FILE PHOTO: Boxes of N95 protective masks for use by medical field personnel are seen at a New York State emergency operations' incident command centre during the coronavirus outbreak in New Rochelle, New York, on 17 March 2020. - Sputnik International

Live Updates: Coronavirus Continues to Rage as Number of Confirmed Cases Exceeds 590,000 Globally

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According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 512,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection were registered in the world and the number of coronavirus-related deaths worldwide exceeded 23,000, as of Thursday.

Several countries have announced the closure of universities, schools and childcare centers in a bid to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. Bars, restaurants, cinemas, nightclubs and sports clubs also remain closed in many countries, as well as all stores except supermarkets and pharmacies. 

Italy has recorded more fatalities in this outbreak than any other country: 8,165. As of Thursday, there are 62,013 active cases in the country, after an increase of 4,492 in 24 hours. Meanwhile, China registered 67 imported cases of COVID-19 and no cases of internal transmission within the past 24 hours.

The number of positive cases has surpassed 512,000 globally, while over 23,000 people have succumbed to the illness, according to the latest data provided by the WHO.

According to the most recent data from the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Centre, the number of coronavirus cases globally has surpassed 590,000, with an estimated 26, 000 deaths.

On 11 March, the WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.

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03:22 GMT 28.03.2020

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Mexico has risen by 132 to 717 within the past 24 hours, with four new fatalities, the Health Ministry's director of epidemiology said.

“The number of confirmed cases amounts to 717, 12 patients have died,” the official said on late Friday in a press conference, which was broadcast on the ministry’s Twitter page.

02:41 GMT 28.03.2020

As of 28 March 03:00 IST, the total number of COVID-19 cases in India was reported as 748.

According to the federal Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, 19 people have died due to the virus.

01:59 GMT 28.03.2020

The number of people diagnosed with COVID-19 in Argentina has increased by 101 to 690 within the past 24 hours, the national Ministry of Health said.

“Today, 101 new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed,” the ministry wrote on its Twitter page on late Friday.

According to Johns Hopkins University, 13 people have already died of the disease in Argentina.

01:46 GMT 28.03.2020

The number of people diagnosed with the coronavirus in Panama has increased by 112 to 786 within the past 24 hours, with the death toll having reached 14 people, the Ministry of Health said.

Two people have recovered from COVID-19, the ministry said on late Friday.

00:34 GMT 28.03.2020

China has registered 54 new imported cases of COVID-19 and no cases of internal transmission within the past 24 hours, with three people having died of the disease, the National Health Commission said on Saturday.

The new cases have been recorded in Shanghai (17), Beijing (3), Tianjin (5), the province of Guangdong (11), Fujian (6), Zhejiang (4), Liaoning (3), Jilin (2), Shandong (1) and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region (2). The whole number of imported COVID-19 cases in China has reached 649.

“The National Health Commission received information about 81,349 confirmed cases of pneumonia caused by a new type of coronavirus from 31 provinces [regions and municipalities], including 3,128 currently ill people. 921 people are in critical condition, 3,295 have died, 74,971 people have been discharged from hospitals,” the commission said in a statement.

No new cases of the coronavirus have been registered in the province of Hubei, where the city of Wuhan – the epicenter of the pandemic – is located.

00:09 GMT 28.03.2020

he number of people, who died of the coronavirus disease in Venezuela, has risen from one to two, Venezuelan Minister of Popular Power for Communication and Information Jorge Rodriguez said.

“As of today, we have two people, who have unfortunately died in the fight against this pandemic,” Rodriguez said in a televised address on late Friday.

The number of people infected with COVID-19 in the country has reached 113.

To fight the spread of the coronavirus, President Nicolas Maduro has already imposed a national quarantine.

23:49 GMT 27.03.2020

The number of people infected with COVID-19 in the United Kingdom has increased from 11,658 to 14,543 within the past 24 hours, while the death toll has risen by 181 to 759, the Department of Health said.

“As of 9am on 27 March 2020, a total of 113,777 people have been tested, of which 99,234 were confirmed negative and 14,543 were confirmed positive. As of 5pm on 26 March 2020, 759 patients in the UK who tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) have died,” the department said on late Friday.

23:27 GMT 27.03.2020

The first patient has died of the coronavirus disease in Jordan, media reported, citing the national Ministry of Health.

According to the Petra news agency, the victim is an 83-year-old woman, who had serious health problems before catching COVID-19.

23:04 GMT 27.03.2020

Coronavirus deaths in California reached 78 after a daily spike of over a quarter, Governor Gavin Newsom told reporters.

