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This photo taken on March 6 shows medical staff helping a coronavirus patient at the Red Cross hospital in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province. China on March 7 reported 28 new deaths from the coronavirus outbreak, bringing the nationwide toll to 3,070. Image Credit: AFP

This live coverage has the latest updates on the COVID-19 oubreak across the world as of March 8.

Saudi Arabia reports four new coronavirus cases

The ministry of health in Saudi Arabia announced four new coronavirus cases in the country, taking the total to 11, Saudi Press Agency reported on Sunday. The total number of cases in the Middle East are now around 7,000. 

Bangladesh confirms its first three cases of coronavirus

DHAKA (Reuters): Bangladesh on Sunday confirmed its first three cases of coronavirus in the country, said the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR).

The affected people are aged between 20 and 35 and two of them returned from Italy recently, IEDCR Director Meerjady Sabrina told reporters.

Iran reports 49 new deaths

TEHRAN: Iran's health ministry on Sunday reported 49 new deaths from the novel coronavirus, the highest toll within 24 hours since the start of the outbreak in the Islamic republic.

The new count brings the number of those killed by the virus in the country since mid-February to 194, one of the highest tolls outside of China, where the disease originated.

The virus has spread to all of Iran's 31 provinces with 6,566 confirmed cases.

Covid-19 March 8
Image Credit: Gulf News

New Delhi reports three cases

New Delhi, capital of India records three positive cases and one suspected case of the coronavirus. According to ANI, the first patient is said to have come in contact with 105 people, the second with 168 people and third with 64 people. All these people have been quarantined, and have their samples taken for tests.

Cruise ship hit by virus to dock in Oakland, California

A cruise ship hit by Coronavirus is headed to the port of Oakland, California, captain of Grand Princess announced to passengers on Saturday night (early Sunday morning in UAE).

According to Associated Press (AP), Capt. John Smith, in a recording provided by passenger Laurie Miller of San Jose, told guests the ship will dock in Oakland.

Princess Cruises says it’s expected to arrive on Monday (March 9). The ship is carrying more than 3,500 people from 54 countries.

"An agreement has been reached to bring our ship into the port of Oakland," he said. "After docking, we will then begin a disembarkation process specified by federal authorities that will take several days. Guests who require acute medical treatment and hospitalization will be transported to health care facilities in California."

One person tested positive in Tamil Nadu, India

Tamil Nadu Health Secretary Beela Rajesh announced on Sunday, March 8, one person in the state has tested positive for Covid-19 Coronavirus.

The person is currently under surveillance at a hospital. “We are tracing contact history. Further, we are screening every person coming from outside,” said the Minister in a press briefing today.

The 45-year-old man from Tamil Nadu who tested positive hails from the state’s Kancheepuram district. He works in Oman. He is said to have landed in Chennai on February 28.

The total tally of infected people in India now stands at 40.

Italy locks down 10+ million people, closes theaters, cinemas, museums

ROME (ANI): Calling the coronavirus outbreak a "national emergency," the Giuseppe Conte-led Italian government on early Sunday locked down much of the country's north, including Venice and Milan, restricting movement for about a quarter of the Italian population in regions as the number of infected cases surged more than 5,000.

The regions serve as the country's economic engine and the move is tantamount to sacrificing the Italian economy in the short term to save it from the ravages of the virus in the long term. "We are facing an emergency," Conte said in announcing the government decree in a news conference after 2 a.m.

"A national emergency," he stressed.

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Life inside a red zone: A security guard wearing a protective mask stands at the entrance of a large supermarket in Codogno, one of the towns on lockdown due to coronavirus outbreak, as a long line of residents queue with trollies waiting to enter, in this picture taken by schoolteacher Marzio Toniolo in Codogno, Italy, February 25, 2020. Picture taken February 25, 2020. Marzio Toniolo/via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. Image Credit: via REUTERS

By Saturday, Italy had more than 5,800 cases of the virus, 233 of them fatal, with increases of almost 800 infections and 49 deaths from the day before. Only China has had more people die after contracting the virus.

Italy closed theaters, cinemas, museums across the country on Sunday as COVID19 outbreak continues to spread, according to a decree signed by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

According to Corriere Della Sera, without a "serious" reason that cannot be postponed people will not be allowed to enter or leave the entire Lombardy region around Milan — home to 10 million — as well as areas around and including Venice and the cities of Parma and Rimini.

Museums, nightclubs, gyms and casinos will be closed in these areas, the newspaper reported, adding that the measures would be in place until April 3.

5 members of a family in Kerala test positive

Five members of a family in Kerala, India, are the latest to contract Covid-19 (coronavirus). The State Health Minister of Kerala, KK Shailaja, said on Sunday, March 8, the family tested positive for the virus. This brings the total number of infected people in India to 39 as of March 8, 2020.

The Minister said the family had travelled to Italy, but did not disclose their travel history at the airport and were therefore not screened at the airport. Italy is one of the nations that reported the most cases of coronavirus. "They also refused to be hospitalised initially and we had to persuade them," the minister said.

People at centre of China's virus outbreak say time to end lockdown

BEIJING (AFP): For days now, several cities at the heart of China's deadly coronavirus epidemic have not recorded any new infections — so residents such as factory worker Tang Wushan have a message for the authorities: it's time to lift their quarantine.

Tang lives in central Hubei province, whose nearly 60 million residents have been under lockdown since late January as the government rushed to put a lid on a virus that first emerged in the regional capital, Wuhan.

He has not stepped out of his home in rural Xiangyang for more than 40 days. "It's been too long," the 30-year-old told AFP over the phone, adding that he felt like he was "going to have a breakdown".

On Sunday, there were no new cases in the province for a third consecutive day except in Wuhan, which recorded 41 fresh infections. It is the first time that has happened since daily figures were released in January.

There have been no new cases in Xiangyang for 12 consecutive days.

North Korea releases 3,600 quarantined over virus: reports

SEOUL (AFP): North Korea has released more than 3,600 people quarantined over the new coronavirus, reports said Sunday, as the disease spread to 95 countries with over 100,000 cases worldwide.

Pyongyang has imposed strict restrictions and closed its borders to try to prevent an outbreak - and insists it has not had a single case of COVID-19.

Around 3,650 people quarantined in Kangwon and Chagang provinces were released as of Thursday, North Korea's state radio reported according to Yonhap news agency.

It follows official KCNA news agency stating on Friday 221 out of 380 foreigners who were under "strict medical monitoring" had been discharged from isolation.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un warned last month of "serious consequences" if the virus reaches his country, which has banned tourists and suspended international trains and flights.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo declared a state of emergency in New York on Saturday as the state’s number of confirmed cases rose to 76, 11 of them in New York City, the latest of which is a driver for a taxi or ride-hailing service.

The declaration of emergency will allow the state to speed up the purchasing of supplies and the hiring of workers to assist local health departments that have been handling the monitoring of thousands of quarantined patients, Mr. Cuomo said.

“Somebody has to go knock on their door, once a day,” he said during a midday briefing in the state Capitol. “This is labor intensive.”

Five more coronavirus deaths in France, taking the total to 16, says official

The number of novel coronavirus cases in the world rose to 104,901, including 3,556 deaths, across 95 countries and territories by 1700 GMT Saturday, according to a report compiled by AFP from official sources.

Since 1700 GMT Friday, 4,059 new cases and 100 new deaths were reported.

China — excluding the territories of Hong Kong and Macau — where the epidemic emerged at the end of December, had 80,651 cases, of which 3,070 were fatal. There were 99 new infections and 28 deaths there since 1700 GMT Friday.

Cases outside China

Outside China, a total of 24,250 cases have been recorded around the world since the epidemic began, including 486 deaths.

There have been 3,960 new cases and 72 new deaths outside China since 1700 GMT Friday.

The most affected countries after China are: South Korea (6,767 cases, 44 deaths), Iran (5,823 cases, 145 deaths), Italy (5,883 cases, 233 deaths) and Germany (785 cases, no deaths).

Since Friday 1700 GMT, Britain, China, France, Iraq, Iran, Italy, South Korea, Spain, and the United States have recorded new deaths while Colombia, Costa Rica and the Maldives confirmed the first cases on their soil.

Asia recorded a total at 1700 GMT Friday of 89,044 cases (3,131 deaths), Europe 9,274 cases (258 deaths), Middle East 6,147 cases (149 deaths), US and Canada 264 cases (16 deaths), Oceania 76 cases (two deaths), Latin America and the Caribbean 51 cases, Africa 45 cases.

This assessment was carried out using data collected by AFP offices from the competent national authorities and information from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Twenty-one people aboard a cruise ship that was barred from docking in San Francisco have tested positive for coronavirus, US officials said on Friday, adding to the more than 100,000 cases of the fast-spreading illness across the world.

Vice President Mike Pence, recently appointed as the US government’s point man on the outbreak, said the cruise ship Grand Princess will be brought to an unspecified non-commercial port where all 2,400 some passengers and 1,100 crew members will now be tested.

“Those that need to be quarantined, will be quarantined. Those that require additional medical attention will receive it,” Pence told reporters at the White House.

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Source: WHO []

The outbreak has killed more than 3,400 people and spread across more than 90 nations, with seven countries reporting their first cases on Friday.

The economic damage has also intensified, with business districts starting to empty and stock markets continuing to tumble.

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US Vice President Pence says among those tested on Grand Princess cruise ship off coast of California, 21 people tested positive for coronavirus with one test inconclusive. He adds that the ship will be brought to a non-commercial port this weekend, and all passengers and crew will be tested Image Credit: California National Guard/Handout via REUTERS

President Donald Trump on Friday signed a bill to provide $8.3 billion to bolster the capacity to test for coronavirus and fund other measures in the United States. Cases have now been reported in more than half of the 50 US states. Fifteen people have died in the country.

