Live updates: Italy has lowest daily virus infections in 2 weeks

US President Trump extends restriction guidelines by 30 days, Italy reports lowest infection cases since March 17.

Funeral service workers transport a coffin of a victim of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) during a ceremony in the southern town of Cisternino, Italy March 30, 2020. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo

The death toll from the coronavirus pandemic in Italy rose by 812 to 11,591, while the total number of infections surged past 100,000 with 4,050 new cases reported.

More than 800 people died in Spain over the last 24 hours – reaching 7,340 – while  Iran’s deaths went up by 117 to 2,757.

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump extended federal guidelines on social distancing until April 30 after a top health official warned between 100,000 to 200,000 people could die from coronavirus in the United States. 

The US has over 159,000 confirmed infections, more than any other country in the world.

Worldwide, the total number of infections recorded since the beginning of the outbreak reached more than 775,000. Some 160,000 people have recovered globally while nearly 37,000 have died.

Monday, March 30

21:35 GMT – Trump: more than 1 million Americans tested for coronavirus

Trump said more than 1 million Americans had been tested for coronavirus and urged people to continue to follow social-distancing measures through April to prevent the virus from spreading.

“Every one of us has a role to play in winning this war. Every citizen, family and business can make the difference in stopping the virus,” the president said.

“This is our shared patriotic duty. Challenging times are ahead for the next 30 days and this is a very vital 30 days,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

Trump March 30
Trump has previously relieved of duty those with whom he disagreed in his administration [Al Drago/Reuters]

21:30 GMT – Qatar reports 59 new coronavirus cases, total at 693

The Qatari Health Ministry confirmed 59 new cases, bringing the total to 693, including 51 recoveries and one additional death.

20:50 GMT – Show solidarity with Asian Americans: – Democrats

House Democrats are urging Americans to join in solidarity with Asian Americans to push back against xenophobic attacks, which attempt to blame Asians for the new coronavirus.

Since coronavirus infections started appearing in the United States, Asian Americans have shared stories of minor aggression to blatant attacks from people blaming them for the pandemic.

Trump initally called COVID-19 the “Chinese virus,” but then said he would stop using that term and defended Asian Americans publicly saying they should not be targeted for the virus’ spread.

But the Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, Representative Judy Chu, says his response was too late.

“His words wouldn’t have been necessary if he had refrained from stoking xenophobia in the first place,” said Chu.

20:20 GMT – France to put domestic-abuse victims in hotels after jump in numbers

France announced it would pay for hotel rooms for victims of domestic violence and open pop-up counselling centres after figures showed the number of abuse cases had soared during the first week of a lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Gender Equality Minister Marlene Schiappa said about 20 centres would open in stores around the country so women could drop in for help while getting groceries.

The government also announced an extra one million euro ($1.1 million) for anti-domestic abuse organisations to help them respond to increased demand for services.

19:54 GMT – New York welcomes hospital ship as coronavirus accelerates

A military hospital ship arrived in New York on Monday as America’s coronavirus epicentre gears up for the peak of the pandemic, with emergency restrictions extended amid grim warnings the death toll would soar.

The navy’s 1,000-bed USNS Comfort docked at a Manhattan pier as more US states enforced stay-at-home orders after Trump abandoned his Easter target for life returning to normal in the United States.

The 894 foot-long (272-metre) vessel – which also has space for a dozen operating rooms – was greeted by cheering crowds after departing Norfolk, Virginia on Saturday.

19:36 GMT – California COVID-19 hospitalisations double in four days – governor

California Governor Gavin Newsom said that the number of COVID-19 hospitalisations in the state had nearly doubled over the past four days and the number of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) patients tripled during that time.

So far 1,421 California patients had been hospitalised with COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, up from 746 four days ago, Newsom said.

The number of patients requiring intensive care beds rose to 597 from 200, he said. Altogether, 5,763 people have tested positive for the disease in the state, he said.

19:11 GMT – Israel to spend $22bn to help economy over coronavirus crisis

Israel will spend 80 billion shekels ($22bn) to help the economy weather the coronavirus crisis and the finance minister said he expected a gradual return of business activity after the Passover holiday next month.