“78 deaths, 26 percent increase from the previous day, 3,801 individuals that have tested positive for COVID-19,” Newsom said during a briefing Friday.

California health services have taken 88,400 tests, of which, according to the governor, “tens of thousands” are still waiting for results.

22:04 GMT 27.03.2020

On Friday, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order authorizing the secretaries of homeland security and defence to call up military and Coast Guard reservists to active duty, the White House said.

According to the executive order, the two secretaries are authorized to order reservists from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard to active duty for up to two years "not to exceed 1,000,000 members on active duty at any one time."

"Effective today, in accordance with section 301 of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1631), section 12302 of title 10, United States Code and sections 2127, 2308, 2314, 3735 of title 14, United States Code, I am authorizing the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Homeland Security, with respect to the Coast Guard, to order units and individual members of the Selected Reserve, and certain Individual Ready Reserve members, to active duty to augment the active forces for the effective conduct of coronavirus disease response," Trump said in a letter to Congress on Friday.

21:37 GMT 27.03.2020

According to the most recent data from the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Centre, the number of coronavirus cases in the US has exceeded 100,000, with an estimated 1540 deaths.

20:44 GMT 27.03.2020

The Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister), Leo Varadkar, announced a two-week lockdown - until 12 April - amid the spread of COVID-19, noting that people must not leave their homes except under essential circumstances.

Varadkar said that the "radical actions"  are "aimed at saving as many lives as possible in the days ahead" and this is an "intensive period of restrictive action".

 

20:41 GMT 27.03.2020

Russia has submitted for the consideration of the UN General Assembly a Declaration calling for solidarity among the member states amid the challenges posed by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Russian Mission to the United Nations said in a statement on Friday.

"On 26 March 2020, the Russian Federation submitted to the UN General Assembly an initiative to adopt a UNGA Declaration on solidarity in countering the coronavirus," the statement said.

The text of the declaration calls on UN member states to abandon political and economic controversies, including raising of trade barriers, the imposition of export restrictions and the adoption of unilateral sanctions that hinder access to healthcare services and medicines amid the pandemic.

It also recognizes the role of the World Health Organization is combating the pandemic and implies the commitment of countries to cooperate and provide all necessary assistance to it, contain the spread of COVID-19, develop vaccines and mitigate the negative effects to the global economy, especially in the most vulnerable nations.

The draft further stresses its "profound solidarity" with the most affected countries and emphasizes the need to counter any COVID-19-related stigmatization of people and states.

20:32 GMT 27.03.2020

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Ireland has exceeded 2,000, the country's Health Department said on Friday.

"The Health Protection Surveillance Centre has been informed of 302 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ireland. There are now 2,121 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ireland," the department said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the country's death toll is at 22.

20:04 GMT 27.03.2020

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan assured Syrian President Bashar Assad in phone talks on Friday that the United Arab Emirates will assist Syria in the fight against coronavirus.

"I discussed with Syrian President Bashar Alassad updates on COVID-19. I assured him of the support of the UAE and its willingness to help the Syrian people. Humanitarian solidarity during trying times supersedes all matters, and Syria and her people will not stand alone," the prince wrote in his Twitter blog.

19:41 GMT 27.03.2020

"Aeroflot’s flights to/from Moscow to/from Beijing [China] will be suspended from March 28 to April 30, 2020, and to/from Moscow to/from Guangzhou [China] from March 29 to April 30, 2020," the company said in a statement.

According to the statement, the company also reduces the number of flights to Shanghai.

19:20 GMT 27.03.2020

Among measures announced by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan designed to slow the spread of the pandemic, travelling between the cities in the nation can now only be done by obtaining permission from governors.

"International air travel has stopped fully. People have to get a special permission for travel between cities from governors, this concerns the 30 largest cities, above all. Only essential personnel will work at offices," Erdogan said.

The 30 largest cities are set to form special 'pandemic councils' as a means of inculcating additional measures against COVID-19, according to Reuters.

Earlier in the day, the country's health minister said there were 5,698 COVID-19 cases in Turkey.

 

18:58 GMT 27.03.2020

Four passengers have died on board the MS Zaandam, a cruise ship which is currently located off the coast of Panama, the vessel's operator Holland America line said, as quoted by Reuters. 

it added that dozens of guests are suffering from influenza-like symptoms there, at least two of whom have coronavirus. 

18:57 GMT 27.03.2020
18:49 GMT 27.03.2020

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Russian Federal Biomedical Agency (FMBA) has created trial models of lung ventilators that can be used for two or four patients simultaneously, the head of the agency, Veronika Skvortsova, said Friday.

