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Live NEWS/EUROPE Coronavirus live updates: Worldwide death toll surges past 11K

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Live NEWS/EUROPE Coronavirus live updates: Worldwide death toll surges past 11K by Kenyans247(m): Sat 21, March, 2020 09:36am
Italy announces 627 more deaths pushing its total to 4,032 while the worldwide tally on fatalities surpasses 11,000.The death toll from the new coronavirus has surpassed 5,000 in Europe, the new epicentre of the pandemic, with Italy, Spain and Germany reporting a steep rise in infections, and as worldwide fatalities surged past 11,000 on Saturday.

Italy announced 627 more deaths on Friday, the biggest day-to-day increase in the country's four-week epidemic, a day after surpassing China's death toll. The total number of deaths in Italy has now reached 4,032.

Spain's death toll has also increased to more than 1,000, while in Iran, the number on fatalities hit another grim milestone of more than 1,400, as the country marks the beginning of the Persian New Year. An estimated 235,000 people have been infected by the coronavirus globally and close to 10,000 have been confirmed dead, according to the World Health Organization.

But the data collected by the Johns Hopkins University in the United States showed that more than 260,000 have already been infected in 166 countries, while 87,000 have recovered, mostly in China where the outbreak first erupted.

The same Johns Hopkins coronavirus monitor showed that the death toll has now surpassed 11,300 worldwide as of mid-Saturday, with the possibility of breaching 12,000 by the end of the day.Here are all the latest updates:

Saturday, March 21:
06:26 GMT - Central Asia tightens restrictions as coronavirus spreads
In Kazakhstan, where 52 cases have been confirmed, authorities said they were closing all parks in Almaty, the country's biggest city, which was this week was put on lockdown along with capital city Nur-Sultan.

In Uzbekistan, with 33 confirmed cases, the government said it was shutting down all entertainment venues and tea houses and banning large-scale wedding parties and other family ceremonies.

A worker wearing a protective face mask carries meat at a local food market in Almaty
A worker carries meat at a local food market in Almaty, Kazakhstan [Pavel Mikheyev/Reuters]
In Turkmenistan, which has so far reported no coronavirus cases, locals traveling to and from the capital, Ashgabat, said that officials at checkpoints installed around the city informed them that non-essential travel was banned.

The government of Kyrgyzstan, where the number of coronavirus cases doubled overnight to 12, said it was locking down the provincial districts where the infection had been diagnosed.

A Jordanian policeman stands guard in front of al Husseini mosque building after closing it to the worshipers amid concerns over the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) spread, in downtown Amman
A policeman stands in front of a mosque after closing it to the worshipers in Amman, Jordan [Muhammad Hamed/Reuters]
06:24 GMT - Jordan blows sirens for start of nationwide curfew
Jordan blew sirens at the start of a nationwide curfew, limiting the mobility of its 10 million citizens indefinitely to combat the spread of coronavirus, witnesses and officials said.

Anyone violating the curfew, which severely restricts movement beyond emergencies and essential services, would be jailed up to a year, the army said.

The curfew is in place until further notice.

A Royal Thai Army soldier sanitizes in the city due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Bangkok
A Royal Thai Army soldier sanitises streets in Bangkok, Thailand [Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters]
06:21 GMT - Thailand reports 89 new cases in highest daily jump
Thailand reported its largest daily increase in coronavirus infections, with 89 new cases taking the national tally to 411.

Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a Public Health Ministry spokesman, said the new cases were linked to earlier infections from a boxing match, an entertainment complex and a religious gathering in neighbouring Malaysia.

Of those infected, 366 are currently being treated, while 44 have recovered. Thailand has reported one death in the outbreak.

06:17 GMT - IMF sees severe impact from pandemic on global economy
The impact of the global coronavirus pandemic will be "quite severe", but a long expansionary period and high employment rates mean the global economy should weather the current shock, a top International Monetary Fund official said.

Martin Muehleisen, who heads the IMF's strategy policy and review department, said in an IMF podcast that the main goal for governments should be to limit the spread of the virus in a way that provides confidence that economic shock will be temporary.

