Italy on Sunday reported 368 new deaths from the coronavirus outbreak as the country’s death toll hit 1,809 while the number of positive cases rose to 24,747 from 21,157 on Saturday, the country’s civil protection authority said.
Governments around the world have stepped up restrictions on the movement of their citizens to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed nearly 5,800 people with over 153,000 infected globally, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
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Spain became the second European country to impose a nationwide lockdown after 2,000 new cases were confirmed and the number of reported deaths doubled.
Iran announced more than 100 people have died in the past 24 hours, with the confirmed cases nearing 14,000. Tehran said its fight against coronavirus is being severely hampered by US sanctions.
In the Philippines, the capital Manila has been sealed off, with its 12 million residents told to avoid travel for a month. Schools in the city have been closed and large events banned.
In the United States, increased screening measures for people returning from Europe have caused chaos at airports.
This live blog in now closed. Click here for updates of Monday, March 16.
Here are the updates of:
Sunday, March 15
20:50 GMT – Coronavirus pandemic: Which politicians, celebrities are affected?
The coronavirus pandemic has spread to 123 countries with the worldwide death toll from the virus nearing 5,800.
Among the more than 152,000 cases recorded globally are government officials, celebrities and sports personalities as authorities around the world grapple to contain the spread of coronavirus.
Hollywood actor Tom Hanks and his wife, actress and singer Rita Wilson, and Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, are some of the most well-known faces to be infected so far.
Who are others affected?
Read more here.
20:32 GMT – Serbia declares state of emergency over coronavirus: president
Serbia’s president declared a state of emergency to halt the spread of the coronavirus deploying soldiers to guard hospitals and shutting down many public spaces.
“From tomorrow, there is no more school, no nurseries, no universities, everything closes, no training, sports … We will close down to save our lives, to save our parents, to save our elderly,” said President Aleksandar Vucic.
20:20 – France reports its biggest jump in coronavirus deaths, total at 120
France recorded 29 additional coronavirus deaths, the biggest one-day increase in the country since the outbreak, 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.
Separately, the national health agency Sante Publique France, which has been updating its tally daily, put the new toll at 127 deaths
20:15 GMT – Dutch queue for cannabis as coronavirus closes cafes
Cannabis smokers queued up outside Dutch “coffee shops” after the government ordered their closure to beat the coronavirus outbreak.
Customers lined up in their dozens as they tried to beat a deadline for the closure of the marijuana cafes and stockpile weed supplies for what could be weeks of lockdown.
19:55 GMT – Restaurants, health clubs to close in Qatar
All health clubs such as spas and restaurants in hotels in Qatar will be effectively closed, the Qatar National Tourism Council announced in a statement.
The statement said: “Closure of all restaurants in the hotel establishments except for providing room services, catering services outside the hotel establishment, and takeaway services.”
19:44 GMT – Iran reports 113 new virus deaths as containment concerns mount
The official leading Iran’s response to the new coronavirus acknowledged on Sunday the pandemic could overwhelm health facilities in his country, which is battling the worst outbreak in the Middle East while under heavy US sanctions.
Iran’s health ministry reported another 113 deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 724 with nearly 14,000 confirmed cases. It was the biggest single-day jump in fatalities since the virus was first reported in the country.
Read more here.
19:30 GMT – Qatar suspends entry of non-Qataris in moves to shield
Qatar said it would ban non-Qataris from entering the country for two weeks as of Wednesday and announced measures to support the economy including providing 75 billion riyals ($20.5bn) in financial incentives to the private sector.
The government will also instruct state funds to increase their investment in the local bourse by 10 billion riyals ($2.8bn) and the central bank will provide additional liquidity to banks and encourage them to provide a six-month grace period on loan payments and private sector obligations.
The government said it would ban inbound flights, with the exception of cargo and transit flights, starting Wednesday night for 14 days as part of measures to contain the spread of the infection. The entry ban does not apply to Qatari citizens.
18:51 GMT – Ukraine Railways to halt international trains from March 17
State-run Ukrainian railways company Ukrzaliznytsia will suspend all international passenger trains from March 17 in an attempt to contain the spread of the coronavirus, the company said.
The Ukrainian government announced said on Friday that it was banning all international passenger flights and foreign citizens from entering the country until April 3.
18:05 GMT – US tries to lure German firm working on virus vaccine: Report
Berlin is trying to stop Washington from persuading a German company seeking a coronavirus vaccine to move its research to the United States, prompting German politicians to insist no country should have a monopoly on any future vaccine.
German government sources told Reuters news agency on Sunday that the US administration was looking into how it could gain access to a potential vaccine being developed by a German firm, CureVac.
Read more here.
17:55 GMT – Coronavirus in Gulf states: No warm greetings, no mosque prayers
No shisha sessions, deserted streets, mosques and shopping malls, drones in the sky broadcasting public health warnings – the new coronavirus has turned life upside down in the Gulf societies.
Read more here.
17:50 GMT – Irish government asks all pubs to close until March 29
The Irish government called for all bars in the country to close until March 29 to help curb the spread of coronavirus.
“The government is now calling on all public houses and bars (including hotel bars) to close from this evening until at least March 29,” the government said in a statement.
17:24 GMT – Italy coronavirus deaths rise 25 percent to 1,809
Italy recorded 368 new deaths from the COVID-19 outbreak as the total rose to 1,809 from 1,441 a day earlier, the country’s civil protection authority said.
The number of positive cases rose to 24,747 from 21,157 a day earlier as Europe’s worst outbreak of the deadly virus continued to expand.
16:58 GMT – Qatar coronavirus cases rise to 401
The Qatar Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) announced 64 new confirmed cases of coronavirus 2019 (Covid-19) in the Gulf nation, taking the total number of cases to 401.
So far 7,950 people have been tested for Covid-19 in Qatar, while four people have reportedly recovered, according to MoPH.
16:18 GMT – Kenya blocks entry as virus cases, closes schools
Kenya unveiled a series of strict measures to curb coronavirus on Sunday, blocking entry to the country to all except citizens and residents and shutting schools as the number of confirmed cases rose to three.
In an address to the nation, President Uhuru Kenyatta said two people who had come into contact with a 27-year-old Kenyan patient “have tested positive” and been moved into an isolation facility.
“The government is suspending travel for all persons coming into Kenya from any country with reported coronavirus cases,” he said. The restrictions excluded Kenyan citizens and foreigners with valid resident permits.
In addition to these measures, from Monday, all primary and secondary schools are to close, with boarding schools and universities to shut by the end of the week. All companies have been urged to allow employees to work from home.
16:15 GMT – Coronavirus deaths in Britain jump by 14 to total 35
The number of deaths of Britons with coronavirus jumped by 14 in the last 24 hours to 35, while the number of people diagnosed rose by 20 percent to 1,372, health authorities said.
The British government said earlier it would step up its response to the crisis, including isolating older people “in the coming weeks”.
Britain has to date taken less stringent steps to slow the virus than elsewhere in Europe.
15:54 GMT – Pakistan coronavirus cases rise to 52 – health official
The State Minister of Health of Pakistan Zafar Mirza confirmed that the total number of cases now stands at 52.
“We’ve increased our diagnostic capacity, and are now able to carry out #coronavirus test in 13 labs across the country,” he added.
There are now 52 confirmed cases, of which effective contact tracing is being carried out. We’ve increased our diagnostic capacity, and are now able to carry out #coronavirus test in 13 labs across the country <257>
— Zafar Mirza (@zfrmrza) March 15, 2020
15:50 GMT – Dutch schools to close as coronavirus spreads – broadcaster NOS
The Dutch government has announced to close all schools as it steps up measures to combat the spread of coronavirus, national broadcaster NOS reported.
NOS said the measure was decided on during crisis meetings and would be revealed later at a government news conference.
15:40 GMT – Germany tries to stop US from luring away firm seeking vaccine
Berlin is trying to stop Washington from persuading a German company seeking a coronavirus vaccine to move its research to the United States, prompting German politicians to insist no country should have a monopoly on any future vaccine.
