A public health expert tells Al Jazeera that the president’s comparison of the two viral illnesses is inappropriate.
The head of the World Health Organization warned the threat of a global coronavirus pandemic was “very real” as the contagion continued its rapid spread around the world.
In Italy – where some 16 million people are now under quarantine – there were 97 deaths reported, bringing its total on Monday to 463.
Iran temporarily released about 70,000 prisoners because of the coronavirus epidemic, as the death toll rose by 43 new fatalities to 237.
More than 3,800 people have died worldwide from coronavirus and over 110,000 infections have been recorded, according to WHO.
Here are the latest updates:
Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte says he is extending restrictions on travel from the north to the entire country to try to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Conte said a new government decree will require all people in Italy to demonstrate a need to work, health conditions or other limited reasons to travel outside the areas where they live.
“There won’t be just a red zone,” Conte told reporters referring to a lockdown of areas in northern Italy instituted over the weekend.
“There will be Italy” as a protected area, he said.
French Culture Minister Franck Riester has contracted the novel coronavirus and is staying in his Paris home but is “doing fine”, his office said
“The minister tested positive today,” after displaying symptoms, the ministry said.
It noted that Riester spent several days last week at the country’s lower house National Assembly, where five virus cases were confirmed earlier.
A cruise ship that had been barred from docking in San Francisco after a coronavirus outbreak on board has docked in Oakland, California.
The ship had 21 confirmed cases among the 3,500 passengers and crew on board and had been idling off the coast of California for four days as authorities worked out how to get passengers safely ashore.
Read more here.
A United States Marine who tested positive for the coronavirus worked for a defence agency whose headquarters are located near the Pentagon and returned to the Washington, DC area from a trip to Ethiopia last month, three US officials told Reuters.
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Marine had been working for the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), which is based in Crystal City, Virginia, near the Pentagon.
From contradicting his own public health officials on the coronavirus to dismissing the World Health Organization’s global fatality rate of COVID-19 as “false”, United States President Donald Trump has been accused of attempting to downplay the seriousness of the disease since the virus reached the US.
Those accusations continued when Trump apparently suggested that the response to the novel coronavirus has been overblown.
Read more here.
Shouting down to reporters from his first-floor balcony, Portugal’s president declared that he would remain in voluntary quarantine for two weeks despite testing negative for coronavirus, as an “example” to Portuguese people.
“The test was negative. I’m going to keep working from home, even though it was negative, until the fifteen days are up,” broadcaster SIC showed Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa as hollering. “I want to be an example.”
The head of state, who is known for rarely missing a social gathering where he eagerly poses with people for selfies, was tested earlier on Monday after his office announced the previous day that he had suspended all engagements and trips abroad for a fortnight and would work from home.
Iraqi authorities have ordered the closure of Najaf province, home to holy Muslim Shia sites, for non-residents starting on Wednesday for a week to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the state news agency said.
Najaf is a major destination for Shia pilgrims.
Canadian health officials say a man has died of the new virus at a home for the elderly in North Vancouver in what is believed to be the country’s first COVID-19 death.
British Columbia Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix announced at the weekend that two residents of the Lynn Valley Care Centre had been diagnosed with the virus.
Henry says the diagnoses followed an earlier diagnosis of a worker at the care home, making the cases especially concerning as examples of community transmission.
A fifth person in the United Kingdom has died after contracting coronavirus, the health service said.
“We can confirm that sadly, a patient in their seventies who was very unwell with a number of significant and long term health conditions has passed away at St Helier Hospital,” said Daniel Elkeles, chief executive for Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust in a statement.
Iraq banned all public gatherings and called on citizens to avoid visiting sacred cities and sites to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Authorities also called on Iraqis arriving from Iran, China, South Korea, Italy, Japan, Thailand, Singapore, Kuwait and Bahrain to stay at home for self-quarantine for 14 days, a government statement said.
Israel will require all citizens who return from abroad to self-quarantine for 14 days as a precaution against the spread of coronavirus, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.
It will admit foreigners only if they can prove they have the means to self-quarantine, Israeli media said, adding the measure would go into effect on Thursday.
