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People queue at the Elmhurst Hospital Center to be tested for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Queens, New York City, 23 March 2020. - Sputnik International

Live Updates: Coronavirus Cases Pass 380,000 Globally

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According to Johns Hopkins University, the global count of COVID-19 cases now exceeds 380,000.

The United States and the countries of Europe remain at the forefront of the coronavirus outbreak; the number of cases is growing at an increasing rate in other parts of the world.

The majority of European countries are further strengthening efforts to fight the coronavirus pandemic. 

The United Nations will launch a global humanitarian appeal this week, asking for $2 billion to respond to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic crisis, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Monday.

The World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic on 11 March. 

The novel coronavirus, now officially named COVID-19, was first registered in December 2019 in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

Table of contents
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23:19 GMT 24.03.2020
Canada Weighing Options on Releasing Offenders Amid COVID-19 Pandemic - Statement

The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) is mulling options regarding the safe release of offenders amid the growing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, a CSC spokesperson said in a statement to Sputnik.

“We are examining what options are available to us in collaboration with the Parole Board of Canada and what flexibilities there are to safely release offenders into the community,” according to the statement.

The CSC added that the service has the operational capacity to address respiratory illnesses, such as COVID-19, and that they are in close communication with and following the guidance of Canadian public health agencies.

22:24 GMT 24.03.2020
Everyone Who Leaves New York Should Self-Quarantine for 14 Days - WH Official

Individuals who have left the US state of New York over the last couple of days should consider 14-day self-quarantine upon the arrival due to the highest in the United States rate of registered coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases there, the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Deborah Birx told reporters.

"We remain deeply concerned about New York City and the New York metro area," Birx said on Tuesday. "To everyone who has left New York over the last few days, because of the rate of the number of cases, you may have been exposed before you left New York, and I think… everybody who was in New York should be self-quarantining for the next 14 days to ensure that the virus doesn't spread to others, no matter where they have gone."

22:11 GMT 24.03.2020
First Novel Coronavirus Disease Case Registered in Libya - Reports

The first case of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has been registered in Libya, the Libya Observer said on Twitter citing medics.

It said the report had been received from the National Center for Disease Control.

21:04 GMT 24.03.2020
Switzerland Introduces Border Control Starting Wednesday Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Switzerland has expanded the list of countries that bear the risks of the spread of the coronavirus, adding to it all the countries belonging to the Schengen zone, and introduced border control with all its neighbors with the exception of Liechtenstein, the national government said on Tuesday.

According to the government decision, starting from Wednesday, Switzerland will introduce entry restrictions for all states belonging to the Schengen zone, with the exception of Liechtenstein, and limit air traffic with all countries across the world.

Starting from Wednesday, only citizens of Switzerland, holders of a residence permit and those who have urgent needs will be able to enter the country. The restrictions also will exempt the transportation of goods between countries, including air delivery.

21:02 GMT 24.03.2020
Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Committees Welcome 2020 Games Postponement

The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) and Paralympic Committee (CPC) welcome the decision to postpone the 2020 Summer Olympic Games until next year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the two sports bodies said in a joint press release on Tuesday.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee earlier in the day announced the postponement of the 2020 Games to a date in 2021 amid the expanding novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“The COC and CPC would like to thank President Thomas Bach, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee for this decision which continues to show their commitment to safeguarding the health and safety of athletes and the world community,” the COC and CPC said in the joint statement.

A COC spokesperson said that Canadian athletes’ top priority remains their health, safety, and well-being and they are supportive of the decision.

20:46 GMT 24.03.2020
Mexico Pledges $16Bln to Combat Economic Crisis, Consequences of COVID-19 - President

Extra-budgetary funds worth 400 billion pesos (about $16 billion) and concessional loans to small businesses will help Mexico cope with the economic crisis and the consequences of the coronavirus outbreak, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Tuesday.

"We have a non-deficit budget and an additional 400 billion pesos, which allows us to support all social security programs without exception. This gives us the opportunity to withstand the fall in oil prices, and at the same time lower gas prices," the president said during a press conference.

Lopez Obrador added that the crisis would not affect the main infrastructure projects of his administration, including Mexico City's new airport of Santa Lucia, Maya trains and Dos Bocas refinery, as well as programs for the construction of roads and highways.

According to the president, the government plans to provide financial support to small businesses and expects a quick economic recovery.

"Economic recovery is about to begin. In due time, we are going to provide interest-free loans or loans with very low interest rates to a million small enterprises — hotels, snack bars, workshops, which, unfortunately, will suffer in the economic crisis," he said.

20:12 GMT 24.03.2020
Number of COVID-19 Cases in Israel Approaches 2,000 - Health Ministry

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has reached 1,930 in Israel, the Health Ministry said on Tuesday.

According to the ministry, 34 of those infected are in a critical condition and 53 have recovered.

Israel has been resorting to strict measures in order to stop the disease from spreading, including a ban on movement, as well as on having guests and gathering in groups of more than 10 people.

20:06 GMT 24.03.2020
Coronavirus Patient in Iceland Tests Positive for 2 Strains - Company

A person in Iceland has been infected simultaneously with two strains of the new coronavirus, the chief executive of the Reykjavik-based deCODE genetics company said.

"We found an individual who had two types of virus; on the one hand the virus with a specific mutation and, on the other, the virus without that mutation," Kari Stefansson told national broadcasting service RUV.

People who became infected with the coronavirus after coming into contact with the unusual patient were only found to have the mutated strain, he added.

"It could just be coincidence, but it could also mean that the virus with the mutation was more virulent than the one without the mutation. We cannot be sure either way now," Stefansson said.

The company he founded to research the human genome has sequenced around 40 mutations of the COVID-19 coronavirus, which indicates that it arrived to the island nation from a larger number of countries than previously thought.

