The Latest: Top official proposes 30-day ban on travel to EU
The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected more than 169,000 people and killed more than 6,500. The COVID-19 illness causes mild or moderate symptoms but most people, but severe symptoms are more likely in the elderly or people with existing health problems. More than 77,000 people have recovered from it so far, mostly in China.
The president of the European Union’s executive commission is proposing a 30-day travel ban on people entering the EU for non-essential reasons in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen raised the idea on the eve of an EU summit that will be held via video-conference.
Von der Leyen said: “I propose to the heads of states and government to introduce temporary restrictions on non- essential travel to the European Union.”
“The less travel, the more we can contain the virus,” she said in a video message.
Von der Leyen says people with long-term residency in the EU or who are family members of European citizens could be exempted from the proposed ban. The restriction also may not apply to diplomats, medical personnel and transportation workers.
Germany is set to follow other European countries in shutting non-essential shops, bars, museums and many other facilities in response to the new coronavirus.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office on Monday listed a series of measures agreed between the federal government and the country’s 16 state governments, which are responsible for putting them into effect.
Some regions already have announced that they are taking some or most of the steps. Among the other activities to be banned are gatherings at churches, mosques, synagogues or other places of worship.
Overnight hotel stays will be allowed only for “necessary and expressly not for tourist purposes.”
Germany had over 4,800 confirmed cases, including 12 deaths, as of Monday morning.
The U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday that it is postponing arguments for late March and early April because of the coronavirus, including fights over subpoenas for President Donald Trump’s financial records.
Other court business will go on as planned, including the justices’ private conference on Friday. Some justices may participate by telephone,.
Six of the Supreme Court’s nine justices are age 65 and older and therefore at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 87, and Stephen Breyer, 81, are the oldest members of the court.
Bars, restaurants and movie theaters are being shuttered early in three U.S. states on the East Coast.
The governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut said the statewide measures would take effect at 8 p.m. Eastern time on Monday.
The Democratic governors said essential businesses like supermarkets and gas stations will be able to stay open after 8 p.m., though all non-essential businesses must close. Restaurants will be able to offer take-out and delivery.
“We’ve got to work through this together. The feds have been asleep at the switch,” Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont told reporters on a conference call.
The government in Greenland has reported the first confirmed coronavirus case on the world’s largest island.
The government said Monday that the infected individual was in isolation at home in Nuuk, Greenland’s capital.
Premier Kim Kielsen said during a news conference: “Now, we need to assess how to react.” He urged residents of the Arctic island to limit their travel.
Kielsen says there are no immediate plans to shut down schools. Greenland is an autonomous territory of the Danish Realm with a population of 56.000.
The British government is asking manufacturers including Ford and Rolls-Royce to make ventilators for COVID-19 patients.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office says he has a conference call scheduled with industrial executives on Monday about turning over some of their production to essential medical equipment.
Johnson spokesman James Slack said: “We are facing what is an unprecedented situation and that is going to require an unprecedented response.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News that the U.K. had about 5,000 ventilators but would need “many times more than that.”
Hancok said: “We’re saying that if you produce a ventilator, then we will buy it.”
A spokesman for the public health ministry in Afghanistan says 37 patients who are suspected to be infected with the new coronavirus ran away from a hospital.
Ministry spokesman Waheed Mayar confimed Monday that the patients escaped from the hospital in western Herat province with the help of relatives who assaulted doctors and nurses and shattered windows at the hospital.
An American broadcast journalist based in Rome who says he tested positive for the new coronavirus has used his professional platform to warn people to take COVID-19 seriously.
CBS News correspondent Seth Doane said Monday that he had tested positive for the virus over the weekend. Doane says he is self-quarantining at home with fairly light symptoms of a fever, chest pressure and cough, and so far his illness has been more psychologically than physically difficult.
Doane went on the air to get the word out about the seriousness of the virus and how people must behave responsibly if they are in contact with others already infected.
He said: “This is not what I want to be discussing on TV. It is not what I want to be known for. But I’m trying to be public and open because I think it’s vital that we stop the spread of this thing.”
The Netherlands has recorded its biggest daily jump in the number of coronavirus infections, with 278 new cases confirmed in the last 24 hours.
The new cases reported Monday brought the country’s total to 1,413.
The Dutch public health institute said four more people also died of COVID-19, bringing the national death toll to 24.
The government on Sunday ordered all schools, bars, restaurants, sports clubs and sex clubs closed until April 6. The closures also affected the country’s famed marijuana-selling coffee shops, sparking panic buying of pot before the coffee shops closed Sunday evening.
Health Care Minister Bruno Bruins said more restrictive measures are expected to follow.
Serbia’s army troops are being deployed to the country’s borders and streets of the capital, Belgrade, to reinforce a nationwide state of emergency that has been introduced in an effort to try stop the coronavirus outbreak.
Serbia’s Defense Ministry said Monday the soldiers will guard hospitals treating COVID-19 patients, border checkpoints, airports and some train stations.
Serbia has closed its borders to foreigners and demanded the self-quarantine of returning Serbian citizens for up to 28 days, depending which country they visited.
People older than 70 were told not to leave their homes till further notice.
Serbia’s Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said if people continue to ignore the self-quarantine orders, the government will impose a police-enforced curfew. Serbia has 55 infected patients.
Turkey highest religious authority says it is suspending Friday prayers and other communal prayers in tens of thousands of mosques across the country in a bid to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.
Ali Erbas, the head the Turkish religious affairs directorate, said Monday prayers are suspended until the threat from the virus dissipates. He urged worshipers to hold prayers at homes.
In further measures to prevent an outbreak, Turkey’s justice minister said earlier that the country was postponing some court hearings and sending on leave judges and prosecutors above the age of 60.
Turkey has 18 confirmed cases of the virus.
Other public health actions in Turkey included suspending inbound flights from 15 locations and setting up facilities to quarantine more than 10,300 people returning from pilgrimages to holy sites in Saudi Arabia.
Greece is imposing a compulsory 14-day quarantine on anyone entering the country and extending shop closures to fight the spread of the coronavirus.
So far, all restaurants, bar and cafes have already shut down, except for deliveries and take-aways. Deputy government spokeswoman Aristotelia Peloni said the expanded closures as of Wednesday would not affect supermarkets, pharmacies, banks or gas stations.
Peloni also said people were required to maintain a two-meter distance from each other in supermarket queues and to avoid cash payments by using credit or debit cards.
Greece has 331 infected and four deaths.
Spain has become the fourth most virus-infected country in the world, surpassing South Korea with a sharp curve of contagion, and closing its borders is a “real possibility” being considered.
The topic will be discussed by European Union members on Monday, according to the country’s interior minister.
Coronavirus cases in Spain rose by roughly 1,000 cases in 24 hours to 9,191 on Monday, and the number of fatalities reached 309.
Minister Fernando Grande Marlaska said a total lockdown could be the next step, after deploying the army to the streets and to clean train stations, ordering 46 million to stay at home and taking over control of private hospitals.
Hungary’s prime minister says the country is closing its borders to foreigners and only citizens will be allowed in. Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Monday in Parliament that international coordination about the border closures is underway.
Orban also said all bars, restaurants and shops will have to close daily at 3 p.m., with only food stores, pharmacies and drug stores allowed to stay open longer.
Cinemas, cultural institutions and nightclubs will also be closed, while sporting events can still be held if organizers assume responsibility, but only without spectators.
Schools were closed to students on Monday, with distance learning programs starting to be implemented. So far, 39 people in Hungary have been infected with one virus-related death.
The former Soviet republic of Georgia is banning the entrance of foreign citizens beginning Wednesday in an attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19.
European Union leaders will hold a video-conference summit on efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus, which has now infected around 40,000 people across Europe, and claimed some 2,000 lives.
EU Council President Charles Michel, who chairs summits of prime ministers and presidents from the 27 EU nations, said via Twitter on Monday that he was calling on Tuesday what will be the second meeting of its kind in two weeks.
The EU is urging its member countries to put common health screening procedures in place at their borders to limit the spread of the virus, but not to block the transport of important medical equipment.
China is relaxing travel restrictions in the hardest-hit virus province of Hubei, sending thousands of workers back to jobs at factories desperate to get production going again.
The official Xinhua News Agency reported Monday that cities just outside the epicenter ofWuhan were chartering buses to send back to work residents who had returned home for the Lunar New Year in late January.
The move comes as Chinese officials say the outbreak that spread from Wuhan starting in December has mostly run its course domestically, while they remain vigilant against imported cases.
The outbreak of COVID-19 has has a devastating effect on China’s service sector and industries from autos to cell phones, although President Xi Jinping has pledged that economic growth targets for the year will still be met.
Iranian state TV says the new coronavirus has killed another 129 people, pushing the country’s death toll to 853 amid 14,991 confirmed cases.
Iran is struggling to contain the worst outbreak in the Middle East. Monday saw the biggest one-day rise in the death toll since the epidemic began. Even senior officials have been infected.
World Health Organization officials say that Iran’s outbreak is being reported.
South Africa will revoke nearly 10,000 visas issued this year to people from China and Iran, and visas will now be required for other high-risk countries that had been visa-free, including Italy and the United States.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize says a lockdown might be necessary if tough new measures announced Sunday, including travel restrictions and school closings, don’t work. He warns of a high risk of internal virus transmission with “the problem of inequality in our society.”
South Africans worry about the spread of the virus to crowded townships or public transport. Confirmed virus cases have doubled every two days over 10 days to 61, a rate he called “explosive.”
Elsewhere, Africa’s second most populous nation, Ethiopia, has suspended schools, sporting events and other large gatherings for 15 days.
Iranian news agencies say a 78-year-old member of the Iranian clerical body that chooses the country’s supreme leader has died from the illness caused by the new coronavirus.
He was the latest of several senior Iranian officials to have been infected in the worsening outbreak.
The outbreak has infected nearly 14,000 people in Iran and killed more than 700, with the toll jumping by more than a hundred in the last 24 hours. The real numbers may be even higher, as some have questioned the government’s reporting.
The Peace Corps is evacuating all of its volunteers and suspending operations in dozens of countries.
Director Jody Olsen says Sunday’s decision comes as “international travel becomes more and more challenging by the day.” She said the agency wanted to avoid leaving volunteers stranded in host countries.
As of September 2019, the service program run by the U.S. government said it operates in more than 60 countries and has more than 7,300 volunteers and trainees. Volunteers in China and Mongolia have already been evacuated over virus concerns.
Olsen says host country staff will remain in their current roles.
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.