Latest on the coronavirus: Deaths pass 6,500 worldwide
A man wearing protective gear sprays disinfects an ambulance in front of Clinic for Infectious and Tropical Diseases in Belgrade, Serbia, on March 16, 2020. (AP Photo)
Almost 170,000 people have been infected by the coronavirus across the world and at least 6,509 have died, with cases and deaths outside China overtaking those in the country where the outbreak began, according to a Reuters tally.
The COVID-19 illness causes mild or moderate symptoms but most people, but severe symptoms are more likely in the elderly or people with existing health problems. More than 77,000 people have recovered from it so far, mostly in China.
Infections outside China have been reported by 156 countries. Mayotte, a French Indian Ocean island, and Uzbekistan reported their first cases, while Slovenia had its first fatality.
France and Spain joined Italy in imposing lockdowns on tens of millions of people, Australia ordered self– isolation of arriving foreigners and other countries extended entry bans as the world sought to contain the spreading coronavirus.
Several countries imposed bans on mass gathering, shuttered sporting, cultural and religious events, while medical experts urged people to practice "social distancing" to curb the spread.
- Globally more than 162,000 are infected and over 6,000 have died. Mainland China had 16 new confirmed cases on March 15, down from 20 a day earlier. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in China so far to 80,860.
- The first participant in a clinical trial for a vaccine to protect against the new coronavirus will receive an experimental dose on March 16, the Associated Press reported citing a U.S. government official. Public health officials say it will take a year to 18 months to fully validate any potential vaccine. Testing will begin with 45 young, healthy volunteers with different doses of shots co-developed by NIH and Moderna Inc. There's no chance participants could get infected from the shots,
- U.S. President Donald Trump tested negative for the coronavirus, his doctor said on March 14, as the U.S. president extended his country's travel ban to Britain and Ireland.
- With limited testing available, U.S. officials have recorded nearly 3,000 cases and 65 deaths, up from 58 on March 14.
- A U.S. sailor aboard a warship ship tested positive for the coronavirus for the first time, the U.S. Navy said on March 15.
- Amid chaos at airports, Americans were urged to hunker down and face new realities. Washington suspended travel from certain European countries for 30 days beginning at midnight on March 13.
- U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on March 15 the cost of a coronavirus aid package will likely be "significant but not huge."
- Mnuchin said expected to have a better idea of the price tag this week and added he also planned to talk to lawmakers about critical aid to airlines, as well as the hotel and cruise ship industries.
- Guatemala logged its first fatality from coronavirus on March 15 as nations in South and Central America ramped up measures to contain the infection, with Panama banning entry of non-resident foreigners and Honduras closing its borders to passenger traffic for a week.
- Colombia will block entry to travelers who are not residents or citizens and will close schools and universities from March 16. Colombian citizens and foreign residents who arrive from March 16 will be required to perform an obligatory 14-day period of self-isolation.
- Argentina published a decree establishing a 30 – day ban on entry to non – residents who have traveled to a country highly affected by coronavirus in the last 14 days.
- Mexico warned the outbreak could last all year as it began rolling out tougher measures to contain the spread, calling for an end to large gatherings and extending Easter school holidays.
- Italy on March 15 recorded its biggest daily death toll from the novel coronavirus, forcing European governments to further tighten controls. The number of fatalities in Italy shot up by 368 to 1,809 – more than half of all the cases recorded outside China. The country has recorded a total of 24,747 cases by March 15 a rise of 25 percent in the death toll in just 24 hours.
- France is preparing an order that would put its inhabitants under partial lockdown to combat the epidemic.
- Czech authorities ordered a lockdown of 21 towns and villages in an area some 250 kilometers (150 miles) east of the capital to prevent the coronavirus from spreading. The health authority in the nearby city of Olomouc barred residents from leaving those places and no one without residency can travel there. The Czech Republic has 298 cases of infection with the virus that causes COVID-19.
- Belgium's caretaker government received emergency powers to tackle the coronavirus crisis on March 15 after opposition parties gave it their backing.
- Austria announced major restrictions on movement in public places on March 15, banning gatherings of more than five persons and urging Austrians to self– isolate, as well as putting further limits on who can enter the country.
- Slovenia will shut down its air traffic from March 17 in an attempt to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
- Spain's official coronavirus death toll rose by 152 overnight to 288 on March 15. The number infected rose by 2,000 new cases to 7,753.
- The Netherlands will close all schools, cafes, restaurants and sports clubs nationwide, the government decided on March 15, its most far-reaching moves yet on the epidemic.
- Britain will isolate older people "within weeks" and force into quarantine anyone diagnosed with coronavirus, the government said as it stepped up measures that have so far been less stringent than elsewhere in Europe.
- Germany urged people to return from Italy, Switzerland, and Austria to self-isolate for up to two weeks.
- Pope Francis' Holy Week and Easter services, which normally draw tens of thousands of people, will be held without the public attending because of the coronavirus outbreak, a step believed to be unprecedented in modern times.
