Global updates: Over 722,000 now infected with coronavirus, nearly 34,000 dead

A member of traffic police gives a leaflet with information about the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) to a person entering Mexico from the United States, in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, on March 29, 2020. (Photo by Reuters)

The new coronavirus has now killed 33,997 people and infected 722,435 others worldwide, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Italy continues to be a prime hotspot for the viral infection. The pandemic has already brought the entire world to a standstill, with governments and people putting up fights to save more lives and reduce the costs of the malady.

The following is a glance at the latest developments related to the pandemic.

Iran reports over 3,000 news cases

Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour on Monday reported another 117 deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing Iran's overall toll to 2,757.

The number of confirmed cases rose by 3,186 to reach a total of 41,495.

In recent days, Iran has ordered the closure of nonessential businesses and banned travel between cities.  

Iran has urged the international community to lift sanctions and is seeking a $5 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund.

Jahanpour also said 13,911 patients have so far recovered and been released from hospitals around the country. 

Italy’s deaths decrease

Italy says the number of deaths from the disease fell for the second consecutive day on Sunday.

According to the country’s Civil Protection department, 756 people died on Sunday, bringing the total to 10,779. The Sunday toll was 133 smaller than that of Saturday.

Still, the overall tally is more than a third of all the deaths from the virus worldwide.

The total number of confirmed cases in Italy also rose to 97,689 on Sunday, from a previous 92,472.

It was the lowest daily rise in new cases since Wednesday.

The country, however, is still bracing for the peak. And restrictions on all but essential activities that were due to expire on Friday will be officially extended.

“The measures that were due to expire on April 3 inevitably will be extended,” said Regional Affairs Minister Francesco Boccia. “I think that it would be inappropriate and irresponsible to talk of re-opening (schools and production sites).”

According to Italian media, the restrictions could last for a further two weeks until about April 18.

Spain’s death toll passes 6,800

Spain, the second worst-hit nation in Europe, has approved a strengthening of measures to curb the spread of the outbreak, which killed 838 people on Sunday.

The total number of fatalities reached 6,803, and the confirmed cases 80,110.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Saturday night that all non-essential workers had to stay home for two weeks. The measure would last from March 30 to April 9.

Spain has already been on near-total lockdown for three weeks.

Local German finance minister kills self over outbreak’s economic toll

In Germany, the finance minister of Hesse State, Thomas Schafer, who was a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, has killed himself, reportedly due to becoming “deeply worried” about the outbreak’s economic toll on the country.

Governor Volker Bouffier said Sunday that Schafer, 54, had become consumed with how to handle the fact that the coronavirus crisis was sending global markets into free fall.

He said the minister had been concerned about “whether it would be possible to succeed in fulfilling the population’s huge expectations, particularly of financial help.”

Schaefer had held his position for a decade.

Germany has had the lowest fatality toll from the coronavirus in the world, with a total number of 541 deaths; but it has the fifth-largest infection tally, with 62,435 confirmed cases.

Russia quarantines Moscow, urges other regions to do so

Russia has announced an indefinite citywide quarantine in the capital, Moscow, starting on Monday, as the city’s infections surpassed 1,000 over the weekend, said Mayor Sergei Sobyanin.

Residents in the capital will be allowed to leave their homes for emergency medical care, for travel to work if they are unable to work remotely, for shopping at the nearest grocery store or pharmacy, and for walking pets within a 100-meter radius of their residences.

The country has 1,534 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection and nine deaths.

Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin asked the country’s regional governors on Monday to consider imposing the same restrictions on movement in their cities as well.

Teachers wearing face masks take part in a recording of a lesson on stampede prevention at a primary school, as students’ return to school has been delayed by an outbreak of the novel coronavirus, in Qinhuangdao, Hebei Province, China, on March 30, 2020. (Photo by Reuters)

China continues to see drop in cases, president urges firms to reopen

China reported a drop in new COVID-19 cases for the fourth consecutive day on Sunday.