20:02 GMT 24.03.2020
Russia Calls for Global Ceasefire Amid COVID-19 Pandemic - Foreign Ministry

Moscow calls on the parties to all regional armed conflicts to immediately stop hostilities amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

"In connection with the worldwide spread of the COVID-19 epidemic, the Russian Foreign Ministry urges the parties to regional armed conflicts to immediately stop the fighting, introduce a ceasefire and a humanitarian pause," the ministry said in support for a similar call made by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Monday.

Otherwise, given the fact that majority of people living in conflict areas do not have access to essential medicines and qualified medical assistance, the pandemic could lead to a global humanitarian catastrophe, the ministry stressed.

Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Syria, as well as in the Palestinian territories, including the Gaza Strip, are of particular concern, Moscow said.

"We separately note the risks associated with the possible degradation of the epidemiological situation in African countries where armed confrontation does not subside," the ministry continued.

Camps for refugees and temporarily displaced persons are most vulnerable to the epidemic, it said.

"First of all, our appeal concerns countries that illegally use military force outside their national borders. We especially note that in the current conditions there can be no justification for the policy of unilateral coercive measures, including economic restrictions, which seriously complicate the efforts of the authorities to protect the health of their people," the ministry stressed.

The situation in areas controlled by terrorist groups also causes great concern. In the future, these zones may be most vulnerable to the spread of infection, so counter-terrorism efforts should continue, it said.

"We urge the international community to provide the countries in need with the necessary humanitarian assistance without any political preconditions. Such support should be aimed at saving people in distress. It is not acceptable to use humanitarian aid as a tool for imposing internal political changes, as well as speculating on destinies of the victims," the ministry said.

As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Russia will continue to promote a political and diplomatic settlement of regional conflicts on the basis of the UN Charter and international law and is ready for active cooperation in this area with all interested parties, the ministry said.

18:54 GMT 24.03.2020
Number of Coronavirus Cases in France Rises to 22,300 - Health Ministry

"As of today's evening, we have 22,300 confirmed cases of Covid-19 infection...1,100 people have died in hospitals," the French Director General of Health Jérôme Salomon said.

18:38 GMT 24.03.2020
Deadly Prison Violence Linked to Covid-19 Pandemic Fears Reported in Argentina
Las rejas de la cárcel (imagen referencial) - Sputnik International
Coronavirus Fears Trigger Deadly Prison Violence in Argentina - Reports
18:35 GMT 24.03.2020
Harvard President Says Tested Positive for Coronavirus

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Harvard University President Lawrence S. Bacow said on Tuesday he and his spouse, Adele Fleet Bacow, had tested positive for COVID-19.

"Earlier today, Adele and I learned that we tested positive for COVID-19," Bacow wrote in an internal communication to the Harvard community. "We started experiencing symptoms on Sunday—first coughs then fevers, chills, and muscle aches—and contacted our doctors on Monday. We were tested yesterday and just received the results a few minutes ago. We wanted to share this news with all of you as soon as possible," Bacow said in an email he circulated.

He said neither of them knew how they had contracted the coronavirus, adding that "far fewer people crossed our paths recently than is usually the case."

Bacow and his wife will now self-isolate for two weeks and all their close contacts over the past 14 days will be checked on by the Public Health Department, according to the email.

In an unprecedented move earlier this month, Harvard announced it would switch all classes to virtual instruction in a bid to contain the spread of COVID-19 among affiliates. Students were asked to vacate residence halls and those of them abroad for the spring break were asked to not return on campus.

18:20 GMT 24.03.2020
UK Health Secretary Calls for 250,000 Volunteers to Help in Fight Against Coronavirus

LONDON (Sputnik) - UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock called on 250,000 citizens to help the National Health Service cope with the COVID-19 outbreak after it recorded the biggest daily rise in virus-related deaths.

The Department for Health and Social Care said 87 people had died across the country overnight, just as it entered a nationwide lockdown, bringing the total to 422. Over 8,000 of more than 82,000 people tested have been confirmed to have the virus.

"We are seeking a quarter of a million volunteers, people in good health, to help the NHS, for shopping, for delivery of medicines and to support those who are shielded to protect their own health," Hancock said during a press conference.

Over 35,000 medical staff are going to the "frontline" in the fight against the outbreak, he estimated. The number includes 11,788 retired doctors, nurses and other health professionals, as well as 5,500 final year medic students and 18,700 student nurses.

"We will next week open a new hospital, a temporary hospital, the NHS Nightingale hospital, at the Excel center in London," Hancock added.

The emergency hospital will comprise two wards, each of 2,000 people. It will be run with the help of the military and NHS clinicians who will make sure that the country has enough capacity "so that everyone can get the support they need."

18:16 GMT 24.03.2020
US Sailor at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay Tests Positive for Coronavirus - Navy

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - A sailor stationed at the US naval station at Guantanamo Bay has tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the Navy said in press release on Tuesday.

"A Sailor stationed aboard Naval Station Guantanamo Bay has tested positive for COVID-19 and is currently undergoing evaluation and treatment," the release said.

The statement went on to say that the public health agencies have been notified about the case and the sailor is undergoing treatment in self-isolation as per Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.

18:12 GMT 24.03.2020
India's Supreme Court Adjourns All Hearings in All Cases For Next 21 days
17:59 GMT 24.03.2020
Italian PM Says Fines for Violating Quarantine to be Increased up to €3,000

ROME (Sputnik) - The Italian government has decided to increase the fine for violating quarantine rules to 3,000 euros ($3,200) in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the country, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Tuesday.

On March 8, the government issued a decree imposing a fine of 206 euros and up to three months of imprisonment on those who violate the anti-coronavirus measures.

“At the level of sanctioning, we have decided to introduce a fine from 400 to 3,000 euro in line with other fines,” Conte said at a press conference.

The prime minister added that the regions could issue their own regulations that can be stricter. Meanwhile, there must be "coordination and uniformity on the whole national territory in all the government's interventions," Conte noted.

17:43 GMT 24.03.2020
Trump Says Would ‘Love’ to Open Country by April 12 Easter

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - US President Donald Trump said that he would love to lift coronavirus-related restrictions by Easter, celebrated on 12 April.

"I would love to have it opened by Easter... It’s such an important day for other reasons, but I’ll make it an important day for this too. I would love to have the country opened up... by Easter," Trump said in an interview to FOX News.

17:36 GMT 24.03.2020
Italy Registers 743 New Coronavirus Deaths in 24 Hours - Civil Protection

ROME (Sputnik) - The number of coronavirus deaths in Italy increased by 743 in the last 24 hours, Angelo Borrelli, the head of Italy's National Civil Protection Agency, said Tuesday.

"Today, unfortunately, we register 743 deaths," Borrelli said.

The total number of fatalities has reached 6,820.

Meanwhile, 3,600 new cases were registered — the number of new cases has been lowering for the third day in a row.

"The number of the recoveries increased by 894 people, there are 8,326 of them now," Borrelli said.

As of Tuesday, Italy has 54,030 active coronavirus cases, not counting deaths and recoveries.

17:35 GMT 24.03.2020
Number of Confirmed Covid-19 Cases Rises to 536 in India
16:45 GMT 24.03.2020
UK Health Minister Says New Temporary Hospital to Open Next Week

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that a new temporary hospital will open next week. 

16:36 GMT 24.03.2020
US House Speaker Pelosi Says She's Optimistic About Coronavirus Relief Deal

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she hopes that lawmakers could agree on a coronavirus economic stabilization bill on Tuesday, but that a vote may not be able to be held until Wednesday, according to Reuters. 

16:30 GMT 24.03.2020
US State of Maryland Registers Biggest 1-Day Increase of COVID-19 Cases for Total of 349

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The US state of Maryland on Tuesday registered the biggest one-day spike of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases since the beginning the epidemic, with the total number reaching 349, governor spokesperson Mike Ricci said in a statement.

"Maryland has 349 confirmed cases of the COVID-19. This is our biggest one-day jump to date," Ricci said via Twitter.

Earlier on Tuesday, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said the state experienced a 60 percent increase in cases over a week.

Hogan also announced the opening of a new field hospital in Baltimore - Maryland’s biggest city - to treat people infected with the novel coronavirus.

16:07 GMT 24.03.2020
Canada Ready to Use Stricter Rules at US Border if Necessary - Trudeau
16:05 GMT 24.03.2020
Pilot Yaroshenko's Lawyers to Request His Release Over Health Concerns Amid Pandemic
Konstantin Yaroshenko - Sputnik International
Pilot Yaroshenko's Defence to Ask Court to Release Him Due to Health Concerns Amid Pandemic - Lawyer
15:53 GMT 24.03.2020
Number of COVID-19 Cases in Sweden Reaches 2,272 - Health Authority

STOCKHOLM (Sputnik) - The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Sweden increased to 2,272, the deputy state epidemiologist at the Public Health Agency, Anders Wallensten, said on Tuesday.

"To date, 2,272 cases have been registered in Sweden, we know about 36 fatalities ... The burden on the health care system has increased, but we do not see rapid growth in the number of cases," Wallensten said during a press conference.

Earlier in the day, the authorities prohibited cafes and restaurants to serve people at the counter, allowing only sitting clients.

15:50 GMT 24.03.2020
US Gov’t Orders 60,000 COVID-19 Test Kits in First Use of Defense Production Act - Reports

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The Trump administration is set to use the Defense Production Act (DPA) for the first time on Tuesday to procure 60,000 novel coronavirus test kits to help address a severe shortage to battle the pandemic, the Wall Street Journal reported.

President Donald Trump last week issued an executive order invoking the Korean War-era law, but for days resisted calls to use it, saying he is concerned about nationalizing US businesses. Governors have called on Trump to invoke both the production and the distribution elements of the law, saying US states are having to compete against each other for supplies.

The report cited Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Peter Gaynor, who said earlier that the Trump administration had decided to use the Defense Production Act because there are some test kits the authorities need to obtain.

Gaynor also said the US federal government was also inserting "DPA language" into a mass contract for 500 million masks.

The extent of test shortages is difficult to quantify. But anecdotal comments from residents in hard-hit places such as New York City suggest that no one can get tested for the novel coronavirus unless they are extremely sick.

Meanwhile, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a statistical extrapolation of data collected from more than 700 passengers who became infected on the Diamond Princess cruise ship during a quarantine that lasted nearly a month. The data - collected from a sample of more than 3,000 passengers with an average age greater than 65 - indicates that nearly one-in-five infected people never develop any symptoms.

Infected but asymptomatic victims have no way to tell they carry the virus without a test and therefore continue spreading the highly contagious disease to others.

15:44 GMT 24.03.2020
Covid-19 Death Toll in Italy' Lombardy Rises by Nearly 400 in a Day - Report

The death toll from the new coronavirus outbreak in Italy's Lombardy region has risen by about 400 in a day to exceed 4,175, Reuters reported, citing its source.

The number of confirmed cases in the region has increased by some 1,940 to 30,700, the agency added.

As of 23 March, the national death toll was reported at 6,077, which is the highest in the world so far. 

15:40 GMT 24.03.2020
UN Human Rights Chief Calls to Ease Sanctions on Iran, N. Korea Amid COVID-19 - OHCHR

UNITED NATIONS (Sputnik) - UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called for easing sanctions on such countries as Iran, Cuba, North Korea and Venezuela, to avoid potential weakening of their health sectors amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, her office, OHCHR, said in a press release on Tuesday.

"At this crucial time, both for global public health reasons, and to support the rights and lives of millions of people in these countries, sectoral sanctions should be eased or suspended," Bachelet said in the release. "In a context of a global pandemic, impeding medical efforts in one country heightens the risk for all of us."

Sectoral sanctions, the release added, can harm access to protective medical equipment in states like Iran, which has been severely hit by the COVID-19 epidemic. Since the outbreak in the Islamic Republic, more than 50 health workers have died from the virus and the epidemic is spreading further to neighboring countries.

Meanwhile, in such countries as North Korea, Cuba and Zimbabwe, health systems are already frail, and obstacles to importing essential medical supplies due to existing sanctions will harm vulnerable communities amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the release said.

It added that in Venezuela, some hospitals regularly experience a lack of medicines, equipment, soap, water and electricity. Easing of sectoral sanctions could allow the country to allocate more resources to treat and contain the epidemic.

Bachelet urged the international community to cooperate and show solidarity, while noted that countries under sanctions need to provide transparent information and accept offers of humanitarian help amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

15:33 GMT 24.03.2020
Russian Government Orders to Close Night Clubs, Cinemas and Entertainment Venues Across the Country Amid Covid-19 Outbreak

The order also bans hookah smoking in restaurants, bars and coffee houses. 

15:28 GMT 24.03.2020
'No Reason Why Essential Industries Can't Go Back to Work Rapidly if US Flattens Coronavirus Curve' - Kudlow

According to the White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, a coronavirus stimulus package which is being negotiated in Congress should pave the way to a rebound in the U.S. economy in the second half of the year.

The Trump administration is looking at low-infection areas where the economy might be reopened after a 15-day shutdown period ends next week, Kudlow said, as quoted by Reuters.

15:26 GMT 24.03.2020
Pentagon Expects Coronavirus Epidemic in US to Last Up to 3 Months - Joint Chiefs of Staff

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The US military expect the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic to last up to three months, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley said on Tuesday.

"All the reports we have read indicate... eight to ten weeks. I may call it three months, based on what we know from other countries - China, Hong Kong, South Korea, etc.," Milley said during a virtual town hall meeting. "That may or may not apply to the United States... other different countries and different circumstances."

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said that judging by the way China and Korea have confronted the epidemic, it looks like it has an eight to ten weeks period from beginning to end or at least the backslope.

"You are looking probably at least that long. I think we need a plan for this to be a few months long at least and we are taking all precautionary measures to do that," Esper said.

According to the Johns Hopkins University tally, there are globally 395,647 confirmed novel coronavirus cases and 17,241 deaths from the disease. The United States ranks third after China and Italy with 46,485 infected people and 591 fatalities.

15:25 GMT 24.03.2020
New York State Registers 25,665 Coronavirus Cases - Governor

NEW YORK (Sputnik) - The rate of new coronavirus infections (COVID-19) in the US state of New York doubles every three days, Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a press briefing on Tuesday.

"The rate of cases, the rate of new infections, is doubling about every three days," Cuomo said. "That is a dramatic increase in the rate of infection… We're not slowing it, and it is accelerating on its own. We haven't flatten the curve, and the curve is actually increasing."

Cuomo added that the rate of COVID-19 contractions in New York continues to accelerate "on its own" and the strategy to "flatten the curve," or decrease the number of infections, is not showing results yet.

New York City has confirmed 2,599 new coronavirus (COVID-19) cases for a total of 14,904 in the city and 25,665 in New York State, Cuomo said in a press briefing on Tuesday.

A table that Cuomo displayed during the briefing revealed that 997 new cases were reported in Westchester County, 427 in Nassau, 422 in Suffolk, 79 in Rockland, 109 in Orange, 19 in Albany, 24 in Dutchess, 20 in Erie and 20 in Monroe.

15:19 GMT 24.03.2020
China Railway to Resume Railroad Connection of Wuhan and 17 Cities in Hubei Province on 28 March - Statement
15:17 GMT 24.03.2020
Crew of Soyuz MS-16 Spaceflight Being Monitored Over COVID-19 Concerns - Training Center

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The crew of the Soyuz MS-16 spaceflight to the International Space Station, as well as their backups who have arrived at the Baikonur spaceport, are under strict surveillance due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Russia's Gagarin Research & Test Cosmonaut Training Center said on Tuesday.

"They are under strict observation in light of the coronavirus," the center said.

The center specified that the crew will be present remotely at a meeting of the state commission, during which it will be cleared for launching.

Several other signature events have been canceled, including talking with relatives after putting on spacesuits, as well as a report by the state commission before sending the crew to a launching site. A pre-launch press conference will take place online as well. The traditions that are not public will be upheld.

The center stressed that despite the pandemic, Russian specialists have created the conditions necessary for the precise implementation of the pre-launch preparations for the mission.

The Soyuz MS-16 spaceflight, which will use the Soyuz-2.1a rocket, is scheduled for April 9. The main crew includes Russia's Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner, and NASA astronaut Christopher Cassidy, with Sergei Ryzhikov, Andrei Babkin and Stephen Bowen as the backup crew.

15:16 GMT 24.03.2020
Czech Health Authorities Warn Country Could Have 15,000 COVID-19 Cases by May

PRAGUE (Sputnik) - Ladislav Dusek, the director of the Czech Institute of Health Information and Statistics, said on Tuesday that the number of COVID-19 cases in the Czech Republic could reach 15,000 by May.

“Based on the analytical data collected in our institute, we can make a prognosis about the development of the situation with COVID-19 disease in the [Czech] Republic. By the end of March, the number [of cases] may increase to 3,000. By the end of April, we can expect a peak in the number of cases with about 15,000 [people] infected, including recoveries," Dusek said at a press conference.

So far, the Czech Republic has confirmed 1,289 COVID-19 cases and two deaths from coronavirus-related complications.

 

15:05 GMT 24.03.2020
Norway Extends Restrictions Over Covid-19 Outbreak Until 13 April

The Norwegian government has extended restrictions imposed following the new coronavirus outbreak until 13 April, the country's prime minister said. 