The ventilators are required for patients with severe respiratory conditions, who have trouble breathing on their own. The equipment is in demand among the patients with the most severe symptoms of the COVID-19 disease, so medical authorities across the world have been making sure they have enough of the breathing machines amid the pandemic. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo reportedly said Tuesday that the state hit hard by the epidemic had been testing an experimental approach of using one ventilator for two patients.

"This week, because of the teamwork of several FMBA agencies .. state corporation Rostec, Shwabe corporation, we have managed to set up experimental devices that can ventilate two, three, four patients," Skvortsova said.

The new system differs from foreign equipment in that it uses a special filter preventing the spread of infection.

18:47 GMT 27.03.2020
18:39 GMT 27.03.2020

BRUSSELS (Sputnik) - The Belgian authorities on Friday extended the general lockdown for another two weeks until April 19 with the possibility of a subsequent extension until May 3, Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes said on Friday.

"Based on the results of today's meeting, it was decided to extend the measures for another two weeks, until April 19, with the possibility to extend it even until May 3," the prime minister said at a press conference broadcast by the RTBF.

The isolation measures were not strengthened, but punishment for violators of the regime would be more severe, she added.

Previously, the lockdown was in effect until April 5. The country's residents are prohibited from celebrating holidays and hold other gatherings and are allowed to go out only in case of emergencies and to buy groceries. All schools, restaurants and cafes are closed. Compliance with the regime is monitored by the police, violators face large fines.

Earlier on Friday, France also extended its lockdown until April 15.

Belgian public health officials on Friday confirmed that 1,049 more people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the preceding 24 hours, raising the overall number of confirmed cases since the start of the outbreak to 7,284. A total of 289 people in Belgium have died after contracting the disease.

18:33 GMT 27.03.2020

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - While older people have by now proved to be more vulnerable to COVID-19, up to 10-15 percent of people younger than 50 years old develop moderate to severe disease, Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme Michael Ryan said on Friday.

"There is no question that elderly and those with underlying conditions have been affected much more than other age groups," Ryan said during a virtual WHO briefing when asked to comment on growing numbers of younger patients hospitalized with COVID-19.

At the same time, he continued, the dynamic in South Korea showed 20 percent of fatalities being among people under 60 years of age, and in Italy, up to 15 percent of people in intensive care were under 50 years of age.

"Up to 10 to 15 percent of people under 50 who have the disease will have a moderate or severe infection ... So for most young people, this is a very mild infection, but for a significant minority of people between the age of 20 and 60, this is a significant infection," Ryan said.

The global tally of COVID-19 has now crossed the landmark number of half a million cases, including over 20,000 fatalities.

18:19 GMT 27.03.2020

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - France has 32,964 cases of the coronavirus infection, up from 29,155 announced a day earlier, Jerome Salomon, the head of France's public health service, said Friday.

"As for the number of confirmed tests, we have today 32,964 confirmed cases," Salomon said.

The number of deaths has reached 1,995 after 299 people died in the last 24 hours, the official said.

3,787 people were in a serious condition needing life support, up 12% compared to Thursday. It means that nearly half of France's 8,000 beds equipped with ventilation gear are occupied, Salomon added. 

18:18 GMT 27.03.2020

According to a statement from Downing Street, the two leaders "agreed to work together closely, along with the G7, the G20, and other international partners, to defeat the coronavirus pandemic."

18:16 GMT 27.03.2020
18:14 GMT 27.03.2020
18:03 GMT 27.03.2020

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The Trump administration called business and healthcare leaders to the White House to strategize the next steps to battle the coronavirus pandemic, US Vice President Mike Pence said on Friday.

His announcement came minutes after the House approved a $2 trillion rescue package on a voice vote for Trump to sign into law.

The package provides payments to individuals, hospitals and major industries such as airlines to help the nation weather the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the US coronavirus case count soared pass 93,000 on Friday, a day after overtaking China as world leader of the pandemic.

17:59 GMT 27.03.2020

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The spread of the coronavirus in Syria may have catastrophic consequences, the United States is responsible for the people living east of the Euphrates River, Maria Zakharova, the spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, said Friday.

"The spread of the coronavirus in Syria may have the most serious consequences, given that there are large camps of internally displaced persons on the territory that is not controlled by Damascus, such as Rukban, mentioned earlier, al Hawl," Zakharova said.

"The United States as the side that is occupying this territory is fully responsible for the civilians who are there and for ensuring that all humanitarian needs are met," the spokeswoman added.

17:56 GMT 27.03.2020
17:50 GMT 27.03.2020

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi have discussed the fight against the coronavirus pandemic during phone talks, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Friday.

