The Latest: Canadians urged to avoid travel outside nation
The Latest on the world’s coronavirus pandemic:
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government will likely recommend that Canadians avoid travel outside the country except for essential purposes.
The prime minister, who is quarantining himself at home after his wife tested positive for the new coronavirus, will address the nation later Friday.
Sophie Grégoire Trudeau fell ill after returning from Britain. The couple have three children, but Trudeau’s wife is the only member of the family with symptoms, the prime minister’s office said.
Trudeau himself as not been tested because he is not showing symptoms, his office said.
Trudeau said “we are going to be able to get through this if everyone is going to follow the advice of our medical professionals and experts.”
Trudeau is spending the day in briefings, phone calls and virtual meetings from home. He spoke with U.S. President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday.
Germany’s hardest-hit county, Heinsberg on the western border with the Netherlands, has requested help from the country’s military to bolster its laboratory capacity and speed up testing.
Heinsberg has recorded 553 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, or about a quarter of the country’s total.
Asked whether the military would consider calling up reservists, Arne Collatz, a defense ministry spokesman, said that this was a possibility but added that “we are far away from that.”
Meanwhile, the German military has purchased 300,000 protective masks and goggles for 126 million euros as part of the government’s effort to procure urgently needed medical material.
The U.S. Department of Defense says it’s temporarily shutting down all schools on continental European military facilities as a precaution against the spread of the COVID-19 virus, affecting tens of thousands of students.
Department of Defense Schools spokesman Stephen Smith told The Associated Press on Friday the closures as of Monday would affect 63 elementary, middle and high schools in Germany, Belgium, Spain and the Netherlands, and likely Ankara, Turkey.
Three schools in Britain will remain open for the time being, he said.
In all, some 27,000 students attend the Defense Department schools in Europe, Smith said. Schools in Italy, and also Bahrain, have already been closed down.
The schools will be closed through the April break and then the situation will be reassessed, he said.
Starting next week, a distance learning plan, already in use for the students in Italy and Bahrain, will be implemented in Europe.
The English Premier League has been suspended after three clubs put their entire playing squads in self-isolation because of coronavirus.
The league had expected to continue with a full schedule this weekend with fans, but later decided to suspend all matches until April 3 “at the earliest.”
The same suspension applies for the three lower divisions overseen by the English Football League and to England’s top two women’s divisions.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta tested positive for COVID-19, leading to the cancellation of the match against Brighton on Saturday. Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi also had a positive test on Thursday, while Everton said Friday that a player had reported symptoms and said its squad was self-isolating.
Italy has welcomed a team of Chinese medical experts and 31 tons of ventilators, protective masks and other medical equipment as its fight against coronavirus turns a nation that usually donates aid into one that receives it.
Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio and the head of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent, Francesco Rocca, were on hand Friday to welcome the Chinese delegation at Red Cross headquarters in Rome. Di Maio, the only one not wearing a protective mask, said Italy is now reaping the benefits of its solidarity with China, where the virus that is now a worldwide pandemic broke out late last year.
Italy is the epicenter of the outbreak in Europe, registering more than 15,000 infections and 1,000 dead. Italy has imposed a nationwide lockdown, with stores and restaurants closed and restrictions on individual movement. But the restrictions still pale in comparison to the severe lockdown China imposed in Wuhan.
The Italian public health system in the north is at near capacity, with 400-500 people a day requiring hospitalization in Lombardy alone.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has announced dramatic measures to try and stem the spread of the COVID-19 virus in the Alpine nation, including quarantining two hard-hit areas of Tirol.
Kurz told reporters in Vienna that the towns of St. Anton am Arlberg and the Paznauntal area would be isolated for 14 days, but added residents and tourists now there will be well taken care of.
In addition, retail businesses are being asked to close as of Monday, outside of those providing essential services such as supermarkets, gas stations, banks, post offices and pharmacies. Bars and cafes will only be allowed to stay open until 3 p.m. starting Monday. Office workers are being asked to work remotely from home if possible.
“Starting Monday, we need to reduce our public lives to a minimum,” Kurz said.
Austria has 422 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus and one death.
Germany’s finance minister has taken a swipe at U.S. President Donald Trump over his decision to close American borders to travelers from Europe.
Olaf Scholz, who is also Germany’s vice chancellor said Friday “that was a grotesque performance we experienced from the American president.”
Scholz says “instead of tending to the problems of his country, and to a virus that knows no borders, he thinks that he can fight it with people who have a different citizenship than American.”
“But this is a virus, if I may say so, and it actually shows that solidarity is the only way that we can move forward as human beings,” he said.
The Trump administration is awarding $1.3 million in federal money to two companies trying to develop rapid COVID-19 tests that could detect whether a person tests positive for the new coronavirus within an hour.
The Department of Health and Human Services says Friday it is awarding $679,000 to DiaSorin Molecular, of Cypress, California, and $598,000 to QIAGEN LLC of Germantown, Maryland, to accelerate development of the tests.
The agency says DiaSorin could potentially be ready within six weeks for consideration by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the QIAGEN test could be ready within 12 weeks for EUA consideration by the FDA.
The Trump administration has been criticized for its lack of testing for the virus, compared to other nations around the world
U.S. cities are taking more intensive steps to fight the spread of the new coronavirus.
The mayor of Dallas, Texas, has declared a local disaster and the city is banning large gatherings as infections continue to grow.
Dallas County announced five more cases, including one being investigated as community-spread. The Texas state capital of Austin saw its first two virus cases on Friday.
Public schools in Washington D.C. were closed beginning Monday until April 1 affecting some 47,000 students. Fairfax County, Virginia also closed schools on Friday, affecting 180,000 students and will evaluate whether to stay closed after a meeting on Monday.
The British government is advising against all but essential travel to the Spanish regions of Madrid, La Rioja and the municipalities of La Bastida, Vitoria and Miranda de Ebro due to the new coronavirus.
With 3,864 infections and 90 deaths, Spain is quickly becoming a new hotspot for the virus in Europe. Madrid, the capital, has been especially hard hit.
Sri Lanka civil aviation authorities on Friday imposed a two-week travel ban on passengers from seven European countries: France, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Netherlands and Sweden.
The ban will be effective until March 29. Separately on Friday, authority imposed a two-week travel ban on passengers from South Korea, Italy and Iran. This will be effective until March 28.
The authority is asking all airlines not to board any passengers from those countries or who visited those countries in the last 14 days.
France is promising to compensate the virus-related salary losses for “99%” of workers, as travel bans, school closures and other measures take a heavy toll on the economy.
It’s part of tens of billions of euros the government says it will stump up as French financial markets plunge and companies curb activity to try to stem the spread of the virus.
“Nobody with a job will lose a cent,” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said.
France is also banning all gatherings of more than 100 people now that the virus has infected more than 2,800 people in the country and is spreading fast.
On Thursday, President Emmanuel Macron ordered all schools closed and asked companies to allow workers to stay home. France is going ahead with nationwide local elections on Sunday but is ordering special measures to keep people at a safe distance.
The government of Romania, including all ministers, as well as the leadership of the ruling National Liberal Party and all its senators, have been asked to self-isolate because of the coronavirus.
Friday’s decision comes after a governing party senator, who took part in high-level meetings, was confirmed to be infected.
Prime Minister Ludovic Orban told reporters during a news conference that he will be quarantined in a state-owned villa and the government will still continue to carry out its duties.
The Germany government is pledging at least 460 billion euros ($513 billion) in guarantees to cope with the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
Germany’s economy minister, Peter Altmaier, said there was no limit to the amount the government was willing to use to support everyone from individuals, such as taxi drivers, to large companies, to prevent the coronavirus pandemic from causing permanent harm to the economy.
Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said the 2008 financial crisis offered lessons for the current situation. “We will use all means at our disposal,” he said Friday at a joint press conference with Altmaier
Czech citizens coming home from 15 countries that are considered risky due to the virus outbreak will have to stay under quarantine for two weeks.
The announcement Friday by the Czech Republic’s government listed the following countries: China, Iran, Korea, Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, Austria, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland and Britain.
Foreigners from those countries are barred from traveling to the Czech Republic and Czechs are not allowed to travel to those countries. Those measures become effective Friday midnight when the country renews border checks with Austria and Germany. The Czech Republic has 117 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Spain’s has ordered its first mandatory lockdown, confining over 60,000 people to four towns as infections for the new coronavirus increase sharply.
The rise is straining health services and putting more pressure on the government to act faster to fight the pandemic.
The country had more than 3,800 cases by Friday morning and at least 84 deaths. The Spanish capital, Madrid, has nearly 2,000 cases alone, many linked to nursing homes.
The government has closed museums and sports centers, sent home nearly 10 million students, asked people to work remotely and limited crowds at public events in high risk areas. But questions are rising whether the measures are enough.
Madrid’s vice president said Friday that the region is in dire need of medical supplies.
Australian Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton is in isolation at a hospital after testing positive for the coronavirus. He returned to Australia on Sunday from Washington, D.C., where he met U.S. Attorney-General William Barr and President Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, last week.
Dutton also attended a conference with other representatives of the Five Eyes intelligence network, which includes the U.S., Canada, Britain, Australia and New Zealand.
Dutton said Friday he was in isolation in a hospital after confirmation he has the virus.
Australia has more than 120 confirmed cases.
Thailand’s health minister has ignited controversy by warning about the possible spread of the coronavirus from vacationing Europeans who wear dirty clothes and don’t shower.
Tweets posted Thursday night by the account linked to Anutin Charnvirakul lashed out at Western visitors for not wearing face masks to protect against the virus, and warned his fellow Thais that they should be more careful in dealing with Westerners than with Asians.
Thailand’s government has come under criticism for confusing and inconsistent handling of the health crisis.
The tweets, along with the entire account, disappeared from Twitter by Friday afternoon.
German states are beginning to close down schools as a precautionary measure to protect against the spread of the coronavirus.
The southern state of Bavaria, western state of Saarland and city-state of Berlin all announced school closures Friday, and others were expected later.
Bavarian Gov. Markus Soeder also said the state is implementing strict restrictions on visits to hospitals, retirement homes and other facilities where people may be particularly vulnerable.
South Korea plans to limit the amount of information it releases about coronavirus patients amid criticism that the details currently shared reveal too much personal information and exacerbate panic.
The director of South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Jung Eun-kyeong, said Friday her agency is drafting a new guideline for local governments to prevent them from releasing details that are unnecessary.
South Korean health authorities have been actively using personal information — including immigration, public transportation, credit card and smartphone GPS data — to track patients and their contacts.
Some people have used the information to identify the patients and have publicly condemned them.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has told the U.N. that his nation wants to conduct joint research on drugs and vaccines and offer “as much assistance as it can” to countries where the novel coronavirus is spreading.
State media reported Friday that Xi told U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres by phone that economic and daily life are gradually returning to normal in China thanks to “arduous endeavors” at prevention and control.
He was also quoted as saying that the Chinese people’s “hard work has won precious time for and made important contributions to other countries’ epidemic prevention and control.”
China, where the virus was first discovered, recorded just eight new infections on Friday.
Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.