US confirmed coronavirus cases top 100,000: Live updates

Global coronavirus death toll passes 25,000, with Italy and Spain announcing almost 2,000 fatalities in just 24 hours.

New York Coronavirus

The number of people infected with the novel coronavirus in the United States surpassed 100,000 on Friday, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally. 

Italy, meanwhile, announced 919 new deaths from coronavirus, the highest number of fatalities any country has reported in the space of 24 hours since the outbreak began late last year.

The total number of people who have died as a result of COVID-19 in Italy now stands at 9,134. Further dashing hopes that Europe is containing the pandemic, Spain recorded 769 new deaths in a daily, bringing the total number to 4,858.

Worldwide, more than 25,000 people have died from coronavirus, an infection which has affected more than half a million people.

More than 127,000 people globally have recovered from COVID-19.

Here are the latest updates:

Click here for Saturday, March 28 updates

Friday, March 27

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

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

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

Trump said there was a great chance the United States would not need so many ventilators to fight the coronavirus outbreak, and would then help other countries in need. 

21:43 GMT – US confirmed coronavirus cases surpass 100,000

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States surpassed 100,000 on Friday, with more than 1,500 deaths reported, according to Johns Hopkins University. 

Italy, meanwhile, had more than 86,000 cases, with over 9,000 deaths.  

20:45 GMT – US Congressman Mike Kelly tests positive

US Representative Mike Kelly, Republican of Pennsylvania, said on Friday he has tested positive for the coronavirus, the fifth member of Congress to do so.

In a statement, Kelly said he had started experiencing mild flu-like symptoms earlier this week, and his doctor ordered a test that he obtained at a drive-through testing site.

“My test came back positive this afternoon,” he said. “My symptoms remain mild, and I will serve the 16th district from home until I fully recover.”

20:40 GMT – Syria state media reports Assad and Abu Dhabi crown prince spoke on phone

President Bashar al-Assad and Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan have spoken on the phone, Syrian state media reported, in the first such call since Syria’s war began in 2011.

The crown prince confirmed the conversation in a tweet, saying the two had discussed “updates on COVID-19”.

“I assured him of the support of the UAE and its willingness to help the Syrian people. Humanitarian solidarity during trying times supersedes all matters, and Syria and her people will not stand alone,” he said. 

20:35 GMT – US President Trump signs $2.2T rescue package

US President Donald Trump has signed a $2.2 tn rescue package after it was passed by the House of Representatives on Friday. 

The unprecedented package is meant to serve as life preserver to a US economy and health care system upturned by the coronavirus pandemic.  

The package will ship payments of up to $1,200 to millions of Americans, bolster unemployment benefits, offer loans, grants and tax breaks to businesses large and small and flush billions more to states, local governments and the nation’s all but overwhelmed health care system. 

Wall Street
A pedestrian walks on an nearly empty Wall St, near the New York Stock Exchange as coronavirus disease outbreak continues in New York City [Mike Segar/Reuters]

20:30 GMT – US Army Corps looking at over 100 facilities

The Army Corps of Engineers is looking at potentially converting more than 100 facilities in the US to assist with the strain on hospitals dealing with the spread of the coronavirus, the commanding general of the Corps has said.

“Today, we’re looking at 114 different facilities in 50 states and five territories,” Lieutenant General Todd Semonite told reporters at the Pentagon that the Army Corps. He said the Corps had assessed 81 of the facilities so far.

Semonite said that he planned on having 2,910 rooms ready at the Javits Center in New York by Monday. He added that Army Corps was aiming to provide facilities for 3,000 people with the coronavirus at Chicago’s McCormick convention center by April 24 for about $75 million. 

20:25 GMT – Syria bans most domestic travel

Syria has said it was banning travel between cities and governorates as part of tightening measures to curb the spread of coronavirus, state-run Ikhbariya TV reported, citing the interior minister.

Syria has recorded five cases of coronavirus so far but relief agencies worry that any outbreak could be lethal after years of conflict that has ravaged its healthcare system.

The travel restriction, effective from Sunday, comes on top of a curfew announced this week from 6 pm to 6 am and after the country has halted flights and ordered the closure of most businesses.

20:15 GMT – Trump orders GM to produce ventilators under Defense Production Act

US President Donald Trump has signed an order requiring carmaker General Motors Co to produce ventilators to fight the coronavirus pandemic under the Defense Production Act.

In a memorandum released by the White House, Trump said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar would determine the number of ventilators GM must produce. 

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19:40 GMT – Turkey’s Erdogan calls for ‘voluntary quarantine’

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan called on more than 80 million citizens to implement a “voluntary quarantine” and not to leave their homes unless for basic and emergency needs, as the country’s death toll from coronavirus reached 92.

Erdogan also announced an end to all international flights, and said pandemic councils will be formed in Turkey’s 30 big cities to take additional precautions if necessary. 

19:25 GMT – Paris Fashion Week, Haute Couture Week cancelled

Two of the main events in the fashion calendar, the Paris Fashion Week and the Haute Couture week, due to take place in June and July, have been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, organisers have said

“Strong decisions are required to ensure the safety and health of Houses, their employees and everyone working in our industry,” the Federation de la Haute Couture et de la Mode (FHCM) said in a statement.

“The board of directors… has come to the decision that, in the present conditions, the Paris Fashion Week Menswear, scheduled from June 23rd to June 28th, 2020, and the Haute Couture Week scheduled from July 5 to July 9, 2020, cannot take place,” it said.

19:15 GMT – US Representative Joe Cunningham tests positive 

US Representative Joe Cunningham, a Democrat from South Carolina, has said he has tested positive for the coronavirus, although his symptoms have already begun to improve.

Cunningham said he had been tested a day ago at a local testing clinic. “Today, I learned that I had tested positive,” he said in the statement. He said he had been in self-quarantine since March 19 after learning that he had been in contact with another member of Congress who had tested positive.

Cunningham is the third member of the House of Representatives to test positive for the virus; one senator has also tested positive.

Italy reports record 919 COVID-19 deaths in a day

19:05 GMT – Cases in Ireland rise above 2,000, with three new deaths

The total confirmed cases of coronavirus in Ireland have risen to 2,121 from 1,819 a day earlier, with three more deaths reported to bring the number of fatalities to 22, the health department said. 

The health department said of those hospitalised in cases analysed by the end of Wednesday, 59 patients had been admitted to intensive care units. 

19:00 GMT –  Merkel, Trump to explore cooperation on fighting pandemic

 German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Donald Trump have agreed during a phone call  to explore possible cooperation on combating to the coronavirus pandemic, a German government spokesman said.

“The chancellor and the US president agreed to remain in close contact and to exploit possible cooperation avenues,” the spokesman said in a statement, giving no further details.

18:50 GMT – 4 passengers dead aboard cruise ship anchored off Panama

Four passengers have died aboard a cruise ship now anchored off the coast of Panama and two people aboard the ship have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the cruise line has said. 

Holland America Line said in a post on its Facebook page that more than 130 people aboard the Zaandam had reported flu-like symptoms.

“Holland America Line can confirm that four older guests have passed away on Zaandam,” the statement said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with their families and we are doing everything we can to support them during this difficult time.” 

The Zaandam departed Buenos Aires, Argentina, on March 7. The ship was trying to get to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, after being denied permission to dock at its original destination of Chile a week ago.

cruise ship panama
The Zaandam cruise ship, left, carrying some guests with flu-like symptoms, is anchored shortly after it arrived to the bay of Panama City on Friday [Arnulfo Franco/The Associated Press]

18:35 GMT – Mattarella: Europe needs new measures to tackle pandemic threat 

Europe must adopt new measures to confront the threat posed by the coronavirus, Italian President Sergio Mattarella hsa said, warning that the EU had to react before it was too late.

“New initiatives are vital, overcoming old ways of thinking that are now out of touch with the reality of the dramatic conditions facing our continent,” Mattarella said in a rare, televised address to the nation.

“I hope everyone fully understands, before it is too late, the seriousness of the threat faced by Europe.” 

18:30 GMT – France death toll rises by 299

The death toll in France has risen by 299 to 1,995, according to authorities. 

The climb in the number of deaths represents a daily rise of 18 percent, a less-marked increase from the previous day. Meanwhile, cases in the country have increased from 29,155 to 32,964.

18:20 GMT – Trump wishes UK PM Johnson a speed recovery from coronavirus

US President Donald Trump has wished British Prime Minister Boris Johnson a speedy recovery from coronavirus during a phone call, Downing Street said.

“They agreed to work together closely, along with the G7, the G20, and other international partners, to defeat the coronavirus pandemic,” Johnson’s office said in a statement. 

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson tests positive for coronavirus

18:05 GMT – IMF approves changes to enable debt service relief for poorest countries 

The IMF has said its executive board had approved changes that would allow it to provide up to two year’s of debt service relief to its poorest and most vulnerable members as they respond to the coronavirus outbreak.

The IMF said it had expanded the qualification criteria for its Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust (CCRT) to reflect the circumstances created by the pandemic.

As a result, all member countries with per capita income below the World bank’s operational threshold for concessional support would now be eligible for debt service relief for up to two years, it said in a statement. 

18:00 GMT – British ministers won’t be tested for virus unless they show symptoms

Boris Johnson’s top team of ministers won’t be tested for coronavirus unless they show symptoms, Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove has, after the British Prime Minister and his health minister tested positive.

Asked whether other cabinet ministers would automatically be tested, Gove said: “People are tested if they are symptomatic and those members of the central effort in helping to defeat the virus who do show symptoms are appropriately tested.”

“But I think you can tell from the fact that the three of us are here that demonstrates that there are three of us who have not yet demonstrated any symptoms,” Gove said at a news conference.

New York now epicentre of coronavirus pandemic

17:55 GMT – UK approves two new temporary hospitals in Birmingham and Manchester

The UK will build a further two hospitals to handle coronavirus patients, the head of England’s publicly funded National Health Service (NHS) has said.

“Today because this is a problem of course not just confined to London but across the whole country, I have given the go-ahead to the building of two further of these NHS Nightingale hospitals beginning at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre and the Manchester Central Convention Centre, with further such hospitals to follow,” said NHS England CEO Simon Stevens.

A temporary hospital is already being constructed in London, and is due to receive patients next week. 

17:50 GMT – Turkey’s death toll rises by 17 to 92

Turkey’s coronavirus death toll rose by 17 on Friday to 92, while the total number of cases rose by 2,069 to 5,698, the country’s health minister told a press conference.

Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said the country needed wider measures against the coronavirus outbreak, adding that the country had more than 1 million test kits.

17:45 GMT – Zimbabwe imposes 21-day nationwide lockdown from Monday

Zimbabwe will impose a nationwide lockdown for 21 days from Monday to help curb the spread of coronavirus, President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced.

Only state and health workers will be exempted from the lockdown, Mnangagwa said. Zimbabwe has five confirmed coronavirus cases, including one death. 

A woman is screened  by a Health worker before  visiting a  relative at a  public hospital  in Harare, Zimbabwe ,Saturday, March, 21, 2020 . Zimbabwe announced its first case of coronavirus,in one of
A woman is screened by a Health worker before visiting a relative at a public hospital in Harare, Zimbabwe on March, 21 [Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/The Associated Press]

17:35 GMT – US House of Representatives passes $2.2T rescue package

The US House of Representatives has rushed to President Donald Trump a $2.2 tn rescue package after passing it on Friday, potentially  tossing a life preserver to a US economy and health care system left flailing by the coronavirus pandemic. 

