Coronavirus spread continues across the world: Top developments

Coronavirus infection continued its spread on Thursday with some more countries reporting new cases. The global death toll from the virus has crossed 3,000 and more than 95,000 people have been infected worldwide. Governments across the globe stepped up efforts and restrictions to prevent the spread of the virus. The virus has now spread to 80 countries and territories. In India, 30 confirmed cases have been reported.

The government is keeping a strict vigil and has announced a slew of measures to ensure that the situation remains under control.

Here is a look at top developments through the day:


First coronavirus death in Britain confirmed
The first coronavirus death in Britain has been confirmed, medical authorities said on Thursday. “The patient, who was being treated at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, was an older patient who had underlying health conditions,” England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said in a statement. The patient is believed to have contracted the virus in the UK.

Italian coronavirus deaths jump to 148
The death toll from an outbreak of coronavirus in Italy has risen by 41 over the past 24 hours to 148, the Civil Protection Agency said on Thursday, with the contagion still showing no sign of slowing. The accumulative number of cases in the country, which has been hardest hit by the virus in Europe, totalled 3,858, up from 3,089 on Wednesday. The head of the agency said that of those originally infected, 414 had fully recovered versus 276 the day before.

Switzerland reported its first death
Authorities in Switzerland say a 74-year-old woman infected with
COVID-19 has died, the first death due to the new virus reported in the country. The woman lived in the western canton of Vaud. As of Wednesday afternoon, 58 infections had been confirmed in Switzerland.

California declares emergency after virus death
California declared a statewide emergency after the state’s first fatality from the new coronavirus. Officials say an elderly patient who apparently contracted the COVID-19 virus on a cruise died in Northern California. The patient had underlying health conditions and died at a hospital in Roseville, near Sacramento. Another person who had been on the cruise ship tested positive for the virus on Tuesday. California currently has 53 cases of COVID-19.

France reports two more coronavirus deaths
The French health ministry reported Thursday two more deaths from coronavirus infections, bringing the country’s total to six, and 92 new cases since Wednesday. It was the biggest one-day jump in the number of French cases since the outbreak began, raising the total to 377.


South Africa reports first Coronavirus case
South Africa on Thursday confirmed its first case of coronavirus, a man who had visited Italy. The patient is a 38-year-old male who travelled to Italy with his wife. The health ministry said the patient, in the eastern province of KwaZulu-Natal, had been self-isolating since Tuesday after consulting a doctor over symptoms of coughing, a sore throat, headaches and a fever. A “tracer team” had been deployed since in the province.

Bosnia reported first two Coronavirus cases
Bosnia on Thursday reported its first confirmed cases of COVID-19, in a man who recently travelled to Italy and his child. The patient lives in the northwestern region of Banja Luka where he was hospitalised and is held in isolation. Members of the man’s family were also tested and a child tested positive. Bosnia is now the third country in the Balkans region to which the virus has spread. Croatia has registered 10 cases, and North Macedonia one.

Six cases in Pakistan
Pakistan on Thursday reported a fresh case of the deadly coronavirus, taking the total number of the COVID-19 infections in the country to six. The patient was identified as a 69-year-old man residing in Karachi’s District East. Officials have been directed to trace and test all those who have been in contact with the patient. So far, no coronavirus related death has been reported in Pakistan.

North sends ‘get well soon’ wishes to South Korea
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sent a letter expressing hope for South Korea to overcome a coronavirus outbreak, President Moon Jae-in’s office said on Thursday. North closed borders and temporarily shut a joint liaison office in a border city to avert an outbreak, while the South added 438 infections on Thursday to swell its tally to 5,766. The South Korean government declared a “special care zone” around Gyeongsan which 250 km (150 miles) southeast of Seoul and has seen a spike in cases in recent days. Similar zones have been declared around the neighbouring city of Daegu and Cheongdo County.

Greece reports 21 new cases
Greek health officials on Thursday reported 21 new coronavirus infections among a group that had recently travelled to Israel by bus, raising the country’s total to 31. Most of the cases are in good health and are being monitored at home, said officials. Schools have been shut down for two days and public events in western Greece, where the Israel group travelled, have been cancelled.

Cases in the Netherlands jump to 82
The number of patients infected with the coronavirus in the Netherlands has more than doubled to 82, the Dutch National Institute for Public Health (RIVM) said on Thursday. The number of corona cases in the Netherlands increased from 38 a day earlier. The country’s first infection was reported on Feb. 27.

NATO military HQ confirms first coronavirus cases
NATO said Thursday it had confirmed three cases of the novel coronavirus linked to its military headquarters in Belgium — a civilian employee and two family members. The employee had recently travelled to Italy. The news came as the United States and Israel scrapped the remainder of their Juniper Cobra 20 joint military exercise due o the virus outbreak.


290 million students out of school
Almost 300 million students worldwide faced weeks at home with Italy and India the latest to shut schools over the deadly new coronavirus, as the IMF urged an all-out global offensive against the epidemic. While temporary school closures during crises are not new, UNESCO chief Audrey Azoulay said, “the current educational disruption is unparalleled”. Schools have been shut down in parts of India, Italy, South Korea, Japan and Iran.

Palestinians announce West Bank tourism ban
The Palestinians announced measures to prevent the spread of new coronavirus Thursday, after the first suspected cases in the occupied West Bank. The response included a two-week ban on tourists visiting cities and sites in the occupied West Bank and the cancellation of major sporting events and other large gatherings. The Church of the Nativity, built on the Bethlehem location revered as the birthplace of Jesus, was closed Thursday afternoon.

Louvre opens again
The Louvre Museum in Paris has reopened after managers promised measures to ease workers’ fears about catching the virus from visitors who come from around the world. The measures include distributing more disinfectant gels and giving staff more time to wash their hands. Additionally, staff will only need to stand at the entrance to the room where Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” is displayed, rather than inside. The museum will also stop accepting cash payments because of worries banknotes could harbour the virus

OPEC calls for cut in oil production
The oil-producing countries of the OPEC cartel are calling for a deep production cut of 1.5 million barrels per day to support prices that are sagging due to the spread of the coronavirus. Following its meeting in Vienna, the 14-countries member OPEC issued a statement saying that member countries would cut 1 million barrels per day, while non-members would share a further cut of 500,000 barrels per day. Russia, the largest of the non-member allies, however, appears reluctant to sign up to more cuts.

Companies curb travel
Global companies are cutting back on business travel. Online retailer Amazon told its 800,000 workers to postpone non-essential travel, and Swiss food giant Nestle instructed its 291,000 employees to halt international travel until mid-March. Other companies including Starbucks Corp. are going virtual. The coffee chain said Wednesday its annual meeting at a theatre in Seattle, typically a party-like affair will be held online. An aviation industry group says the spreading coronavirus could cost airlines as much as $113 billion in lost revenue.

Markets swing
Market volatility continued Thursday. After a huge swing into positive territory Wednesday, Dow tumbled 500 points in early trading, after falling about 700 points after the opening bell. The Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index, or VIX, pushed above 37. The VIX is also called Wall Street’s fear barometer. It’s been striking levels not seen in almost a decade in recent weeks. The French CAC 40 fell 2.4%, Germany’s DAX lost 2.2% and the FTSE 100 in London dropped 2.1%. Treasury yields in the U.S. fell, with the 10-year yield falling toward another record low.

(With inputs from agencies)

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