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A man wears a raincoat to protect himself at the vegetable market that opened for few hours following the lockdown imposed by the government amid concerns about the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Kathmandu, Nepal, 25 March 2020. - Sputnik International

Live Updates: Markets Surge as US Reaches Deal on COVID-19 Bill

The number of people infected with the new type of coronavirus worldwide has exceeded 375,000; over 16,000 have died, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in its daily coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) situation report.

The European countries and the United States remain at the forefront of the coronavirus pandemic; meanwhile, the number of cases is rapidly growing at an increasing rate in other parts of the world.

The worst-affected countries after China, where the virus first appeared, are Italy, the US, Spain and Germany.

Countries around the world are strengthening their efforts and taking new measures to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

China announced on Wednesday the lifting of tough restrictions on the province of Hubei, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, after a months-long lockdown as the country reported no new infection cases.

The US registered the first case where a teenager died from the virus since the beginning of the outbreak in the country.

The total number of cases globally has reached 372,757, most have been registered in Europe - more than 195,000.

The global death toll has reached 16,231, of which more than 10,000 deaths have been in Europe.

The World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic on 11 March. 

Table of contents
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18:59 GMT 25.03.2020

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - US state of Virginia confirmed Wednesday 5 new deaths caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) in last 24 hours.

"Yesterday afternoon two deaths were reported, and this morning we heard about three additional deaths," state epidemiologist Lilian Peak said during press briefing.

Total number of COVID-19 positive case confirmed in Virginia jumped on 101 on Tuesday, Peak noted.

"That makes the total of 391 Virginians have been diagnosed," she added.

State epidemiologist declined to forecast how soon Virginia will pass the peak of the coronavirus disease.

Total number of COVID-19 cases confirmed in US capital region, including Washington, states of Virginia and Maryland, surpassed 1,000, Washington Post said.

18:44 GMT 25.03.2020

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - US medics forecast a coronavirus expansion to continue across the country within an available three week planning horizon and advocate existing restrictions as the best way to curb the outbreak, US Joint Staff surgeon Paul Friedrichs told reporters on Wednesday.

"I just got an update on modeling factors which very clearly said that they are unable to forecast beyond three weeks from the data that they had," Friedrichs said at a Pentagon briefing. "From a three week perspective based on the planning factors that we have we think we are going to continue to see this - no surprise - continue to grow."

President Donald Trump suggested earlier the US and its economy may be freed of coronavirus-related restrictions by Easter, celebrated on April 12 - just in 18 days.

"We think the best way to limit that growth or to mitigate that growth are the measures that we have been talking about. I don’t think there is a great deal of value speculating on a particular date," Friedrichs said. "What we need to do is focus on what we individually and collectively can do today to mitigate this outbreak."

If successful in doing that, Americans may "in three or four weeks" see positive changes with the outbreak flattened and a number of cases going down, he added.

18:38 GMT 25.03.2020

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - Number of coronavirus cases jumped beyond 60,000 in the United States with over 800 fatalities, Johns Hopkins University revealed on Wednesday.

US reached 60,155 confirmed cases and 827 deaths of the infection, putting it in third place globally.

18:36 GMT 25.03.2020

TORONTO (Sputnik) - Canadians returning from abroad will be required to self-isolate for 14 days in accordance with the Quarantine Act starting tonight, as the country takes further steps to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Health Minister Patty Hajdu said, testifying before the Senate on Wednesday.

“As of tonight, it will be mandatory for anyone returning to the country to isolate for 14 days under the Quarantine Act,” Hajdu said.

Hajdu added that returnees are asked to avoid isolating in the residences where there may be a vulnerable individual – a senior or someone with underlying medical conditions – and not to use public transport to get home upon arrival in Canada.

The minister added that far too many Canadians returning home do not take into account the severity of the situation.

Earlier on Wednesday, it was revealed that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada has more than doubled to 3,197 since Monday.

According to Johns Hopkins University, there are more than 436,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infections worldwide while the number of fatalities is approaching 20,000.

18:33 GMT 25.03.2020

NEW YORK (Sputnik) - The number of people infected with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the US state of New Jersey has risen to 4,402, while 62 people have died, Governor Phil Murphy said in a press briefing on Wednesday.

"We’ve received 736 new positive COVID-19 test results since yesterday, bringing our total to 4,402," Murphy said. "Sadly, we have learned of 18 additional deaths. To date, that means 62 of our fellow New Jerseyans have passed due to COVID-19-related complications."

