The Latest: Australia announces more coronavirus measures
The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.
TOP OF THE HOUR:
— Boris Johnson urges Brits to following the rules
— Rescue flights fly foreign trekkers and Nepali guides out of Mount Everest area
— Countries scramble to evacuate their citizens from Bali
— Madison Square Garden executive chairman tests positive
SYDNEY — Australia has announced that public gatherings will be limited to two people, down from 10, and has enacted a six-month moratorium on evictions for those who cannot pay their rent as part of its latest measures in the face of the coronavirus crisis.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the new measures on Sunday night after earlier in the day flagging a 1.1 billion Australian dollar ($680 million) welfare package boosting mental health care, domestic violence support, public health care services for those self-isolating at home, and emergency food relief.
Morrison said the reduction in the maximum size of public gatherings had come after the latest advice from medical experts to slow the spread of the virus. It does not apply to families.
Morrison said Australia’s states and territories would implement the six-month ban on evictions of people from residential and commercial properties as a “result of financial distress if they are unable to meet their commitments”.
Australia had 3,966 confirmed cases of the virus as of Sunday afternoon, including 16 deaths.
LONDON — Prime Minister Boris Johnson is writing to every household in the U.K. to urge people to stay home and follow the rules amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The letter from Johnson — who has tested positive for the virus — warns Britons that “things will get worse before they get better,” as he urged people to stay indoors to slow the spread of the virus.
The letter, landing on 30 million doorsteps this week, will be accompanied by a leaflet spelling out the advice.
Johnson says that the “more we all follow the rules, the fewer lives will be lost and the sooner life can return to normal.’’
Johnson has been accused of sowing confusion in his messages about the crisis.
The 55-year-old leader has been accused of failing to follow the British government’s distancing measures after he, Health Secretary Matt Hancock, Scottish Secretary Alister Jack and the chief medical officer for England, Chris Whitty, began self-isolating with symptoms.
KATHMANDU, Nepal — Rescue flights have flown 114 foreign trekkers and Nepali guides out of the Mount Everest area to Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu.
Nepal Tourism Board official Sudan Subedi said 11 flights on small planes on Sunday ferried back the tourists and guides who had been stranded in the mountain village of Lukla for days.
Malaysian tourist Yeoh Wan Xin said she and four friends were trekking to the Everest base camp when they cut short their trip and headed to Lukla airport hoping to get a flight. They waited at the village for five days before they were able to get on the rescue flights.
Similar rescue flights had brought in 178 tourists and guides on Saturday.
Subedi said Sunday’s flights were the last of the flights out of the Everest region. The airstrip at Lukla village is the only airport in the area.
DENPASAR, Indonesia — Countries are scrambling to evacuate their citizens stranded amid the coronavirus crisis while vacationing on Indonesia’s resort island of Bali after airlines canceled thousands of flights and more countries enforce travel restrictions.
The total number of stranded tourists in Bali is not known, but more than 169,000 travelers came to Bali this month alone, according to government data.
The data showed that some 2,500 travelers had extended their visas to avoid penalties for overstaying them before Indonesia’s government granted all tourists automatic extensions last week.
Bali Airport Authority head Elfi Amir said Sunday that the evacuations have been taking place since Thursday through chartered flights from the tourists’ home nations.
He said China, Germany, France, Thailand, Poland, Britain, Brazil, Lithuania and Russia were among the countries that were evacuating or planning to evacuate their nationals from Bali, where two people have died from the coronavirus, including a British woman, out of 10 positive tests.
Indonesia has confirmed a total of 1,285 cases, including 114 deaths.
NEW YORK — James Dolan, the executive chairman of Madison Square Garden Company and owner of the New York Knicks, has tested positive for the coronavirus.
The Knicks announced Dolan’s diagnosis Saturday night. It is not clear when he was tested or when he received the diagnosis.
The 64-year-old Dolan is the first U.S. major pro sports owner known to have tested positive for the virus.
“The Madison Square Garden Company Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jim Dolan has tested positive for coronavirus,” the team’s statement said. “He has been in self-isolation and is experiencing little to no symptoms. He continues to oversee business operations.”
New York has been the hotspot for the pandemic in the U.S.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Federal health authorities in Pakistan report the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 is increasing, raising the country’s total number of confirmed patients to 1,495. They also report another death of a man in the country’s commercial hub, Karachi, increasing the death toll to 12.
A breakout shows the largest Punjab province has 557 patients, and southern Sindh province has 469. Southwestern Baluchistan, which borders Iran and Afghanistan, has 133, and Khyber Pakhtukhwa, which borders Afghanistan, has 188. The Gilgit Baltistan region has 107 patients, while the federal capital, Islamabad, has 39. Pakistan controlled Kashmir has two confirmed cases.
The count shows there is increase of 87 cases, with seven of the patients stated to be in critical condition.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand has reported its first death from the new coronavirus.
Health authorities said Sunday the victim was a woman in her 70s, They said she was admitted to a West Coast hospital last week with what they initially thought was influenza, and hospital staff did not wear full protective equipment.
As a result, 21 staffers have been put in self-isolation for two weeks.
The country has reported 514 cases of COVID-19. Last Wednesday, New Zealanders began a strict four-week lockdown.
WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence has tweeted that the CDC is urging residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut “to refrain from non-essential travel for the next 14 days.”
The advisory from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention came after President Donald Trump backed away from calling for a quarantine for coronavirus hotspots. Instead, Trump directed Saturday night that a “strong Travel Advisory” be issued to stem the spread of the outbreak.
The notion of a quarantine had been advocated by governors, including Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, who sought to halt travelers from the heavily affected areas to their states. But it drew swift criticism from the leaders of the states in question, who warned it would spark panic in a populace already suffering under the virus.
Trump announced he reached the decision after consulting with the White House task force leading the federal response and the governors of the three states. He said he had directed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “to issue a strong Travel Advisory, to be administered by the Governors, in consultation with the Federal Government.”
He added: “A quarantine will not be necessary.”
BEIJING — The city at the center of China’s virus outbreak has reopened subways and long-distance train service in another step toward ending restrictions that confined millions of people to their homes.
Subway passengers in Wuhan in the central province of Hubei were required to wear masks and be checked for fever after service resumed Saturday, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. It said signs posted in subway cars tell passengers to sit with empty seats between them.
Most access to Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, was suspended Jan. 23. Bus and subway service within the city was suspended.
Restrictions have gradually been relaxed. The last controls that block residents of Wuhan from leaving Hubei are due to be lifted April 8.
Also Saturday, more than 12,000 passengers arrived by high-speed train as the Wuhan train station reopened, Xinhua said.
Meanwhile, the first cargo train to Europe since the start of the outbreak left for Germany on Saturday carrying auto parts, electronic productions, optical communication fiber and medical supplies, Xinhua reported.