Italy’s coronavirus death toll passes 10,000: Live updates

Italy confirms 889 new coronavirus deaths, raising coronavirus fatality toll to 10,023.

A health worker gets dresses in personal protective equipment (PPE) at a drive-thru testing center for coronavirus at Lehman College in the Bronx, New York City [John Moore/Getty Images/AFP]
A health worker gets dresses in personal protective equipment (PPE) at a drive-thru testing center for coronavirus at Lehman College in the Bronx, New York City [John Moore/Getty Images/AFP]

Spain’s death toll from the coronavirus pandemic jumped to 5,690 on Saturday, with 832 patients dying in the past 24 hours, according to the health ministry.

The announcement came as the number of people infected with the virus in the United States hit more than 104,000, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally, with deaths surpassing 1,700.

In Italy, more than 10,000 people have died since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the latest data from the Civil Protection Agency.

Worldwide, the number of cases has reached more than 600,000, of which more than 131,000 people have recovered. More than 27,000 have died.

Here are the latest updates:

Saturday, March 28

20:50 GMT – Coronavirus lockdown: India grapples with migrant workers’ exodus

A nationwide lockdown in India – the world’s largest – over the coronavirus pandemic is wreaking havoc on thousands of migrant workers in the capital, New Delhi.

With few transport options available, thousands of people, mostly young male day labourers but also families, have resorted to commuting on foot during the 21-day lockdown that started on Wednesday.

The workers started fleeing New Delhi after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the lockdown, which effectively put millions of Indians living off daily earnings out of work. Construction projects, taxi services, housekeeping and other informal sector employment came to a sudden halt.

Read more here.

20:45 GMT – UN donates 250,000 masks to hard-hit New York

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced the donation of the 250,000 masks, which had just been located in United Nations storage facilities, to the United States for use in hard-hit New York City.

The city’s Mayor Bill De Blasio hailed the UN for “answering the call” for the city where the insitution’s headquarters are located.

Guterres said in statement the United Nations and the US Mission to the UN were working with de Blasio’s office to ensure swift delivery of the masks to medical facilities around New York.

20:30 GMT – Spain toughens lockdown as toll nears 5,700

Health personnel are seen outside the emergency entrance of the Severo Ochoa Hospital in Madrid, Spain Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images]

Spain toughened its nationwide lockdown on Saturday, halting all non-essential activities as it stepped up its fight against the deadly coronavirus epidemic that has so far claimed 5,690 lives.    

Spain has the world’s second-highest coronavirus death toll after Italy, losing another 832 people over the last 24 hours as the number of cases soared to 72,248.

Despite the grim 24-hour death toll, health chiefs said the rate of infections was slowing, suggesting that the epidemic was nearing its peak.

But the strain on intensive care facilities was a big source of concern, with the greatest pressure expected in about a week’s time, prompting the government to lift the restrictions to slow the contagion.

20:15 GMT – Coronavirus cases in Israel exceed 3,600

The total number of coronavirus cases in Israel has reached 3,619, as 159 more people tested positive, according to country’s health ministry.

At least 12 people have so far died of the virus, with 54 patients in a critical condition and 89 recoveries, a ministry statement said.

As part of measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus, all schools in the country have been closed all meetings in open or closed areas with more than 10 people have also been banned.

20:00 GMT – Global death toll from coronavirus surpass 30,000

The global death toll from the coronavirus surpassed 30,000 on Saturday, according to data compiled by the US-based Johns Hopkins University.

The virus known as COVID-19, which emerged in Wuhan, China last December, has spread to at least 177 countries and regions around the globe, with a total of 649,904 confirmed cases worldwide and 30,249 deaths. 

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A total of 137,283 people diagnosed with the virus have so far recovered globally.

Italy, Spain, China and Iran continue to be the most affected countries in terms of deaths, but the US tops the list of the highest number of confirmed cases – 115,547.

Italy recorded the most deaths with 10,023 fatalities with nearly 92,500 cases, while Spain has 5,812 deaths and more than 72,200 confirmed cases. China, the ground zero of the virus, followed Spain with 3,100 deaths and nearly 82,000 cases.

19:30 GMT – France reports 319 more coronavirus deaths, taking toll to 2,314

French medical epidemiologist Arnaud Fontanet speaks during a news conference with the prime minister in Paris on the eleventh day of a strict nationwide confinement seeking to halt the spread of COVID-19 disease [Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt/Reuters]

French health authorities reported 319 new deaths from the coronavirus, up 16 percent on the previous day and taking the total to 2,314, as the government scrambled to increase the number of intensive care beds nationwide.

The daily government tally only accounts for those dying in hospital but authorities say they will be able to compile data on deaths in retirement homes from next week, which is likely to result in a big increase in registered fatalities.

The number of known cases of infection rose to 37,575 on Saturday from 32,964 a day earlier, the health authority said.

“I want to say how things are with clarity and frankness. The battle is only starting,” said Prime Minister Edouard Philippe at a news conference with Health Minister Olivier Veran to outline the government’s strategy.

“The first 15 days of April will be even more difficult than the 15 days that are coming to an end now,” Philippe said.

19:10 GMT – 47-nation WHO Africa region has 2,650 coronavirus cases, 49 deaths

Coronavirus has now spread to dozens of countries in Africa, with 2,650 infected and 49 dead, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said.

The WHO stands ready to support all countries in the fight against the virus, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, said on Twitter.

Countries with weaker health systems must act aggressively to contain spread among early cases and prevent community transmission, he said.

18:55 GMT – Qatar says it is taking care of 31 Bahraini citizens

A statement from Qatar’s Communications Office has shed light on the conditions of Bahraini citizens, who were transiting home from Iran. The 31 Bahrainis, whose government has not yet sent a charter plane to fly them back, have all been tested for coronavirus and are staying at a quarantine hotel in Doha.

The full statement is below:

On 27 March 2020, 31 Bahraini citizens arrived in Doha on a Qatar Airways flight from Iran. As Bahrain does not allow commercial flights from Qatar, the State of Qatar inquired with officials in Bahrain as to how Qatar could assist in the travelers’ efforts to return home.

Qatar offered to fly the Bahraini citizens on a private charter flight to Bahrain at no expense to the individuals or the government of Bahrain. The government of Bahrain declined this option. Bahraini officials have said they will send a flight for them at some undefined point in the future.

As the health and safety of all individuals in Qatar, and around the world, is paramount at this time, the Ministry of Public Health has administered coronavirus tests for the 31 Bahraini citizens and provided them with accommodation in a quarantine hotel at no cost to them or the government of Bahrain. Those testing positive will receive free and full health care at once. Those testing negative will continue to observe self-isolation for two weeks at a quarantine hotel, at no expense to them.

It is our hope that by the end of this two-week quarantine, that the government of Bahrain will allow their citizens to return home. If not, we will continue to provide them with hospitality and care.

18:35 GMT – Ireland reports 14 coronavirus deaths to bring total to 36

Ireland has reported 14 deaths from COVID-19 infections, all in the east of the country and the most on a single day so far to bring the total number of fatalities to 36, the department of health said.

The country also reported an additional 294 confirmed cases of coronavirus to bring the total to 2,415, the department said in a statement, slightly down on the 302 new cases reported on Friday when Ireland announced further restrictions for citizens.

18:05 GMT – Trump says he may quarantine New York, New Jersey and Connecticut

President Donald Trump said he was considering imposing a two-week quarantine on New York as well as portions of New Jersey and Connecticut as part of further efforts to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Trump said he was considering placing a two-week enforced quarantine on New York, which he called a “hot spot,” at some point later on Saturday. The quarantine might also apply to parts of New Jersey and Connecticut.

“This would be an enforceable quarantine,” Trump said from the White House. “I’d rather not do it, but we may need it.”

The number of coronavirus cases reached over 52,000 in New York, the US epicentre of the outbreak, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Saturday.

By Saturday afternoon, the sum of total known coronavirus US cases had soared to 115,842, eclipsing the toll the disease has taken on China and Italy.

17:32 GMT – Italy’s coronavirus toll tops 10,000

Italy’s death toll from the novel coronavirus shot past 10,000 with 889 new deaths, the country’s civil protection service said.

The toll in Italy, which has suffered more deaths than any other country, now stands at 10,023. An additional 5,974 infections brought to 92,472 the number of people who have officially tested positive for COVID-19 in Italy since the crisis began last month.

Latest figures provided by the civil protection department, however, showed that both the daily death rate and the increase in contagion cases grew a bit slower than Friday.

Current contagions rose by 5 percent to reach 70,065, compared with a 7 percent rise on Friday. The total number of recovered people reached 12,384.

17:20 GMT – Turkey’s coronavirus deaths up to 108, with 1,704 new cases

Turkey’s death toll from the coronavirus increased by 16 to 108 on Saturday, as the number of confirmed cases rose by 1,704 to 7,402, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.

He added on Twitter that 7,641 tests had been conducted in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of tests carried out in Turkey to 55,464 since the outbreak begun.

17:10 GMT – Qatar confirms first coronavirus death

A woman wearing a protective mask walks in the West Bay area in Doha. Qatar has imposed a series of measures to contain the coronavirus outbreak, including closing parks and public areas, and banning social gatherings [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]

Qatar recorded its first death from the coronavirus, a Bangladeshi resident, and 28 more cases to take its total to 590 infections, the health ministry said.

The 57-year-old Bangladeshi national was suffering from a previous chronic disease, state news agency QNA reported.

The majority of cases in Qatar have been diagnosed among migrant labourers, and authorities have locked down a large section of an industrial zone where many live and work.

The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases surged to 590, as 28 more people tested positive, while 45 patients have so far recovered and been discharged from hospitals since the beginning of the outbreak, the health ministry said.

17:00 GMT – Another UK Cabinet member has COVID-19 symptoms

Another member of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Cabinet has developed symptoms of COVID-19.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said he had symptoms of the disease and was self-isolating a day after the prime minister and Britain’s health secretary revealed they tested positive for the virus and were experiencing mild symptoms.

Johnson, 55, is the highest-profile political leader to have contracted the virus. Jack sat beside him in the House of Commons on Wednesday before Parliament shut down until at least April 21 to reduce the risk of infections.

16:20 GMT – Coronavirus death toll in Italy’s Lombardy rises by around 542 in a day

An Italian Army officer, wearing a protective suit, walks past a military vehicle in the Monumental Cemetery in Bergamo, near Milan [Emanuele Cremaschi/Getty Images]

The death toll from an outbreak of coronavirus in the northern region of Lombardy, which has borne the brunt of Italy’s contagion, has risen by around 542 in a day to some 5,944, a source familiar with the data said.

The fatalities are broadly in line with Friday’s tally of 541, which was the second highest since the outbreak emerged on February 21.

The number of cases in the region, which includes Italy’s financial capital Milan, increased by some 2,117 to roughly 39,415, the source said.

The nationwide tally will be released at around 6:00 pm (17:00 GMT). On Friday, the national death toll stood at 9,134, the highest in the world, with 2,409 new infected cases.

15:45 GMT – Death toll in US from COVID-19 rises to 1,709

An empty street is seen near Chinatown during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Manhattan, New York City [Jeenah Moon/Reuters]

At least 410 people in the United States died of the coronavirus in the last 24 hours, bringing the total death toll to 1,709 in the country, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The total number of cases in the US increased by 18,848 in the last 24 hours, reaching 104,860 in total. The country is on top of the list of highest number of cases around the world, with the death toll and number of cases rapidly increasing.

States worst hit by the outbreak are New York and New Jersey. In the past 24 hours, 144 people died in New York, 175 in Washington and 119 died in Louisiana.

Dr John Brooks of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that Americans remained “in the acceleration phase” of the pandemic and that all corners of the country are at risk.

“There is no geographic part of the United States that is spared from this,” he said.

15:05 GMT – Sri Lanka records first death

People maintain a distance between each other as they stand in a line to buy groceries at a supermarket as the government temporarily lifted a curfew in Colombo, Sri Lanka [File: Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters]

Sri Lanka has recorded its first death due to coronavirus, its health ministry said.

The island nation of roughly 21 million has 110 infected cases. So far, all patients who test positive for COVID-19 are being treated at the Infectious Diseases Hospital (IDH) in Colombo.

14:55 GMT – Germany: COVID-19 measures in place until April 20

The measures taken in Germany to stem the spread of the coronavirus will continue to remain effective until at least April 20, a minister said.

Speaking to German daily Tagesspiegel, Helge Braun, the head of the Chancellery and federal minister, said the government’s top priority is to not allow the blockage of the health system.

“We are not going to alleviate the extreme measures until at least April 20. We will then re-negotiate the necessary steps to be taken for future,” Braun told daily.

According to data compiled by the US-based John Hopkins University, more than 53,300 cases have been reported in Germany, with the death toll reaching 399 and over 6,600 recoveries.

14:35 GMT – Russia to close borders from March 30

A vendor wearing a protective face mask waits for customers at a local flea market, as the spread of the coronavirus disease continues, in Omsk, Russia [Alexey Malgavko/Reuters]

Russia will close its borders starting on March 30 in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus, a government order published on Saturday said.

The measure will come in force at all road, rail and pedestrian checkpoints, and apply to Russia’s maritime borders, the government said.

It will not apply to Russian diplomats and the drivers of freight trucks, among others.

The country, which has already grounded all international flights, has reported 1,264 coronavirus cases.

14:25 GMT – Pakistan’s borders to remain sealed for another two weeks

Pakistan has said its borders would remain closed for another two weeks, as the number of people infected with the coronavirus surpassed 1,400.  

The country closed its borders with Iran, Afghanistan and India during the past weeks. They will now stay shut for 14 more days, said Moeed Yusuf, the special assistant to the prime minister on national security.

14:20 GMT – UK death toll passes 1,000

56 percent of people surveyed believed the government’s enforcement came too late [Naomi Baker/Getty]

The United Kingdom said 1,019 people had died after testing positive for coronavirus by 17:00 GMT on Friday, a rise of 260 in 24 hours.

The number of people testing positive for the virus was 17,089 as of 09:00 GMT on Saturday, compared with an officially corrected number of 14,543 on Friday.

Hello, this is Linah Alsaafin and I will be taking over the live blog.

12:40 GMT – Swiss death toll reaches 235

The Swiss death toll from coronavirus has reached 235, rising from 197 people the previous day, according to the country’s public health ministry. 

The number of confirmed cases also increased to 13,213 from 12,161 on Friday, it said. 

The Alpine country of 8.6 million is deploying army medical units at hospitals to help in crisis regions like Ticino, which borders hard-hit Italy, and has begun tapping its strategic stockpile of pharmaceuticals to cover rising demand.

Health workers at the Pourtales Hospital [Denis Balibouse/AFP]

12:20 GMT – England women’s captain Hunter ready to take pay cut

Sarah Hunter, captain of the England women’s rugby team, said she is willing to take a pay cut to ensure staff at the country’s governing body do not lose their jobs due to the coronavirus crisis.

“That little sacrifice and selflessness can go a long way,” Hunter, 28, told BBC Sport. “I’d be willing to do that to make sure there’s still an RFU [Rugby Football Union] and people aren’t having to lose their jobs.” 

England’s RFU faces losses of up to 50 million pounds ($62.3m) over the next year-and-a-half with global sport coming to a virtual standstill due to the pandemic.

11:50 GMT – Jakarta extends state of emergency 

Ramping up its effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus, Indonesia’s capital Jakarta announced that the current state of emergency – imposed on March 20 – will be extended by two more weeks due to an increase in the number of infections.

“We’re preparing ways to anticipate all possibilities that could happen in the city,” Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan told reporters on a video conference call. “We implore people of Jakarta to not leave Jakarta, especially for their home towns.”

Indonesia confirmed 109 new coronavirus infections, taking the total cases in the country to 1,155, including 102 deaths.

11:30 GMT – US pre-approval for S Korean test kits

Three South Korean coronavirus test-kit makers have won preliminary approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

South Korea’s foreign ministry said winning the preliminary approval under emergency use authorisation will allow the products to be sold in the US.US President Donald Trump this week asked his South Korean counterpart, Moon Jae-in, to supply the medical devices and promised to help South Korean firms gain US regulator approval.

Swiss firm Roche has also won Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA for its test kits.

11:10 GMT – S African billionaire Motsepe donates $57m

South African billionaire businessman Patrice Motsepe said he would donate one billion rands ($57m) to help fight the coronavirus outbreak.

Motsepe, President Cyril Ramaphosa’s brother-in-law and head of investment firm African Rainbow Capital, told a news conference the money would be channelled through the government to build water, health and education facilities.

10:46 GMT – Spain reports 832 deaths in 24 hours

The Spanish health ministry announced another massive jump in the country’s coronavirus fatalities, saying the death toll had risen to 5,690 from 4,858 the day before.

The number of infections stood at 72,248, up from 64,059.

10:37 GMT – S Africa police fire rubber bullets: Report

South African police fired rubber bullets towards hundreds of shoppers queueing outside a supermarket in Johannesburg as people were not respecting social distancing measures, an AFP photographer said.

Between 200 and 300 people gathered outside a popular grocery store in Yeoville, in Johannesburg’s central business district on day two of a nationwide lockdown.

Police officers enforce social distancing making shoppers stretch their arms in front of them to ensure that they are at least one metre apart from one another [Marco Longari/AFP]

10:10 GMT – Iran’s death toll rises to 2,517

The number of coronavirus fatalities in Iran surged to 2,517 as health officials announced 139 new deaths over the past 24 hours. 

Kianoush Jahanpour, a health ministry spokesperson, said 3,076 people were confirmed to have contracted the virus, bringing the total to 35,408. He added that more than 3,200 patients were in critical condition. 

However, there are also 546 people who have recovered from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of recoveries to 11,679, according to Jahanpour.

09:45 GMT – Philippines and Malaysia report new cases

The Philippine health ministry recorded 14 new coronavirus deaths and 272 additional cases, marking the country’s single largest daily increase in fatalities and infections.

The latest count brought total infections in the Philippines to 1,075 and deaths to 68.

Meanwhile, Malaysia, Southeast Asia’s worst-hit country to date, reported 159 new coronavirus cases, taking the total to 2,320, including 27 deaths.

09:40 GMT – Ireland may ease restrictions on April 12

Health Minister Simon Harris said Ireland hopes to remove some of its highly restrictive measures if it can slow down the rate of admission to intensive care units.

“Will we be in a position on April 12 where life in Ireland can return to normal? Absolutely not. Let’s be honest with each other, these are measures that we are going to need continue to work at,” Harris told national broadcaster RTE.

“Do we hope to be in a position in two weeks’ time to say that we’ve made progress and some of the measures can be tweaked, removed, changed? Absolutely.”

Ireland is in full lockdown with nonessential trips banned for two weeks. People are allowed out for brief exercise, as well as for farming purposes and food production. All public gatherings outside a family household or single unit have also now been prohibited.

09:20 GMT – Number of cases rises to 48,582 in Germany

The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Germany rose by 6,294 compared with the previous day while the death toll climbed by 55, the Robert Koch Institute reported. 

In total, Germany has reported 48,582 infections and 325 deaths.

09:10 GMT – Australia tightens social distancing rules 

Australia imposed stricter rules on social distancing as the number of confirmed cases jumped by 469 to 3,635, with the death toll of 14. 

The new measures include implementing fines, closing beaches and threatening stricter measures if people defy pleas to stay at home.

As of midnight on Saturday, all returning citizens from abroad will be put into compulsory quarantine in hotels for two weeks at the government’s expense. Military personnel will help ensure travellers comply with the new rules.

08:50 GMT – Ghana announces lockdown in two key regions

In its latest effort to combat the spread of coronavirus, Ghana will put under lockdown starting on Monday people living in the country’s two main regions: Greater Accra Metropolitan Area and the Greater Kumasi Metropolitan Area, including contiguous districts for a period of two weeks, said President Nana Akufo-Ado.

Sweeping measures were announced as the country reported 137 confirmed cases, including four deaths.

Ghana has already closed schools, suspended public events and banned large gatherings.

08:20 GMT – Pope Francis delivers extraordinary blessing 

Pope Francis has held a dramatic, solitary prayer service in St Peter’s Square of the Vatican, urging the world to see the coronavirus pandemic as a test of solidarity and a reminder of basic values.

Pope Francis delivers an extraordinary blessing from an empty St Peter’s Square [Guglielmo Mangiapane/Reuters]

“Thick darkness has gathered over our squares, our streets and our cities,” he said speaking alone before a square where he normally draws tens of thousands of people.

“We have realised that we are in the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and needed, all of us called to row together, each of us in need of comforting the other,” he said.

Read more here

07:50 GMT – Turkey announces stricter travel restrictions  

Turkey suspended all intercity trains and limited domestic flights as part of measures to contain a fast-growing coronavirus outbreak, as the number of cases jumped by a third in a day to 5,698, with 92 dead.

In a notice detailing the travel restrictions, the Interior Ministry said all citizens must remain in the cities they reside and would only be allowed to leave with a doctor’s note, in the event of the death of a close family member or if they have no accommodation. 

Read our story here

Women wearing protective face masks and gloves stroll in the empty centre of Turkey’s capital Istanbul [Umit Bektas/Reuters]

07:35 GMT – Thailand reports new death, total cases reach 1,245

Thailand confirmed 109 new coronavirus cases and one additional death, bringing the total to 1,245 infections and six fatalities.

The new infections include 39 patients linked to previous cases, 17 new cases deemed to be imported ones and 53 awaiting investigation, Anupong Sujariyakul, an expert in preventive medicine at the Disease Control Department, told reporters.

The government urged people to stay home and introduced a state of emergency earlier this week, banning foreigners and closing public facilities and businesses in major cities until April 30.

07:05 GMT – Tokyo reports record daily increase in new cases

Sixty new coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Japan’s capital, Tokyo, according to national broadcaster NHK.

The figure marks a record daily increase and comes amid a week-long rise in the number of infections, which has prompted the country to step up efforts to contain the outbreak.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike has requested residents in the capital and surrounding regions to avoid nonessential, nonurgent outings until April 12.

06:35 GMT – Iran’s health system ready for possible escalation in infections

Iran’s health infrastructure is strong and ready to cope with a possible escalation in coronavirus cases, President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday in comments carried by state TV.

The Islamic republic is among the countries worldwide severely affected by the pandemic.

In its latest tally, the country reported a death toll of 2,378 amid 32,332 infections. 

Health officials check body temperature of drivers and passengers at the entrance of Iran’s Tehran [Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu]

05:40 GMT – Dozens of UN staff infected with coronavirus 

The United Nations says 86 staff members around the world have reported cases of COVID-19.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said most of the infected staff members were in Europe, but there are also staffers in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and the United States that have the coronavirus.

04:50 GMT – Nuclear weapons conference postponed – UN

The 191 parties to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty have decided to postpone a conference to review its implementation because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Associated Press news agency.

The treaty is considered the cornerstone of global efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, and the parties hold a major conference every five years to discuss how it is working. The meeting had been scheduled for April 27-May 22 at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

03:44 GMT – WHO sending two million protective items for healthcare workers

At least two million items of protective gear have been sent to 74 countries which need it the most to fight the coronavirus, World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

He also said the WHO was preparing to send a similar amount of protective gear to another 60 countries.

“Even more is needed and this can only be solved with international cooperation and solidarity,” he wrote on social media.

03:20 GMT – Tokyo restricts movement to combat virus but some carry on as usual

Residents in greater Tokyo and the Osaka area in western Japan hunkered down on Saturday as officials urged citizens to stay indoors to prevent a potential emergency, but some were carrying on as normal, according to Reuters news agency.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike’s plea for the tens of millions of people in the capital and surrounding regions to avoid non-essential, non-urgent outings until April 12, and particularly this weekend, followed a surge in coronavirus infections this week, which she said puts Tokyo on the brink of a state of emergency.

Koike urged the public to avoid the national pastime of congregating to drink and watch the cherry blossoms as they hit their peak in the capital, saying on Friday, “The cherry blossoms will bloom again next year.”

02:08 GMT – South Korea reports 146 more cases

South Korea has reported 146 more cases of the new coronavirus in the country, bringing the total to 9,478.

As of Friday, there were at least 139 deaths reported in the country.

02:02 GMT – Haiti hospital chief kidnapped amid coronavirus emergency

The director of one of Haiti’s top hospitals has been kidnapped, prompting staff to refuse to take in new patients in protest as the impoverished country battles an outbreak of the novel coronavirus amid a spike in gang violence.

Dr Jerry Bitar, a surgeon, was kidnapped shortly after leaving for work at Hospital Bernard Mevs from his home in an upmarket neighbourhood of the capital, Port-au-Prince, hospital staff told Reuters on Friday.

People line up for national identification cards at a government office before it potentially closes amid measures to contain the spread of the new coronavirus in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on March 24. [Dieu Nalio Chery/AP]

01:42 GMT – Brunei reports first coronavirus death 

Brunei reported its first coronavirus death on Saturday, that of a 64-year-old man.

Brunei has reported 115 cases of the virus so far, some of which were linked to a religious gathering in Malaysia that authorities said had been attended by about 16,000 people.

The man who died had not attended the gathering, but had a history of travel to Malaysia and Cambodia.

01:42 GMT – More than 9,000 health workers infected in Spain 

The total number of confirmed COVID-19 infections in Spain has increased by almost 8,000 in one day, pushing the total number of cases to 65,700, among whom 9,444 are health workers, according to official data and the Johns Hopkins online monitor.

The Spanish Health Ministry said that the number of infected health workers in the country currently ranks as the highest in the world. Spain has had more than 5,000 fatalities.

01:35 GMT – Mexico reports 717 cases, 12 deaths 

Mexico’s health ministry has announced that it has registered 717 cases of coronavirus in the country, up from 585 the day before.

The ministry also said there had been 12 deaths overall from the virus in Mexico, up from eight a day earlier.

01:25 GMT – China reports 54 new cases – all imported

China’s National Health Commission said on Saturday that 54 new coronavirus cases were reported on the mainland on Friday, all involving so-called imported cases. There were 55 new cases a day earlier, one of which was transmitted locally.

The total number of infections in mainland China now stands at 81,394, with the death toll rising by three to 3,295, the commission said.

00:45 GMT – US FDA clears new coronavirus rapid test

The United States Food and Drug Administration has cleared a new rapid test from Abbott Laboratories, which the company says can detect the coronavirus in about five minutes.

Medical device maker Abbott announced the emergency clearance of its cartridge-based test on Friday night. The company says that its test delivers a negative result in 13 minutes when the virus is not detected.

Improvised hospital rooms are seen at a convention centre, which has been partially converted into a hospital, in New York. [Jeenah Moon/Reuters]

00:25 GMT – Jordan reports first COVID-19 death

Jordan’s state-run news agency, Petra, has reported that a woman in her 80s died from COVID-19 – the first fatality in the country. Jordan TV reported the woman had underlying medical conditions.

There have been 235 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the kingdom. On March 21, Jordan imposed an indefinite full lockdown after it had shut down its airspace and other border crossings.

00:15 GMT – US doctors decry scarcity of drugs and equipment

Doctors and nurses on the frontlines of the US coronavirus crisis are pleading for more protective gear and equipment to treat waves of patients expected to overwhelm hospitals as the number of known US infections surpasses 100,000, with more than 1,600 dead.

“We are scared,” Dr Arabia Mollette of Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York, told Reuters news agency. “We’re trying to fight for everyone else’s life, but we also fight for our lives as well, because we’re also at the highest risk of exposure.”

Physicians have called particular attention to the desperate need for additional ventilators, machines that help patients breathe and that are widely needed for those suffering from COVID-19, the respiratory ailment caused by the highly contagious and deadly virus.

00:01 GMT – Cruise ship with coronavirus outbreak blocked from transiting Panama Canal

Panamanian health officials have blocked Holland America Line’s MS Zaandam from transiting the Panama Canal, citing sanitary conditions after a coronavirus outbreak on board the cruise ship. 

Four passengers have died on board, with more than 130 others suffering from influenza-like symptoms. At least two of them have the coronavirus, the vessel’s operator said.

The ship is carrying 1,243 guests and 586 crew, as well as four doctors and four nurses, the cruise operator said in a statement.

22:30 GMT Friday – Trump says US will make 100,000 ventilators in 100 days

US President Donald Trump said on Friday that the US would produce 100,000 ventilators in 100 days and said he had named White House aide Peter Navarro as the coordinator of the Defense Production Act.

“We’re going to make a lot of ventilators,” Trump said, pledging to take care of US needs while also helping other countries.

Trump said there was a chance the US would not require that many ventilators to fight the coronavirus outbreak, and would then help other countries in need.

I’m Ted Regencia in Kuala Lumpur with Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

Read all the updates from yesterday (March 27) here.

Source : Al Jazeera, News Agencies

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