Latest on the coronavirus: Britain in lockdown as WHO warns pandemic 'accelerating'

Latest on the coronavirus: Britain in lockdown as WHO warns pandemic 'accelerating'

Latest on the coronavirus: Britain in lockdown as WHO warns pandemic accelerating

A medical official wearing protective gear stands amidst cars while taking drivers and passengers' body temperature, as an additional measure to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at a check point outside Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan March 23, 2020. (REUTERS Photo)

Britain was under lockdown on March 24, its population joining around 1.7 billion people around the globe ordered to stay indoors to curb the "accelerating" spread of the coronavirus.

Across Europe, Asia, North America, the Middle East and parts of Africa, governments have told their citizens to remain at home as they grapple with a disease that has claimed thousands of lives – and shows no signs of slowing.

But in a sign of hope, China's central Hubei province, where the deadly coronavirus first emerged late last year, is to lift travel curbs after two months under lockdown. But fears rose over the second wave of infections fuelled by people arriving from overseas.

After two months living with draconian curbs on daily life, residents will be allowed to leave Hubei from midnight on March 24if healthy, while Wuhan city – the initial epicenter of the outbreak – will end restrictions from April 8.

The global shutdown continued to throw up horrifying tales; soldiers in Spain tasked with fighting the outbreak reported finding abandoned elderly people – some dead – at retirement homes.

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that the global pandemic was clearly "accelerating." The number of coronavirus deaths has topped 16,500, with more than 378,000 declared infections in 174 countries and territories.

Tedros said it took 67 days from the beginning of the outbreak in China in December for the virus to infect the first 100,000 people worldwide.

In comparison, it required only 11 days for the second 100,000 cases and just four days for the third 100,000, he said.

Tedros acknowledged that many countries were struggling to take more aggressive measures because of a lack of resources but said "we are not helpless bystanders.

"We can change the trajectory of this pandemic," he said.

Deaths, infections

  • More than 377,400 people have been infected across the world and over 16,500 have died, according to a Reuters tally.


  • Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said a virtual lockdown in France imposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus could last several more weeks and that his government was tightening restrictions even further.
  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered stringent restrictions on people's movement to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
  • The death toll from an outbreak of coronavirus in Italy rose by 602 on March 23, the smallest increase for four days, while the number of new cases also slowed.
  • Unions in Italy's Lombardy region announced strikes on March 23 for tougher shutdown measures to protect the health of workers.
  • Spain has nearly 4,000 health workers infected, more than one in 10 of total confirmed cases.


  • Several more U.S. governors joined the procession of states ordering millions of Americans to stay at home to slow the spread of the coronavirus, while President Trump signaled he's considering a move in the opposite direction.
  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said people defying advice to isolate themselves to fight the outbreak should "go home and stay home" or face sanctions.
  • Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro was forced to walk back a decree letting companies suspend pay to workers amid the coronavirus pandemic, following barbs from congressional leaders and rising discontent over his handling of the crisis.
  • Mexico had 367 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the country on March 23, up from 316 the day before, deputy health secretary Hugo Lopez-Gatell said, with a total of four deaths.


  • Australia reported a jump in coronavirus cases on March 24 that was almost entirely due to passengers who disembarked a cruise ship in Sydney several days ago.
  • Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern urged New Zealanders on March 24 to reduce contacts to a bare minimum to help fight the coronavirus, as the country prepared for a one-month lockdown.
  • Mainland China saw a doubling in new coronavirus cases driven by a jump in infected travellers returning home from overseas.
  • Malaysia is ramping up coronavirus tests in preparation for the "worst scenario", as it grapples with Southeast Asia's highest number of infections.
  • India could face between around 100,000 and 1.3 million confirmed cases of the disease caused by the new coronavirus by mid-May if it continues to spread at its current pace, according to a team of scientists based mainly in the United States.
  • Thailand has recorded 106 new coronavirus cases and three more deaths.
  • South Korea reported 76 new coronavirus cases on March 24, taking its total infections to 9,037, the Yonhap news agency said, citing health authorities.

Middle East and Africa

  • Jordan said on March 23 it would extend a curfew indefinitely.
  • Iran's President said on March 23 the United States should lift sanctions if it wants to help the country, which has had around 1,800 deaths and over 23,000 cases.
  • The presidents of Ivory Coast and Senegal, two of West Africa's largest economies, declared states of emergency on March 23, imposing curfews and travel restrictions on their populations.
  • Egypt on March 23 reported five new fatalities because of coronavirus, which brings the total of coronavirus-related deaths in the country to 19.
  • South Africa will impose a nationwide lockdown for 21 days from midnight on Thursday, as the number of cases jumped by 128 to 402.
  • Congo imposed a two-day lockdown in a mining province.
  • Nigeria closed its land borders on March 23 to curb the spread of coronavirus as Africa's most populous country recorded its first death from the pandemic.

Economic fallout

  • Evidence of the devastation wreaked on the global economy by the coronavirus pandemic mounted on March 24 as activity surveys for March from Australia and Japan showed record falls, with surveys in Europe and the United States expected to be just as dire.
  • The pandemic is taking its toll on aerospace manufacturing, as Boeing Co announced it would halt production of most widebody jets and Airbus SE restarted only partial output after a four-day shutdown as suppliers cut jobs.
  • The U.S. Treasury secretary and the Senate Democratic leader voiced confidence late on March 23 for a deal to be reached soon on a far-reaching coronavirus economic stimulus package that had been stalled in the U.S. Senate as lawmakers haggled over it.
  • Ecuador will use a 30-day grace period on some bonds to delay making around $200 million in interest payments due this week, and will devote those funds toward containing the coronavirus outbreak.
  • The U.S. Federal Reserve on March 23 rolled out an extraordinary array of programs to backstop an economy reeling from sweeping restrictions on commerce that scientists say are needed to slow the coronavirus pandemic.


  • Australia's A-League was suspended due to the coronavirus on March 24, with administrators' saying it was no longer tenable for the country's top-flight soccer competition to continue.
  • The United States added its significant weight to calls for the Tokyo Games to be postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Pope Francis's trip to Malta, scheduled to take place on May 31, has been postponed indefinitely.
  • Formula One expects to run a shortened season of 15-18 grands prix once racing can resume after the coronavirus pandemic.