Italy’s death toll increased by 97 since Sunday to 463 in one day, Italian authorities said.
The total number of confirmed cases rose to 9,172 from 7,375, according to officials.
The Trump administration scrambled to assure Americans it was responding to a widening coronavirus outbreak as stock markets plunged.
US President Donald Trump – who has repeatedly played down the threat posed by the flu-like virus sweeping the globe – planned to meet with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and other members of his economic team to weigh possible action.
Paid sick leave is among policy steps being considered. The chairman of the Senate finance committee is exploring targeted tax relief to address the impact of the outbreak.
The coronavirus is closer to causing a pandemic but outbreaks in countries can still be controlled through a combination of containment and mitigation measures, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.
“Now that the virus has a foothold in so many countries, the threat of a pandemic has become very real,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, told a news conference.
“But it would be the first pandemic that could be controlled. The bottom line is we are not at the mercy of the virus.”
Four countries account for 93 percent of the 110,000 cases worldwide, Tedros said. “We are encouraged that Italy is taking aggressive measures to contain its epidemic and we hope that those measures prove effective in the coming days.”
"Now that the #coronavirus has a foothold in so many countries, the threat of a pandemic has become very real.
But it would be the first pandemic in history that could be controlled.
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) March 9, 2020
New York – under a state of emergency following a coronavirus outbreak – launched its own brand of hand sanitizer, made by jail inmates.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said 38,000 litres (100,000 gallons) of “NYS Clean” would be produced a week by prisoners, who already manufacture soap, to meet shortages.
“This is a superior product,” said Cuomo as the gel was unveiled from behind a curtain at a press conference. “It has a very nice floral bouquet,” he added, after rubbing some on his hands.
The product, which has an alcohol content of 75 percent, will be provided for free to government agencies, schools, the public transportation system and prisons, Cuomo said.
It is part of the government’s “Corcraft” scheme where prisoners make dozens of products including cleaning supplies, bedding and clothes.
The Irish government will cancel this year’s St Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin because of the coronavirus outbreak, state broadcaster RTE reported.
Ireland currently has 21 cases of COVID-19, and the country’s second city, Cork, has already cancelled its festivities.
The parade was due to be held on March 17.
A UN rights expert called for North Korea to provide access to outside medical experts amid concern over the impact the new coronavirus could have on the malnourished population.
North Korea “should allow full and unimpeded access to medical experts and humanitarian actors”, said Tomas Ojea Quintana, the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in the country.
He also called for a “review” of the punishing sanctions imposed on North Korea, insisting that “further isolation of the country is not the answer.”
German local authorities have announced the country’s first two deaths in connection with the coronavirus.
Both deaths occurred in the western state of North Rhine Westphalia, which has been the worst hit so far.
Germany has over 1,100 cases according to the World Health Organization.
Twenty-seven people have died from methanol poisoning in Iran after rumours that drinking alcohol can help cure the novel coronavirus infection, state news agency IRNA reported.
A spokesman for Jundishapur medical university in Ahvaz, the capital of Khuzestan, said 218 people had been hospitalised there after being poisoned. The poisonings were caused by “rumours that drinking alcohol can be effective in treating coronavirus,” Ali Ehsanpour said.
Drinking alcohol is banned in Iran for everyone except for some non-Muslim religious minorities.
But beyond these, a familiar foe is rearing its head: fake news.
Read more here.
Saudi Arabia temporarily suspended land and sea travel to and from Oman, France, Germany, Turkey and Spain for citizens and residents to help stem the spread of coronavirus, state news agency SPA said.
Quoting a source in the interior ministry, SPA said people coming from these countries – or who have visited any of them within 14 days prior to travel to Saudi Arabia – will not be allowed to enter.
Riyadh earlier suspended travel to the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Lebanon, Syria, South Korea, Egypt, Italy and Iraq in response to the coronavirus threat.
United States president Donald Trump suggested that “life and the economy” must go on amid the coronavirus outbreak, and pointed out that 37,000 people died from the common flu last year.
“So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu…nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths,” he tweeted.
So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 9, 2020
The chief executive of Groupe ADP, the company which runs the two main international airports in Paris – Charles de Gaulle and Orly – has tested positive for the coronavirus, the group said.
Augustin de Romanet tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday, the company said, adding his “state of health is not a cause for concern and does not prevent him from carrying out his functions.”
Romanet will stay at home for two weeks in self-isolation, while officials trace the people the CEO came in contact with.
We knew this could get really ugly. Now it has.
United States stock markets nosedived at the open of trading on Monday -triggering circuit breakers to halt trading- as the double-punch of crashing oil prices and the worsening global coronavirus outbreak pummelled investor confidence to the point of panic.
Read more here.
Scores of foreign tourists and Egyptian crew remained quarantined aboard a Nile River cruise ship from which 45 suspected coronavirus cases have been evacuated, people aboard told AFP news agency.
US, French and Indian nationals were among those stranded on the three-deck ship docked near the southern tourist city of Luxor, they said.
Egyptian authorities had Saturday reported moving 45 suspected cases – 33 passengers and 12 crew – into isolation on land, without specifying what happened to the others aboard the “A-Sara”.
Apple sold fewer than half a million smartphones in China in February, government data showed on as the coronavirus outbreak halved demand for all such devices.
China placed curbs on travel and asked residents to avoid public places in late January, just ahead of the Lunar New Year festival, a major gift-giving holiday. Those restrictions stayed largely in place through most of February.
This is Usaid Siddiqui taking over from my colleague Virginia Pietromarchi.
Saudi Arabia will impose a fine of up to 500,000 riyals ($133,000) on people who do not disclose their health-related information and travel details at entry points, a statement from the kingdom’s public prospector said.
Saudi Arabia suspended travel with nine countries and said legal action would be taken against any citizen travelling to Iran, which has reported 237 deaths from the virus.
Six inmates were killed in a prison riot in Italy and guards were taken hostage at another jail, as unrest spread in prisons across the country over measures to contain the coronavirus, including restrictions on visits.
In a TV interview the head of Italy’s prison administration Francesco Basentini said three inmates had died inside a jail in the northern town of Modena, and three others had died after being transferred away from the prison.
“There have been a series of rebellions across the country,” Basentini said.
The justice ministry said fires had been set at a number of prisons causing severe damage.
The UAE announced 14 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of infected people to 59, state news agency WAM reported.
Among the new cases are four Emiratis, three Italians, two each from Bangladesh and Nepal, and a Russian, Syrian and Indian diagnosed with the virus, WAM reported, citing the country’s Health Ministry.
FIFA said in a statement that the Asian FIFA World Cup qualifiers scheduled in March and June have been postponed due to the coronavirus.
Iran has temporarily released approximately 70,000 prisoners because of the coronavirus outbreak in the country, Iranian judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi said, according to Mizan, the news site of the judiciary.
“The release of the prisoners, to the point where it doesn’t create insecurity in society … will continue,” he said.
Raisi did not specify when those released would need to return to jail.
Qatar announced it was suspending schools and universities from Tuesday, March 10 to control the coronavirus outbreak, according to the state news agency.
Travellers from another 14 countries are banned from entering Qatar, the country’s Ministry of Health announced.
The ban covers Bangladesh, China, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Syria and Thailand. Flights to and from Italy were already suspended.
The restriction comes as the country registered three more cases of coronavirus, bringing the total number of people testing positive up to 15.
Read more here.
A Chinese company says it has developed the country’s first facial recognition technology that can identify people when they are wearing a mask – as most are using them because of the coronavirus – to help in the fight against the disease.
China employs some of the world’s most sophisticated systems of electronic surveillance, including facial recognition. But the coronavirus has resulted in almost everyone wearing a surgical mask outdoors in the hope of warding off the virus – posing a particular problem for surveillance.
Now Hanwang Technology Ltd, which also goes by the English name Hanvon, said it has devised technology that can successfully recognise people even when they are wearing masks.
“If connected to a temperature sensor, it can measure body temperature while identifying the person’s name, and then the system would process the result, say, if it detects a temperature over 38 degrees,” Hanwang Vice President Huang Lei told Reuters in an interview.
