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Latest developments in the global coronavirus outbreak - Posted on: 2020-03-15


A summary of the biggest developments in the global coronavirus outbreak

Global number of confirmed cases stands at 156,098, with 5,819 deaths

As of today 72,621 people have recovered, according to Johns Hopkins University. The institution runs a live tracker of coronavirus cases, based on official figures, meaning that the true figures may be somewhat higher.

Donald Trump given coronavirus all clear

Donald Trump’s physician, Sean Conley, has confirmed the US president does not have Covid-19. A memo from Conley said that the president had agreed to be tested for the virus following an “in-depth discussion” on Friday night. A week earlier he had dinner with a Brazilian official who later tested positive. Earlier on Saturday, vice-president Mike Pence announced that the country’s European travel ban would be extended to the UK and Ireland from midnight on Monday (eastern standard time).

NHS and private hospitals join forces to fight coronavirus

The NHS is to form an unprecedented partnership with the private health sector this week in an emergency plan to combat the Covid-19 crisis, amid fears the UK’s publicly funded hospitals will be unable to cope with the number of patients. Meanwhile, a group of more than 200 UK scientists have denounced the government’s plan to achieve “herd immunity” by delaying measures to prevent the virus spreading. The group said that enforcing social distancing now could save “thousands of lives”.

Lockdown announced in Spain

The Spanish government has formally declared a state of emergency over the coronavirus, placing the country in lockdown and ordering people to stay at home for the next two weeks unless they have to buy food or medicine or go to work or hospital. The measures are set to come into effect on Monday morning and follow the example set by France hours earlier, which announced the closure of all “non-essential” public places from midnight on Saturday. Restaurants, cafes, cinemas and discos will be closed under the measures. Pharmacies and places selling other basic necessities will be exempted.

Spanish PM’s wife tests positive for coronavirus

The Spanish government announced that the prime minister’s wife, Begoña Gómez, has tested positive for the coronavirus. Both Gomez and her husband, Pedro Sánchez, are doing well and remain at their official residence in Madrid, the Moncloa palace, the government said in a statement.

Israel proposes use of anti-terrorism tracking tech

Israel has – like France and Spain – announced a partial closure of the country, shutting hotels, cafes, restaurants, cinemas, theatres and malls. Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu added that he hopes to deploy anti-terrorism tracking technology to locate people who have been in contact with those carrying the virus. He said he had requested Justice Ministry approval because such measures could infringe patients’ privacy. “The enemy is invisible, but we must locate it,” Netanyahu said.

Colombia closes border with Venezuela and Ecuador bans foreigners

Colombia closed its border with Venezuela in order to stem the spread of Covid-19 in the South American nation. The move to shut the border came overnight, after Venezuela ?confirmed its first two cases of Covid-19 on Friday morning. Colombia currently has 22 confirmed cases of Covid-19, but its government appears to view Venezuela – with fewer cases – as a possible centre? of an outbreak in Latin America. Meanwhile, Ecuador announced it would ban foreigners from entering the country by land, sea or air. Citizens and residents will be able to enter until Monday, after which they will also face restrictions. Gatherings larger than 30 people have also been banned.

State of emergency announced in Libya

Libya’s Tripoli-based Government of National Accord has declared a state of emergency over the coronavirus and will close all air and sea ports from Monday, prime minister Fayez al-Serraj said on Saturday. Libya, split for years between rival governments that have been fighting a war for nearly a year, lacks adequate isolation and other facilities to combat the virus, the head of its disease control centre told Reuters on Thursday.

Number of African countries to report Covid-19 cases rises

Rwanda, Seychelles and Central African Republic confirmed their first coronavirus cases on Saturday – bringing the total number of African countries that have reported positive tests for the virus to 23. Sudan has ordered the closure of schools and universities for one month from Saturday to stop the spread of coronavirus, a statement from the prime minister’s office said. Morocco has banned flights to and from as many as 25 countries.

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