German government sources told Reuters news agency that the US administration was looking into how it could gain access to a potential vaccine being developed by a German firm, CureVac.
Earlier, the Welt am Sonntag German newspaper reported that US President Donald Trump had offered funds to lure CureVac to the United States and the German government was making counter-offers to tempt it to stay.
There was no comment immediately available from the US embassy in Berlin when contacted by Reuters over the report.
15:21 GMT – South Asian nations discuss ways to tackle virus outbreak
Leaders of South Asian countries discussed ways to cooperate in tackling the spread of the new coronavirus in the region with India offering to contribute to an emergency fund.
Over a video conference, the leaders from the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) were able to discuss their plans.
The group includes Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. These countries together are home to about a fifth of the world’s population.
14:15 GMT – Morocco government suspends all international flights
Morocco suspended all international passenger flights to and from its airports as a protective measure against the spread of coronavirus, the foreign ministry said.
Morocco has confirmed 28 coronavirus cases, including one death and one recovery.
14:00 GMT – Most Malaysia coronavirus cases linked to Islamic gathering
Malaysia said more than half the country’s 428 coronavirus cases were linked to an international Islamic gathering held last month.
The Southeast Asian nation announced a spike of 190 new infections over the weekend, mostly linked to a global Islamic event attended by almost 20,000 people.
“Of the 428 cases, 243 are participants from the religious event in Sri Petaling mosque,” Noor Hisham Abdullah, director-general of the Health Ministry, told AFP news agency.
Authorities said participants at the gathering from February 27 to March 1 came from Bangladesh, Brunei, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. About 14,500 of the participants were Malaysian.
14:00 GMT – Chaos at US airports amid medical screenings
Chaos gripped important US airports as citizens returning from coronavirus-hit European countries overwhelmed authorities attempting to process the surge.
Frustrated passengers complained of hours-long lines, crowded and unsanitary conditions and general disarray in the system for screening people for symptoms of the virus.
The United States on Saturday extended the ban on travel from Europe, South Korea and China to the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Attention travelers: customs processing is taking longer than usual inside the Federal Inspection Services (FIS) facility owing to enhanced #COVID19 screening for passengers arriving from Europe. Thank you for your patience.
— O'Hare Intl. Airport (@fly2ohare) March 15, 2020
13:57 GMT – Hungary government confirms first death from coronavirus
Hungary’s government communication centre confirmed the central European nation’s first official victim of the new coronavirus, state news agency MTI reported.
A 75-year-old Hungarian national died shortly after being hospitalised with severe pneumonia and a suspected coronavirus infection.
Hungary has 32 confirmed coronavirus cases and 159 people in quarantine, according to government data. The government closed all schools and introduced restrictions on public gathering this week.
13:50 GMT – Six more cases confirmed in Jordan
Jordan confirmed six new coronavirus cases, among them four are French tourists and two Jordanians, one of whom had recently returned from the United Kingdom.
All six people who tested positive were admitted to Prince Hamzah Hospital for treatment.
Previously, Jordan had reported just one case in a man who has since recovered.
Abdel Razzaq al-Khashman, manager of Prince Hamzah Hospital, described the condition of the French tourists as ranging from “good to moderate”.
13:40 GMT – Equatorial Guinea reports first case
Equatorial Guinea has reported its first case of coronavirus, a 42-year-old woman who flew back to the capital Malabo from Spain on March 13, the health ministry said in a statement.
13:30 GMT – Spain reports 2,000 new cases, more than 100 deaths
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 – after the government imposed a near-total nationwide lockdown, banning people from leaving home except to go to work, get medical care or buy food.
12:48 GMT – Key Shia tomb closed for pilgrims in Iran’s Mashhad
The tomb of Imam Reza in Iran’s holy Shia city of Mashhad has been closed to pilgrims until further notice in line with measures to stop the new coronavirus, a spokesman said.
“Currently, the porches of the mausoleum and generally all the covered spaces of the holy shrine are closed,” the spokesman for the shrine told AFP news agency.
