Global coronavirus death toll passes 40,000: Live updates

US fatalities exceed China’s tally, with more than 3,400 deaths, as Spain, UK and France report record rise in toll.

In this photograph taken from behind a window, doctors work on a Covid-19 patient in the intensive care unit of San Matteo Hospital, in Pavia, northern Italy, Thursday, March 26, 2020. The San Matteo

The death toll in the United States from the new coronavirus outbreak has surpassed the official tally in China, with more than more 3,400 fatalities recorded, according to data collected by the Johns Hopkins University. 

That means the US now has the third highest death toll after Italy and Spain, and the highest number of coronavirus cases in the world with more than 175,000. 

Further restrictions on movement are being considered in the US to curb the spread of the virus, with the country now reporting twice the number of cases as China where the outbreak began late last year.

Meanwhile, Spain, the United Kingdom and France each reported their biggest overnight jump in deaths since the start of the pandemic. 

Around the world, more than 820,000 people have been confirmed to have the virus, and at least 174,000 have recovered. More than 40,000 people have died.

Here are the latest updates.

Tuesday, March 31

20:50 GMT – UN chief: ‘COVID-19 worst crisis since WWII’

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that the world faces the most challenging crisis since World War II, confronting a pandemic threatening people in every country, one that will bring a recession “that probably has no parallel in the recent past.”

There is also a risk that the combination of the disease and its economic impact will contribute to “enhanced instability, enhanced unrest, and enhanced conflict,” the UN chief said at the launch of a report on the socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19.

20:11 GMT – Oman reports its first death from coronavirus

Oman’s health ministry reported its first death from coronavirus, a 72-year-old Omani man, state TV said on Twitter.

Oman reported as of March 31, 192 coronavirus cases in the sultanate.

20:00 GMT – Qatar’s airport staff reduced amid outbreak

Qatar’s Hamad International Airport has temporarily reduced the number of employees onsite by 40%, with most working from home or on annual leave, a Qatar Airways spokesman said.

“In a press conference earlier today, we confirmed that there had been a temporary reduction of 40% of staff at Hamad International Airport across various areas including food and beverage, retail and ground staff,” the spokesman told Reuters news agency. 

“This is purely a short-term response to the COVID-19 crisis and the reduction in passenger numbers through the airport.”

View of departures area at Hamad International airport in Doha, Qatar, June 20, 2017. Picture taken June 20, 2017. REUTERS/Deepa Babington
Qatar has suspended inbound flights as a precautionary measure to contain the spread of coronavirus [File: Deepa Babington/Reuters]

19:30 GMT – Teenager dies in London after testing positive for coronavirus

 A 13-year-old boy in London who tested positive for coronavirus has died, a UK hospital said. 

“Sadly, a 13-year old boy who tested positive for COVID-19 has passed away, and our thoughts and condolences are with the family at this time,” King’s College Hospital said in a statement.

“The death has been referred to the coroner and no further comment will be made.”

COVID-19: Gaza ramps up medical equipment production

19:20 GMT – Tunisia extends lockdown by two weeks

Tunisia will extend a lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus by two weeks to April 19, the presidency said in a statement.

Tunisia has confirmed 362 cases of the coronavirus and nine deaths and has imposed a general lockdown for over a week, preventing people from leaving their homes except to buy necessities or work in certain jobs.

Read more here

19:10 GMT – Qatar Airways sees ‘75% decrease in operations’ 

Qatar Airways’ operations have decreased by more than 75 percent, the chief operating officer of Hamad International Airport said on state TV. 

Badr Mohammed al-Meer said 75 percent of Qatar Airways’ fleet has been grounded and that will rise to 90 percent.

He said figures from Monday showed a 90 percent decrease in travellers compared to before the coronavirus crisis. 

19:00 GMT – Burundi confirms first 2 cases 

The tiny East African nation of Burundi has confirmed its first two coronavirus cases, the health ministry said in a statement. 

Both men were Burundian. One, 56, had recently returned from neighbouring Rwanda and the other, 42, had recently returned from Dubai, the statement posted on Twitter said.

18:45 GMT – Turkey’s coronavirus death toll exceeds 200

More than 200 people have died from COVID-19 in Turkey, which has ramped up tests to more than 15,000 a day, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced. 

Koca shared the latest figures on Twitter, saying that 46 people had died in the last 24 hours, which raised the country’s overall toll to 214.

With 2,704 more cases of the novel coronavirus, the total has reached 13,531.

18:30 GMT – Qatar reports 88 new cases of coronavirus

Qatar’s health ministry reported 88 new confirmed cases of coronavirus, taking its total number of infections to 781, as it also announced a second death from the virus. 

A total of 62 people have so far recovered from COVID-19, the ministry said in its daily update. 

18:25 GMT – US tourists tested positive after Mexico spring break

A group of 28 US tourists who returned to Texas from the Mexican beach resort of Cabo San Lucas have tested positive for coronavirus, the city of Austin said in a statement.

“About a week and a half ago, approximately 70 people in their 20’s departed in a chartered plane for a spring break trip. Some of the group returned on separate commercial flights. Currently, 28 young adults on this trip have tested positive for COVID-19 and dozens more are under public health investigation,” the statement said.

18:00 GMT – NY governor: ‘Your stupid actions don’t just affect you’

Al Jazeera’s Radmilla Suleymanova has this report from New York:

“New York Governor Andrew Cuomo blasted those ignoring strict social distancing orders to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, a day after crowds gathered to catch a glimpse of the USNS Comfort docking in New York Harbor.

‘You want to go out and act stupid for yourself that’s one thing. But your stupid actions don’t just affect you. You come home and can infect someone else and even cause death for them,’ Cuomo said during his daily briefing.

People gathered on the west side of Manhattan yesterday, taking photos, clapping and waving the American flag at the US Navy’s floating hospital equipped with 1000-beds to treat COVID-19 patients.”

People watch as USNS Comfort docks at Pier 90 in New York City during the outbreak of coronavirus in NY, US [Andrew Kelly/Reuters]
People watch as USNS Comfort docks at Pier 90 in New York City  [Andrew Kelly/Reuters] 

17:50 GMT – France reports record 499 deaths in 24 hours

France reported its highest daily number of deaths from coronavirus since the epidemic began, saying 499 more people had died in hospital to bring the toll to 3,523.

There are now 22,757 people hospitalised in France with COVID-19, with 5,565 of them in intensive care, health official Jerome Salomon told reporters in his daily update.

The French death toll includes only those who died in hospital and not those who died at home or in old people’s homes.  

17:45 GMT – First case in rebel-controlled eastern Ukraine 

Rebel-controlled eastern Ukraine has reported the first case of the coronavirus, the health minister of the self-proclaimed republic, Olga Dolgoshapko, told reporters in Donetsk. 

The conflict in eastern Ukraine, pitting Moscow-backed rebels against the Ukraine government, has killed more than 13,000 people since 2014.

17:30 GMT – Dutch schools, restaurants to stay shut till April 28

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said all schools, restaurants, and gyms would remain closed until at least April 28.

Rutte’s government on March 15 had ordered schools closed until April 6. A ban on public gatherings was strengthened last week and extended until June.

“Even after April 28 it will be a while before we get back to normal, don’t make plans for the May holidays,” Rutte told a news conference in The Hague, at which he also urged people to adhere to social distancing rules.

17:15 GMT – Saudi minister tells Muslims to wait on making Hajj plans

Saudi Arabia is urging Muslims to wait before making plans to attend the annual Hajj pilgrimage until there is more clarity about the coronavirus pandemic, the kingdom’s minister for Hajj and Umrah said, according to state television. 

Some 2.5 million pilgrims usually flock to the holiest sites of Islam in Mecca and Medina each year for the week-long ritual. 

In addition to closing mosques, Saudi Arabia has already halted international flights and suspended the year-round Umrah pilgrimage to Mecca. 

General view of Kaaba at the Grand Mosque which is almost empty of worshippers, after Saudi authority suspended umrah amid the fear of coronavirus outbreak, at Muslim holy city of Mecca
General view of Kaaba at the Grand Mosque in Mecca after Saudi authorities suspended Umrah [File: Ganoo Essa/Reuters]

17:10 GMT – US death toll exceeds China tally

The number of deaths in the US from coronavirus has surpassed those in China, where the pandemic began in December, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.

There have been 3,415 deaths in the US from the virus, the Baltimore-based university reported, more than the 3,309 in China.

There are 175,067 confirmed coronavirus cases in the US, the university said, the most of any country in the world.

Here is breakdown of how each US state is handling the pandemic. 

Can the United States control its coronavirus outbreak?

16:30 GMT – Ethiopia’s national elections postponed due to coronavirus

Ethiopia’s electoral commission said it would delay national elections scheduled for August because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The board will announce a new timeline once the pandemic had subsided, the Amharic-language statement said.

The August polls were seen as a key test of the reformist agenda of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. 

Read more here. 

16:10 GMT – More than 830 new deaths in Italy

The death toll from coronavirus in Italy has climbed by 837 to 12,428, the Civil Protection Agency said, with the daily tally rising, albeit slightly, for a second day running.

The number of new cases was broadly steady, growing by 4,053 against 4,050 on Monday, and bringing total infections since the outbreak came to light on February 21 to 105,792.

Keep track of all the confirmed cases around the world here

15:45 GMT – New York death toll up, more than 9,000 new cases

The death toll in New York state has risen to 1,550 from 1,218 the previous day, Governor Andrew Cuomo said. 

The number of confirmed cases also jumped by 9,298 to hit 75,795. 

“The virus is more powerful, more dangerous than we expected,” Cuomo told a daily news briefing. “We’re still going up the mountain, the main battle is on top of the mountain.”

15:30 GMT – Brother of NY governor tests positive

Chris Cuomo, the brother of New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo, has tested positive for coronavirus. 

Cuomo, who is a CNN anchor, said he is in quarantine in his basement and will continue to work from home. 

“I have been exposed to people in recent days who have subsequently tested positive and I had fevers, chills and shortness of breath,” he wrote on Twitter. “I just hope I didn’t give it to the kids and Cristina. That would make me feel worse than this illness!”

14:45 GMT – UK coronavirus deaths climb to 1,789

Britain has reported a record daily coronavirus toll of 381, more than double the number of deaths posted in the previous 24 hours.

“As of 5pm (1600 GMT) on 30 March, of those hospitalised in the UK, 1,789 have sadly died,” the health ministry said on its Twitter page, up from 1,408 on Monday.

The number of confirmed cases rose by 14 percent to 25,150 as of Tuesday at 0800 GMT, the Department for Health and Social Care said.

14:30 GMT – Death toll in Italy’s Lombardy rises by 381: Reuters

The death toll from an outbreak of coronavirus in the northern region of Lombardy, the epicentre of Italy’s contagion, has risen by around 381 in a day to some 7,199, a source familiar with the data told Reuters news agency. 

The daily deaths were down sharply from Monday’s tally of 458 and marked the lowest daily toll since March 25.

The number of cases in the region, which includes the country’s financial capital Milan, increased by some 1,047 to around 43,208, the source said.

14:15 GMT – Lockdowns may have saved 59,000 lives in Europe: study

Strict containment measures might have already saved up to 59,000 lives across 11 European countries battling the spread of the new coronavirus, experts in the UK say.

Basing their modelling on the numbers of recorded deaths from COVID-19, researchers from Imperial College London said most countries it looked at had likely dramatically reduced the rate at which the virus spreads.

Using the experiences of countries with the most advanced epidemics like Italy and Spain, the study compared actual fatality rates with an estimate of what would have happened with no measures such as school closures, event cancellations and lockdowns.

14:00 GMT – What the coronavirus lockdown looks like from space

What the coronavirus lockdown looks like from space
What the coronavirus lockdown looks like from space [Al Jazeera]

More than a third of the world’s population is now under lockdown as an increasing number of countries implement sweeping measures to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Before and after satellite images show the impact of the measures on cities worldwide.

See more here.

13:50 GMT – England’s coronavirus death toll rises to 1,651

The death toll in England from the coronavirus outbreak rose 29% to 1,651, the National Health Service said.

“Patients were aged between 19 and 98 years old and all but 28 patients (aged between 19 and 91 years old) had underlying health conditions,” it added.

Scotland said 60 people had died as of Tuesday. Wales said 69 people had died.

13:30 GMT – India links coronavirus cases to Muslim gathering 

Authorities in the Indian capital, New Delhi, have sealed off the premises of Tablighi Jamaat, a Muslim missionary movement, claiming a religious gathering it organised from March 13-15 ignored the threat of the coronavirus.

The Delhi government also asked police to file a criminal case against the group, one of the country’s oldest Islamic organisations, for flouting guidelines and not maintaining social distancing.

Read more here.

Men wearing protective masks wait for a bus that will take them to a quarantine facility, amid concerns about the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Nizamuddin area of New Delhi
Men wait for a bus that will take them to a quarantine facility, amid concerns about the spread of coronavirus disease in Nizamuddin area of New Delhi [Adnan Abidi/Reuters]

13:15 GMT – Russian doctor who met Putin last week ‘tests positive’

A doctor who gave Russian President Vladimir Putin a tour of Moscow’s main coronavirus hospital last week has been diagnosed with the virus, the Rossiya 24 state TV channel reported.

Putin visited the Kommunarka hospital last Tuesday where he interacted with the doctor, Denis Protsenko.

Russian President Putin visits a hospital for patients infected with coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on the outskirts of Moscow
Putin shakes hands with the hospital’s chief physician Protsenko during a visit to the hospital for patients infected with coronavirus disease (COVID-19), on the outskirts of Moscow on March 24, 2020 [Sputnik/Alexey Druzhinin/Kremlin via Reuters]

They shook hands and neither of them were wearing protective equipment during their conversation, TV footage from the visit showed.

The Kremlin said Putin was being regularly tested for coronavirus and that “everything is okay,” the RIA news agency reported.

Hello. This is Saba Aziz in Doha, taking over from my colleague Ramy Allahoum

12:50 GMT – US House Speaker Pelosi urges stronger federal response to coronavirus

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has urged the Trump administration to do more to implement widespread testing and deliver critical health supplies to combat the coronavirus, saying there needed to be a more coordinated response.

In an interview on MSNBC, Pelosi said Trump should immediately leverage the Defense Production Act to spur production of more ventilators for patients and personal protective equipment for healthcare workers.

12:40 GMT – Netherlands coronavirus death toll rises by 175 to 1,039

The Netherlands has reported 175 new deaths from the coronavirus, bringing its total number of fatalities to 1,039.

Meanwhile, the number of confirmed infections increased by 845 to 12,595, the Netherlands’ National Institute for Health said. 

12:35 GMT – France to ramp up production of face masks, respirators 

French President Emmanuel Macron announced his country would quickly ramp up production of face masks and  respirators to respond to urgent needs of hospitals and caregivers. 

During a visit to a face mask factory, Macron said France needs at least 40 million face masks per week and that current domestic production and stocks were insufficient. The country’s factories would boost output and by end-April they should be able to produce 15 million face masks per week, he said.

Macron also said that France has put together a consortium to build more ventilators. The group will be led by respirator maker Air Liquide and will also include car parts maker Valeo, car maker PSA and Schneider Electric.

12:30 GMT – Armenia extends emergency restrictions 

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said is government was extending emergency restrictions for another 10 days in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus. 

The ex-Soviet country of about 3 million reported 532 cases of coronavirus as of Tuesday, the highest number in the South Caucasus region, including 30 who recovered. Three patients were confirmed. 

12:05 GMT – Sierra Leone reports first case

Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio has announced the country’s first case of coronavirus: a 37-year-old man who travelled from France on March 16 and had been in isolation since.

“When I did my first coronavirus press conference, I said that it was not a matter of if, but when. Well, ‘when’ has come,” Bio said in a televised address

He did not announce any new measures to tackle the pandemic.

11:59 GMT – Khat traders, farmers take a hit 

Halima Ali Mohamud, a widow, depends on a red-stemmed, chewable green shrub to support herself and five children.

“Selling khat is the only job I have known since I was young,” the 39-year-old told Al Jazeera. “I have no other profession. It is a profitable business. With khat, I can feed my family and pay my rent as well as school fees.”

Halima, who plies her trade in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, used to receive a daily consignment of two bags from Kenya. But things changed some two weeks ago when the Somali government announced a ban on international flights other than humanitarian ones as part of efforts to contain the spread of the new coronavirus. 

Read the story by Amanda Sperber and Abdalle Ahmed Mumin here

A man chews khat in Mogadishu
Khat is a wildly popular herbal stimulant in Somalia [File: Feisal Omar/Reuters]

11:40 GMT – Japan’s coronavirus strategy faces breaking point 

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his deputy will no longer attend meetings together to cut exposure to the coronavirus, as pressure for a lockdown builds and a minister warned the country’s containment strategy was stretched to the limit.

The decision comes as Japan’s Foreign Ministry announced that foreign nationals from the United States, China and South Korea, as well as most of Europe, will be banned from entering the country.

Abe told cabinet members that his second-in-command, Taro Aso, would no longer be present at any meeting the prime minister attends, a government spokesman said, in a move to guard the leadership against infection that could hamper Japan’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Read more here

11:30 GMT – Philippines reports largest increase in cases, deaths 

The Philippines’ health ministry reported its single largest daily increase in coronavirus deaths and infections.

Ten more people died because of the virus, bringing the total number of fatalities to 88, while 538 additional infections increased overall cases to 2,084, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said. 

11:15 GMT – Russia cases reach 2,337 in record daily jump 

The number of coronavirus cases in Russia rose by 500 to 2,337, the biggest daily jump for the seventh day in a row.

Health authorities reported 18 deaths, while 121 people have recovered.

11:00 GMT – Doctor’s Note: Does coronavirus cause loss of smell and taste? 

We have all heard about some of the more common symptoms of coronavirus – a persistent, dry cough and a high temperature. If you have either of these symptoms, then you must stay at home and self-isolate for at least seven days.

But as time has gone on, we have learned a lot more about the virus and how it behaves; and it is clear that like most infections, different people exhibit different symptoms.  

Now, people are starting to report losing their sense of taste and smell. And it seems that a loss in some people’s sense of smell (anosmia) or loss of sense of taste (ageusia) can be the only symptoms they have at all. 

Read more here

10:45 GMT – Indonesia cases, deaths increase

Indonesia reported 114 new coronavirus infections, bringing the total to 1,528, according to a health ministry spokesperson.

Another 14 people had died, taking the total to 136, the official, Achmad Yurianto, reported.

10:30 GMT – Spain death toll rises by 849 in highest jump yet 

Spain’s coronavirus death toll rose by 849 cases overnight to 8,189, the highest jump in fatalities since the start of the epidemic, the health ministry said.

The total number of infections rose to 94,417 from 85,195 the previous day.

10:00 GMT – Iran’s death toll reaches 2,898

Iran’s health ministry announced 141 new deaths from coronavirus overnight, bringing the total number of fatalities to 2,898. 

“In the past 24 hours, there has been 3,111 new cases of infected people. Unfortunately, 3,703 of the infected people are in a critical condition,” Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur told state TV.

People wearing protective clothing carry the body of a victim who died after being infected with the new coronavirus at a cemetery just outside Tehran, Iran, Monday, March 30, 2020. The new coronaviru
The body of a coronavirus victim is taken to a cemetery just outside Tehran [Ebrahim Noroozi/AP]

09:40 GMT – Swedish economy to shrink by four percent in 2020

Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson has said Sweden’s gross domestic product is seen shrinking four percent this year as the economy slumps due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“We have a very serious economic situation, both in Sweden and globally,” she told reporters. “This is both a demand and supply shock that is spreading between countries.”

The government has introduced measures, including subsidies for shorter working hours, tax rebates and loan guarantees, and easier rules for claiming benefits, to ease the blow

09:30 GMT – March was biggest month on record for UK grocery sales 

British grocery sales soared 20.6% year-on-year in the four weeks to March 22 as shoppers stocked up before the country went into lockdown, making it the biggest month on record for grocery sales, industry data showed.

Market researcher Kantar said growth was driven by people shopping more frequently and buying slightly more, with the average household spending an extra 62.92 pounds ($77.36) over the four weeks.

09:20 GMT – Congo’s ex-president Yhombi-Opango dies of coronavirus 

Jacques Joaquim Yhombi-Opango, former president of the Republic of the Congo, has died after contracting coronavirus, his family said.

Former Congo Republic leader, Jacques-Joachim Yhomby-Opango, speaks to reporters while in exile in Ivory Coast October 28. Yhomby Opango, a former prime-minister, put his name to a call by the ousted
Yhomby-Opango He led Congo-Brazzaville from 1977 until he was toppled in 1979 [Denis Sassou Nguesso/Reuters]

Yhombi-Opango died in a Paris hospital on Monday. He was 81.

Read more here

09:00 GMT – UK police accused of abusing power to enforce COVID-19 lockdown 

As Britons navigate their way around restrictions to try and contain the spread of the new coronavirus, there are growing fears that police officers are abusing their new powers.

Some British police might have gone too far, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told Sky News on Tuesday, less than a week after the UK approved emergency legislation that gave police the power to issue instant 30-pound ($37) fines to people who gather in groups of more than two people or leave their homes without good reason such as for work, food-shopping or exercise.

Read more here

08:50 GMT – ‘Hunger will kill us before coronavirus,’ say Rohingya in India

Din Mohammad does everything he can to keep his family and fellow Rohingya refugees healthy during a three-week lockdown enforced by the Indian government to fight the coronavirus.

For the past week, Mohammad, 59, who lives with his wife and five children in Madanpur Khadar refugee camp in the capital, New Delhi, makes rounds of shanties to ensure people are maintaining social distancing and keeping their huts clean.

But he knows these measures are hard to implement in crowded refugee camps like theirs, where people live in cramped conditions lacking basic facilities like toilets and clean water.

Read more here.

08:45 GMT – Spain proposes EU budget to address coronavirus crisis

Spain’s Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez has proposed increasing the European Union’s budget to address the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Perhaps we should improve European cashflow, perhaps the European budget should be larger,” Gonzalez said on French radio station Europe1.

Gonzalez said the European Central Bank and the European Commission have announced efforts but that these fall short of the solidarity needed between European Union member states.

08:40 GMT – Bulgaria will have to raise $2.36bn to deal with crisis: Finance minister

The coronavirus crisis will prompt Bulgaria to raise 4.2 billion levs ($2.36bn) in debt this year to finance an expected fiscal gap and pledges for loan guarantees to businesses, its finance minister said.

Vladislav Goranov said that, under an adverse scenario, he expected the small and open economy to contract by 3% versus previous estimates of 3.3% growth.

On Monday, the government revamped its fiscal plans to run a deficit of 2.9% of economic output this year and raised the ceiling on new debt it can raise to 10 billion levs.

08:30 GMT – Thailand coronavirus cases reach 1,651

Thailand confirmed 127 new coronavirus cases and one death, a health official said.

The latest number raises the total number of confirmed infections in Thailand to 1,651 cases and 10 deaths.

Firefighters spray disinfectant using high pressure pump trucks to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), on the main road in Jakarta, Indonesia, March 31, 2020. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan
Firefighters spray disinfectant using high-pressure pump trucks in Jakarta, Indonesia [Willy Kurniawan/Reuters]

08:10 GMT – Coronavirus cases at Amazon raise spectre of disruptions, closure

News reports that a handful of Amazon US warehouse workers have contracted the virus raise the potential of future site closures and operational disruptions at the world’s largest online retailer.

The COVID-19 cases led to unrest among some staff. Fifteen of the 5,000-plus workers at the Amazon warehouse in Staten Island, New York, staged a walkout on Monday. The company fired one of them who it emerged was supposed to be under paid quarantine and not at the site.

Employees have also protested in other countries, including dozens of Amazon workers at a facility near Florence, Italy, this week.

07:50 GMT – Coronavirus tracking app must be voluntary: German minister

German Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht told Deutschlandfunk radio that tracking apps to help tackle coronavirus could only be used voluntarily in Germany.

“It’s a real infringement if I have such data so I can only agree with everyone who says that if there is such a solution that actually breaks the chains of infection, it’s only possible if those who have it on their mobile phones and so use it do so voluntarily,” Lambrecht said.

Germany hopes to launch a smartphone app within weeks to help trace coronavirus infections, after a broad political consensus emerged that adopting an approach pioneered by Singapore can be effective without invading people’s privacy.

07:30 GMT – Czech Republic’s coronavirus cases surpass 3,000

The number of coronavirus cases in the Czech Republic surged past the 3,000 mark, the Central European country’s health ministry said, after 184 news cases were recorded the previous day.

Of the 43,000 tests carried out, the ministry said 3,001 infections were detected, of which 25 people have recovered. Fatalities stood at 23.

07:25 GMT – First coronavirus death reported in Tanzania

Tanzania reported its first death from the coronavirus, Health Minister Ummy Mwalimu said in a statement.

The patient, a 49-year-old male who had pre-existing health conditions, was admitted to Mloganzila hospital in the capital, Dar Es Salaam, for treatment. The East African country has recorded 19 infections as of Monday.

People wearing face masks to protect against the spread of the new coronavirus walk on a Yokohama China Town near Tokyo, Tuesday, March 31, 2020. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
People wearing masks to protect against the spread of coronavirus in Yokohama near Tokyo [Koji Sasahara/AP]

07:15 GMT – China to postpone national university entrance exam

China will postpone the annual national “gaokao” university entrance examinations by one month to July 7 and 8 due to the coronavirus outbreak, the state-run China Central Television reported.

Hubei province, the centre of China’s outbreak, and the capital Beijing will be allowed to put forward suggestions for their own timetables for the tests.

06: 45 GMT – News you might have missed

Australia thinks it might be slowing the rate of infections after implementing strict new quarantine measures for overseas arrivals and social distancing.

More countries in the Asia Pacific are imposing distancing measures – Vietnam is due to do so on Wednesday, while Indonesia is banning overseas arrivals and transit passengers, and Japan is telling its citizens not to travel to 73 countries and territories.

The WHO in the Western Pacific is urging the region not to let down its guard and maintain not only physical distancing but measures to identify, isolate and track contacts of those found to have the virus.

06:04 GMT – Number of coronavirus cases in Germany rises to 61,913

The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Germany has risen to 61,913, and 583 people have died of the disease, statistics from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Tuesday.

Cases rose by 4,615 compared with the previous day, while the death toll climbed by 128, the tally showed.

05:15 GMT – Japan containment under strain, PM and deputy to avoid joint meetings

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his deputy Taro Aso will stop attending meetings together to cut the risk of coronavirus, according to a government spokesman.

“We’re just barely holding it together,” Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura told reporters on Tuesday. “If we loosen our grip even a little, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a sudden surge (in cases).”

Japan has more than 2,000 cases of coronavirus with 59 deaths, according to national broadcaster NHK.

japan blog entry
Pedestrians wearing protective face masks wait at Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo [Issei Kato/Reuters]

05:05 GMT – Indonesia closes door to overseas arrivals, transit by non-Indonesians

Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi is to suspend all arrivals and transit by non-Indonesians except for foreigners with residence permits and some diplomatic visits.

The regulations are expected to be issued later on Tuesday, she said. Screening for Indonesians arriving from overseas is also expected to be stepped up.

05:00 GMT – Vietnam to implement social distancing from April 1

Vietnam is to introduce social distancing measures from Wednesday.

The restrictions will remain in place for 15 days.

04:55 GMT – More cases in Czech Republic, Thailand

The Czech Republic and Thailand have each just reported a further rise in cases, according to Reuters.

The Czech Republic says it confirmed 184 new cases on March 30, bringing the total to 3,001. The central European nation has tested more than 43,000 people for the virus and is ramping up the programme.

Thailand, meanwhile, reported 127 new cases and one death. The country now has 1,651 cases.

04:45 GMT – Bolsonaro’s ‘political calculation’ on coronavirus

Brazil’s right-wing president, Jair Bolsonaro, is placing the burden of tackling the coronavirus on the country’s local administrations in the hope that he will benefit, according to Sao Paolo journalist Gustavo Ribeiro, who spoke to Al Jazeera.

“If the (locally imposed) measures work and the community can see some normality returning he will say ‘Look: I told you it was nothing’,” Ribeiro said.

Sam Cowie has more on Bolsonaro as he continues to defy international guidelines on curbing the spread of COVID-19.

bolsonaro blog entry
President Jair Bolsonaro speaks to journalists about the coronavirus pandemic at the Planalto Presidential Palace in Brasilia [Andre Borges/AP Photo]

04:30 GMT – Children in South Korea to start next school term at home

Children in South Korea are due to return to school next week, but will do so from home, like millions of others around the world.

Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun says plans are being finalised to implement remote learning, with online classes to start at some schools on April 9, before expanding to other institutions.

04:00 GMT – Myanmar reports first COVID-19 death

Myanmar has reported its first death from the coronavirus – a 69-year-old man who also had cancer and died in a Yangon hospital.

The health ministry says the man had sought medical treatment in Australia and stopped in Singapore on his way home.

Myanmar has confirmed 14 cases of the virus, mostly in people who have travelled overseas.

03:45 GMT – Australia optimistic measures beginning to slow infections

Australia is optimistic that its strict measures on physical distancing are helping slow the spread of the coronavirus, but is urging people against complacency.

Health Minister Greg Hunt told a televised media conference the country had about 4,400 coronavirus cases, with the rate of growth in new infections slowing from 25-30 percent a week ago to an average of 9 percent over the past three days.

Australia Bondi Beach
Beaches, like Sydney’s Bondi, have been closed as Australia enforces tough distancing measures [James Gourley/EPA]

There were “early promising signs of the curve flattening,” Hunt said.

If you are wondering why the WHO has now begun using the term physical distancing rather than social distancing, Saba Aziz explains here.

03:15 GMT – WHO in Western Pacific urges region not to ‘let down guard’ in COVID-19

The WHO office for the Western Pacific is holding a virtual press conference on the outbreak in the region.

Regional Director Dr Takeshi Kasai noted that while the region – outside China – had yet to see “large-scale community transmission” he stressed the fight against the virus was a “long-term battle” requiring sustained contact tracing, physical distancing measures and the commitment of every single member of society.

“We cannot let down our guard,” he said.

02:40 GMT – ‘Stay away’: Japan puts 73 countries and territories off-limits

Japan’s Foreign Ministry is urging citizens not to travel to 73 countries and regions, including the US, Canada and the United Kingdom.

The country earlier announced new dates for the virus-delayed Tokyo Olympics. The summer games are now scheduled to start on 23 July next year.

02:30 GMT – Spain to tighten movement restrictions from Tuesday

Spain is moving to tighten a three-week lockdown to slow the spread of the virus.

Healthcare workers account for about 14 percent of all those confirmed with the virus, which Jose Hernandez, an academic at the University of Cordoba told Al Jazeera “is arguably the most alarming news of all”.

Read more of Alasdair Fortheringham’s report from Granada here.

02:10 GMT – Mexico announces health emergency as cases climb past 1,000

Mexico’s government has announced a health emergency after the number of cases in the country passed 1,000 and deaths increased to 28.

All non-essential activities will be suspended until April 30, and the number of people allowed to gather limited to 50.

Health authorities are also urging vulnerable people and those over the age of 60 years old to observe stay-at-home recommendations.

01:30 GMT – First Catholic cardinal confirmed with COVID-19

Cardinal Angelo De Donatis has been diagnosed with the coronavirus, the first cardinal known to have the disease.

De Donatis, who is the vicar general of the Diocese of Rome, has been admitted to hospital, according to the Catholic News Agency.

The 66-year-old became a cardinal in 2018.

Pope Vatican
Pope Francis delivered an extraordinary ‘Urbi et Orbi’ (to the city and the world) blessing – normally given only at Christmas and Easter – from an empty St Peter’s Square on Friday. The cardinal responsible for Rome has now been diagnosed with COVID-19 [Yara Nardi/Pool via Reuters]

00:45 GMT – China reports 48 new cases

China has just released its daily coronavirus update, with 48 confirmed new cases.

The National Health Commission says all the cases came from overseas and there have been no new local infections.

China requires centralised quarantine for everyone arriving from overseas, and is maintaining strict distancing measures. State media is reminding people that those rules will be strictly enforced.

00:30 GMT – Pentagon reports first coronavirus death of US soldier

The Pentagon has reported the first death of a US soldier from COVID-19.

The man was a New Jersey Army National Guardsman and had been in hospital since March 21.

Mark Esper, the US defence secretary, said it was a “sad day” for the country’s military and a “stinging loss”.

00:00 GMT – Indonesia urged to release ‘wrongfully held’ from overcrowded jails

Human Rights Watch is urging Indonesia to release all those held ‘wrongfully’ in its jails, including all Papua political prisoners amid a growing risk of COVID-19 in the country’s overcrowded prisons.

HRW’s Indonesia researcher Andreas Harsono says the Ministry of Law and Human Rights, which manages the prison system, should also consider alternatives to detention for those nearing the end of their sentences and people jailed for minor offences such as failing to pay a fine.

Harsono says there were 270,000 people in prison as of March 23, more than double the system’s capacity. The trial of six West Papuan activists charged with treason is also continuing with more than 50 others on trial across the country.

Read all the updates from yesterday (March 30) here.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies