WHO: ‘Test every suspected case’ of COVID-19 – Live updates

WHO urges nations to ramp up testing to contain spread of coronavirus as more governments impose lockdown, stop travel.

The World Health Organization has warned that the coronavirus pandemic is a “defining global health crisis of our time”, as it urged countries to test all suspected cases.

The United States and countries across Europe have closed schools, entertainment venues and all but essential services, in an effort to combat the virus.

Governments are limiting travel – both inward and outward – to curb the movement of people. South Korea and China, both wary of imported infections, have tightened requirements for international arrivals.

More cases are now being reported outside China, where the virus called COVID-19 first originated late last year, than inside.

Globally, the virus has now infected more than 168,000 people and killed at least 6,610, according to the WHO.

Here are the latest updates:

Monday, March 16

22:20 GMT – France to deploy 100,000 police to enforce lockdown

France will deploy 100,000 police to enforce a lockdown, and fixed checkpoints will be set up across the country.

“Stay at home,” Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said, adding that fines of up to 135 euros ($151) would be handed out to those who do not respect the new restrictions, which are centred on avoiding all but essential social contact.

Coronavirus has killed 148 people and infected more than 6,600 in France, where, along with Spain, infections and fatalities have been surging at a pace just days behind that of Italy, the epicentre of the outbreak in Europe.

20:08 GMT – Egypt reports two deaths, 40 new cases

Egypt reported 40 new confirmed cases and two more deaths because of coronavirus, bringing the total of COVID-19 related deaths in the country to four, the health ministry said in a statement.

The individuals were a 72-year-old German who died in Luxor and a 50-year-old Egyptian in Dakahlia governorate, the statement added.

19:55 GMT – Serbia postpones general elections

Serbia’s state election commission has postponed the April 26 general elections due to the coronavirus outbreak and until after the abolishment of the state of emergency, it said in a statement.

“All the deadlines regarding the election process will be set after the end of the state of emergency,” it said.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, who is also the head of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party, on Sunday declared the state of emergency in a bid to halt spreading of the coronavirus disease.

19:50 GMT – Irish PM expects 15,000 cases by end of March

Ireland expects its number of coronavirus cases to increase to around 15,000 by the end of the month from 169 currently, Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said, predicting it would be dealing with the pandemic for many months.

“We would expect that by the end of the month there would be maybe 15,000 people who would have tested positive for Covid-19, most of those will not need treatment but a proportion will need to be hospitalised and we need to make sure that it doesn’t happen at the same time,” Vardkar told a news conference.

How countries across Europe are dealing with coronavirus

19:37 GMT –  France reports 21 more coronavirus deaths

France’s Public Health Authority reported 21 new deaths from coronavirus taking the total to 148, an increase of around 16 percent.

It said on its website that the number of cases had risen to 6,633, up from 5,423 on Sunday, which is a rise of more than 20% in 24 hours.

19:33 GMT – Trump urges no gatherings of more than 10 people

US President Donald Trump issued new guidelines to help fight the coronavirus, including a recommendation that people avoid social gatherings of more than 10 people, discretionary travel, and going to bars, restaurants and food courts.

At a White House news briefing, Trump said the new guidelines from his coronavirus task force applied for 15 days and were meant to slow the spread of the virus.

In an answer to a question about the US economy, the Republican president said the country “may be” heading towards recession amid the pandemic, which he called an “invisible enemy”.

19:10 GMT – France’s Macron orders strict restrictions on movement

French President Emmanuel Macron has announced strict reductions in movement starting from midday (11:00 GMT) on Tuesday, for at least 15 days, saying “we are at war”

In a televised address to the nation, Macron said people should stay at home and only go out for essential activities. He said that anyone flouting the restrictions would be punished.

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks to the media, after casting his ballot during the first round of the mayoral elections in Le Touquet
Macron says violations of new rules on fighting virus will be punished [File: Pascal Rossignol/Reuters]

Entry into the European Union’s Schengen zone will also be closed from Tuesday, the French president said.

Macron postponed the second round of the municipal elections. He added that all reforms currently under way would be suspended, and the government will be bringing emergency legislation before parliament.

19:07 GMT – Dominican Republic reports first coronavirus death

The Dominican Republic has registered its first death from coronavirus, a 47-year-old woman who recently returned from Spain, the health ministry said.

Health Minister Rafael Sanchez told a news conference that the Caribbean country had also detected 10 further infections on top of the 11 already identified.

Among the new ones was the first person-to-person transmission recorded in the country.

18:54 GMT – MLB opening day postponed indefinitely

Major League Baseball has now delayed its opening day indefinitely because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The season was set to open on March 26, with all 30 teams in action, but last Thursday, MLB canceled spring training and delayed the start of the season by at least two weeks.

“MLB will keep fans updated on decisions regarding plans for the 2020 schedule in the days and weeks ahead,” the league said in a statement.

Boston Fenway Park [Saba Aziz/Al Jazeera]
The 162-game season was set to kick off on March 26 will all 30 teams taking the field [File: Saba Aziz/Al Jazeera]

18:44 GMT – Poland’s environment minister tests positive

Poland’s Environment Minister Michal Wos has tested positive for coronavirus, he said in a tweet.

“I feel good … and I express solidarity with all those who are sick,” he wrote.

Poland has 156 confirmed coronavirus cases and three deaths so far.

The 162-game season, which was set to kick off on March 26 with all 30 teams taking the field

18:32 GMT – Germany reports jump in cases to 6,012, 13 deaths

Germany reported a jump in coronavirus cases by more than 1,100 to now 6,012 compared to the previous day, according to Robert Koch Institute for disease control said.

The number of confirmed deaths related to the coronavirus rose by one to now 13, with the three most populous states of North Rhine-Westphalia, Bavaria and Baden-Wuerttemberg among the most affected regions, the institute added.

18:31 GMT –  Russia bans entry of foreign nationals until May

Russia will ban the entry of foreign nationals and stateless people from March 18 to May 1 in response to the coronavirus outbreak, the government said.

The ban will not apply to diplomatic representatives, airplane crew members and some other categories of people, it said.

Russia has reported 93 cases of the virus so far.

18:18 GMT – British actor Idris Elba tests positive

British actor and musician Idris Elba said he has tested positive for COVID-19.

Elba, a star of “Avengers: Infinity War,” said in a video posted on Twitter that he had no symptoms so far, but was isolating himself from others.

“I got tested because I realised I was exposed to someone who had also tested positive,” the 47-year-old celebrity said in the video with his wife next to him.

Here is a list of all the celebrities and politicians who have been infected.

17:45 GMT – Canada closes border to foreigners, except US citizens

Canada has closed its borders to all foreign nationals, except US citizens, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged people to stay at home to help stem the spread of the new coronavirus.

“We will be denying entry into Canada to people who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents,” Trudeau told reporters at a news conference outside his home, where he is under self-quarantine after his wife tested positive for the virus.

He said Americans were exempted from the border ban.

Trudeau also said he will restrict international flights to four Canadian airports from March 18. Domestic flights will not be affected.

17:25 GMT – India closes Taj Mahal to visitors

India will close the iconic Taj Mahal to visitors from Tuesday as part of measures to try and combat the coronavirus pandemic, the tourism ministry said.

“All ticketed monuments and all other museums have been directed to be closed until March 31,” Tourism Minister Prahlad Patel tweeted.

Most schools and entertainment facilities, including cinemas, have already been closed across India, which has reported 114 positive cases and two deaths from the virus.

The Mughal-era monument is the most visited in India with more than 7 million tourists visiting the UNESCO World Heritage Site last year. [Pawan Sharma/AFP]

17:25 GMT – Turkey bans flights with more countries, including UK, UAE

Turkey will impose flight bans to six more countries including the United Kingdom and United Arab Emirates, making the total number of countries 20, the country’s health minister announced.

Switzerland, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Ireland would also be added to the list, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca told reporters.

Turkey has identified a total of 18 coronavirus cases, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.

17:18 GMT – Italy virus deaths surpass 2,000

Italy has reported 349 new deaths from the novel coronavirus, taking its total since last month to 2,158, the most after China.

The number of official COVID-19 fatalities has more than doubled since Thursday, when Italy’s toll topped 1,000 for the first time.

Italy now has 27,980 infections, compared to 15,113 four days ago.

17:12 GMT – Tokyo Olympics boxing qualifiers suspended

The European, American and final world qualifying boxing tournaments for the Tokyo Olympic Games have been suspended due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, the International Olympic Committee said.

The IOC said the European qualifier in London that was already under way and due to run to March 24 would end after Tuesday’s evening session.

It said it would provide details on the qualification process for the other regions at a later date.

General view of the hall during Asia and Oceania boxing qualifiers for Tokyo 2020 Olympics at the Prince Hamzah Hall in Amman
The Asia and Oceania boxing qualifiers for Tokyo 2020 Olympics were relocated from Wuhan, China to Amman, Jordan [Muhammad Hamed/Reuters]

17:07 GMT – Iraq suspends flights at domestic airports

Iraq has suspended flights at its domestic airports from March 17 to March 24 as the coronavirus spreads, the civil aviation authority said according to the state news agency.

On Sunday, Iraq suspended all flights to and from Baghdad international airport over the same period.

17:00 GMT – UK PM tells Britons to stop non-essential contact

British people need to stop non-essential contact with each other and avoid unnecessary travel to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

“Now is the time for everyone to stop non-essential contact with others and to stop all unnecessary travel,” Johnson said at a news conference.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds a news conference addressing the government's response to the coronavirus outbreak, at Downing Street in London, Britain March 12, 2020. REUTERS/Simon Dawson
Johnson holds a news conference addressing the government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, at Downing Street in London [File: Simon Dawson/Reuters]

“We need people to start working from home where they possibly can,” he added. “And you should avoid pubs, clubs, theatres and other such social venues.”

Read more here.

16:34 GMT – EU chief proposes ban on non-essential entry

The European Union’s top official proposed a 30-day ban on anyone entering the bloc unless their travel is essential, while insisting on the need to keep the internal borders between the 27 member states open as much as possible.

Speaking after an extraordinary video-conference meeting of the leaders of the G-7 countries, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said travel restrictions should be in place for an initial period that can be prolonged if necessary.

“The less travel, the more we can contain the virus,” von der Leyen said.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen presents the EU executive's economic response to the coronavirus epidemic, in Brussels, Belgium March 13, 2020. REUTERS/Johanna Geron
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen presents the EU executive’s economic response to the coronavirus epidemic, in Brussels, Belgium, on March 13, 2020 [Johanna Geron/Reuters]

16:33 GMT –  Guatemala to close borders for two weeks

Guatemala will close its borders for the next two weeks as part of measures aimed at containing coronvirus, President Alejandro Giammattei said.

“From tomorrow, we will be cut off from the rest of the world,” he said in a national televised address.

16:32 GMT – France to postpone second round of local elections: Reuters

France will postpone the second round of mayoral elections to June 21 due to the coronavirus outbreak, two political sources told Reuters New Agency.

Sources also said that the results of first round of local elections on Sunday would remain valid.

French President Emmanuel Macron is due to make a televised address to the nation at 19:00 GMT on Monday.

16:23 GMT – Switzerland declares state of emergency

The Swiss government has declared a state of emergency lasting until April 19 in a bid to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

The government banned all public and private events from midnight and mobilised up to 8,000 members of the military after declaring the rapidly spreading coronavirus an “exceptional” emergency.

“A strong reaction is needed across the country. And we need it now,” Swiss President Simonetta Sommaruga told a press conference.

Lebanon state of emergency over coronavirus

16:16 Portugal, Spain suspend passenger air, rail traffic

Portugal’s Interior Minister Eduardo Cabrita said that all passenger air and rail traffic with neighbouring Spain will be suspended until April 15 from 23:00 GMT due to the coronavirus outbreak after an agreement between the two countries.

Spain’s Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska said it would establish controls at land borders and will only allow Spaniards, residents of Spain, cross-border workers, diplomats and people justifying force majeure into the country.

Separately, Portugal’s Health Minister Marta Temido said an 80-year-old man died of the coronavirus on Monday – the country’s first fatality since the epidemic began.

16:00 GMT – WHO chief: ‘Test, test, test’ for coronavirus

The World Health Organization (WHO) called on all countries to ramp up their testing programmes as the best way to slow the advance of the coronavirus pandemic.

“You cannot fight a fire blindfolded… We have a simple message for all countries – test, test, test,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference in Geneva.

Without testing, cases could not be isolated and the chain of infection would not be broken, he added.

15:55 GMT – Sudan closes airports and borders

Sudan’s ruling sovereign council closed all airports, ports and land crossings and declared a public health emergency over fears about the spread of coronavirus.

Only humanitarian, commercial and technical support shipments would be excluded from the restrictions, according to a spokesman for the ruling council, in charge of the country since the ouster of veteran ruler Omar al-Bashir.

A military spokesman told state news agency SUNA in a separate statement that cadets and trainees at military institutes will be given precautionary time off.

15:21 GMT – Afghan patients break out of quarantine

Dozens of Afghan patients held in isolation, including at least one confirmed to have the coronavirus, escaped from a quarantine facility in western Afghanistan after breaking windows and attacking hospital staff, officials said.

Dr. Abdul Hakim Tamana, head of the health department of Herat province, said the 38 people who escaped had all recently returned from Iran.

15:20 GMT – Finland to close schools and universities: PM

Finland’s government will pass emergency legislation on Tuesday to close all its schools and universities from Wednesday among other measures in response to the spread of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on Monday.

There were 272 confirmed coronavirus cases and no linked deaths in Finland as of Monday according to health authority.

15:13 GMT – Turkey to temporarily close gyms, cafes, cinemas

Turkey is temporarily closing cafes, restaurants, cinemas, theatres, gyms and other venues as of midnight on Monday as a precaution to halt the spread of coronavirus, Turkish interior ministry said.

In a statement, the ministry also said that all gatherings and activities by non-governmental organisations will be postponed.

15:12 GMT – Italy death toll rises by 202: Reuters

The death toll the coronavirus outbreak in the northern Italian region of Lombardy has risen over the past day to 1,420 from 1,218, two sources with access to the data told Reuters New Agency.

The number of new cases in the region, which includes Italy’s financial capital Milan, had risen by 1,377 over the past 24 hours – a slower rate of increase than seen recently.

The latest national death toll figures are due to be released later in the day. On Sunday, the country-wide tally stood at 1,809.

15:12 GMT – Germany to shutter most shops, bars, churches

Germany’s federal and state governments have agreed sweeping rules shutting everything from non-essential shops to bars, clubs, theatres, museums, brothels and churches in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus, the federal government said.

In a statement, the government said grocery shops, markets, banks, pharmacies and delivery services would remain open, while restaurants and other eating establishments would generally be allowed to open between 6am and 6pm.

14:58 GMT – Amid coronavirus crisis, airlines urge governments to help

Airlines have made unprecedented cuts to flights, costs and staffing, stepping up calls for emergency aid as coronavirus lockdowns and new travel restrictions hit more important routes.

Read more here.

British airways
A British Airways plane taxis past tail fins of parked aircraft to the runway near Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport in London, Britain [File: Simon Dawson/Reuters]

14:50 GMT – Make us ventilators to fight virus, UK asks Rolls Royce

The United Kingdom has asked manufacturers including Ford, Honda and Rolls Royce to help make health equipment including ventilators to cope with the coronavirus outbreak – and will look at using hotels as hospitals.

Read more here.

14:50 GMT – Qatar reports 38 new cases, total now 439

Qatar has reported 38 new coronavirus cases, taking the total number of infections to 439, according to the health ministry.

The new cases had contact with expatriate workers, who are currently quarantined, the ministry said in a statement.

Also three cases have been registered for Qatari citizens returning from travel and from several countries, includuding the United Kingdom, Spain and Switzerland.

14:43 GMT – US Supreme Court to postpone oral arguments

The US Supreme Court will postpone its next session of oral arguments scheduled for later this month in an effort to combat the spread of the coronavirus and protect the justices and the court’s staff, a spokeswoman said.

The announcement to delay the arguments, scheduled to begin on March 23, marked an increase in the court’s response to the pandemic after closing its building to the public last Thursday.

Supreme Court Hears Arguments In Asylum Seekers Right To Appeal Case
The US Supreme Court closed its building to the public last week [File: Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP]

14:36 GMT – Malaysia announces two-week lockdown

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has announced a drastic two-week lockdown in the country starting on Wednesday, following a sharp spike in the number of virus cases.

Muhyiddin said religious institutions, schools, businesses and government offices will be shut from March 18 until March 31.

Travel in and out of the country will also be banned. Only essential services including supermarkets, banks, gas stations and pharmacies will be allowed to stay open.

14:22 GMT – Algeria suspends travel to Europe over coronavirus

Algeria’s Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad announced a suspension of all scheduled travel links with Europe in a bid to forestall the spread of coronavirus.

The measure, to take effect from Thursday, will hit all “air and sea travel to and from European countries”, the prime minister’s office said.

“This exceptional suspension… will be accompanied by a repatriation plan for our citizens currently in the countries concerned,” it said.

14:19 GMT – Bundesliga suspended until at least April 2

Germany’s top-flight Bundesliga and second division football has been suspended at least until April 2 due to the coronavirus, league CEO Christian Seifert said.

Germany’s top two divisions did not play this weekend after play was suspended due to the outbreak of the virus.

Seifert said any decision on the future of the season would be taken in the week of March 30.

Bundesliga - Borussia Moenchengladbach v FC Cologne

14:18 GMT – UK coronavirus cases rise to 1,543

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the United Kingdom has risen to 1,543, the health ministry said.

The number was up from 1,372 on Sunday. The number of deaths remained at 35, it said.

14:02 GMT – Moscow bans outdoor events amid coronavirus

Moscow has banned all outdoor events and limited indoor public events to no more than 50 people until April 10, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said in a blog post on his personal website, amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Sobyanin also said that all state schools in the city would be closed from March 21 until April 12.

14:00 GMT – Spain’s Catalan leader says he has coronavirus

The regional leader of Spain’s Catalonia, Quim Torra, said that he had tested positive for the coronavirus and that he was going into self-isolation in a government building.

Catalan deputy head of government, Pere Aragones, announced on Sunday that he had also tested positive.

Catalan Leader Quim Torra talks to al jazeera
Quim Torra is the second politician of the Catalan government to test positive for the coronavirus [File: Al Jazeera screengrab]

13:50 GMT – Chile to close borders to foreign travellers

Chile will close its borders to foreigners beginning on Wednesday to limit the spread of coronavirus in the South American nation, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera said.

He also confirmed 155 cases of the virus in Chile.

13:40 GMT – Women’s tennis tour suspended until May 2

The Women’s Tennis Association has suspended play until May 2 as the coronavirus pandemic continued its unprecedented shutdown of world sport.

WTA said tournaments in Stuttgart, Istanbul and Prague will “not be held as scheduled”.

“We will make a decision in the week ahead regarding the remaining WTA European claycourt events and will continue to monitor this situation closely and its impact on the 2020 WTA Tour season,” said the WTA statement.

We are keeping a list of all the sporting events cancelled and postponed due to the pandemic.

13:35 GMT – Trading halted on Wall Street as stocks tumble

The S&P 500 tumbled 8 percent at opening, triggering an automatic 15-minute halt of Wall Street’s three main indexes for the third time in six days, as traders reacted to drastic weekend measures from the Federal Reserve to stave off a global recession.

The second emergency cut in interest rates by the US central bank in a fortnight only added to the sense of panic among investors, worried that the coronavirus pandemic is paralysing supply chains and squeezing company finances.

NYSE trader
A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) shortly after the opening of trading in New York, US [File: Lucas Jackson/Reuters]

At 9:30 am ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 2,250.46 points, or 9.71%, at 20,935.16, the S&P 500 was down 220.55 points, or 8.14%, at 2,490.47 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 482.15 points, or 6.12%, at 7,392.73.

If the S&P 500 falls 13% once trading resumes, it will trigger a level-2 circuit breaker and halt trading again for 15 minutes.

Read more here.

13:20 GMT – Fifteen more people test positive in Pakistan

The number of coronavirus cases in Pakistan have increased to 122, with 76 of those among people who were released after a 14-day quarantine at Taftan on the Pakistan-Iran border.

13:10 GMT – Dutch coronavirus infections rise to 1,413

The number of confirmed coronavirus infections in the Netherlands have risen by 278 to 1,413, the National Institute for Public Health (RIVM) said.

The death toll rose by four to 24 from Sunday, the RIVM said.

Here is a list all the countries with confirmed cases.

13:09 GMT – Egypt to halt all flights from Thursday

Egypt will halt all air traffic from its airports starting on Thursday until March 31 to prevent the spread of coronavirus, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said.

Egypt will sanitise hotels during the closure, he said in a televised news conference, adding that tourists currently staying in the country would be able to complete their vacation.

Madbouly said Egypt’s strategic reserves of key commodities would last for months and there was no need for people to stock up.

13:00 GMT – US Fed’s ‘desperate’ move unnerves global markets

Asian shares plunged after the United States Federal Reserve’s emergency move to slash its key interest rate to near zero failed to inspire confidence in a market dominated by mounting fear of the widespread effect of the coronavirus pandemic.

Central banks around the region announced measures to ensure that lenders had enough money to cover larger-than-usual demands for cash by companies stung by the almost complete shutdown of some businesses as part of measures to contain the virus.

Asian stocks
People wearing protective face masks walk past an electronic display showing Asian markets indices outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, following an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) [Edgard Garrido/Reuters]

Read more here.

This is Saba Aziz in Doha taking over from my colleague Tamila Varshalomidze.

12:55 GMT – Somalia confirms first coronavirus case

Somalia’s health ministry said the country registered its first case of the new coronavirus.

12:52 GMT – Morocco to close all mosques, eateries, entertainment venues

Morocco will close all mosques from today as a protective measures against the coronavirus outbreak, the country’s supreme religious council said.

Morocco will also close eateries, cinemas, theatres, sports, public clubs, baths, and other entertainment venues starting from Monday, the Interior Ministry said earlier in the day.

Markets, and shops selling necessary goods, as well as restaurants offering a delivery service, are exempt, the ministry said.

People gather at Jamaa Lafna square in Marrakech
People gather at Jamaa Lafna square in Marrakech, Morocco [Youssef Boudlal/Reuters]

12:50 GMT – Lufthansa’s Austrian unit suspends all flights

Lufthansa’s Austrian unit Austrian Airlines said it would temporarily stop flight operations due to worldwide travel restrictions and falling passenger numbers from Wednesday night.

The halt was currently planned to last until March 28, the carrier said.

12:16 GMT – Tanzania confirms first case of coronavirus

Tanzania has confirmed it’s first case of coronavirus, said Gerald Chami, a spokesman at the ministry of health.

12:15 GMT – Singapore reports 17 new cases of coronavirus

Singapore confirmed 17 more cases of the coronavirus, its health ministry said, marking the city-state’s biggest daily jump.

Singapore has reported a total 243 infections to date. Eleven of Monday’s cases were imported.

12:14 GMT – Spain’s Civil Guards seize 150,000 surgical masks for health services

Spain’s police have requisitioned 150,000 surgical masks from a factory in the southern city of Jaen to supply health services,  the Civil Guards police force said in a statement.

12:12 GMT – Jewish worshippers urged not to kiss Western Wall

The Jewish faithful should refrain from kissing the stones of the Western Wall, the chief rabbi of the Jerusalem site said.

“Do not kiss the Western Wall stones,” the site’s rabbi, Shmuel Rabinowitz, instructed Jews in a statement. Worshippers should maintain “proper distance” between one another and “abide by required hygiene practices,” he said.

The Western Wall abuts the sacred compound known to Jews as Har ha-Bayit, or Temple Mount, and to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif, or The Noble Sanctuary.

12:04 GMT – Kazakhs told to work remotely where possible

Kazakhstan instructed local companies to allow their employees to work remotely where possible due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“Today all companies, state-owned and private, that can switch to remote work must do so,” Labour and Social Protection Minister Birzhan Nurymbetov told a briefing.

A woman wearing a protective face mask play with a child in Almaty
A woman plays with a child near the installation of a squirrel in Almaty, Kazakhstan [Pavel Mikheyev/Reuters]

12:02 GMT – Spain’s Basque region postpones elections

Spain’s Basque Country has decided to postpone regional elections originally scheduled for April 5 because of the coronavirus emergency, a spokesman for the Basque region government said.

The main political parties in the region agreed with the regional leader to reschedule the polls after the current state of emergency has been lifted, according to Spanish newspaper ABC.

The Basque country is the region with the second highest number of coronavirus cases in Spain.