The House approved the sweeping measure by a voice vote, as strong majorities of both parties lined up behind the most colossal economic relief bill in the nation’s history. It will ship payments of up to $1,200 to millions of Americans, bolster unemployment benefits, offer loans, grants and tax breaks to businesses large and small and flush billions more to states, local governments and the nation’s all but overwhelmed health care system. 

17:30 GMT – Turkey limits intercity bus travel, bans beach walks and fishing 

Turkey has limited intercity bus travel and banned walks and fishing along the seashore and beaches, as well as jogging in forests and parks on weekends, as Ankara extended measures against the coronavirus.

Local governors could decide to extend the decision to week days, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told an interview on NTV news channel. 

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17:20 GMT – IMF says world already in recession, emerging markets need $2.5 tn

 The coronavirus has already plunged the global economy into recession, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva has said, adding immense pressure on emerging markets suffering from lost commerce, reduced exports and massive capital outflows.

Georgieva told a news conference that emerging market countries need at least $2.5 tn in financial resources to get through the pandemic. Internal reserves and borrowing in local markets will be insufficient to cover these needs, so substantial funding from the IMF, other institutions and bilateral creditors will be necessary. 

16:40 GMT – Italy reports highest daily death toll of 919

Italy has reported 919 new deaths from coronavirus, the highest daily number since the outbreak began.

Authorities had reported 969 deaths on Friday, but 50 of those occured during the previous counting period, but whose notification came too late to be included in the official figures released on Thursday.

The daily toll is also the highest reported by any country since the outbreak began in China in late December.

Italy’s overall death toll is now 9,134. Cases in the country have risen to 86,498 from 80,539 a day before, Meaning on Friday, Italy became the second country, after the US, to pass the total number of confirmed cases in China.

As coronavirus spreads in Europe, hospitals are overwhelmed

16:30 GMT – England’s Chief Medical Officer self-isolating with symptoms

England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty has said he would self-isolate at home for the next seven days after experiencing symptoms compatible with Covid-19 on Thursday night.

Whitty has worked closely with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who said earlier on Friday he had been diagnosed with coronavirus.

Canada has recorded 4,043 coronavirus cases, 39 death

Canada’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Howard Njoo said Canada has confirmed 4,043 coronavirus infections with 39 deaths.

16:15 GMT – Turkey removes 6,000 refugees migrants from Greek border

Turkey has sent some 6,000 refugees and migrants waiting at the Turkish-Greek border to cross into the European Union to cities inside the country, the interior minister has said, as part of measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Tens of thousands of migrants had gathered at the border trying to get into EU member Greece since Turkey said on February 28 it would no longer keep them on its territory as part of a 2016 deal with Brussels reached in return for European aid for the refugees. 

Wave of applause for health workers in UK

16:05 GMT – World Bank head calls for easing debts of poorer countries 

World Bank President David Malpass has said poorer countries will need debt relief or restructuring so they can fund their fights against the coronavirus pandemic, and said the World Bank would present a debt-relief approach in April. 

“Poorer countries will take the hardest hit, especially ones that were already heavily indebted before the crisis,” Malpass said in a teleconference video to the International Monetary and Financial Committee. “But to achieve debt sustainability, many countries will need debt relief. This is the only way they can concentrate any new resources on fighting the pandemic and its economic and social consequences.” 

16:00 GMT – France extends lockdown by two weeks to April 15

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said in a speech the government had decided to extend the country’s coronavirus lockdown by two weeks until April 15.

“After these first 10 days of confinement, it is clear that we are just at the beginning of this epidemic wave. It has submerged eastern France and now it is arriving in the Paris region and northern France,” Philippe said.

He said for this reason, the confinement period would be extended by two weeks from Tuesday next week, and added that the same rules would apply. He said that this period would only be extended again if the health situation required it. 

15:50 GMT – New York could see apex of hospital demand in 21 days: Governor

New York state could see a peak in the demand for hospital capacity in three weeks due to the coronavirus, Governor Andrew Cuomo told a news conference.

Cuomo, speaking against a backdrop of makeshift hospital beds at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan, also said schools should remain closed for another two weeks until April 15th.

Over 39,000 cases have been confirmed in the state, the epicentre of the US outbreak, with 461 deaths.

15:45 GMT – Canada to cover 75 percent of small business payroll wages: PM

Canada will cover 75 percent of payroll wages for small businesses and give those companies access to one-year interest-free loans so they can avoid laying off employees, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said.

Trudeau said the wage subsidy for small and medium-sized businesses will be backdated to March 15, adding he hoped companies would rehire workers they had laid off.

DR Congo declares COVID-19 emergency after deaths

15:30 GMT – Trump calls on automakers Ford, GM to ‘get going’ on making ventilators

President Donald Trump has criticised the General Motors company and cited the Defense Production Act after saying the automaker reduced the number of ventilators it said it could provide to hospitals struggling to care for patients ill with coronavirus.

“As usual with ‘this’ General Motors, things just never seem to work out,” Trump said on Twitter. “They said they were going to give us 40,000 much needed ventilators, ‘very quickly’. Now they are saying it will only be 6000, in late April, and they want top dollar.”

In another tweet, the president added: “General Motors MUST immediately open their stupidly abandoned Lordstown plant in Ohio, or some other plant, and START MAKING VENTILATORS, NOW!!!!!! FORD, GET GOING ON VENTILATORS, FAST!!!!!!”

15:15 GMT – Death toll in Italy’s Lombardy rises by about 541 in a day

The death toll in Italy’s Lombardy region, the epicentre of the outbreak in the country, has risen by about 541 in a day, taking the total deaths to 5,402, a source familiar with the data told Reuters news agency.