"Just recently, a telephone conversation took place between Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov and a member of the Chinese State Council, Foreign Minister Wang Yi. The ministers discussed the situation caused by the pandemic, praised the bilateral cooperation, the exchange of experience in combating the pandemic and countering its spread, and noted the effectiveness of measures being taken in our countries," Zakharova said at a briefing.

17:36 GMT 27.03.2020

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The United States has almost 93,000 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and 1,380 deaths from the disease, Johns Hopkins University revealed on its website on Friday.

The United State earlier overtook China as the country with the largest number of infections with the novel strain of coronavirus.

The data provided by Johns Hopkins University revealed that there are 92,932 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States versus China’s 81,897. However, Italy, Spain and China have reported more COVID-19-related deaths than the United States.

17:35 GMT 27.03.2020

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - A woman with confirmed coronavirus died in Moscow, she had one lung due to an oncological condition, the centre for control and monitoring of the coronavirus situation in the capital said Friday.

"A patient with confirmed coronavirus infection died in Moscow," the centre said, adding that the woman, who had no lung, was diagnosed with left-sided pneumonia at the hospitalization.

17:28 GMT 27.03.2020

MADRID (Sputnik) - Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Friday called on the European Union to foster unity in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The EU must launch a rebuilding plan that will strengthen the mechanisms of the European welfare state and develop mechanisms of resilience through the policy of cohesion and agriculture, [while] also improving the effectiveness of the industrial policies," Sanchez tweeted, calling COVID-19 the worst crisis of this generation.

On Thursday, the leaders of the 27 EU countries discussed economic measures to overcome the consequences of the outbreak during a teleconference, asking finance ministers of the Eurozone to put forward proposals on ways to handle social and economic consequences of the pandemic within two weeks.

Currently, Spain is among the countries most affected by the coronavirus with the overall number of cases standing at 64,059 and the death toll at 4,858.

17:24 GMT 27.03.2020

GENEVA (Sputnik) - Restrictions introduced in Switzerland to contain the spread of the coronavirus infection have been generally observed by the population, but drawing any conclusions on COVID-19's dynamic is premature at this point, Alain Berset, the head of the Federal Department of Home Affairs, said on Friday.

"Only a week has passed since the ban on gathering in large groups was introduced with a fine for violating it. We can sum up the first results. They show that measures are in most cases followed. We can also see that people are aware of and comply with the behavioral rules, which are extremely important for controlling the spread of the virus," Berset said at a briefing in Bern, adding, nevertheless, that "it is too early to draw conclusions."

He said that more than 97,000 tests had been conducted in Switzerland so far, of which some 12 percent were positive. According to the official, 6,000-8,000 tests are conducted in Switzerland every day and 145 out of 100,000 tests come back positive on average.

17:20 GMT 27.03.2020

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - London's second-largest airport, Gatwick, said on Friday that it would close one of its two terminals beginning on April 1, as passenger traffic has fallen amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"From 1 April, we will be temporarily closing our North Terminal and consolidating all flights into our South Terminal. Please contact your airline for any information about your flight and check public transport routes, as many are operating to a reduced timetable," the airport said on Twitter.

According to the Sky News broadcaster, the airport is considering a full closure. London City Airport has already announced it would be suspended for several weeks.

Passenger traffic has slumped in recent weeks across the globe as many countries and airlines were suspending both international and domestic flights due to the coronavirus pandemic.

17:18 GMT 27.03.2020

CHISINAU (Sputnik) - Moldova has registered 22 new COVID-19 cases, which brings the total number of those infected in the country to 199, Health Minister Viorica Dumbraveanu said on Friday.

"As of today, we have confirmed 22 new coronavirus cases. In the coming days we will discharge nine people from hospitals," Dumbraveanu said, noting that the number of confirmed cases had increased to 199.

On 17 March, the Moldovan parliament declared an emergency for 60 days. The republic has suspended air traffic with all countries and also closed its land border. Since Wednesday, people over 63 years old have been prohibited from unnecessarily going outside.

17:16 GMT 27.03.2020

ANKARA (Sputnik) - Turkey registered 2,069 new cases of the coronavirus in 24 hours, bringing the total number of positive cases to 5,698, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said Friday.

"We carried out 7,533 tests today, with 2,069 coming back positive. We have a total of 5,698 infected people," Koca told reporters.

Seventeen people with coronavirus died in Turkey in 24 hours, bringing the total to 92, the minister added.

17:15 GMT 27.03.2020

HELSINKI (Sputnik) - The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Finland has increased to 1,025, The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), which is part of the Health Ministry, said on Friday.

"By March 27, a total of 1,025 laboratory-confirmed cases of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) have been diagnosed in Finland. This figure is based on laboratory-confirmed figures collected manually by THL directly from hospital districts," the THL said on its website.

