The latest Covid-19 news from the Global South and around the world on Sunday.
Ecuador and New York City among the latest to order the shutdown of businesses
Ecuador's President Lenin Moreno announced Sunday night that a partial quarantine will go into force on March 17 as businesses are ordered to shut down, except those that expend basic necessities such as food and medicines.
A partial mobilty-ban will also go into effect as people can only go to work and back and be in the streets for emergency reasons.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced late on Sunday that he had made the decision, though not lightly, to close "Nightclubs, movie theaters, small theater houses, and concert venues". The order, which he will sign on Monday, will take effect on Tuesday as well.
Also, Peru will close its borders to curb the spread of coronavirus, President Martin Vizcarra announced on Sunday.
Argentina's president orders the closure of borders
"For the next 15 days, no one will be able to enter the country except Argentinians and foreign residents," Argentina's President Alberto Fernandez announced, after meeting for several hours with officials over the coronavirus global crisis.
Fernandez specified that the closing of borders applies to people who want to enter the country, not to those who want to leave it.
The South American country's Ministry of Health reported 11 new cases of coronavirus on Sunday, bringing the total number of infected people to 56. Two people have died so far.
EN VIVO | Reunión interministerial por coronavirus en Olivos - Conferencia de prensa https://t.co/JtYgSBmlgx— Casa Rosada (@CasaRosada) March 15, 2020
France reports its biggest jump in coronavirus deaths
France recorded 29 additional deaths, bringing the total death toll to 120, Health Minister Olivier Veran said.
Around 900 more infections were recorded in the past 24 hours, taking the total to 5,400 since January, Veran told France 2 television.
Colombia closes all borders to non-nationals and foreigners.
Ecuador reports an increase of infected to 37.
Disorder at U.S. airports
Chaos gripped important U.S. airports as citizens coming back from coronavirus-hit European countries overwhelmed authorities.
Passengers complained of hours-long lines, crowded and unsanitary conditions and general disarray in the system for screening people for symptoms.
2,000 new cases, and more than 100 deaths in Spain
Spain reported about 2,000 new coronavirus cases and more than 100 deaths over the last 24 hours.
The new figures raise Spain's number of COVID-19 infections to 7,753 and its death toll to 288.
Nike to close all stores in the U.S., as well as in many other countries
Nike will close all of its outlets in the U.S. and in other countries in a move to halt the spread of coronavirus.
Nike stores in Canada, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand will be closed from March 16 to 27, according to CNBC.
Mayor of an Italian town dies from coronavirus
Seventy-year-old mayor of Cene, a town in the Italian province of Bergamo, died from the new coronavirus in hospital.
Giorgio Valoti was a member of the far-right League party. Its leader Matteo Salvini offered condolences on Twitter: "A life spent for his own community [...] we will miss you."
Ciao Giorgio Valoti, storico sindaco di Cene (Bergamo), una vita spesa per la propria Comunità: fino all’ultimo si è occupato di proteggere i suoi concittadini.— Matteo Salvini (@matteosalvinimi) March 14, 2020
Ci mancherai. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/nVapdJNN8h
Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque closes
Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque and Dome of the Rock closed their doors to prevent the coronavirus. Outdoor prayers will still be allowed.
"The Islamic Waqf department decided to shut down the enclosed prayer places inside the blessed Aqsa mosque until further notice as a protective measure to prevent the spread of coronavirus. All prayers will be held in the open areas of the Aqsa mosque," Omar Kiswani, the director of Al-Aqsa mosque, told Reuters news agency.
Coronavirus crisis delays Netanyahu's trial for corruption
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's corruption trial has been delayed for two months, until May, due to the coronavirus crisis.
Israel's Justice Ministry said the trial, due to open next Tuesday with the reading of an indictment against the PM in three corruption cases, would start on May 24 "due to developments related to the spread of the coronavirus".
Indonesia reported 21 new coronavirus infections bringing the total cases to 117.
Taiwan reported six new cases of the coronavirus in people who had returned to the island from countries including Spain and Japan, bringing its total tally to 59.
Taiwan has only reported one death from the virus, while 20 people have recovered. The other cases are all in a stable condition.
Thailand reported 32 new cases, bringing the total infections to 114, according to health officials.