Following Japan’s travel restrictions on South Koreans, more K-pop concerts scheduled in Japan are being cancelled, threatening to hurt the Korean entertainment industry in its most lucrative market.
South Korean boy-band Super Junior called off its tours scheduled to take place on March 25 and 26 in Japan, citing the Japanese government’s measures to “curb immigration”.
South Korea’s entertainment firm CJ ENM followed suit, postponing its annual K-pop festival KCON in Japan. The event last year drew more than 88,000 fans, according to CJ ENM.
Japan said, starting from Monday, people arriving from South Korea will be quarantined for two weeks. Tokyo also suspended visa waivers and the validity of existing visas for South Koreans, followed by a similar move by Seoul, rekindling a diplomatic feud between the neighbours.
Europe needs to come up with a “massive” economic stimulus plan to cope with the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, said French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire.
Le Maire told France Inter radio that the amount needed for the stimulus plan will be discussed at a March 16 meeting with his European counterparts. Le Maire also said the coronavirus could cut French economic growth below 1 percent in 2020 from a previous estimate of 1.3 percent.
The Italian government also urged the European Union to adopt a package of measures to counter the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the economies of the bloc.
The state oil giant Saudi Aramco saw its shares drop by 10 percent as Riyadh’s stock market opened on Monday, halting trading.
The drop followed a crash in oil prices on the global market after OPEC and its allies failed to reach a deal last week on production cuts to shore up prices dented by the coronavirus.
Other markets in the Middle East fell as well: Boursa Kuwait shut down within 30 minutes of opening as stocks again dropped by 10 percent, the third such emergency halt to trading in recent days.
As Italy fights to contain the coronavirus outbreak, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte pledged to use “all human and economic resources” to tackle the crisis.
“We will not stop here. We will use a massive shock therapy,” Conte told daily newspaper la Repubblica in an interview.
Conte added that the government would use the flexibility envisaged by European budget rules “in full”.
Economy Minister Roberto Gualtieri last week pledged some 7.5bn euros ($8.55bn) in measures to help the economy withstand the largest outbreak of the illness in Europe, raising this year’s budget deficit goal to 2.5 percent of national output from its current 2.2 percent. ($1 = 0.8769 euros).
Bahrain-based Gulf Air announced on Twitter that it will suspend all flights to and from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
ALERT: Suspension of all flights to and from the Kingdom
of Saudi Arabia until further notice
تنبيه: تعليق جميع الرحلات من والى المملكة العربية السعودية حتى اشعار آخر
— Gulf Air (@GulfAir) March 9, 2020
The move comes as Saudi Arabia, which has reported 11 cases of coronavirus so far, suspended aircraft and ship services with Bahrain and eight other countries, including Kuwait, the UAE, Lebanon and Syria.
There has been more turmoil on Asian markets this morning, with investors selling stocks and buying bonds amid growing concern about the health of the global economy, not only because of the impact from the coronavirus but also because of oil.
Oil prices plunged about 30 percent after Saudi Arabia slashed its official selling price.
Read more from our Impact team on that here.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Arizona Representative Paul Gosar have placed themselves into a 14-day quarantine after determining they had contact with a man attending the Conservative Political Action Conference, who was later confirmed to have the coronavirus.
Several other senators and members of the House of Representatives were also at the event, where US President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence both spoke.
The White House says there is no indication that either of them met or were in “close proximity” to the man who was confirmed to have the virus.
South Korea is hopeful that the situation will improve, although it is warning against calling the peak of its outbreak too soon.
“I’m still extremely cautious, but there’s hope we can reach a turning point in the near future,” Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said on Monday before returning to Seoul from the hard-hit southeastern city of Daegu.
Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip said it was premature to say the crisis was over as new cases continued to emerge.
“There are still many patients arising from Daegu and nearby regions … and sporadic infections continue to emerge elsewhere, though they’re not spreading as fast,” Kim told a briefing.
“In fact, now is the time to concentrate all our capabilities to bring a clear reduction in infections.”
The BNP Paribas Open, a near-major tennis tournament that was set to begin this week in the California desert, has been called off. This is the largest sporting event in the US to be called off over coronavirus concerns.
The announcement came on Sunday night after many players were already in the desert practising.
Qualifying matches were to begin on Monday with women’s main draw matches starting on Wednesday and the men’s games the day after.
South Korea has adopted a new distribution system for face masks and rationed the number each person can buy each week.
People can now buy masks only on the weekday corresponding to the last digit of their birth year.
That means people born in years ending with one or six can buy masks on Mondays, while those born in a year ending with three or eight can buy on Wednesdays.
No one is allowed to buy more than one a week.
Shanghai Disneyland, which was closed on January 25 because of the coronavirus, has reopened some of its shops, restaurants and resort facilities on a limited basis.
Visitors will need to go through temperature checks before admission, and the resort will follow an “extensive range of measures designed to ensure a safe and healthy experience for all guests,” it said on its website.
The main theme park will remain closed.
The operator of the cruise ship Costa Fortuna said it was heading to Singapore to end its journey on Tuesday as planned, after it was turned away from ports in Malaysia and Thailand over coronavirus fears.
Italian cruise line Costa Crociere said there were no suspected virus cases among the passengers.
The company said it would cancel a cruise due to depart on March 10 from Singapore.
Singapore port authorities have not yet said whether they would allow the ship to dock
The Grand Princess, a cruise ship carrying more than 3,500 people from 54 countries, is expected to dock in Oakland, California on Monday.
Twenty-one of those on board have been confirmed to have the coronavirus; everyone will be required to spend 14 days in quarantine once they disembark.
Those needing acute medical care will leave the ship first.
“This is a time that we must be guided by facts and not fears, and our public deserves to know what’s going on,” Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said.
A woman in her 40s, who attended a live music show in Osaka, has become the first person to test positive for the coronavirus in Kobe, officials said.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) has announced its latest figures on the coronavirus outbreak there.
It confirmed a total of 248 cases on Sunday – the smallest increase since late February and the fourth successive day that it has been lower than the day before.
The KCDC will provide a further update in the afternoon.
AFP is reporting that several embassies in North Korea were closed on Monday as diplomats were flown out of the country.
The evacuation came after reports that a special flight was being arranged to fly diplomats and other foreigners from Pyongyang to the Russian city of Vladivostok.
Some 60 people were expected to be evacuated.
North Korea has not confirmed a single infection but has imposed strict rules, including closing its borders and putting thousands of North Koreans into isolation.
It also subjected hundreds of foreigners – including diplomats – to severe restrictions.
Sad to say farewell this morning to colleagues from German Embassy and French Office #NorthKorea which are closing temporarily. #BritishEmbassy remains open. #àbientôt #bisbald in #Pyongyang #DPRK pic.twitter.com/bHWPFixiiI
— Colin Crooks (@ColinCrooks1) March 8, 2020
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un warned last month of “serious consequences” if the virus reaches his country, which has banned tourists and suspended international trains and flights.
Albania has reported its first cases of coronavirus – a father and son who recently returned from Italy. Both are in stable condition.
More than 400,000 Albanians live in Italy, which lies just across the Adriatic Sea.
China has just released its daily update on the coronavirus situation there, and it seems the outbreak is continuing to slow.
The National Health Commission says there were 40 new confirmed cases of coronavirus on Sunday, compared with 44 cases a day earlier.
That brings the total accumulated number of confirmed cases in mainland China to 80,735.
A further 22 people died from the virus, bringing the death toll in mainland China to 3,119.
All but one of Sunday’s deaths were in Hubei, the central province at the epicentre of the outbreak. In the provincial capital of Wuhan, 18 people died.
I’m Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur.
A summary of the latest developments:
In Italy, where some 16 million people in Lombardy and other parts of the north are now in forced quarantine, 133 deaths were reported in the past 24 hours bringing the total to 366. More than 7,000 people have been confirmed to have the virus.
In Iran, facing the world’s third-most serious outbreak, there were 49 new fatalities. Some 194 people have now died from COVID-19 there.
Authorities in Saudi Arabia have sealed off the eastern Qatif region, and are suspending all schools across the country from Monday until further notice. Universities are also affected. The Gulf country has reported 11 cases of the virus.
Click here to read all the updates from March 8.