Coronavirus latest: Germany rules out border closures

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German Health Minister Jens Spahn says closing all of the country’s borders “won’t work.” Follow DW for the latest coronavirus updates.

  • Cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in every EU member state
  • Italy, the worst-hit country after China, has over 10,000 confirmed cases
  • Austria and Slovenia have closed their borders with Italy to prevent the spread of the disease

Updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC/GMT)

09:46 Ukraine’s capital Kiev is closing all schools and universities until the end of March, said city mayor Vitali Klitschko. The city also plans to restrict mass events, including conferences and concerts.

09:36 Anyone traveling to Beijing from outside of China will be quarantined for 14 days, reported Chinese state media People’s Daily. People on short-term business trips will be required to stay at designated hotels and take a virus test.

09:10 Austrian train company ÖBB said it is no longer running a passenger service to Italy. After consultation with authorities, international freight train traffic will be maintained. A total of 206 people have tested positive for the virus in Austria.

08:57 Belgium confirmed its first fatality from coronavirus. Health Minister Maggie De Block said the victim was 90 years old.

08:02 The Bank of England cut its interest rates from 0.75% to 0.25% to bolster Britain’s economy in response to COVID-19. The Bank of England said the measures were to “help to support business and consumer confidence at a difficult time.”

The Bank of England slashed its interest rates to help the economy through the slump caused by coronavirus

07:30 “Saying we will close all the borders and then the virus will pass us by won’t work,” German Health Minister Jens Spahn told German broadcaster Deutschlandfunk. “The virus is here in Germany, this is the reality we must get used to.”

07:19 Thailand’s Interior Ministry announced its is canceling its grant of visa on arrival for 18 countries.

On the list are: Bulgaria, Bhutan, China (including Taiwan), Cyprus, Ethiopia, Fiji, Georgia, India, Kazakhstan, Malta, Mexico, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, and the Pacific island Republic of Vanuatu.

Thailand is also canceling its visa exemptions for South Korea, Italy and Hong Kong.

05:46 The provincial government of Hubei province, the epicenter of the virus, said people employed in key sectors such as public transport, medical supply, and daily necessities can return to work. People employed in industries that impact national or global supply chains can also return to work with permission from relevant authorities.

05:30 The Italian government placed the entire country on lockdown on Tuesday. The measures have had dire consequences for the tourism industry in some regions.

05:15 The UK parliament confirmed its first case of the COVID-19 virus after Health Minister Nadine Dorries said she tested positive for the virus.

04:55 A man has been pulled alive from the rubble of a collapsed coronavirus quarantine hotel after being trapped there for 69 hours. A 10-year-old boy and his mother were pulled alive from the wreckage a few hours earlier.

A hotel in southeastern China was being used to quarantine people exposed to coronavirus when it collapsed, killing at least 27 people. Two people are still unaccounted for.

04:35 Coronavirus cases in the US topped 1,000 on Tuesday, nearly twice the number of cases from the day before. At least 28 people have died.

The surge in the number of cases can be explained by a shift in testing from federal labs to state ones.

Health experts have criticized the government for a diagnostic strategy that targeted too few people initially, allowing the disease to spread undetected.

US Vice President Mike Pence defended the government’s response. He said that “a million tests are in the field.”

04:20 Confused about coronavirus conspiracy theories? This isn’t the first time diseases and disinformation have crossed paths. Read about other examples from history here.

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A guide on how to speak to your kids about the coronavirus

04:00  Several events commemorating the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan 9 years ago were canceled on Wednesday over fears of worsening the coronavirus outbreak.

Around 18,500 people in Japan were killed when on March 11, 2011 a severe earthquake hit the Tohoku region in the southeast. A deadly tidal wave followed shortly after.

In place of the annual memorial service, Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe said his office would observe a minute of silence today.

03:35 Two charter planes evacuated 361 Taiwan nationals from Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus, late Tuesday night and early Wednesday. After arriving in Taipei, the passengers were sent to three different quarantine centers, where they will spend the next 14 days under observation, Taiwan’s health and welfare minister said.

Taiwan has thus far reported 48 cases of COVID-19, including 1 death.

03:15 According to the Associated Press, the governor of the state of Washington is planning to ban events of more than 250 people in the state capital, Seattle.

01:34 mins.

Germany limits large-scale events to slow spread of corona virus

02:40 Chinese officials have said that the slight rise in the number of new infections in the country on Tuesday is due to cases brought back from abroad and not from new transfers within the country.

In Hubei Province, where the outbreak began, the number of new infections has fallen for the past six days. All 16 temporary hospitals constructed in the city of Wuhan to accommodate the the surge in coronavirus patients have since been closed.

Medical workers clear the facilities in one of Wuhan’s temporary hospitals. All 16 makeshift hospitals have now closed after all patients were dispatched.

02:20 In Italy, the coronavirus death toll rose by 168 on Tuesday to a total of 631 fatalities nationwide. It was the country’s largest spike in absolute numbers since the Italian outbreak was reported on February 21.

01:45 The Olympic Flame lighting ceremony will be held without spectators after dozens of people in southern Greece tested positive for coronavirus.

The Greek Olympic Committee said that only 100 accredited guests from the International Olympic Committee will attend the ceremonial lighting of the flame that will burn at the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo. Originally, 700 people had been expected to attend the event to be held in Olympia, Greece on Thursday.

Traditionally, the Olympic flame is carried on a torch relay through Greece prior to being handed over to the organizers of that year’s games.

01:25 South Korea reported 242 new cases of coronavirus on Tuesday, for a total of 7,755 infections nationwide. It was the country’s first rise in new cases in five days.

South Korea is among the countries most affected by the outbreak, following behind China, Iran, and Italy in terms of total cases.

01:11 The Premier League has announced that Wednesday’s soccer match between Manchester City and Arsenal has been postponed “as a cautionary measure” and squad members also went into self-isolation. This is the first match in the top competition to be called off due to coronavirus.

The decision was taken after Arsenal players came into contact with a rival team owner who announced Tuesday that he had contracted COVID-19.

01:05 Mainland China confirmed 24 new cases of coronavirus on Tuesday, up from 19 the day before. Twenty-two deaths were reported, all in the central province of Hubei, where the COVID-19 outbreak originated.

00:52 The health ministry in Panama has reported the country’s first death linked to coronavirus, one day after reporting the first confirmed case of the virus in the country. The government is suspending mass gatherings like concerts and sporting events to slow the outbreak.

00:40 Beijing has reported 6 new coronavirus infections in the city, all of them imported from Italy.

00:16  Japan on Tuesday reported its biggest one-day rise in new infections, with 59 new cases confirmed. The country now has 1,278 diagnoses of COVID-19. Nearly 700 of them were passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined for two weeks last month.

00:12 Australia will implement a travel ban for Italy starting Wednesday evening Australian time. Entry to Australia will be barred to all non-residents traveling from Italy. Resident arrivals will be required to undergo 14 days in quarantine.

The move came a day after Rome put severe restrictions on mass gatherings and domestic travel in Italy. The country has reported over 460 deaths due to coronavirus.

00:10 Here’s a recap of the global figures:

  • 118,903 global cases (80,761 within mainland China)
  • 4,269 global deaths (3,136 within mainland China)
  • 65,110 recovered

00:05 The US government plans to meet with the heads of global technology companies like Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, and Microsoft to discuss the coronavirus epidemic, the Washington Post reports.

00:01 Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has promised A$2.4 billion  (US$1.6 billion, €1.4 billion) to combat the spread of coronavirus.

kmm, kp/rc (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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