New Jersey is the second state after neighboring New York in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases across the country. In New York, 30,811 cases have so far been recorded, with 285 deaths.

Meanwhile, the number of coronavirus cases jumped beyond 60,000 in the United States with over 800 fatalities, Johns Hopkins University revealed on Wednesday.

US reached 60,155 confirmed cases and 827 deaths of the infection, putting it in third place globally.

18:30 GMT 25.03.2020
18:18 GMT 25.03.2020

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Singapore's Health Ministry reported 73 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, the Asian city-state's biggest daily increase.

"As of 25 March 2020, 12pm, [04:00 GMT] the Ministry of Health (MOH) has confirmed and verified an additional 38 imported and 35 local cases of COVID-19 infection in Singapore," the ministry said in a statement.

The total now stands at 631. Seventeen patients are in a critical condition and two have died, while 160 fully recovered.

More than a half of the new cases have been imported from Europe, North America, ASEAN countries and other parts of Asia.

Health experts have been warning of a second wave of epidemic in Asia as nationals are being repatriated from abroad.

Singapore has closed the borders and banned gatherings of more than 10 people, shut movie theaters, nightclubs, bars and discos in an effort to limit the spread of the virus.

18:09 GMT 25.03.2020

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Synagogues in Israel will close to the public as part of stringent social distancing measures announced by the Israeli government on Wednesday to combat the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), with public prayer only being permitted in open spaces, according to an official government statement.

The measures, which allow citizens to leave their homes for non-essential purposes only for a short time and up to a distance of 100 meters from their residence, entered into force at 17:00 local time (15:00 GMT), according to the statement.

The government announced that public prayer in Israel is now only allowed in open spaces. The Haaretz newspaper later confirmed that these measures would also temporarily prohibit public prayer at the country’s synagogues.

Public transportation service has also been reduced to 25 percent of normal capacity, and taxis will be allowed to travel only with one passenger, unless a medical escort is required, the government announced.

Those who are leaving their residence for medical appointments, donating blood, and legal proceedings will be allowed to do so, according to the government statement.

According to the latest figures from the Israeli Ministry of Health, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country has risen above 2,000.

18:07 GMT 25.03.2020

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday has praised over 400,000 people who applied to volunteer to provide vital community assistance to the National Health Service (NHS) amid the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.

During a daily press briefing alongside Chief Medical Officer for England Chris Whitty and the government’s top scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance, Johnson admitted that the government was initially hoping for 250,000 volunteers in a call issued by Health Secretary Matt Hancock on Tuesday.

"When we launched the appeal last night, we hoped to get 250,000 volunteers over a few days, but I can tell you that in just 24 hours, 405,000 people have responded to the call. They will be driving medicines from pharmacies to patients, they will be bringing patients home from hospital, very importantly, they will be making regular phone calls to check on and support people who are staying on their own at home," Johnson stated.

The prime minister added that these volunteers would be a crucial part of ongoing efforts to combat the spread of the disease.

In turn, Whitty stated that the acquisition of suitable number of kits to conduct tests on NHS employees currently in self-isolation, in order to allow them to return to work or to receive the treatment they needed, was a top priority for the government.

As of Tuesday, 8,077 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the UK since the start of the outbreak, an increase of 1,427 in the preceding 24 hours. The death toll has now risen to 437 after health authorities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland on Wednesday confirmed that 15 more people had died after contracting the disease.

18:04 GMT 25.03.2020

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin said Wednesday all eating-out spots should be closed during the non-working week, adding that the city authorities would soon announce additional restrictions.

President Vladimir Putin said earlier on Wednesday that the entire nation would have paid holidays in the week starting March 30 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease.

According to Sobyanin, it is necessary to "consider additional measures for these holidays."

"We will consider these measures and tell you about them tomorrow, I hope," the mayor said as aired on TV Centre broadcaster, adding that the steps would concern food venues.

"I think food venues, available to everyone, should not be working during these days, restaurants, cafes and so on. Canteens — sure, public restaurants — no," the mayor said.

The mayor will consider closure of shopping malls — with an exception for first-necessity stores — and central parks.

17:30 GMT 25.03.2020

BERLIN (Sputnik) - The number of coronavirus patients in Germany looks set to reach 70,000 by the end of this week, the president of the German Hospital Federation predicted on Wednesday.

