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German policemen control motorists trying to cross the Swiss-German border on 16 March 2020, in Weil am Rhein near Basel. - Germany  has reintroduced border controls with France, Austria, Switzerland, Luxemburg and Denmark from March 16, 2020 due to the coronavirus crisis, interior minister Horst Seehofer said the day before. - Sputnik International

Live Updates: Nations Resort to Border Shutdowns Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

In late December, the new coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, was detected in Wuhan, China. The virus quickly spread worldwide infecting over 150,000 people globally over the course of less than three months.

Nations around the world are ramping up border controls and declaring national emergencies amid the coronavirus outbreak that the World Health Organisation declared a pandemic this week.

According to the WHO, 153,517 people are infected with the virus globally as of Sunday, with 10,982 new cases in the last 24 hours. Some 5,735 have succumbed to the disease since December. China, Italy, Iran, South Korea and  Spain are currently the most affected countries.


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01:27 GMT 17.03.2020
23:39 GMT 16.03.2020
21:18 GMT 16.03.2020
20:35 GMT 16.03.2020

The number of deaths from the coronavirus related complications in the United Kingdom has reached 53, Health Secretary Matthew Hancock said on Monday, adding that the spread of the virus has slowed.

"Our goal is to protect life. Our actions have meant that the spread of the virus has been slowed in the UK … However, the disease is now accelerating, and 53 people have sadly now died," Hancock said during a speech in the parliament.

20:34 GMT 16.03.2020

"Data include both confirmed and presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 reported to CDC or tested at CDC since January 21, 2020, with the exception of testing results for persons repatriated to the United States from Wuhan, China and Japan. State and local public health departments are now testing and publicly reporting their cases," the CDC release said.

19:47 GMT 16.03.2020
19:30 GMT 16.03.2020
19:27 GMT 16.03.2020
19:16 GMT 16.03.2020
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18:52 GMT 16.03.2020

The US policy on Iran which is hit hard by the new coronavirus causes regret and concern, the Russian Foreign Ministry said. 

Russia will continue to assist Iran amid US sanctions and the spread of the Covid-19, it added. 

18:37 GMT 16.03.2020

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - Thirty-seven cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) have been reported within the US Defense Department, spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman said during a press briefing on Monday.

"As of 0500 today [Monday morning], there have been 37 reported cases - 18 military, 13 dependents, three civilian and three contractors," Hoffman told reporters.

The spokesman said US defence officials have been looking at the logistics and planning capabilities they can provide to help efforts to put the novel coronavirus pandemic under control.

Moreover, Joint Staff surgeon Brig. Gen. Paul Friedrichs said one of the Defense Department's main concerns is the virus spreading among active-duty personnel. Friedrichs urged people to practice social distancing and better hygiene to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The Defense Department has already introduced travel restrictions for its military and civilian personnel, including their families, to countries that most affected by COVID-19. The list includes China, Italy, South Korea, Iran, Venezuela as well as all 29 member states of the European Union.

As the global number of confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide nears 176,000, many countries are imposing travel restrictions and obligatory quarantine for people returning from affected territories.

18:28 GMT 16.03.2020

Iran has closed four key Shiite pilgrimage sites to stop the spread of the new coronavirus that has claimed the lives of 853 people, AFP reported. 

The holy shrines of Imam Reza in Mashhad, Fatima Masumeh in Qom and Shah Abdol-Azim in Tehran were shut until further notice "upon the orders of the anti-coronavirus headquarters and the health minister," the agency said, quoting Iran's state television.

18:18 GMT 16.03.2020

The Russian government has announced that the country is restricting entry of foreigners and non-citizens starting from 18 March until 1 May amid the new coronavirus pandemic.

These restrictions won't apply to truck drivers, diplomats and permanent residents, the cabinet said. 

18:15 GMT 16.03.2020

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The governments of the G7 countries have agreed to implement a range of instruments, including monetary and fiscal measures, in response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the White House said in a press release on Monday.

"We are mobilizing the full range of instruments, including monetary and fiscal measures, as well as targeted actions, to support immediately and as much as necessary the workers, companies and sectors most affected," the release said.

The G-7 governments will coordinate more closely to better respond to the novel coronavirus pandemic, the release added.

The White House noted that the multi-government coordination may include taking border management measures to prevent the spread of the virus. The G-7 countries have also agreed to share information on epidemiologic and other data to strengthen the fight against the novel coronavirus, the statement said.

Moreover, the G-7 governments have also agreed to increase coordinated research efforts to produce a vaccine in addition to ensuring medical equipment is provided where it is most needed, the release said.

Central banks are being asked to continue to coordinate to provide monetary measures in order to ensure economic and financial stability in addition to recovery and growth, the release pointed out.

The G-7 governments have also agreed to address any international supply chains impacted by the novel coronavirus pandemic and continue to work to facilitate international trade, according to the release.

18:11 GMT 16.03.2020

A large portion of the population in the Netherlands will contract the novel coronavirus, Dutch Prime Minister Rutte said, citing experts. 

18:08 GMT 16.03.2020

The death toll from the novel coronavirus has risen to 53, the UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock told parliament on Monday.

17:55 GMT 16.03.2020

KABUL (Sputnik) - Five people sick with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and 39 others who are suspected of being infected have escaped from a hospital in the western Afghan province of Herat, Dr Nasir Habib, the head doctor of the hospital, said on Monday.

According to Habib, the patients escaped at around 4:00 p.m. (11:30 GMT) by breaking the windows and climbing through them.

Afghanistan has so far confirmed 16 cases of the coronavirus disease on its soil.

17:47 GMT 16.03.2020

ROME (Sputnik) - Another 349 people died from the coronavirus infection in Italy in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of victims in the country to 2,158, Angelo Borrelli, the head of the National Civil Protection Agency, said Monday.

"We registered 414 recoveries, this is more than yesterday, there are 2,749 people who have recovered up to now," Borrelli said at a daily briefing.

"Unfortunately, the death toll [in the past 24 hours] is 349," he said.

17:45 GMT 16.03.2020

"We will be denying entry to Canada to people who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents," Trudeau said during the press briefing.

On Tuesday, the country will announce extra measures to support vulnerable people, the prime minister added. 

"We can still slow the spread of this virus," Trudeau said.

17:39 GMT 16.03.2020

NEW DELHI (Sputnik) - India has toughened travel restrictions amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and banned entry for travellers from Turkey, the United Kingdom and the European Union, the Health Ministry said on Monday.

"Travel of passengers from member countries of the European Union, the European Free Trade Association, Turkey and the United Kingdom to India is prohibited with effect from 18th March 2020," the ministry said.

Moreover, India is set to introduce a 14-day mandatory quarantine for people arriving from the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman and Kuwait also from Wednesday.

Both restrictions will be in place until March 31, according to the health authorities.

India has so far confirmed 113 COVID-19 cases in the country and two deaths from the coronavirus-related complications.

17:38 GMT 16.03.2020

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, expressed the belief on Monday that the pandemic of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) was controllable, stressing the efficiency of the containment strategy.

"We advise countries to stick to containment strategy because we believe that this epidemics, this pandemic or this virus is controllable and the result or the outcome is in our hands," Tedros told a virtual press conference.

The WHO head added that the containment strategy had proven efficient in China, South Korea and Singapore.

Relying purely on restricting movement is not enough to protect the population, WHO Health Emergencies Programme Executive Director Michael Ryan added.

"Relying purely on static travel measures as a means of protecting populations is not enough. It may be useful in certain circumstances and it may have an impact, but it will not have any impact without the implementation of comprehensive approaches," Ryan said.

As the global number of confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide nears 176,000, many countries are imposing travel restrictions and obligatory quarantine for people returning from affected territories.

17:27 GMT 16.03.2020

UNITED NATIONS (Sputnik) - The United Nations has confirmed that an employee who works at the Secretariat in New York had tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said in a press briefing on Monday.

"Staff member who has tested positive has not had any contact with any other UN personnel since before the onset of symptoms," Dujarric told reporters. "It was somebody who works in the Secretariat."

Dujarric said the United Nations does not expect this or other infections among its personnel to have a critical impact on its operations because of the robust mitigation measures that have been put in place.

On Friday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres asked all staff working at the United Nations headquarters in New York to telecommute until April 12 in an attempt to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The United Nations confirmed earlier the first case of novel coronavirus infection among diplomats working in New York.

New York City authorities have so far confirmed 463 cases of infection with the virus, while the number of people infected across the state has increased to 954.

17:22 GMT 16.03.2020
17:09 GMT 16.03.2020

"We need people to start working from home where they possibly can," Johnson told a news conference. "And you should avoid pubs, clubs, theatres and other such social venues."

17:07 GMT 16.03.2020

ATHENS (Sputnik) – Greece will put all incoming travellers into quarantine for two weeks as part of the response to the spreading coronavirus outbreak, an acting government spokeswoman said Monday.

"Everyone coming to Greece will go into mandatory home quarantine for 14 days ... Those who break this rule will be fined," Aristotelia Peloni told reporters, specifying that the fine would be 5,000 euros ($5,600).

Peloni said that travellers would be isolated regardless of their nationality. She urged Greeks to stay at home to stop the virus from spreading further and predicted that the health crisis would only get worse in April.

"No country can be in full control of this problem. We have been doing what has to be done, including taking these new measures. The Greek government calls on everyone to stay at home to limit the spread of the virus," she said.

The government has closed schools, universities, movie theatres and gyms, and will shut all non-essential businesses, including bars and restaurants. Supermarkets, pharmacies, gas stations and banks will remain open, Peloni said.

Greece has detected 21 new cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) over the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 352, Health Ministry spokesman Sotiris Tsiodras said Monday.

Sixty-five people have been hospitalized, including nine who are in intensive care, he said. The majority of confirmed cases are in the capital of Athens.

To date, more than 4,400 people have been tested for COVID-19 viral disease. Ten patients have recovered.

17:06 GMT 16.03.2020
17:03 GMT 16.03.2020

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Some of the cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are likely to be missed, especially the mild ones, but this is normal in the current situation, Maria van Kerkhove, an epidemiology expert at the World Health Organization (WHO), said on Monday.

"There's no doubt that we are missing cases. I think we need to be realistic about this. The reason we are so aggressive in our statements about finding all cases and testing cases is because we need to know where this virus is, but it is possible that we are missing cases that are on the more mild end of the spectrum, that's normal," van Kerkhove said at a briefing.

She added that at the beginning of an outbreak, the focus was always made on people seeking medical care, which means that those "showing up" are more likely to actually be tested for COVID-19 or "any emerging pathogen."

"It is certainly possible and it's highly likely that we're missing cases. What's important is that there are measures, there are processes in place to find those cases, and it's important that we don't give up ... We need to be finding all of these cases so that we can effectively isolate them and thus reduce the chances of onward transmission," the expert added.

It is important not only to provide additional test kits but to make sure that countries are increasing their "lab capacity," the WHO expert went on to say.

16:59 GMT 16.03.2020

NEW YORK (Sputnik) - The US state of New York will cooperate with the National Guard to find additional buildings that could be adapted to medical facilities to treat patients infected with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Governor Andrew Cuomo said at a press briefing on Monday.

"We are going to organize National Guard; we work with the building unions and private developers to find existing facilities that could most easily be adapted to medical facilities," Cuomo said.

Cuomo explained that the New York State now has 53,000 hospital beds and 3,000 intensive care unit beds. Meanwhile, some 40 to 60 per cent of the more than 18 million population of New York might contract the COVID-19.

"Take a hospitalization rate of our sample of about 17 per cent and then compare that to 50,000 hospital beds. You will then break in a sweat," Cuomo said.

At this point, New York City needs to find 5,000 additional beds, Westchester County 2,000, while both Nassau and Suffolk 1000 hospital beds, according to Cuomo.

New York has so far confirmed 950 cases of the COVID-19, with seven deaths. Out of the 950 people who contracted the virus, 158, or 17 per cent, are hospitalized.

16:56 GMT 16.03.2020
16:53 GMT 16.03.2020

BEIJING (Sputnik) - Chinese President Xi Jinping in phone talks with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Monday said that China would send another group of medical experts as well as medical products to Italy to help combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.

"In the near future we will send an additional group of experts to Italy, as well as provide medical supplies and other humanitarian aid in scope of our possibilities," Xi said as quoted by the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

The president added that thanks to the efforts, the epidemiological situation in China had improved as important intermediate results have been achieved, and the country's socio-economic development is being gradually restored.

16:50 GMT 16.03.2020

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has cancelled its scheduled hearings until the end of April, as part of a range of emergency measures announced on Monday amid the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, the court announced in a press release.

"The premises of the European Court of Human Rights are no longer accessible to the public and the hearings scheduled for March and April are cancelled, pending further decisions," the statement read.

Priority cases and other essential activities will be conducted by video conference while the premises are not publicly accessible, the ECHR said in the statement.

Additionally, the ECHR has suspended the six-month time limit for filing applications, while the time limits in proceedings that have currently been filed are also suspended for one month.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) also announced on Monday the cancellation of the spring plenary session, which was scheduled to take place from April 20-24, due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.

"PACE President Rik Daems consulted the Bureau of the Assembly before taking the decision, which is aimed at protecting the safety and well-being of Assembly members, guests and staff," a press release on the assembly’s official website read.

Leonid Slutsky, head of the Russian lower house's foreign affairs committee, told reporters on Friday of PACE’s planned cancellation of the spring plenary session.

On March 9, PACE announced the postponement of all meetings of its parliamentary assembly and subsidiary bodies until the end of March.

According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, 57,771 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the EU, UK, and countries part of the European Economic Area as of 07:00 GMT on Monday.

16:39 GMT 16.03.2020

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The rector of Episcopal Christ Church Georgetown Timothy Cole, who became the first confirmed patient with the coronavirus decease (COVID-19) in Washington, remains in the hospital in stable condition, church spokesperson Rob Volmer said on Monday.

"Our rector is in stable condition at Georgetown University hospital in the intensive care unit," Volmer said.

Five other people, including an organist and four parishioners, who also tested positive, are in stable condition, he added.

"Some of them are at home in isolation with mild symptoms, which do not require hospitalization," Volmer said.

The church remains closed since the beginning of the outbreak. Volmer expressed doubts that it will be opened by April 12 when Western Christians celebrate Easter.

"It does not look that we will be opened for several more weeks," he said.

Volmer noted that church activists established good communication between parishioners through phone calls, emails and social media.

"The response has been very nice," he said. "We have come together as a group like never before. It has actually brought us closer together."

Washington authorities said there are 18 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the city, as of Sunday.

16:32 GMT 16.03.2020

Sudan will close all its airports and border crossings on the ground except for humanitarian and commercial shipments amid the new coronavirus fears, Reuters reported, citing a spokesman for the country's ruling council. 

16:23 GMT 16.03.2020

Portugal and Spain have agreed to suspend all passenger air and train traffic between them starting from 2300 GMT Monday until 15 April amid the new coronavirus pandemic, Portugal's Interior Minister Eduardo Cabrita said. 

16:17 GMT 16.03.2020
16:02 GMT 16.03.2020

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The Central Bank of Russia announced on Monday it had decided to cancel the International Financial Congress and the Summer Macroeconomics School, which were expected to be held in July, due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

"Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Bank of Russia had to cancel its plans for the International Financial Congress, the Summer Macroeconomics School and the International Research Conference, which were set to take place in Saint Petersburg in July 2020. There are no plans to re-schedule these events for any other dates in 2020, and the dates of the International Financial Congress 2021 will be announced by the end of December 2020," the bank said in a statement.

16:00 GMT 16.03.2020

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The number of confirmed coronavirus disease cases in the United Kingdom has risen to 1,543 on Monday, an increase of 171 in the preceding 24 hours, the Department of Health and Social Care reported.

Government officials did not confirm an increase in the death toll, which stood at 35 on Sunday.

On Thursday, the government announced that it was moving from the “contain” phase of controlling the outbreak to the “delay” phase. The chief medical officers also raised the risk to the UK from moderate to high.

According to The Guardian newspaper, this new phase also means that people who are displaying mild symptoms of the disease will be instructed to self-isolate at home and will not be tested for COVID-19 unless they are hospitalised.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said on Friday that schools in the UK would not close until specific guidance is given by the chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance and the chief medical officer for England Chris Whitty.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will hold a press conference later in the day after chairing a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee to discuss measures to control the spread of the disease.  

15:58 GMT 16.03.2020
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15:52 GMT 16.03.2020

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - Some 550 parishioners from Christ Church in Georgetown, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in the US capital, remain in self-isolation, church spokesperson Rob Valmer said on Monday.

"We have 550 people who are in the self-isolation. They are at home - no work, no schools, no trips to the grocery stores," Volmer said. "We tried to provide them a lot of information through phone calls, emails and social media."

As of Sunday, Washington, DC's authorities confirmed 18 cases of infection with the novel coronavirus in the city.

In this Saturday, March 14, 2020 photo, a sign reads, Holy Water Not Available in the baptismal font of the St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church in Washington, which is closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. - Sputnik International
15:52 GMT 16.03.2020

"The US Department of State authorised the voluntary departure of non-essential US government personnel and family members with high-risk medical conditions for COVID-19," the embassy said. "Authorised departure will be via commercial passenger services until such services are suspended."

15:51 GMT 16.03.2020

"The heads of state exchanged information on measures taken in Russia and Estonia to prevent the further spread of coronavirus infection. Some specific issues of cooperation in this regard were discussed," the press service said in a statement. 

15:50 GMT 16.03.2020

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Tanzania has confirmed its first case of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), media reported on Monday, citing the nation’s Health Ministry.

According to the Citizen newspaper, a 46-year-old woman, who arrived in Tanzania from Belgium on Sunday, tested positive for COVID-19.

The coronavirus-infected patient has also recently visited Sweden and Germany, the newspaper added.

More than a dozen African countries have already reported COVID-19 cases, with Egypt and South Africa being the most affected.

15:31 GMT 16.03.2020

President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen has announced a temporary ban on non-essential travel to the EU, adding that there will be exemptions for EU citizens returning home and health care workers. 

15:20 GMT 16.03.2020

The death toll from the novel coronavirus outbreak in Italy's northern region of Lombardy has risen by 202 in the past 24 hours to 1,420, Reuters reported, citing sources with access to the information. 

14:33 GMT 16.03.2020

BRUSSELS (Sputnik) – Closing borders within the European Union is not the best measure to contain the further spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), European Commission chief spokesman Eric Mamer said on Monday.

“The Commission’s position, the assessment that we have is that the virus is, at the moment we speak, already present in all European member states. And therefore, that closing borders is not necessarily the best way of ensuring that we can contain further the outbreak within the European Union,” Mamer said at a briefing.

At the same time, the commission recognizes that by shutting borders, the member states act “in accordance with the information that they had” to do what they considered as the best to protect the health of their citizens, the official said.

“The issue is how do we ensure that taking into account the measures, which have been announced by a large group of the member states, we can continue to meet the twin objective … [to] ensure that hospitals, health systems, in general, and patients receive the support that they need and …[to] keep essential goods flowing through the market that is required for the economy to function,” Mamer added.

On Sunday, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said that the commission approved new rules for exporting outside the EU medical products needed to combat COVID-19. In particular, it is now necessary to obtain a special government permit to export medical masks, gloves and protective clothing. At the same time, the European Commission insists on maintaining the free movement of these goods within the EU.


14:18 GMT 16.03.2020

The Russian Ministry of Sport has decided to cancel all international sports events on the country's territory from Monday until a special authoriыation due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) spread in the country.

"To cancel, from March 16, 2020, and until a special authorization, the holding of all the international sports events on the territory of the Russian Federation, including the participation of foreign sports persons (coaches and experts) in all-Russian sports events with foreign participation, which were previously planned," the Russian Ministry of Sport said in its statement, tasking regional sports federations and executive authorities with controlling the implementation of this decision.

The ministry also recommended restricting, from Monday, the organiыation of all-Russian sports events, which are not related to the selection process for the upcoming Olympics.

Russia's COVID-19 total stands at 93.

14:04 GMT 16.03.2020

"All outdoors events with citizens' participation in the spheres of culture, physical culture, sports, exhibitions, entertainment and enlightenment are banned, regardless of the number of participants. The events held inside buildings are banned if the number of participants exceeds 50 simultaneously," Moscow Mayor Sobyanin said in a statement.

13:57 GMT 16.03.2020
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13:18 GMT 16.03.2020
Indians wear masks inside Government Medical College hospital in Jammu, India, Monday, March 16, 2020. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some, it can cause more severe illness, especially in older adults and people with existing health problems. - Sputnik International
13:09 GMT 16.03.2020

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Transport for London (TfL), the agency responsible for the city’s transportation system, estimates that the fall in passenger income due to the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak could reach 500 million pounds ($616 million) as the numbers of tourists, business travellers and people commuting to work decrease, according to a press release on Monday.

"Our best forecast, based on government scenarios, is that the financial impact of the coronavirus could be up to £500m", TfL’s Chief Finance Officer Simon Kilonback said in the press release.

In the previous week, there was a 19 percent reduction in passenger travel on the London Underground and a 10 percent drop in passenger numbers on the capital’s buses when compared to the same period a year ago, TfL reported.

The transport authority cited a significant drop in international and domestic visitors to the UK capital in accounting for the reduction in passenger income. Additionally, more companies are asking employees to work from home, while TfL reported a reduction in off-peak demand, potentially due to customers refusing to travel or being more frugal.

Despite the projected losses, Kilonback stated that TfL had contingency plans in place to manage the ongoing situation. However, London’s transport authority is calling on the government to resume funding.

"We manage our finances prudently, and have reduced our deficit hugely in recent years. This means that we can manage the impacts on our passenger numbers and finances that are currently envisaged. But, given the nature of the situation, we will be looking to the Government to provide appropriate financial support," TfL’s Chief Finance Officer said.

In 2015, then-Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin announced that the government would remove an annual operating grant worth 700 million pounds annually as part of plans to make TfL self-sufficient.

Leading public health officials in the United Kingdom have predicted that the coronavirus disease outbreak will continue to cause disruption for another twelve months, according to a secret Public Health England briefing seen by The Guardian newspaper.

As of 09:00 GMT on Sunday, the UK Department of Health and Social Care has confirmed 1,372 cases of COVID-19 in the country, resulting in the deaths of 35 people; a rise of 14 compared to figures released 24 hours before.

13:08 GMT 16.03.2020

ANKARA - Turkey will begin evacuating its citizens from Germany on Tuesday due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Turkish Ambassador to Berlin Ali Kemal Aydin said on Monday.

“Several thousand Turkish citizens will be flown to Turkey tomorrow,” Aydin told Turkish NTV channel.

As of March 15, there are 4,838 confirmed cases with 12 fatalities in Germany.

13:08 GMT 16.03.2020

BEIJING (Sputnik) - The United States’ complaint against China over the latter’s claim about the US military’s role in bringing the coronavirus to Wuhan is unfounded, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Monday.

On Thursday, Spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry Zhao Lijian said that the US military could have brought the coronavirus to Wuhan, where the COVID-19 pandemic is believed to have originated. He published several posts on Twitter claiming it was, in fact, the United States that was the initial hotbed of infection. The following day, the US State Department summoned the Chinese ambassador over China's "blatant, global" disinformation campaign.

"Some time ago, the US side, both in Beijing and in Washington, lodged an unreasonable protest with China in connection with the issue you have mentioned. The Chinese side, in turn, lodged a reciprocal protest with the United States in connection with attempts by a number of high-ranking US officials to denigrate China," Geng said at a briefing, when asked a relevant question.

According to Geng, China hopes that the United States will stop making defamatory statements, especially with regard to its efforts to combat the ongoing epidemic.

Over 81,000 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed on mainland China, with the death toll standing at just over 3,200, according to official figures. On the global scale, the virus has infected nearly 170,000 people and killed over 6,500.

13:07 GMT 16.03.2020

MOSCOW (Sputnik) –  Afghan public servants from vulnerable groups are required to work from home for three weeks starting Monday amid the coronavirus outbreak, media reported.

The guidelines were issued by the Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission for pregnant employees and those aged 58 to 65, the 1TV News said.

Employees who have recently returned from countries with confirmed coronavirus cases have been told to use their annual paid leave and self-isolate for 14 days.

Afghanistan has reported 21 cases of infection with the potentially lethal virus, which has spread to 146 countries and territories since it emerged in China in December.

13:03 GMT 16.03.2020
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12:48 GMT 16.03.2020

BANGKOK - Thirty-three new cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) have been registered in Thailand, raising the overall number to 147, Health Ministry spokesman Taweesilp Witsanuyotin said during a press conference on Monday.

Earlier in the day, the spokesman for the prime minister's office said that the country had canceled events for the national holiday of Songkran, which was set to take place 13-15 April.

He stressed that all of the new patients had come into contact with people who were previously infected either in Thailand or abroad.

The spokesman noted that the country currently has the spread of the virus under control, but is likely to enter a phase in which it is no longer possible to trace its spread.

Nevertheless, Thailand has enough medical supplies, hospital beds, and food supplies to face that stage of the outbreak, the spokesman assured.

Meanwhile, the city of Buriram, which serves as the capital of the eponymous province, has become the first city to be shut down in the country, according to the Thai Rath newspaper. The decision was made by the province’s governor, despite the city having no confirmed COVID-19 cases.

12:48 GMT 16.03.2020

CHISINAU (Sputnik) - The number of confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Romania has increased to 158, media reported on Monday, citing the government working group dealing with the disease outbreak.

According to Digi 24 broadcaster, about 3,000 people in Romania are on quarantine, while 15,500 others are in self-isolation at home.

The country's law enforcement authorities have opened three criminal cases against those who impede the fight against the spread of coronavirus.

Starting from Monday, Romania has introduced a state of emergency. The Romanian authorities have also suspended air, bus and rail traffic with Italy.

A man wearing protective gear sprays chemicals during the disinfection of a popular market, part of the efforts to limit the spread of the Coronavirus, in Bucharest, Romania, Sunday, March 15, 2020. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some it can cause more severe illness - Sputnik International
12:47 GMT 16.03.2020

"Currently, Russia has registered 93 [coronavirus cases], per the statistics. Four of them have recovered and have been discharged, 79 are hospitalized," Golikova said during the first meeting of the coordination council on prevention of the spread of the COVID-19 in Russia.

She added that Russia is working on developing up to 100 thousand coronavirus infection test-systems per day.

Meanwhile, two former COVID-19 patients have been discharged from Botkin Clinical Infectious Diseases Hospital in St. Petersburg, according to its chief, Denis Gusev.

12:26 GMT 16.03.2020

KIEV (Sputnik) – The Ukrainian capital will limit the movement of people between it and other cities as a part of new measures aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Kiev Mayor Vitaliy Klichko said on Monday.

So far, Ukraine has confirmed five cases of the disease on its soil, and none of them in the capital.

“The capital continues to protect [the people] and prevent a situation where the coronavirus potentially spreads. The municipal authorities are strengthening restrictive measures in Kiev ... Strict and timely measures are crucial to curb the rapid spread of COVID-19 in the capital,” Klichko said, as quoted by the city’s administration.

According to the mayor, Kiev is also suspending cultural, sports, social, religious and other large-scale public events starting from Tuesday.

“Fast food facilities, restaurants, cafes, bars will not operate. They will be able to accept online food delivery orders,” he said, adding that shopping centres, gyms, salons and entertainment venues will also stop working.

However, Klichko said that grocery and hardware stores, pharmacies, gas stations, banks and ATMs will remain open.

12:25 GMT 16.03.2020

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Austria has registered about 100 new cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) over the last 24 hours, which brings the total tally of those infected to 959, the Health Ministry said on Monday.

According to the ministry, over 8,400 people across the country have been tested for the disease, 959 of them positive. Six patients have recovered and one person died.

In addition, Finance Minister Gernot Blumel said on Monday that the authorities would allocate an additional 2 billion euros (over $2.2 billion) to help companies affected by the pandemic.

12:25 GMT 16.03.2020

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The number of coronavirus cases in Jordan has climbed to 16, the country’s Health Ministry said Monday hours after it placed the number at 15, media reported.

According to the state Jordan News Agency, four new cases overall were detected since Sunday, when the number stood at 12.

The announcement comes a day before the country is set to enforce a travel ban on all flights coming in and going out of the country.

The number of cases remains less than that of neighboring Israel, where over 250 cases have been confirmed so far, and Saudi Arabia, with over 110 cases. No cases have been detected in Syria.

12:23 GMT 16.03.2020

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Japanese lawmakers may postpone the planned state visit of Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako to the United Kingdom due to the ongoing spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Japan’s Kyodo News agency reported on Monday citing sources close to the matter.

The emperor and empress had accepted an invitation from Queen Elizabeth II to travel to the UK for what would be their first official overseas engagement since Naruhito become emperor this past May.

“It will be best for the emperor and empress to make their trip in conditions preferable to both Japan and Britain,” the source said, as quoted by the agency.

Naruhito and Masako’s proposed state visit, the first by a sitting Japanese emperor to the UK in over two decades, was announced by Buckingham Palace on January 14. According to the agency, the visit was scheduled to take place between April and June.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in both Japan and the United Kingdom has risen steadily since the start of the outbreak. As of noon local time [03:00 GMT] on Monday, the Japanese government has confirmed over 1,500 cases of the coronavirus disease in the country, including over 700 people who contracted the disease while travelling on the Diamond Princess cruise ship. More than 30 people have died after testing positive for COVID-19 in Japan.

As of 09:00 GMT on Sunday, the UK Department of Health and Social Care has confirmed 1,372 cases of COVID-19 in the country, resulting in the deaths of 35 people; a rise of 14 compared to figures released 24 hours before.

12:10 GMT 16.03.2020

PARIS/MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The global outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has caused mass delays of space launches, the company that operates the spaceport in Kourou, Arianespace, said Monday.

As of Sunday, French Guiana, where the spaceport is located, had seven confirmed cases, according to the World Health Organisation.

According to the press release of Arianespace, ongoing launch preparations in French Guiana have been suspended and will resume when it becomes possible.

The company said the measures were motivated by the need to protect the staff and local residents.

A source at the spaceport revealed that the delays would concern Vega launch planned for 24 March as well as Russia's Soyuz with UAE Eye-2 satellite, scheduled for 14 April. Another Soyuz launch, with France's CSO-2 satellite, expected in late May is also likely to be postponed, according to the source.

11:49 GMT 16.03.2020
11:45 GMT 16.03.2020

The German state of Bavaria has declared a state of emergency due to the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Markus Soder, the state’s minister-president, said on Monday.

“We have decided that we are declaring an emergency starting today. You are already aware of the emergency in certain districts. We are declaring an emergency for the whole of Bavaria,” Soder said at a press conference in Munich, adding that the measure would take effect immediately.

He added that Bavaria had created an emergency fund of up to 10 billion euros ($11.1 billion) to deal with the health and economic consequences of the outbreak.

Soder stressed that the Bavarian authorities will not leave anyone in dire straits, be it citizens or small- and medium-sized companies.

According to Germany’s Robert Koch Institute, Bavaria has 886 confirmed cases as well as four fatalities as of Sunday. The country as a whole has confirmed 3,795 cases and eight deaths, which includes Bavaria’s figures, according to the World Health Organization’s latest statistics.

11:26 GMT 16.03.2020

TEHRAN (Sputnik) - At least 129 people have died from the coronavirus infection (COVID-19) in Iran in the course of the past 24 hours and 1,053 new cases of the disease have been confirmed, bringing the total number of those infected in the country to 14,991, Alireza Vahabzadeh, an adviser to Iran's health minister, said on Monday.

"Over the past day, 1,053 new cases of coronavirus have been registered, bringing the total number of those infected to 14,991. Over the past 24 hours, 129 people have died bringing the total number of fatalities to 853," Vahabzadeh said on Twitter.

According to the adviser, 4,996 people have recovered from the disease.

11:26 GMT 16.03.2020

MADRID6 (Sputnik) - The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) case count increased by 1,000 in 24 hours in Spain and reached 8,744, Fernando Simon, the director of the Center for Coordination of Health Alerts and Emergencies of the Ministry of Health, said Monday.

The outbreak has claimed 297 lives in Spain since it started, Simon said.

Spain is the second hardest-hit country in Europe in terms of the number of cases.

10:53 GMT 16.03.2020
10:52 GMT 16.03.2020

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - There have been no decisions and no ideas on potential introduction of the state of emergency in Russia amid the global outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday.

"There have been no ideas, no reason, no decisions on this," the spokesman told reporters.

Russia is counting on Belarus' understanding with regard to the measures that the country is taking to combat the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, Peskov added.

"Russia is taking measures that it considers necessary. We are counting on the understanding of partners, especially our closest partner and ally Belarus, during the pandemic of this coronavirus. We are counting on understanding, but, of course, all countries must take active measures to counter the spread of of this disease," Peskov said.

Earlier on Monday, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said that Russia had decided to close the border with Belarus for people's movement due to the coronavirus spread.

10:47 GMT 16.03.2020

A spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry said that German nationals, who are currently abroad, could be repatriated via the Lufthansa airline if they would like to return to the country.

The German Foreign Office is in talks with airlines on how to repatriate those stranded abroad by the epidemic, the ministry's spokeswoman said Monday.

"We are in dialogue with Lufthansa and other air carriers. We are looking for a solution for Germans stuck abroad," Maria Adebahr said during a press briefing.

A spokesperson for the Robert Koch Institute, a national disease control authority, said earlier in the day that some 5,000 people had contracted the COVID-19 coronavirus disease. The number of virus-related deaths in Germany stood at 12 on Sunday.

10:36 GMT 16.03.2020
10:28 GMT 16.03.2020

SEOUL (Sputnik) - Seoul has expressed its protestations towards China’s decision to place all South Korean citizens arriving in the country in quarantine facilities, rather than trust them to self-isolate, media reported on Monday.

South Korean Ambassador to China Jang Ha-sung called a news conference in Beijing in which he called on the Chinese provincial authorities to allow South Koreans with homes in China to self-isolate, according to South Korean state news agency Yonhap.

Beijing’s municipal authority announced it will place all foreigners from highly affected countries in quarantine facilities beginning on Monday, Yonhap reported, adding that 22 other Chinese provinces followed suit.

“It is difficult to predict whether our request will be quickly addressed as the measures target all travel from across the entire world rather than being limited to specific regions like South Korea and Japan”, Jang was quoted as saying.

The number of cases in China has decreased to a fraction of what it was during the peak last month. Authorities are now taking precautions to prevent the import of new cases from abroad, as clusters of infections have now proliferated in Europe, Iran and other locations.

South Korea briefly became the worst coronavirus-hit nation outside China, but the number of new cases has slowed since the country began aggressive testing and treatment. The number of cases in Italy and Iran has soared past, with thousands of new cases daily as of mid-March.

10:27 GMT 16.03.2020

"The temporary suspension, which will be in effect through 27 March 2020... enables (Fiat Chrysler) to effectively respond to the interruption in market demand by ensuring the optimisation of supply," the company said in a statement.

10:24 GMT 16.03.2020

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The authorities in El Salvador, which has not registered any cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on its soil so far, have introduced a mandatory paid quarantine for pregnant women and people over 60 years old, local media reported on Monday.

According to La Prensa Grafica newspaper, all companies and institutions in the country are required to release the given groups of people to undergo home quarantine while preserving their salaries, regardless of whether they can work remotely.

In addition, Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele said in a televised address that he intended to build the biggest medical center in Latin America capable of receiving 2,000 patients, including 300 in the intensive care unit.

Last week, the authorities closed the country off for 21 days to avert the possibility of the coronavirus disease spreading. In addition, a state of emergency was declared, and the parliament approved a partial suspension of the country's constitution to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. Additionally, public gatherings were banned for 30 days.

10:04 GMT 16.03.2020

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Organisers of the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia said on Monday that they will take this year’s Spring/Summer show online to avoid drawing the large crowds it usually does amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“The Russian Fashion Council, in cooperation with the partners and participating fashion designers of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia, together made a difficult decision to cancel events previously announced to take place from March, 31 to April 4, 2020, at Moscow’s Manege”, a statement published on Monday read.

The Council said it held consultations with Russia’s consumer watchdog, Rospotrebnadzor, which is in charge of the coronavirus situation in the country, and Moscow’s Health and Safety Services before deciding to cancel in-person events in favor of online-only shows this fashion season.

“We are hereby announcing that we are moving all activities of this Fashion Week to an online-only basis for this season. That way, we can guarantee a non-contact, completely safe way to provide our designers with the showcase space they need for this season”, Alexander Shumsky, the president of the Russian Fashion Council said in the statement.

Mercedes-Benz sponsors similar fashion events to showcase the work of local designers in Australia, Germany, Mexico, Turkey and other nations, all of which have yet to announce their coronavirus-related changes in plans.

Russia has reported nearly 70 confirmed cases of infection with coronavirus, with no deaths registered so far. Most of the country has taken extensive precautionary measures and enforced medical preparedness in tandem with the rest of the world.

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