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Coronavirus updates: Europe’s key economies at standstill, as death toll rises worldwide

The death toll from the coronavirus pandemic continues to increase acorss Europe and elsewhere in the world, bringing the key economies of the European Union – the new epicenter of the fast-spreading disease — to a standstill.

Globally, more than 14,700 people have died since the virus emerged in China late last year, according to the latest estimates. Some 340,000 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 worldwide.

Over 99,000 patients have been recovered so far from the flu-like disease, which first showed up in China’s Wuhan city and later spread to other parts of the world.

Italy reports 650 new deaths

In Italy, the worst-hit country outside China, officials reported 651 new deaths on Sunday, bringing the total figure to 5,476.

It was an increase of 13.5 percent but down from Saturday’s figure when 793 people died, health officials said Monday.

The total number of infections in Italy rose to 59,138 from a previous 53,578, up by 10.4 percent, according to the Civil Protection Agency.

The hardest-hit northern region of Lombardy remained in a critical situation, with 3,456 deaths and 27,206 cases recorded on Sunday.

The government announced a travel ban and ordered the closure of all non-essential businesses, including car, clothing and furniture makers.

The head of the Italian government’s coronavirus relief efforts, Domenico Arcuri, said the country was “at war” with the virus.

“All wars are won in two ways, with one’s own army and with the help of ones’ own allies,” he said.

Germany at a virtual standstill, Merkel in quarantine

The virus spread has also brought Germany — the European Union’s largest economy — to a virtual standstill as Chancellor Angela Merkel ordered a ban on gatherings of more than two people for the next two weeks.

Exceptions to the rules are being made for work-related gatherings.

“The great aim is to gain time in the fight against the virus,” Merkel said Sunday.

Later in the day, the chancellor decided to immediately quarantine herself in her home after a doctor, who had earlier administered a pneumococcal vaccine to her, tested positive for the virus, according to government spokesman Steffen Seibert.

Merkel will be regularly tested over the coming days and will continue to conduct her duties as chancellor from home.

Germany is one of the severely-affected countries, with more than 23,000 infections, according to a data collected by Johns Hopkins University.

At least 92 people have died from the virus in the country, which has already closed its borders temporarily with France, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark and Luxembourg.

Coronavirus confines one billion to homes, death toll passes 13,000 globally

Coronavirus confines one billion to homes, death toll passes 13,000 globally The new coronavirus continues to wreak havoc across the world. It has claimed the lives of more than 13,000 people worldwide so far.

Spain is ‘at war’ with COVID-19

Meanwhile, Spain, the second-worst affected country in Europe after Italy, reported more than 1,700 deaths on Sunday.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez extended the state of emergency until April 11, saying his country is “at war.”

He called on Europe to launch an enormous, coordinated public investment program to contain the pandemic.

All cases in China imported

China, which has effectively controlled the local transmission of the disease, is now struggling to contain the number of infections entering from abroad.

China’s National Health Commission reported 39 new confirmed cases. All of them had arrived from abroad, many of whom are Chinese students returning home.

In the meantime, the capital Beijing decided to divert all international flights arriving from Monday to airports in other cities, including Shanghai and as far west as Xian, where passengers will undergo virus screening.

The capital city reported 10 new imported cases, the National Health Commission said Monday.

As of Sunday, the total accumulated number of confirmed cases in mainland China stood at 81,093.

With nine new deaths reported on Sunday, the death toll from the outbreak in mainland also reached 3,270.

South Korea reports lowest number of COVID-19

South Korea, meanwhile, reported its lowest number of new cases of infection since the peak in late February.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) reported 64 new cases on Monday. The figure takes the national tally to 8,961. The death toll rose by one to 110.

Venezuela prohibits layoffs over outbreak

In Latin America, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced a series of economic measures to address the financial fallout as the coronavirus has far infected 77 people in the country.

“We have the conscience and the absolute decision to protect all jobs in the country, to protect the entire operation of all companies and businesses in the country,” Maduro said.

The country has not reported any deaths from the viral infection, but the government has declared a state of alarm, imposing a full month-long quarantine in the country.

Last week, Maduro made a request for a loan to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to fight the outbreak.

The Washington-based institution, however, rejected the request. It was Venezuela’s first loan request to the IMF since 2001.

In January 2019, Venezuelan opposition figure Juan Guaido unilaterally declared himself “interim president” of Venezuela, challenging the outcome of the 2018 presidential election and handing the country a national and international crisis.

Some governments opposed to Maduro, the US included, now recognize Guaido as Venezuela’s leader.

Egypt top military official dies of COVID-19

Egypt’s military said a senior officer died Sunday from the coronavirus infection.

The military said Major General Khaled Shaltout had contracted the disease while participating in sterilization operations, which the military has been carrying out across the country.

Egypt has so far reported 300 cases and 10 deaths from the epidemic.

Elsewhere in North Africa, Morocco said it extended the state of emergency, which came into force on March 20 for a month.

The government also approved a draft law that seeks strict legal action against citizens who defy the emergency state.

Anyone who defies the rules will receive a sentence ranging between one and three months in prison.

Convicted suspects will have to pay a fine ranging between $30 and $132.

The kingdom has confirmed 61 cases of infections and two deaths.

Africa slams Trump’s ‘discriminating’ of virus

African officials on Sunday strongly criticized US President Donald Trump for referring to COVID-19 as “the Chinese virus.” 

Trump insists COVID-19 a ‘Chinese virus,’ arguing his labeling ‘not racist’

Trump insists COVID-19 a ‘Chinese virus,’ arguing his labeling ‘not racist’US President Donald Trump insists on calling the novel coronavirus a “Chinese” one, arguing that it refers to where it is from and “not racist.”

The African Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and the Ethiopian government said such remarks were misleading and shifted the world’s focus from the serious task of fighting the pandemic.

“I think this is clearly a global fight,” said John Nkengasong, director of the Africa CDC.

He said that the fight “requires global solidarity and global coordination, and no stigmatization and no discrimination.”

The continent with 1.3 billion people has so far registered around 1,100 cases of coronavirus. The cases of infections spread across 43 countries, with 39 deaths. 

Africa has been a major concern for health experts due to its poor health system.

WHO: Lockdowns not enough to defeat virus, public health measures needed

WHO: Lockdowns not enough to defeat virus, public health measures neededThe World Health Organization (WHO) says lockdowns are not enough to defeat the coronavirus pandemic.

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