Coronavirus: Updates and Travel Impact Across the World (Week of 23 March)

Italy remains on lockdown as a result of the coronavirus outbreak
Italy remains on lockdown as a result of the coronavirus outbreak | © Michael Abid / Alamy Stock Photo
The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games has now been officially postponed until next year, while India has announced lockdown in a country of 1.3 billion people. For more information and the latest frequently asked questions, check out Coronavirus Explained and Travel Advice.

UPDATE: 25 March 2020

What’s happening across the Americas?

• There are at least 52,976 cases of coronavirus in the United States. At least 704 people have died, CNN reports. The news outlet also reports that 24 March saw the country’s deadliest day, with 163 deaths reported since the coronavirus pandemic began.

• Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has divided opinion after he told his people to “keep living life as usual”, The Guardian reports. This comes as numbers of confirmed cases continue to rise. Doctors and nurses have also threatened to strike because of a lack of basic equipment, such as gloves and masks, according to the LA Times. The country has 405 confirmed cases and there have been five deaths.

• Colombia began a nationwide quarantine on Tuesday, with the government warning that people over 70 must remain at home until May. The lockdown for those less vulnerable is expected to last 19 days.

What’s happening across Europe, the Middle East and Africa?

• Clarence House has confirmed that Britain’s Prince Charles, 71, has been displaying mild symptoms of the virus and has since tested positive for Covid-19. His wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, 72, was also tested but does not have the virus. Charles and Camilla are now self-isolating at the Queen’s Balmoral Estate in Scotland. Buckingham Palace confirmed that the Queen had last seen her son on 12 March but was in “good health”. She is said to be following the appropriate advice in regards to her own health.

• Officials in Italy have confirmed that coronavirus has killed at least 50 priests, according to the BBC. It includes Father Giuseppe Berardelli, 72, who died earlier this month in Lovere. Reports on Tuesday that he had chosen to give his respirator to a younger coronavirus patient he did not know have been denied by those close to him.

• Experts in Africa are beginning to fear after cases across the continent rose to 2,400. There have been 60 reported deaths so far. The World Health Organisation has also warned that numbers could be significantly higher due to a lack of adequate testing.

What’s happening in the Asia-Pacific region?

• Malaysia’s Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced plans to extend a two-week restriction of movement order and announced a second economic package as cases continued to rise, according to the New York Times. The current number of confirmed cases has reached 1,796, and there have been 20 deaths.

• As India goes into a 21-day “total lockdown”, an app called CoWin-20 is being launched to help track the virus. It will track a person’s location and alert you if you are near a Covid-19-infected patient, according to News18. Testing is currently limited to a small number of users.

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UPDATE: 24 March 2020

What’s happening across the Americas?

• There are at least 48,009 cases of coronavirus in the United States. At least 601 people have died, CNN reports.

• The coronavirus pandemic has reached Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands, a UNESCO World Heritage site, an official source said. Norman Wray, president of the Galapagos Government Council, told the state EcuadorTV channel that test results on Monday established that four people had contracted the disease.

• With 23 March marking the start of Mexico’s month of social distancing, on 22 March Mexico City mayor Claudia Sheinbaum announced the closing of theatres, cinemas, gyms, bars and other spaces where groups larger than 50 people tend to convene until 19 April. However, she said restaurants and shopping centres will remain open for the time being.

What’s happening across Europe, the Middle East and Africa?

• In a live televised address, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a number of restrictions on the movements of the British public. British people may only leave their homes to get essential groceries, visit the doctor, exercise once a day or go to their place of employment if it is not possible to work from home.

• An Italian priest who contracted coronavirus has died after donating his respirator to a younger patient who was also battling the illness. Friar Don Giuseppe Berardelli, 72, was the priest for the parish of Casnigo, a small village just 40 miles north east of Milan. According to the hospital where he died, Berardelli refused to use the respirator his parishioners had bought for him, giving it instead to a younger patient he did not know, Sky News reports.

• African saxophone legend Manu Dibango has died after contracting Covid-19. Dibango – famous for his fusion style that drew not only from traditional Cameroonian music but also from funk and western jazz – is one of the first global stars to die from the virus.

What’s happening in the Asia-Pacific region?

• The International Olympic Committee and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe concluded the Tokyo 2020 Olympics must be postponed and held no later than the summer of 2021. “In the present circumstances, and based on the information provided by the WHO today, the IOC President and the Prime Minister of Japan have concluded that the Games in Tokyo must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021,” the IOC said in a statement.

• Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a 21-day “total lockdown” in the country of 1.3 billion people during a televised address Tuesday night, the most extensive stay-at-home order yet in the world’s fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

• China has announced it will lift the lockdown on Wuhan, the city at the epicentre of the Covid-19 pandemic, on 8 April, marking a significant milestone in its battle against the outbreak. The easing of travel restrictions follows a significant reduction in new infections in Hubei province (of which Wuhan is the capital), with new cases dropping to zero for five consecutive days from 19 March – down from thousands of daily new cases at the height of the epidemic in February, CNN reports.

• Beijing will quarantine and test all international arrivals, regardless of destination, at designated government facilities at their own expense. The procedures will also apply to people arriving in Beijing after entering China through a different port of entry within the past 14 days.

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UPDATE: 23 March 2020

What’s happening across the Americas?

• There are at least 34,407 cases of novel coronavirus in the United States, and a total of 414 people have died, CNN reports. More than 20,000 people across the state of New York have tested positive for coronavirus, New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced.

• The Canadian Olympic Committee and Canadian Paralympic Committee have said they will not send teams to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo – as their athletes are unable to train due to the coronavirus – and have subsequently called for a one-year postponement of the games. Canada is the first nation to withdraw from this year’s competition, which is scheduled to take place from 24 July to 9 August.

• Over the weekend of 21 March, the Cuban government announced it would send a team of 52 doctors to Italy in order to support virus-containment efforts there.

What’s happening across Europe, the Middle East and Africa?

• Italy saw its death toll from coronavirus surpass 5,400 on Sunday.

• There are signs that the exponential upwards curve in new coronavirus infections in Germany is levelling off for the first time due to the strict social-distancing measures in force, the head of the country’s public health institute has said, The Guardian reports.

• Deaths in Spain rose by nearly 400 in its greatest one-day jump to date. More than 1,700 people diagnosed with the coronavirus have now died in Europe’s second worst-hit country.

• All UK shops – except supermarkets, food stores and pharmacies – will be told to close in the latest attempt by the government to get a grip on the Covid-19 pandemic, The Telegraph reports.

• Denmark has extended its nationwide lockdown until 13 April, Reuters reports.

• Temple Mount, a holy site in Jerusalem revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims, was closed to all worshippers after images circulated of hundreds praying there in close proximity over the weekend .

• The UAE has shut down pools, beaches, parks, cinemas and gyms to contain the spread of coronavirus, allowing restaurants to work at 20 percent capacity with customers at least two metres (6.5 feet) apart.

What’s happening in the Asia-Pacific region?

• The Japanese government is set to tell the International Olympic Committee that it will accept postponement of the forthcoming summer games if the organisation decides it is wise, Kyodo News reports.

• In a move to help the international community combat the Covid-19 pandemic, the Singaporean government will be making the software for its contact-tracing application – which has already been installed by more than 620,000 people – freely available to developers around the world. The TraceTogether app is able to identify people who have been in close proximity – within 2 metres (6.5 feet) for at least 30 minutes – to coronavirus patients using wireless Bluetooth technology, The Straits Times reports.

• All domestic flights in India will stop from midnight on Tuesday, the country’s federal government announced.