There are also 108 hospitalized patients and seven fatalities.

The World Health Organization has counted 465,915 confirmed cases throughout the world, with the overall death toll standing at 21,031.

17:14 GMT 27.03.2020

BELGRADE (Sputnik) - The death toll from COVID-19 in Serbia has reached eight after an elderly man died from the disease, Serbian national television reported on Friday.

According to the latest data from the country's health ministry, 457 people were infected with coronavirus in the country. The interior ministry told Sputnik that it had offered the government to ask for help from Russia.

A 62-year-old man from the city of Sabac, who died on March 25, was found to be infected with coronavirus, the broadcaster said, adding that this was confirmed by local authorities.

On Tuesday, the Serbian army opened a reception centre in the Belgrade Fair and Exhibition Center to isolate up to 3,000 patients with mild symptoms. Reception centres in Novi Sad and Nis were also prepared to isolate the new patients.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic previously recalled that strict adherence to self-isolation rules was a must for arrivals from abroad and emphasized that criminal liability for violation of the regime may be punished with 3-12 years in prison.

Serbia has been under curfew since March 18. The country banned movement for all citizens from 17.00 to 5.00 (from 16.00 to 04.00 GMT) beginning on March 22. People aged 65 and higher can leave their homes only on Sunday from 3.00 to 8.00 (from 02.00 to 07.00 GMT). Leaving the house during the curfew is allowed only in urgent medical cases. Citizens were also allowed to walk their pets for 20 minutes in the evening, but no further than 200 meters from their homes.

The Serbian authorities closed the borders for foreigners entering the country without registering. The army has joined the protection of borders and medical facilities. All kindergartens, schools, cultural and sports facilities are closed. The government has banned mass gatherings and limited prices for food, and protective and hygiene products.

17:12 GMT 27.03.2020

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund has received over $108 million in donations from some 200,000 donors in just the first two weeks of its existence, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Friday.

"We are also delighted to report that the COVID-19 solidarity fund has now received donations of more than $108 million in just two weeks from 200,000 individuals and organizations. Thanks to each and every one of you," Tedros said at a virtual WHO briefing.

The WHO launched the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund on March 13 for tackling the coronavirus disease pandemic.

16:50 GMT 27.03.2020

Italy has become the second country to overtake China in the spread of the coronavirus, reaching 86,498 cases. At the same time, in terms of fatal cases, Italy has taken the lead with its single biggest leap in coronavirus deaths, with 969 more victims.

"Unfortunately, 969 people died," Domenico Arcuri, Extraordinary Commissioner for the implementation and coordination of the measures for the containment of COVID-19 emergency, said Friday.

A day earlier, Italy reported 662 deaths, but Piedmont authorities said after the briefing that 50 deaths in the region had not been taken into account.

At the moment, 66, 414 people in the country are infected with the virus, which marks an increase of 4,401 cases from Thursday. At the same time, 10,950 people have recovered.

“From tomorrow in order to speed up the delivery of medical equipment we will use not only trucks but also helicopters thanks to the ministry of defense," Arcuri said.

He added that the production of respirators would double to 50 items per day instead of 25.

16:30 GMT 27.03.2020
16:05 GMT 27.03.2020

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The number of medical professionals in Italy who have died after contracting COVID-19 has risen to 46 after three more deaths were confirmed on Friday, national media reported.

Italy’s national federation of doctors guilds first confirmed the death of Giulio Calvi, a physician who worked in the city of Bergamo, in the Lombardy region, the ANSA news agency reported.

Later in the day, the agency reported the deaths of two more physicians, Benedetto Comotti, who worked in Bergamo, and Marcello Ugolini, a pneumologist who worked in the city of Pesaro, in the Marche region. Both had tested positive for COVID-19.

The National Association of Italian Municipalities chief, Antonio Decaro, on Friday announced that flags on municipal buildings across Italy will be flown at half-mast on Tuesday, the agency reported.

Decaro also announced that a minute’s silence will be held at noon local time [11:00 GMT] to commemorate those who have died from COVID-19, according to the agency.

Italy has become the epicentre of the COVID-19 outbreak in Europe. As of 17:00 GMT on Thursday, the country has confirmed over 80,000 cases of the disease, resulting in more than 8,000 deaths.

16:03 GMT 27.03.2020
16:00 GMT 27.03.2020
15:07 GMT 27.03.2020
14:59 GMT 27.03.2020
14:41 GMT 27.03.2020

The United States is prepared to send additional equipment to Italy that is needed to contain the novel coronavirus (COVID-9) pandemic, US Defenсe Secretary Mark Esper told his Italian counterpart Lorenzo Guerini on Friday, according a Defense Department readout of the phone conversation.