Israel’s economy has been hard hit by a government lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus. Increasingly stringent restrictions have largely confined Israelis to their homes, forcing businesses to close and causing unemployment to rocket.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a further tightening of restrictions late on Monday, barring gatherings of more than two people who are not in the same family, with few exceptions, such as for funerals.

18:58 GMT – Italy lockdown will extend till Easter – health minister

Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza announced the national lockdown to contain the novel coronavirus epidemic will be extended “at least until Easter.”

Easter falls on April 12, and the current lockdown expires on April 3.

The government’s scientific advisors have recommended the extension of “all containement measures at least until Easter,” Speranza said in a statement.

18:35 GMT – Why ‘physical distancing’ is better than ‘social distancing’

The World Health Organization (WHO) has started using the phrase “physical distancing” instead of “social distancing” as a way to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus from people to people, a move widely welcomed by experts as a step in the “right direction”.

At a daily news briefing on March 20, officials of the global health body said while maintaining a physical distance was “absolutely essential” amid the global pandemic, “it does not mean that socially we have to disconnect from our loved ones, from our family.”

Read more here.

18:20 GMT – Turkey death toll from coronavirus rises to 168

As many as 37 more people died of the novel coronavirus in Turkey in the past 24 hours, according to figures released by the country’s Health Ministry bringing the death toll to 168.

The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases surged to 10,827 as 1,610 more people tested positive for the virus, according to the ministry.

18:14 GMT – Volatility rules Wall Street as Trump extends distancing guidelines

US stock markets opened higher as investors braced for another volatile week after Trump abandoned the idea of getting the economy back up and running by Easter and extended social-distancing guidelines through the end of April.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up more than 200 points or 1 percent higher within minutes of the start of trading on Wall Street but quickly turned tail into negative territory in what promised to be a choppy session.

Read more here

17:50 GMT – Coronavirus economy: Recession or depression?

More economists are warning of a recession in the US, Europe and globally as coronavirus containment measures bring entire sectors of the world’s economy to a halt. Many have also compared the swiftness and severity of the  coronavirus  slowdown with the Great Depression that began in 1929. 

Are we looking at a recession? Or a depression? And what exactly is the difference? 

Read more here.

17:42 GMT – France reports record 418 coronavirus deaths in 24 hours

France reported its highest daily number of deaths since the coronavirus epidemic began, saying 418 more people had died in hospital, bringing the toll to 3,024.

There are now 20,946 people hospitalised in France with COVID-19, with 5,056 of them in intensive care, the government said in its daily update. 

A nasal ventilator is pictured as a patient suffering from coronavirus disease is treated in a pulmonology unit at the hospital in Vannes
The French death toll includes only those who died in hospital and not those who died at home or in old people’s homes.[Stephane Mahe/Reuters]

17:40 GMT – Blasting oil price war as ‘crazy’, Trump says he’ll talk to Putin 

Trump said on Monday that he planned to speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin and said Saudi Arabia and Russia “both went crazy” in their oil-price war – a battle begun just as the spread of the coronavirus around the world squashed oil demand.

“I never thought I’d be saying that maybe we have to have an oil [price] increase, because we do,” Trump said in a morning interview with Fox News Channel. “The price is so low now they’re fighting like crazy over, over distribution and over how many barrels to let go.”

Trump said he would talk with Putin right after the interview.

Read more here.

17:29 GMT – UK says need for global ‘lessons learned’ inquiry into pandemic

Britain said there should be a ‘lessons learned’ inquiry led by the World Health Organization into the coronavirus pandemic, responding to reports that the government was angry with China over the origins of the outbreak.

Foreign Minister Dominic Raab was asked about media reports that some in government feel China should face a “reckoning” for the virus, which was first recorded in the country.

“Obviously, after the crisis has abated I think the time will be right to conduct a kind of ‘lessons learned’ and I’m sure the World Health Organization will be at the forefront of that,” Raab said at a news conference.

17:15 GMT – J&J plans human testing of coronavirus vaccine by September

Johnson & Johnson said it made a $1bn deal with the US government to create enough manufacturing capacity for more than 1 billion doses of a vaccine it is testing to fight the new coronavirus that has killed more than 34,000 people around the world. 