The Robert Koch Institute for disease control has recorded 31,554 cases of COVID-19, more than 4,000 than on Tuesday. The death toll stands at 149.

"I estimate that we are on the way toward having some 70,000 confirmed infection cases by the end of the week," Gerald Gass told the Funke media group.

He said the real number could be ten times higher than the official statistics because many cases likely went unreported.

"We expect that in the medium term the infection rate will slow down due to social distancing. But it will not have a significant impact on the number of registered infection cases before the start to the middle of next week," he added.

The German parliament passed the government's debt-financed supplementary budget bill earlier in the day that will allow new borrowing of $168 billion to cushion the blow from the coronavirus outbreak to the economy.

17:26 GMT 25.03.2020

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - US President Donald Trump will confer with presidents and prime ministers of the world’s wealthiest nations on Thursday in an attempt develop a global path to battle the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), White House spokesman Hogan Gidley announced in a statement.

"President Donald J. Trump will participate in a video teleconference with G20 leaders tomorrow as part of the ongoing effort to coordinate an international response to the coronavirus pandemic," Gidley said on Wednesday.

As of noon Wednesday, the virus had infected more than 435 million people in 171 nations with the global death toll approaching 20,000, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Scientists are unsure when the epidemic will subside, although data released by two nations – China and South Korea – appears to show success in slowing the contagion.

17:25 GMT 25.03.2020

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - A number of the novel coronavirus cases in the United States has reached 54,453 with 737 fatalities, according to a report published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday.

“Total cases: 54,453,” the report said. “Total deaths: 737.”

The CDC noted that the numbers were collected from 54 jurisdictions - all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the US Virgin Islands.

“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,” the CDC said.

According to the report, 584 are travel-related cases, 986 are close contact cases, while 52,883 are under investigation.

According to the most recent statistics compiled by Johns Hopkins University, a number of confirmed cases in the United States is now 55,568 with 809 fatalities.

17:08 GMT 25.03.2020
17:00 GMT 25.03.2020

PARIS (Sputnik) - French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Wednesday warned his fellow citizens that the crisis caused by the COVID-19 outbreak has only just begun and stated that the fight against the disease will be a protracted one.

"This is a health emergency which concerns all of us, but it is also an economic shock, a social shock. We are only at the beginning of the crisis," Philippe said during a press briefing.

He added that President Emmanuel Macron had asked to resort to all necessary long-term measures.

"That is why I am telling the French: we are preparing for long-term efforts and we will have to stand against [COVID-19] together," Philippe said.

The prime minister noted that the cabinet of ministers had adopted 25 decrees within the framework of the emergency, with one of the goals being to minimize serious social and economic damage caused by the self-isolation of the population as much as possible.

According to the French Health Ministry, there are 22,300 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country, with the death toll standing at 1,100.

16:59 GMT 25.03.2020

NEW YORK (Sputnik) - Density control measures imposed across the US state of New York to slow the spread of the coronavirus infection (Covid-19) appear to be working, with the hospitalization rate now doubling at a slower rate of 4.7 days, Governor Andrew Cuomo said at a press briefing on Wednesday.

“The evidence suggests that the density control measures may be working,” Cuomo said. “This past Sunday, the projection was that hospitalizations were doubling every two days. On Tuesday, the projection suggested that the hospitalizations were doubling every 4.7 days.”

The hospitalization rate of patients infected with Covid-19 currently stands at 12 percent, with 3,805 people now receiving treatment in medical facilities, whereas just a week ago, the rate was at 23 percent.

On Friday, Cuomo put New York state on the so-called PAUSE, which ordered 100 percent of the non-essential workforce to stay home, prohibited non-essential gatherings, enforced strict social distancing of at least six feet and introduced fines for those not complying with these policies.

On March 22, a statewide stay-at-home order went into effect at 8 p.m.

16:58 GMT 25.03.2020

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The US state of Maryland has registered 423 cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and decided to extend the closure of public schools until April 24, Governor Larry Hogan said during a press briefing on Wednesday.

"As of this morning, Maryland has 423 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and additional 74 cases in the past 24 hours," Hogan told reporters. "This is the largest one-day rise to date."

The governor pointed out that only two out of Maryland’s 24 jurisdictions are free from the novel coronavirus.

Hogan noted that Maryland has confirmed four deaths from the COVID-19 infection.

During the briefing, Public Schools Superintendent Karen Salmon announced that the current school closure in Maryland will be extended until April 24.

Solomon said the decision to extend the closure was made after lengthy discussions with health experts to make all students continue distance education during the epidemic.

Hogan and Salmon did not rule out the possibility of additional extensions if the situation requires such moves.

The governor also said that he has called on US federal government to provide greater assistance to the states.

"I have formally submitted a request for a presidential disaster declaration to help provide funding for state and local governments, non-profits," Hogan said.

Maryland has received $4 million in federal assistance for providing food and other aid for elderly residents, Hogan added.

16:57 GMT 25.03.2020

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The number of people who have died after contracting the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the United Kingdom has risen to 437, after health authorities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland confirmed 15 more deaths since the UK Department of Health and Social Care most recently updated its official statistics on Tuesday evening.

As of 09:00 GMT on Tuesday, the UK death toll stood at 422 according to official government statistics. Since then, health authorities across the UK have reported 15 more deaths, with an update from the National Health Service in England expected later in the day.

On Wednesday, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon gave a speech that addressed the ongoing efforts to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. She confirmed that the death toll in Scotland now stood at 22, a rise of six overnight.

The death toll now also stands at 22 in Wales, after public health authorities in the country confirmed five deaths overnight.

Northern Ireland’s Public Health Agency has also reported four deaths since the government’s last official update, raising the death toll in the country to seven.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday urged people to leave their houses only for essential purposes, such as shopping for basic needs, in order to prevent the further spread of the disease.

According to the government’s last update on Tuesday, 8,077 people have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the outbreak.

16:57 GMT 25.03.2020

TORONTO (Sputnik) - The number of confirmed novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Canada has increased to 3,197, Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo told reporters on Wednesday.

"In Canada, as of this moment, there are 3,197 cases of COVID-19 and 27 deaths," Njoo said.

The number has more than doubled from the 1,474 confirmed COVID-19 cases announced on Monday.

16:41 GMT 25.03.2020
16:11 GMT 25.03.2020

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's second test for COVID-19 came back negative, a government spokesman said in a statement, as quoted by Reuters. 

He added that Merkel will undergo another test at the beginning of next week.

"The chancellor continues to work from home quarantine," the spokesman said. 

Angela Merkel has been self-quarantining after receiving a precautionary vaccine against pneumococcal infection from a doctor who was later found to have the virus.

15:59 GMT 25.03.2020

BERLIN (Sputnik) - The German parliament on Wednesday adopted a set of measures to support the economy worth 156 billion euros, or about $168 billion, amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The parliament session was aired live by the Phoenix broadcaster.

On Friday, representatives of the regional parliaments will have their say on the decision.

The set of measures includes initiatives to support families, self-employed and businesses.

15:55 GMT 25.03.2020

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state of New York stands at 30,811, with 17,856 of them in New York City, governor Andrew Cuomo said. 

15:42 GMT 25.03.2020

GENOA (Sputnik) - Head of the Department of Civil Protection of Italy Angelo Borrelli has fever and is suspending daily press conferences on the situation with COVID-19 starting Wednesday, the department said in a statement.

"This morning the Head of the Department of Civil Protection, Angelo Borrelli, suffered from fever and, as a precaution, left the headquarters of the Department. Because of this weakness, the daily press conferences on the coronavirus emergency at 6 pm will be suspended starting from today," the statement reads.

Borrelli's updates have been at the center of global attention as the world watched Italy wrestle with its severe coronavirus outbreak, by far the worst outside of China. Italy's infection count is almost 70,000, while China stands at around 81,000 with most people now recovered. Italy has seen thousands of deaths from the infection and less than 10,000 have recovered.

15:37 GMT 25.03.2020

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during phone talks on Wednesday exchanged information about measures introduced in both countries to counter the spread of coronavirus, the Kremlin’s press service said.

“In line with the ongoing confidential dialogue reflecting the special nature of the Russian-Indian strategic partnership, Vladimir Putin and Narendra Modi informed each other in detail about the measures introduced in both countries to counter the spread of this infection," the press service said in a statement.

According to the statement, Putin and Modi also agreed to strengthen coordination of efforts in the fight against the coronavirus threat.

15:29 GMT 25.03.2020

According to the daily newspaper Postimees, the deceased was an 83-year-old patient who died in Tallinn. There are currently 404 cases of the coronavirus infection in the country.