"The [Defenсe] Secretary noted we are looking at what additional support we can provide," the readout said.

Earlier this week, Guerini asked the United States for critical medical equipment like masks and ventilators, according to media reports.

As of Friday morning, Italy reported more than 80,000 coronavirus cases with more than 8,000 deaths - an indication that about 10 percent of those infected are dying, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Officials attribute the Italy's high death toll to a lack of medical equipment, among other causes.

14:29 GMT 27.03.2020

Portugal’s coronavirus cases have increased by more than 700 in the past 24 hours, the country’s Health Ministry said Friday, adding that the death toll from the virus has grown by 17 to 76.

The total number of cases that have been confirmed so far reached 4,268.

Slightly more than half of the cases were registered in the country’s north, while the second-largest cluster is in the capital city Lisbon.

Authorities introduced a state of emergency on March 19, suspending all public life and banning travel across the country.

14:14 GMT 27.03.2020
13:29 GMT 27.03.2020
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12:52 GMT 27.03.2020

The Afghan capital of Kabul, where around 6 million people live, is closing its borders for three weeks starting Saturday, also introducing restrictions on movement inside the city to prevent further spread of the coronavirus, the country's cabinet said on Friday.

"From tomorrow, all travels are banned in Kabul except for purchasing food, receiving health and security services, and seeing patients. Entry to Kabul and exit from it are also banned. Food shops, health centers and security service centers will operate normally. All government employees, except departments directors and administration heads, are also discharged for three weeks," the Afghan cabinet said in a statement.

12:37 GMT 27.03.2020

Pakistan has requested emergency assistance from the International Monetary Fund under its rapid financing instrument so the country can confront the coronavirus outbreak, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said in a statement on Friday.

“The authorities have continued their reform efforts to address Pakistan’s economic challenges, but progress is being threatened by the devastating effects of the COVID-19 outbreak and the deterioration in global economic and financial conditions,” Georgieva said. “To support these efforts and ensure prompt and adequate relief to the people and the economy, the Government of Pakistan has requested financial assistance under the Fund’s Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI).”

12:33 GMT 27.03.2020
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11:18 GMT 27.03.2020

"Over the last 24 hours I have developed mild symptoms and tested positive for coronavirus," Johnson said. "I am now self-isolating, but I will continue to lead the government’s response via video-conference as we fight this virus."

11:13 GMT 27.03.2020
10:43 GMT 27.03.2020

Spain's death toll from coronavirus-related complications surpassed 4,850 people on Friday after the Health Ministry reported that 769 patients had died over the past 24 hours.

The number of COVID-19 cases has exceeded 64,000, with 7,900 confirmed in the past 24 hours.

More than 4,000 patients are in serious condition with an overall death toll of 4,858, the ministry said in its daily update.

Meanwhile, 9,600 people have recovered from the illness.

The capital city of Madrid and the surrounding region remain the worst-hit, with over 19,200 cases and 2,400 dead.

The autonomous region of Catalonia has recorded nearly 13,000 cases and over 1,880 deaths, according to the ministry’s numbers.

Spain is the second most affected country in Europe after Italy in terms of COVID-19 confirmed cases.

09:36 GMT 27.03.2020
09:29 GMT 27.03.2020

In connection with a non-working week in Russia, it is necessary to extend to all regions the anti-virus measures that have already been taken in Moscow and its region, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said.

"You know that next week, by the decision of the president, it will be inactive. In this regard, I consider it necessary to extend to all regions of our country the restrictive measures that have already been taken in Moscow and the Moscow region," Mishustin said.

08:50 GMT 27.03.2020

Israel has registered 342 new coronavirus cases and two related deaths in the country over the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of cases to 3,035 with 10 deaths, the country’s Health Ministry said on Friday.

On Thursday, the ministry reported an overall toll of 2,693 cases, including eight deaths. According to Israel’s Army Radio, also known as Galei Tzahal, a 93-year-old man and 76-year-old woman died Friday night.

"The number of COVID-19-infected people has reached 3,035 as of 8:00 a.m. local time [05:00 GMT] this Friday, including 10 deaths," the Health Ministry said in a statement.

The statement also read that 49 people were in a severe condition, and 79 had fully recovered.

On 20 March, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared a seven-day state of emergency and ordered citizens to remain indoors except for trips to buy food and medicines. The country’s borders are currently shut.

08:36 GMT 27.03.2020
08:24 GMT 27.03.2020

Russia has registered 196 new COVID-19 cases in 16 regions over the past 24 hours, with the total count now reaching 1,036, and one fatality of a COVID-19-positive patient, the country's coronavirus response centre said on Friday.

"Over the past 24 hours, Russia has registered 196 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in 16 regions," the centre said in a statement, adding that the country currently has 1,036 cases in 58 regions.

"One fatality has been registered in Moscow. The death toll has reached three," the centre added.

According to the response centre, 157 of the new cases were registered in Moscow.

Seven people have been discharged from hospitals across Russia due to recovering from COVID-19, the centre went on to say. The total number of people who have recovered has reached 45.

08:12 GMT 27.03.2020
07:59 GMT 27.03.2020

French police have experienced a surge in domestic violence complaints since the nation ordered a full lockdown on March 17 due to the coronavirus pandemic, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said.

Speaking on a political talk show on the France 2 broadcaster on Thursday, Castaner said that gendarmeries — police stations in France — had experienced a 32 percent increase in call ups to intervene in domestic violence and familial squabbles.

The number is even higher in the Paris metropolitan area, with the city's Prefect of Police registering a 36 percent jump in domestic violence calls.

Castaner also added that the police had received a cumulative 225,000 complaints of quarantine non-compliance.

President Emmanuel Macron announced a nationwide lockdown for at least 15 days in mid-March as the number of coronavirus cases rose dramatically in the country and in its European neighbours.

07:52 GMT 27.03.2020
07:45 GMT 27.03.2020

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany has climbed by nearly 6,000 over the past 24 hours to 42,288, with the death toll reaching 253, the Robert Koch Institute said on Friday.

According to the institute's data, the largest numbers were recorded in Bavaria (9,481), North Rhine-Westphalia (9,235) and Baden-Wurttemberg (8,161). Berlin had 1,955 cases.

As of Thursday morning, the Robert Koch Institute, which is part of the German Health Ministry and tasked with monitoring the coronavirus situation, had confirmed a total of 36,508 coronavirus cases and 198 fatalities.

Germany is the third most affected country in Europe after Italy and Spain in terms of case numbers.

07:44 GMT 27.03.2020

Argentinian authorities have taken possession of some 1,000 cars in less than a week from drivers who were in violation of the quarantine imposed in the country to curb the COVID-19 epidemic, the country's Ministry of Security said in a statement.

"In various sites around the country, 206,716 cars were checked and 938 of them were seized," the statement read.

According to the authorities, since March 21, criminal proceedings for violating the mandatory quarantine have been initiated against 6,191 people throughout the country.

07:44 GMT 27.03.2020

Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez, who heads the presidential commission on the fight against the spread of COVID-19, reported the first coronavirus-related fatality in the country, and said the total number of confirmed cases had reached 107.

"The new case of COVID-19 was registered in Caracas. The total number stands at 107. Moreover, the first coronavirus-related death was registered in Venezuela. The deceased person was a worker, 47, in the state of Aragua," Rodriguez said on the Latin American TeleSur broadcaster.

According to the vice president, 31 patients are recovering.

Venezuela is among the many countries that have enacted a nationwide quarantine to curb the spread of the deadly pandemic.

07:29 GMT 27.03.2020

Kazakhstan's state commission for ensuring state of emergency has decided to suspend the operation of companies and organizations of any form of ownership in the cities of Nur-Sultan and Almaty between March 30 and April 5 to prevent further spread of COVID-19, the government said on Friday.

"The state commission has approved the decision to suspend the operation of all companies and organizations, regardless of the form of ownership, in the cities of Nur-Sultan and Almaty from March 30 - April 5 to limit the spread of the coronavirus infection," the Kazakh government said in a statement.

Exceptions will be made for central governmental agencies, administrations of law enforcement bodies, health care organizations, media, food shops, pharmacies and critical services.

Kazakhstan has registered 124 COVID-19 cases, including one death. A state of emergency was declared in the country on March 16.

07:27 GMT 27.03.2020

The number of people who got infected with coronavirus in Canada has surpassed 4,000, and 39 of them have died from the disease, the Health Ministry said in a statement.

The previous reports indicated 3,197 COVID-19 cases and 27 fatalities across the country.

"A total of 4,043 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Canada as of March 26, 2020 at 6 pm EDT (Figure 1). 39 deaths have been reported," the statement read.

According to the ministry, the highest number of infections was recorded in Canada's provinces of Quebec and Ontario — 1,629 and 858 respectively.

07:20 GMT 27.03.2020
07:02 GMT 27.03.2020

"This morning, we South Africans wake up with sad news that we now have our first deaths resulting from COVID-19," the health ministry said in a statement.