12:00 GMT – Greece imposes 14-day quarantine on new arrivals, shuts shops

Greece said people arriving in the country from abroad will be placed in a two-week quarantine, while shops will be shut effective on Wednesday.

Supermarkets, pharmacy stores and food delivery services were exempted from the latest measures, the country’s alternate government spokesman said.

11:57 GMT – Pakistan’s spike in cases raises quarantine concerns

Pakistan has recorded its biggest single-day spike in coronavirus infections, taking the tally to 106, amid reports of ineffective quarantine procedures as 61 of those are reported to be among those who had been held at a quarantine camp at the country’s Taftan border crossing with Iran.

Read more here.

Pakistan quarantine conditions [STR/Al Jazeera]
Pakistan quarantine conditions [Stringer/Al Jazeera]

11:47 GMT – Kuwait, Jordan report new coronavirus cases

A spokesman for Kuwait’s health ministry said another 11 people were infected with the new coronavirus.

Jordan also confirmed three new infections in the country, bringing the total infections in the Arab state to 15, country’s official news agency Petra quoted health sources as saying.

The new cases include two Jordanian citizens who recently visited Spain.

11:25 GMT – Armenia declares state of emergency for one month

The Armenian government declared a state of emergency from March 16 until April 16 to slow the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.

Armenia has reported 30 coronavirus cases so far. One patient has recovered, and more than 300 people remain in quarantine, authorities say.

All educational institutions in the country are shut, while the borders with neighbouring Georgia and Iran are closed.

11:00 GMT – Germany advises against all non-essential travel abroad

Germany is advising its citizens to refrain from all non-essential trips abroad due to the spread of the coronavirus, a spokeswoman for the foreign ministry said.

She added there were currently thousands of Germans abroad who would like to return and that the ministry was currently in discussions with airline Lufthansa about repatriating them.

People wear masks as they walk in front of the Ruins of St. Paul’s, following the coronavirus outbreak in Macau, China February 5, 2020. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
People wear masks in front of the Ruins of St Paul’s in Macau, China [Tyrone Siu/Reuters]

10:52 GMT – Spain’s coronavirus tally rises to 8,744 cases

Spain’s tally of coronavirus cases rose to 8,744 and the number of fatalities rose to 297, said Fernando Simon, the head of the country’s health emergency centre.

The previous tally was 7,753 cases on Sunday, with 288 fatalities.

10:50 GMT – Iran announces 129 new virus deaths

Iran state TV says new coronavirus has killed another 129 people, pushing death toll to 853 amid 14,991 confirmed cases.

“Our plea is that everyone take this virus seriously and in no way attempt to travel to any province,” health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said in a televised news conference.

10:45 GMT – Hungary to shut borders to international passengers

Hungary will close its borders for international passengers, close cultural and sports events and establishments and limit the opening hours of restaurants, Prime Minister Viktor Orban told Parliament.

All shops will be shut except food stores, pharmacies and drug stores, he said, asking those over 70 to stay at home and all events to be cancelled except for family gatherings. Restaurants must close at 3 pm.

epa08295360 A Hungarian policeman wears a protictive face mask at the border crossing into Ukraine in Zahony, northeastern Hungary, 15 March 2020. The Ukrainian authorities have closed their county bo
A Hungarian policeman at the border crossing into Ukraine in Zahony, northeastern Hungary [Attila Balazs/EPA]

10:43 GMT – Dubai closes bars, lounges with immediate effect

Dubai is closing all bars and lounges in the emirate with immediate effect until the end of March due to the coronavirus outbreak, according to a government circular.

Popular Dubai bar Barasti said on social media it was closing until the end of the month, in line with a directive from the authorities.

10:40 GMT – South Africa revokes 10,000 visas to China, Iran

South Africa will revoke nearly 10,000 visas issued this year to people from China and Iran, and visas will now be required for other high-risk countries that had been visa-free, including Italy and the United States.

10:36 GMT – Fiat Chrysler suspending production at most European plants

Italian-American auto giant Fiat Chrysler said it was suspending production at most of its European plants until March 27 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The temporary suspension, which will be in effect through March 27, 2020… enables (Fiat Chrysler) to effectively respond to the interruption in market demand by ensuring the optimization of supply,” the company said in a statement.

10:33 GMT – China sends flight to Italy to pick up citizens: CCTV

China has sent a flight to Milan, Italy to pick up citizens and overseas students from coronavirus epidemic-struck areas, state-run CCTV reported.

CCTV said the flight carried 125 passengers and went to Wenzhou city in Zhejiang province.

“The relevant departments have implemented health checks on all passengers, and adopted medical inspections and centralized observations,” said the CCTV post.

10:31 GMT – German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg to stop air travel

The southwestern German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg will halt air travel in coming days due to the spread of the coronavirus, a spokesman said.

The government is looking into exceptions for air freight, he added.

Baden-Wuerttemberg, home to some of Germany’s largest companies, is among the hardest-hit German states and is home to Stuttgart and Karlsruhe airports.

10:27 GMT – Doctor’s note: Does ibuprofen make coronavirus worse?

Don’t take ibuprofen. That was the advice tweeted by France’s health minister, Olivier Veran, a couple of days ago. Veran, who also happens to be a qualified doctor, wrote: “Anti-inflammatories (ibuprofen, cortisone …) could aggravate the infection. If you have a fever, take paracetamol.”

Read more here.

10:15 GMT – China tightens quarantine for international arrivals

China tightened quarantine measures for international arrivals as the country worries about a rise in imported cases of the deadly coronavirus and anger rages online at how Europe and the United States are handling the pandemic.

After declaring they had “basically” curbed the spread of the disease within China, where the virus first emerged, authorities have now ordered international arrivals into the nation’s capital from Monday onwards to go into centralised quarantine locations for 14 days.

10:13 GMT – Thailand records 33 new coronavirus cases

Thailand recorded 33 new coronavirus cases in the largest daily jump in infections, bringing the Southeast Asian country’s tally to 147, Public Health Ministry spokesman Rungrueng Kitphati said.

The 33 new cases were roughly divided into two categories: 16 had come into contact with previously confirmed cases and 17 others had recently arrived in Thailand from foreign countries or were Thai people who work closely with foreigners, Rungrueng said at a press conference.