14:57 GMT 24.03.2020
US Announces 2 Evacuation Flights for Americans Stranded in Ukraine - Embassy

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The US government warned Americans in Ukraine who wish to leave the country to register for one of two flights from Kiev (KBP) to New York (NYC) this week or risk being stranded for the foreseeable future, the US Embassy said in a statement on Tuesday.

“UIA [Ukraine International Airlines] has announced a second direct flight from KBP to NYC JFK on March 27. If you need to leave Ukraine, you should strongly consider booking this or March 25 flight. It may be your last opportunity for a while. Monitor," the US embassy said via Twitter.

Earlier this month, UIA terminated regular passenger service when Ukraine banned foreigners from entering the country.

Thousands of Americans remain stranded all over the world as countries close their borders to contain the explosive spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

14:44 GMT 24.03.2020
Indian PM Modi Says Country Will Go Under Total Lockdown From Midnight Tuesday

NEW DEHLI (Sputnik) - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced full nationwide 21-day lockdown starting March 25.

All Indians will be banned from leaving their homes after midnight, with all areas in the country subject to the lockdown, the prime minister said.

14:42 GMT 24.03.2020
Egypt Imposes Curfew to Stop COVID-19 From Spreading- Prime Minister

CAIRO (Sputnik) - Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly on Tuesday declared a curfew from 7:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. local time (17:00 to 04:00 GMT) starting on Wednesday to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

"We are introducing a ban on the citizens' movement throughout the country from 19:00 to 06:00," Madbouly said during a press conference, adding that the measure will be in effect for two weeks starting on Wednesday and that violators will be punished per the country's law on emergency situations.

According to the prime minister, public transportation and taxis will cease functioning as well.

He also specified that from now on all shops and malls will be closed from 5 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. local time (15:00 to 04:00 GMT) and remain completely closed on Fridays and Saturdays.

"Another measure is that all cafes, coffee houses, restaurants, casinos, night clubs, and all other entertainment venues will be during that period," Madbouly added.

Apart from that, all ministries and state agencies are stopping the issuance of documents and provision of services that require a citizen to be present in person, with an exception being made for medical facilities.

Later in the day, Egyptian Information Minister Osama Haikal said that the government had decided to prolong the suspension of air traffic for 15 days amid COVID-19 fears. Egypt previously announced the suspension of air traffic from March 19 to 31.

"The prime minister’s instructions also include the continuation of the suspension of air traffic for another 15 days," Haikal told reporters.

On Monday, the Egyptian Health Ministry added 39 newly diagnosed cases to the official count, bringing the overall number to 366, with the death toll standing at 19.

14:32 GMT 24.03.2020
Trump Says Americans Should Return to Work While Practicing Social Distancing
14:21 GMT 24.03.2020
Over 70 Suspected Coronavirus-Infected People Hospitalized in Donetsk People's Republic - Health Minister

DONETSK (Sputnik) - The authorities of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) have no confirmed COVID-19 cases in the republic so far, but over 70 people have been hospitalized with suspected coronavirus infection, DPR Health Minister Olga Dolgoshapko said on Tuesday.

"To date, there have been no confirmed coronavirus cases in DPR. A total of 71 people are in hospitals under medical supervision, including four children ... Half of them tested negative for the disease," Dolgoshapko said at a briefing.

The minister specified that out of the 71 hospitalized, 15 people have symptoms of the disease. The rest are those who have returned from abroad and could have come into contact with infected people. According to her, 247 people are in self-quarantine at home.

Member of the DPR People's Council Alexander Kurenkov believes that the threat of the further spread of the coronavirus is unlikely to stop the Ukrainian security forces from firing in Donbas.

"Despite the threat of coronavirus, the armed forces of Ukraine will not stop shelling civilians, but also intensify the shelling ... On March 24, the Ukrainian forces tripled the intensity of fire, having attacked the outskirts of Donetsk and Horlivka. In two days, several people were injured, including a girl born in 2007," Kurenkov said, citing the Joint Center for Control and Coordination on Ceasefire (JCCC).

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday called for an immediate halt of fighting worldwide in order to focus together on combating the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The World Health Organization on March 11 declared the outbreak of the coronavirus disease a pandemic. According to the most recent statistics compiled by Johns Hopkins University, over 392,000 coronavirus cases and more than 17,000 fatalities have been confirmed globally to date.

14:19 GMT 24.03.2020
Some 730,000 French Citizens Essentially Unemployed Because of COVID-19 - Economy Minister

PARIS (Sputnik) - Some 730,000 French citizens are essentially jobless due to the ongoing outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Tuesday.

Since March 17 France has been living under strict movement limitations, and a ban on cafes, restaurants and non-food shops. The measures have resulted in many people being unable to work.

"This partial unemployment is currently affecting 730,000 French people," Le Maire said during a press briefing.

He added that the government would spend 2.2 billion euros ($2.3 billion) to support those left without work over the epidemic, and allocate 8.5 billion euros to help the partially unemployed, though he did point out that the final sum could be larger.

As of Monday, the total number of COVID-19 cases in France has reached 19,856, with the death toll standing at 860.

14:18 GMT 24.03.2020
COVID-19 Could Kill 110,000 in Afghanistan, Infect 80 Percent of Population - Minister

KABUL (Sputnik) - The coronavirus pandemic could kill up to 110,000 people in Afghanistan and infect 80 percent of the population if drastic measures are not taken, Afghanistan’s Public Health Minister Ferozuddin Feroz said at a news conference Tuesday.

“What we have estimated is shocking,” Feroz told reporters in Kabul.

The minister added that 42 cases of infection have been registered as of today with one coronavirus-related death.

Feroz also said that the ministry forwarded a list of measures which it would recommend implementing to slow the spread of the virus in the country, including ordering the closure of public spaces and imposing curfews.

Feroz also thanked the Taliban for granting access to medical teams to areas under their control.

Prominent medical organization Medicins Sans Frontiers (Doctors without Borders) earlier this month released a report assessing Afghanistan’s health care system which showed that decades of instability and warfare have left the the medical sphere in tatters and the Afghan population most susceptible to preventable diseases.

14:16 GMT 24.03.2020
Nigerian President's Chief of Staff Tests Positive for COVID-19 - Reports

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Abba Kyari, the chief of staff to Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, has tested positive for COVID-19, local media reported on Tuesday.

According to the Nation newspaper, Kyari is likely to have been infected with the coronavirus during his visit to Germany and Egypt for a meeting related to the Nigerian Electricity Regulation Commission, an independent agency regulating the country's power industry.

Buhari also took a test, which came back negative.

Per the Monday report from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, the country currently has 40 COVID-19 cases in total, with one fatality.

14:15 GMT 24.03.2020
Over 90% of UK Citizens Back New Gov't Measures to Combat Coronavirus - YouGov Poll

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The vast majority of UK citizens — 93 percent — support the government's new measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic in the country, a poll conducted by YouGov showed on Tuesday.

Late on Monday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced stricter measures to curb the spread of the virus and told the British to "stay at home" for the next three weeks to relieve the pressure on the healthcare system amid the coronavirus outbreak. These measures do not concern only those who cannot work from home, and people can go out only for shopping for basic necessities, exercising, or seeking or giving medical care. Police will be allowed to enforce the restrictions, "including through fines and dispersing gatherings."

According to the findings of the pollster's snap survey, conducted overnight, among those who back the government, 76 percent of respondents, mainly women and older nationals, said that they "strongly support" these measures.

In addition, two thirds of respondents — 66 percent — believe that it will be easy to follow the new rules for the next three weeks, while 42 percent said it would be "fairly easy," and only 24 percent said it would be "very easy." However, 29 percent of UK citizens do not share the majority's optimism and think it will be hard to implement these measures.

Answering a question on whether new police powers will be enough to ensure the implementation and full compliance with the measures, respondents were divided, with 39 percent agreeing they were sufficient and the same number of citizens said they were not.

14:14 GMT 24.03.2020
Switzerland Registers Over 770 New COVID-19 Cases, 20 Deaths Over Past 24 Hours

GENEVA (Sputnik) -  The number of new COVID-19 cases in Switzerland has been increasing by 776 per day, and 20 people have died from the disease, the Federal Office of Public Health said on Tuesday.

As of 24 March, the total number of coronavirus cases registered in Switzerland reached 8,863, including 86 fatalities.

In Norway, the number of people infected with the new coronavirus amounted to 2,566 by Tuesday, with 10 deaths, the Norwegian Public Health Institute said, adding that the average age of those who died is 87. There are 212 coronavirus patients in the kingdom's hospitals, it said.

On 11 March, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. According to the latest WHO data, more than 330,000 people have been infected, and more than 14,500 have died globally.

13:54 GMT 24.03.2020
174 US Service Members Have Coronavirus – Pentagon
13:38 GMT 24.03.2020
Indian Home Minister Asks Delhi Police to Ensure Doctors Safety
13:05 GMT 24.03.2020
India's Confirmed Number of COVID-19 Cases Passes 500
12:59 GMT 24.03.2020
India Prohibits Export of Ventilators and Sanitizers
12:05 GMT 24.03.2020
No Patient Tests Positive for COVID19 in Delhi in Last 40 Hours
11:47 GMT 24.03.2020
5,400 Spanish Health Workers Infected With Coronavirus
11:42 GMT 24.03.2020
Lists of Russians Who Need Help Returning From Abroad Amid Coronavirus Due by 26 March - Foreign Ministry
11:21 GMT 24.03.2020
Russian President Putin Convenes Meeting to Discuss Coronavirus Developments

This comes as Russia has registered 57 new Covid-19 cases in 14 regions over the past 24 hours. This brings the total count to 495 cases.

The total number of new cases includes 28 registered in Moscow, the center added.

According to the Russian coronavirus response center, five patients have been discharged from hospitals over the past 24 hours, with the total number of those who have recovered amounting to 22.

All the 57 infected persons have recently returned from countries with unfavorable epidemiological situation, the coronavirus response center said, adding that all those who have been in contact with the infected people have been established and will be placed under medical examination.

11:15 GMT 24.03.2020
Spain's COVID-19 Case Count Up by 6,600 Over Past 24 Hours, Death Toll Up by 514- Ministry

MADRID (Sputnik) - Spain's number of COVID-19 cases has increased by 6,600 over the past 24 hours and now nears 40,000, the Health Ministry said on Tuesday.

The Spanish Health Ministry has updated the case count to 39,673, adding that the death toll has reached 2,696 after increasing by 514 over the past 24 hours.

The condition of 2,600 people is assessed as critical. As many as 3,800 patients have recovered.

10:55 GMT 24.03.2020
WHO Official Says Chances Are the US Could Turn Into Epicentre of Coronavirus Pandemic
A family wearing protective face masks walks towards the U.S. at the Paso del Norte International Border bridge after the United States and Mexico have agreed to restrict non-essential travel over their shared border in an effort to limit the spread of the new coronavirus (COVID-19), in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico March 20, 2020. - Sputnik International
US Has Potential to Become Epicentre of Pandemic Amid 'Large Acceleration' of COVID-19 Cases - WHO
10:49 GMT 24.03.2020
Nobel Peace Prize Winner and Ex-Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, 82, Tested Positive for Covid-19

Nobel Peace Prize winner and former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari, 82, is infected with coronavirus, along with his wife, who is 83.

"The infection was confirmed on Monday, March 23. President Ahtisaari is doing well, considering the situation," the office said in a statement, as quoted by Reuters.

Ahtisaari headed Finland from 1994 to 2000. He got the Nobel Peace Prize for his contribution to peace mediation.