Johnson and Johnson said it had selected its own lead vaccine candidate and would start human testing of its experimental coronavirus vaccine by September, with an eye on having it ready for emergency use in early 2021, the drugmaker said.

Read more here.

16:50 GMT – Migrants in India sprayed with disinfectant to fight coronavirus

Indian health workers have caused outrage by spraying a group of migrants with disinfectant, amid fears that a large-scale movement of people from cities to the countryside risked spreading the coronavirus.

Footage showed a group of migrant workers sitting on a street in Bareilly, a district in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, as health officials in protective suits used hoses to douse them in disinfectant, prompting anger on social media.

Read more here.

16:16 GMT – Italy coronavirus deaths rise by 812; number of new cases falls sharply

The death toll from an outbreak of coronavirus in Italy climbed by 812 to 11,591, the Civil Protection Agency said.

However, the number of new cases rose by just 4,050, the lowest amount since March 17, hitting a total of 101,739 from a previous 97,689.

Some 5,217 cases were recorded on Sunday and 5,974 on Saturday.

16:10 GMT – UK coronavirus death toll rises to 1,408

The United Kingdom coronavirus death toll rose to 1,408, according to figures released, an increase of 180, a smaller rise than the previous set of numbers.

The previous increase saw the death toll rise by 209.

16:00 GMT – Italy’s epidemic should stabilise soon, but vigilance needed – WHO

Lockdowns and stringent measures in place in Italy for the past two weeks should lead soon to a stabilisation in its coronavirus epidemic, but vigilant follow-up will be required, a senior official of the World Health Organization (WHO) said.

“We do hope that Italy and Spain are nearly there, but the virus won’t go down by itself, it needs to be pushed down through public health efforts,” Dr Mike Ryan, WHO’s top emergencies expert, told a news conference.

On Italy, Ryan said: “We should start to see stabilisation. The cases we see today really reflect exposures two weeks ago.”

15:54 GMT – Netanyahu under quarantine as aide tests positive for COVID-19

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his close aides have been placed under precautionary quarantine after a staff member within his office tested positive for the coronavirus, his office said.

In a statement, Netanyahu’s office said the quarantine decision was precautionary as the veteran prime minister had not been in recent proximity with the ill staffer.

Read more here.

15:30 GMT – Indigenous leaders issue plea for COVID pandemic protection

Indigenous leaders from across South America issued a desperate plea for protection against the COVID-19 pandemic, warning that the virus poses an “existential threat” to their communities.

With billions confined to their homes as the world tries to slow its unprecedented spread, tribes in the Amazon and Chaco regions are urging governments to ensure their territories are protected against outsiders possibly carrying the coronavirus.

“Indigenous people living in voluntary isolation are especially vulnerable to infectious disease as they don’t have any immunity at all against most diseases,” said Claudette Labonte, from the Congress of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA).

15:20 GMT – Colombia’s ELN guerrillas declare unilateral ceasefire amid pandemic

The National Liberation Army (ELN), the largest active guerrilla group in Colombia, will observe a unilateral ceasefire for one month from April 1 in an effort to help stem the spread of coronavirus, it said.

Health authorities in the Andean country have reported 702 cases and 10 deaths from COVID-19.

“The National Liberation Army considers it prudent to declare an active unilateral ceasefire for one month, until April 30, in a humanitarian gesture from the ELN to the Colombian people, who are suffering from the devastation of the coronavirus,” the leftist rebel group said on its website.

15:00 GMT – New Zealand police site crashes as Kiwis turn into shutdown snitches

New Zealanders have become so keen on reporting their neighbours for breaking coronavirus lockdown rules that police said a website dedicated to addressing the issue crashed soon after going live.

Residents are under orders to stay at home or remain at least two metres (6.5 feet) apart if they must go outside.

“We’ve had 4,200 reports of people believing others weren’t complying,” police commissioner Mike Bush told reporters. “It shows how determined Kiwis are that everyone complies with us.”

Bush said breaches included a party of about 60 people at a backpacker hostel in Queenstown and tourists continuing to travel the country in campervans.

14:40 GMT – Expo 2020 Dubai committee recommends one-year delay for world fair

Expo 2020 Dubai’s steering committee has agreed to study postponing the world fair by a year following requests by member states hit by the coronavirus, the organisers said.