Here is a summary of the main events concerning the pandemic over the past hours:
Australia will place everyone arriving from abroad into quarantine for 14 days.
The Philippines sealed off Manila, the capital, from the rest of the country.
The president of the United States, Donald Trump, has tested negative for coronavirus.
The wife of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez was diagnosed with coronavirus after her husband announced sweeping restrictions to contain the outbreak in Spain.
Update Sunday 00:50
El Salvador declares state of emergency over the pandemic
The Central American country has not reported a single case of coronavirus, but congress has declared a state of emergency as a preventive measure.
Free movement and assembly will be restricted for a period of 30 days, while public gatherings will be banned.
"We have given the government legal mechanisms to deal with this serious health situation," congressional President Mario Ponce said after Saturday's vote.
Oregon reports first death from new coronavirus
A man in his 70s has become the first person in Oregon to die from the new coronavirus.
The Oregon Health Authority said the Multonomah County man was hospitalized at the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center and died Saturday.
The man, who had underlying heath conditions, tested positive for COVID-19 on March 10, the authority said. He had no known contact to a confirmed case and had not traveled to another country where the virus is circulating.
“This is a sobering reminder that this virus is in our community and can be serious for older people and those with underlying conditions,” said Dr. Jennifer Vines Multnomah County Health Officer.
The U.S. has seen 60 deaths and more than 2,100 cases.
2 New York assembly members have new virus
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says two assembly members have tested positive with the new coronavirus.
Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said in a statement Saturday that Helene Weinstein and Charles Barron, both Brooklyn Democrats, have been diagnosed with the illness. All legislators and staff who came into contact with the two will be tested and the capitol building is being cleaned and has been closed to visitors.
It has come to my attention that two of our Assembly colleagues – Helene Weinstein and Charles Barron - have been diagnosed with COVID-19. It is important to note that both members have not been in Albany since early March for separate reasons.— Carl E. Heastie (@CarlHeastie) March 15, 2020
Authorities in Washington announced 6 new cases of the virus, bringing the total for the U.S. capital to 16.
Mayor Muriel Bowser has declared a state of emergency and closed all schools through the end of the month. The popular Cherry Blossom Festival has been postponed, White House and Capitol tours have been canceled and the National Zoo, Smithsonian museum network and Kennedy Center have closed.
Japan confirmed 64 new cases of COVID-19
Japan’s Health Ministry has announced 64 new cases of the coronavirus over the past 24 hours.
The ministry said Sunday that Japan now has 780 cases plus 697 others from a cruise ship that was stranded in the country, for a combined total of 1,477.
The ministry said the death toll has risen to 29, including 7 former cruise ship passengers.
The new cases come from 13 prefectures, including Hokkaido, Tokyo and Osaka.
More than half of the 300 people in intensive care units in France with the new virus are under 60
The head of the national health agency, Jerome Salomon, announced the statistic Saturday night as France saw another jump in new virus cases.
For most people, the virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. Of the 91 people who have died in France, 71 were over 75, Salomon said.
No details were immediately available about the patients under 60 in intensive care.
Guatemala suspends activities of more than 100 people.
In Guatemala, President Alejandro Giammattei suspended activities topping 100 people including Holy Week observations, according to the local newspaper Prensa Libre. The newspaper also said classes would be suspended for 21 days at all levels, and that starting Sunday sporting events would be closed to fans or rescheduled.
Panama announced the suspension of flights from Europe and Asia while El Salvador barred gatherings.
In Panama, President Laurentino Cortizo announced the suspension of flights from Europe and Asia, while El Salvador President Nayib Bukele barred gatherings of over 75 people and ordered bars and nightclubs closed for 14 days. He also ordered that a convention center be converted to a temporary hospital with 2,000 beds and 300 intensive care units.
Honduras declares red alert due to COVID-19
Gabriel Rubi, head of Honduras’ Permanent Commission on Emergencies, announced the declaration Saturday of a red alert for the Central American nation’s 18 departments, or provinces. Among other measures, it bans gatherings of over 50 people and authorizes officials to begin setting up “areas of mass accommodation to attend to suspected cases of COVID-19.”
The previous day, Honduras confirmed its third case, in a person who contracted it from someone else in Honduras, leading officials to determine there is a “high risk of community propagation,” Rubi said.
Venezuela closes its borders as new cases are confirmed
Venezuela's Minister of Communication Jorge Rodriguez reported on Saturday night that flights from Panama and the Dominican Republic are banned for 30 days as measures to prevent COVID-19.
Likewise, 8 new cases were confirmed throughout the country, which could already be local infections.
Doctor says Trump tests negative for coronavirus
President Donald Trump has tested negative for the new coronavirus, according to the president’s personal physician.
President Trump has tested NEGATIVE for Coronavirus, his physician says. pic.twitter.com/zhZX3lVlzO— Stephen Sanchez (@SSanchezTV) March 14, 2020
The White House released the test results Saturday night after Trump told reporters hours earlier that he had taken the coronavirus test, following days of resisting being screened despite the fact that he had been in recent contact with three people who have tested positive for the virus, including members of the Brazilian president’s delegation who visited with him at his Florida resort.
Georgia 2nd state to postpone pres. primaries over virus
Georgia’s March 24 presidential primaries will be postponed until May because of fears over the new coronavirus, state election officials announced Saturday, a day after Louisiana also pushed back its primaries.
In-person early voting, which began statewide March 2, will be halted and the election will be moved to May 19, when Georgia’s other 2020 primary elections are being held, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said in a statement Saturday.
Florida’s famed South Beach closed to stop virus
Florida’s famed South Beach has been closed to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Miami Beach officials ordered hundreds of college spring breakers and others from around the world off the beach Saturday as part of measures to prevent large gatherings.
To cut down on crowds at clubs and restaurants in South Beach, police were eliminating parking on major streets in the city’s entertainment district.
Pentagon restricts access to building over virus
Pentagon officials have laid out new restrictions for access to the building, saying people who have been overseas should stay away for two weeks and others should expect more screening questions from officers posted at the entrances.
Senior defense officials said in a conference call with reporters that personnel who must access classified information as part of their job will still go to work in the building. But beginning Monday, there will be minimal staffing at the Pentagon and workers who can telework will be encouraged, although not required, to do so.
Israel to shut malls, restaurants, hotels to counter coronavirus
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced that the nation’s restaurants and places of entertainment will be closed to stop the spread of the coronavirus. He also encouraged people not to go to their workplaces unless absolutely necessary.
Airbnb is letting guests around the world cancel their reservations for a full refund and no cancellation fees
Airbnb is updating its cancellation policy to allow guests to cancel reservations anywhere in the world for a full refund in light of the COVID-19, the company announced Saturday.
"In response to the extraordinary events and global disruption to travel caused by COVID-19, today we are announcing updated coverage under Airbnb's Extenuating Circumstances policy," an Airbnb statement said.
"This policy now applies to existing reservations for stays and Airbnb Experiences made on or before March 14, 2020, with check-in dates between March 14, 2020 and April 14, 2020."
Prime Minister announces closure of cafes, shops, restaurants and cinemas
France will close all nonessential stores in order to stop the rapid spread of the coronavirus in Europe, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced Saturday in a press conference.
The order applies to restaurants, cafes, movie theaters and nightclubs effective at midnight, Philippe said. Grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations and public transportation will remain open to the public.
Update 13: 45
Chinese billionaire makes donations to Italy and the United States
The Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma donated 500,000 masks to the Italian authorities so that they can combat the Covid-19 pandemic in their country.
The first shipment of these masks has already arrived at the airport of Liege in Belgium and the stock is expected to arrive in Italy in the next few days.
“Alibaba is also preparing kits for carrying out diagnostic tests in the United States,” as reported by local outlet Corriere dell’ Umbria.
Ecuador: sister of patient zero dies.
Health Minister Catalina Andramuño Saturday reported that the sister of the first coronavirus patient died. She also confirmed five new infections.
Ecuador's patient zero, a 71-year-old woman who arrived from Spain on Feb. 14, died on Friday. Her sister was received in the intensive care area at a public hospital this Saturday but she could not be saved.
The new cases detected in Ecuador were from people who traveled from Italy, according to official information. Currently, this Andean country has 28 Covid-19 confirmed cases.
ITALY: The death toll increased to 1,441
As of March 14, Italy registered 1,441 people killed by the Covid-19, which represents an increase of 175 in the last 24 hours, as the Civil Protection head Angelo Borrelli reported.
The number of patients is currently 17,750 people, 2,795 more compared to Friday, and the people cured are 1,966, that is, 527 more than in the last official balance.
In this European country, 21,157 people have been infected with the coronavirus since the outbreak was detected in late February.
On the northern side of the country, Lombardia's Health Adviser Giulio Gallera requested medical personnel from Cuba, Venezuela, and China to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.
"The decree-law will include the possibility of recruiting foreign doctors. It is enough that they are registered in their countries of origin," he said.
President Trump Took the Test for the COVID-19 on Friday Night
The Brazilian ambassador to the United States is Covid-19 positive.
Another member of the Brazilian delegation, which accompanied Jair Bolsonaro on his official trip to meet with Donald Trump at Mar-A-Lago, tested positive for coronavirus.
It is Ambassador Nestor Jose Forster who joins three other confirmed cases: Press Secretary Fabio Wajngarten, Senator Nelsinho Trad, and Bolsonaro's lawyer Karina Kufa.
US: 524 Covid-19 confirmed cases and one death in New York state.
Governor Andrew Cuomo Saturday reported 524 Covid-19 cases and the death of an 82-year-old woman who was hospitalized.
"Nobody believes that there are only half a thousand cases in New York, we believe that there are thousands of people, perhaps tens of thousands. Most of the detected cases are thanks to detectives who have followed the positives," Cuomo explained.
He acknowledged being "concerned" about the health system's ability to deal with new cases since there are only about 50,000 beds available and 3,000 intensive care beds.
Update: 9: 30
MOROCCO: meetings with more than 50 people are prohibited.
The Interior Ministry announced that all public agglomerations with more than 50 people are prohibited to prevent the Covid-19 spread.
Air and sea traffic with Spain, France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, China, and Algeria was also suspended.
So far, Morocco has 17 Covid-19 confirmed cases, including five Moroccans who entered the country from Spain.
As of March 16, face-to-face classes will be suspended at all educational levels.
Update: 8: 30
SPAIN: The government restricts the movement of people.
As of Monday, March 16, people will not be able to circulate freely in their country. This decision was made by the Council of Ministers to prevent the Covid-19 expansion.
However, people will be allowed to circulate on public roads to buy food, pharmaceuticals, and other basic goods.
Older adults and people w/ severe chronic medical conditions may be at higher risk for severe illness from #COVID19. If you or a loved one are at increased risk of getting COVID-19, act now: stay home when possible & make a plan in case you get sick. https://t.co/juMv7KnMCz. pic.twitter.com/2gWd1u5kHg— CDC (@CDCgov) March 14, 2020
US: Louisiana postpones its primaries.
Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin said his state would change the date of the presidential primary election from April 4 to June 20.
Election authorities in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, and Ohio, however, confirmed that their states would hold the primaries that were scheduled for next week.
ITALY: Chinese doctors visit Rome's Lazzaro Spallanzani hospital.
Chinese experts who came to Italy to contribute to the fight against the Covid-19 reported on Saturday that the Italian measures against the pandemic are correct.
"The measures implemented by the Italian government to stop the spread of the coronavirus are fine, in line with the standards adopted in these cases," a Chinese doctor said after visiting the Lazzaro Spallanzani hospital in Rome.
So far, China has sent nine experts and 30 tons of material to Italy, where 17,660 people have already been infected and 1,266 have died.
99 patients with COVID-19 remain in the Spallanzani hospital, a figure that remains unchanged since Friday, and of those, 17 have required respiratory support, with a stable clinical condition.
SPAIN: 5,753 Covid-19 cases and 136 dead.
The Health Ministry Saturday reported an increase of 1,522 people infected compared to yesterday afternoon Friday. There are 517 patients cured and discharged.
The greatest number of positive cases for COVID-19 is in Madrid (2,940) and Catalonia (509). There are infected people in all regions of Spain, except in the North African city of Ceuta.
In Sevilla city, the Holy Week processions, which are an important religious and international tourist event, were suspended this Saturday to prevent the Covid-19 spread.