Coronavirus: Iran calls on army for help as 23 MPs infected | News | DW | 03.03.2020
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Coronavirus: Iran calls on army for help as 23 MPs infected

Iran has confirmed its armed forces are available to assist health officials. European governments are hurrying to control the spread of COVID-19 as Italy's death toll jumped to 79

- The number of infections stands at 90,900 globally, with over 3,000 deaths

- China has reported a slowdown in the number of cases

- WHO says outbreaks in South Korea, Italy, Iran and Japan are its greatest concern

- In Germany, 188 people have contracted the virus

All updates in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC/GMT).

Read more: What you need to know about the coronavirus

23:55 We are now closing Tuesday's live updates on Coronavirus. Please check for further updates.

22:40 Amid concerns over infection rates, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank have canceled in-person events for their upcoming Spring Meeting in April.

"Like everyone else around the world, we have been deeply concerned by the evolving situation of the coronavirus and the human tragedy surrounding it," IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva and World Bank Group President David Malpass said in a joint statement.

21:56 The World Bank announced an initial $12 billion (€10.7 billion) of immediate funds to assist countries grappling with the health and economic impacts of coronavirus.

21:11 Ireland has confirmed its second case. "Today we are confirming that Ireland has diagnosed one new case of COVID-19. The case arises in a female in the east of the country and is associated with travel from Northern Italy," Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer with the Department of Health, said.

On Monday, Holohan tweeted, stressing the importance of coronavirus patient confidentiality.

20:45 The Indian navy said it was calling off a multinational exercise because of the virus. The MILAN 2020 exercise "has been postponed, taking into consideration the safety of all participants and travel restrictions imposed by the spread of COVID-19," the Indian navy said in a statement. The navy said the exercise will be rescheduled for a more convenient date.

Warships and navy personnel from in excess of 40 countries had been invited to take part in the event, according to Indian media.

The occasion was scheduled to begin on March 18, lasting for 11 days, off the coast of Visakhapatnam, a port city in Andhra Pradesh.

20:28 An update on the post from 13:44 today is that the lawmaker from the state of Thuringia, Germany, has tested negative for the coronavirus, meaning Wednesday's regional elections will probably go ahead as planned.

The politician, a member of Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union, had been in quarantine since going on a skiing holiday in Italy with a 57-year-old man from Thuringia who was found to have been infected. The lawmaker will now be released from the confinement.

20:08 Argentina's Health Minister Gines Gonzalez Garcia has said the country has its first coronavirus case.

20:03 Washington state health officials have confirmed the total number of coronavirus-related deaths to be 9.

19:50 Algeria has revealed three new infections, bringing the total number of people who have the virus to eight, the health ministry confirmed in a statement. Seven of the eight cases are from the same family.

19:19 Spain has confirmed its first death from the virus, a Valencian official confirmed.

19:05 Germany is "doing everything to ensure that the virus will not impact the German economy on a broad scale," Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said. "We're prepared and determined to avoid a possible crisis and secure employment and domestic production."

18:49 France now has 212 infections, the head of the country's public health service has confirmed.

18:35 From this coming Sunday all schools and higher educational institutions in United Arab Emirates will be closed to avoid spreading the coronavirus.

18:02  India has said it can no longer export 26 pharmaceutical ingredients, including Paracetamol and numerous vitamin B compounds, due to the coronavirus outbreak which will disrupt global supply chains. The move amounts to 10% of the country's drug exports. Indian pharma companies get almost 70% of their active ingredients from China, the country where the outbreak erupted more than two months ago.

17:54 Porsche CEO Oliver Blume told DW that the outbreak poses "a big challenge for the world." Blume praised Germany's reaction to the virus, while admitting the car manufacturer was "worried worried about" the effects of the virus. He added: "Talking concretely about Porsche, we closed dealerships in February in China and lost the majority of our sales."

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17:35 Pope Francis has tested negative for the coronavirus, an Italian newspaper has reported. The pope is suffering from a cold and recently canceled all public meetings until further notice.

17:15 Italy, the hub of Europe's outbreak, has announced the death toll has risen to 79. That's a jump of 27 deaths in the last 24 hours.

17:05 The World Health Organization's (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has been speaking about "rapidly depleting" supplies to help protect health workers and volunteers. The WHO chief told reporters: "We cannot stop Covid-19 without protecting our health workers."

Tedros also spoke about the soaring prices of equipment, stating surgical masks had increased six-fold, tripled for respirators and more than doubled for medical gowns. 

16:51 Spain's health minister has recommended next week's Champions League tie between Valencia and Atalanta, due to be held in the Spanish city, be played behind closed doors.

Meanwhile, Japan's Olympic minister has suggested the Tokyo Games, due to start on July 24, could be postponed in response to the outbreak. Seiko Hashimoto told parliament: "The IOC has the right to cancel the games only if they are not held during 2020. This can be interpreted to mean the games can be postponed as long as they are held during the calendar year."

Watch video 02:06

IOC set to discuss coronavirus and Tokyo Olympics

16:30 Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell said its emergency interest rate cut will give a "meaningful boost to the economy." The Fed reacted to the epidemic by lowering its key interest rate by a half point to a range of 1.0-1.25.

However, the central bank's chair recognized "a rate cut will not reduce the rate of infection, it won't fix a broken supply chain."

15:33 French authorities will requisition all face mask stocks and production in the coming months, President Emmanuel Macron said on Twitter. "We will distribute them to health professionals and to French people infected with the coronavirus," the French president posted.

Panic-buying among French citizens has led to some stores and online retailers running out of masks and others to hike prices.

15:24  Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has placed the armed forces on alert to assist health officials in the Islamic Republic. The supreme leader announced the decision after state media showed footage of the 80-year-old planting a tree wearing disposable gloves, ahead of Iran's "National Tree Planting Day."

Khamenei concluded: "Whatever helps public health and prevents the spread of the disease is good and what helps to spread it is sin."

The official alert came as Iranian media reported that 23 members of parliament now had the virus. This was confirmed by the chief of the country's emergency services.

15:08  Here are the latest updates on how the virus is affecting the sporting world:  Coronavirus: Updates from the world of sports

14:59 The financial world fears a repeat of the 2008 crisis and the WHO warns of being in "uncharted territory."

13:51 One day before a vote to elect the next premier of Thuringia, a CDU member for the eastern German state's parliament has been quarantined. A spokesperson from the state health ministry said the MP spent the winter holidays skiing in Italy with a 57-year-old man who became infected with the virus. The results of a test are expected to be available later Tuesday.

The ministry spokesman said it was unclear how a positive result would affect the election on Wednesday. 

Bodo Ramelow of the socialist Left party is expected to win the poll with support from the Social Democrats and the Greens. The CDU has agreed to abstain in the vote in exchange for an arrangement for early elections next year.

13:44 Officials say a German cruise ship carrying 1,200 people is waiting off the coast of Norway while two German passengers undergo testing on land for the coronavirus. The results are expected later today.

The two individuals aboard the Aida Aura had apparently been in contact with a third person a week ago who had tested positive for the virus.

"The guests were contacted by health authorities in Germany as part of a routine investigation into a medical situation. All guests on board have already been informed about this. All passengers remain on board, visits on land aren't taking place,'' the cruise company said in a statement.

13:26 German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD) has said on Twitter that G7 ministers agreed to monitor the outbreak very closely.

"Should the need arise, we have all the means to counter a global downturn," Scholz added.

13:17 Finance officials from the Group of Seven countries have pledged to take all possible steps to protect the global economy from the coronavirus outbreak. Central bank governors and finance ministers from the group of major economies, known as the G7, held a meeting via conference call on Tuesday.

"Given the potential impacts of COVID-19 on global growth, we reaffirm our commitment to use all appropriate policy tools to achieve strong, sustainable growth and safeguard against downside risks,'' a joint statement from the United States, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Canada said.

Read moreWill COVID-19 exacerbate drugs shortage in Germany?

13:03 The head of Iran's emergency medical services has been infected with coronavirus, according to the semiofficial ILNA news agency. 

ILNA cited a statement from the body saying that Pirhossein Kolivand's "health is good and there is no need for concern."

Iran's Health Ministry says 77 people have died from the virus there — the highest number outside of China. More than 2330 people have been infected. 

12:37 German politicians are urging Chancellor Angela Merkel's government to take steps to safeguard the economy from virus-related shocks. In an interview with the German press agency dpa, the leader of the business-friendly Free Democrats (FDP) called for an "anti-crisis package," including fiscal measures to encourage investment.

"The protection of the population comes first. But we must also react to the possible economic consequences," FDP head Christian Lindner said. 

His comments were echoed by Markus Söder, the leader of the Christian Social Union — the Bavarian sister party of Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU). 

"We now have to think about stimulus packages," Söder told the Münchner Merkur newspaper on Tuesday. "This should include significantly lower energy prices and corporate taxes, but also investments."

12:33 Saudi Arabia is telling citizens and residents to postpone any nonessential travel to Germany and France due to the spread of the coronavirus in those European countries. The kingdom confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Monday, along with Andorra, the Czech Republic, Indonesia, Jordan, Latvia, Portugal, Tunisia and Senegal.

Read more: How long is the coronavirus incubation period?

12:24 France has closed about 120 schools in the north of the country, affecting around 35,000 students. Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said more could be shuttered in the coming days.

France has reported 191 cases of the virus and and three deaths.

12:17 Ukraine has reported its first coronavirus case. Health officials there say a man who recently arrived from Italy had COVID-19 symptoms.

Read moreHow coronavirus is affecting the world of sports

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11:54 The Leipzig Book Fair in eastern Germany is being canceled due to the virus outbreak, according to a spokesperson.

The event is the second-largest of its kind in Germany, and was scheduled to take place from March 12-15 with a focus on works from southeastern Europe. It had been expected to draw 2,500 exhibitors from 51 countries, as well as thousands of visitors.

11:15 The European Union has activated its crisis response mechanism to allow for faster decision making in coordinating a response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The European Council, which represents member states, said the process, known as "Integrated Political Crisis Response," would allow the EU to focus on "important gaps" and also involve neighboring countries such as Britain or Switzerland.

10:37 England's chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, has told a press conference that it's unlikely Britain would lock down any cities to prevent coronavirus from spreading, but he added that the government would keep its options open.

"Locking down a city is most useful when it is starting in one place with a high transmission in that place and nowhere else," Whitty said. "It seems unlikely we will be in that situation in the medium to long term future."

10:32 The British government has announced a "battle plan" to deal with the spread of the coronavirus. The measures outlined in the plan include possible school closures and allowing employees to work from home.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was "highly likely" the number of virus cases would rise from the current tally of 39, and warned that as many as one-fifth of employees could be sick and absent from their workplaces during "peak weeks" of the outbreak.

10:15 Read how things unfolded on Monday here.

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ed, jsi, nm/msh (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)