12:32 GMT – UK advises against all but essential travel to US
The UK has advised against all but essential travel to the United States due to US government restrictions on travellers from countries with a high incidence of coronavirus infection, which will include the UK and Ireland from 03:59 GMT on March 17.
12:21 GMT – Italian architect of Barcelona stadium dies
Vittorio Gregotti, an Italian architect who designed the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics stadium, died at the age of 92 after catching the novel coronavirus, Italian media said.
Gregotti died of pneumonia after being taken to a hospital in Milan having contracted COVID-19, the AGI news agency and the Corriere della Sera newspaper reported.
His wife Mariana Mazza has been admitted to the same Milan hospital, Corriere della Sera said, without providing details on why.
#QuarantineLife got you down?
This is how Italy is boosting morale during the coronavirus lockdown. pic.twitter.com/qS8CjhgYtB
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) March 15, 2020
12:16 GMT – Brunei bars residents from leaving as cases reach 50
Brunei said its citizens and foreign residents in the country are barred from leaving the Southeast Asian nation due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The health ministry also said it had confirmed 10 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total tally to 50.
12:14 GMT – Greece bans all links with Albania, North Macedonia
Greece said it would ban road and sea routes, as well as flights to Albania, North Macedonia. It has also decided to ban flights to and from Spain to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
It extended travel restrictions to Italy, saying it was banning passenger ship routes to and from the neighbouring country.
12:12 GMT – Nike to close all stores in US, many other countries
Nike Inc is closing all of its stores in the US and several other countries in a move to curb the spread of coronavirus, CNBC reported.
Nike stores in Canada, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand will be closed from March 16 to 27, CNBC said.
However, the company was still keeping open its outlets in South Korea, Japan, most of China and in “many other countries”, based on daily assessments of the COVID-19 pandemic, CNBC added.
12:09 GMT – Turkey sets up quarantine locations for pilgrims
Turkey has set up quarantine locations for more than 10,300 people returning from pilgrimages to Islam’s holy sites in Saudi Arabia.
The youth and sports ministry said beds had been made available in university dormitories in the capital, Ankara, and the central Anatolian city of Konya for those returning from Umrah, a pilgrimage that can be made at any time of the year.
Returnees will be quarantined for 14 days in an effort to combat the coronavirus.
12:03 GMT – Vietnam introduces compulsory testing for arrivals
Vietnam’s health ministry said all passengers coming from or through China, South Korea, the UK and Schengen countries will be compulsorily quarantined and tested for coronavirus.
“The compulsory quarantine applies to arrivals from March 14,” the health ministry said in a statement. “Those whose tests are positive will get immediate treatment while the rest will be quarantined for 14 days.”
In a separate statement, the ministry said people, including foreigners, were required to wear face masks in public places.
11:03 GMT – Austria’s Tyrol orders weeklong lockdown
Austria’s Tyrol province is ordering a lockdown to fight the coronavirus, initially for one week.
The provincial governor, Gunther Platter, announced that people will be allowed to leave their homes only for reasons such as buying food and medicine, visiting the doctor, getting cash or walking the dog.
Tyrol, an Alpine region popular with skiers, borders northern Italy and is one of the worst-hit areas of Austria, which already has largely shut down public life.
10:50 GMT – Iran’s death toll reaches 724
Iran’s death toll from the new coronavirus has reached 724, with 113 new deaths in the past 24 hours, an Iranian health official said, adding that 13,938 people have been infected across the country.
“In the past 24 hours, 1,209 new cases have been confirmed … with 113 deaths in the past 24 hours, the death toll has reached 724,” Alireza Vahabzadeh, an adviser to Iran’s health minister, tweeted.
10:47 GMT – Afghanistan confirms 5 new cases, total 16
The Afghan health authorities announced that the number of COVID-19 infections in the country has risen to 16.
The Afghan Health Ministry spokesman, Wahidullah Mayar, said four new positive cases of coronavirus have been recorded in Herat province and one other in Daikundi province.