Officials said on Monday that 31 new coronavirus cases had been recorded on Sunday, including one locally transmitted infection, dropping from the 45 cases reported a day earlier.

With four new deaths on Sunday, the cumulative death toll in mainland China reached 3,304, and the infection figure now stands at 82,149.

This has prompted the government to urge businesses and factories to reopen for a recovery.

President Xi Jinping said that his government would adjust support policies for small and medium-sized firms promptly as the situation developed to protect them from the impact of the coronavirus epidemic.

Chinese firms should actively resume operations and production even as coronavirus prevention efforts continue, Xi said on Sunday.

India has no plan to extend complete lockdown, major surge yet to come

The Indian government said on Monday that it had no plans to extend a lockdown of the entire country beyond three weeks.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi enforced a total lockdown on the population of 1.3 billion people last week. He ordered people to remain indoors until April 15.

The decree has left millions of impoverished Indians jobless and hungry. Hundreds of thousands of workers who live on daily wages left big cities on foot for their homes in the countryside, many with families.

That has been a challenge for the government as it needs workers in such big cities as New Delhi and Mumbai. It ordered authorities on Sunday to stop the migrant workers from moving.

The country has reported a total of 1,071 cases of the COVID-19, along with 29 deaths, according to the Health Ministry.

Health officials have warned that India is weeks away from a major surge in cases that could overwhelm its weak public health system.

Volunteers offer food to homeless people during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus in Ahmedabad, India on March 30, 2020. (Photo by AFP)

Japan planning to ban entry from US, China, South Korea, Europe

Japan is planning to place an entry ban on foreign nationals who have recently been to the United States, China, South Korea, and most of Europe, as its number of COVID-19 infections reached 1,896 on Monday.

The measure would apply to the foreigners who have been to any of the countries within 14 days of arriving in Japan.

South Korea cases rise steadily

South Korea on Monday reported 78 new COVID-19 cases, indicating a fairly steady rate of infections.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said the national tally stood at 9,661, while the death toll rose by six to 158.

Meanwhile, the South Korean Foreign Ministry is set to raise its travel advisory for the United States, China, South Korea, and most of Europe. It plans to call on citizens to “avoid all travel” to those places, according to government sources.

President Moon Jae-in held an emergency meeting with economic policymakers to discuss financial support for the public. He is expected to announce details of the measures later on Monday.

Australia tightens measures

Australia has tightened physical distancing measures as the total number of infected cases reached 3,984 along with 18 deaths nationwide.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned that no more than two people should gather in any one spot outside households.

The government said it would use fines and the threat of jail to enforce the new rule.

Mexicans urged to stay home for a month

Mexico has, meanwhile, called on its citizens to stay home for a month.

Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell said it was the only way to reduce the transmission rate of the coronavirus.

Health authorities said there was a total of 848 confirmed cases, along with 20 deaths in the country.

A worker inspects a disinfection chamber installed on a sidewalk as part of measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus, in Escobedo, on the outskirts of Monterrey, Mexico, on March 29, 2020. (Photo by Reuters)

Canada declares state of emergency

Canada on Sunday declared a state of emergency in 10 provinces and ordered people to stay home.

The number of confirmed cases in the country rose to 6,320 on Sunday, while the death toll climbed to 65.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Sunday that his government was “prepared for all kinds of different situations” but was not planning for the moment to use troops to help combat the outbreak.

“We are not closing the door to any scenario,” he said, however.

Netanyahu’s aide tests positive for COVID-19

In a related development, an aide to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has tested positive for COVID-19.

Israeli officials said on Monday that the parliamentary aide had been present at a parliament session last week that was attended by Netanyahu as well as opposition lawmakers.

It was not clear if the 70-year-old prime minister had been exposed.

Netanyahu had been tested for the virus as a precaution earlier this month, according to his office, which said at the time that the result was negative.

Israel has reported 4,247 cases and 15 fatalities so far.

Netanyahu was scheduled to convene officials on Monday to discuss a proposed lockdown of certain areas.




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