The Latest: South Korea sees fewest virus cases since Feb 21
The Latest on the world’s coronavirus pandemic, which has infected more than 150,000 people and killed more than 5,700. The disease for most people causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some, it can cause more severe illness.
South Korea has reported 76 additional cases of the new coronavirus over the past 24 hours, the lowest daily increase in new infections since Feb. 21.
The numbers announced Sunday morning raised the total for the country to 8,162. The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the death toll increased by three to 75.
It said 120 people had recovered and were released from quarantine over the past 24 hours, raising the number of recovered to 834.
A majority of cases in South Korea has been reported in the southeastern city of Daegu and nearby areas.
In Japan, a law banning resale of face masks has gone into effect as part of government measures to deal with dire shortages of amid the virus outbreak.
Under the law that went into effect Sunday, violators could face a prison term of up to one year or a fine of up to 1 million yen ($9,260).
Face masks are in serious shortage in Japan, with most retail stores out of stock since earlier this year.
The government has set up a team to to work on the shortage, asking mask makers to bolster production and prioritize shipment to hospitals and nursing homes.
Officials suspect that massive purchases for resale have prompted the nationwide mask shortages.
Cirque du Soleil says it is temporarily suspending its productions in Las Vegas as well as around the world because of the new coronavirus outbreak.
In a statement Saturday, the company said it made the decision based on public health authorities calling for people to limit their social interactions to stop the spread of the virus.
In addition to a number of Las Vegas shows, Cirque du Soleil shows in Austin, Texas, Chicago, Houston, New Orleans, Salt Lake City, Montreal, Boston, Tel Aviv, Meloneras, Spain, Munich, Costa Mesa, California, Denver, and the Australian cities of Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth also are canceled.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says two assembly members have tested positive with the new coronavirus.
Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said in a statement Saturday that Helene Weinstein and Charles Barron, both Brooklyn Democrats, have been diagnosed with the illness. All legislators and staff who came into contact with the two will be tested and the capitol building is being cleaned and has been closed to visitors.
Authorities in Washington announced 6 new cases of the virus, bringing the total for the U.S. capital to 16.
Mayor Muriel Bowser has declared a state of emergency and closed all schools through the end of the month. The popular Cherry Blossom Festival has been postponed, White House and Capitol tours have been canceled and the National Zoo, Smithsonian museum network and Kennedy Center have closed.
In Texas, officials in Austin and surrounding Travis County have banned public gatherings of 250 or more until at least May 1. Last week, the city canceled the SXSW music, movie and tech festivals that draw more than 400,000 from across the globe.
Japan’s Health Ministry has announced 64 new cases of the coronavirus over the past 24 hours.
The ministry said Sunday that Japan now has 780 cases plus 697 others from a cruise ship that was stranded in the country, for a combined total of 1,477.
The ministry said the death toll has risen to 29, including 7 former cruise ship passengers.
The new cases come from 13 prefectures, including Hokkaido, Tokyo and Osaka.
More than half of the 300 people in intensive care units in France with the new virus are under 60.
The head of the national health agency, Jerome Salomon, announced the statistic Saturday night as France saw another jump in new virus cases.
For most people, the virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. Of the 91 people who have died in France, 71 were over 75, Salomon said.
No details were immediately available about the patients under 60 in intensive care.
France now has confirmed 4,500 cases since January. Salomon stressed that 98% of patients survive, but he called for mobilization to help the most vulnerable.
To stem the spread, the French prime minister ordered all restaurants, cinemas and nonessential stores closed starting Sunday, a dramatic move for a country whose economy depends heavily on its global reputation for cuisine, culture and fashion.
Gabriel Rubí, head of Honduras’ Permanent Commission on Emergencies, announced the declaration Saturday of a red alert for the Central American nation’s 18 departments, or provinces. Among other measures, it bans gatherings of over 50 people and authorizes officials to begin setting up “areas of mass accommodation to attend to suspected cases of COVID-19.”
The previous day, Honduras confirmed its third case, in a person who contracted it from someone else in Honduras, leading officials to determine there is a “high risk of community propagation,” Rubí said.
In Panama, President Laurentino Cortizo announced the suspension of flights from Europe and Asia, while El Salvador President Nayib Bukele barred gatherings of over 75 people and ordered bars and nightclubs closed for 14 days. He also ordered that a convention center be converted to a temporary hospital with 2,000 beds and 300 intensive care units.
In Guatemala, President Alejandro Giammattei suspended activities topping 100 people including Holy Week observations, according to the Prensa Libre. The newspaper also said classes would be suspended for 21 days at all levels, and that starting Sunday sporting events would be closed to fans or rescheduled.
Florida’s famed South Beach has been closed to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Miami Beach officials ordered hundreds of college spring breakers and others from around the world off the beach Saturday as part of measures to prevent large gatherings.
To cut down on crowds at clubs and restaurants in South Beach, police were eliminating parking on major streets in the city’s entertainment district.
Also Saturday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis banned most visits to nursing homes statewide as he acknowledged the coronavirus has likely spread into the general population.
DeSantis said Saturday while it will be frustrating for relatives not to visit loved ones in nursing homes, the ban is needed to prevent the virus’ spread among the frail and elderly. Exceptions will be made for visitations to patients who are near death.
DeSantis told a news conference that the state’s known infections now exceed 60 as the numbers jumped by a third Saturday. Two people have died in the state.
Pentagon officials have laid out new restrictions for access to the building, saying people who have been overseas should stay away for two weeks and others should expect more screening questions from officers posted at the entrances.
Senior defense officials said in a conference call with reporters that personnel who must access classified information as part of their job will still go to work in the building. But beginning Monday, there will be minimal staffing at the Pentagon and workers who can telework will be encouraged, although not required, to do so.
They said people coming into the building will not have their temperature taken at this point.
As of Saturday, 21 Defense Department personnel worldwide had tested positive for the virus, including 10 service members. Two of the 21 are hospitalized. Also, two of the 21 are in the Washington, D.C., region.
The department on Friday laid out widespread new restrictions on travel and routine job changes by military members, who often move to new units and positions in the spring and summer.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced that the nation’s restaurants and places of entertainment will be closed to stop the spread of the coronavirus. He also encouraged people not to go to their workplaces unless absolutely necessary.
“Whoever doesn’t need to go work or doesn’t need to be in a certain place, don’t go,” Netanyahu said in a televised address Saturday.
But he stopped short of declaring a widespread shutdown seen in some other hard-hit countries.
Netanyahu told the public that they should prepare for a new routine but that the government would ensure that essential services continue. After panicked scenes in supermarkets over the weekend, he also said the country has no shortages of food or essential items and encouraged public calm.
Shai Babad, the director of the Israeli Finance Ministry, said the closures would include restaurants, malls, movies, gyms and daycare centers. Schools and universities already have been closed, and entry to the country has been tightly restricted.
Israel has detected some 193 cases of the virus.
Netanyahu also renewed a call for an emergency unity government with his political opponents after Israel’s third consecutive inconclusive election this month.
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced that France is shutting down all restaurants, cafes, cinemas and nonessential retail shops, starting Sunday, to combat the accelerated spread of the virus in the country.
He said grocery stores, pharmacies, banks and other public services including transport will be allowed to remain open.
French authorities had already shut down all schools, banned gatherings of more than 100 people and advised people to limit their social life. Philippe said these measures were “not well implemented.”
“We must show all together more discipline,” he added.
Philippe confirmed that nationwide municipal elections will go ahead as planned on Sunday but with special measures to keep people at a safe distance and clean shared material.
Health authorities said more than 4,500 cases have been confirmed in France on Saturday, including 91 deaths.
The Canadian government says any Canadian who’s abroad should get back to Canada while it’s still possible. That’s a step up from previous advice, which urged travelers outside the country to think about doing so because of the pandemic.
Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne tweeted the new recommendation, warning that commercial travel options might not remain available.
Some countries have already taken measures such as stopping or sharply limiting air traffic. Canada is asking those who return to self-isolate for 14 days.
In Quebec, the government is asking everyone 70 years of age and older to stay home until further notice.
Premier Francois Legault says seniors are far more at risk for COVID-19 and that’s why he’s asking them to stay inside. He also says that no visitors will be allowed at hospitals, seniors’ residences and long-term care facilities.
Legault says the Canadian French speaking province has adopted a decree to declare a state of health emergency for at least 10 days.
U.S. soldiers returning from Afghanistan have been quarantined amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
On Saturday, 300 paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division returned to Fort Bragg in North Carolina after a nine-month deployment. This is one of the first large groups of military personnel to return home since the start of the pandemic.
The Army says the 14-day quarantine is out of an abundance of caution. As of Saturday, no one in the unit or on Fort Bragg has tested positive for the virus.
The Defense Department says that as of Saturday, 10 service members have tested positive for the virus.
At Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in California, a second Marine has tested positive for COVID-19 and is being isolated at the base while receiving medical care. The air station says it is trying to determine who may have had contact with the Marine and to notify them of the situation.
At Naval Base San Diego, a sailor has tested “presumptive positive,” the first positive case for a sailor in California. The base says the sailor is quarantined at home.
The Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, the Versailles Palace and other iconic monuments in Paris have been closed “until further notice” as part of the French government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
France has banned all gatherings of more than 100 people, reducing the threshold from a previous level of 1,000 people, as the virus has infected at least 3,600 people in the country and is spreading fast.
Restaurants, cafes and shops remain open, and some museums. On Saturday, Paris terraces and shopping streets were crowded with Parisians, while tourist sites, like the Montmartre neighborhood, appeared almost empty.
France is going ahead with nationwide municipal elections on Sunday but has ordered special measures to keep people at a safe distance and clean shared material. French President Emmanuel Macron ordered all schools to be closed starting on Monday and asked companies to allow workers to stay home.
Italy has reported its biggest day-to-day jump in cases of COVID-19. National health authorities told reporters on Saturday that health officials recorded 3,497 new cases in 24 hours. That’s roughly a 20% increase in cases from the day before. A little more than half of those new cases occurred in Lombardy, the populous northern region which has been hardest hit in Europe’s worst outbreak. Italy’s total cases now tally 21,157.
The death toll rose by 175. A day earlier, the same authorities had predicted glumly that Italy would still see a jump in cases despite a national lockdown that began on March 9, barely two days after severe restrictions on personal movement in the north. They cited irresponsible behavior by many citizens, who despite the earlier warnings not to gather in large numbers, headed to beaches or ski resorts, and hung out together in town squares, especially after the closure of schools.
Indonesian Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi is the latest senior politician to test positive for the new coronavirus.
State Secretary Minister Pratikno said Sumadi is being treated at the Gatot Subroto Army Central Hospital. He is listed as the Patient 76 of the 96 patients with COVID-19 in Indonesia.
Pratikno said he had permission from Sumadi’s family to announce the name of the patient.
The Netherlands’ world famous Keukenhof flower garden has fallen prey to the new coronavirus.
The attraction in the middle of one of the country’s main tulip-growing regions draws more than a million visitors each year as bulbs burst into bloom.
It had been due to open March 21, but the opening was scrapped Saturday, two days after the Dutch government banned gatherings of more than 100 people through March 31 in a bid to rein in the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
The Keukenhof said in a statement it is closely monitoring the situation and is “ready to open April 1, the day after the emergency regulation expires.”
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