As of 24 March, Finland has confirmed 792 coronavirus cases and one death from the virus.

10:41 GMT 24.03.2020
Modi Government Writes to States Asking Them to Enhance Cooperation Amid Coronavirus Pandemic
10:39 GMT 24.03.2020
Australian PM Scott Morrison Orders to Close Shopping Centres and Food Courts
10:22 GMT 24.03.2020
Paris Plans Support Measures for Air France-KLM
10:02 GMT 24.03.2020
Aeroflot Halts Flights to Thailand, Vietnam, Turkey, UAE, Cuba Amid COVID-19 Outbreak

Russia’s flagship carrier Aeroflot said on Tuesday that it would suspend flights to Thailand, Vietnam, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Cuba until April 30 as part of global travel restrictions amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

According to the statement, Aeroflot will temporarily suspend flights between Moscow and the UAE city of Dubai (starting March 29), Vietnam’s Hanoi (from March 31) and Ho Chi Minh (from April 1), Thailand’s Phuket (from March 29), Cuba’s Havana (from March 29) and Turkey’s Antalya (from March 28), the statement specified.

In addition, the airline will cut flights to New York, Bangkok and Maldives. The measures will be in effect until April 30.

In the wake of the announcement, the Russian Embassy in Havana recommended that all Russians in Cuba immediately return home.

09:53 GMT 24.03.2020
Pakistan Railways Suspend All Passenger Train Services Across Country Amid Coronavirus
09:15 GMT 24.03.2020
New Zealand Olympic Committee Calls for Postponement of Tokyo Olympics Amid COVID-19 Fears

The New Zealand Olympic Committee, following its discussions with national Olympic and Paralympic athletes, has called on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to postpone the 2020 Tokyo Games in light of COVID-19 pandemic.

"New Zealand Olympic and Paralympic Athletes have said they support a postponement of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, an approach backed jointly by the New Zealand Olympic Committee, Paralympics New Zealand and [High Performance Sport New Zealand]," the committee said in a press release.

New Zealand Olympic Committee CEO Kereyn Smith was quoted as saying that the body was focused on the athletes, and that it was important to give them the opportunity to express their positions regarding the upcoming Games.

"We value their resilience and flexibility and we know working through the changes won’t be easy. We support their position and will now share their views with the IOC as we advocate internationally on behalf of New Zealand athletes and sport. We reiterate the need for a swift decision," Smith said.

The head of the IOC, Thomas Bach, said on Sunday that the organization would expedite consideration of possible scenarios and make a final decision on the Olympics within four weeks. A number of national Olympic committees called on the IOC to postpone the Games for a year.

On Monday, IOC member Dick Pound said in an interview with USA Today that a decision had been made to postpone the Games, which are slated for July 24-August 9.

08:57 GMT 24.03.2020
Russian Cabinet Allocates to Defence Ministry $111Mln for Building 16 Infectious Centers

The Russian government will allocate to the Defence Ministry 8.8 billion rubles ($111 million) amid COVID-19 pandemic for building 16 infectious centers for providing medical assistance to servicemen, according to a decree, published on the official legal information portal.

"To allocate to the Russian Defence Ministry budget assignations in the amount of 8.8 billion rubles from the Russian government's reserve fund in 2020, for building, as part of the state defense order, 16 infectious centers on the basis of modular quickly erectable structures, for providing medical assistance to patients with infectious conditions from among the military," the decree read.

08:56 GMT 24.03.2020
New Infectious Hospital in Moscow 40 Percent Complete - Mayor

The construction of a new infectious hospital in the outskirts of Moscow is 40 percent complete, which gives hope that it will open in the coming weeks, Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin said on Tuesday.

"On March 11, we came to the field with constructors, and there was nothing there. On March 12, the construction started, and, as of today, it is 40 percent complete ... This will be a huge facility, with its size reaching around 80,000 square meters [861,112 square feet], there will be over 500 beds, and around 50 percent of these beds will be meant for resuscitation ... This is the most modern and the most efficient hospital [in Moscow]. I hope that the construction will be finished in the coming week," Sobyanin told reporters.

The hospital is constructed as part of the effort to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

07:59 GMT 24.03.2020
All Russian Tourists to Return Home by 31 March - Federal Agency for Tourism

"By March 31, almost all the tourists traveling through booked tours will return to the territory of the Russian Federation. Over 50 percent of them will return to Russia as scheduled, using the tickets that they have purchased. This will happen in the next few days. The remaining tourists will return by the end of the month: either as planned as well, or, if they are due to leave later, then tour operators will be offering earlier options," Federal Agency for Tourism Head Zarina Doguzova said, as quoted in a statement on the agency's website.

"As for independent tourists facing difficulties with returning home, we are looking for ways to solve the problems, jointly with the Federal Air Transport Agency and the Russian Foreign Ministry, just like in case with Morocco and the Philippines," Doguzova added.

Around 57,800 Russian tourists traveling through booked tours remain abroad and all of them will return home by March 31, the Federal Agency for Tourism said on Tuesday.

According to the agency, which has recently called on Russians to abstain from foreign trips amid the coronavirus pandemic, the number of Russian tourists staying abroad has reduced to 57,800 from the previous 100,000 over the past seven days, since people are making effort to return home amid new recommendations and travel restrictions.

07:37 GMT 24.03.2020
South Korea Reports 76 New COVID-19 Cases, 9 Deaths in Past 24 Hours

South Korea confirmed 76 new cases of the coronavirus and nine related deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the nation's total to over 9,037 cases with 120 deaths, the Korean Center for Disease Control (KCDC) said Tuesday.

"As of 0:00, 24 March 2020 [15:00 GMT on March 23], the total number of confirmed cases is 9,037 (including 171 imported cases), of which 3,507 cases have been discharged from isolation. Newly confirmed cases are 76 in total," the centers said in a regular press release.