- China has tightened checks on international travelers at Beijing airport and said it will centrally quarantine all arrivals at its capital after new imported coronavirus cases surpassed locally transmitted infections for a second day.
- South Korea reported 74 new coronavirus infections on March 16, bringing the country's total to 8,236.
- Japan's health ministry said it has identified 15 clusters of coronavirus infections around the country. The biggest cluster was in the Osaka area, with more than 50 infections centered around a music venue.
- Australia will impose 14– day self– isolation on international travelers arriving from midnight on March 15 and ban cruise ships from foreign ports for 30 days, mirroring restrictions in nearby New Zealand aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus.
- Australia's capital and the country's second-most populous state declared states of emergency on March 16, while large, non- essential gatherings were banned in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus after the national death toll rose to five. Australia has recorded nearly 300 cases of coronavirus.
- The Philippines recorded four additional coronavirus deaths and 29 new cases, bringing the domestic tally of infections to 140, as authorities placed the entire capital Manila under "community quarantine" for about a month beginning on March 15.
Middle East and Africa
- Iran reported another 129 fatalities from the new coronavirus on March 16, the largest one– day rise in deaths since it began battling the Middle East's worst outbreak, which has claimed more than 850 lives and infected a number of senior officials in the country. A 78-year-old member of the Iranian clerical body that chooses the country's supreme leader has died from the illness caused by the new coronavirus, according to local reports on March 16.
- Lebanon went into lockdown and Iraqis prepared for a curfew as part of regional efforts to contain the new coronavirus. Iraq's Health Ministry has reported 124 cases of coronavirus and nine deaths.
- Jordan confirmed 12 new cases of the coronavirus on March 15, as the central bank announced measures to help troubled businesses and a tourism sector hit hard by the impact of the crisis.
- A Bahraini woman has died from the novel coronavirus, the health ministry announced on March 16, marking the first death from the disease among Gulf Co-operation Council states.
- Nearly 1,000 cases of the virus have been recorded so far across the six nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Gulf Arab states expanded measures, with the United Arab Emirates shuttering several public venues including parks and the Abu Dhabi bourse trading hall, as infections continued to spread in the region.
- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's corruption trial was delayed on March 15 for two months, until May, due to the coronavirus.
- Liberia announced its first case of the novel coronavirus on March 16, becoming the 27th African country to confirm the illness.
- International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva on March 16 called on governments to take coordinated fiscal and monetary stimulus measures to stop the coronavirus from causing long-term economic damage. In a blog message posted on the IMF website, Georgieva said the global lender has received interest from about 20 additional countries for financing programs and will follow up with them in the coming days. She did not identify any of them. The IMF stands ready to mobilize its $1 trillion in lending capacity to aid its 189 member countries, she said.
- With panic buying on Main Street and fear-driven sell-offs on Wall Street, the U.S. Federal Reserve cut interest rates to near-zero on March 15 in another emergency move to help shore up the U.S. economy amid the rapidly escalating coronavirus pandemic.
- Stock markets and the dollar were roiled on March 16 after the Federal Reserve slashed interest rates in an emergency move and its major peers offered cheap U.S. dollars to break a logjam in global lending markets.
- The United States' biggest banks will stop buying back their own shares, and will instead use that capital to lend to individuals and businesses affected by the coronavirus, an industry trade group said on March 15.
- European Union finance ministers plan to agree on March 16 on a coordinated economic response to the coronavirus pandemic, with the European Commission forecasting the effects of the virus could push the EU into a recession.
- Manufacturing in Britain weakened sharply in early 2020 even before concerns about the coronavirus crisis escalated, adding urgency to the need for a trade deal with the European Union.
- South Korea's finance ministry on March 16 pledged to take swift and stern stabilization measures to prevent herd-like behavior in the currency market and to supply liquidity if needed as the economy comes under pressure due to the coronavirus outbreak.
- With one of Wall Street's wildest weeks in recent memory now in the history books, investors braced for more uncertainty and big market swings ahead.
- New home prices in China stalled for the first time in nearly five years in February, according to Reuters calculations.
- More major retailers said on March 15 they would shut stores in the United States to limit the spread of the coronavirus, including Nike, Under Armour, and Lululemon Athletica.
- Saudi Aramco said it plans to cut capital spending in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, and also posted a plunge in profit for last year, missing forecasts in its first earnings announcement as a listed company.
- Most major Middle Eastern stock markets closed lower on March 15 amid fears of economic fallout from coronavirus precautions, with Egypt falling the most and Saudi Aramco slipping after it missed profit forecasts.
- Airlines called on the British government to help ensure their survival during the coronavirus crisis on March 15 after the U.S. extended restrictions on European travelers to include Britain.
- Britain's food retailers appealed to shoppers to stop panic buying, saying purchasing more than they need would mean others will be left without.
- The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games flame handover in Athens next week will be done in an empty stadium amid the coronavirus outbreak, Greece's Olympic Committee said on March 15.
- A European qualifying event for this year's Tokyo Olympic boxing tournament will be closed to spectators from March 16.