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Coronavirus latest: Italy seeks EU permission for extra borrowing

Italy, the worst hit country in Europe as yet, is seeking the green light for a larger budget deficit after closing its schools and universities. A German industry body is wary of losses. All the latest from DW here.

  • Coronavirus, also called COVID-19, is the biggest threat to Germany's economy, the Federation of German Industries said 
  • There are more than 95,000 cases globally with over 3,200 dead, mostly in China
  • US Congress approved an $8 billion aid package
  • Italy's death toll reaches 148, up from 107 on Wednesday

All times in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC/GMT)

Read more: Coronavirus: How can I protect myself from infection?

21:57 Brazil has confirmed its eighth case of coronavirus, taking the total number in Latin America to 36. Six of the cases in Brazil are in Sao Paulo state, while Rio and Espirito Santo states have one case each, the country's Health Ministry said.

21:52 US military laboratories have started receiving their own testing kits to determine whether American troops have coronavirus, officials said, after relying on outside testing measures. However, the testing capacity is still limited, as is the distribution of the test kits, they say. 

20:56 Ireland has reported the first community transmission of coronavirus, not associated with travel from Italy on Thursday. The case marks Ireland's 13th infection. 

20:43 Costa Rica has reported a suspected case of the novel coronavirus in a woman returning from a trip to Italy and Tunisia. The Costa Rican Health Ministry confirmed the 52-year-old had returned from her trip on February 29 without showing symptoms. 

20:07 Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has declared a 30-day state of emergency over coronavirus.

20:06 Hungary has confirmed a third case of coronavirus, after a Hungarian man who returned from Milan on February 29 tested positive.

19:52 Next week's session of the European parliament will be moved from Strasbourg to Brussels due to "significantly higher health risks," the chamber's Speaker David Sassoli announced on Thursday.

"The situation related to the spread of the infectious disease caused by the novel coronavirus COVID-19 has evolved over the last few days and hours. In particular, new infection clusters have been confirmed and case numbers are rising," he said in a statement.

However, Arnaud Danjean, a French MEP, decried the decision as "ridiculous, scandalous and irresponsible." 

"How is Brussels less exposed than Strasbourg?" he tweeted.

There are already two cases of coronavirus in Brussels, and a total of 50 in Belgium.

19:43 Russia has canceled its annual St. Petersburg International Economic Forum this year as a precaution against coronavirus, according to First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov.

19:26 The Vatican said it was considering changes to Pope Francis' schedule to "avoid the dissemination" of coronavirus. Official spokesman Matteo Bruni said the measures will cover "the activities of the Holy See and the Vatican City state in the coming days." Pope Francis is currently 83 years old. 

Pope Francis delivers a prayer in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican.

Pope Francis delivers a prayer in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican. He is currently 83 years old.

19:25 Moscow has announced a "high alert regime" and imposed extra measures to prevent the spread of the virus, including mandatory home quarantines for Russians returning from China, South Korea, Iran, France, Germany and Italy.

19:23 US Vice President Mike Pence has said the US does not have enough coronavirus tests to meet anticipated demand.

19:19 US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Thursday that he expected the Pentagon to be able to keep carrying out its core functions in the event of a coronavirus outbreak at the military headquarters, where 22,000 people work every day.

19:17 The Paris marathon has been postponed from April 5 until October 18 over coronavirus fears.

18:42 France has said that seven people have died from coronavirus in the country. It has also confirmed 423 total coronavirus cases, 138 more than the previous day.

A view of the Pitie-Salpetriere hospital, where a second person died of coronavirus on February 25 in Paris, France.

A view of the Pitie-Salpetriere hospital, where a second person died of coronavirus on February 25 in Paris, France

18:34 Saudi Arabia has denounced Iran for granting Saudi citizens entry without stamping their passports.

17:47 Every scheduled concert for Taiwan's National Symphony Orchestra has been canceled after it performed with a visiting Australian musician who was later found to have coronavirus. Twenty-one people were asked to quarantine at home after they were found to have had contact with the musician. 