This is a far cry from late February and early March when hundreds of new cases were reported daily with dozens dead as a result, showing South Korea has managed to significantly slow the spread of COVID-19.

Thirty-one new cases were detected in the worst-hit city of Daegu, four in capital city of Seoul, and 20 in the country’s airports.

Meanwhile, the Yonhap news agency reported that the nation's COVID-19 death toll had risen to 124.

A strict stay-at-home order remains in place in most of the country, while Daegu and part of the North Gyeongsang province where it is located are still designated as special disaster zones.

South Korea briefly became the worst-affected country with coronavirus outside China but quickly imposed strict measures and began wide-spread testing of citizens.

07:36 GMT 24.03.2020
Thailand to Declare State of Emergency Over COVID-19 Pandemic on March 26 - Prime Minister

Thailand, where 827 COVID-19 cases have been registered, will declare a state of national emergency on Thursday over the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said.

"We will declare a state of national emergency due to the epidemics of the coronavirus infection on March 26. It will come into force on the same day," Chan-o-cha said on Tuesday in his address to the nation, aired by Thai PBS broadcaster.

06:55 GMT 24.03.2020
Over 93,600 People Under Medical Control in Russia Over Suspected COVID-19 - Watchdog

Over 93,600 people in Russia remain under control of medical experts over suspicions they may be infected with the coronavirus, the Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing (Rospotrebnadzor) said on Tuesday.

"As of the expired period in 2020, 149,754 people were under medical supervision in Russia. As of March 23, 2020, 93,677 people remain under medical supervision," Rospotrebnadzor said in a statement.

Almost 186,000 laboratory tests for COVID-19 have been conducted in Russia so far.

06:28 GMT 24.03.2020
Russian Cabinet Demands Scheme of Fast Deployment of Laboratories for COVID-19 Tests

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has tasked the Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing (Rospotrebnadzor) and Moscow authorities with developing a scheme of speeded-up deployment of laboratories for COVID-19 testing, according to his decree, published on the website of the Russian cabinet on Tuesday.

"Rospotrebnadzor, jointly with the Moscow government and executive agencies of Russia's [federal] subjects, is tasked with developing a scheme of accelerated deployment of additional laboratory facilities for testing the population for the new coronavirus infection. Reference centers, where diagnosis will be confirmed, are to be indicated," Mishustin's decree read.

Mishustin has also called for enabling urgent distribution of information to the Russian citizens on the results of their COVID-19 tests, conducted at the Vektor state center for virology research.

06:16 GMT 24.03.2020
India Postpones Parliament's Upper House Elections Due to Spread of Coronavirus

The election to 18 seats in the upper house was scheduled to be held on 26 March.

06:07 GMT 24.03.2020
Transport Connection With China's Wuhan to Be Restored April 8 - COVID-19 Response Center

The Chinese government will lift on April 8 the previously imposed restrictions on transport connection with the city of Wuhan, which became the epicenter of the global COVID-19 outbreak, Wuhan's center for COVID-19 prevention and fight said on Tuesday.

"Starting April 8, midnight, measures related to control and management of travel from Wuhan will be lifted. External travel connection will be restored gradually," the center said in a statement.

06:06 GMT 24.03.2020
UN Refugee Agency Delivers 4.4 Tonnes of Medical Items to Help Iran Combat COVID-19

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said it had delivered about 4.4 tonnes of medical items to Iran as part of efforts to help the country combat the further spread of COVID-19.

"UNHCR ... airlifted today (23 March) some 4.4 tonnes of much-needed medical aid items, including supplies to support the COVID-19 response in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Airbus A330-200 arrived at Imam Khomeini Airport in Tehran from Frankfurt at 17.40 (CET) [16:40 GMT] delivering masks, gloves and essential medicines to help address critical shortages in Iran’s health care system. Further flights are scheduled in the coming weeks to transport additional aid-items, medicine and personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers," the agency said in a statement.

According to the UNHCR, there are about one million refugees in Iran, and they can receive medical care on an equal basis with the country's citizens, but hospitals and medical centers can no longer cope with the flow of patients, which has increased dramatically over the spread of the disease.

"The virus has now spread to all 31 provinces of Iran. Refugees, most of whom live side by side with host communities in villages, towns and cities, are at the same risk of catching the COVID-19 as Iranians. Already during the early stages of the epidemic, UNHCR, in coordination with the Government of Iran, distributed basic hygiene items such as soap and disposable paper towels to some 7,500 refugee families living in refugee settlements across the country," the agency added.

Iran is among the countries that are most affected by COVID-19, having the largest number of confirmed cases after China, Italy, the US, Spain and Germany. Iran has so far confirmed 23,049 coronavirus cases and 1,812 fatalities.

05:10 GMT 24.03.2020
China's Hubei Province to Remove Travel Bans Starting March 25
05:03 GMT 24.03.2020
China Registers 78 New Cases of COVID-19 Over Past 24 Hours - State Health Committee

A total of 78 new cases of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) have been registered in China over the past day, the Chinese state health committee said in a statement.

"The state health committee received information from 31 provinces (areas, cities of central subordination) about 81,171 confirmed cases of infection with the new type of coronavirus, including 4,735 people currently sick (1,573 are in serious condition), 73,159 people were discharged from hospitals, 3,277 died," the committee said.

05:03 GMT 24.03.2020
Countrywide Lockdown in Nepal Comes Into Effect
05:00 GMT 24.03.2020
India Completely Quarantines 32 States/Union Territories Amid Coronavirus Pandemic
04:51 GMT 24.03.2020
Death Toll From Coronavirus in Brazil Rises to 34, Over 1,800 Infected - Health Ministry

The death toll from the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Brazil has increased to 34, over 1,800 people are infected, the country's Health Ministry said in a statement.

"As of March 23, a total of 1,891 cases were confirmed, 34 died," the ministry said on Twitter.

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