15:22 GMT 25.03.2020

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have called for the suspension of debt payments by poor countries that have received lending under the International Development Assistance (IDA), amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

“With immediate effect — and consistent with national laws of the creditor countries — the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund call on all official bilateral creditors to suspend debt payments from IDA countries that request forbearance,” a joint statement by the two world bodies said. “This will help with IDA countries’ immediate liquidity needs to tackle challenges posed by the coronavirus outbreak and allow time for an assessment of the crisis impact and financing needs for each country.”

According to the IMF, IDA support is extended first and foremost on a country’s relative poverty, defined as GNI per capita below an established threshold and updated annually, or $1,175 going by fiscal year 2020.

“The coronavirus outbreak is likely to have severe economic and social consequences for IDA countries, home to a quarter of the world’s population and two-thirds of the world’s population living in extreme poverty,” the statement said.

There are 761 countries currently eligible to receive help from IDA, which supports nations, including several small island economies, that are above the operational cutoff but lack the creditworthiness needed to borrow from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the IMF added.

“The World Bank Group and the IMF believe it is imperative at this moment to provide a global sense of relief for developing countries as well as a strong signal to financial markets,” the statement said. “The international community would welcome G20 support for this Call to Action.”

The two world bodies urged that they be tasked by G20 leaders to assess countries with unsustainable debt situations and prepare a proposal for comprehensive action by official bilateral creditors.

15:15 GMT 25.03.2020

BERLIN (Sputnik) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese President Xi Jinping discussed in phone talks on Wednesday the situation around the global spread of COVID-19, the press service of the German Cabinet reported.

"Chancellor Angela Merkel held a telephone conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping to exchange views about the urgent international challenge associated with the COVID-19 pandemic," the press service said in a statement.

According to the statement, both leaders "agreed that the current crisis situation can be resolved only through close international cooperation."

15:13 GMT 25.03.2020

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - South Korean President Moon Jae-in plans to tell other G20 leaders about Seoul's experience in containing the spread of COVID-19 during the upcoming virtual summit, his office said on Wednesday.

The summit on COVID-19 will be held on Thursday via video conference at the initiative of Saudi Arabia, which currently chairs the group.

"President Moon Jae-in is expected to share with the international community the Republic of Korea's experience in an effective response to COVID-19 in his summit speech," the presidential office said in a statement.

The president is expected to discuss the government's rapid response measures, the development and implementation of self-diagnosis applications, and the public's voluntary activities. He will also talk about measures to support small businesses and vulnerable groups.

There have been 9,137 confirmed COVID-19 cases in South Korea, with the death toll standing at 126.

15:11 GMT 25.03.2020

BERLIN (Sputnik) - The German vice chancellor and finance minister, Olaf Scholz, urged the parliament on Wednesday to pass the cabinet's extra budget bill that would raise the borrowing cap to deal with what he called an unprecedented crisis.

"We are living in a crisis like no other in the republic's history. This crisis is big, bigger than anything we have recently experienced, and it is also a fateful challenge for humanity," he said.

He said the nation faced trying times, but assured the parliament that new forms of work and communication would help it get through the health crisis and come out of it with valuable experience.

"We are doing what is needed and what it takes to mitigate economic and social consequences of the crisis. We are in uncharted waters. There is no ready plan that we can simply follow right now. We must take all aspects of life into account and come up with clever solutions in an incredibly short time," he said.

The government has come up with a big action plan for addressing the multi-pronged task of guaranteeing medical assistance to infected people, providing a lifeline to affected households and stabilizing the economy to secure jobs.

"We will do this with the help of an enormous sum of money, very fast," he said, referring to the cabinet's bill that seeks an extra 156 billion euros ($168 billion) in new borrowing, almost half the normal annual budget.

"That is why we are putting to a vote today a supplementary budget bill... I ask you to do it today, on behalf of the federal government," he added.

The government will also disburse 3.5 billion euros to buy protective gear and other essentials for hospitals and laboratories, and sponsor vaccine research. The number of beds in intensive care wards will be doubled.

The provision of basic income benefits and child support will be streamlined, and those who cannot pay rent will be given payed holidays. Companies will meanwhile pay lower taxes to secure their liquidity.

14:49 GMT 25.03.2020

VILNIUS/BELGRADE/CHISINAU (Sputnik) - Two more people diagnosed with COVID-19 have died in Lithuania, which brings the death toll to four, the authorities said on Wednesday.

One fatality is a patient who was in a risk group from the city of Panevezys, according to the Health Ministry. The other victim, also in a risk group, underwent treatment in a hospital in the town of Ukmerge, located 50 miles northwest of Vilnius.

In total, the Baltic nation has had 255 coronavirus cases as of Wednesday morning.

Slovenia, meanwhile, reported its fifth fatality caused by the coronavirus. According to the Health Ministry, the victim is an elderly man who died in a virus-stricken nursing home in the northeastern municipality of Smarje pri Jelsah.

The country has registered 50 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, which brought the total to 528. Seventy-three of those infected are medical staff.

Romania, in turn, has updated its case toll to 906. Eighty-six have recovered, and 13 people have died, according to the Health Ministry.

14:47 GMT 25.03.2020

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike urged the city's residents to observe home quarantine over the coming weekend after a record number of new COVID-19 cases had been registered in the past three days, state-run broadcaster NHK reported on Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, the Tokyo authorities confirmed more than 40 more coronavirus cases on Wednesday, the largest one-day spike the city has seen so far. On Monday and Tuesday, 16 and 17 coronavirus cases, respectively, were reported from Tokyo.

Koike also urged residents to work at home as much as possible during the working days and recalled that those coming back from abroad must self-quarantine for 14 days.

On Tuesday, the International Olympic Committee and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed to postpone the Olympic Games, which were previously scheduled to be held in Tokyo this summer, for 2021 due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

To date, the Japanese authorities have confirmed 1,193 coronavirus cases in the country and 43 fatalities.

14:45 GMT 25.03.2020

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The US Department of Defense on Wednesday reported 94 new coronavirus cases, bringing to 435 the number of its infected servicemen and civilians, one of whom died of the disease.

According to a Covid-19 fact sheet distributed to the media daily, among the military there are 227 cases, an increase of 53 since the last reporting. The figure includes 19 recovered patients. The rest are civilian personnel, dependents and contractors.

Last Sunday, the Department of Defense reported its first coronavirus death, a contractor of over 60 who had worked outside the Pentagon building.

According to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, there are 55,243 confirmed disease cases in the US with 802 deaths from COVID-19.

14:20 GMT 25.03.2020

BEIJING (Sputnik) - Commercial air traffic with China's Wuhan, the initial epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, will partially resume starting from 8 April, excluding international flights and flights to Beijing, deputy head of China's Hubei provincial transportation authority said on Wednesday.

"Starting from midnight on April 8, Wuhan airport will resume commercial passenger air traffic with the exception of international flights and flights to and from Beijing," Wang Benju said at a press conference.

Wuhan, the origin of the new coronavirus that led to the current pandemic, has been practically isolated from the world since 23 January.

With the peak of the epidemic in China already over and only few new cases being reported daily, Wuhan's center for COVID-19 prevention and response said on Tuesday that the Chinese government would lift on April 8 the restrictions on transportation to and from the city. Meanwhile, the health authorities of Hubei province, where the city is located, said they were planning to cancel bans on travel to and from the province, with the exception of Wuhan, starting this Wednesday. China Railway also announced plans to partially restore train traffic with Wuhan starting from 28 March.

14:19 GMT 25.03.2020

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Ethiopia will pardon more than 4,000 prisoners to minimize the threat of the COVID-19 spreading in the country’s correctional facilities, media reported Wednesday.

According to Ethiopian broadcaster Fana, Attorney General Adanech Abebie told a news conference that President Sahle-Work Zewde had approved a list of 4,010 inmates to be released.

Most of those pardoned have either served a majority of a three-year sentence for nonviolent crimes or are pregnant women and mothers behind bars, the broadcaster reported.

Abebie added that pardoned foreigners will be returned to their countries of origin.

Iran similarly released 85,000 prisoners earlier this month in a bid to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the country. However, Iran stopped short of pardoning the prisoners, saying it expected them back behind bars in late April.

Ethiopia has so far confirmed 12 cases of coronavirus infection with no related deaths registered.

14:15 GMT 25.03.2020

TORONTO (Sputnik) – Canada's House of Commons has approved the C$82 billion ($56 billion) economic support package announced last week by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Government House Leader Pablo Rodriguez said in a statement on Wednesday.

The emergency spending bill has drawn outrage from the opposition after it was revealed that the governing Liberal Party sought to include provisions that would have granted Trudeau and his cabinet sweeping new powers for the next 21 months.

“It's done. The House has adopted the emergency support announced to face COVID-19. It's now up to the Senate. We will work day and night so that Canadians receive as quickly as possible the help they critically need. We will be there for you,” Rodriguez said in a statement via Twitter.

13:55 GMT 25.03.2020

The Saudi authorities have taken new measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic, including an exit ban for the residents of the cities of Riyadh, Mecca and Medina, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.

According to the state media, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud issued a decree that also prevents the residents of 13 districts from leaving and going to other areas, and limits entry to Riyadh, Mecca and Medina.

The new rules will take effect at 3 p.m. local time (12:00 GMT) on Thursday, the agency added. At the same time, the ban on leaving houses and moving along the streets of the designated three cities will be in force not from 7 p.m. local time to 6 a.m., as previously, but from 3 p.m. to 6 a.m.

To date, the country has registered over 770 cases of the disease and one fatality.

13:49 GMT 25.03.2020

The Palestinian authorities have confirmed two new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of those infected in the Palestinian territories to 62, spokesman for the Palestinian Authority Ibrahim Melhem said on Wednesday.

"Two new cases of the coronavirus infection in the Palestinian territories were confirmed. The number of those infected has increased to 62 people, including two cases in the Gaza Strip," Melhem said in a statement.

The spokesman added that 16 patients had already recovered.

According to the most recent statistics compiled by Johns Hopkins University, over 435,000 coronavirus cases and over 19,500 fatalities have been confirmed globally to date.

12:14 GMT 25.03.2020

The Spanish army has asked its NATO partners for coronavirus testing kits, ventilators and protective gear as part of the alliance's international assistance arrangements, Spanish armed forces chief Miguel Villarroya said.

12:03 GMT 25.03.2020

Russian President Vladimir Putin will present measures for supporting the national economy amid the coronavirus outbreak in his address to the nation, upper house speaker Valentina Matviyenko said on Wednesday.

"Today, after 15:00 Moscow time [13:00 GMT], Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin] will deliver his address to citizens. I ask all the senators to watch it in their studies," Matviyenko told upper house lawmakers.

She expressed the belief that Putin would outline measures for supporting business and the economy.

11:54 GMT 25.03.2020

Thailand is imposing a ban on entry to and exit from the country starting on midnight of March 26, according to a coronavirus response center's decree, signed by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

"To ban entry to the Thai territory and exit from the Thai territory through all the border check points, including airports, sea and river ports, and land borders, starting on midnight of 26 March 2020, and until a special order by competent authorities," the decree read.

Some exceptions will be made, including for people who have a special permit from the prime minister or other officials; diplomats; international organization staffers; and other categories.

11:33 GMT 25.03.2020
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08:22 GMT 25.03.2020

US President Donald Trump expressed his support for the decision to postpone the Tokyo Olympic Games to 2021 in a telephone conversation with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Wednesday, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said.

"President Trump repeatedly said the postponement was a very wise and great decision, and he expressed support for the prime minister's stance," Suga said at a news briefing in Tokyo, as quoted by the Kyodo news agency.

The two leaders also agreed to cooperate on their coronavirus response and vaccine development, Suga added.

On Tuesday, the International Olympic Committee came to an agreement with Japan to put the Games off by one year as the coronavirus pandemic continues to grip the world and restrict global travel.

08:21 GMT 25.03.2020

Maoist guerrillas in the Philippines have declared a truce in fighting with government forces following the UN chief’s call for an "immediate global ceasefire" amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The relevant order was issued by the Communist Party of the Philippines to its armed wing, the New People's Army. It came after UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Monday called for a global cessation of hostilities in light of the pandemic. The government itself announced a unilateral ceasefire back on March 19 to ensure an effective COVID-19 response. The measure will be in place until April 15.

"By way of direct response to the call of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres for a global ceasefire between warring parties for the common purpose of fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) hereby orders all commands and units of the New People’s Army (NPA) and the people’s militias to observe a nationwide ceasefire that will take effect from 00:00H of 26 March 2020 to 23:59H of 15 April 2020," the Communist Party said late on Tuesday.

The measure aims to ensure "unhampered and immediate medical, health and economic assistance, support and movement of the people brought about by the exigencies of the current Covid-19 worldwide pandemic" both at home and abroad, it added.

08:04 GMT 25.03.2020

The Russian government is preparing the second package of measures to support the national economy amid the coronavirus pandemic, the deputy speaker of the upper chamber, Nikolai Zhuravlev, said on Wednesday.

"Today, the government is preparing the second package of measures for supporting citizens and the effective demand, a list of systemically important companies has been compiled," Zhuravlev said at a meeting of the upper house.

Lawmakers are asking the government to include regional enterprises on the list and to pay special attention to construction and small businesses, he added.

Zhuravlev warned against spreading disinformation, which may stir panic. He cited media reports about alleged restrictions on ATM cash disbursement as an example.

"This is absolutely not true. This is only about banknotes disinfection. We have been in contact with the Central Bank and have received clarifications," the lawmaker said.

08:01 GMT 25.03.2020

President of Panama Laurentino Cortizo announced the introduction of unlimited mandatory quarantine, banning movement of people excepting cases of urgent necessity, as part of measures to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

"As a government, we are responsible for keeping the lives and health of Panamanians safe at all costs. Starting from 05:01 a.m. [10:01 GMT] on Wednesday, March 25, I declare a mandatory total quarantine in the country for an indefinite period," Cortizo said on Twitter.

Only institutions providing essential goods and services will continue to operate in the country, including supermarkets, pharmacies and veterinary clinics. Movement and mass events of citizens are limited. Starting from 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. a curfew is in effect in the country.

The government has also introduced measures to support small businesses and redundant workers.

07:40 GMT 25.03.2020
07:25 GMT 25.03.2020

The Public Health Ministry of Thailand said on Wednesday it had registered 107 new coronavirus cases over the past day, bringing the total number in the country to 934.

"Today, 107 more cases of the coronavirus infection were registered. The cumulative toll in Thailand since the start of the epidemic has reached 934," the ministry's spokesman, Taweesin Wisanuyothin, told reporters.

According to the spokesman, 13 people have recovered and been discharged from hospitals over the past 24 hours.

He specified that out of the 107 new cases, 67 people were hospitalized after showing positive test results for COVID-19.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said on Tuesday that starting from March 26 a state of national emergency would be declared to prevent the further spread of the disease.

06:56 GMT 25.03.2020
06:53 GMT 25.03.2020

New Zealand has declared a national emergency as the number of coronavirus cases has crossed 200, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Wednesday.

“Today, a state of national emergency has been declared across New Zealand… we have all of the legislative means possible, all of the enforcement powers, all the tools we need at our disposal to combat the spread of COVID-19,” Ardern said in a televised statement.

The prime minister said that the declaration would give civil defense emergency services sweeping powers to manage product distribution, control border crossings, remove people and vehicles from any premises if need be.

The country’s Health Ministry on Wednesday reported 50 new cases of the coronavirus infection, taking the total number to 205 with no deaths reported so far.

06:41 GMT 25.03.2020

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has partnered with tech giants like Facebook, Microsoft, TikTok, WeChat and Pintrest for a global hackathon called #BuildforCOVID19.

The WHO has asked developers to build software solutions that drive social impact, with the aim of tackling some of the challenges related to the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

06:40 GMT 25.03.2020

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has signed a decree on allocating 1.4 billion rubles ($17.85 million) to the Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing (Rospotrebnadzor) for developing means of COVID-19 prevention and diagnostics.

"To allocate to Rospotrebnadzor in 2020 1.4 billion rubles in budget assignations from the government's reserve find for implementing works on developing means of prevention and diagnostics of the new coronavirus infection," the decree, published on the website of the Russian cabinet, read.

06:19 GMT 25.03.2020

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in South Africa has jumped from 554 to 709 over the past 24 hours, with no fatalities reported, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize told the SABC news channel on Wednesday.

"We are now at 709 cases," he said, noting that "quite an increase" in cases is expected in the days to come.

According to the minister, there have been no COVID-19 deaths so far. Only two patients are in intensive care units. He also urged people returning from abroad to honor quarantine and discouraged everyone from traveling.

The minister also pointed to an increase in local transmission of the infection.

05:46 GMT 25.03.2020

The Democratic Republic of the Congo has declared a state of emergency and put the capital city of Kinshasa under lockdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic reaching the African country, media reported.

According to the latest data, 45 cases of COVID-19 were registered in the DRC days after the first case was reported, of which three were fatal.

The decision was announced on Tuesday by President Felix Tshisekedi, who criticized citizens’ lack of adherence to advice from governments and health professionals in recent days, according to Kinshasa Times.

Congolese Armed Forces and police will patrol streets of the 11-million-strong capital to ensure the quarantine is being observed, the newspaper quoted the president as saying.

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