- Central banks and governments prepare stimulus as stock markets plummet further
- Germany’s social life is grinding to a halt, its retailers are largely shutting down and its borders are partially closed
- The European Commission has proposed a 30-day travel ban for all but essential travel as the crisis deepens in Europe
- Spain has become the fourth most virus-infected country in the world, surpassing South Korea
Updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC/GMT)
17:00 German Chancellor Angela Merkel is addressing the nation in Berlin regarding the coronavirus.
Grocery stores, petrol stations, banks and pharmacies will remain open while non-essential shops are to close. Restaurants will close from 6 p.m until 6 a.m, the chancellor has confirmed following an agreement between the states and the federal government.
Merkel also said all bars, clubs, theaters, zoos, public swimming pools, playgrounds and brothels must close.
All domestic and foreign vacation travel must cease for the time being.
“We are dealing with something unique here,” Merkel said. ”The more every individual sticks to these restrictions, the faster we can get through this phase.”
16:23 German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier has urged all citizens to “stay at home” after Europe’s biggest economy announced new nationwide restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
“We have to work together to ensure the virus spreads as slowly as possible,” said Steinmeier in a statement, after the government announced it would close all non-essential shops, ban religious assemblies, as well as close bars and restaurants.
“So wherever possible: stay at home! Avoid close contact… and have understanding for all restrictive measures.”
16:13 The World Health Organization (WHO) has called on all countries to increase their testing programs to make them more effective in dealing with the pandemic.
“We have a simple message to all countries — test, test, test,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a press conference in Geneva.
16:02 Switzerland has said, starting from midnight tonight, all public events are to be banned. All restaurants are bars will be closed until April 19.
Switzerland’s government are also mobilizing up to 8,000 members of the military after declaring the rapidly spreading coronavirus an “exceptional” emergency.
“We will not leave you alone,” Swiss President Simonetta Sommaruga said at a news conference announcing strict new measures aiming to control the epidemic that has killed 14 people and sickened more than 2,200 in Switzerland. “We will take care of you.”
15:47 As an additional measure in Germany, shops that are deemed essential, such as supermarkets and pharmacies, will now be allowed to open on Sundays. In the past, all shops were closed in Germany on the sabbath.
15:15 European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has proposed a 30-day restriction on travel into the European Union, in an effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
“The less travel, the more we can contain the virus. Therefore… I propose to the heads of state and governments to introduce temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the European Union,” she said.
“It’s of utmost importance to slow down social contact,” von der Leyen said, and the ban will be “in place for an initial 30 days.”
“Essential staff such as doctors, nurses, care workers, researchers and experts that help address the coronavirus should continue to be allowed in the European Union,” she added, as well as people transporting goods.
The Commission has been addressing the media over the outbreak, emphasizing the “priority of citizens.”
14:59 In what are constantly evolving times, further developments are emerging from Germany. The country’s states have agreed nationwide restrictions involving restaurants, bars, clubs, theaters, concert halls and museums. We are still awaiting confirmation of when these strict measures will come into place.
Religious gatherings will be banned in Germany until further notice, the federal government and the leaders of its states have decided in response to the outbreak.
Playgrounds are also closing as part of the measures, along with public and private sports facilities, swimming pools and gyms.
Hairdressers, construction supply stores and laundromats will also keep operating, said the government, saying that the move was to ensure that “service providers and craftsmen can continue to carry out their trade.”
14:49 Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin has placed a limit of 50 people for social gatherings in the Russian capital, as well as closing schools and universities from March 21.
Russia has confirmed 93 cases of the virus, but no deaths, according to official figures.
An employee wearing a protective face mask disinfects a subway train, as part of measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus in Moscow. The city’s mayor has introduced more stringent measures to combat the outbreak
14:31 Further to the announcement that German Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to hold a press conference at 6 p.m. local time (1700), German media are reporting that an increased crackdown is in the offing, with non-essential shops set to be closed.
14:23 Algeria’s Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad has declared a suspension of all scheduled travel links with Europe from Thursday that will hit all “air and sea travel to and from European countries. This exceptional suspension… will be accompanied by a repatriation plan for our citizens currently in the countries concerned,” the PM’s office said.
The North African country had already announced a suspension from Tuesday of all traffic links with France, which hosts a large Algerian community, following cuts with Spain and Italy.
Algeria’s current death toll from coronavirus is four, the health ministry confirmed.
14:20 The number of cases continues to steadily climb in the United Kingdom with the health ministry confirming 1,543 infections as of Monday afternoon. This is an increase of 171 on the previous day. The death toll from the virus remains at 35, the ministry confirmed.
14:13 German Chancellor Angela Merkel is to hold a press conference at 6 p.m. local time (1700 GMT) where she is expected to announce new measures to stem the spread of COVID-19.
14:01 Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro, who has been the subject of increased speculation over whether he has the virus in recent days, is due to undergo tests for a second time. The president also feels the world is overreacting to the outbreak.
Bolsonaro’s relaxed attitude towards the outbreak is in stark contrast to that of the markets in the South American country, where the Sao Paulo stock exchange plummeted 12.5% shortly after opening Monday morning, triggering a suspension of trading for the fifth time in a week.
13:51 Quim Torra, the regional president of Catalonia, says he has tested positive for coronavirus. Just last week, the senior lawmaker had asked for the hard-hot region to be placed on a complete lockdown.
13:44 European football’s governing body, UEFA, is due to meet tomorrow to discuss the ramifications of the outbreak on its competitions, with Euro 2020 at the top of its agenda, where the international tournament could be shelved until 2021. For all that and how the virus is affecting other sporting events, click here.
13:40 The West African country of Benin has reported its first case, the country’s health ministry has said.
13:30 Germany closed its border with France, among other countries, this morning and DW’s Bernd Riegert has reported from one crossing point where there’s plenty of skepticism about whether this will stop anything but traffic.
13:09 Starting Thursday, Egypt will halt all air traffic from its airports until March 31, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said.
12:55 Dale Fisher, a professor of infectious diseases at the University of Singapore and chair of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) global outbreak and response network, told DW that Europe must learn from Asia’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.
“They need to practice what’s being practiced in large parts of Asia,” Fisher said. ”This is the early detection of cases. It’s lots of testing. It’s quarantining of contacts but it’s most importantly it’s isolating the cases.”
12:48 Stena Line, a Swedish ferry company, said it will cut 950 jobs in Sweden as a result of the coronavirus outbreak and travel restrictions imposed by several countries.
12:42 Turkey has suspended mass prayers in mosques due to coronavirus fears, the nation’s head of religious affairs said.
12:31 Morocco will close all mosques from Monday to combat the coronavirus outbreak, the country’s supreme religious council said. The northern African country will also shut eateries, movie theaters, sports, public baths, and other entertainment venues starting Monday.
12:29 Germany’s transport minister is planning to stop flights to and from Iran and China, according to mass-circulation tabloid Bild.
12:27 German Environment Minister Svenja Schulze considers the drastic restrictions on public life caused by the coronavirus to be unavoidable.
“Everybody notices it in everyday life, but it has to be this way for the time being,” Schulze told DW. She added that the important thing now is for people, where possible, to reduce their activities to a minimum.
“One has to avoid social contacts, but one knows why,” Schulze said.
12:10 Tanzania has confirmed its first case of coronavirus, the Health Ministry said.
12:08 Jewish worshippers have been told to refrain from kissing the stones of the Western Wall in Jerusalem, the head rabbi of the site said. Built by Herod the Great more than 2,000 years ago and destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD, the Western Wall is the holiest place in Jerusalem for Jews to pray. Kissing the wall is not a ritual requirement, but some devout Jews believe that, in doing so, it shows reverence to God.
12:06 Singapore has reported 17 new cases of coronavirus, its biggest daily jump, taking its total to 243 cases.
11:58 After confirming its first case last week, Turkey has identified 12 new cases of the coronavirus, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Monday. It is the highest daily rise in Turkey and brings its total to 18 confirmed cases.
11:56 Germany wants to send 1 million protective face masks to Italy, according to a European Commission spokesperson.
11:54 Spain becomes the fourth most virus-infected country in the world, surpassing South Korea.
11:41 Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has decided that those arriving in Greece should be in isolation for 14 days, an alternative government spokesman said. The decision comes as Greece is trying to prevent an influx of migrants from Turkey.
Greece also will shut retail stores on Wednesday, the spokesman said.
11:19 British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will discuss social distancing measures to protect the elderly and vulnerable at a government emergency meeting on Monday, a government spokesman said.
10:56 Germany’s Justice Ministry is suspending a rule obliging companies to apply for insolvency within three weeks of failing to meet an obligation. The suspension until the end of September is to help the country avoid unnecessary bankruptcies due to the coronavirus.
10:50 Germany is in discussions with Lufthansa as it tries to get the thousands of Germans on holiday abroad home, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said. The ministry has advised German citizens to refrain from all non-essential trips abroad.
10:47 Spain confirmed nine more deaths on Sunday, increasing its death toll to 297.
10:47 Iran has 1,053 confirmed new cases in the past 24 hours, Iranian health official Alireza Vahabzadeh said on Twitter. Iranian state TV said the country has 129 new fatalities, raising the death toll to 853.
10:30 China will gradually withdraw medical staff from the Hubei providence, according to state broadcaster CCTV. The province was where the coronavirus outbreak originated in December.
10:28 Hungary is closing its borders to foreigners, shutting movie theaters and limiting opening hours for restaurants in an effort to limit the coronavirus outbreak, Prime Minister Viktor Orban has announced.
“The international talks to coordinate this are taking place now, this means that in future only Hungarian citizens will be able to enter Hungary,” Orban said in regards to the border closures.
He also said that Hungary will need “monetary and fiscal tools” to mitigate the virus’ effect on the economy. He expects many jobs will be threatened by the economic fallout of the coronavirus crisis.
10:27 Germany’s Education Minister Anja Klariczek is currently working at home after she attended a conference in which one of the participants later tested positive for coronavirus, the ministry said in a statement on Twitter.
10:05 Germany’s southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg will halt air travel in the coming days, a spokesman said. The government is looking into exceptions for air freight. The state is home to Stuttgart and Karlsruhe airports.
10:03 DW’s Bernd Riegert, reporting from the German city of Saarbrücken near the French border, said traffic is running quite smoothly three hours after Germany’s partial closing of its border with France came into effect.
“Most of the 6,000 to 8,000 commuters that cross the border every day are already in Germany,” Riegert said. “It seems that people in France already know and don’t even try to get across the border.”
Drivers turned back by border patrol officers were quite understanding, Riegert said. Some told DW that they will go back to France and stay there for the time being. “A lot of understanding and no anger,” Riegert said.
09:47 French President Emmanuel Macron will deliver a televised nation address at 19:00 UTC, the presidency said.
09:37 Thailand records 33 new coronavirus cases on Monday, increasing its total to 147 cases.
09:32 Taiwan reported eight new cases, its biggest daily rise, increasing the total number to 67. Among the latest cases were people returning to the island from Germany and Austria.
09:31 Georgia banned all foreigners from entering the country, a spokesman for Prime Minster Giorgi Gakharia told a briefing. Georgia has 33 confirmed cases of the coronavirus.
09:24 The number of coronavirus cases outside China have now exceeded the number of cases inside China, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
09:12 Germany’s southeastern state of Bavaria has set aside €10 billion ($11.2 billion) to help its economy through the coronavirus crisis.
“We won’t leave anyone alone,” Bavaria’s Minister President Markus Söder said. “The situation is very serious and changing daily, unfortunately not for the better.”
08:58 Thailand will close schools, bars, theaters and other entertainment centers after the government reported 32 new cases on Sunday, a government spokeswoman Ratchada Thanadirek said on Twitter. The government will also ask cabinet on Tuesday to postpone the traditional Songkran New Year holiday, which takes place on April 13 to 15, to limit travel inside and outside the country.
Thailand’s total cases increased to 114, and the country has reported one death and said 37 people have recovered and been released from hospital.
08:52 The Olympic flame handover in Athens will be performed in an empty stadium on Thursday, organizers said.
08:48 OAG, an airline industry research house, said that nearly 2 million seats were affected when US President Donald Trump announced a ban on flights from Europe.
“Many trans-Atlantic services are operated in joint venture agreements between partners,” John Grant, senior aviation analyst at OAG, told DW. He said he hoped “the pain, in some way, would be shared” between the two continents.
08:45 Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced that its subsidiaries FCA Italy and Maserati will suspend production until March 27, the automaker said in a statement.
08:45 Austria will provide €2 billion in additional guarantees to help companies cope with the coronavirus crisis, the country’s Finance Minister Gernot Blümel said.
08:30 Spain’s Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska said shutting the country’s border is among the options up for discussion to fight the coronavirus pandemic, he told radio station Cadena Ser on Monday. He said he would discuss a potential border closure with fellow EU ministers.
08:17 Sweden announced an economic stimulus package worth more than 300 billion Swedish krona (€27.7 billion, $30.9 billion). The measures include the government assuming the full cost of sick leave from companies through April and May as well as the cost for temporary redundancy.
08:14 Russia will create a 300-billion-rouble (€3.6 billion, $4 billion) anti-crisis fund to protect its economy from the coronovirus shock. Prime Minister Mikhail Mushustin said the fund is to “counter the coronavirus’ negative influence on the economy and on people’s lives” in comments carried by the Interfax news agency.
08:09 German President Frank Walter Steinmeier has said that the goal should be to “save as many lives as possible” and to “slow down the further spread of the virus so that our health system can cope with the rapidly increasing burden of new infections.”
“We will beat the virus,” Steinmeier said in an interview with German news website t-online.de. “But in what kind of society we will live afterwards, and in what kind of world, depends on how we act today. What we do today is primarily to protect the elderly and the weaker among us.”
08:07 European stocks markets plunged as trading opened on Monday. Germany’s DAX performance index dropped below 9,000 points shortly after the opening bell and is now trading down 5.6%.
“Measures that central banks and governments are putting in place to really help prop up the economy aren’t convincing investors,” DW’s financial correspondent Chelsea Dulaney said.
07:56 Bahrain reports first death from the coronavirus, the first in the Persian Gulf.
07:37 The British government will make further announcements Monday about measures to tackle the coronavirus outbreak, according to Reuters news agency.
07:30 The International Airlines Group, the owner of British Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus, said it would cut its flying capacity by at least 75% in April and May. It also said that Willie Walsh, it’s outgoing chief executive, would defer his retirement. EasyJet also said it could ground a majority of its fleet on a rolling basis.
07:29 Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will impose an “enhanced community quarantine” across the country’s main island of Luzon.
07:24 French President Emmanuel Macron will discuss the coronavirus and border controls on Monday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU Council President Charles Michel, Macron’s office said.
07:24 China’s foreign ministry said that imported coronavirus cases involving travelers from abroad have now become the main risk.
07:00 Germany’s border closures with France, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Austria and Denmark have come into effect. Commuters and trucks carrying goods will still be able to pass. German citizens in those countries will still be able to return home.
According to DW’s Bernd Riegert, policemen at the border between Saarbrücken in Germany and Forbach in France are asking drivers questions such as “Where are you going?” and “what is the purpose of your visit?” The officers are not wearing face masks or other protective gear.
“This is also a makeshift operation because there haven’t been border facilities here in 35 years,” Riegert said.
Many drivers told DW that, while they understand the purpose of this measure, they are still afraid to get the virus, whether on the French side of the border or the German side.
“The German administration is hoping that infection lines can be broken because of this and that social contacts are slowed down,” Riegert said. “But there are also critics that say this is not true because (the virus) is already there.”
06:34 Mexico’s health ministry has rejected media reports that the country has registered its first coronavirus death. Veteran broadcaster Joaquin Lopez-Doriga said on Twitter that businessman Jose Kuri had died after testing positive for the virus following a trip to the US. The health ministry said Kuri was still alive but in critical condition.
05:32 Australia’s main ASX 200 index fell 537.30 points to 5,002.00, a 9.7% drop. It is the largest ever percentage drop for the benchmark index. According to Reuters news agency, the Australian government is now contemplating “scaling up” its 17.6 billion-Australian-dollar ($11.4 billion, €9.8 billion) stimulus package.
05:09 The Bank of Japan unveiled a series of emergency monetary policies in an attempt to boost the world’s third largest economy amid the coronavirus outbreak. The policies include expanding purchases of stock, corporate bonds and other assets. The United States Federal Reserve announced similar measures on Thursday. The news led to a slight bump in Japan’s benchmark Nikkei index, but it still finished 2.46% lower.
04:38 Like a number of other countries and cities across the globe, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has banned gatherings of more than 500 people. Ardern said educational institutions will be exempt from the mass gathering ban for the time being.
04:27 Mexico has experienced its first death due to the new coronavirus, according to Mexican media reports.
03:59 A supermarket chain in Australia will start opening its doors exclusively to customers over 60-years-old for one hour a day. The policy is set to be implemented in an effort to ease the burden of panic-buying on the most vulnerable.
“Woolworths Supermarkets will be opening exclusively for the elderly and those with a disability to shop from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m.,” the supermarket chain said in a statement.
The policy is expected to come into effect on Tuesday and run for the rest of the week, when the idea will be reevaluated, before being possibly extended.
03:43 Las Vegas has joined a number of other cities across the United States that is imposing measures to restrict contact between citizens. Casinos and hotels, including venues on the city’s main strip, will close in an effort to prevent spread of the new coronavirus.
“It is now apparent that this is a public health crisis that requires major collective action if we are to slow its progression,” Jim Murren, chairman of MGM Resorts, said in a statement.
“Accordingly, we will close all of our Las Vegas properties as of Tuesday, March 17th, for the good of our employees, guests and communities,” Murren said.
03:16 Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has mirrored his New York counterpart by instructing LA’s restaurants, bars and night clubs to close in an attempt to stem the spread of the new coronavirus.
Garcetti said: “I’m taking executive action to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in @LACity by closing bars, nightclubs, restaurants (except takeout/delivery), entertainment venues and gyms until March 31 unless extended. Grocery stores will remain open.”
02:46 The Peace Corps, a US volunteer program, has announced that it is suspending all global operations and evacuating its workers from several countries. The government organization has already evacuated its workers from China and Mongolia.
02:36 For the first time in decades, China’s industrial production, retail sales and investment all contracted. The downturn has been blamed on the coronavirus epidemic which has wreaked havoc on the economy, official data showed.
Industrial production for January and February dropped 13.5%, the first contraction in around 30 years.
Meanwhile, investment has shrunk 24.5% and retail plunged 20.5%.
02:29 New York has imposed a take-out only policy on all its bars and restaurants.
“I will sign an Executive Order limiting restaurants, bars and cafes to food take-out and delivery,” city mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement.
New York has already put a limit on gatherings to 500 people and therefore ”nightclubs, movie theaters, small theater houses, and concert venues must all close,” de Blasio added.
“The virus can spread rapidly through the close interactions New Yorkers have in restaurants, bars and places where we sit close together,” de Blasio said. “We have to break that cycle.”
“These places are part of the heart and soul of our city. They are part of what it means to be a New Yorker,” he said. “But our city is facing an unprecedented threat, and we must respond with a wartime mentality.”
02:16 Peru has declared a state of emergency due to the new coronavirus.
“The measures, which will last 15 calendar days, imply compulsory social isolation of our population,” Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra said in a televised message. “During the state of emergency, constitutionally guaranteed rights will be reduced,” Vizcarra said, specifying that citizens would only be allowed to leave their homes to access essential services.
“During the state of emergency borders will be completely closed,” Vizcarra said, adding that the border closure will affect people but not goods.
The Peruvian president said that his country has had 71 cases thus far.
02:05 Cambodia has reported a four-month-old baby among its daily figure of novel coronavirus infections. It now has a tally of 12, up four on the day before.
01:22 South Korea has reported 74 new coronavirus cases.
The Asian nation has been experiencing a downward trend in new cases and the latest numbers are significantly lower than the peak of 909 cases reported on February 29 and slightly down from the 76 reported the previous day.
01:08 The Argentinian government has announced a 15-day entry ban on all visitors to the Latin American country. ”At the moment we know that all of our cases are imported, and we have to do all we can to prevent the virus from transmitting locally,” President Alberto Fernandez said in a press conference as he announced a series of “drastic measures.”
“For the next 15 days — a period that can be extended — Argentina’s borders will be closed,” Fernandez said. “Nobody will be able to enter Argentina, except of course Argentinian natives or foreigners who live in Argentina.”
Among the new measures, the president also said that schools would be closed until the end of the months and that theaters and cinemas would also remain shut. Thus far, Argentina has had roughly 50 cases and two deaths from the virus.
00:56 Following the US Federal Reserve’s decision to slash interest rates to salvage an economy unraveling rapidly amid the pandemic, the central bank’s chair, Jerome Powell, held a press conference to explain the actions. Powell told reporters: ”We thought it was quite important for us to take strong measures to support proper market functioning in important markets.”
He also said that it was difficult to predict the impact of the coronavirus on the economy, both in the short and long term. ”It’s very hard to say how big the effects will be or how long they will last. That’s going to depend of course on how widely the virus spreads, which is something that is highly uncertain and I would say, in fact, unknowable.”
00:45 The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) — home to the capital city of Canberra and the country’s second most populous state, Victoria — have declared a state of emergency while large, non-essential gatherings have been banned in a bid to stem the spread after the national death toll rose to five.
Australia has nearly 300 cases and authorities are fearing a rapid rise, hence the new measures.
00:39 While the rest of the globe continues to reel from the outbreak, China’s downward trend of cases continued, with 16 new confirmed infections, down from 20 the previous day, the National Health Commission has said.
The total number of confirmed cases in China so far is 80,860. The death toll from the outbreak is 3,213.
00:32 Latin America is the latest part of the world to begin to suffer from COVID-19. Colombia has reported 34 cases, Brazil’s soccer confederation has suspended all competitions due to the outbreak after almost 200 confirmed infections, while Costa Rica reported its worst day so far on Sunday.
00:24 US presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders has lambasted Donald Trump’s handling of the crisis. Sanders said during his joust with fellow Democratic candidate Joe Biden that Trump needs to stop “blabbering” with inaccurate information about the coronavirus. Trump is “undermining” the scientific experts and ”confusing the general public” with his comments, Sanders added.
00:21 With the latest on how the deadly virus is affecting the sporting world, click here.
00:06 Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has requested a “collective quarantine” for seven states, including the capital Caracas, from Monday, to halt the spread of COVID-19.
“It’s a collective quarantine that deserves great social discipline, great self-control,” said Maduro, adding that it meant people should stay “at home.” Maduro said this was “the only way, there’s no other option,” to stem the spread.
“The only way to contain the channels of transmission is to enter in a… drastic phase of collective quarantine throughout the country,” he said.
00:01 German travel company TUI Group is suspending the “vast majority of all travel operations until further notice. This temporary suspension is aimed at contributing to global governmental efforts to mitigate the effects of the spread of the COVID-19.”
Germany now has 4,838 confirmed coronavirus cases, a jump of over 1,000 compared to Saturday. The virus has so far killed 12 people, according to the Robert Koch Institute.
dv, jsi/ng (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)
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