A final decision on the postponement of the event due to start in October would be made by the Bureau International des Expositions’ (BIE) executive committee and the governing body’s general assembly, said a statement issued by the organisers.

“Many countries have been significantly impacted by COVID-19 and they have therefore expressed a need to postpone the opening of Expo 2020 Dubai by one year, to enable them to overcome this challenge,” Expo 2020 Dubai Director-General Reem Al Hashimy said, adding that UAE supported the proposal. 

A traveller wears a mask as he pushes a cart with luggage at the Dubai International Airport, after the UAE's Ministry of Health and Community Prevention confirmed the country's first case
The UAE has placed several restrictions to curb the coronavirus outbreak that include the suspension of international flights [File: Christopher Pike/Reuters]

14:21 GMT – Poland expects sharp rise in coronavirus infections

Poland is expecting rapid growth in coronavirus cases, Health Minister Lukasz Szumowski said, as the country braces for new restrictions aimed at curbing the pandemic.

So far, 1,984 people had tested positive for coronavirus in the country of 38 million, while 26 people had died, according to the health ministry.

“We are entering a new phase of the epidemic … We are expecting a very rapid growth in the number of infections in the coming weeks. This number will be rising at an exponential pace,” Szumowski told news conference.

14:05 GMT – Hungary approves extra government powers, with no end date 

Hungary’s parliament approved a bill giving Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government extraordinary powers during the coronavirus pandemic, without setting an end date for their expiration.

The bill was approved by Orban’s Fidesz party and other government supporters by 137 votes in favour to 53 against. It needed 133 votes to pass.

It has been criticised by opposition parties, international institutions and civic groups for failing include an expiration date for the government’s ability to rule by decree.

It also includes measures against false information which have raised concerns they they could be used by the government to muzzle independent media.

Read more here.

13:45 GMT – EU lists ‘critical workers’ needing to cross borders

The European Union released a list of the “critical workers” it says must be allowed continued freedom of movement across its internal borders, despite emergency coronavirus measures.

“Many of them have jobs that are important for us all to get through the crisis,” European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said in a video message.

The guidelines were put out as the EU’s executive tries to maintain unity and rules across the bloc, after some member state governments took unilateral steps to restrict the inflow of EU citizens.

Hello, this is Usaid Siddiqui in Doha taking over from my colleague Umut Uras

12:50 GMT – Tokyo Olympic Games to take place from July next year

The Tokyo Olympic Games will take place from July 23 to August 8, 2021, after they were postponed last week by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Japanese organisers because of the coronavirus pandemic.

This year’s Games were originally scheduled to run from July 24 until August 9..

Read more here.

A passerby wearing a protective face mask, following an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), walks past the Olympic rings in front of the Japan Olympics Museum in Tokyo, Japan March 24, 202
The Olympic Games were originally scheduled to start in July this year [Issei Kato/Reuters] 

12:40 GMT – Dutch coronavirus cases rise by 884: health authorities

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the Netherlands rose to 11,750 from a day earlier, with 884 new cases and 93 new deaths, health authorities said.

The Netherlands’ National Institute for Health (RIVM) confirmed the numbers, an 8.1 percent increase in cases, on its official Twitter account.

The total number of deaths increased to 864. 

12:27 GMT – Coronavirus economy: Recesssion or depression?

An increasing number of economists are warning of a recession in the United States, Europe and globally as coronavirus containment measures bring entire sectors of the world’s economy to a halt. 

Many have also compared the swiftness and severity of the coronavirus slowdown with the Great Depression that began in 1929.  

Read more here.

12:13 GMT – PM Johnson leads coronavirus action despite positive test: spokesman

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been able to do everything required to coordinate the government’s response to coronavirus after he tested positive for the virus last week, his spokesman said.

“He’s been able to do everything that he needs to do to lead the coronavirus response,” the spokesman said.

“Number 10 and across government, (we have) put in place contingency plans to ensure that we can carry on working throughout this outbreak, and that we have all the capacity we need to lead the nationwide response.”

