Latest on the coronavirus: WHO warns young people 'not invincible,’ death toll exceeds 11,400
A woman wearing a face mask watches her smartphone in Seoul, South Korea, on March 21, 2020. (AP Photo)
Hundreds of millions of people worldwide kicked off the weekend under a coronavirus lockdown, as the global death toll accelerated sharply, and the World Health Organization warned young people they were "not invincible".
The pandemic has completely upended lives across the planet, sharply restricting the movement of huge populations, shutting down schools and businesses, and forcing millions to work from home - while many have lost their livelihoods entirely.
While the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions are the hardest hit by the virus, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that young people were also vulnerable.
"Today I have a message for young people: you are not invincible. This virus could put you in hospital for weeks – or even kill you," Tedros said.
"Even if you don't get sick, the choices you make about where you go could be the difference between life and death for someone else."
The coronavirus pandemic has infected more than 277,000 people and killed some 11.431.
Accurate figures are difficult to come by, however, as many of those who die, suffer from other illnesses and infection rates are uncertain because of a lack of testing in many countries.
- The death toll in Italy leaped by 627 to 4,032, an increase of 18.4 percent - by far the largest daily rise in absolute terms since the contagion emerged a month ago.
- Spain has recorded almost 5,000 new coronavirus infections in 24 hours as it climbed into third place in the global ranking of infections behind China and Italy. Health authorities said on March 21 that virus infections have reached 24,926, up from 19,980 the day before. Madrid is the hardest hit region with almost 9,000 infections.
- France on March 20 reported 78 more deaths from the coronavirus over the last 24 hours, bringing the total death toll from the outbreak in the country to 450 people. The total number of confirmed cases in France rose to 12,612.
- As many as 300,000 European Union citizens are seeking repatriation, notably from Latin America and Southeast Asia.
- Britain has asked 65,000 former nurses and doctors to return to work and will also deploy final-year medical students. It has banned the parallel export of 80 crucial medicines to protect supplies.
- As of March 20, Britain had recorded 177 deaths among people with the virus, 40 more than the day before.
- Authorities in Germany and Switzerland are ratcheting up restrictions on public life following the rapid increase of infections from the coronavirus.
- The German state of Bavaria became the country's first to announce a partial lockdown, shutting many businesses that had remained open and telling people to stay home in most cases. Saarland planned to follow suit, and two other regions said they would allow only small groups in public.
- Germany, a country of 83 million people, has 16,290 confirmed infections and 44 deaths so far, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.
- Neighboring Switzerland said it was banning groups of more than five people in public across the country, and police can find people who flout the new rules 100 francs ($102).
- Switzerland, with 8.5 million residents, has 4,164 cases and 43 deaths.
- Russian scientists have begun testing prototypes of potential vaccines on animals, Russia's consumer health regulator said on March 20.
- European Union regulators opened an investigation into imports of fake coronavirus-related products that are ineffective or even harmful to health.
- YouTube said it would reduce its streaming quality in the European Union to avoid straining the internet as thousands switch to teleworking and watch videos at home.
- Nearly 14,400 people across the United States have been diagnosed and 218 have died of the coronavirus.
- Three major American states are locking down their residents. New York and Illinois announced that they would largely restrict residents to their homes starting this weekend, after America's largest state, California, did so on March 20.
- The U.S. Homeland Security Department said restrictions on travel across the U.S.-Canadian land border will begin at 11:59 p.m. EDT on March 20 and last until April 20.
- Canada will turn back irregular migrants walking over the U.S.-Canada border.
- Mexico and the United States have agreed to form a joint task force to combat the spread at their border.
- Brazil, whose cooling weather could fan the outbreak, restricted entry of foreign visitors at its borders, while its Senate has approved an emergency.
- Argentina began a mandatory quarantine, restricting people to their homes, from midnight on March 20 morning until March 31.
- Colombia became the latest country in South America to announce a lockdown, following Peru, Ecuador, and Venezuela. The country has 158 confirmed cases, and officials are hoping that drastic measures now will limit the number of new cases in the weeks ahead.
- China's imported cases rose to a record 228, as infected travelers spread to more provinces, adding pressure to toughen entry rules and health protocols.
- A Chinese report into the coronavirus death of a young doctor reprimanded by police when he tried to raise the alarm about the disease drew quick criticism online.
- An Olympic torch event in Japan, which plans to reopen schools after spring recess, drew hundreds of spectators on March 20, creating the type of gathering government and Tokyo 2020 organizers have warned against.
- Indonesia's capital declared emergency for the next two weeks in the city. While many Muslims in Jakarta accepted advice to avoid religious gatherings and prayed at home on March 20, elsewhere in the country people crowded into mosques.
- Sri Lanka imposed a nationwide weekend curfew on March 20.
- Malaysia will mobilize the army to help enforce curbs on movement, as it faces the highest number of infections in Southeast Asia.
- Vietnam will temporarily suspend visa-free travel for citizens of Japan, Belarus, and Russia from March 21.
- Australia's central bank bought A$5 billion ($2.87 billion) in local government bonds on March 20, in the first round of its unlimited quantitative easing program.
Middle East and Africa
- Saudi Arabia, which has announced a $31.93 billion support package, has suspended all domestic flights, buses, taxis, and trains for 14 days starting on March 21.
- Iran is currently battling the worst outbreak of the new coronavirus in the Middle East, with the death toll at 1,433 as of March 20, according to the country's Health Ministry.
- Syria, already shattered by nine years of war, has banned entry for foreigners arriving from many virus-hit countries.
- Palestinian worshippers scuffled with Israeli police in East Jerusalem on March 20 as crowds headed to Al-Aqsa Mosque to pray amid a partial lockdown.
- The coronavirus stopped communal Muslim prayers for the first time in living memory in many mosques from Indonesia to Morocco on March 20, but in some places, believers have defied medical advice.
- South Africa, which has more than 200 coronavirus cases, but no reported deaths, pumped up liquidity and mulled shorter trade hours.
- Gloved judges heard applications for bail on March 20 as Kenya's high court held hearings outside the building.
- Wall Street retreated on March 20 after New York ordered residents to stay at home, rattling investors who had welcomed this week's fiscal and monetary measures.
- The British government will pay a massive share of private-sector wage bills to discourage bosses from firing staff.
- Vehicle production could be reduced by about 1.44 million in Europe, North America and Latin America, according to an estimate by information provider IHS Markit.
- Shattered airlines were left counting the cost of government support as countries from the United States to New Zealand set out conditions for bailouts.
- The container shipping industry, a bellwether for international trade, has been blown off course with container lines re-routing cargoes and reducing calls to Chinese ports.
- The coronavirus has forced 15% of manufacturing companies in Vietnam to cut production, with the clothes and textile industry hard hit.
- Australia has delayed its federal budget by five months to October, as it prepares to expand stimulus to avoid recession.
- Indian key crop prices have plunged as much as 50% just as farmers prepare for harvest, putting paid to prospects for a rural economic rebound.
- Formula One drivers will join video gamers in virtual grands prix to replace postponed races.
- World Rugby has postponed several tournaments and World Cup qualifiers, while June's Olympic qualifiers are under review.