The total number of cases in the country have risen to more than 1,000, from 927 a day earlier.

06:50 GMT 27.03.2020

he European Parliament has adopted three crucial proposals to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic that envisage the allocation of nearly 38 billion euros ($42 billion) to support the worst-hit member states.

According to a press release published on the EU Parliament's website on Thursday, the members of the European Parliament approved in a 683-1 vote the Corona Response Investment Initiative, under which those European countries that are affected most by the outbreak will receive 37 billion euros from available EU funds as soon as possible. The funds are aimed at supporting health care systems, small- and medium-sized enterprises, labor markets, and other sectors of the economy.

The second proposal implies the extension of the EU Solidarity Fund and allocation of 800 million euros to cover public health emergencies of member states. The proposal was adopted in 671-3 vote with 14 abstentions.

Moreover, members of the European Parliament voted to temporarily suspend EU rules on airport slots until October 24, which means that airlines are not required to use their planned take-off and landing slots to keep them in the next season. A total of 686 lawmakers voted in favor of the proposal, and two abstained.

The press release added that the regulations should be formally approved by the Council of the European Union. They will enter into force once published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

06:45 GMT 27.03.2020

Thailand has recorded 91 new cases of COVID-19 and one related death over the past day, an official from the Health Ministry said on Friday, noting that the total number of cases in the country now stood at 1,136.

"Today, 91 cases of the disease were registered and one more patient died of the coronavirus infection. Thus, since the start of the epidemic, a total of 1,136 people have contracted the virus in Thailand, while 97 patients have fully recovered and five people died," Anupong Sujariyakul, a senior expert in preventive medicine at the Disease Control Department of the Health Ministry, said at a briefing.

According to him, more than half of the new cases are associated with known hotspots, including a boxing stadium, pubs and a nightclub in Bangkok, and a massive Muslim religious event in one of the mosques in Malaysia, which was visited by a large group of Thai Muslims in late February and early March.

06:42 GMT 27.03.2020
06:31 GMT 27.03.2020

The Armenian Health Ministry's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement on Friday that the number of people who had contracted the coronavirus disease in the country had risen to 329 over the past day.

"Armenia confirmed 329 cases of coronavirus. Eighteen patients have recovered. One person died," the center said.

On Thursday, Health Ministry spokeswoman Alina Nikoghosyan confirmed the first death of a coronavirus patient in Armenia.

06:31 GMT 27.03.2020

Australia has tightened quarantine measures by sending all arrivals from abroad to designated hotels and deploying the military to ensure they remain in isolation for two weeks, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Friday, as the number of coronavirus cases in the country surpassed 3,000.

“By no later than… Saturday, states and territories will be quarantining all arrivals through our airports in hotels and other accomodation facilities for the two weeks of their mandatory self-isolation,” Morrison said at a news briefing.

The prime minister said that enforcing the new measures would fall on local governments, but that the central government would help by deploying the Australian Defence Force to monitor compliance.

Despite taking preventative measures early on, Australia has seen a steady rise in coronavirus cases in all states and territories, with the latest estimates counting over 3,100 cases and 13 deaths with nearly 200 recovered.

05:59 GMT 27.03.2020

The number of people who had contracted the new coronavirus disease in Mexico has increased by 110 to 585 with two more fatality cases reported bringing the total death toll to eight, the Health Ministry said.

"The death toll has risen to eight, with 585 confirmed cases," Ana Lucia De la Garza, the Health Ministry's director for epidemiology, said at a press conference on Thursday.

On Wednesday night, the Mexican health authorities reported about 475 COVID-19 cases in the country with six fatalities.

According to the authorities, the majority of cases were imported.  

05:49 GMT 27.03.2020

Chinese President Xi Jinping told Donald Trump that China was willing to offer support to the US for coronavirus control.

China is ready to provide assistance and support to the United States in order to promote its fight against the spread of coronavirus, President Xi Jinping told US President Donald Trump in a phone conversation, inviting him to pool efforts together.

"In the current situation, China and the US should unite for fighting the epidemic. Some Chinese companies and enterprises have provided humanitarian assistance to the US. The Chinese side understands the difficulties that the US side is currently facing, and is ready to provide aid and support within its powers," Xi told Trump, as quoted by the China Central Television.

China will continue sharing experience and information with the US, he added.

05:32 GMT 27.03.2020
05:30 GMT 27.03.2020
05:25 GMT 27.03.2020
04:50 GMT 27.03.2020

The Nicaraguan Ministry of Health said that the first patient had died of the coronavirus in the country, La Prensa media outlet reported.

According to the ministry, only two cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Nicaragua so far.

 

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