measures.

According to the latest data from the Health Ministry, seven cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Ukraine. The first death in Ukraine as a result of the novel coronavirus was registered on March 13.

04:57 GMT 17.03.2020
Death Toll From Novel Coronavirus in Poland Rises to Four - Health Ministry

The death toll from the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Poland has risen to 4, the country's Health Ministry said in a statement.

According to the latest data, in Poland the coronavirus disease was confirmed in 156 people.

Earlier, the Polish government, in connection with the COVID-19 outbreak, decided to close the borders for foreigners, suspend international air and rail passenger services, ban gatherings of 50 or more people, and close entertainment venues and catering facilities.

04:57 GMT 17.03.2020
Number of Finnish Corona Cases May Exceed Official Count up to 30 Times – National Health Institute
Finland. Helsinki. Kanava Terminal and Assumption Cathedral. - Sputnik International
Number of Finnish Corona Cases May Exceed Official Count up to 30 Times – National Health Institute
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