He said banks and governments have taken unprecedented measures to provide liquidity to markets and keep them functioning, "and maybe more will be needed," but such steps should be coordinated internationally to amplify their effect.

06:13 GMT
Hello, I am Tamila Varshalomidze in Doha, taking over the blog from my colleague, Ted Regencia in Kuala Lumpur.

Slum Dwellers Defend Against The Coronavirus In The Philippines
A makeshift barricade blocking an entrance in Manila, Philippines [Ezra Acayan/Getty Images]
05:00 GMT - Philippines reports 32 new cases pushing the total of 262
The Philippines' Department of Health announced on Saturday 32 new cases of coronavirus in the country, pushing the total number of cases to 262.

It also reported at least one more death, of a leading professor at the University of the Philippines, who died early on Saturday, bringing the total to 19.

05:05 GMT - Colombia imposes mandatory lockdowns
Colombia is joining a growing list of nations that have imposed mandatory lockdowns for citizens in an effort to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

President Ivan Duque has announced that Colombians will be required to isolate in their homes from Tuesday until April 13.

Peru, Ecuador and Venezuela are among other Latin America countries that have already taken similar measures.

Colombia coronavirus
Police officers fit a mask on a woman they found alone in a street of downtown Bogota, Colombia on Friday [Ivan Valencia/AP]
Colombia has confirmed 158 cases of coronavirus infections thus far, with no deaths, and officials are hoping that imposing drastic measures now will help reduce the number of cases in the weeks ahead.

Colombia’s capital city, Bogota, began its own lockdown on Friday, leaving the city's usually traffic-filled streets largely empty.

04:30 GMT - Australia shuts Sydney's Bondi Beach after crowds defy order
Australian officials closed Sydney's iconic Bondi Beach on Saturday after thousands of people flocked there in recent days, defying social distancing orders to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, amid an unusually warm autumn spell.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said the crowds on the country's most famous strip of sand were "unacceptable" as he reported the number of infections across Australia had risen to 874. The death toll was seven, unchanged from a day earlier.

Bondi Beach - Sydney
Beachgoers enjoy a sunny day at Bondi Beach despite growing concerns about the spread of the coronavirus disease in Sydney, Australia on Friday [Loren Elliott/Reuters]
New South Wales state police minister David Elliott announced Bondi's closure, warning "this is going to become the new norm" if people did not comply with regulations that ban more than 500 people from gathering at a non-essential event.

"This is not something we are doing because we are the fun police," Elliott said in a televised news conference. "This is about saving lives."

04:10 GMT - Filipino professor and China expert dies of coronavirus
A University of the Philippines professor and leading expert on China-Philippines relations has died of coronavirus early on Saturday, according to the country's top university.

Professor Aileen San Pablo Baviera, former dean of the university's Asian Center, died at San Lazaro Hospital in Manila of severe pneumonia caused by COVID-19.

As of Friday, there were 230 confirmed cases in the Philippines, with at least 18 fatalities.

The government has been criticised for the slow pace of testing, following reports that there were only 2,000 initial test kits for the country of more than 100 million people. The government has vowed to ramp up the test with the promised arrival of 120,000 kits from different countries in coming days.

03:50 GMT - Singapore reports first two coronavirus deaths
Singapore reports first two coronavirus deaths
Before the announcement on Saturday, there were 385 cases confirmed in Singapore, 131 of whom have recovered and 16 in a critical condition [Ee Ming Toh/AP]
Singapore's Ministry of Health reported on Saturday the first two deaths linked to the coronavirus.

The first fatality was a 75-year-old female Singaporean, while the second victim was a 64-year-old man from Indonesia. At least 16 patients are in critical condition, the health ministry said.

Before the announcement, there were 385 cases confirmed in Singapore, 131 of whom have recovered.

02:40 GMT - Canadian man aboard Diamond Princess cruise ship dies in Japan
Japan’s health ministry says a Canadian man who was a passenger infected with the coronavirus while on board the cruise ship Diamond Princess died of COVID-19 pneumonia on Saturday.

The ministry offered condolences to the man, who was only identified as a man in his 70s.

The ship that had carried an infected passenger early in its voyage returned to its home port Yokohama near Tokyo in early February.

Diamond Princess
The Canadian man, who died on Saturday, is the eighth confirmed death from among those on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship, where 712 people were infected [File: Eugene Hoshiko/AP]
The 3,711 on board remained on the ship for a two-week quarantine that was much criticised as ineffective as allegedly making the vessel "an incubator."

The Canadian is the eighth confirmed death from among those on the ship, where 712 people were infected and transferred to hospitals during the quarantine. A total of 551 have recovered and left hospitals.

01:49 GMT - South Korea reports 147 new cases
South Korea reported 147 new coronavirus infections on Saturday, according to Reuters news agency quoting the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The new cases bring the country's total to 8,799.

The newly reported cases rose back up to above 100, from the 87 recorded on Friday, although South Korea has been experiencing a downward trend in new cases from the peak of 909 cases reported on February 29.

At least 100 people have died of the disease in the country.

01:21 GMT - New Zealand confirms first local outbreak; PM introduces alert system
For the first time in New Zealand, health authorities say there might be a local outbreak.

Health authorities on Saturday announced 13 new cases of the coronavirus infection, bringing the number of confirmed cases to 52. They say two of the cases cannot be linked immediately to overseas travel, as has been the situation for all the previous cases, accoriding to an AP news agency report.

In a rare address to the nation, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern urged people aged over 70 to stay home and all other New Zealanders to avoid non-essential travel.

She introduced a new alert system, placing the country at 2 on a scale where 4 is the highest. The country has already closed its borders to everybody but citizens and residents and placed restrictions on public gatherings. Ardern said most schools will remain open, for now.

01:15 GMT - Mexico coronavirus cases rise to more than 200
Mexico's health ministry said on Friday that confirmed coronavirus cases in the country now total 203, up by nearly a quarter from the previous day's tally of 164, accoring to a Reuters news agency report.

On Friday, US President Donald Trump announced that the US border with Mexico would be closed to non-essential travel to help contain the spread of the deadly disease.

Mexico - coronavirus
Pedestrians pass the Gateway International Bridge after entering the US state of Texas from Mexico on Friday [Eric Gay/AP]
00:50 GMT - No new coronavirus cases in Wuhan for third straight day
The virus outbreak's epicentre of Wuhan in China reported no new or suspected cases again for a third consecutive day.

Overall, China on Saturday reported 41 new cases detected over the previous 24 hours, all among people travelling from overseas, and another seven deaths, six in Wuhan.

China now has 81,008 cases and 3,255 deaths. A total of 71,740 people have been declared cured and released from hospital.

00:10 GMT - Cuba imposes temporary ban on tourists
Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel says the country is temporarily barring tourists in order to prevent the introduction of more cases of coronavirus, the Associated Press news agency reported.

Diaz-Canel and Prime Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz said in an announcement on state television that only residents of the island would be allowed to enter for the next 30 days starting on Tuesday.

As of Friday, Cuba had announced 16 cases of COVID-19 and one death, all in people who had travelled overseas or been in direct contact with a traveller.

Cuba - coronavirus
The Cuban economy is heavily dependent on tourism, which had already slowed dramatically due to US sanctions tightened by the Trump administration [Ramon Espinosa/AP]
Exceptions would be made for people involved in commercial importation, like crews of merchant ships, and for tourism industry workers who need to help tourists leave the country.

Marrero said there were about 60,000 tourists in Cuba as of Friday evening.

The Cuban economy is heavily dependent on tourism, which had already slowed dramatically due to US sanctions tightened by the Trump administration.

23:45 GMT Friday - Trump invokes wartime act to fight coronavirus
US President Donald Trump announced on Friday he had put the wartime Defense Production Act into action to aid the fight against coronavirus after saying earlier this week he would invoke the measure when needed.

The measure is meant to allow the US government to speed production of masks, respirators, ventilators and other necessary equipment.

Trump said he put the measure into action on Thursday evening. Asked why he was putting it into action now, the president told reporters it would be used to ensure that US states could get masks and other equipment needed to fight the virus.

23:15 GMT - US vice president's staff member tests positive for coronavirus
The White House has announced that a member of Vice President Mike Pence’s staff has tested positive for coronavirus.

Pence’s spokeswoman Katie Miller said Friday that the staff member, who is not being identified, did not have "close contact" with either the vice president or President Donald Trump.

Miller says Pence's office was notified Friday evening of the positive test result.

Coronavirus - Spain
Members of Spain's Military Emergency Unit disinfect Madrid's subway on Friday in a bid to prevent the spread of coronavirus, which has killed more than 1,000 in the country [Manu Fernandez/AP]
20:23 GMT - Turkey's death toll rises, 670 confirmed cases
The death toll in Turkey due to the coronavirus rose to nine, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.

The number of confirmed cases increased to 670 from 359

Koca said 3,656 tests had been conducted in the past 24 hours, 311 of which came back positive.

20:11 GMT - Israel reports first fatality from coronavirus
Israel reported its first death from the coronavirus, an 88-year-old man who also suffered from previous illnesses.

The health ministry said in a statement the man had been brought to the hospital about a week ago in a serious condition.

Israel has so far reported 705 cases of coronavirus, the large majority with mild symptoms. About 10 patients are in serious condition and 15 have recovered completely.

I am Ted Regencia in Kuala Lumpur with Al Jazeera's continuing coverage of the unfolding coronavirus pandemic.

For all the updates from yesterday (March 20), please click here.


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North Korea fires missiles amid coronavirus pandemic
Tokyo says Pyongyang appeared to have fired a missile, which landed outside Japan's exclusive economic zone waters.

21 Mar 2020 01:10 GMT
The United States and China have repeatedly appealed for North Korea to return to talks on ending its nuclear and missile programmes [File: Lee Jin-man/AP]
The United States and China have repeatedly appealed for North Korea to return to talks on ending its nuclear and missile programmes [File: Lee Jin-man/AP]
North Korea fired two projectiles that appeared to be short-range ballistic missiles into the sea off the east coast of the Korean peninsula, South Korea's military said on Saturday, after what analysts said was a show of confidence during the coronavirus pandemic by announcing an April legislature session.

The launch follows two earlier this month, when North Korea launched short-range missiles and multiple projectiles, according to South Korea's military, drawing US and Chinese appeals for Pyongyang to return to talks on ending its nuclear and missile programmes.

The suspected missiles were fired from North Pyongan province, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said. The province is above Pyongyang on the northwest corner of the Korean peninsula, bordering China.

Coronavirus in North Korea could be 'much more lethal' than in China
Cheating death: China's Wuhan coronavirus survivors recall ordeal
Coronavirus: Which countries have confirmed cases?
Japan's coast guard said on Saturday that North Korea appeared to have fired a missile, which landed outside Japan's exclusive economic zone waters.

Earlier on Saturday, North Korea announced it will hold in April a session of the Supreme People's Assembly, its rubber-stamp legislature, in Pyongyang, which analysts had said would involve gathering almost 700 of the country's leaders in one spot as the coronavirus spreads worldwide.

North Korea: strategy shift expected after nuclear talks stall
"If it goes ahead, it would be the ultimate show of [North Korea's] confidence in managing the coronavirus situation," Rachel Minyoung Lee, of the North Korea monitoring website NK News, said on Twitter this week.

North Korea has not reported any confirmed cases of the new coronavirus that was first detected in China late last year, though a top United States military official said last week he is "fairly certain" there were infections in North Korea.

State media KCNA also said on Saturday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un guided an artillery fire competition between combined units of the North Korean army on Friday, displaying photos of him watching with high-ranking military officers, all unmasked.

It was unclear whether Saturday's launch was part of the drill.


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