In many affected countries, people were being asked to stay home from work, schools were closed, large gatherings and sports and music events were cancelled, stores were cleared of staples like toiletries and water, and face masks became a common sight.

Iran’s national plan

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said every country should make containing the epidemic its top priority, pointing to Iran’s national action plan to combat one of the worst outbreaks after a slow start.

Iran’s death toll from the virus jumped to 124, as more than 1,000 new cases were diagnosed over 24 hours.

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Firefighters disinfect a traditional shopping center to help prevent the spread of the new coronavirus in northern Tehran, Iran, Friday, March, 6, 2020. Image Credit: AP

The Vatican reported its first case, a patient in its health services, worsening the prospects of the virus having already spread further in the Italian capital, since most employees in the walled city-state live in Rome, and those who live in the Vatican frequently go in and out to the city that surrounds it.

200 deaths in Italy

Italy's death toll from the novel coronavirus rose by 36 to 233 on Saturday while the number of infections shot up by a single-day record of 1,247 to hit 5,883.

South Korea on Saturday reported 174 additional cases from late Friday, taking the national tally to 6,767. Mainland China, where the outbreak started, reported 99 new confirmed cases but about a quarter of them came from outside the country, data showed.

Medical personnel work in the pre-triage medical tent located in front of the Cremona hospital, in Cremona, northern Italy, on Wednesday. Italy will recommend people stop kissing in public, avoid shaking hands and keep a safe distance from each other to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus. Image Credit: AFP

About 3.4 per cent of confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, have died, far above seasonal flu’s fatality rate of under 1%, the WHO said this week.

Maldives reports first coronavirus cases

Two hotel employees tested positive for the novel coronavirus at a luxury resort in the Maldives, the government said Saturday marking the first cases reported in the upmarket holiday destination.

The country's health ministry said two unnamed foreign nationals working at the deluxe Kuredu Island Resort, about 150 kilometres (95 miles) north of the capital Male, tested positive for COVID-19.

Officials said the two men were checked after an Italian tourist who had holidayed at their resort tested positive upon his return home.

The resort was on lockdown Saturday as local authorities moved to check other staff and guests, officials said.

The Maldives had already suspended direct air links with China, the epicentre of the virus. Male has also stopped direct flights from Iran and Italy, two of the worst-hit countries apart from China.

Supply chains broken

Moves by some major economies, including the United States, to cut interest rates and pledge funds to fight the epidemic have done little to allay fears about the spread of the disease and the economic fallout. Supply chains have been crippled around the world.

“There’s concern that while there has been a response from the Fed, given the nature of the problem, is this something the central bank can really help with?” said John Davies, G10 rates strategist at Standard Chartered Bank in London.

In New York, JPMorgan divided its team between central locations and a secondary site in New Jersey, while Goldman Sachs sent some traders to nearby secondary offices in Greenwich, Connecticut, and Jersey City.

Bank of America Corp is splitting its trading force from Monday and sending 100 New York-based staff to nearby Stamford, Connecticut, sources familiar with the matter said.

In London, Europe’s financial capital, the Canary Wharf district was unusually quiet. S&P Global’s large office stood empty after the company sent its 1,200 staff home, and HSBC asked around 100 people to work from home after a worker tested positive for the illness.

French reaction

France’s prime minister said nurseries and schools would close for 15 days from Monday in the two areas worst hit by coronavirus infections, one north of Paris and the other in the northeastern part of the country.

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Medical staff from the IHU (Institut Hospitalo-Universitaire) Mediterranee Infection Institute are at work in the laboratory to analyse samples on the possible presence of the COVID-19 on 26 February 26, 2020 in Marseille. The Mediterranee infection Institute in Marseille based in La Timone Hospital is at the forefront of the prevention against coronavirus in France. / AFP / GERARD JULIEN Image Credit: AFP

The South by Southwest music and tech festival in Austin, Texas, and two music festivals in Florida were cancelled over concerns about events that bring crowds of people into close proximity. The NCAA Division III men’s basketball tournament was scheduled to go ahead at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore this weekend, but without spectators.

Saudi Arabia will suspend public attendance at all sports events starting Saturday, the ministry of sports said.

The United Nations said it had canceled some meetings in Bonn, Germany, and elsewhere planned in the run-up to a crucial U.N. climate summit to be held in Scotland in November.

Markets hit

Yields on US Treasuries plunged to historic lows on fears the outbreak will slam the global economy, and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe shed 3.10 per cent.

US stocks fell but ended well above their session lows.

Airline and travel stocks have been among the worst affected as people cancelled non-essential travel. Norwegian Air Shuttle , the hardest-hit stock among European carriers, lost more than quarter of its market value on Friday and has fallen almost 70% since the start of February.

“If this really ramps up, we could see a lot more kitchen-sinking updates from the travel industry and airlines,” said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG.