Coronavirus news updates: India launches curfew as Italy tightens lockdown


Powered by article titled “Merkel in quarantine; Spain set to extend state of emergency – as it happened” was written by Clea Skopeliti (now) and Hannah Mays, Haroon Siddique and Helen Davidson (earlier), for on Monday 23rd March 2020 00.05 UTC

12.00am GMT

Hi, this is Helen Sullivan. We are closing this blog. Thanks for following along. I will be bringing together all of the latest developments at our new coronavirus live blog here:

Updated at 12.07am GMT

11.41pm GMT

That’s all from me, Clea Skopeliti. Handing over to my colleague Helen Sullivan to take you through events as they develop.

11.04pm GMT


Here’s a summary of today’s coronavirus developments.

Updated at 11.09pm GMT

10.41pm GMT

Clinical trial launched

A European clinical trial involving some 3,200 people has been launched to test four possible experimental coronavirus treatments, French public health research body Inserm has said.

Participants will have been hospitalised with coronavirus and are expected to be drawn from Belgium, the UK, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain and the Netherlands.

10.15pm GMT

UK residents have been told that “essential travel” does not include visits to second homes, camp sites, caravan parks, whether for isolation purposes or holidays and that they should remain in their primary residence.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport updated its guidance to avoid non-essential travel in the UK, saying: “This guidance is for people planning to visit second homes or holiday premises during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Essential travel does not include visits to second homes, camp sites, caravan parks or similar, whether for isolation purposes or holidays. People should remain in their primary residence. Not taking these steps puts additional pressure on communities and services that are already at risk.”

The update follows a wave of people travelling to rural and remote areas to self-isolate. The trend has been condemned by Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who underlined that it meant “extra pressure on essential services and on health services that are already more distant from people”. Similarly, Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price has said self-isolaters should be prohibited from travelling to rural parts of Wales during the crisis.

Updated at 10.16pm GMT

10.00pm GMT

The Welsh government has warned that people will face a tough crackdown if they refuse to self-isolate and continue with non-essential travel during the outbreak.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said it is important members of the public follow the official advice to prevent further deaths.

“Self-isolation for those who have symptoms and social distancing by everyone is absolutely essential at this stage if we are to delay the spread of this virus and save lives,” the First Minister said.

“We all need to follow this advice now to protect each other and our families and to help ensure our NHS is not overwhelmed. Social distancing includes avoiding all but essential travel and if people don’t follow this advice we will have no choice but to use powers to enforce it.”

The First Minister’s warning follows a similar message from Boris Johnson, where he outlined that stricter measures would be enforced if social distancing was not observed.

Across Wales, 12 people with Covid-19 have died and a further 347 have tested positive for the virus.

9.23pm GMT

Georgian municipalities shut down

Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia has announced that the government is shutting down the municipalities of Marneuli and Bolnisi, south to capital city of Tbilisi. The move comes as reportedly the Georgian healthcare authorities could not identify the source for the latest case confirmed in Marneuli, and follows the country’s declaration of a state of emergency yesterday.

Updated at 10.03pm GMT

9.04pm GMT

Brazil has just announced its latest coronavirus statistics. Twenty five dead and 1,546 confirmed cases as of today. That is up from 18 and 1,128 yesterday.

South-east Brazil has so far borne the brunt of the crisis and of the fatalities 22 were in Brazil’s most populous state, São Paulo and three in the neighbouring state of Rio de Janeiro.

Both states are now in a state of partial shutdown with São Paulo set to enter a two-week period of quarantine on Tuesday. Streets were eerily empty on Sunday in parts of Rio although supermarkets and some shops remain open.

Brazil’s far-right president – whose response to the crisis has been widely criticised – has attacked the governors of Rio and São Paulo – who he sees as potential presidential rivals in the 2022 election – for the drastic steps they are taking.

“They are creating a climate of terror,” by trying to shut airports and keep people at home, Bolsonaro said on Saturday.

But there have now been five nights of protests against Bolsonaro’s administration and his handling of coronavirus here and many observers believe his reaction has already wrecked any hope of re-election.

8.58pm GMT

McDonald’s has said it is closing all its UK and Ireland restaurants from Monday night. In a statement, its UK CEO, Paul Pomroy, said: “I am incredibly grateful to our brilliant employees who have been working hard to continue to serve you safely in difficult circumstances.

“Over the last 24 hours, it has become clear that maintaining safe social distancing whilst operating busy takeaway and Drive Thru restaurants is increasingly difficult and therefore we have taken the decision to close every restaurant in the UK and Ireland by 7pm on Monday 23 March.

“We will be working closely with community groups across the UK and Ireland to distribute food from our restaurants to those most in need, and ahead of closing tomorrow evening, will ensure frontline health workers and emergency services personnel do not have to pay for any food or drink in our restaurants on sight of their work pass.

“Take care of one another in these unprecedented times, we look forward to seeing you again as soon as it is safe for us to reopen.”

Paul Pomroy

Updated at 9.31pm GMT

8.43pm GMT

Our Australian team have launched their blog today to follow all the developments there.

8.34pm GMT

NHS healthcare workers received a round of applause and flowers from Tesco staff in a show of support for their work against the pandemic.

Tesco told the PA news agency that staff at stores across the country independently decided to make the gesture as part of the ‘NHS hour’ it has introduced. This will allow healthcare workers to arrive an hour earlier every Sunday to buy supplies.

8.14pm GMT

Grenada has reported its first case of coronavirus, local sources report. The patient is said to have recently travelled from the UK.

8.04pm GMT

A 95-year-old Czech man infected with the new coronavirus has died, the country’s first victim of the pandemic, the chief of the Czech crisis committee said.

Reuters reports that the patient is said to have been suffering from a series of other conditions.

The Czech Republic has reported 1,120 cases of coronavirus infection.

7.59pm GMT

The Costa Rican government has announced 17 more Covid-19 cases, bringing the total to 134. President Carlos Alvarado said the virus how now spread to all parts of the country and urged Costa Ricans not to drop their guard against the virus.

There is still hope coronavirus can be contained in the Central American country amid a nationwide lockdown. Costa Rica has the second largest outbreak in the region behind Panama, where cases have surged over the weekend to 245 and three deaths.

Further north, Guatemala has started an eight day curfew to prevent the spread of the virus after the country recorded 17 cases on Saturday.

7.49pm GMT

From PA Media: A fourth patient diagnosed with Covid-19 in Ireland has died. The patient is reported to have had an underlying condition.

7.41pm GMT

First confirmed case in Syria, health minister announces

Syria’s health minister Nizar Yazigi has announced the country’s first confirmed coronavirus case, AP reports.

Updated at 7.43pm GMT

7.29pm GMT

The Archbishop of Canterbury has started a call to prayer on Twitter amidst the pandemic.

7.16pm GMT

International Olympic Committee considers postponement

The International Olympic Committee is considering a postponement of Tokyo 2020, with four weeks until it has to make a decision.

The BBC reports the IOC saying that cancellation is “not on the agenda”, but a ‘scaled-down’ Games will be considered.

Updated at 11.05pm GMT

7.04pm GMT

112 new deaths in France, reports say

France’s coronavirus death toll rose by 112 on Sunday to 674, senior health official Jerome Salomon said. The number of confirmed infections increased by 1,559 to 16,018, according to Reuters.

Updated at 7.17pm GMT

6.58pm GMT

The UK’s education secretary Gavin Williamson has reiterated guidance on school attendance for children of key workers.

In a statement, he said: “Tomorrow, all schools will be closed except for vulnerable children and those of critical workers. If your work is not critical in the response to Coronavirus then please keep your child at home. This will help to halt the spread of the virus, protect the NHS and save lives.

“We will be closely monitoring what is happening in schools and will ensure they get the support they need in the weeks and months ahead.”

Updated at 7.01pm GMT

6.51pm GMT

An 18-year-old with underlying conditions has died in England, the NHS has said. They are thought to be the youngest person in the UK to die of the virus so far.

6.47pm GMT

The global fashion retailer H&M has announced tonight that it is using its global supply chain to produce “personal protective equipment” such as masks, gloves and aprons for use in hospitals and by health care workers to help tackle the widespread effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,

The H&M Group said its supply chain teams around the world were collectively supporting initial efforts to support as many countries and communities as possible worldwide.

Anna Gedda, head of sustainability at the H&M Group, said:The Coronavirus is dramatically affecting each and every one of us, and H&M Group is, like many other organisations, trying our best to help in this extraordinary situation. We see this is as a first step in our efforts to support in any way we can. We are all in this together, and have to approach this as collectively as possible.

6.34pm GMT

The High Street coffee chain Pret Manger has this evening reversed a previous decision to cut the working hours of its employees by 25%, agreeing to continue to continue to award them full pay and following the decision to close all 400 UK stores.

The company’s staff were told on Thursday it was triggering contractual clauses relating to “unforeseen, exceptional circumstances” caused by the coronavirus outbreak and that the measures would remain in place for at least three months. On Saturday evening it announced the closure of all its UK stores, after closing seating areas and switching to a ‘takeaway model’ from Wednesday.

A Pret spokesperson said: “We have decided to continue to pay all our UK employees 100% of their normal hours and pay, reversing our previously proposed reduction in hours. This decision follows the Government’s announcement on Friday that it will pay a percentage of wages due to the coronavirus impact.

“This allows us to keep our teams safe at home and ensure they are paid 100% of their normal hours throughout March and April, despite the fact that our UK shops are not currently open.
“We have made a commitment to protect jobs across Pret and our number one priority is to look after our teams throughout this pandemic. We will keep reviewing the situation as it develops and in light of the continuing cost pressures on the business.”

6.30pm GMT

Opera star Plácido Domingo has tested positive for coronavirus.

In a Facebook post, the 79-year-old Spanish tenor wrote: “I feel it is my moral duty to announce to you that I have tested positive for COVID19, the Corona virus. My Family and I are all in self isolation for as long as it is deemed medically necessary. Currently we are all in good health but I experienced fever and cough symptoms therefore deciding to get tested and the result came back positive.

“I beg everyone to be extremely careful, follow the basic guidelines by washing your hands frequently, keeping at least a 6 feet distance from others, doing everything you can to stop the virus from spreading and please above all stay home if you can ! Together we can fight this virus and stop the current worldwide crisis, so we can hopefully return to our normal daily lives very soon. Please follow your local government’s guidelines and regulations for staying safe and protecting not just yourselves but our entire community.”

Updated at 7.00pm GMT

6.12pm GMT

That’s it from me, Hannah Mays. Handing over now to my colleague Clea Skopeliti

5.56pm GMT

Spain’s prime minister has called for the European Union to roll out its own “Marshall Plan,” describing a program of public investment capable of countering the deep economic blow of the crisis.

The country has emerged as one of the hardest hit in Europe, with the death toll soaring to 1,720. The country has 28,572 confirmed cases – a number that is expected to rise in the coming days as expanded testing is rolled out.

Officials have warned that the worst is yet to come. “We’re in a critical moment, the days ahead will be hard,” the prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, said in a televised address on Saturday. “We have to ready ourselves psychologically and emotionally.”

Around 12% – or 3,475 of the confirmed cases – are doctors, nurses and others on the frontlines of the coronavirus battle, the head of Spain’s health emergency centre, Fernando Simón said Sunday. Earlier this week, Spain lost its first healthcare worker to the virus: A 52-year-old nurse from the Basque Country.

As the government scrambles to contain the virus, a near-total lockdown has been imposed with residents ordered to stay in their homes save for essential trips. Sánchez said on Sunday that he would seek to extend the emergency measures until 11 April.

He also announced additional measures, including a 30-day restriction on travellers arriving from non-EU countries, save for those on essential travel. As well, regional governments will be given the power to take control of private care homes amid concerns that the unchecked spread of the virus in care facilities could be linked to the deaths of at least 100 people.

While the country struggles to contain the virus, many worry about the economic impact it will have on a country where the unemployment rate already ranks among the highest in the industrialised world.

Praising the EU’s response to the crisis so far, Sánchez called for an EU-wide plan aimed at reinvigorating the economies of member states. “We need to articulate a grand Marshall Plan of reconstruction,” he said.

“Europe is at war against the coronavirus. And we have to respond with all of our weapons, with all our tools.”

5.51pm GMT

Angela Merkel in quarantine

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is in quarantine after a doctor who gave her a vaccine tests positive for coronavirus.

Merkel’s spokesman said the German chancellor, who is 65, was informed about the doctor’s test shortly after holding a news conference Sunday announcing new measures to curb the spread of the virus.

Her spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said Merkel had received a precautionary vaccine Friday against pneumococcal infection.

Seibert said in a statement that Merkel would undergo “regular tests” in the coming days and continue with her work from home for the time being.

Merkel had earlier expressed her gratitude to Germans who were following the rules on social distancing, saying it was important to remain at least 1.5 meters (about five feet) apart to reduce the likelihood of infection.

Updated at 6.03pm GMT

5.49pm GMT

Greece’s prime minister has announced that as of 6 AM tomorrow a curfew will come into effect nationwide. In a televised address – his third in less than a week – Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the measure will prohibit “the circulation and movement of citizens” deemed to be “purposeless” – the strictest restriction, yet, in the fight to contain the novel coronavirus spreading further.

“It is perhaps the last step that an organised democratic state [can take],” he said. “ A step which must be taken in time, so that it is not taken in vain, because time isn’t counted, any more, in days but in hours,” he told the nation adding that in Italy, every two minutes, a life was now being lost to Covid-19.

Exceptions to the rule would be made for citizens going to and from work; for the provision of food and medicine; for visits to a doctor and for those who needed care; for those exercising individually, or with one other person, and for people walking dogs. Those travelling to their permanent place of residence would also be exempt from the measure.

But once enforced anyone out on the streets would have to have their passports or identity cards with them at all times, the centre right leader said insisting that the full force of the law would be imposed on those who violated the restriction. Fines of 150 euro will be given in the case of infractions.

Although Greece has managed to contain the spread of Covid-19 infections, numbers are going up and privately officials say they expect a big leap in the coming days. On Sunday, health authorities announced that in the past 24 hours there had been 94 new cases of people testing positive for the virus with a total of 624 confirmed coronavirus cases countrywide. To date, 15 people have died from the disease (with the exception of three, all men). Altogether 124 have been hospitalised with 34 requiring intensive care – double the figure over that released yesterday. Most of those who have contracted the virus are in Athens. The average age of those hospitalised is 64.

Greece was among the first EU member states to announce draconian measures to stem the virus, starting with the closure of schools on March 10, followed by the shutting of nightclubs, gyms, cinemas and theatres two days later and cafes, restaurants, bars and shopping malls on March 13. All retail shops were ordered closed on March 18. In his address, Mitsotakis thanked the vast majority of Greeks for upholding the restrictions, chastising the “frivolous few [who] undermine the safety of most.”

Greeks could be seen in droves converging on beaches on Saturday to enjoy the warm weather. A mass exodus of residents from Athens and other urban centres to villages in the countryside has also alarmed authorities who fear transmission rates spreading to remote areas nationwide.

Updated at 5.58pm GMT

5.15pm GMT

Our UK focussed coronavirus blog is reporting on Boris Johnson’s daily press conference which is currently happening. You can follow here.

5.07pm GMT

Poland went ahead with six by-elections on Sunday and reaffirmed plans to hold presidential elections on May 10 as pressure rises to call off the poll amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have to prepare this. That is the law in our country – nothing has changed,” Tomasz Grzelewski, spokesman for the National Electoral Commission, said. “If there was a decision by the President about introducing a state of emergency, then we would behave differently.”

Poland has shuttered schools, cinemas and theatres, while limiting public gatherings to no more than 50 people. It has also closed its borders to foreigners and introduced a “state of epidemic”.

The country has 627 confirmed cases of coronavirus and seven deaths as of Sunday.
But despite calls from opposition critics and candidates to call off the presidential elections, the government says it will not postpone them as it could only do so if it introduces a state of emergency.

Earlier this month, voters turned out in low numbers in France’s mayoral elections after the government imposed stringent restrictions on public life. The second round of the election was then called off.

Grzelewski said protective measures had been taken to ensure the by-election went ahead smoothly. Staff at voting booths had masks, disinfectant gel and gloves for voters to use. Voters were also to be given single-use pens to mark their ballots.

4.53pm GMT

Germany bans meetings of more than two people

Germany will ban public meetings of more than two people unless they are about work on slowing the spread of the coronavirus, the premier of North Rhine-Westphalia state said on Sunday.

“The danger lies in the direct social interaction,” state premier Armin Laschet said, adding that the federal government and regional states had agreed on the stricter rules.

Updated at 4.58pm GMT

4.49pm GMT

Spain’s Interior Ministry has said that Spain will impose 30 day entry restrictions on most foreigners from midnight at ports and airports. Spanish nationals, foreign residents, air crew, cargo workers, health workers and diplomats will be exempted from restrictions.

4.43pm GMT

23 dead and 83 injured in Bogota prison riots

Colombia’s prisons were rocked by riots and protests overnight, with inmates demanding better protection against the spread of Covid-19 in the South American country’s jails.

Shootouts were heard outside some prisons as videos circulated on social media showing fires and unrest.

One video appears to show armed riot police outside La Modelo prison in Bogotá, the capital, as shots and explosions can be heard inside.

Another video appeared to show a fire raging inside the same prison.

Colombia’s overcrowded prisons have long been hotbeds for organised crime, with violent power struggles between inmates and guards flaring up on occasion. Earlier this month, the government banned visitors to prisons in a bid to isolate inmates from the coronavirus.

“The authorities must urgently hand over an official report on the protests and riots that occurred last night in the country’s jails,” José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch, tweeted on Sunday morning. “Many of the detainees demanded conditions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. They denounce several dead and wounded.”

The Justice Ministry said Sunday that the rioting left 23 dead and 83 injured in Bogota.

Prison authorities have not yet reported how many casualties resulted from the disturbances.

Bogotá’s mayor, Claudia López, joined the chorus calling for a report on Sunday morning, tweeting that if authorities don’t “face up and explain [what happened] to families of prisoners, there will be another right, but of distressed families.”

The riots broke out on the same night that Colombia confirmed its first death as a result of Covid-19. On Sunday morning, confirmed cases stood at 231, with two people dying from the disease.

A nationwide quarantine – expanding on those currently in place in cities across the country, including Bogotá – will come into effect at midnight on Tuesday.

Updated at 5.52pm GMT

4.30pm GMT

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said at a press conference that “Life shouldn’t feel normal right now, so if your life still feels entirely normal, ask yourself if you are doing the right things”

She also said that people shouldn’t go shopping except for essentials or gather at parties, celebrations or weddings. She said that gathering together in the park or at the beach should be avoided, because this is almost as dangerous as going to the pub.

4.22pm GMT

Mozambique has confirmed its first case of the new coronavirus – a 75-year-old man who had recently returned from Britain, health minister Armindo Tiago said on Sunday.
The man returned to the country mid-March, Tiago told journalists.

4.17pm GMT

360 new deaths in Lombardy, reports say

The death toll in the northern region of Lombardy, which has borne the brunt of Italy’s virus outbreak, has risen by around 360 in a day to more than 3,450, a source has told Reuters.

The number of cases in the region, which includes Italy’s financial capital Milan, has increased by around 2,590 to more than 28,370. However, a number of results were still awaiting confirmation and it was not clear if they would be added later.

Sunday’s figures represented an improvement on Saturday, when the death toll in the region rose by 546 and new cases increased by 3,251. The national death toll is due to be released later on Sunday. The tally stood at 4,825 on Saturday – the highest in the world.

Updated at 4.17pm GMT

4.10pm GMT

Spain moves to extend state of emergency

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has said his government would ask parliament to extend for another 15 days until April 11 a state of emergency it imposed this month to try to curb the spread of the virus.

The nationwide state of emergency was first announced on March 14 and it bars people in the nation of around 46 million people from leaving home except for essential outings like buying food or seeking medical care.

Sanchez said the request to extend the state of emergency would be approved by his cabinet on Tuesday and he was confident the assembly would approve it.

“I know that is a drastic measure… but experts agree that it is an effective measure in the fight against coronavirus,” he told a news conference after holding talks via video conference with the heads of Spain’s regional governments.

The announcement comes after Spain announced 394 new deaths caused by the pandemic, raising to 1,720 the official death toll in Europe’s worst-hit country after Italy, a 30 percent increase over the previous day.

The number of confirmed cases of the disease rose by 3,646, or 14.6 percent, to 28,572, according to health ministry figures, straining Spain’s health care system.

Sanchez has said his country’s situation was now the most difficult since the 1936-39 civil war, and he warned that the outbreak would worsen.

“We must prepare ourselves emotionally and psychologically for very hard days ahead,” he told the nation in a televised address late on Saturday.

4.08pm GMT

French doctor dies

A French doctor has died from coronavirus, the first medic to succumb in the country, health minister Olivier Veran has said.

The minister paid tribute to all front-line medical staff and urged other workers to keep essential services running despite the nationwide lockdown. “The medical profession is making a heavy sacrifice in our country today,” Veran told LCI television.

The doctor who died was an emergency specialist working at a hospital in Compiegne, north of Paris, public television reported, citing a Facebook post by one of his children. “We’re asking citizens to continue mobilising to keep our economy working,” Veran said. “Not for the sake of economic objectives or budgets, but because a single missing link can bring down the entire production system.”

France’s death toll rose by 112 to 562 on Saturday, according to health ministry numbers, while the number of confirmed cases increased 15% to 14,459 in 24 hours.

The government may also roll out a tax-free coronavirus “attendance bonus” for people who need to be at their workplace to carry out their jobs, officials have said.

4.01pm GMT

Dubai carrier Emirates has reversed a previous announcement suspending all passenger flights, saying it is going to continue flying to 13 destinations, including the the U.S., the UK, Japan, Australia and Canada. The company said Sunday that the decision comes after receiving requests from governments and customers to support the repatriation of travellers. Hours earlier, Emirates said it was suspending all passenger flights starting Wednesday.

3.47pm GMT

Cambodia has reported 31 new cases of coronavirus on Sunday, 29 of them among French tourists, bringing the total number of infections recorded in the Southeast Asian country to 84, the health ministry said in a statement.

The statement said the two Cambodians who were infected had been tour guides accompanying the tourists. All were now being kept in isolation in a hotel in the beach city of Sihanoukville, the statement said.

3.39pm GMT

The Canadian death toll from the coronavirus outbreak jumped almost 50% percent to 19 in less than a day, according to official figures released by the federal government on Sunday.

Ottawa said late on Saturday that 13 people had died from the respiratory illness caused by the virus, but by 9 a.m. ET (1300 GMT) on Sunday that number had grown to 19. The number of confirmed cases rose to 1,302 from 1,099, with a further 69 people listed as probably suffering from the highly contagious virus.

Canada has already closed its borders to all but essential travel, announced a C billion aid package for the most affected by the health crisis and is urging people to practice self-isolation.

Health Minister Patty Hajdu said on Saturday that “Canadians need to understand this isn’t about two weeks of social distancing. This is about months of social distancing.”
Nova Scotia on Sunday became the latest of Canada’s 10 provinces to declare a state of emergency, closing its borders to non-residents and threatening to arrest those who did not practice self-distancing.

Premier Stephen McNeil told a news conference that despite warnings to avoid meeting in large groups, people were flocking to provincial parks and other common areas.
“We are dealing with a deadly virus and this behavior is unacceptable,” he said.

3.21pm GMT

Saudi Arabia cases pass 500

Saudi Arabia has reported a jump in coronavirus cases. Saudi Health Ministry spokesman Mohammed Abdelali said the kingdom recorded 119 new cases, raising the total number to 511, the highest to date in the Gulf Arab region.

The tally of cases in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council now stands at more than 1,700.

3.17pm GMT

José Ameal Peña was just four years old when the 1918 flu tore through his small fishing town in northern Spain, its deadly path narrated by the daily ringing of church bells.

More than a century later, Ameal Peña – believed to be Spain’s only living survivor of a pandemic described to be the deadliest in human history – has a warning as the world faces off against Covid-19: “Be careful,” he said. “I don’t want to see the same thing repeated, it claimed so many lives.”

The 1918 flu, known as the Spanish flu after the country’s press were among the first to report on it, killed between 50 and 100 million people around the world.

In Ameal Peña’s town of Luarca, it claimed some 500 lives, or a quarter of the town’s 2,000 residents. He watched from his window as a steady stream of funeral processions made their way to the local cemetery.

In autumn 1918, he became the only one out of his seven siblings to catch the flu. “I still can’t figure out how I’m here,” he told Spanish newspaper El Mundo. “When I woke up, I could barely walk. I had to crawl on my hands and knees.”

As he wrestled with a relentless fever, a local doctor prescribed vapours of boiled eucalyptus and seaweed.

In recent weeks, he’s watched anxiously as another pandemic tightens its grip on the world. Spain has emerged as one of Europe’s hardest-hit by the coronavirus, with 1,720 people killed.

“He knows exactly what is happening with the coronavirus,” his daughter Anunciata told El Mundo. “Since he lived through all that, he’s having a hard time now. He’s afraid that something similar will happen again, even though we’re living in very different times.”

While the fear unleashed by both pandemics is similar, this time the battle is unfolding against a backdrop of scientific advances, allowing the virus to be isolated, antiviral drugs to be tested and complex medical treatments to be carried out.

Across the Atlantic, another survivor of the 1918 flu, 107-year-old Joe Newman, offered his perspective. “There are those of us who say, well, this too shall go away. And it will,” the resident of Sarasota, Florida told NBC news. “But at what cost, at what expense?”

Newman urged people to lean on each other for support. “You have to be my crutch. I have to be yours. It’s been that way through every crisis we’ve had,” he said. “And then we find – when we do look back – that is what got us through it.”

3.12pm GMT

One of the world’s biggest airlines, Emirates, said it was suspending all passenger flights starting Wednesday. It’s a pivotal move that reflects the dramatic slowdown in traffic through the airline’s hub in Dubai, the world’s busiest international airport, due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus.

The state-owned carrier stressed in a statement on Sunday it will continue to operate cargo flights through its fleet of Boeing 777 freighters for the transport of essential goods, including medical supplies across the world. It also said the company would reduce salaries for the majority of its employees for three months, but will not cut jobs.

3.07pm GMT

Singapore: 23 new cases confirmed

23 new cases of the virus have been confirmed in Singapore. 18 of the cases had recently travelled to Europe, North America, South America and ASEAN countries, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said in its daily update. Nine of the cases had travelled to the UK and three to the US.

Singapore confirmed its first deaths yesterday. A 75-year-old Singaporean woman and 64-year-old Indonesian man.

Updated at 3.10pm GMT

2.59pm GMT

During his weekly Sunday blessing, Pope Francis urged all Christians to join in reciting the Our Father prayer on Wednesday at noon. “To the virus pandemic, we want to respond with the universality of prayer, of compassion, of tenderness”, the pope said.

Francis, who began streaming his audiences online earlier this month due to virus concerns, said he would also lead a global blessing to an empty St. Peters Square on Friday. The Urbi et Orbi, blessing is normally reserved for Christmas Day and Easter.

2.54pm GMT

Waitrose and John Lewis have outlined measures that will be in place from tomorrow to support NHS workers:

  • All Waitrose shops will protect a proportion of deliveries of ‘hard to find’ and essential stock exclusively for NHS workers to ensure they have better opportunity to access basic shopping items at all times of the day.A proportion of deliveries
  • NHS staff will receive priority checkout treatment in all Waitrose supermarkets either through a dedicated till or moved to the front of the queue
  • John Lewis is donating comfort items and Easter gift food to local hospitals, to support workers

Berangere Michel, Executive Director for Customer Service at the John Lewis Partnership, said: “Through these steps we want to recognise the tireless work of NHS staff, supporting us all through these unprecedented circumstances. We hope these measures make their life a little easier; our Partners are keen to do something to help, and we are offering this with sincere thanks from us all.”

These new measures follow steps outlined by the John Lewis Partnership earlier this week to support customers, including the launch of a £1million Community Support Fund to help local communities along with a protected shopping hour for the elderly and vulnerable.

Many Waitrose shops have already been using their community funds to assemble care packages of essential items for vulnerable or elderly people in the local community.

2.44pm GMT

Greece’s centre right government is hours away from announcing further restrictive measures to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus with media reports saying the latest clampdown on movement will likely take the form of a curfew. starting either tonight or tomorrow morning. News sites reported that prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is expected to announce the emergency measure in a TV address at 6pm local time. The step follows alarm at the number of citizens still flouting regulations enforced as part of gradual lockdown to halt transmissions of the virus.

On Saturday Greeks could be seen flocking to beaches along the Athenian riviera despite repeated government entreaties for people to remain at home. A mass exodus of Greeks from Athens, and other urban areas, to villages in the countryside has also caused consternation. As of Saturday afternoon, when the latest health ministry figures were announced, authorities had confirmed 530 cases of coronavirus and 13 fatalities – with the exception of one, all men.

Mitsotakis and other officials have repeatedly warned that the coming weeks are critical in containing the disease. Addressing reporters last night, the deputy civil protection minister Nikos Hardalias felt fit to remind Greeks that Italy, the country worst hit in Europe by Covid-19, had recorded the same number of coronavirus cases and deaths 24 days ago.

Officials fear that Greece’s health system – savaged by years of budget cuts during the country’s long-running debt crisis – is far from ready to deal with a sudden surge in numbers requiring immediate hospitalisation. That, and the country’s proximity to Italy, played a central role in the government taking a tough stance from the outset announcing measures that included the closure of schools early on.

Updated at 3.36pm GMT

2.38pm GMT

Afghanistan announces first coronavirus death

Afghanistan has announced its first Coronavirus death. The Health Ministry confirmed that the patient, who was 40 years old, died three days ago in northern Balkh province and the result of his coronavirus test arrived today.

Wahidullah Mayar, spokesman for the Health Ministry said the body was transferred to a Taliban controlled area [by his relatives] and buried there.

Another suspected patient died today in western Herat province. The coronavirus test result will arrive tomorrow. Herat neighbours Iran and is the most affected city with 18 positive cases so far.

Afghanistan has reported 34 coronavirus cases so far, 10 in last 24 hours. Testing remains low and experts fear the full extent of the spread is not known. With as many as 15,000 people arriving daily from Iran, one of the worst-hit countries, Afghanistan remains vulnerable to the spread.

Updated at 3.10pm GMT

2.28pm GMT

Fox News reports that the New York City Police Department is dealing with a sudden spike in coronavirus cases. According to NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea, over 50 police officers have tested positive for the virus, but only one has been hospitalised. The 1st Precinct in Manhattan is the hardest hit, with 31 officers (17 percent of the workforce) calling in sick, forcing the NYPD to call the Movie and Television Unit to fill in.

The police union says that the NYPD has failed to provide adequate protective equipment for officers or cleaning supplies.

2.12pm GMT

In the space of less than 24 hours on Sunday, India amped up its drastic measures to try and stop the spread of coronavirus, as the number of cases rose to 341 and the death toll reached seven.

From 7am to 9pm, a nationwide “people’s curfew” was imposed to clear the streets. It was then announced that all train operations in India would be suspended until at least 31 March, a move which will impact the 23 million passengers who rely on India’s railways every day.

The capital city of Delhi, which has now reported six cases of coronavirus which were locally transmitted, will also be locked down from 6am on Monday until at least 31 March, with the state borders sealed, all public transport and non-essential businesses closed and taxis and rickshaws ordered off the roads.

Lockdowns were imposed in 75 districts across the country and in Goa the curfew was extended until Wednesday.

2.09pm GMT

First two cases confirmed in Gaza

The first two cases of coronavirus were confirmed in the Gaza Strip last night in individuals who had come from Pakistan. An outbreak could wreak havoc on the Palestinian territory, which is home to over 2 million people, many living in cramped cities and refugee camps. There are similar concerns about a catastrophe if the virus turns up in war-torn Syria, Libya or Yemen.

Abdelnasser Soboh, director of the World Health Organization’s Gaza office, said the territory only has 62 ventilators, with all but 15 already in use. He estimates the territory needs 50 to 100 more to address an outbreak.

With its current capacity, he estimated Gaza’s hospitals can handle the first 100 cases if they come in gradually. If there is a spread to hundreds, this will cause a challenge to the health care system,” he said.

Hundreds of Gazans have returned home in the past two weeks, but only 92 people have been examined, highlighting the territory’s limited testing capacity. More than 1,270 people have been quarantined at hospitals, hotels and schools after crossing into Gaza from Israel and Egypt, according to the Health Ministry.

Updated at 3.10pm GMT

1.46pm GMT

The coronavirus economic relief bill being finalised in the US Congress will include a one-time ,000 payment for families and allow the Federal Reserve to leverage up to trillion of liquidity to support the nation’s economy, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said today.

Mnuchin, speaking in an interview on the “Fox News Sunday” television program, said the additional liquidity measures for the U.S. central bank aims to help a broad base of U.S. businesses to get through next 90 to 120 days.

1.39pm GMT

43 more deaths in the Netherlands

The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the Netherlands rose by 573, or nearly 16%, to 4,204, Dutch health authorities said in a daily update on Sunday.

The death toll in the Netherlands rose by 43 to 179, with victims aged between 57 and 97.

1.33pm GMT

The Chinese billionaire founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba has sent coronavirus supplies to Africa. Jack Ma sent a cargo flight from Guangzhou in China containing more than 6m medical items, which arrived today in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. The supplies will be distributed to African countries in need of resources to battle the virus.

According to Ethiopian officials and the Jack Ma Foundation, the plane carried 5.4m face masks, 1.08m testing kits, 40,000 sets of protective clothing and 60,000 protective face shields. Ma has sent similar shipments of medical supplies to countries in Asia, Europe, North America and Latin America.

The virus has been slow to reach Africa but has now spread to at least 42 of the continent’s 54 countries.

Updated at 1.43pm GMT

1.15pm GMT has reported that hospitals in Ireland are braced for a new wave of cases after at least 14 patients in an Irish care home in Leinster tested positive for the virus. Covid-19 is believed to have been transmitted to residents via a health worker.

Updated at 1.42pm GMT

1.03pm GMT

The Welsh government has just tweeted reminding everyone to avoid all but essential travel and suggesting stronger measures will be brought in if people ignore the advice.

1.00pm GMT

We’ve now got a live blog up and running focusing on UK coronavirus developments. Head over here to check it out. Meanwhile I’ll be continuing to bring you the major headlines and updates from around the world.

Updated at 1.05pm GMT

12.46pm GMT

Boris Johnson has tweeted asking everyone to stay at home and not visit vulnerable mums in person this Mother’s Day.

Updated at 1.04pm GMT

12.41pm GMT

Paul Reid, Ireland’s top health service official, has said huge orders have been placed for coronavirus testing equipment and protective gear for staff. A total of 11m masks, 1m face shields and 1m goggles for workers are on order. Another 400,000 gowns and suits are also being purchased.

Almost 40,000 sample test kits are being distributed. Another 20,000 will be in Ireland by Wednesday, the health service said. The Irish Republic is at an advanced stage of negotiations with China to secure a further 100,000 and good progress is being made, it said.

The worldwide nature of the coronavirus pandemic means there is a lot of competition to secure supplies. On Saturday night, 177 people were in Irish hospitals with coronavirus, up from 151 on Saturday morning. Ireland usually spends €15m a year on personal protective equipment, the health service said. Its bill since January has already hit €60m.

Updated at 12.57pm GMT

12.27pm GMT

Iran’s supreme leader blames US for sending coronavirus to Iran

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said the US was responsible for sending coronavirus to Iran, therefore making it impossible to accept any American help to fight the virus there. Speaking on the occasion of the New Year and Eid al-Mab’ath, the 80-year-old said “you Americans are accused of engineering coronavirus”, adding: “I do not know how true this claim is, but as long as the accusation stands, which sensible person would trust you to accept your offer of help.

“Possibly your (offered) medicine is a way to spread the virus more,” he said. “Or if you send therapists and doctors, maybe so they want to see the effect of the poison in Iranian society, so they can complete their information. It is said that part of the virus was produced against the Iranian people.”

His tone contradicted that of the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, who had the day before sent a heartfelt plea to the American public to set aside their differences with Iran and work together to fight the virus, including by the US suspending economic sanctions on Iran.

The supreme leader was immediately challenged by Iranian reformist politicians such as Mahmoud Sadeghi to produce evidence to back his claim.

Khamenei’s controversial belief in an American biological conspiracy came as the Iranian health ministry said the new infections in Iran in the past 24 hours had reached 1,865, with a further 129 deaths. The official figures show the number of deaths by day stabilising.

The total number of infected people had reached 21,638. The health ministry spokesman said 7,913 people had recovered.

The official figures have been widely challenged on the basis that the recording of the number of deaths includes only those who died after being tested for the disease. The World Health Organization has said the figure may be only a fifth of the true number who have died. The official death toll shows no obvious pattern since for the last three days it has risen only from 220 to 240, yet the infections are rising.

Iran also continued to send out contradictory messages about whether it could overcome the virus without sanctions being lifted. The letter from the president underlined the need for US sanctions being lifted. Khamenei has insisted the country can survive independently.

The US state department hit back at claims it was preventing medicines reaching Iran, saying: “Dear Iranians, as your government will not tell you the truth, we say: on March 2, Iran, which instead of acting like any normal government around the world, refuses to make your economic system transparent. The reason the regime is hiding its economy is because it is corrupt.”

In Tehran province the deputy mayor, Hamid Reza Goudarzi, after weeks of controversy has announced that all shops but essential food shops and pharmacies must close, and those that refuse to abide by the instructions will be punished.

The International Monetary Fund has still not responded to an Iranian request for a bn loan to help fight the virus.

Qom News, an agency covering Qom, one of the centres of the disease, reported on Sunday: “In every house black cloth hangs from the walls of houses and the sound of crying in mourning houses resounds. Stay at home or else you’re the next person.”

Updated at 12.53pm GMT

12.15pm GMT

Spain: death toll climbs to 1,720

The death toll in Spain has climbed to 1,720 – with 394 lives claimed in the past day – as the country’s prime minister warned that the “worst is yet to come” and announced plans to extend the country’s near-total lockdown until the 12 of April.

Across Spain, the number of confirmed cases sits at 28,572, according to the latest data from the health ministry.

In the span of a few weeks, Spain has emerged as one of the hardest-hit countries in the global pandemic. After the first full week of near-total lockdown, the country’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, reportedly told regional leaders he would aim to get parliamentary approval to extend the emergency measures for another 15 days.

The extension comes after Sánchez warned that the toughest days of the crisis still lie ahead.

“Unfortunately, the worst is to come,” Pedro Sánchez said on Saturday. “We have yet to feel the impact of the hardest, most damaging wave, one that will test the limits of our moral and material capacity, as well as our spirit as a society.”

A cacophony of sound preceded his address to the nation, as some banged pots and pans to show their dissatisfaction with how his government has managed the crisis.

Healthcare workers on the frontlines have described a healthcare system pushed to the brink, with intensive care patients outstripping capacity in some hospitals and workers forced to use garbage bags as hospital gowns amid a shortage of protective gear. “We’re at war,” one doctor at Madrid’s La Paz Hospital told the Guardian.

The government said it had distributed more than million masks and was working on a plan to domestically produce protective gear. As the call for expanded testing grows, Sánchez said the government had acquired more than 640,000 tests and had already begun handing them out.

On Sunday, paramedics in Madrid began transferring patients to a field hospital set up in Madrid’s main exhibition hall, in a bid to relieve pressure on the city’s most overwhelmed hospitals. The makeshift hospital, mounted in the past days by the military, can be expanded to hold as many as 5,500 patients.

Updated at 12.43pm GMT

12.09pm GMT

Croatia’s capital Zagreb was shaken by a series of earthquakes this morning that brought most of the population out onto the streets, just as social distancing regulations to prevent the spread of coronavirus had gone into place. The ill-timed quakes, the largest of which measured 5.3 on the Richter scale, have left one child in critical condition and damaged buildings across Zagreb, including the spire of the city’s main cathedral. The epicentre was about four miles north of Zagreb.

Photographs showed damage to a hospital in the capital, just as the country’s health system was gearing up for a potential surge in coronavirus cases. Mothers cradled their newborns on the street as a maternity ward was evacuated.

Croatian authorities on Saturday advised residents to stay off the streets, cut most public transport and demanded people pay heed to social distancing recommendations. The country has recorded 206 cases of coronavirus so far and one death.

Croatia’s interior minister Davor Božinović said on Sunday that the army was helping to clear up the rubble in Zagreb. He said authorities were working to manage both crises, but said the coronavirus was a more serious threat to the country than the earthquake. He urged those on the streets due to the earthquake to maintain social distancing norms.

12.02pm GMT

A Tesco in Lewes that opened one hour early for NHS workers at 9am this morning reportedly let others in because of long queues outside and did not open the tills until 10am, meaning that shoppers were packed together in close quarters.

11.55am GMT


  • The number of confirmed coronavirus deaths in Spain has risen by almost 400, or 30%, in 24 hours, as the government is reported to be extending its state of emergency by another 15 days. As well as 394 new deaths, the country reported the number of confirmed cases has risen by 3,646 (15%) from 24,926 to 28,572.
  • In Iran, the death toll rose has risen by 129 (8%) to 1,685 over the past day, and the number of cases has risen by 1,028 (5%) to 21,638.
  • In Germany, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany has risen by 1,948 (12%) to 18,610, and the number of deaths has increased by nine (20%) to 55, the country’s public health institute said.
  • Indonesia has confirmed 10 new deaths from Covid-19 and 64 new cases, taking the respective totals to 48 and 514. On Saturday, Indonesia reported six deaths and 81 new cases.The south-east Asian country has turned its athletes village built for the 2018 Asian Games into an emergency hospital.
  • The number of deaths in Wales of patients who tested positive for coronavirus has more than doubled, from five to 12, the chief medical officer for Wales, Dr Frank Atherton, said.
  • Colombia, Guam Kosovo and Romania each reported their first death, with the fatality in Guam, the first in the Pacific region. Palestinian officials reported the first two cases in the Gaza strip.
  • The UK government has refused to dismiss the idea of an Italian-style lockdown if needed to curb the further spread of the virus, amid reports that many people were out enjoying the weather on Saturday and not practising social distancing. The government is to write to 1.5m people perceived as vulnerable due to underlying health conditions, urging them to stay indoors for 12 weeks.
  • A group of almost 4,000 NHS workers in the UK have pleaded with the prime minister, Boris Johnson, to ensure they have adequate protective equipment to deal with the coronavirus crisis.In an open letter to The Sunday Times, the medics have called on Johnson to “protect the lives of the life-savers” and resolve the “unacceptable” shortage of protective equipment.
  • The Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, has announced wide ranging restrictions on businesses but has said schools will remain open. Among those affected will be clubs, hotels, pubs, entertainment venues, indoor supporting venues and places of worship. Restaurants and cafes will be restricted to takeaway only.
  • The Russian military is sending medical help to Italy from today, including mobile disinfection vehicles and medical specialists.
  • Malaysia has sent the army to the streets to enforce restrictions which people appear to be defying. The country has one of the highest rates of infection in Southeast Asia.
  • China is diverting all Beijing-bound international flights to other airports for checks before allowing them to continue.
  • Singapore has banned the entry and transit of all foreigners, except those with work permits in essential services.
  • Hawaii has become the first US state to require 14 days quarantine for all arrivals.
  • India has imposed a curfew from 7am to 9pm Delhi time.
  • The Italian PM ordered businesses to close all operations.
  • More than 50,000 people queued to see the Olympic flame in northeast Japan. Meanwhile Olympic officials are reportedly workshopping delaying the games despite the Japanese government’s insistence it go ahead.

Updated at 11.58am GMT

11.53am GMT

Employers in Scotland have been urged to give paid leave to all members of staff who volunteer as special constables to help Police Scotland cope with the coronavirus pandemic.

The force said it faced “unprecedented challenges to maintain policing while managing rising levels of sickness and self-isolation among officers and staff.”

It has asked special constables, who have the same powers as regular police officers, to increase their hours volunteering over the next three months and written to their employers asking them to support them.

Police Scotland launched a new recruitment campaign on 3 February this year after a sharp decline in special constable numbers, partly because 500 specials became full time officers.

Figures given to BBC Scotland after a freedom of information request showed a 62% fall since the unitary force was formed in 2013, down from 1,391 that year to 517 in 2019.

Malcolm Graham, a Police Scotland deputy chief constable, said in a statement: “This is an extraordinary moment and one that requires a collective response. It is a moment when the ethos of the Special Constabulary – supporting Scottish communities and local policing – has never been more relevant.

“The coronavirus pandemic is presenting an unprecedented and dynamic set of challenges and, to support health professionals and maximise public safety, the policing response is crucial.

“The coming weeks and months will be demanding and there will be significant additional duties that we are required to discharge during this critical period. To support our overall response, we would like to include our valued special constables in our resourcing plans.”

11.33am GMT

Tourists are being urged to stay at home and not visit some of the remote communities in the Scottish Highlands in the midst of the coronavirus crisis. Scotland’s Tourism Secretary, Fiona Hyslop, said: “My advice to everybody is stay where you are. Do not travel to the Highlands and Islands.”

The pleas came as the organisation that represents tourism businesses along the A830 road, which connects Fort William with Mallaig, also urged visitors to stay away. The Road To The Isles group includes 100 accommodation and visitor-based businesses on the scenic route, which takes in Glenfinnan, Lochailort, Roshven, Arisaig, Morar, Mallaig and the Small Isles of Eigg, Muck, Rum, Canna and the Knoydart peninsula.
The area already has an ageing population, with just one doctor and ambulance to cover it, and the nearest hospital is 100 miles away.

Thanks to Haroon for covering the blog this morning. This is Hannah Mays signing on.

Updated at 11.35am GMT

11.17am GMT

An 82-year old man who died in hospital in Kosovo on Sunday is the country’s first victim of the coronavirus, the Kosovo Public Health Institute said in a statement.

“Patient already had chronic illness, cardio and pulmonary,” the institute said, according to Reuters.

Kosovo, a country of 2 million people, has registered 31 cases of people infected with coronavirus.

This is my last post, I am now handing over to my colleague Hannah Mays.

11.07am GMT

Almost 400 new deaths in Spain

The number of deaths linked to Covid-19 in Spain has risen by almost 400 – 30% – to 1,720 in the last day, Spanish media are reporting.

As well as the 394 deaths, the number of confirmed cases has reportedly risen by 3,646 (15%) from 24,926 to 28,572.

The government is reportedly extending the 15-day state of emergency imposed on 14 March by another 15 days.

Updated at 11.12am GMT

10.59am GMT

Croatia’s capital Zagreb was shaken by a series of earthquakes this morning that brought most of the population out onto the streets, just as social distancing regulations to prevent the spread of coronavirus had gone into place.

The ill-timed quakes, the largest of which measured 5.3 on the Richter scale, have left one child in critical condition and damaged buildings across Zagreb, including the spire of the city’s main cathedral. The epicentre was about four miles north of Zagreb.

Photographs showed damage to a hospital in the capital, just as the country’s health system was gearing up for a potential surge in coronavirus cases. Mothers cradled their newborns on the street as a maternity ward was evacuated.

Croatian authorities on Saturday advised residents to stay off the streets, cut most public transport and demanded people pay heed to social distancing recommendations. The country has recorded 206 cases of coronavirus so far and one death.

Croatia’s interior minister Davor Božinović said on Sunday that the army was helping to clear up the rubble in Zagreb. He said authorities were working to manage both crises, but said the coronavirus was a more serious threat to the country than the earthquake. He urged those on the streets due to the earthquake to maintain social distancing norms.

A person walks past rubbles lying on a street after a 5.3-magnitude earthquake that hit near Zagreb, Croatia
A person walks past rubbles lying on a street after a 5.3-magnitude earthquake that hit near Zagreb, Croatia Photograph: Antonio Bat/EPA

Updated at 11.20am GMT

10.48am GMT

Albania has said it will suspend all commercial flights to and from the country from midnight, allowing only flag carrier Air Albania to fly to Turkey and operate humanitarian flights, the government and airport operator said.

The government had already cut all air and sea links with Italy, now the worst-hit country and home to 400,000 Albanians, after its first coronavirus case arrived from Italy a fortnight ago along with 120,000 returning Albanians.

There have been 76 coronavirus cases in Albania and two deaths.

10.37am GMT

We have had lots of people get in touch about lack of social distancing in the UK, with people going out in the sunny weather.

A reader from the Lake District – a popular holiday destination in north-west England – did not want to be named but said:

People are escaping to the countryside for days out as normal.

The National Trust shut all its properties, but kept the outdoor places open for people to exercise. They had to reverse this decision overnight as thousands of tourists saw the sunny weather as an opportunity to have a day out. Many of the properties where busier that a normal bank holiday weekend. This is just not acceptable.

The rural areas just can’t cope with this kinds of influx of visitors at this time. Our healthcare system in the Lakes is only meant for the 500,000 permanent residents. It’s already being overwhelmed.

The local community is trying its best to get the message across that we aren’t welcoming visitors at the moment, but it just doesn’t seem to be working. We are overrun. Car parks have turned into campsites, and our small local co-ops are now empty as they can’t keep up with demand from tourists. All the holiday cottages and second homes are full.

Updated at 10.52am GMT

10.24am GMT

Australia announces restrictions on businesses

The Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, has announced restrictions on businesses but has said schools will remain open. In a press conference, which is ongoing – you can follow it on our dedicated Australia live blog – he said that Australians had been disregarding advice on social distancing. In response, he announced that from tomorrow at midday, the following businesses will be closed or restricted in their trade:

  • Registered and licensed clubs
  • Licensed premises in hotels and pubs.
  • Entertainment venues and cinemas, casinos and nightclubs.
  • Restaurants and cafes will be restrict to takeaway only.
  • Indoor sporting venues.
  • Places of worship.
  • Enclosed spaces for funerals and things of that nature will have to follow the strict four square metre rule which will be enforced.

10.17am GMT

Hong Kong has reported 44 more cases confirmed over the past 24 hours, the city’s second highest daily increase to date, RTHK reports.

The highest daily toll to date was the 48 confirmed on Friday. The total number of confirmed cases in Hong Kong now stands at 317.

Out of the 44 new cases, 29 had recently come back to Hong Kong from abroad, including nine students who had just returned to Hong Kong, RTHK says.

10.09am GMT

NHS nurses are being made to use various items they can find – including bin bags – in the hospital to help protect themselves, with many using plastic aprons over their head, buying wellies or wrapping clinical waste bags around their feet.

One nurse, who did not wish to be named, said:

Widespread nurses are making their own PPE [personal protective equipment]. I know friends I trained with doing the same. We have to protect ourselves, some of us have children and babies. We are trying to help people but have to protect families. I don’t know why we are not getting PPE.

She added:

I don’t think it’s about money but management. Some third world countries are dealing properly with this pandemic but we are not. We are doing our best – really doing our best but in terms of the equipment needed to help patients they are failing. Ventilators, for example. If we have unwell patients but no ITU [intensive treatment unit] capacity we can’t do much.

Nurses in the Royal Free hospital in north London have been tying clinical waste bags around their legs, the Guardian has been told. In North Middlesex hospital they have been tying plastic aprons around their heads.

10.07am GMT

Seven more deaths in Wales

A further seven patients in Wales who tested positive for coronavirus have died, bringing the total to 12, the chief medical officer for Wales, Dr Frank Atherton, has said.

9.54am GMT

Iran cases jump to 21,638, with 129 more deaths

Iran has also issued its latest figures, which show the death toll has risen to 1,685, an increase of 129 in 24 hours, and the number of cases has risen by 1,028 to 21,638.

Updated at 9.56am GMT

9.49am GMT

German infections rise by 1,948 to 18,610 as nine more people die

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany has risen by 1,948 to 18,610, and the number of deaths has increased by nine to 55, the country’s public health institute has said.

Updated at 9.56am GMT

9.35am GMT

Covid-19 could pose a threat to Africa’s endangered mountain gorilla, conservationists have warned. From AP:

Congo’s Virunga National Park, home to about a third of the world’s mountain gorillas, is barring visitors until 1 June, citing advice from scientific experts indicating that primates, including mountain gorillas, are likely susceptible to complications arising from the Covid-19 virus.

Neighboring Rwanda also is temporarily shutting down tourism and research activities in three national parks that are home to primates such as gorillas and chimpanzees.

Mountain gorillas are prone to some respiratory illnesses that afflict humans. A common cold can kill a gorilla, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature, one reason why tourists tracking gorillas are not normally permitted to get too close.

Paula Kahumbu, chief executive of the Kenya-based conservation group WildlifeDirect, told The Associated Press that every possible effort must be made to protect mountain gorillas because so few are left in the wild. She said:

We know that gorillas are very sensitive to human diseases. If anyone has a cold or a flu they are not allowed to go and see the gorillas. With coronavirus having such a long time of no symptoms in some cases, it means that we could actually put those gorillas at risk.

Even existing measures may not be enough to protect them.

A baby mountain gorilla clings to the back of its mother, on Mount Bisoke volcano in Volcanoes National Park, northern Rwanda.
A baby mountain gorilla clings to the back of its mother, on Mount Bisoke volcano in Volcanoes National Park, northern Rwanda. Photograph: Ben Curtis/AP

9.19am GMT

A UK pet shop chain, Pets At Home, has been criticised for claiming key worker status for its staff. Schools in the UK have closed but children of those classified as key workers are still allowed to attend. A letter from Pets At Home tells schools to contact their legal department in case of questions.

The general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers has responded:

9.03am GMT

The UK communities secretary, Robert Jenrick, has reiterated government warnings for people to maintain social distancing, refusing to dismiss the idea of an Italian-style lockdown if needed to curb the further spread of the virus. He told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday:

We want to continue in a free society. But this isn’t a game, people need to follow the advice.

Discussing a plan announced overnight to write to 1.5m people perceived as vulnerable due to underlying health conditions, urging them to stay indoors for 12 weeks, with provision for care packages to be sent to them, Jenrick said these people could remain with other household members, saying he is “not expecting families to be broken up”.

Jenrick said that while people should stay healthy and go out for exercise, he said they should not pack together in parks, and stay physically apart from people

Failure to follow the advice could see the NHS overwhelmed, he warned, even with measures to increase critical care capacity:

We’re doing all the things we can, but let’s be clear, the numbers are rising, we need to follow the advice of healthcare professions.

8.57am GMT

Indonesia has confirmed 10 new deaths from Covid-19 and 64 new cases, taking the respective totals to 48 and 514.

On Saturday, Indonesia reported six deaths and 81 new cases.

The south-east Asian country has turned its athletes village built for the 2018 Asian Games into an emergency hospital with a capacity to hold more than 4,000 patients, it announced earlier today.

An Indonesian Red Cross Society employee sprays disinfectant at the Kemayoran Athletes Village
An Indonesian Red Cross Society employee sprays disinfectant at the Kemayoran Athletes Village Photograph: Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana/Reuters

8.50am GMT

A group of almost 4,000 NHS workers in the UK have pleaded with the prime minister, Boris Johnson, to ensure they have adequate protective equipment to deal with the coronavirus crisis.

In an open letter to The Sunday Times, the medics have called on Johnson to “protect the lives of the life-savers” and resolve the “unacceptable” shortage of protective equipment.

The group said many medical workers are “putting their lives on the line every day” by treating coronavirus patients without appropriate protection, and they called on the prime minister to ensure an adequate supply of masks, safety glasses, gloves, aprons and protective suits.

The letter, signed by 3,963 front-line NHS staff, reads:

Front-line doctors have been telling us for weeks that they do not feel safe at work.

Intensive care doctors and anaesthetists have told us they have been carrying out the highest-risk procedure, putting a patient on a ventilator, with masks that expired in 2015.

The letter adds that paediatricians have warned their stocks of protective glasses would run out in 48 hours, including in special-care baby units.

One acute care worker reported one NHS trust had run out of its stock of masks last weekend, the letter said. It continued:

GPs have told us they feel abandoned; many have been left without any protection for weeks and do not even have simple masks to protect them if a patient comes in with symptoms of Covid-19.

The group also said ambulance workers had been arriving for shifts to find no hand sanitiser, masks or wipes were available.

8.37am GMT

Iran’s supreme leader has today refused US humanitarian assistance to fight the new coronavirus, citing an unfounded conspiracy theory that the virus could be man-made by America.

Washington has offered to help Iran while refusing to lift crushing sanctions blocking the country from selling its crude oil and accessing international financial markets.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said:

Possibly your (offered) medicine is a way to spread the virus more, Khamenei said. Or if you send therapists and doctors, maybe he wants to see the effect of the poison, since it is said that part of the virus is built for Iran.

There is no scientific proof offered anywhere in the world to support Khamenei’s comments. Earlier this month, Chinese government spokesman Lijian Zhao tweeted that it might be US army who brought the epidemic – described by Donald Trump as the Chinese virus – to Wuhan.

Khamenei made the comments in a speech in Tehran broadcast live across Iran marking Nowruz, the Persian New Year.

Iran has over 20,600 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus amid 1,556 reported deaths.

8.22am GMT

Romania confirms first death from coronavirus

Romania has today confirmed its first death in the due to coronavirus, Reuters reports.

The deceased was a 67-year-old man who had been suffering from terminal cancer, the government said. He was confirmed to be infected with coronavirus on 18 March and was being treated in a hospital in the southern Romanian city of Craiova.

Romania, which has recorded 367 cases of coronavirus to date, declared a state of emergency on 16 March.

Updated at 8.24am GMT

8.21am GMT

This video is of Piccadilly in London’s West End, one of the capital’s busiest districts, which would usually be packed full of revellers and tourists on a Saturday night.

8.13am GMT

Hello, this is Haroon taking over from Helen. If you want to get in touch you can contact me via the following channels:

Twitter: @Haroon_Siddique

Email: haroon[dot]siddique[at]theguardian[dot]com

Due to the volume of messages we receive I may not be able to reply to or acknowledge each one but thank you in advance.

8.06am GMT

The latest developments at a glance

That’s all from me for now. I’ll leave you in the capable hands of my colleague Haroon Siddique. Take care.

  • The Russian military will send medical help to Italy from today, including mobile disinfection vehicles and medical specialists.
  • Malaysia has sent the army to the streets to enforce restrictions which people appear to be defying. The country has one of the highest rates of infection in Southeast Asia.
  • China is diverting all Beijing-bound international flights to other airports for checks before allowing them to continue.
  • Singapore has banned the entry and transit of all foreigners, except those with work permits in essential services.
  • Hawaii became the first US state to require 14 days quarantine for all arrivals.
  • Multiple Australian states will effectively close borders, requiring 14 days quarantine for all arrivals from Tuesday.
  • NSW, the ACT and Victoria have ordered the shutdown of non-essential services from tomorrow.
  • India has announced a curfew from 7am to 9pm Delhi time.
  • The Italian PM ordered businesses to close all operations.
  • More than 50,000 people queued to see the Olympic flame in northeast Japan. Meanwhile Olympic officials are reportedly workshopping delaying the games despite the Japanese government’s insistence it go ahead.
  • UK military planners have been drafted in to help feed vulnerable people.
  • Italy reported 793 deaths in a single day, and 6557 new cases
  • Thailand has reported 188 new cases on Saturday.
  • Australia – 276
  • South Korea – 98
  • Indonesia – 81
  • Mexico – 48
  • Philippines – 73
  • Afghanistan – 10
  • Mainland China – 46, including the first domestic case in four days.
  • Argentina – 67, with the security minister not ruling out declaring a state of siege.
  • Palestinian health officials have reported the first two cases in the Gaza Strip.
  • The Caribbean region has surpassed 400 cases.
  • Colombia recorded its first death.
  • Guam reported the first death in the Pacific region.
  • Bolivia has postponed its presidential elections.
  • Former Real Madrid president Lorenzo Sanz has died of Covid-19.

Updated at 8.22am GMT

7.58am GMT

Indonesia has turned its “Athlete’s Village” built for the 2018 Asian Games into an emergency hospital with a capacity to hold more than 4,000 patients, authorities said on Sunday, as coronavirus cases and deaths in the country rose.

Four out of 10 towers in the Athlete’s Village, located in the country’s capital city, have been converted into a medical facility that would house more than 7,000 people, including a coronavirus task force, medical staff and up to 4,208 patients.

“The ministry of state-owned enterprises will provide supplies for the emergency hospital to handle COVID-19, be it healthcare equipment, medicine, personal protection gear and masks,” the minister of state-owned enterprises, Erick Thohir, said in a statement.

On Saturday, Indonesia confirmed 81 new cases and 6 more deaths due to the virus, bringing the total number of cases to 450 and deaths to 38. Indonesia has the highest coronavirus death toll in Southeast Asia.

7.21am GMT

From Reuters: Malaysia has deployed the army to enforce a two-week curb on travel in a country that has the highest number of coronavirus cases in Southeast Asia, most of them linked to a mass religious gathering.

The country has so far reported nine deaths and 1,183 infections. Southeast Asia has recorded a total of more than 3,200 positive cases, with the other big centres being Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and the Philippines.

Malaysia called in the army after some people continued to defy the restrictions that came into force on Wednesday, the defence minister said in a briefing after the deployment started at noon.

“Even though police have said 90% compliance now, 10% is not a small number,” Ismail Sabri Yaakob said.

“Among the things that will be done jointly by the police and army include road blocks. Likewise for patrols in urban and rural areas, maintaining security at hospitals, managing areas that are congested and may not abide by the order such as markets.”

Soldiers in face masks maintain a checkpoint in Putrajaya, Malaysia, Sunday, March 22, 2020. Malaysian government issued a movement order to the public starting from March 18 until March 31 to stop the spread of the new coronavirus.
Soldiers in face masks maintain a checkpoint in Putrajaya, Malaysia, Sunday, March 22, 2020. Malaysian government issued a movement order to the public starting from March 18 until March 31 to stop the spread of the new coronavirus. Photograph: Vincent Thian/AP

A four-day Islamic gathering held at a mosque near the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur is connected to 60% of all the cases in the country, whose tally is only behind those of China and South Korea in Asia.

Worshippers who attended the event are cooperating with authorities, an organiser said in a statement, after the government said on Thursday that it had yet to trace 4,000 of the 14,500 Malaysian residents who attended.

The health ministry said on Saturday it expected the number of cases to spike next week as it tried to track down unscreened participants of the Feb. 27-March 1 congregation.

“After hearing reports of thousands or participants yet to be screened, many had returned to their district health departments or hospitals repeatedly until their names and details were recorded,” Abdullah Cheong, a leader of the event’s organising team, said on Saturday.

“We are prepared and have given our full commitment to help the authorities deal with the pandemic.”

He also said 12,500 people attended the gathering, including foreigners and 200 Rohingya refugees. The government has put the number at 16,000.

7.11am GMT

6.58am GMT

Afghanistan reports 10 new cases of people with Covid-19

From my colleague Akhtar Mohammad Makoii in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan has reported 10 new coronavirus cases in last 24 hours raising the total cases to 34.

Two foreign diplomats are included. The health ministry said in a press conference in Kabul that the diplomats were infected by the coronavirus while abroad. They were not identified publicly.

He also asked authorities to quarantine the western city of Herat, which neighbours Iran and is the most affected city in the country. 18 of the 34 cases were found in Herat, and concerns are high, with thousands of Afghans crossing the border each day from Iran.

6.31am GMT

The Russian military will start sending medical help to Italy from Sunday in order to help it battle the new coronavirus after receiving an order from President Vladimir Putin, Russia’s Defence Ministry said in a statement.

Putin spoke to Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Saturday, the Kremlin said, saying the Russian leader had offered his support and help in the form of mobile disinfection vehicles and specialists to help the worst hit Italian regions.

Italy recorded a jump in deaths from coronavirus of almost 800 on Saturday, taking the toll in the world’s hardest-hit country to almost 5,000.

The Russian Defence Ministry said military transport planes would deliver eight mobile brigades of military medics, special disinfection vehicles, and other medical equipment to Italy starting from Sunday.

Russia itself has reported 306 cases of the virus, most of them in Moscow, and one coronavirus-related death.

6.19am GMT

China’s aviation regulator said on Sunday that all international flights due to arrive in Beijing would be diverted to other airports as their first port of entry beginning on Monday, as the country steps up measures to battle the coronavirus.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said incoming international flights to Beijing would land at one of 12 other designated airports, where passengers would be screened. Passengers who were cleared would then be permitted to reboard the plane, which would take them on to Beijing, it said.

6.06am GMT

More than 50,000 people queued to see the Olympic flame in northeastern Japan on Saturday.


Some people stood in the 500m queue for hours, according to local media.

The flame arrived in Japan to a scaled-down welcoming ceremony on Friday as doubts grew over whether the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will go ahead on schedule as the deadly virus causes chaos around the world.

It was displayed at Sendai station in Miyagi, chosen as part of the “Recovery Olympics” to showcase the region’s revival after the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown.

The pandemic has already shredded the global sports calendar, with top sports leagues suspended and major tournaments postponed.

People queue as they try to watch the Olympic cauldron during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Flame of Recovery tour at Sendai StationPeople wearing protective face masks following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), queue as they try to watch the Olympic cauldron during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Flame of Recovery tour at Sendai Station, Miyagi prefecture, Japan March 21, 2020, in this photo taken by Kyodo.
People queue as they try to watch the Olympic cauldron during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Flame of Recovery tour at Sendai Station
People wearing protective face masks following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), queue as they try to watch the Olympic cauldron during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Flame of Recovery tour at Sendai Station, Miyagi prefecture, Japan March 21, 2020, in this photo taken by Kyodo.
Photograph: KYODO/Reuters

5.56am GMT

A brilliant visualisation of how and why isolation and distancing is so important to stop people dying.

5.42am GMT

Another Australian state is effectively closing its borders by requiring all entrants to undergo 14 days quarantine.

The Western Australian border will close at 1.30pm Tuesday, at the same time as South Australia and the Northern Territory. The WA police commissioner Chis Dawson indicated that self-isolation would occur at the point of arrival.

Exemptions will be made for freight, essential services, and 2,500 “critical” staff in the mining and oil and gas industries, who are based interstate but will be allowed to fly in.

The WA government is looking to acquire hotels in order to house people who have nowhere appropriate to undergo self-isolation, or who don’t want to self-isolate. Rottnest Island, a former prison turned into a tourist destination, could be appropriated for this purpose.

More details on our Australia-focused live blog here.

Updated at 7.09am GMT

5.30am GMT

Two people are dead and six wounded in a protest at a Sri Lankan prison where guards fired on inmates to prevent them from fleeing.

Prisoners at the Anuradhapura prison, about 200km from Colombo, were complaining about the decision by the authorities not to allow visitors as a move to contain the virus.

Senaka Perera, president of the Committee for Protecting Rights of Prisoners, said the inmates were protesting congested conditions and the poor quality of meals after the government banned visitors for two weeks to prevent the spread of the virus. Visitors often bring home-cooked food.

Sri Lanka’s prisons are overcrowded, sometimes housing 5,000 inmates in a facility capable of holding 800, according to the pressure group.

Tensions erupted Saturday at the prison when guards tried to control the riot, police said. In the commotion, guards opened fire to prevent inmates from fleeing, police said.

Sri Lanka has imposed a three-day countrywide curfew since Friday as the number of cases has risen to 77.

5.21am GMT

Netflix Inc said it will cut traffic by 25% on networks across Europe in a relief measure for internet service providers (ISPs) experiencing a surge in usage due to government “shelter in place” orders aimed at slowing the coronavirus outbreak.

The streaming giant, which has already deployed a way to reduce its traffic on networks in Italy and Spain by a quarter, on Saturday said it would do the same for the rest of Europe in the next two days.

Netflix said it will remove the highest bandwidth streams within each resolution category for the next 30 days in Europe wherein users might notice a slight decrease in video quality within each category.

Amazon’s Prime Video and YouTube have also committed to slowing their speeds, as has Disney+ which launches in a couple of days.

5.01am GMT

188 new confirmed cases in Thailand

Thailand reported 188 new coronavirus infections on Sunday, its largest daily increase, taking the total to 599 cases, a senior health official said.

The majority of the new infections are connected to a previous cluster of cases from a boxing stadium, Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a Public Health Ministry spokesman, told a news conference adding one patient had recovered.

“Most of the new cases were found in Bangkok and were among young people who continue to have social activities, which can lead to more infections,” he said urging the public to stay home.

There has been one death in Thailand.

4.38am GMT

Two female nurses at a medical centre in Japan have contracted the virus, Kyodo newswire said, according to Reuters. One of the nurses was in her 20s and another in her 50s, taking the total at the facility in Oita prefecture to 14.

The south-western prefecture is conducting virus tests for about 600 staff and patients who are or were hospitalised, the newswire said, with the view that they may be linked to a cluster.

Japan has 1,055 domestically transmitted cases, up 40 from the previous day.

4.12am GMT

The outbreak is gathering pace in Latin America.

Colombia has recorded its first death late on Saturday. The victim was a 58-year-old taxi driver from the coastal city of Cartagena, the health ministry said in a statement. Earlier this month he had two Italian tourists in his taxi and two days later presented the first symptoms, the ministry said, adding the man had untreated hypertension and diabetes.

A woman wearing a face mask in Bogota.
A woman wearing a face mask in Bogota. Photograph: Reuters

The patient was first treated on 13 March and died three days later. Two tests for coronavirus came back negative, the statement said, but one was taken incorrectly.

Ecuador’s health and labor ministers resigned on Saturday, just hours after officials announced the number of confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus had shot up to over 500 in the country. The government declared a state of emergency last week, prohibiting travellers from entering and imposing a night-time curfew.

Updated at 4.13am GMT

3.50am GMT

3.32am GMT

Singapore bans entry and transit of visitors

Singapore has just declared a raft of restrictions and bans on entrants.

According to the Straits Times, Singapore will ban all short term visitors from entering or transiting, from 11.59pm Monday.

The only foreigners allowed to return to Singapore will be work pass holders and their dependents, and only if they work in an essential services sector like healthcare or transport.

This is a big expansion on the previous measures which allowed people (apart from a small number of countries) to go to Singapore as long as they underwent 14 days of mandatory quarantine.

It follows news on Saturday of the first two deaths in Singapore from Covid-19 – a 75-year-old Singaporean woman and a 64-year-old Indonesian man.

Updated at 3.57am GMT

3.19am GMT

News America is reporting the number of Covid-19 diagnoses in the Caribbean has surpassed 400.

According to the report the Dominican Republic has the highest number of people confirmed to have Covid-19, with 40 new cases reported on Saturday, bringing the total to 112. Trinidad and Tobago reported 40 new cases on Saturday, having only previously had nine.

There were 10 new deaths reported across the region on Sunday.

One person has died on Guadaloupe, where 56 vases have been confirmed, and one person has died on Martinique where the total number of cases is 37.

It reports the only places without any cases are Belize, Grenada, Turks & Caicos, Anguilla, and the British Virgin Islands.

3.08am GMT

Amazon is raising overtime pay for associates working in its US warehouses as the world’s largest online retailer tries to meet the rapidly growing demand for online shopping from consumers stuck at home during the coronavirus outbreak.

CEO Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest person, said in a message posted on the company website on Saturday: “My own time and thinking is now wholly focused on Covid-19 and on how Amazon can best play its role.”

Hourly workers at Amazon’s US warehouses will receive double pay after 40 hours for overtime, up from the 1.5-times rate, from March 15 through May 9, the rate increase announcement said.

This is the second time the e-commerce giant announced an increase in pay for its workers in a week. On Monday, Amazon hiked the minimum hourly rate for associates to from and announced plans to hire 100,000 warehouse and delivery workers in the United States as the virus outbreak boosts online orders.

Amazon has offered unlimited unpaid time off to encourage employees to stay home if they do not feel well. It has also staggered workers’ shifts and prohibited employees from sitting next to each other in the lunchroom to limit contact.

2.50am GMT

At least 38 people have tested positive for coronavirus in New York City jails, including at the notorious Rikers Island jail complex, the board that oversees the city’s jail system said Saturday.

In the past six days the Board of Correction learned that at least 12 Department of Correction employees, five Correctional Health Services employees, and 21 inmates have tested positive for the virus.

In a letter to criminal justice leaders, the board’s interim chairwoman Jacqueline Sherman wrote that at least 58 other people were currently being monitored in contagious disease and quarantine units.

It is likely these people have been in hundreds of housing areas and common areas over recent weeks and have been in close contact with many other people in custody and staff, Sherman warned, predicting a sharp rise in the number of infections.

At least 38 people have tested positive for coronavirus in New York City jails, including at the notorious Rikers Island jail complex.
At least 38 people have tested positive for coronavirus in New York City jails, including at the notorious Rikers Island jail complex. Photograph: Seth Wenig/AP

New York has consistently downplayed the number of infections, The Associated Press has found in conversations with current and former inmates.

More than 2.2 million people are incarcerated in the United States more than anywhere in the world and there are growing fears that an outbreak could spread rapidly through a vast network of federal and state prisons, county jails and detention centres.

With limited capacity nationally to test for COVID-19, men and women inside worry that they are last in line when showing flu-like symptoms, meaning that some may be infected without knowing it.

The first positive tests from inside prisons and jails started tricking out just over a week ago, with less than two dozen officers and staff infected in other facilities from California and Michigan to Pennsylvania.

2.33am GMT

South Australia has followed Tasmania and the Northern Territory in effectively closing its state borders, enforcing any new arrival to undergo 14 days of quarantine.

South Australia, like the Northern Territory and Queensland (which closed its NT border earlier this week) has a number of remote Indigenous communities. These communities are extremely vulnerable and any outbreak would be devastating.

2.18am GMT

New cases in South Korea, Mexico, Philippines

South Korea reported 98 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, bringing national infections to 8,897, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The daily increase showed a continued downward trend in new cases, despite a slight jump on Saturday.

Mexican health authorities said on Saturday that there are 251 confirmed coronavirus cases in Mexico, 48 more cases than a day earlier.

The Philippines’ health ministry has confirmed 73 new cases, bringing the country’s total to 380.

Updated at 2.58am GMT

2.08am GMT

India announces curfew

India launched a 14-hour long curfew on Sunday to limit the fast-spreading coronavirus epidemic in the country, where 315 people have so far been found to have contracted the disease.

The prime minister, Narendra Modi, in an address to the nation last week urged citizens to stay indoors from 7am to 9pm Delhi time – a move that he said would be a crucial test for a country to assess its abilities to fight the pandemic.

“Let us all be a part of this curfew, which will add tremendous strength to the fight against the Covid-19 menace,” Modi tweeted minutes before the curfew commenced. “The steps we take now will help in the times to come,’ he said in the tweet.

Updated at 2.12am GMT

1.57am GMT

First Covid-19 death in the Pacific

Guam has reported the death of an 68-year-old woman from the Covid-19 illness, Radio New Zealand has reported.

According to Dr Mike Cruz, who is leading Guam’s virus response, the woman had “multiple co-morbidities”, including end-stage renal disease. She was the relative of a person who returned to Guam with Covid-19.

“Five of the first 14 confirmed cases had recent travel, most of which is linked to the Philippines,” Dr Cruz said on Sunday.

“There is strong evidence that Covid-19 cases has spread throughout our community and has affected residents in the northern, central and southern villages,” he added.

There are 15 confirmed cases in Guam, where the government has declared a major disaster. It has more cases than any other Pacific Island nation, and the woman’s death is the first in the region.

1.49am GMT

From Reuters: North Korea on Saturday welcomed what it said was a letter from US president Donald Trump to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, saying it was a sign of “the special and very firm personal relations” between the two leaders despite recent frictions.

A senior Trump administration official confirmed Trump sent the letter and said it was “consistent with his efforts to engage global leaders during the ongoing pandemic”.

The president looks forward to continued communications with chairman Kim, the official said.

North Korea state media KCNA said Kim had received a letter from Trump in which the US president said he was impressed by the North Korean leader’s efforts to defend his people from the coronavirus.

Trump “expressed his intent to render cooperation in the anti-epidemic work, saying that he was impressed by the efforts made by the Chairman to defend his people from the serious threat of the epidemic,” KCNA reported in a statement carried by Kim’s sister, Kim Yo Jong.

The report came after North Korea’s missile test on Saturday, which prompted South Korea to urge an immediate halt of “inappropriate action” in the face of the global pandemic.

1.42am GMT

China confirms new domestic case

For the first time in four days China has reported a new domestic case of the virus.

The case is one of 46 new confirmed diagnoses in mainland China, which is the fourth straight day of an increase.

A record 14 were in the financial hub of Shanghai, and 13 were reported in the capital Beijing, a decline from 21 the previous day.

As in other Asian nations which had appeared to get their outbreaks under control, China is now fearful of a second wave brought in by people coming into the country.

1.29am GMT

Hawaii to enforce quarantine for arrivals

In the Pacific island state of Hawaii, governor David Ige has just announced a mandatory 14 day quarantine period for any new arrival. It is the first US state to enact such measures.

The process is much the same as that in other places – on arrival at the airport passengers must declare where they intend to self-isolate for 14 days, and go straight there. They can only leave for medical emergencies or to seek medical care.

The order carries a penalty of up to ,000 or a year in prison for any breaches.

Ige says 2,500 tests have been conducted in Hawaii. On Saturday 11 new cases were reported, including two cases of community transmission.

Updated at 1.31am GMT

1.23am GMT

Back at the press conference with Australia’s PM:

There is an extraordinary story in Australia this weekend, where almost 2,700 people were allowed to disembark a cruiseship in Sydney despite several people on board testing positive. Some of those passengers have since travelled on to other places in Australia.

Neither the NSW state government or the federal immigration authorities want to take responsibility for the potentially disastrous oversight.

Morrison says he isn’t going to get into commentary on it.

“On every occasion things will not go exactly as we might like it,” he says.

“People are working under extreme stress, often with limited information and we are going to support those people to make the best decisions they can and the states and territories standing shoulder to shoulder with each other and the Commonwealth.”

Morrison is asked about the possibility of repatriation flights for Australians overseas who are trying to follow the advice to return from overseas but really can’t get home.

He says people stuck on cruise ships and in Peru are the most extreme examples, and says everyone should contact the department of foreign affairs and trade.

“This is one of the many challenges we’re working on but at this stage I’m not going to advance the possibility of any [repatriation flights].”

1.10am GMT

From my colleague Uki Goñi in Argentina:

Argentina could declare a state of siege to enforce the mandatory nationwide lockdown that started Friday, said Security Minister Sabina Frederic, amid concerns about the social effect of the spread of the coronavirus here. “It’s an extreme measure that we’re trying to avoid,” said the minister.

The number of coronavirus cases leapt to 225 Saturday, an increase of 67 cases, more than double the previous highest leap. Four deaths have been reported since the first case was detected on March 5.

Not all Argentinians are obeying the enforced quarantine, however. Authorities reported 3200 arrests for violating it since it went into effect Friday.

Political leaders are worried that the stoppage imposed on many sectors of the economy could lead to supermarket lootings in some poverty-stricken districts in the Greater Buenos Aires area, in a country where over a third of the population lives below the poverty line.

A man plays guitar on a tenement balcony during the second day of total quarantine in Buenos Aires on Saturday.
A man plays guitar on a tenement balcony during the second day of total quarantine in Buenos Aires on Saturday. Photograph: Ricardo Ceppi/Getty Images

“It’s inevitable thinking that looting might occur,” Buenos Aires province security minister Sergio Berni told the press. “That doesn’t mean it’s going to happen, but we have to be prepared.”

The large number of arrests includes two German tourists, aged 28 and 35, who escaped isolation from a hotel in the central city of Córdoba Tuesday. They were caught Saturday at Ezeiza international airport trying to board a plane to neighbouring Brazil. They are being held pending expulsion back to Germany.

There was nonetheless some good news for Argentinians, with the announcement that all consumer bank debt, including the payment of credit card debt, has been postponed by government order.

“The deadline for all debt with financial entities that fall due between March 20 and March 31, 2020, have been postponed until April 1,” the Central Bank announced.

1.07am GMT

Australia bans all non-essential domestic travel

The Australian government is banning all non-essential domestic travel as it unveils a Abn stimulus program to deal with the virus impact.

It has warned of more draconian measures to come.

The prime minister, Scott Morrison, has also flagged localised lockdowns after seeing people defy warnings and fill beaches yesterday.

What happened at Bondi Beach yesterday was not OK.

And served as a message to federal and state leaders that too many Australians are not taking these issues seriously enough.

So the measures that we will be considering tonight means that state premiers and chief ministers may have to take far more Draconian measures to enforce social distancing particularly in areas of outbreaks than might otherwise be the case.

You can get more details on this over at the Australian-focused live blog.

12.54am GMT

Incredibly, people across multiple countries are still ignoring warnings to stay home.

We’ve seen the pictures of Australia’s Bondi Beach, and we heard earlier from a UK dentist in Skegness, in Lincolnshire, warning of a “disaster waiting to happen” as thousands of people flocked to his seaside town in spite of official guidance to stay at home.

“I view these actions as massively, massively socially irresponsible. I personally think that those involved should be ashamed of themselves,” said Dr Mitchell Clark.

Clark joined the local police and crime commissioner in urging for local businesses to shutter their shops and for caravan parks to be closed.

It appears similar things are happening in Scotland.

Claudio Nardini, a takeaway shop operator at Largs on the west coast, has pleaded with people to stay home.

We decided to remain open to provide a takeaway service for what I thought would be a few people grabbing the opportunity to appreciate a walk along Largs prom.

Staying open a few more days also allows us to wind things down in and business sense meaning less waste and staff completing their planned shifts.

I can’t believe how busy the prom was. Crowds of people walking hand in hand, hugging, grandmothers holding babies, teenagers sharing drinks, elderly people galore mingling with others of all ages. Wow! Just Wow!

Now, I have strong links to two other countries in Europe and have witnessed this virus develop by talking regularly to family in both Italy and Spain. This nonchalant attitude was rife in both those countries only a couple of weeks ago.

Everyone at work today was overcome with a strange feeling of guilt, almost as if we were contributing to this madness. For this reason we have decided to completely close this evening until this whole thing blows over.

An announcement not long ago pointed out it’s spreading faster here than it did at this stage in both Italy or Spain. Please please please stay at home if you can, I couldn’t bear seeing what is happening to my relatives happen here too.

12.23am GMT


Welcome to our continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. This is Helen Davidson here to take you through the next few hours of developments.

Here’s what’s happened recently:

  • UK military planners drafted in to help feed vulnerable. Key military officials are to help ensure food and medicines reach vulnerable people isolated at home during the coronavirus crisis, as part of a nationwide campaign to protect more than a million people most at risk of being hospitalised.
  • Italian PM orders businesses to close all operations. Italy’s government announced the closure of all “non-essential production activities” across the country, after the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak rose by 793 to 4,825 on Saturday. “Grocery stores and pharmacies will remain open,” said the prime minister, Giuseppe Conte. “But all the rest of the non-essential production activities, including plants and offices, will close down.”
  • Former Real Madrid president Lorenzo Sanz dies of Covid-19.The former Real Madrid president Lorenzo Sanz has died of coronavirus aged 76, La Liga announced on Saturday. Sanz, Real’s president from 1995 to 2000, had been admitted to hospital with a fever and tested positive for the virus.
  • Rihanna pledges m to curb coronavirus. Rihanna has become the latest celebrity to join the effort to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. The singer’s Clara Lionel Foundation announced on Saturday that it has donated million to a number of organisations responding to the outbreak.
  • Bolivian presidential elections postponed amid coronavirus outbreak. Bolivia’s interim government announced on Saturday it would postpone presidential elections originally slated for May 3 and institute a mandatory countrywide quarantine for 14 days as coronavirus spread across the Andean nation. The country’s electoral authority said in a statement it would “suspend the elections calendar” for 14 days to match the quarantine, but did not set a new date for the vote.
  • Britons stranded in Peru could be flown home early next week.Hundreds of Britons stranded in Peru due to the coronavirus pandemic could be flown home early next week, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has said. More than 400 British and Irish citizens are believed to be in the Andean nation and have been unable to leave following a 15-day government lockdown imposed since Monday.
  • First coronavirus cases in Gaza Strip. The first two cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the densely-populated Gaza Strip, Palestinian health officials said. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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