In this handout photo provided by Number 10 Downing Street, Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson chairs the morning Covid-19 Meeting remotely after self isolating after testing positive for the coro
Boris Johnson has been in isolation since he tested positive for the coronavirus last week [AP]

12:06 GMT – Developing countries face economic collapse in COVID-19 fight: UN

The coronavirus outbreak threatens to disproportionately devastate the economies of already impoverished countries as they gear up to tackle a health crisis with extremely limited resources, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has warned.

The socioeconomic hit on poor and developing countries will take years to recover from, UNDP said in a report released on Monday, stressing that income losses in those countries are forecast to exceed $220bn. Nearly half of all jobs in Africa could be lost, it also warned. 

Read more here.

12:00 GMT – Belgium’s coronavirus death toll passes 500

Belgium’s death toll from the novel coronavirus passed the 500 mark, with almost 12,000 cases detected since the start of the epidemic.

Health authorities in the country of 11.4 million said 513 COVID-19 deaths had been recorded and 11,899 cases confirmed by laboratory tests.

However, officials said the rise in admissions to hospital and intensive care units had slowed slightly over the previous 24 hours.

“We’re not at the peak, but at what we call the inflection point – that means the force of the epidemic is beginning to diminish thanks to the efforts we have all made over the last two weeks,” said Emmanuel Andre, spokesman for government’s epidemic team.

On Friday, Belgium extended lockdown measures by two weeks to April 18 to slow the spread of the virus.

11:35 GMT – Goldman Sachs: Coronavirus crisis game-changer for oil sector

The coronavirus pandemic and resulting plunge in crude prices will result in a leaner, stronger oil industry but raise the risk of shortages further down the line, Goldman Sachs analysts said.

“If pipelines get clogged up as refineries shut down, inventories cannot build, reducing the cushion and creating a very quick risk reversal towards oil shortages,” Goldman said in a note.

This would, in turn, cause an oil shortage, pushing prices above the Wall Street bank’s $55 a barrel target for 2021, it said.

“This will likely be a game-changer for the industry,” the bank said.

“Big Oils will consolidate the best assets in the industry and will shed the worst … when the industry emerges from this downturn, there will be fewer companies of higher asset quality, but the capital constraints will remain.”

Oil has been hit disproportionately by the “coronacrisis”, sending landlocked crude prices into negative territory, Goldman said.

“Paradoxically, this will ultimately create an inflationary oil supply shock of historic proportions because so much oil production will be forced to be shut in,” it added. “The oil price war is made irrelevant by the large decline in demand and has made a coordinated supply response impossible to achieve in time.”

10:56 GMT – Libya frees more than 450 prisoners

Libyan authorities have announced the release of more than 450 prisoners as part of measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus that has infected at least eight people in the country.

A statement released by the internationally recognised government’s justice ministry on Sunday said officials decided “to free 466 detainees from correctional facilities” in Tripoli.

Read more here.

Police officers stand in the middle of the road during a curfew, imposed as part of precautionary measures against coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Misrata, Libya March 22, 2020. Picture taken March
Police officers stand in the middle of the road amid a coronavirus curfew in Misrata, Libya [Ayman Al-Sahili/Reuters]

10:46 GMT – UK PM Johnson’s adviser isolating with coronavirus symptoms

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s senior adviser, Dominic Cummings, has begun self-isolating with symptoms just days after the British leader tested positive.

A Downing Street spokesman said Cummings, widely seen as one of the most powerful men in the government, had developed symptoms of COVID-19 over the weekend.

Johnson on Friday became the first leader of a major world power to announce he had tested positive for the virus. His health minister, Matt Hancock, also tested positive and the government’s chief medical adviser, Chris Whitty, is self-isolating.

Dominic Cummings
Cummings is widely seen as one of the most powerful men in the British government [Hannah McKay/Reuters]

10:37 GMT – Russia weighs nationwide coronavirus lockdown

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin asked regional governors to consider introducing a partial lockdown to halt the spread of coronavirus after Russia recorded its biggest rise in cases for the sixth day in a row.

Russia’s official nationwide tally of coronavirus cases rose by 302, taking the total to 1,836. Nine people across Russia have died, the authorities say.

Authorities in Moscow ordered residents to stay at home from Monday, their toughest move yet after the number of official cases in the Russian capital passed the 1,000 mark.

Mishustin said he thought the measures now needed to be rolled out nationwide.

10:30 GMT – Austria to make basic face masks compulsory in supermarkets

Austria will require the public to wear basic face masks in supermarkets, where they will be handed out probably from Wednesday in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said.

“These masks are handed out in front of supermarkets it will be compulsory to wear them,” Kurz said, adding that the aim in the medium term was for people to wear them in public more often as well. The so-called MNS masks are below medical-grade, he said.

10:21 GMT – Lockdown in Zimbabwe likely to hit vulnerable people hard

Zimbabweans rushed to supermarkets on the eve of a three-week lockdown imposed by the government on Monday to contain the spread of COVID-19.

The threat of the new disease could not have come at a worse time for millions of Zimbabweans already struggling with a deepening economic crisis bringing soaring food prices, stagnant salaries, water shortages and daily power blackouts.

Many fear steps to curb coronavirus will hit vulnerable people hard.

Read Chris Muronzi’s story from Harare here.

Women carry  various foodstuffs at a local market in  Harare, Zimbabwe, Friday,March, 27, 2020.Zimbabwes public hospital doctors are on strike over what they called a lack of adequate protective  gear
Zimbabweans rushed to stock food on the eve of the lockdown [Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP]

09:45 GMT – Iran’s coronavirus death toll reaches 2,757

Iran’s death toll from the new coronavirus has increased to 2,757 with 117 new deaths in the past 24 hours, a health ministry spokesman told state TV, adding that the total number of cases has climbed to 41,495.

“In the past 24 hours, we had 117 new deaths and 3,186 new confirmed cases of people infected with the coronavirus,” Kianush Jahanpur told state TV, calling on Iranians to stay at home.

People wearing protective clothing, masks and gloves, attend a funeral of a victim who died after being infected with the new coronavirus, at a cemetery just outside Tehran, Iran, Monday, March 30, 20
People in Iran moving the body of a COVID-19 victim for burial [Ebrahim Noroozi/AP]

09:40 GMT – Spain passes China on number of cases

Spain’s total number of coronavirus cases rose to 85,195 from 78,797 on Sunday, the country’s health ministry said, as the infections surpassed China, which reported 81,470, according to the latest data.

The death toll from the virus in Spain rose to 7,340 on Monday from 6,528 on Sunday, the ministry said.

We recently reported on why the number of deaths in Spain is rising so quickly. You can read that article here.

09:05 GMT – India: No plan to extend coronavirus lockdown

India has no plans to extend a 21-day lockdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus, the government said, as it struggled to keep essential supplies flowing and prevent tens of thousands of out-of-work people fleeing to the countryside.

Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba told ANI, a Reuters news agency partner, that there was no plan to extend the shutdown beyond the three weeks, rejecting reports that a prolonged closure was likely.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered the country’s 1.3 billion people to remain indoors until April 15, saying that was the only hope to stop the spread.

Defying the lockdown, hundreds of thousands of workers who live on daily wages left big cities like Delhi and Mumbai on foot for their homes in the countryside, many with families.

A group of Indian daily wage laborers walk along an expressway hoping to reach their homes, hundreds of kilometers away, as the city comes under lockdown in Ghaziabad, on the outskirts of New Delhi, I
The lockdown in India has left millions of impoverished Indians jobless [Altaf Qadri/AP]

08:50 GMT – Israeli PM Netanyahu’s aide has coronavirus

An aide to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has tested positive for coronavirus but initial findings indicate she had not posed an infection risk to the 70-year-old leader, according to officials.

As a routine precaution, they said Netanyahu was scheduled to undergo a coronavirus test by Tuesday. A previous test, on March 15, found the prime minister to be negative.

Israel’s health ministry regulations generally require 14-day self-isolation for anyone deemed to have been in proximity with a carrier.

08:34 GMT – Philippines reports seven new coronavirus deaths

The Philippines’ health ministry reported seven new coronavirus deaths and 128 more infections.

Total deaths have risen to 78 and infections to 1,546, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told a regular news conference.

With the arrival of thousands of testing kits and the start of operations of more laboratories, authorities are able to detect more infections, she added.

07:34 GMT – Serbia to invest 5 billion euros to cope with coronavirus impact

Serbia plans to offer about five billion euros ($5.54bn) in loans and subsidies to businesses to help them cope with the economic impact of the coronavirus.

President Aleksandra Vucic said the state will also make a one-off payment of 100 euros to every Serbian citizen older than 18, or around five million of the total population of seven million.

So far, 13 people in Serbia have died from the coronavirus, and more than 700 have been infected.

To counter the outbreak, Serbia introduced stringent measures, including a state of emergency and an overnight lockdown for all.

A woman walks with dogs in a deserted street amid the coronavirus outbreak in downtown Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, March 26, 2020.   (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
So far, 13 people in Serbia have died from the coronavirus and more than 700 have been infected [Darko Vojinovic/AP]

07:14 GMT – People around the world pay tribute to healthcare workers

People around the world are paying tribute to front-line healthcare staff battling the coronavirus pandemic.

As lockdowns become increasingly common around the globe, citizens have expressed their gratitude in various ways to nurses, doctors and other health workers, who are on the frontline of the struggle.

06:50 GMT – Lockdown in India hits HIV patients hard

India’s ongoing strict COVID-19 lockdown has widely affected HIV-positive and chronic patients with critical conditions who are facing problems accessing health services.

With 21.4 million Indians living with HIV, according to the National Aids Control Organisation data in 2017, India is believed to be home to the third-largest population of HIV-positive people in the world.

Read more here.

A hospital in Kolkata, India
The strict lockdown means HIV-positive patients are having difficulty accessing treatment [Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters]

06:40 GMT – Thailand reports two new coronavirus deaths

Thailand’s public health ministry said two more people have died from the new coronavirus on Sunday, bringing the total number of deaths in the country to nine.

The two deaths were a 54-year-old Thai man in the southern province of Yala who had recently returned from Malaysia, and a 56-year-old Thai woman in Bangkok, said Anupong Sujariyakul, a senior official at the public health ministry’s Department of Disease Control.

Earlier on Monday, Thailand reported 136 new cases, raising the total number of infections to 1,524.

06:30 GMT – EasyJet grounds fleet, furloughs cabin crew for two months

British low-cost airline EasyJet said it had grounded its entire fleet of over 300 aircraft and reached a deal with its cabin crew for employees to be furloughed for two months under a government job-retention scheme.

The airline said there was no way to tell when commercial flights could restart.

Under a deal with Unite, the union which represents its cabin crew, EasyJet crew would not work for two months from April 1 and will receive 80 percent of their average pay under the government scheme.

An EasyJet passenger aircraft makes its final approach for landing in Colomiers near Toulouse
The airline said there was no way to tell when commercial flights could restart [File: Regis Duvignau/Reuters]

06:00 GMT – Guatemalan deported from US tests positive

A Guatemalan man who was deported from the US last week has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to a spokeswoman for the Guatemalan health ministry.

The 29-year-old was deported last Thursday on a flight chartered by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency. The flight had at least 40 others on board.

Read more on this story here.

A curfew to combat the spread of the virus in Guatemala has been extended until April 12.

05:50 GMT – Nepal extends lockdown until April 7

The government of Nepal extended a nationwide lockdown put in place on March 23 by another week. International flights will also be banned until April 15.

The Himalayan country has recorded a total of five infections.

05:35 GMT – Japan to ‘ban all travellers from US, China, Europe’

All visitors from the US, China, South Korea and most of Europe will be denied entry to Japan under new rules to curb coronavirus infections, according to the Asahi newspaper.

Citing government sources, Asahi said Japan’s foreign ministry is expected to also advise Japanese nationals to refrain from travelling to those countries.

04:51 GMT – Australia tightens curbs on public gatherings

New rules mandating that no more than two people can gather in public will come into effect in Australia at midnight on Monday, with the states of New South Wales and Victoria introducing hefty fines for people violating those restrictions.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said members of the public should leave their house only to buy food, attend medical appointments and for exercise.

Skate parks, outdoor gyms and public playgrounds will be closed across the country, he said.

04:20 GMT – Fears of a second wave of infections in China

Concern about a second wave of infections is growing in China amid official pressure to resume normal life, according to Al Jazeera’s Katrina Yu.

“In Wuhan, some shops are open, and malls are starting to open their doors. People who work in essential industries, such as the cement, steel and car industries, are starting to go back to work,” Yu said from Beijing.

Yu said officials are under “tremendous pressure to resume normal life” as President Xi Jinping travelled on Sunday to a port and an industrial park in eastern Zhejiang Province to inspect the resumption of work.

“He wants to get the economy going after two months at a standstill. And because of this urgency, there are fears it may be too soon and could result in a second wave of infections,” she said. “Officials are also under pressure to keep numbers down, and that’s causing fears they may not be transparent when it comes to reporting new cases.”

Management staff check QR codes on the mobile phones of people entering a shopping mall at its entrance in Wuhan
Staff check QR codes on the mobile phones of people entering a shopping mall in Wuhan, Hubei province [Aly Song/ Reuters]

03:15 GMT – Lockdown leaves migrant workers stranded in Thailand

When Thailand’s government started shutting down the capital, Bangkok last week, tens of thousands of migrant labourers who were suddenly out of work, scrambled to return home to Myanmar.

But for Ma Moe Moe returning home is not an option. The 44-year-old was fired from her job at a garment factory recently, but is hunkering down with her husband in Bangkok, saying she feared she might not be able to return to Thailand if she left.

“I am worried about bills because there is only one income source from my husband,” she told Al Jazeera. “Now that I have no job, I feel depressed.”

Read more about the plight of Thailand’s migrant workers here.

02:45 GMT – Twitter removes Bolsonaro tweets on virus quarantine

Twitter took down two tweets from Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro after he cast doubt on quarantine measures aimed at containing the new coronavirus.

The far-right leader had posted several videos on Twitter on Sunday in which he mingled with supporters in the streets of Brazilian capital, Brasilia, defending their right to work and calling for a “return to normality”.

In one of the deleted videos, Bolsonaro also criticised isolation measures put in place by health authorities, saying: “The country is immune when 60 to 70 percent are infected.” He also said a treatment for the coronavirus had been found, without offering proof for the claim, according to Globo news website.

Twitter said the posts violated its rules.

02:00 GMT – Argentina extends quarantine

Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez extended a nationwide quarantine until mid-April to stem the spread of the new coronavirus.

“We are going to extend the quarantine until the end of Easter. What do we aim to achieve? To keep the transmission of the virus under control,” he said in a televised message.

The mandatory measures were due to expire at the end of March. The lockdown will be lifted on April 12.
Argentina has had 820 confirmed cases and 20 deaths from COVID-19.

01:40 GMT – South Korea reports 78 new cases; total at 9,661

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 78 new cases in South Korea on Monday, down from 105 confirmed infections a day earlier.

The figure brings South Korea’s total infections from the beginning of the outbreak to 9,661.

The KCDC said this marked the 18th consecutive day that new infections hovered at 100 or fewer.

01:30 GMT – Japanese comedian dies

Ken Shimura, one of Japan’s best-known comedians, died of COVID-19 at a hospital in Tokyo, according to the public broadcaster NHK.

He was 70 years old. Many fans took to social media to pay tribute.

00:50 GMT – Death toll in New York state surpasses 1,000

More than 1,000 people have died from the coronavirus outbreak in New York state, according to a tally by The Associated Press news agency.

On Sunday evening, New York City said its toll had risen to 776. The total number of statewide deaths is not expected to be released until Monday, but with at least 250 additional deaths recorded outside the city as of Sunday morning, the total was at least 1,026, AP said.

00:30 GMT – China reports 31 new cases in mainland

The number of COVID-19 infections in China continues to slow with health authorities in Beijing reporting 31 new cases at the end of Sunday.

The figure includes one locally transmitted infection and marks a drop from the 45 cases reported a day earlier. There were no new cases for a sixth consecutive day in central Hubei province, where the coronavirus outbreak was first detected in December last year.

In mainland China, the total number of cases to date rose to 81,470 in the mainland, while the cumulative death toll increased to 3,304.

Hello, I’m Zaheena Rasheed in Male, Maldives, with Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

Read all the updates from yesterday, March 29 here.

Source: Al Jazeera