Meanwhile, cases in the country have risen by about 2,409, taking the total to 37,298, according to the source.

15:00 GMT – Gov’t says Spain food supply chains functioning smoothly

Spain’s food supply chains are functioning smoothly despite the coronavirus epidemic, government spokeswoman and budget minister Maria Jesus Montero has said after a cabinet meeting.

The cabinet also approved measures to prevent employers from laying off staff. Spain is the European Union’s largest exporter of fruits and vegetables.

New normal for millions of children amid schools’ closure

14:55 GMT – Beirut Airport extends flight suspension to April 12

Rafik Hariri International Airport in Beirut has it would extend a suspension of all commercial and private flights until April 12, according to the Daily Star publication.

The airport had initially suspended flights for two weeks on March 18.

14:35 GMT – Chile cases rise by 304 to 1,610

Chile has confirmed 304 more cases of coronavirus in the country, the largest increase in one day, bringing the country’s total to 1,610, according to the health ministry.

Five people have died in the country from the outbreak. The majority of the cases have been reported in the metropolitan area of Santiago.

14:30 GMT – Global death toll passes 25,000

The global death toll from the coronavirus pandemic has passed 25,000, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Worldwide, there have been over 553,000 cases reported. Over 127,500 people have recovered.

Spain funeral - reuters
Municipal workers wearing protective gear carry the coffin of a victim of COVID-19 at El Salvador cemetery in Vitoria, Spain. [Vincent West/Reuters]

14:25 GMT – Buckingham Palace to scale back Queen Elizabeth’s birthday parade

A parade to celebrate the official birthday of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth will not go ahead in its traditional form in light of restrictions on social gatherings due to the rapid spread of coronavirus, Buckingham Palace has said.

The large parade of soldiers through central London, known as Trooping the Colour, is scheduled for Saturday June 13. The Queen’s actual birthday is April 21.

“In line with Government advice, it has been agreed that The Queen’s Birthday Parade, also known as Trooping the Colour, will not go ahead in its traditional form,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement. “A number of other options are being considered, in line with relevant guidance.”

Britain's Prince Charles and Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall, in the background, leave after attending the annual Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey in London, Monday, March 9, 2020. The an
Britain’s Prince Charles announced he had tested positive for coronavirus on Wednesday. [Kirsty Wigglesworth/The Associated Press]

14:20 GMT – UK death toll rises to 759, up 31 percent in one day

UK authorities have said 759 people had died in the country after testing positive for coronavirus as of 17 GMTThursday, among a total of 14,579 confirmed cases

The death toll stood at 578 just 24 hours earlier, meaning the toll had jumped by 31 percent.

14:15 GMT – Chaos and hunger amid India coronavirus lockdown

India’s strict 21-day lockdown of 1.3 billion people, announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday, has disrupted lives and left some migrant workers and poor individuals facing hunger, experts tell Al Jazeera.

While India has an existing welfare programme for the poor, which the government appears to be using to provide direct cash transfers and food grains, nearly 85 percent of India’s population works in the informal sector. Migrants, in particular, do not have access to these resources.

Read more here.

India under complete lockdown due to Covid-19
India was placed under complete lockdown on Tuesday [Javed Sultan/Anadolu]

14:10 GMT – IMF says global output to contract in 2020, exploring financing options

The coronavirus pandemic will cause global economic output to contract in 2020, top officials of the IMF has, adding that an “exceptionally high number of countries” need IMF emergency financing.

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva and International Monetary and Financial Committee Chair Lesetja Kganyago said in a statement that to ease foreign exchange shortages for many developing countries, the IMF is exploring additional options that go beyond the Fund’s traditional lending facilities.

“We are in an unprecedented situation where a global health pandemic has turned into an economic and financial crisis. With a sudden stop in economic activity, global output will contract in 2020,” they said.

14:05 GMT – Trump attacks Republican lawmaker threatening delay stimulus

US President Donald Trump has criticised a Republican congressman who is considering tactics to delay a House of Representatives vote on a massive coronavirus stimulus bill, calling Representative Thomas Massie a “third-rate grandstander.”

“He just wants the publicity. He can’t stop it, only delay, which is both dangerous & costly. Workers & small businesses need money now in order to survive,” Trump said in a tweet.

“WIN BACK HOUSE, but throw Massie out of Republican Party!” he added.

14:00 GMT – Italy to extend schools shutdown past current April 3 limit

Italy’s education minister has said schools across the country would remain closed beyond the current April 3 limit due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“Our aim is to ensure that students return to school only when we are completely sure that it is safe, health is the priority,” Education Minister Lucia Azzolina told State broadcaster RAI.

Schools and universities have been closed nationwide since March 5, as part of a lockdown to curb the spread of the virus which has so far killed more than 8,000 people in Italy, the highest death toll of any country in the world.

13:45 GMT – Reporters Without Borders says Kashmir internet restrictions could be deadly

The Reporters Without Borders (RSF) organisation has called on the Indian government to restore high-speed internet in Indian-administered Kashmir, saying keeping the restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic is “criminal irresponsibility”.

Internet service had been blocked in the region following the Indian government’ s stripping of the region’ s autonomy in August of last year and placing it under lock down. In January, limited 2G service was slowly restored. Rumours that the restrictions, in light of the coronavirus outbreak, would be lifted have been dispelled by the government.

“Imagine a population under a coronavirus lockdown that cannot communicate by Internet,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’ s Asia-Pacific desk. “This is the cruel reality to which the citizens of the Kashmir Valley, including its journalists, are currently being subjected.”

