- Global cases near 110,000, according to latest WHO count [https://bit.ly/39OR6hL]
- WHO warns "very real" threat of global outbreak, but virus could still be controlled
- At least 64,089 people who were infected with virus recovered
- Cruise ship Grand Princess carrying at least 21 with coronavirus docks in California
- US pledges more testing as Trump hints at aid for workers
- Italian PM extends lockdown to entire country
- Coronavirus sufferers symptom-free for five days on average – study
70% of infected patients recover
Dubai: Mainland China reported no new locally-transmitted coronavirus cases outside the epicentre of Hubei province for the second day running on Monday, Reuters reported.
China had 40 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections as of Sunday, the National Health Commission said, down from 44 cases a day earlier, and the lowest number since the health authority started publishing nationwide data on January 20.
WHO reported on March 9 that 70 per cent of those infected with the virus in China have recovered. In Beijing, officials have urged foreigners in the city to avoid unnecessary travel.
Lockdowns in Italy
Italy’s measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus took effect on Monday with shops, cinemas and museums remaining closed, but also leading to riots in some prisons.
Faced with Europe’s most serious outbreak of the highly contagious virus, Italy imposed strict controls on travel from the northern region of Lombardy and parts of neighbouring Veneto, Piedmont and Emilia-Romagna.
In a little over two weeks, the number of recorded cases has surged to 7,375 with 366 deaths, putting the healthcare system under massive strain, with intensive care facilities struggling to handle the influx of new cases, Reuters reported.
“We have two objectives, contain the spread of this virus and strengthen the health system so that it can meet this challenge,” Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said in an interview with the daily La Repubblica. “We’re a strong country.”
In Milan, public transport was working but streets were much quieter than normal, with many smaller shops and cafes closed.
Since the novel coronavirus first emerged in late December, 2019, 110,564 cases have been recorded in 100 countries and territories, killing 3,862 people, according to an AFP toll based on official sources on Monday.
European Union leaders will hold emergency talks to discuss a joint response to the coronavirus, officials said on Monday, as the bloc’s executive considers relaxing state subsidy rules to allow extra public spending.
The announcement of the teleconference, likely to take place on Tuesday, came after Italy and France called for Europe-wide stimulus to counter the economic impact of the epidemic.
Spain's Vitoria shuts downs schools
In Spain, schools and universities in the Basque capital Vitoria will close for two weeks, sending tens of thousands of pupils home, authorities in the region said on Monday.
With nearly 150 confirmed cases, the Basque Country in northern Spain is among the worst-hit areas in the country, which has a total of 999 cases. Twenty-four people have died in Spain from the virus, official figures show, after eight new fatalities were reported in Madrid on Monday.
WHO says pandemic threat 'very real'
Meanwhile, WHO warned on Monday there was now a "very real" threat that the global outbreak of the new deadly coronavirus will become a pandemic, but stressed the virus could still be controlled.
"The threat of a pandemic has become very real," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters, while stressing that "it would be the first pandemic in history that can be controlled... we are not at the mercy of the virus".
Violence in Italian lock-up
Italian penitentiary police said Monday that six inmates protesting virus containment measures at a northern Italian lock-up have died after they broke into the infirmary and overdosed on methadone, AP reported.
The protest in Modena was among the first of more than two dozen riots at Italy’s overcrowded lock-ups that grew Monday. Inmates climbed onto the roof of the San Vittore prison in Milan and held up a painted sheet reading “Indulto,” Italian for pardon.
Donato Capece, secretary general of the penitentiary police union, accused the government of abandoning the prison system, refusing to provide sufficient measures to prevent the spread of the virus among inmates and leaving guards on their own to deal with prisoners who could now only speak to relatives by phone or Skype.
Neighbours take steps to curb spread of coronavirus
Switzerland has announced checks of Italian commuters’ Swiss work permits and Austria has said it plans spot health checks of people crossing its southern border to try to contain the coronavirus, Reuters reported.
The Swiss government said Italians who work in Switzerland will have to show papers proving they have a job in the Alpine country.
But Italians will not be prevented from working in Switzerland, a decision that is important for the economy of the Italian-speaking southern canton of Ticino, where more than 70,000 Italian cross-border commuters hold work permits.
Virus-hit cruise ship prepares to dock in California
Thousands of people stranded on a cruise ship off California after an outbreak of the coronavirus were due to disembark Monday in what officials said would be an “unprecedented and difficult” landing, AFP reported.
No time has been given for the disembarkation, but fences have been put up at Oakland port and buses and flights were lined up to ferry the more than 2,000 passengers, who will go into treatment, be placed in quarantine or returned to their home countries in the case of non-US citizens.
The Grand Princess, which has 21 confirmed novel coronavirus infections among its 3,500 passengers and crew, appeared to be moving toward the coast Monday, according to ship tracker Cruisin.
Meanwhile, the Regal Princess cruise ship finally pulled into a Florida port and passengers began disembarking after two crew members tested negative for coronavirus.
Smallest daily rise in South Korea
South Korea, which has one of the world’s largest coronavirus totals outside China, on Monday reported its smallest daily rise in cases for two weeks.
A total of 248 cases were confirmed on Sunday, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said.
Each morning, the South announces how many cases were diagnosed the previous day, and gives an update every afternoon with the current day’s figures so far - 96 on Monday, taking the total to 7,478.
The 248 figure for Sunday as a whole was the third consecutive daily fall and was the lowest for any single day since late February.
Japan’s Abe may seek emergency declaration
Japan is set this week to revise a law allowing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to declare a state of emergency over the coronavirus if needed, as he takes heat for his handling of the outbreak ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games.
In perhaps his biggest test since returning to office in 2012, Japan’s longest-serving premier has been accused by critics of initial lack of leadership then over-abrupt steps like school closures that left parents and employers scrambling.
Japan has more than 1,200 coronavirus cases including about 700 from a cruise ship, public broadcaster NHK said. Sixteen people have died, including seven from the liner.
Foreign diplomats fly out of North Korea
A special North Korean flight believed to be carrying dozens of diplomats and other foreigners arrived in Russia’s Far East on Monday, as the North tightens a lockdown intended to fend off the coronavirus, AP reported.
North Korea has not publicly confirmed a single case of the Covid-19 illness, but its state media have reported that thousands of people have been quarantined as part of strict prevention measures.
Seemingly dozens of passengers, most of them wearing face masks and some accompanied by children, lined up at Pyongyang International Airport. North Korean health workers wearing white protective suits scanned them for fevers.
Two Australian schools close as coronavirus cases jump
Two schools in Sydney closed on Monday after three students tested positive for the coronavirus, taking Australia’s tally of cases to more than 80.
Two year-10 students at Sydney’s St Patrick’s Marist College Dundas had tested positive for the virus while a year-7 pupil tested positive at the Willoughby Girls High School, Reuters said.
“This is likely to be the new norm,” said Brad Hazzard the minister of health for New South Wales state.
The school closures come days after another high school in Sydney shut down when a 16-year-old there tested positive.
Albania halts schools, Italy flights, ferries over coronavirus
Albania reported its first coronavirus infections on Monday - a man who returned from Italy and infected his father, prompting the government to shut down schools for two weeks and cancel flight and ferry services to Italy until April 3. The 28-year-old man and his 54-year-old father, who live in the capital Tirana, were in stable condition without complications, the health ministry said, as it began tracking about two dozen persons they had been in close contact with. More than 400,000 Albanians live in Italy, Albania’s main trading partner, across the Adriatic Sea.
Poland sets up health checks on borders
Poland will conduct health checks at its borders to stem the spread of coronavirus, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Monday. Poland has so far registered 16 cases of the virus.
“As of today there will be four (health checkpoints) on the German border and one on the Czech border, but I want to stress in the coming hours we are going to increase controls on other borders as well,” Morawiecki said. The checks will focus on buses and trains. Poland reported five new cases on Monday.
Canada’s count exceeds 60
The first confirmed case of coronavirus in Alberta, Canada, has pushed the country’s total above 60 for the first time.
Over the weekend, one of four presumptive cases in Alberta was confirmed to be Covid-19, Bloomberg reported.
Two additional cases were confirmed in Ontario, bringing the province’s total to 31. And six new cases were confirmed in British Columbia, for a total of 27 in the west coast province and 61 nationally.
First case detected at EU Commission
A first case of coronavirus has been detected among staff at the European Commission, a spokeswoman said on Monday. The woman came back from Italy and has been in quarantine since last week, an EU official said. The EU Commission, the 27-nations bloc’s executive, has a staff of around 32,000.
Last week, another EU body, the European Defence Agency, reported a case of coronavirus among its staff. The official had also recently travelled to northern Italy. The Council of the European Union, another body, also decided to send home close to 50 persons after two staff members tested positive to the virus.
A 40-year-old woman has been diagnosed with coronavirus in Lesbos, doctors said Monday, in the first reported case on the Greek island.
Greek authorities have expressed concern over the possibility of the virus spreading on islands such as Lesbos, where thousands of migrants are crammed in overcrowded camps or living rough.
The woman recently travelled to Israel and Egypt and was placed in quarantine on Sunday, the public ERT television reported.
- with inputs from agencies