10:10 GMT – Ukraine capital shuts down bars, restaurants, shopping malls

Ukraine’s capital Kyiv announced the closure of bars, restaurants, cafes and shopping malls from March 17 to contain the spread of the coronavirus, and said people’s movement to other towns should be restricted as much as possible.

Lviv and Odessa, two other major Ukrainian cities, are also introducing similar measures.

Ukraine has recorded five cases of the coronavirus, including one death. It earlier announced a ban on the entry of foreign nationals.

10:08 GMT – Ghana closes schools, bans gatherings over coronavirus

Ghana closed all schools and universities and suspended public events to stop the spread of coronavirus as a string of African nations imposed tighter restrictions to stem the spread of the global pandemic.

President Nana Akufo-Addo announced in an address to the west African nation that the authorities were shutting schools and universities “until further notice”.

Public gatherings – including conferences, religious services, sports matches and political rallies – have also been suspended for four weeks, he said.

10:02 GMT – Turkey shutters bars, nightclubs in all 81 provinces

Turkey’s Interior Ministry ordered the closure of bars, discos and nightclubs in all 81 provinces as today to contain the spread of coronavirus.

It didn’t say how long the ban, in effect from 10 am (07:00 GMT), would last.

The government had previously closed schools and universities and suspended flights to several countries.

Tbilisi Georgia coronavirus
An employee spraying disinfectant inside a metro station in Tbilisi, Georgia [Irakli Gedenidze/Reuters]

09:54 GMT – Georgia bans all foreigners from entering country

Georgia banned all foreigners from entering the country over coronavirus concerns the prime minister’s spokesman, Irakli Chikovani, told a briefing.

Georgia has reported 33 confirmed cases of coronavirus.

09:49 GMT – Concern mounts of ‘catastrophic’ coronavirus outbreak in Syria

As the coronavirus takes a firmer hold across the Middle East, there is growing concern that Syria might face a major outbreak – a “catastrophic” prospect in a country ravaged by nine years of war.

Read more here.

09:45 GMT – Taiwan reports 8 new virus cases, widens travel warning

Taiwan reported eight new cases of coronavirus, its biggest daily rise, though all of them involved people who had arrived from overseas. The total number of cases in Taiwan stood at 67.

On Saturday, Taiwan said it would begin requiring a 14-day quarantine for all people arriving from Europe’s Schengen border-free travel zone as well as Britain and Ireland.

And in a statement on Monday, the government said it was expanding its travel warnings, to advise people not to go unless they absolutely must to 13 Eastern European countries, 15 Middle Eastern countries, five North African countries and a further nine in Central Asia.

Soldiers from the militaryi´s chemical units take part in a drill organised by the New Taipei City government to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Xindian district on March 14, 2020.
Soldiers from the military chemical units take part in a drill organised by the New Taipei City government [Sam Yeh/AFP]

09:44 GMT – Malaysia reports 125 new coronavirus cases

Malaysia reported 125 new coronavirus cases, with most linked to a religious gathering attended by around 16,000 people.

The new cases bring the total tally to 553 in the country, which remains the worst affected in Southeast Asia.

09:43 GMT – Liberia reports first coronavirus case

Liberia reported its first coronavirus case, a ministry official said.

“I can confirm that we have a case and we are managing it,” said Chief Medical Officer Francis Kateh. He didn’t provide further detail on the patient’s identity.

08:50 GMT – Half a billion students miss school: UN

More than half a billion children and youth are unable to go to school because of the coronavirus, the UN education agency said, as the outbreak continues to spread to new countries.

Read more here.

A toursit wears a protective face mask as he visits the old town in Stockholm on March 13, 2020. (Photo by Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP)
A tourist wears a protective face mask as he visits the old town in Stockholm [Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP]

08:34 GMT – Sweden launches crisis package worth over $30bn

The Swedish government presented a package of measures worth more than 300 billion Swedish crowns ($30.9bn) to support the economy in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

Under the package the central government will assume the full cost of sick leave from companies through April and May and bear the brunt of the cost of temporary redundancies due to the crisis.

08:32 GMT – Northern Irish mother launches legal challenge to shut schools

A Northern Irish mother whose daughter suffers from underlying health problems and is at greater risk from coronavirus will start an emergency legal challenge on Monday against Britain’s decision to keep schools open, her lawyers said.

The mother, whose child attends a primary school in the border county of Armagh, put the region’s education authorities and its ministers for health and eduction on notice late on Sunday of her intention to apply for an emergency judicial review.

“It is clear that the respective public bodies have each failed in their respective obligations to our client, and indeed all children, by continuing to require their attendance at school in circumstances in which they would be at an increased risk of contracting the condition,” lawyer Darragh Mackin said in a statement.

08:25 GMT – Spain’s measures to be extended beyond 15 days

It is “obvious” that measures imposed to restrict the spread of coronavirus in Spain will have to be extended beyond the planned 15 day period, Minister of Transport Jose Luis Abalos said in an interview with national radio RNE.

Abalos said there was no fixed calendar but that a 15-day state of emergency would not be sufficient to win the battle against the virus.

08:11 GMT – Bahrain reports first Gulf death from coronavirus

Bahrain reported its first coronavirus death, the health ministry said on Twitter, the first death from COVID-19 in the Gulf states.

The deceased was a 65-year-old Bahraini citizen who had underlying health conditions.

Doctors check a traveller in their designated residential area to check on residents who returned from Iran if anyone is infected with the novel coronavirus, at Isa Town Health Center, south of Manama
Doctors check on residents who returned from Iran at Isa Town Health Center, Manama [Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters]

08:03 GMT – Bank of Japan unveils emergency measures

The Bank of Japan said it would double its annual capacity to purchase exchange-traded funds and Japan real estate investment funds, the latest central bank to take emergency action.

The bank said it had decided unanimously to “actively” purchase ETFs (exchange-traded funds) and J-REITs (investment funds tied to Japanese real estate) with an annual upper limit of 12 trillion yen ($112bn) and 180 billion yen ($1.6bn) respectively.

The BoJ said it would also introduce a new operation to provide loans against corporate debt and raised its annual limit for corporate bond purchases by one trillion yen to 4.2 trillion yen. But it left its main interest rate unchanged at minus 0.1 percent and kept its upper limit for purchasing government bonds at 80 trillion yen.

07:54 GMT – France says coronavirus situation ‘deteriorating very fast’

The coronavirus outbreak in France is “very worrying” and “deteriorating very fast”, the head of the country’s health service said.

“The number of cases double every three days,” Jerome Salomon said on France Inter. “There is a real worry that the speed of the outbreak could saturate hospitals and this is something we absolutely want to avoid,” Salomon said.

“This is why we must do everything to slow down the outbreak,” he said. “Each Frenchman and Frenchwoman must tell themselves every morning: How can I reduce by a third or fourth the number of people I approach? Remain at home, it’s as simple as that.”

07:43 GMT – Philippine president to impose quarantine across Luzon

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will impose an “enhanced community quarantine” across the country’s entire main island of Luzon, his spokesman said, adding to existing measures aimed at containing the spread of coronavirus.

More details would follow, Salvador Panelo told reporters in a text message, without elaborating.

Panelo had earlier said a “total lockdown” of Metropolitan Manila was among options available in what he said was “a matter of national survival”.

Americans take serious about stocking supplies due to coronavirus outbreak
A lot of items are out of stock at stores in Weehawken, New Jersey [Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu]

07:36 GMT – NYC, four US states shut bars, restaurants

Illinois, Ohio, Massachusetts, Washington state and New York City are among the places that ordered bars to close and restaurants to stop dine-in service. Takeout and delivery will still be allowed.

“The time for persuasion and public appeals is over,” Illinois Governor JB Pritzker said. “This is not a joke. No one is immune to this.”

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio issued a statement saying he will limit the city’s 27,000 restaurants, bars and cafes to food takeout and delivery starting Tuesday. Nightclubs, movie theatres, small theatre houses, and concert venues will have to close.

People pose for photos with the Charging Bull statue in New York’s Financial District, Sunday, March 15, 2020. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo Cuomo said Saturday that more than 600 New Yorkers have been d
People pose for photos with the Charging Bull statue in New York’s Financial District [Richard Drew/AP]

07:20 GMT – US Peace Corps suspends global operations

US humanitarian group the Peace Corps said it will temporarily suspend all global operations and evacuate its volunteers.

“As COVID-19 continues to spread and international travel becomes more and more challenging by the day, we are acting now to … prevent a situation where volunteers are unable to leave their host countries,” Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen said in a letter to volunteers posted on its website.

The group will return to normal operations when conditions permit, Olsen said, adding that host country staff will remain in their current positions.

07:05 GMT – Member of Iranian clerical assembly dies from virus

A 78-year-old member of the Iranian clerical body that chooses the country’s supreme leader has died COVID-19, the semi-official Fars and Tasnim news agencies reported.

Ayatollah Hashem Bathaei, a low-profile, moderate member of the Assembly of Experts, was the latest of several senior Iranian officials to have been infected in the worsening outbreak.

The clerical assembly has the authority to appoint or remove the supreme leader, who has the final say on all major policies.

07:00 GMT – Czech authorities seal off some towns to prevent coronavirus spread

Czech authorities sealed off an area in the east of the country to prevent the coronavirus from spreading, the mayor of a town in the region said.

The government tightened restrictions to combat the outbreak, banning people from moving around except for work, shopping and some other limited activities until March 24.

“Unicov together with Cervenka, Litovel and all local affiliates were closed off as of 3:00 a.m. by the order of the regional public health office. The reason is to prevent the Covid-19 disease from spreading,” Unicov mayor Radek Vincour said on the town’s website.

06:15 GMT

I’ll be handing the blog to my colleague Tamila Varshalomidze shortly.

A quick summary of what has been happening this morning:

New York is closing schools, restaurants and bars as it steps up efforts to curb the spread of the virus. The outbreak also dominated the first head-to-head debate between Democratic candidates for the presidency Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.

New Zealand is banning public gatherings and a host of countries, including South Korea and China, are tightening restrictions on travellers from overseas.

Turkey reported 12 new cases, while questions are being asked in Pakistan about its quarantine procedures after scores of people were found to have COVID-19 even after they were released from quarantine.

Christians volunteers distribute face mask among families arrive to attend Sunday mass at St. John’s Cathedral in Peshawar, Sunday, March 15, 2020. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mil
Volunteers distribute face mask before Sunday mass at St John’s Cathedral in Peshawar [Mohammad Sajjad/AP]

06:10 GMT – Pakistan records big jump in cases for second straight day

Pakistan has recorded a large jump in coronavirus cases for the second straight day, with 37 new cases recorded in Sindh province on Monday morning, health official Meeran Yousuf told Al Jazeera.

All those infected had visited Iran and previously been held in quarantine at the Taftan border crossing between the two countries.

With the new cases, Pakistan now has 94 known cases.

05:30 GMT – Philippines imposing strict measures to protect Duterte

The Philippines has outlined a host of measures designed to protect Rodrigo Duterte, the country’s 74-year-old president, from the coronavirus.

Local broadcaster ABS-CBN says the measures include a “no-touch” policy at large events and mandatory COVID-19 tests at private functions.

05:15 GMT – Turkey reports 12 new cases

Turkey has identified 12 new cases of coronavirus, bringing its total to 18, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Monday, marking the highest daily increase since the country announced its first case last week.

Koca said two of the new infections were related to the first case reported in the country, seven had travelled from Europe and three from the US.

The Turkish government has ramped up measures to halt the spread of the virus, closing schools and universities, holding sports events without spectators and halting flights to many countries.

Read more here.

04:40 GMT – China’s Jack Ma sends masks, test kits to US

04:15 GMT – Pakistan cases jump as people test positive after completing quarantine

Pakistan recorded its largest single daily jump in coronavirus cases on Sunday, with at least 52 people confirmed to have the virus, health officials say.

Thirteen new cases were reported from the southern town of Sukkur, all of whom had previously spent 14 days in quarantine near the Pakistan-Iran border. The Sukkur cases have raised fears that Pakistan’s quarantine efforts have been ineffective.

04:00 GMT – New Zealand bans gatherings of 500 people or more

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said events of 500 people or more would not be allowed.

Ardern added that the government would have zero tolerance for anyone who violated the country’s new self-isolation rules, and that the economic impact from COVID-19 could be greater than the global financial crisis.

“At this point we cannot be sure of the impact but we can be sure it will be significant,” Ardern said.

03:45 GMT – Cambodia cases include two who went to Malaysia for religious event

A few more details on the additional Cambodia cases…

Two are people who had travelled to Kuala Lumpur for a religious event that has already led to a sharp jump in cases in Malaysia.

One case is a four-month-old French boy who travelled with his father from Paris via Singapore to Phnom Penh and tested positive for the virus earlier on Sunday, the ministry said. His wife tested negative.

A Cambodian man returning from France also tested positive, bringing the total number of cases to 12.

Prime Minister Hun Sen has ordered citizens not to travel to Europe, the US and Iran as part of the government’s efforts to curb the spread of the virus.

Anyone returning from Europe, the US and Iran must also be quarantined for 14 days on arrival in Cambodia.

03:20 GMT – Hong Kong tourist arrivals plunge, government pledges support

Provisional figures from Hong Kong’s tourist board show the number of people visiting the territory plunged in February as the coronavirus spread.

The Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) announced visitor arrivals to Hong Kong in February were 199,000, a drop of more than 96 percent from the same time last year.

Before the closure of major borders on 8 February, there were between 10,000 and 20,000 arrivals every day, the board said in a statement. Afterwards, average daily arrivals fell to 3,300. The HKTB expects a further drop in March.

Executive Director Dane Cheng says the tourism board is preparing a 400 million Hong Kong dollar ($51.5 million) support plan to support the industry’s recovery as the outbreak eases.

02:25 GMT – South Korea confident with technology and testing expertise

A bit more on South Korea’s move to impose special screening measures on all arrivals from Europe.

Al Jazeera’s Rob McBride, who is in Seoul, says authorities there have confidence they can keep the virus contained with a combination of testing expertise (Korea has carried out about a quarter of a million tests) and technology.

Travellers wil have to download an app that they will be required to interact with on a daily basis for two weeks, answering questions on their health. If a person does not comply then they will receive a call, and action could be taken.

“South Korea believes it has the back up, an insurance policy if you like, that it can allow people in from other parts of the world given that it can keep tabs on them (through the app),” McBride said.

02:20 GMT – Long queues at Amsterdam coffee shops ahead of shutdown

Long queues formed outside Amsterdam’s coffee shops before they were closed until April 6.

02:10 GMT – ‘Wartime mentality’: New York mayor orders entertainment venues to close

New York mayor Bill de Blasio has ordered the city’s bars, theatres and cinemas to close from Tuesday.

Taking to Twitter, the mayor told New Yorkers: “This is not a decision I make lightly. These places are part of the heart and soul of our city. They are part of what it means to be a New Yorker. But our city is facing an unprecedented threat, and we must respond with a wartime mentality.”

Earlier, he announced schools in the city would close from March 16 with online learning to begin a week later.

02:10 GMT – Cambodia reports four new cases, including a baby

Cambodia has reported four new cases of the coronavirus, including a four-month-old baby.

01:35 GMT – US Federal Reserve cuts rates almost to zero

The Federal Reserve took the extraordinary step on Sunday of slashing its benchmark interest rate to near zero and unveiled measures to unfreeze credit markets as the US central bank moved to defend the US and global economies against the impact of coronavirus pandemic disruptions.

“The coronavirus outbreak has harmed communities and disrupted economic activity in many countries, including the United States,” the Fed’s policy-setting committee said in a statement on Sunday. “Global financial conditions have also been significantly affected.”

US New York
Empty retail stores are seen in the Manhattan borough, following the outbreak of COVID-19 in New York City, US [Jeenah Moon/Reuters]

You can read more on that story on Impact.

01:15 GMT – South Korea expands special screening to all arrivals from Europe

South Korea has expanded special screening measures to arrivals from all European countries amid concerns of imported cases.

Yonhap news agency says the measures were extended beyond the original six European nations – Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Britain and the Netherlands – at midnight.

“The coronavirus seems to spreading in Europe at an unusual pace,” the news agency reported  Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun as saying.

Arrivials will have to complete health documents, have their temperatures taken, notify health authorities of their whereabouts and download a self-check health app.

The KCDC announced 74 new cases in South Korea on Monday, bringing the total to 8,236.

01:00 GMT – China wrestles with imported cases as domestic infections ease

Overall cases of coronavirus in mainland China continue to drop but major cities including Beijing and Shanghai are now grappling with cases involving infected travellers arriving from abroad.

Mainland China had 16 new confirmed cases on Sunday, the National Health Commission said on Monday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in China so far to 80,860. It had 20 new infections the previous day.

Of the new figures, 12 were imported infections, exceeding locally transmitted cases for the third day.

Beijing accounted for four of the cases, Guangdong province four, Shanghai two, Yunnan province one and Gansu province one. China now has 123 imported cases.

00:50 GMT – CDC advises large events and gatherings cancelled

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US is recommending that all gatherings of 50 people or more are cancelled or postponed over the next eight weeks, and that smaller events should go ahead only if they meet CDC guidelines for vulnerable people, hand hygiene and social distancing.

The CDC said: “Large events and mass gatherings can contribute to the spread of COVID-19 in the US via travelers who attend these events and introduce the virus to new communities.”

00:05 GMT – LVMH perfume factories to make hand santiser instead

Luxury goods giant LVMH has told factories producing perfumes for its Parfums Christian Dior, Guerlain and Parfums Givenchy to start producing “substantial quantities” of hydroalcoholic gel instead.

The move will take effect on Monday and the gel delivered free to France’s public health authorities, the company said in a statement.

00:00 GMT – Russia sets up taskforce to tackle coronavirus

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has set up a new taskforce to lead the country’s fight against the coronavirus with 63 recorded cases as of Sunday.

Moscow’s mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, will lead the group, according to the Interfax news agency.


Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

I’m Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur.

Here’s a summary of developments on Sunday:

Governments around the world stepped up restrictions on daily life, and the movement of people in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19. More than 153,000 people have been confirmed to have the virus globally, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The number of dead has risen to nearly 5,800 people.

Countries imposing strict restrictions on citizens, travel and arrivals from overseas included Spain, Australia, Germany and the US where new measures fuelled chaos at airports.

taly reported 368 new deaths from the coronavirus while the number of confirmed cases rose to 24,747, according to the country’s civil protection authority said.

Iran announced more than 100 people had died in the past 24 hours, with the confirmed cases nearing 14,000. Tehran said its fight against the outbreak was being severely hampered by US sanctions.

You can read all the latest updates from yesterday (March 15th) here.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies