- Over 116,00 cases of coronavirus, or COVID-19 (Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2), have been confirmed worldwide, with more than 4,000 deaths
- Italy has imposed travel restrictions on the entire country to stop the spread of the disease
- The German government has pledged €1 billion ($1.1 billion) to tackling COVID-19, where there are more than 1,200 cases
- Two leading German research institutes have predicted that the country will fall into recession this year
Read more: What you need to know about the coronavirus
Updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC/GMT)
14:53 Following reports of planes taking off and landing with almost no passengers aboard, the EU Commission has announced they will move to stop these so-called ghost flights.
Under current aviation law, aircrafts need to fulfill at least 80% of their “landing slots” to not lose out to competitors.
“This is why the commission will put forward very rapidly legislation regarding the so-called airport slots … it will also decrease emissions by avoiding the so-called ‘ghost flights’ when airlines fly almost empty planes simply to keep their slot,” Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced.
14:39 The German government has pledged €1 billion ($1.1 billion) to tackle the COVID-19 outbreak. There are more than 1,200 confirmed cases in Germany and two people have died in the most populous state of North-Rhine Westphalia.
The announcement was made in the German parliament by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right CDU party’s parliamentary group leader, Ralph Brinkhaus.
“The health minister and health authorities will get all materials necessary to act on the ‘corona-crisis,'” he said.
14:32 The German government is aiming to schedule a meeting between Chancellor Angela Merkel and trade unions and employers on Friday to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the labor market, according to Reuters news agency.
14:23 The Democratic Republic of the Congo has confirmed its first case of COVID-19. The patient was reportedly a Belgian citizen. Sub-Saharan Africa has reported relatively few cases of the new outbreak so far.
14:17 A Hong Kong lawmaker has accused prison authorities of “modern slavery” after reports emerged that female inmates were being forced to work through the night to produce millions of face masks after the COVID-19 outbreak has triggered shortages.
“All persons in custody participating in the night shift are on a voluntary basis,” a spokeswoman for Hong Kong’s Correctional Services Department told Reuters news agency.
14:09 The north African country of Morocco has confirmed its first death from coronavirus — an 89-year-old woman suffering from chronic respiratory diseases.
14:07 Things have moved fast on Tuesday, especially in Europe. If you’re worried or unsure how to react to the coronavirus outbreak in your region, DW has gathered all the information for you in a Twitter thread.
14:02 “Recent reports indicate that the COVID-19 virus has spread inside Iranian prisons,” wrote the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran in a new report.
Thousands of Iranians were arrested in the wake of November 2019 protests. “Overcrowding, poor nutrition and a lack of hygiene are also serious concerns,” the UN’s Javaid Rehman said. He has asked the country to release political prisoners temporarily because of the coronavirus outbreak, calling conditions “unfortunate and disturbing.”
13:52 Italy has gone into lockdown — but for many, life must carry on as normal. Journalist Alessio Petrone spoke to DW from Milan.
“Italy has never closed all schools across the country — not even during World War Two, when there was conflict all over the country. Now we’re talking about quarantine for for the whole country and it’s massive,” he said, speaking on video call. Petrone is unable to leave Milan.
“You work from home,” he said, commenting on how life went on in such conditions. ”You carry on working. Supermarkets are fully stocked. So it’s a it’s a mix of seeing empty streets but also carrying on with your life.”
13:44 A Polish general has tested positive for COVID-19 — after returning from a military council in Germany. The Polish defense ministry confirmed on Twitter that all those who had been with the general had been quarantined.
13:42 The Czech Republic will join other central European countries in closing schools, Prime Minister Andrej Babis announced on Tuesday.
“It is better to be proactive, rather than to deal with the problem later, or even too late as is the case in Italy,” he told reporters.
13:31 As extreme measures are adopted in Italy to tackle COVID-19, the Vatican has announced that St Peter’s Square and St Peter’s Basilica have been closed to tourists and guided groups until April.
13:22 The mayor of a small French town has defended a record-breaking gathering of 3,500 people dressed as Smurfs last weekend, as many gathering across Europe were canceled amid fears of COVID-19 spread.
“We must not stop living … it was the chance to say that we are alive,” mayor Patrick Leclerc of Landerneau in western France told AFP news agency.
France banned gatherings of more than 1,000 people on Sunday.
12:55 Spain’s lower house has suspended all parliamentary activities for at least a week after a lawmaker from its far-right Vox Party was confirmed to have the virus, reported El Pais newspaper. The countra has also become the latest to cancel all direct flights to and from Italy until later in March.
12:45 European leaders will hold a summit via video-conference on Tuesday afternoon to co-ordinate a response to the outbreak and to its economic consequences. European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen have both confirmed their virtual attendance.
12:26 For the next four weeks, doctors in Germany will be able to give sick leave over the phone. The measures were announced in order to keep patients who might be infected with COVID-19 (coronavirus SARS-CoV-2) out of GP surgeries and prevent further transmission.
12:10 In a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus throughout Europe many of its airlines have suspended flights to Italy:
- Austrian Airlines — the carrier said it is stopping all flights between Vienna and northern Italy until March 28. The Austrian government on Tuesday banned anyone without a health certificate from entering Austria from Italy, including those traveling by plane and train.
- Ryanair — Europe’s largest budget flight airline carrier canceled all domestic flights in Italy and reduced its flight schedule to northern Italy.
- British Airways
- Norwegian Air Shuttle
- Wizz Air
- Easyjet — the carrier canceled most of its flights to Milan, Venice and Verona
- Lufthansa and subsidiary Eurowings — the German airline are continuing to offer flights to Italy while saying it is keeping a close eye on the situation.
11:40 Financial markets in Europe and Asia bounced back on Tuesday after suffering their biggest losses in more than a decade due to plummeting oil prices and fears over the coronavirus outbreak.
11:21 The total death toll from coronavirus crossed the 4,000 mark on Tuesday with over 114,000 total cases worldwide.
10:53 Austria is banning entry to anyone arriving from Italy without a health certificate, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said on Tuesday. Austria also banned all indoor events with more than 100 participants and outdoor events of more than 500 people.
Austria earlier issued a level 6 travel safety warning advising its citizens against travel to Italy. Austrians in Italy will still be permitted to travel home if they agree to spend two weeks in home quarantine.
10:17 All mass events will be canceled in Poland to curb the spread of coronavirus in the country. The ban will include football games and concerts.
10:03 The Serbian government is banning foreigners arriving from areas experiencing some of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks. Foreigners hoping to travel from Italy and parts of China, South Korea, Iran and Switzerland will all be affected.
09:58 President of the European Parliament David Sassoli said he is in self-isolation at his Brussels home as a precaution after returning from virus-hit Italy.
“Parliament will continue to work to exercise its duties. No virus can block democracy” said Sassoli in a statement.
09:20 Pope Francis told Catholic priests during a mass in Vatican city to ”have the courage” to go out and visit people sickened by coronavirus. His comments came just hours after Italy was placed on lockdown. The World Health Organizationadvises avoiding contact with other people if you think you have COVID-19.
08:45 The German state of Saxony-Anhalt confirmed its first case of the COVID-19 virus, meaning that each of Germany’s 16 states now has a confirmed case.
08:08 Italy’s government has readied around €10 billion ($11.4 billion) to boost its economy and combat the effects of the coronavirus. Economic Development Minister Stefano Patuanelli said this will cause the national deficit to rise to just under 3%.
07:46 Taiwan’s authorities says it has arranged special chartered flights to take more than 400 Taiwan nationals stranded in Wuhan back to Taipei. They have been stranded in the city at the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak for months after it was put on lockdown by the Chinese government.
Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung said Taiwan has sufficient capacity for both quarantine and virus testing to deal with hundreds of evacuees at once.
Passengers will only be able to board the flights if they tested negative for the virus and have no fever.
07:00 India completed its first evacuation of its citizens from virus-hit Iran. India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar tweeted: “First batch of 58 Indian pilgrims being brought back from Iran.”
India is working on the return of other Indians there, Jaishankar added.
06:30 Cyprus confirmed its first cases of the COVID-19. The country was the last in the EU with no confirmed cases. A 64-year-old doctor who had recently returned from the UK was one of two individuals to test positive on the island.
05:45 Austria issued a travel warning for the entirety of Italy. It also “urgently advised” citizens to return home from Italy. Health authorities there announced a lockdown across the entire country, affecting around 60 million citizens.
05:15 Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, for the first time since the since the crisis erupted in January — a sign that Beijing believes its control measures are paying off.
State media showed Xi, wearing a mask, speaking via video-link to medical workers and patients at one of the field hospitals set up in the city.
Xi’s visit comes as China reported a tumble in new infection cases. The National Health Commission reported just 19 new infections on Monday, down from 40 the day before.
Xi’s visit to Wuhan is seen as a sign from Beijing that it has the virus under control
04:40 The coronavirus outbreak has not yet reached its peak in Germany and further restrictions to everyday life can be expected, German Health Minister Jens Spahn has said.
“The primary goal is to slow the outbreak,” he wrote in a guest post for the German tabloid Bild published late Monday.
Earlier Monday, Germany had reported its first two deaths from coronavirus.
04:29 Canada has reported its first coronavirus death. Health officials in the westernmost province of British Colombia said the victim was a man who had been living at an elderly care facility.
04:15 Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Wuhan, where the coronavirus outbreak originated, on Tuesday, his first visit to the city since the epidemic began at the end of last year.
The unannounced visit signals that officials believe the outbreak has been brought under control. China reported only 19 news cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, the lowest figure since the country started sharing data on January 21.
03:55 American rock group Pearl Jam is postponing the first leg of their North American spring tour due to coronavirus concerns.
“The levels of risk to our audience and their communities is simply too high for our comfort level,” a statement signed by the band released Tuesday said.
“It certainly hasn’t helped that there’s been no clear messages from our government regarding people’s safety and our ability to go to work,” the statement continued. “Having no examples of our national health department’s ability to get ahead of this, we have no reason to believe that it will be under control in the coming weeks ahead.”
The band hails from Washington, the US state currently most affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.
03:50 China’s Hubei province — the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak — is considering allowing people in low- or medium-risk areas to start traveling. At a meeting between province authorities, officials discussed implementing the use of a “health code,” a mobile-based monitoring tool, to facilitate travel in the region.
03:20 In light of the coronavirus outbreak, the chairman of Germany’s free market-liberal Free Democrats (FDP) has said it should be easier for people to work from home.
“Many people currently prefer to work from home out of fear of infection,” said FDP chairman Christian Lindner. “There should be a right to work from home…The public sector as an employer should lead the way and actively offer its employees opportunities to work from home.”
03:08 The president of the Ifo Institute for Economic Research, a Munich-based institution, said a coronavirus-related recession in Germany could be “unavoidable.”
“There are some indications that a recession is imminent,” Ifo president Clemens Fuest told German daily Augsburger Allgemeine. ”Unfortunately, many virologists are saying the outbreak could subside in the summer, but return in the fall. In that case, a recession would be unavoidable.”
02:50 Japan’s government has approved a draft of a “state of emergency” bill that, if approved by parliament, would allow Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to impose drastic measures to fight the spread of coronavirus. The bill would include measures that allow authorities to keep people inside and to seize buildings to use them as hospitals.
A top government spokesman said the country had not yet reached such a point.
02:36 After reporting its first case of coronavirus today, Mongolia put its cities on lockdown.
“The capital Ulaanbaatar and all province centers are quarantined until March 16 to curb the outbreak,” Deputy Prime Minister Enkhtuvshin Ulziisaikhan said at a press conference.
02:20 Austria’s foreign ministry has called on any citizens currently in Italy — the European country the worst hit by the COVID-19 outbreak — to return home.
“Austrian travelers are strongly advised to return to Austria,” a statement on the ministry’s website read.
All of Italy is currently affected by a travel lockdown that forbids its citizens from leaving the country.
02:08 South Korea, one of the countries most affected by the outbreak, reported fewer than 150 new daily cases for the first time in two weeks. On Monday, the country confirmed a total of 131 new cases.
01:55 Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has called the coronavirus threat “overstated.”
“In my opinion, that virus’s destructive power is overstated. Maybe it is even potentially being exaggerated for political reasons,” Bolsonaro said.
The far-right leader said that the recent fall of the world markets “basically has to do with the price of oil, which sank 30 percent, and with the coronavirus issue, too.”
01:45 The Central American nation of Panama has confirmed its first case of coronavirus.
01:26 A nursing home in Seattle, Washington at the center of the outbreak in the US has reported 31 more confirmed cases. Since February 19, 26 of the home’s 120 patients have died. Autopsies have confirmed that at least 13 of the deaths were due to coronavirus.
01:23 For the third day in a row, China has reported no new local coronavirus transmissions.
01:20 South Korea has reported 35 new cases of coronavirus, bringing the national total to 7,513.
01:12 Mongolia has confirmed its first case of coronavirus — a French national working in the country.
00:22 In mainland China, where the outbreak began, 80,754 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus thus far. Nearly 60,000 have already recovered. Nine new cases were confirmed on the mainland on Monday, compared to 40 the day before.
00:12 The head of the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) expects coronavirus to bring on a recession in Germany this year.
“It’s probable that Germany will experience a recession this year — employment is going to suffer visibly,” the institute’s chief economic forecaster Claus Michelsen told German daily Berliner Morgenpost.
ed, kmm, kp/rc (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)
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