Authorities in Indian-administered Kashmir impose a complete lockdown amid the growing fears of COVID-19 spread. [Shuaib Bashir/Al Jazeera]
Authorities in Indian-administered Kashmir impose a complete lockdown amid the growing fears of COVID-19 spread. [Shuaib Bashir/Al Jazeera]

“At a time when people under lockdown all over the world are using the Internet to work, communicate and get information, the 8 million Kashmiris continue to be cut off from the absolutely vital information that is needed to prevent the spread of the pandemic,” he said.

“As this demonstrates potentially criminal irresponsibility, New Delhi must immediately restore high speed Internet in the Kashmir Valley.”

13:35 GMT – EU leaders agree to consider climate in recovery plan

European Union leaders have agreed that the bloc’s coronavirus economic recovery plan should take heed of its aim to fight climate change.

Following a six-hour video conference, the 27 EU leaders agreed late on Thursday to coordinate a coronavirus economic recovery plan.

Although the details of the plan itself still have to be worked out, a statement said they had agreed that it should be consistent with the “green transition”, the phrase the EU uses to describe the aim of reducing emissions that heat the planet.

The EU’s executive commission wants its 27 member states to sign up at a summit in June to plans to make the entire bloc greenhouse gas neutral by 2050. So far, Poland is the only holdout.

Coronavirus linked to improved air quality in China
COVID-19 forced closure of coal-fired power plants and industrial facilities inevitably leading to a drop in pollution, as shown in this satellite map [AFP]

13:30 GMT – British PM Johnson still working with mild symptoms: Spokesman

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is still able to work in an office and study at No. 11 Downing Street, his spokesman has said, shortly after the British leader announced he had contracted coronavirus and had mild symptoms. He is self-isolating for seven days, the spokesman said.

“There was an 9:30 meeting, which we call the COVID-19 meeting … that went ahead. The PM played his role entirely via video conferencing,” the spokesman said. “That’s how it will continue while the PM is self-isolating. He will do the same things, but that will be done exclusively by teleconferencing on his part.”

On a conference call with journalists, Johnson’s spokesman said the prime minister was receiving meals left outside his door for him but would no longer appear in person at a daily news conference.

13:25 GMT – Dutch cases rise by 16 percent with 112 new deaths

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the Netherlands has risen by 1,172, or 16 percent, to 8,603, health authorities have said, with 112 new deaths.

The country’s death total is now 546.

The Netherlands National Institute for Health (RIVM) said in its daily update that the increase in rate of spread of the virus appears to be slowing. It said it hoped to be able to say “within several days” whether social distancing and other measures taken mid-month were working to slow the outbreak’s spread.

13:20 GMT – IMF: Pakistan requests emergency financing

Pakistan has requested an emergency loan disbursement from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help fight the coronavirus under the fund’s Rapid Financing Instrument program, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva has said.

She did not identify the size of the loan, but under the program, Pakistan would be able to borrow up to its full quota – about $2.76bn – over two years, or $1.43bn over a single year to meet urgent balance-of-payments needs.

Pakistan already has an IMF $6 bn Extended Fund Facility loan program and Georgieva said the Pakistani authorities “have reaffirmed their commitment to the reform policies included in the current arrangement.”

Several airlines not expected to survive after coronavirus crisis

13:15 GMT – Turkish town, villages first to be quarantined  

One town and four villages in Turkey’s Black Sea province of Rize have been quarantined over the coronavirus outbreak, the local mayor has said, in the first case of a lockdown in the country since the beginning of the outbreak in the country two weeks ago.

Alaettin Serdar, the mayor of the Kandirli town, said in an interview with state broadcaster TRT Haber the move was a precautionary measure to prevent the further spread of illness after a patient in the town died of the virus on Thursday.

The death toll in Turkey due to the coronavirus jumped by 16 to 75 on Thursday, while the number of confirmed cases surged to a total of 3,629 since the first case was reported on March 11.

13:10 GMT – Irish intensive care units set to hit capacity within days: PM

Ireland’s intensive care units will be at capacity within a few days given the rate of spread of coronavirus and the health service has plans in place to deal with the demand, Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has said.

“I am (concerned). As things stand, we have empty beds in our ICUs but just the way things are heading would indicate that our ICUs will be at capacity within a few days,” Varadkar told reporters.

“That’s already the case across Europe, it looks like it may happen here so we need to plan for that. We need to make sure we have backup ICU capacity, ventilators, CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines. All that is happening. An unprecedented effort is being made to tool up,” he said.

13:00 GMT – UK health minister Hancock tests positive

British health minister Matt Hancock has said on Twitter that he has tested positive for coronavirus and is self-isolating at home with mild symptoms.

Less than two hours earlier, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that he too had tested positive for the virus.


This is Joseph Stepansky in Doha, taking over the live updates from Farah Najjar.


12:08 GMT – Queen Elizabeth is in good health: Buckingham Palace

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth last saw Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has tested positive for coronavirus, on March 11 and she remains in good health, Buckingham Palace said on Friday.

“The queen last saw the PM on the 11th March and is following all the appropriate advice with regards to her welfare,” a palace spokesman said.

11:49 GMT – Algeria extends curfew to nine new provinces

Algeria will impose a night curfew in nine more provinces to limit the spread of the coronavirus, the prime minister’s office said.

Earlier this week the government imposed a night curfew in the capital and a full lockdown in the neighbouring province of Blida.

The curfew extension, to be enforced from 7pm to 7am will include central, eastern and western provinces where coronavirus cases have been rising.

The country has so far reported 367 cases of the disease, with 25 deaths. Most cases have been in Blida, south of Algiers.

A general view shows an empty street after a curfew was imposed from 7pm-7am to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Algiers
A general view shows an empty street after a curfew was imposed from 7pm-7am to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease in Algiers [Ramzi Boudina/Reuters]

11:46 GMT – Indonesia preparing regulations to allow lockdowns

Indonesia’s chief security minister said that the government was preparing to issue a regulation soon to allow for the “quarantine” or lockdown of regions affected by the coronavirus.

“It will regulate when regional areas can declare movement limitation, which is commonly known as lockdown,” Minister Mahfud told reporters.

11:20 GMT – UK’s Boris Johnson tests positive

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has tested positive for coronavirus and is self isolating but will still lead the government’s response to the outbreak.

“Over the last 24 hours I have developed mild symptoms and tested positive for coronavirus,” Johnson said. “I am now self-isolating, but I will continue to lead the government’ s response via video-conference as we fight this virus.”

Read more here.

10:54 GMT – Death toll in Spain jumps to 4,858

Spain reports 769 new deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the total toll so far to 4,858.

The health ministry said the number of confirmed cases now stands at 64,059.

Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Barcelona
Health workers collect food from Delivery 4 Heroes on stretchers at Clinic hospital, during the outbreak of coronavirus in Barcelona [Nacho Doce/Reuters]

10:30 GMT – France PM warns ‘difficult’ days ahead

France’s prime minister raised the alarm over an “extremely high” surge in coronavirus cases in the country and warned that the situation would be “difficult in the days to come.”

“We find ourselves in a crisis that will last, in a health situation that will not improve any time soon,” Edouard Philippe said after a cabinet meeting held by videoconference.

10:12 GMT – Kuwait reports new cases

Kuwait confirmed 17 new cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 225, Kuwait’s news agency KUNA quoted the health ministry as saying.

09:52 GMT – China bans foreign visitors

China will ban entry to all foreigners, including non-nationals with valid visas and residence permits, from midnight on Friday in a move to curb the numbers of imported coronavirus cases.

Read more here.

09:46 GMT – Iran reports more than 140 deaths

Iran announced 144 new deaths from the novel coronavirus, bringing the official number of fatalities to 2,378 in one of the world’s worst-hit countries.

“In the past 24 hours, we’ve had 2,926 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 infections across the country,” health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said in a televised news conference.

“This brings the overall confirmed cases to at least 32,332,” he added, noting that 11,133 of those hospitalised so far have recovered.

Coronavirus precautions in Iran
Health officials check body temperature of drivers and passengers at the entrance of the Iranian capital Tehran [Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu]

09:32 GMT – Russians urged to stay at home

Russia urged its citizens to refrain from travelling, with the exception of essential trips, asking people to stay at home, the Interfax news agency cited Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin as saying.

Mishustin said tough measures were needed, adding that the more stringent changes in Moscow should be extended to other regions of the country.

09:29 GMT – Malaysia reports new cases

Malaysia reported 130 new coronavirus cases and a total of 2,161 infections, the highest total in Southeast Asia.

The number of deaths from the virus outbreak rose to 26, the health ministry said.

09:03 GMT – Indonesia reports highest daily rise in new cases

Indonesia has confirmed 153 new coronavirus cases, the biggest daily rise so far and taking the Southeast Asian country’s total to 1,046, Health Ministry official Achmad Yurianto said.

The number of new deaths due to coronavirus rose by 9, bringing the total number of deaths to 87, he said, adding a total of 46 people had recovered from the virus.

08:57 GMT – South Africa goes into nationwide lockdown

Some 57 million people are restricted to their homes during South Africa’s three-week total lockdown which began at midnight on Thursday.

Read more here.

08:55 GMT – Senegal: coronavirus test may be on its way

Researchers this week began validation trials on a COVID-19 diagnostic test that can be done at home and produce results in as little as 10 minutes – all for $1.

Read more here.

08:50 GMT – Philippines records more cases, deaths

The Philippines has recorded nine new coronavirus deaths, bringing the total to 54, the health ministry said.

It also reported 96 new confirmed cases, the highest daily increase, bringing the tally to 803.

08:45 GMT – Hong Kong reports biggest daily rise

Hong Kong reported 65 new coronavirus infections, its biggest daily rise so far, taking the total number of cases in the Chinese-ruled city to 518, health officials said.

Of the latest cases, 41 had recently returned from travelling abroad.

08:26 GMT – Russia says number of cases exceeds 1,000

Russia reported 196 new cases of coronavirus, a daily record, taking its official total for those infected with the disease to 1,036.

One more person had been killed by the virus in the past 24 hours, taking the total number of deaths to four.

Coronavirus precautions in Russia
Disinfection works are carried out around the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour as a precaution against the spread of coronavirus in Moscow [Anadolu]

08:04 GMT – Germany sends flight to rescue tourists in Nepal

A rescue flight arranged by the German government picked up hundreds of tourists who had been stranded in Nepal since the Himalayan nation went on lockdown earlier this week, officials said.

The Qatar Airways charter flight took off with 305 people on board, said Deo Chandra Lal Karna, an official at Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport.

Immigration official Sagar Acharya said most of the passengers were German nationals or had some connection to the country.

Stranded tourists from Germany wait for a shuttle bus to transport them to the airport in Kathmandu
Stranded tourists from Germany wait in Kathmandu for a shuttle bus to transport them to the airport to board a chartered flight back to Germany [Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters]

07:51 GMT – Israel to deploy army to enforce lockdown

Israel will deploy its army to assist police on street patrols to enforce a lockdown, the military said.

About 500 troops will join police from Sunday to help “in patrolling, isolating and securing certain areas, blocking routes and additional similar assignments”, the army said in a statement.

Coronavirus: Doctor warns of ‘incoming disaster’ in Gaza

Israel has reported more than 3,000 infections and 10 deaths from the disease. This week, authorities tightened a partial lockdown, requiring people to stay within 100 metres (110 yards) of home and setting sanctions for defying rules.

07:05 GMT – Russia to close restaurants, cafes

The Russian government has ordered all cafes and restaurants to close for a week from Saturday to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Russian regions are to “halt the activities of public food service organisations,” except for delivery services, a government decree said.

06:59 GMT – South Africa reports first two deaths

The health ministry in South Africa reported the country’s first two deaths.

To date, there are more than 1,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in South Africa, the ministry said in a statement.

“This morning, we South Africans wake up with sad news that we now have our first deaths resulting from COVID-19,” the ministry said.

People carry bags of maize and paraffin as they return from a store ahead of a nationwide lockdown, in Johannesburg
People carry bags of maize and paraffin as they return from a store ahead of a nationwide lockdown for 21-days in Johannesburg [Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters]

06:54 GMT – Hungary imposes restrictions on movement

To reduce the number of social contacts, Hungary will impose restrictions on citizens leaving their homes between March 28 and April 11, Prime Miniszter Viktor Orban said.

Orban added he will present a plan of action to restart the economy in the first half of April.

06:41 GMT – Vietnam bans gatherings, cuts flights

Vietnam will limit domestic flights and stop public gatherings for two weeks starting Saturday, the government said in a statement.

Indoor gatherings of more than 20 people and outdoor gatherings of 10 people or more will be banned, the government said, citing an order signed by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

Phuc also ordered that flights between the capital, Hanoi, and the southern business hub of Ho Chi Minh City and cities across the country be reduced.

06:34 GMT – Uzbekistan reports first death as it widends lockdown

A 72-year-old woman in the city of Namangan died of cardiac infarction, the healthcare ministry said, adding that she had suffered from a host of other diseases in addition to the coronavirus.

Municipal authorities in the province of Navoi said they were locking down the cities of Navoi and Zarafshan, as well as several districts.

Authorities in the major tourism hub of Bukhara also said the city would close its borders.

The central Asian nation has already locked down some of its biggest cities, including Namangan and the capital, Tashkent.

06:26 GMT – China, US, must ‘unite to fight virus’

Chinese President Xi Jinping, in a call with his US counterpart Donald Trump, said that the two countries should “unite to fight” the coronavirus, state media reported.  

Xi told Trump China “wishes to continue sharing all information and experience with the US,” said state broadcaster CCTV.

Following the call, Trump said in a Twitter post that the two leaders were “working closely together”.

Hello, this is Farah Najjar taking over from my colleague Ted Regencia.

05:15 France, Malaysia charter flights from Cambodia

France and Malaysia have organised chartered flights to fly out hundreds of their citizens stranded in Cambodia after the country sealed its borders and cancelled flights in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Malaysia also sent a special plane to take home 111 stranded Malaysian nationals on Wednesday, said Cambodia’s Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn.

At the same time, Cambodia coordinated with Malaysia to repatriate six Cambodians stranded in Malaysia, Sokhonn said in a Facebook post on Thursday.

As of Thursday, there were at least 98 confirmed coronavirus cases in Cambodia [ Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP]

04:15 GMT – Australia introduces quarantine for returning citizens

Australia is introducing enforced quarantine by midnight on Saturday for citizens returning home from overseas and will deploy armed forces to ensure people already subjected to self-isolation measures are complying, Reuters news agency is reporting.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said everyone arriving by plane would be detained in a hotel in the city of their arrival for two weeks, toughening up the previous self-isolation requirements.

Morrison said returning Australians accounted for around two thirds of the country’s more than 3,000 coronavirus cases, making it the “biggest issue” to be addressed.

04:15 GMT – Thailand reports 91 new cases, one death

Thailand reported 91 new coronavirus cases and one fatality, bringing the total to 1,136 cases and five deaths, a health official said on Friday.

The latest death was of a patient in Narathiwat province bordering Malaysia, the health official said.

The new infections consist of 30 patients linked to previous cases and 19 cases including imported ones, said Anupong Sujariyakul, a senior expert in preventive medicine at the Disease Control Department.

So far, 97 patients have recovered and gone home since the outbreak.

Thailand - Coronaviru
Thailand’s government has declared a state of emergency to take stricter measures to control the coronavirus outbreak [Sakchai Lalit/AP]

04:04 GMT – US cancels military exercises with the Philippines

The United States has cancelled annual military exercises with treaty ally the Philippines, it said on Friday, as a precaution against a coronavirus pandemic.

The exercises, set to run from May 4 to May 15, have taken place in the southeast Asian nation for decades, involving thousands of troops from both countries.

The alliance with the Philippines is one of Washington’s most important in Asia.

03:40 GMT – Tokyo residents stock up on supplies ahead of lockdown

Queues formed at supermarkets and stores in Tokyo on Friday as residents in the Japanese capital prepared for a weekend at home after the city’s governor called on them to stay at hunker down to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Reuters news agency reported.

After Governor Yuriko Koike’s plea on Wednesday to refrain from non-essential, non-urgent outings through April 12, and especially this weekend, residents were stocking up on everything from instant noodles and rice to toiletries and fresh produce, despite public-service warnings against hoarding.

Tokyo has seen a surge in coronavirus cases this week, reporting a record 47 cases on Thursday for a total of 259.

Nationwide, there were 1,400 reported nationwide with 47 deaths, excluding those from a cruise ship that was quarantined last month.

Tokyo, Japan
Nationwide, there were 1,400 reported nationwide with 47 deaths in Japan, excluding those from a cruise ship that was quarantined last month [ Issei Kato/Reuters]

03:15 GMT – North Korea: 2,280 citizens, two foreigners under quarantine

North Korea says about 2,280 citizens and two foreigners remain under coronavirus quarantine after authorities released thousands of people in past weeks who were confirmed to have no symptoms.

The Associated Press news agency quoted the North’s official Korean Central News Agency as saying on Friday that Pyongyang will maintain an alert status as the virus continues to spread across the world.

North Korea has not publicly confirmed a single case of the coronavirus illness, but state media has described anti-virus efforts as a matter of “national existence.”

02:24 GMT – Health supplies from China arrive in Indonesia

Indonesia’s flag carrier Garuda has returned from China on Friday carrying 40 tonnes of health supplies, which will be distributed immediately across the country where new coronavirus patients have surged in the past week.

Jodi Mahardi, the maritime and investment coordinating ministry’ s spokesman, said the supplies included personal protective equipment and rapid test kits and masks.

They were donations from several Chinese investors in Indonesia to help the country in dealing with the coronavirus outbreak which could overwhelm the government’ s healthcare system, as 78 people have died in the past three weeks and nearly 900 others tested positive.

The Indonesian government has planned to distribute about 500,000 test kits across the archipelago nation, home for nearly 270 million.

Indonesia - China
Indonesian soldiers stand guard next to boxes of medical equipment and aid that arrived from China early on Friday [Fajrin Raharjo/AFP]

02:19 GMT – Trump against cancellation of Republican Convention in August

US President Donald Trump has said he would not cancel the Republican National Convention in August in Charlotte, North Carolina, because of the coronavirus.

In an interview on Fox News, Trump said he believed the country would have rebounded from the coronavirus outbreak by then.

“We’re not going to cancel,” Trump said. “I think we’re going to be in great shape long before then.”

02:05 GMT – Singapore imposes stiff penalties for violations

Singapore imposed stiff penalties beginning on Friday against individuals who are violating new rules on physical distancing, as part of its new policy to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Violators can be fined up to $10,000 (US$7,000), jailed for up to six months, or face both penalties, if they are found guilty of not keeping at least a one-metre (3.2 feet) distance from another individual in a public place.

The new rules, based on the updated Infectious Diseases Act took effect, at 11:59pm local time (15:59 GMT) on Thursday.

Singapore - coronavirus
Violators of Singapore’s new physical-distancing rules could be fined up to $10,000 (US$7,000), jailed for up to six months, or face both penalties [File: Ee Ming Toh/AP]

01:53 GMT – Canada denounces Trump plan to deploy troops at the border

Canada has denounced a proposal of the Trump administration to deploy troops along their undefended border to help fight the spread of the coronavirus, saying the idea was unnecessary and would damage relations.

Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland had made clear the Liberal government had no time for a plan to send hundreds of troops to the border to boost security.

“Canada is strongly opposed to this US proposal and we have made that opposition very, very clear … this is an entirely unnecessary step which we would view as damaging to our relationship,” Freeland told a news conference.

“The public health situation does not require such action,” she said, noting Washington had yet to take a final decision.

01:30 GMT – South Korea reports 91 new cases

South Korea has reported 91 new coronavirus cases on Friday.

The total number of cases in the country has now reached 9,332, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

South Korea
The total number of cases in South Korea has reached 9,332 as of Friday, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [ Ahn Young-joon/AP]

01:12 GMT – New Zealand confirms 85 new cases of coronavirus

New Zealand confirmed on Friday at least 85 new cases of coronavirus.

The total number of cases in the country has now reached 368, of which 37 have recovered.

Most of the cases in New Zealand have links to overseas travel, according to health authorities.

00:56 GMT – Study: Coronavirus could kill more than 81,000 in the US

The coronavirus pandemic could kill more than 81,000 people in the US in the next four months and may not subside until June, according to a data analysis conducted by the University of Washington School of Medicine.

The number of hospitalised patients is expected to peak nationally by the second week of April, though the peak may come later in some states. Some people could continue to die of the virus as late as July, although deaths should be below epidemic levels of 10 per day by June at the latest, according to the analysis.

The analysis, using data from governments, hospitals and other sources, predicts that the number of US deaths could vary widely, ranging from as low as about 38,000 to as high as approximately 162,000.

00:38 GMT – 3.3 million US citizens apply for unemployment

Nearly 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week – almost five times the previous record set in 1982 – amid a widespread economic shutdown caused by the coronavirus, according to the Associated Press news agency.

The surge in weekly applications was a stunning reflection of the damage the viral outbreak is inflicting on the economy. Filings for unemployment aid generally reflect the pace of layoffs.

As job losses mount, some economists say the nation’ s unemployment rate could approach 13 percent by May. By comparison, the highest jobless rate during the Great Recession, which ended in 2009, was 10 percent.

00:25 GMT – China reports 54 new imported cases, five new deaths in Wuhan

China’s National Health Commission reported on Friday at least 54 new imported cases of coronavirus as of March 26 – slightly lower than the 67 cases the previous day.

The health agency also reported five new deaths with no new cases in Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak. Nationwide, the death toll has reached 3,292 as of the end of Thursday.

Late on Thursday, Beijing announced a temporary ban on foreigners arriving in the country with a few exceptions, including diplomats.

23:27 GMT Thursday – Brazil’s governors press Bolsonaro for more coronavirus support

Brazil’s governors pressed President Jair Bolsonaro on Thursday for more federal support in the coronavirus battle after he blasted them as job-killers and undermined their orders with a decree keeping churches open at the evangelical preachers’ request, the Associated Press news agency reported.

In a public letter, Brazil’s governors argued that the federal government had not done enough to fund the fight against the virus that has infected about half a million people globally.

Bolsonaro has increasingly echoed the view of US President Donald Trump that jobs should be prioritised over restrictive measures to slow the outbreak, as world health experts suggest.

“Tourism has plummeted to zero,” he said on a Facebook Live broadcast on Thursday night. “Nothing is working. This wave of panic and hysteria is bigger than the virus itself.”

22:00 GMT Thursday – US overtakes Italy, China in number of virus cases

Confirmed coronavirus cases in the US reached 83,500 as of late Thursday, more than any other country, overtaking Italy and China, the Johns Hopkins University tally showed.

China had 81,782 cases, and Italy had 80,589 cases.

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

Read all the updates from yesterday (March 26) here.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies