Widespread Clampdown Takes Hold; Spanish Emergency: Virus Update
Fear closed the world in on itself as nations, from the U.S. to much of Europe and Latin America, took measures to shield citizens from coronavirus infection.
That meant shutting borders, airports and, in France, its cafes and restaurants. Spain declared an emergency. Italy continued to be battered, reporting 175 new deaths to raise its total to 1,441.
U.S. President Donald Trump took the test for coronavirus and extended travel bans to the U.K. and Ireland. New York City reported its first fatality.
- Cases rose to nearly 145,000 worldwide, with deaths almost 5,300
- France’s prime minister says people ignore warnings
- China now has 80,824 confirmed cases, with its death toll rising by 13 on Friday to 3,189
- New York City is unprepared for large caseload
- African nations from Rwanda to Mauritania reported first cases
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Spain Declares State of Emergency (4:16 p.m. NY)
Spaniards’ freedom of movement will be significantly limited for the next 15 days under the state of emergency declared by Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.
The Spanish government will take full control of administration nationwide, Sanchez said in an address. People will only be allowed to leave their houses in specific circumstances, he said.
GOP Chairwoman Tested for Virus (4:10 p.m. NY)
Ronna Romney McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, has been tested for the coronavirus after experiencing fever and flu-like symptoms.
“She went to her local hospital in Michigan for treatment,” RNC communications director Michael Ahrens said in a statement posted on Twitter.
McDaniel has blaming Democrats for using the virus as a way to spread panic and undermine President Trump.
France Closes Cafes, Restaurants, Shops (3:55 p.m. NY)
France is shuttering restaurants, cafes and shops deemed non-essential, following in the footsteps of neighboring Italy to curb the new coronavirus’s spread.
“Too many people still go to cafes and restaurants,” French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said at a press conference in Paris on Saturday. Philipe “We must show more discipline.”
At least 4,500 people in France have contracted the virus, double from 72 hours ago.
Canadians Warned Over Travel Abroad (3:50 p.m. NY)
Canadians are being urged to avoid non-essential travel. “New restrictions may be imposed with little warning.” Global Affairs Canada posted on its travel advisory website. “Your travel plans may be severely disrupted and you may be forced to remain outside of Canada longer than expected.”
Norway Closes Airport, Borders (2:07 p.m. NY)
Norway will shut all airports, ports and border crossings, calling in the army to help enforce what appears to be the nation’s closure to the outside world, Prime Minister Erna Solberg announced.
The nation may also seek infection control gear from China.
Countries around Europe, from Spain to Russia, are announcing measures to restrict the movement of people both inside and outside their nations.
FDA Clears Druggists to Make Sanitizer (2:15 p.m. NY)
The Food and Drug Administration is encouraging licensed pharmacists and physicians to make their own batches of hand sanitizer to combat widespread shortages. The agency is worried that home-made concoctions are not as safe to use as what pharmacists and doctors could make, using high-quality ingredients and at least 60% alcohol.
Hand sanitizer has mostly disappeared from physical stores around the nation as well as from most on-line retailers.
Alitalia Makes Face Masks Mandatory on Board (1:20 p.m. NY)
Alitalia said it will immediately require all passengers to wear facial masks onboard flights. The masks must be provided by the passengers themselves, a difficulty given the shortage in Italy, the epicenter of the coronavirus outside of China.
The locked-down nation announced another 175 deaths on Saturday, for a total of 1,441 dead. The total cases rose to 21,157.
Medical Experts Say NYC Hospitals Unprepared (1:35 p.m. NY)
New York City’s hospitals, among the best in the world, may still not be ready for the coronavirus outbreak, according to many health care experts.
“We are not prepared to deal with a rapid and severe surge of patients — we’re just not,” said Christopher M. Tedeschi, a longtime emergency physician and assistant professor at the Columbia University Medical Center.
New York City reported its first coronavirus death, an 82-year-old woman with respiratory illness, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said.
Trump Takes Test; Bans Travel (12:53 p.m. NY)
President Donald Trump said he took a coronavirus test and noted travel will be banned from the U.K. and Ireland. The rest of Europe falls under an essential no-entry policy announced last week.
Trump said he took the virus test on Friday night, and had his temperature taken early Saturday before appearing at a White House news conference. His temperature was “totally normal,” he said as he left the briefing room.
He said he expects results back in “a day or two.”
The U.S. added Great Britain and Ireland to its current international travel ban, effective late Monday. U.S. citizens flying home will still be able to enter, but will be checked at one of 13 airports, and if they show symptoms of the virus will be asked to self-quarantine for 14 days, Vice President Mike Pence said.
White House Checks Temperatures (12 p.m. NY)
The White House is now checking the temperatures of anyone coming in close contact with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, a deputy press secretary said.
The moves are being made “out of an abundance of caution,” Judd Deere said in an emailed statement.
Trump on Friday said he “most likely” will be tested “fairly soon” after a Mar-a-Lago meeting last weekend with several people — including members of an official delegation from Brazil — who later fell ill.
Belgium Warns Against Travel (11:53 a.m. NY)
Belgium is telling citizens not to travel abroad and warned that the risk of being stranded is “very high.” The foreign ministry said it can’t guarantee travelers will be able to return home as countries around the world start to close borders.
French Minister Tests Positive (11:57 a.m. NY)
Brune Poirson, France’s junior environment minster, tested positive for the coronavirus, AFP reported, citing the minister’s office.
Casinos Close (11:42 a.m. NY)
Casinos in Massachusetts and Illinois are closing for at least two weeks in response to the outbreak. In Portugal, casino operator Estoril Sol SGPS SA said it would shut its three properties.
Swiss Consider Drive-Through Tests (11:26 a.m. NY)
Switzerland is looking into drive-through tests, an approach already used in other countries, Interior Minister Alain Berset said in a radio interview.
U.K. Deaths Double (11:20 a.m. NY)
The number of U.K. deaths from the outbreak rose by 10 in the past 24 hours to a total of 21. The number of confirmed cases rose to 1,140 on Saturday, from 798 the day before.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is considering a ban on large public gatherings, which could come into force next weekend, an official said. He is under pressure from some medics and politicians to take a more aggressive approach to fighting the virus.
New York Cases Rise (10:35 am. NY)
New York reported 100 new cases, pushing the total to 524, and Governor Andrew Cuomo said accelerated testing will lead to a rapid rise in total infections. An 82-year-old woman with a respiratory illness died in New York City, the state’s first Covid-19 fatality.
A drive-through testing facility in New Rochelle worked “very well” and another center will open on Long Island next week, Coumo said.
Spain’s Lockdown (10:27 a.m. NY)
The lockdown will be implemented from Monday morning and mean Spaniards can only leave their homes under limited circumstances, like going to work or buying groceries, El Mundo said, citing a draft decree that the cabinet of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez is set to approve on Saturday.
The lockdown was already being implemented in terms of travel to Spain, the Telegraph newspaper reported. Some planes on their way to vacation spots in the country were forced to turn back mid-flight on Saturday and Jet2 airlines has now canceled its flights to Spain, the newspaper reported.
Ferrari Suspends Production (9:21 a.m. NY)
The Italian supercar maker will suspend production at the Maranello and Modena plants until March 27, according to people familiar with the matter.
The decision follows a similar move by Volkswagen AG’s Lamborghini, which suspended production in Italy until March 25. Production at a Renault-Nissan plant in Barcelona has also been stopped because of supply-chain disruptions.
Berlin Suspends Jail Time (9:21 a.m. NY)
Berlin is suspending some imprisonments to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection and save medical resources, according to German news agency DPA. Authorities will delay jail time by four months for unpaid fines, DPA said.
Middle East Shutdowns (9:10 a.m. NY)
Countries across the Middle East shut down schools and tourist attractions.
Egypt will close schools and universities for two weeks and Oman’s close for a month, according to reports from state-run media. Abu Dhabi will shut tourist attractions and cultural sites, including a branch of the Louvre museum, until the end of the March.
The United Arab Emirates temporarily suspended issuance of all visas, excluding diplomats, according to its official news agency, WAM.
In Kuwait, four more people have been infected with the virus, bringing the number cases to 104.
France Mulls Air France-KLM Stake (9:19 a.m. NY)
The French government is looking at potentially raising its stake in Air France-KLM to help prop up the airline, according Les Echos, which cited people close to the matter. The government is studying a possible capital increase, the newspaper said.
A spokesman for the French Finance Minister said the state will help all companies in which it has a stake.
Prominent Italians Test Positive (8:02 a.m. NY)
Nine players in Italy’s top soccer league, Serie A, tested positive for the coronavirus, according to daily Gazzetta dello Sport. Games have been suspended until at least April 3.
Italy’s Health Undersecretary Pierpaolo Sileri has also been confirmed with the illness. He said he’s been in isolation and working remotely since he’s had symptoms.
Europe Tightens Borders (7:45 a.m. NY)
European countries added border restrictions to curb the spread of the virus across the continent.
Russia’s Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin signed orders Saturday to close the border with Poland and Norway for most foreign citizens from March 15. Switzerland said it would turn away travelers from Italy, deemed a “high-risk country.” Several nations also moved to implement border checks and bar cruise ships from their ports.
Greece stopped all flights to and from Italy, the second-worst affected nation after China. Georgia closed its border with Armenia and Azerbaijan. Portugal said cruise ships wouldn’t be able to disembark, as did Montenegro.
Austria Readies Crisis Fund (6:47 a.m. NY)
Austria is setting aside 4 billion euros ($4.4 billion) in liquidity and subsidies to support the economy against the impact of the coronavirus. The measures will offer liquidity by way of loans and loan guarantees as well as tax deferrals.
Jakarta Schools Close (6:34 a.m. NY)
Schools in Jakarta will be closed for the next two weeks as the number of cases in Indonesia continues to rise. More than 60 of the total infections were reported in the past two days, with five fatalities.
In Malaysia, 41 new infections were reported, the biggest one-day jump so far, to 238.
Japan Pledges Economic Support (6:32 a.m. NY)
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said there is no need to declare a state of emergency over the coronavirus. He pledged to work with the Bank of Japan and introduce further economic measures as needed.
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