However, "the audience should be safe because they are more than two meters away from the stage," Taiwanese Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-Chung said.

17:47 The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the US state of New York has doubled to 22, said Governor Andrew Cuomo. "The number will continue to go up," Cuomo said. "The more you test the higher number you will have."

17:33 Bangladeshi officials say they have quarantined a Filipino crew of 20 on board their cargo ship after three crew members were suspected of having contracted coronavirus. 

17:26 The United Kingdom has confirmed its first coronavirus death, according to England's chief medical officer Chris Whitty. "I am very sorry to report a patient in England who tested positive for COVID-19 has sadly died," he said in a statement, adding that the patient, who died at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, was elderly and had "underlying conditions."

"We believe they contracted the virus in the UK and contact tracing is already underway," he said. The hospital said in a statement, "The patient has previously been in and out of hospital for non-coronavirus reasons, but on this occasion was admitted and last night tested positive for coronavirus."

17:22 Spain has reported 10 new cases of coronavirus, the region's social affairs authority said on Thursday. The cases include 10 residents of a Madrid nursing home and a health worker. Tests will be carried about on the rest of the residents of the nursing home. Spain currently has 234 active cases, while three people have died. 

17:19 Exxon Mobil says it will reduce the number of oil rigs operating in the Permian Basin, an oil-rich region along the borders of New Mexico and Texas, amid sinking oil prices due to the coronavirus. The price of a barrel of oil has fallen by more than 20% since the start of the year, and by 8% in the last month.

17:15 Kuwait has suspended a decision requiring passengers from some countries to provide embassy-approved certificates saying that they are coronavirus free.

People wear protective masks while they play cards in a coffee shop in Salmiya, Kuwait on February 26.

People wear protective masks while they play cards in a coffee shop in Salmiya, Kuwait on February 26

17:14 The US state of New York has confirmed two more cases, bringing the total number in the state to 13.

17:10 The death toll in Italy has reached 148, up from 107 on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the total number of confirmed cases has risen to 3,858, up from 3,089 the previous day.

17:05 Sweden has confirmed 28 new cases in the Stockholm region, with the total national number of cases at 88.

17:02 World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva that he was concerned that a "long list" of countries were not showing the "level of political commitment" needed to "match the level of the threat we all face."

"We're concerned that some countries have either not taken this seriously enough, or have decided there is nothing they can do," he said, adding that the virus can only be contained using aggressive measures. 

16:25 Bulgaria has declared a nationwide influenza epidemic to deal with the rapid rise in type B flu cases, the country's health minister said. The Health Ministry detected nearly 4,000 cases of the flu, but the number of infected patients rose drastically over the past few days. The Balkan country has not yet been hit with any coronavirus cases.

16:20 The coronavirus death toll in Lombardy, the Italian region hardest-hit by coronavirus, has risen to 98 from 73 the day before. 

16:10 Saudi Arabia emptied the Kaaba, a part of Mecca's Grand Mosque, for sterilization. The emptying Islam's holiest site came after the kingdom suspended the year-round umrah pilgrimage. The Kaaba structure is usually packed with thousands of pilgrims. However, the upper floors of the Grand Mosque remained open.

16:04 The Italian government is asking the EU for permission to increase its 2020 budget deficit by around 0.35% of GDP to help manage the effects of coronavirus, Economy Minister Roberto Gualtieri said. The deficit is currently set at 2.2%. Gualtieri said the money would be used to support the health service and civil protection agency, while also helping families, workers and businesses.

16:01 The total number of confirmed cases of coronavirus across the United Kingdom rose to 115, up from 85 a day earlier, the health ministry said. 

16:01 Portugal's TAP Airline has canceled around 1,000 flights in March and April, equivalent to about 4%-6% of its total capacity, the airline said. 

15:55 Russia required the mandatory disinfection of ships arriving at the Black Sea ports of Novorossiiysk and Yuzhnaya from Iran, Italy and South Korea, according to Reuters.

15:48 US Health Secretary Alex Azar said the US will have shipped enough coronavirus tests for 75,000 people to public health labs by the end of the week, adding that a private CDC contractor aims to ship out enough tests for about 400,000 people to other labs, also by the week's end. 

15:44 The overall fatality rate for coronavirus is between 0.1% and 1%, said Assistant Health and Human Services Secretary Brett Giroir.

15:41 Italy has decided to postpone a March 29 constitutional referendum due to coronavirus, said Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

A person walks in front of a school in the small town of Bareggio, near Milan, Italy on February 29. Milan is a part of Italy's hardest-hit Lombardy region.

A person walks in front of a school in the small town of Bareggio, near Milan, Italy on February 29. Milan is a part of Italy's hardest-hit Lombardy region.

15:41 The risk to the US as a whole from coronavirus is still low, according to US Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci.

15:32 Italy has set aside €7.5 billion ($8.4 billion) to help the economy with losses due to coronavirus. 

15:28 The NATO headquarters in Brussels confirmed its first three cases of coronavirus. The patients include a civilian employee and two family members. The NATO employee had recently traveled to Italy.

15:11 Italy's concluding rugby match against England in the Six Nations Championship on March 14 has been postponed. "Six Nations notes the decree issued by the Italian Government on March 4 with respect to all upcoming sporting events in that country," read a statement issued by Six Nations officials. 

15:03 The three-day Ultra electronic dance music festival in Miami will be postponed indefinitely, over virus fears. The festival was supposed to begin on March 20 and typically draws thousands of people.

15:02 Italy's foreign minister accused CNN of "distorting reality" by suggesting in a map that much of the world was catching coronavirus because of Italy. The map depicted more than 12 red arrows shooting from Italy to other parts of the world, with the caption, "Coronavirus cases linked to Italy." 

14:56 Russia's tourism sector has lost 27 billion rouble (€360 million, $406 million) amid the coronavirus outbreak, according to the head of the Russian Association for Tour Operators.

14:45 Russia's state carrier Aeroflot said it would suspend flights to and from Hong Kong. The route will continue flying from Moscow to Hong Kong until March 7, and from Hong Kong to moscow until March 8.

14:42 Greece has reported 21 new coronavirus infections among a group that had traveled to Israel and Egypt, bringing the total number of cases to 31.

"It was a closed group of people who were on a bus for several days," said Sotiris Tsiodras of the national public health organization. The travelers, who included a priest, had been on a Holy Land trip to Israel and Egypt and returned to Greece on February 27.

14:37 The West Bank has implemented a two-week ban on tourism, and major sporting events and large gatherings. The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, revered as the birthplace of Jesus, was closed on Thursday afternoon and is expected to remain shut until March 20. 

14:23 France has reported two more coronavirus deaths, taking the total in the country to six. Authorities also said that France has registered 92 new cases, bringing the total to 377.

Students and their parents wearing face masks arrive at the Jean-de-la-Fontaine school in Crepy-en-Valois, northern France, while tests are carried out on March 3, following the death of a 60-year-old teacher who worked at the school.

Students and their parents wearing face masks arrive at the Jean-de-la-Fontaine school in Crepy-en-Valois, northern France, while tests are carried out on March 3, following the death of a 60-year-old teacher who worked at the school

14:15 Iran's health minister has advised citizens to avoid using cash. "Cash should be especially avoided, because bank notes and coins could also be a danger," Saeed Namaki told a press conference in Tehran on Thursday.

The ministry also said it had issued instructions for regular disinfection of public places, including public transport and entrances to official buildings. They will also conduct tests on shoppers at the entrances to large malls and on highways. Schools and universities, as well as cinemas and theaters have also been closed. The total number of cases in Iran stands at 3,513, with a total death toll of 107. 

14:07 The South African health minister has confirmed that its first coronavirus patient is a South African national.

14:06 South Korea has declared a "special care zone" around Gyeongsan, a small city about 250 kilometers (150 miles) southeast of Seoul. Being a "special care zone" means that the city is allocated extra resources, such as face masks.

14:06 Lufthansa has canceled all flights to Israel until March 28, after Israel banned travelers from Germany, Switzerland and Australia. The airline said in a statement that it was "forced to make this cancellation for economic and operational reasons, as many passengers are no longer entitled to enter the country."

13:53 The number of confirmed coronavirus infections in the Netherlands has doubled to 82, according to Dutch health authorities.

13:00 A popular full-moon party in Thailand that normally attracts around 10,000 visitors has been cancelled due to coronavirus fears. 

12:45 Iran is setting up checkpoints between major cities and asking people to avoid using paper money to try to curb the spread of the deadly virus in the country. 

12:23 South Africa has reported its first case of coronavirus.

12:15 The head of the UN's food aid agency said coronavirus could mean "absolute devastation" in Africa and parts of the Middle East if wealthier nations start struggling economically and don't increase aid efforts in countries suffering from hunger.

"If there is an economic downturn, on top of the economic downturn that exists now in Syria and Lebanon, it absolutely could be a catastrophe,'' said head of the World Food Program David Beasley. "I mean absolute devastation. I am very concerned about what would happen in the next six months. You could see destabilization unlike any time period, maybe in my lifetime."

12:10 Iran has reported 15 more coronavirus-related deaths, bringing the national death toll to 107. 

Schools and universities in the country will remain closed until early April, health minister Saeed Namaki said in a press conference. 

 "This virus is highly contagious. It is a serious matter. Do not joke about it," the minister said. 

12:02 Nearly 300 million students around the globe are not at school because of coronavirus, according to the UN agency UNESCO. Schools have closed in dozens of countries in an attempt to slow the spread of the deadly infection. 

"The global scale and speed of the current educational disruption is unparalleled and, if prolonged, could threaten the right to education," the organization's director-general Audrey Azoulay said. 

12:00 Italy's bishops have ordered churches in areas of northern Italy affected by coronavirus outbreaks not to hold Mass during the week, a step that is thought to be unprecedented. 

A man stands outside an empty restaurant in Rome

In Rome, the government has closed schools, universities, and cinemas and encouraged people to stay at home amid the coronavirus outbreak.

11:55 Palestine has ordered hotels in the West Bank to stop accepting foreign tourists. Four suspected cases of coronavirus were discovered in Bethlehem this week. 

The two-week ban will begin on Friday.

11:40 Starting from Monday, Japan will quarantine all arrivals from China and South Korea for two weeks in order to stop the spread of COVID-19. Flights from the two countries have also been limited to just two Japanese airports. 

11:38 UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the UK will not need an extension of the Brexit transition period because of coronavirus. 

11:34 All government-run primary schools in the Indian capital of New Delhi are closing until March 31 as a precaution against coronavirus. 

11:30 France is instituting a price cap on the cost of hand sanitizer. Consumers must not pay more than three euros for 100 milliliters or more than two euros for 40 milliliters. The rule will go into effect on Friday. 

Sanitizer is scarce in France and many other countries. Some sellers have taken to raising the price. 

11:20 Here's a recap of recent major events:

  • The number cases in Germany rose to 349, up from 240 the day before.
  • A 74-year-old woman in Switzerland has died, the first death in the country.
  • Bosnia confirmed its first cases of coronavirus.

11:14  Analyzing movement data collected by mobile phones would be a good way to identify those who may have come in contact with coronavirus patients, Germany's Robert Koch Institute has said. The disease control and prevention agency says the information could help slow the spread of the infection.

President of the Robert Koch Institute Lothar H. Wieler

The president of the Robert Koch Institute Lothar H. Wieler has suggested mobile tracking data could be used to identify people who have come in contact with coronavirus patients.

"We know that it is technically possible," said the institute's president Lothar Wieler, adding that it was another question whether society would be open to that option. 

10:31 Kazakhstan says it is prepared to deport people from countries where coronavirus outbreaks have been detected. 

10:26 The premiere of the new James Bond film "No Time To Die" has been pushed back from April to November over coronavirus fears. 

10:10 Coronavirus has increased the risk of Germany falling into a recession, the Federation of German Industries has said. 

"Not Brexit. Not Trump. It's the coronavirus and its global spread that currently has the greatest negative influence over the economic development in Germany," the federation said in its quarterly statement released Thursday. 

10:05 The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, one of the oldest and most significant places in the history of Christianity, will close due to coronavirus fears. 

09:30 Three districts in Greece have closed schools and banned public gatherings starting from today after a person in the region recently tested positive for coronavirus. 

09:20 Austria has diagnosed 8 new coronavirus cases, taking the national total to 37.

09:11 The number of coronavirus cases in Germany stands at 349, the Robert Koch Institute has announce, up 109 cases from the day before. 

09:01 A person in Switzerland has died of coronavirus, the country's first reported death from the infection. 

08:55 Iraq cancelled Friday prayer in the Shi'ite holy city of Kerbala due to coronavirus concerns. 

08:23 South Korea has reported 322 new coronavirus cases. There are now 6,088 confirmed cases in the country. Authorities had already announced 438 new cases earlier today. 

A South Korean solider puts on protective gear with help from his colleagues as prepares for quarantine work

A South Korean solider puts on protective gear with help from his colleagues as prepares for quarantine work.

08:20 Bosnia has confirmed a second case of coronavirus. 

08:14 China is allocating 110.48 billion yuan ($16 billion, €14 billion) to be spent on coronavirus-related efforts.

07:58 Bosnia has confirmed its first case of coronavirus.

07:56 Facebook will close an office in Seattle, Washington until March 9 after a contractor there was diagnosed with coronavirus. Washington is currently the US state with the worst coronavirus outbreak, with at least 39 cases confirmed as of Thursday. 

Dogs in China wearing masks to protect against coronavirus

Dogs in China wearing masks to protect against coronavirus

07:40 Dogs and cats cannot pass coronavirus on to humans, but they can test positive for the infection, scientists in Hong Kong have said. 

Hong Kong's Agriculture, Fisheries, and Conservation Department have identified the virus in the dog of a coronavirus patient. The pet has tested "weak positive" for the virus and is being kept in quarantine. 

It is "likely to be a case of human-to-animal transmission," they said, and that there is "no evidence" that pet animals can pass the virus on to humans.

Scientists suspect that COVID-19 originated in bats before being passed onto humans through another species

07:29  Chinese leader Xi Jinping's state visit to Japan planned for April has been postponed to focus on fighting the outbreak. A Japanese government spokesman says Japan and China have agreed to prioritize preventing the spread of coronavirus.

07:24 North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has sent a letter to South Korean President Moon Jae-in saying he believes South Korea will overcome its coronavirus outbreak. 

The letter said Kim was "worried" about Moon's own health. It also expressed "his unwavering friendship and trust" towards South Korea, the presidential office in Seoul said.

North Korea has closed its borders and imposed restrictions to prevent the outbreak from reaching the country. Pyongyang said it does not have a single case of coronavirus. 

07:05 The Louvre Museum in France has reopened. The Paris museum, home to Leonardo da Vinci's famous Mona Lisa painting, had been closed since Sunday after employees stayed home out of fear of catching COVID-19. 

A couple wears medical face masks outside the Louvre Museum in Paris

Visitors outside the Louvre Museum in Paris, France

07:00 Greece has reported its tenth case of coronavirus.

06:52 Indonesia is planning to ban entry and transit to foreign visitors who have spent 14 days in Iran, Italy, or South Korea, three of countries currently struggling to control a significant coronavirus outbreak. 

06:30  The coronavirus has spread to over 80 countries, with more and more cases being detected outside the epicenter in China. Here's a quick recap of major current developments over the past 24 hours:

  • China has reported 139 new cases, bringing the total to 80,409.
  • South Korea has confirmed 438 new cases, with overall figures now at 5,766, while in Japan the total has now grown to 1,036.
  • The US death toll has risen to 11 and new cases have emerged in New York and Los Angeles.
  • In Europe, the number of dead in Italy has jumped to 107 and Slovenia has recorded its first case.

06:10 The United Arab Emirates has advised its citizens to avoid traveling, according to the state news agency. Any residents returning from trips abroad will be asked to stay at home while they are tested for the virus.

05:40 Singapore aviation authorities ordered a Turkish Airlines flight to return empty to Istanbul after a passenger arriving in the city-state tested positive for COVID-19. The three pilots and 11 other crew members flew the plane back without any passengers and would be placed in quarantine upon arrival in Turkey.

05:15 Oil producing countries are considering a coordinated effort to curb production in anticipation of the coronavirus outbreak curbing global energy demand. 

Fourteen ministers from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries are meeting today in Vienna to discuss a plan.  

05:00 Thailand has reported 4 new cases of of COVID-19. The country now has 47 confirmed cases of the deadly disease. 

04:25 Japanese bio-pharmaceutical firm Anges Inc. has announced it will work with Osaka University to develop a coronavirus vaccine.

03:47 British airline Flybe has collapsed, with the effect of COVID-19 on air travel given as a major factor in their bankruptcy.

03:22 Australia has implemented a travel ban against visitors from South Korea and will bring in more stringent checks for those coming from Italy.

Read more: Will COVID-19 exacerbate drugs shortage in Germany?

03:07 Japan's Olympics Minister Seiko Hashimoto has said that Japan was still preparing to host the games this summer as planned, after earlier this week raising the topic of postponement because of COVID-19.

"Cancellation or delay of the Games would be unacceptable for the athletes," Hashimoto said. "An environment where athletes can feel at ease and focus should be firmly prepared," she said.

02:33 Tech giant Microsoft has become the latest firm to ask its employees in "high-risk" areas to work from home if possible.

The company asked workers in Seattle and San Francisco, the areas where all 11 of the US fatalities were recorded, to stay away from their offices until March 25.

01:58 Australia has confirmed its second death. A 95-year-old woman succumbed to the virus after contact with an infected care worker in New South Wales.

Read more: Coronavirus, cold, or flu symptoms? When you should be worried

01:34 South Korea reported 438 more coronavirus cases on Thursday, bringing their total number of cases to 5,766. They have the most confirmed cases of any country apart from China.

00:43 China reported 31 more deaths, bringing its death count to more than 3,000. The National health Commission also reported 139 new cases, bringing the total number in China to 80,409.

00:34 US Vice President Mike Pence will fly to Florida to meet with cruise ship businesses to discuss the spread of COVID-19 aboard cruises.

Pence was put in charge of challenging the crisis by President Donald Trump. "The risk of contracting the coronavirus remains low," he wrote on Twitter.

00:25 California has declared a state of emergency after the US state saw its first death from COVID-19 on Wednesday.

Governor Gavin Newsom told reporters that the state has 53 confirmed cases. The patient reportedly contracted the virus on a cruise.

Read more: How does testing for the coronavirus work?

00:15 Welcome to our rolling updates on another busy day regarding the global coronavirus outbreak.

At the beginning of Thursday, over 95,000 cases have been recorded globally, with 3,285 dead. The vast majority — over 80,000 — cases are within China, most in Hubei province where the city of Wuhan is located. This is where the outbreak began in December 2019.

To find out how things developed on Wednesday, you can look back on our live updates here: Coronavirus latest: Italy closes schools and universities as death toll surpasses 100

kp,ed/aw (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)

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