10:28 GMT – Israel to use ‘anti-terror’ technology to counter coronavirus
Israel plans to use “anti-terrorism” tracking technology and a partial shutdown of its economy to minimise the risk of coronavirus transmission, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said.
Read more here.
10:25 GMT – Your coronavirus emergency kit: Preparation, symptoms, tips
How to prepare or deal with COVID-19 as well as survive a virus-related lockdown.
Read more here.
10:18 GMT – Mayor of an Italian town dies from coronavirus
Giorgio Valoti, the 70-year-old mayor of Cene, a town in the Italian province of Bergamo, died from the new coronavirus in hospital as his condition worsened on Thursday.
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.
Ci mancherai. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/nVapdJNN8h
— Matteo Salvini (@matteosalvinimi) March 14, 2020
09:35 GMT – Kazakhstan declares state of emergency
Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev declared a state of emergency due to the coronavirus outbreak which has reached the Central Asian nation that has eight confirmed cases of COVID-19.
The decree published by the president’s office restricts entry to and departure from Kazakhstan for everyone except diplomats and those invited by the government. It also introduced a nationwide quarantine.
09:33 GMT – Austria imposes major restrictions on movement
Austria introduced major restrictions on movement in public places, urging Austrians to self-isolate, banning gatherings of more than five persons and further reducing entries from other countries.
It was not clear whether the restrictions were meant to come into force immediately, although restaurants were ordered closed from Tuesday.
“Austrians are being summoned to isolate themselves,” Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s office said in a statement. “That means only making social contact with the people with whom they live.”
Visitors from Great Britain, the Netherlands, Russia and Ukraine would not be allowed into the country, the chancellor’s office said in a statement, unless they undertook two weeks of home quarantine or had a current health certificate.
09:30 GMT – Philippines reports 3 more coronavirus deaths, 29 new cases
The Philippines recorded another three coronavirus deaths and 29 new cases, bringing the domestic tally of infections to 140 and the death toll to 11, as authorities placed the entire capital Manila under “community quarantine” for about a month beginning on Sunday.
The latest deaths include an 83-year-old American male with a travel history from the United States and South Korea, the Department of Health said in an advisory. The other two are Filipinos.
09:25 GMT – Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque shuts: Islamic Waqf
Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque and Dome of the Rock have closed their doors as a precaution against the coronavirus, Islamic religious authorities have said, while outdoor prayers will still be allowed at the complex that houses Islam’s third holiest site.
“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.
Read more here.
09:13 GMT – Malaysia reports 190 new coronavirus cases
Malaysia reported 190 new cases of coronavirus, most linked to a religious event at a mosque that was attended by more than 10,000 people from several countries.
The new cases bring the total number of infections in the country to 428, the health ministry said in a statement.
09:08 GMT – Kuwait confirms eight new cases
The Kuwaiti Health Ministry announced it registered eight new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 112 cases.
Health Ministry spokesman Abdullah Al-Sanad said six of the latest cases were of Kuwaiti citizens returning from the United Kingdom and those who came in contact with those infected, according to the Kuwaiti news agency (KUNA).
One case was of a Kuwaiti returning from France via the United Arab Emirates and the other was of a fellow citizen returning from Iran, Al-Sanad said.
09:00 GMT – Republic of Congo reports first coronavirus case
The Republic of the Congo has reported its first case of coronavirus, a 50-year-old French-Congolese man who arrived on an Ethiopian Airlines flight from Paris on March 1, the government said in a statement.
08:45 GMT – Jordan announces six new cases of coronavirus, total 7
Jordan confirmed six new cases of coronavirus, including one from an American tourist coming from Egypt, the health minister said.
The kingdom had previously reported only one case of the virus. It took measures to fight the outbreak on Saturday, including a tighter lockdown that closes all borders and a ban on all incoming and outgoing flights as of Tuesday.
08:40 GMT – India’s coronavirus cases at 107 as Modi plans regional response
India reported that the number of coronavirus infections had risen to 107, an increase of 23 from the day before, with a western state home to the country’s financial capital the worst hit.
Data from India’s federal health ministry showed that there were now 31 confirmed coronavirus cases in Maharashtra state, where local authorities have closed down schools, colleges and shopping centres in most cities, including in the financial hub of Mumbai.
“The number could go up as we are waiting for test reports of people who were in close contact with patients who have tested positive,” a state health official said, declining to be named since he is not authorised to speak to media.
07:50 GMT – Vatican to hold Easter celebrations without congregation
The Vatican said its traditional Easter week celebrations would be held this year without worshippers.
“Because of the current global public health emergency, all the liturgical celebrations of Holy Week will take place without the physical presence of the faithful,” the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household said in a statement.
The Vatican also said: “Until April 12, the general audiences and the Angelus presided over by the Holy Father will be available only in live streaming on the official Vatican News website.”
07:02 GMT – Coronavirus crisis delays opening of Netanyahu trial
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 on March 17 with the reading of an indictment against Israel’s longest-serving leader in three corruption cases, would begin on May 24 “due to developments related to the spread of the coronavirus”.
Netanyahu has denied any wrongdoing.
07:00 GMT – Indonesia reports 21 new coronavirus cases
Indonesia reported 21 new coronavirus infections, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 117, CNN Indonesia reported, citing health ministry official Achmad Yurianto.
Of the new cases, 19 were detected in Jakarta and two in the Central Java province, Yurianto reportedly said.
06:55 GMT – Taiwan reports six new coronavirus cases
Taiwan reported six new cases of the coronavirus, all imported and marking the biggest daily rise in infections, in people who had returned to the island from countries including Spain and Japan, bringing its total tally to 59.
The other countries those infected had travelled to were Greece, Turkey, Egypt and Thailand, while two of the patients had transited in Dubai, the government added.
Taiwan has only reported one death from the virus, while 20 people have recovered and have been discharged from hospital. The other cases are all in a stable condition.
06:50 GMT – Thailand reports 32 new cases, brings total to 114
Thailand reported 32 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total infections in the Southeast Asian country to 114, health officials said.
It was the biggest daily jump in cases in Thailand, which was one of the first countries outside China to report coronavirus infections that have since swept much of the world.
Tamila Varshalomidze, my colleague in Doha, will be taking over the blog shortly.
Here’s a summary of what has happened over the past few hours:
Australia has said it will require everyone arriving from overseas to go into quarantine for 14 days.
The Philippines is sealing off Manila, its capital, from the rest of the country and roadblocks have been set up around the city. We will be bringing you more on the situation there later.
The US president, Donald Trump, has tested negative for coronavirus.
Begona Gomez – the wife of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez – was diagnosed with coronavirus shortly after her husband announced sweeping new restrictions to daily life in Spain.
05:50 GMT – El Salvador declares state of emergency over coronavirus
El Salvador has not reported a single confirmed case of coronavirus, but congress there has declared a state of emergency and approved a partial suspension of the country’s constitution to tackle any outbreak.
The measures include a restriction on free movement and assembly for a period of 30 days, allowing health officials to ban public gatherings.
“We have given the government legal mechanisms to deal with this serious health situation,” congressional President Mario Ponce said after Saturday’s vote.
05:45 GMT – Uzbekistan confirms first case of coronavirus
An Uzbek citizen has tested positive for coronavirus after returning from France, Uzbekistan’s health ministry said on Sunday, marking the first case of the virus in the Central Asian country of 34 million.
05:30 GMT – Passengers held on cruise ship in New Zealand
Passengers on the Golden Princess cruise liner were barred from disembarking at a New Zealand port on Sunday because of a suspected coronavirus case on board, health officials said.
There were 2,600 passengers and 1,100 crew members on the boat docked at Akaroa near the South Island city of Christchurch, according to the port’s cruise ship schedule.
New Zealand’s director-general of health, Ashley Bloomfield, said the ship’s doctor had quarantined three passengers. One of them has developed COVID-19 symptoms and is being treated as a suspected case.
“All on board are not being allowed off the ship until results are known,” Bloomfield said.
Princess Cruises, which operates the vessel, announced three days ago it was suspending voyages worldwide for two months in response to the coronavirus pandemic
05:15 GMT – Tycoon who criticised Xi over coronavirus goes missing – Reuters
An influential former Chinese property executive who called President Xi Jinping a “clown” over a speech he made last month about the government’s efforts to battle the coronavirus has gone missing, three of his friends told Reuters.
They said they had not been able to contact Ren Zhiqiang, a member of China’s ruling Communist Party and a former top executive of state-controlled property developer Huayuan International real estate group, since March 12.
“Many of our friends are looking for him,” his close friend Wang Ying said in a statement to Reuters, describing them as being “extremely anxious”.
“Ren Zhiqiang is a public figure, and his disappearance is widely known. The institutions responsible for this need to give a reasonable and legal explanation for this as soon as possible,” she said.
Calls made by Reuters to Ren’s mobile phone went unanswered.
Beijing police did not immediately respond to requests by phone and fax for comment on Sunday. China’s State Council Information Office did not immediately respond to a faxed request for comment.
Al Jazeera’s Mia Swart took a closer look at human rights in China in the context of the coronavirus outbreak in a story we published last week.
04:30 GMT – Philippines sealing off Manila to all domestic travellers
In the Philippines, thousands of police, with the help of the army and coast guard, are sealing off Manila in one of the most aggressive moves against the virus anywhere in Southeast Asia.
Roadblocks have been set up at major entry and exit points to the sprawling Metropolitan Manila, or Metro Manila area, home to 12 million people.
Richard Heydarian, a professor at De La Salle University, told Al Jazeera Manila felt “surreal” at the moment and he expected the so-called “community quarantine” could be in force beyond one month, as currently planned.
“A lot of us have had to cancel flights, our classes are suspended for the next month, thousands of police have been deployed across the city,” Heydarian said. “This is progressively going to look like a lockdown (and) this could actually be extended beyond one month if the situation on the ground doesn’t improve.”
Residents have been told to stay home except for work and urgent errands. All domestic travel – by land, air and sea – to and from the capital has been suspended and large gatherings prohibited. A night curfew is also expected.
03:40 GMT – Australia to require self-isolation of all international arrivals
Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison says the country will require everyone arriving from overseas – Australians or nationals of other countries – to go through 14 days of self-isolation.
“We are going to have to get used to some changes in the way we live our lives,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison told a press conference. The measure is due to come into effect from midnight on Sunday (13:00 GMT).
Morrison also said all cruise ships would be banned entirely and that he expects “visitor traffic will dry up very very, very quickly”.
“If your mate has been to Bali and they come back and they turn up at work and they are sitting next to you, well, they will be committing an offence,” Morrison said.
03:35 GMT – Japan cases rise to 780
Japan’s Health Ministry has announced 64 new cases of the coronavirus over the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of cases to 780. The country also has 697 other cases from a cruise ship that was stranded in the country.
The ministry said the death toll has risen to 29, including seven former cruise ship passengers.
The new cases come from 13 prefectures, including Hokkaido, Tokyo and Osaka.
03:30 GMT – South Korea to declare ‘special disaster’ zones over virus
South Korea is expected to declare Daegu and the nearby province of North Gyeongsang “special disaster zones” on Sunday, to enable authorities to channel more support to them.
Some 90 percent of cases in the country have been in those two areas.
South Korea is also stepping up travel restrictions on arrivals from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom, which will require them to be tested for fever and share their health data via a specially created app.
02:50 GMT – Lebanon to announce a ‘state of medical emergency’ over virus
Lebanon is expected to announce a “state of medical emergency” on Sunday, shutting down all public and private institutions except hospitals, pharmacies and bakeries, a presidential palace source told Al Jazeera’s Timour Azhari, who is in Beirut.
Supermarkets “will open within specific times, not all the time” while banks will be ordered closed.
You can read more about what’s expected to happen here.
02:25 GMT – Face mask shortages lead to resale bans and crackdowns
A law banning the resale of face masks has gone into effect in Japan as the government tries to address severe shortages as a result of the outbreak.
Those who violate the law that came into effect on Sunday risk a prison term of up to one year or a fine of up to one million yen ($9,260).
In Hong Kong, meanwhile, authorities are telling retailers to stop selling four types of surgical masks because their bacterial counts exceeded maximum legal limits.
The masks are sold in boxes of 50 pieces each and two of the samples listed Nepal and Turkey as the countries of manufacture, Hong Kong customs said in a statement. The others were unlabelled, but are thought to have come from Southeast Asia.
02:20 GMT – Mexico brings forward Easter holidays in coronavirus fight
Mexico’s Education Minister Esteban Moctezuma says schools and universities will start their Easter holidays early as the government steps up its efforts to tackle the coronavirus.
The Easter break will start on Friday, March 20, and last for 30 days instead of 15, Moctezuma said.
Other measures include additional education on hygiene and sanitation.
“We don’t want that students leave for vacation and all stick together,” Moctezuma said during a news conference, adding that students should avoid close contacts with others. “We want this to be preventative isolation.”
On Saturday, Mexico had 41 confirmed coronavirus cases, from 26 on Friday and 15 the day before that.
02:10 GMT – Wife of Spain’s prime minister confirmed to have coronavirus
Begona Gomez – the wife of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez – was diagnosed with coronavirus shortly after her husband announced sweeping new measures designed to keep people off the streets and contain the spread of the virus.
As Al Jazeera’s Graham Keeley writes from Barcelona, the restrictions are something of a shock in a country where life is lived outside in bars, restaurants or on the beaches.
01:30 GMT – Korea cases continue to slow
South Korea reported 76 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in its morning update on the country’s coronavirus outbreak, down from 107 on Saturday.
The country now has 8,162 confirmed cases of the virus, with 75 deaths.
01:15 GMT – China imported cases exceed local infections for second time
China recorded more imported cases of coronavirus than locally originated ones for a second time on Saturday, according to data released by the National Health Commission (NHC) on Sunday.
Mainland China had 20 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections on March 14, up from 11 cases a day earlier. Of Saturday’s cases, 16 involved travellers entering China from overseas, it said.
The remaining four cases were recorded in the city of Wuhan. Saturday also marked the 10th consecutive day in which Hubei province recorded zero new infections outside Wuhan, its provincial capital.
Of the 16 imported cases, five were found in the capital Beijing and three in Shanghai. The provinces of Zhejiang, Gansu and Guangdong respectively reported four, three and one cases.
00:30 GMT – Australia ‘national’ cabinet to meet on Sunday on coronavirus
Australia’s new national cabinet is set to meet on Sunday, as the country’s cases of coronavirus topped 250, to discuss its response to the outbreak.
The national cabinet, which includes federal, state and territory leaders, will hold its first meeting via teleconference on Sunday.
The government has already advised against non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people from Monday.
The meeting is expected to discuss whether schools should be closed and border controls further tightened to contain COVID-19.
“We are, rightly, keeping all options on the table, whether it’s in relation to travel or whether it’s in relation to schools. The schools’ question will be very much guided by the medical advice,” Health Minister Greg Hunt told ABC television.
“One of the things that they have talked about is not moving too early on something like that.”
00:15 GMT – US president tests negative for coronavirus
US President Donald Trump was tested for the coronavirus and the result was negative.
Read more here.
— Jeff Mason (@jeffmason1) March 14, 2020
00:00 GMT – Iranians ignoring calls to stay home, Qom shrines ordered shut
Iran has ordered the closure of religious shrines in the holy city of Qom, where the country’s coronavirus outbreak is thought to have begun.
It is also urging people to limit their movements and stay off the streets and has announced all construction work in the capital, Tehran will stop.
Al Jazeera’s Zein Basravi, who is in Iran, says there is much scepticism about the government’s response.
“Certainly, [the closures] are better later than never,” he said. “But critics will say it’s too little, too late, the damage has already been done, the virus has already spread throughout the country from Qom.”
Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.
I’m Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur.
It is the morning of March 15.
A summary of the latest developments:
You can read all the latest updates from yesterday (March 14) here.