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Coronavirus latest: UK rolls out nationwide lockdown

March 23, 2020

The UK has announced strict isolation measures. The IMF says a global recession could be worse than the global financial crisis. Follow DW for the latest.

Boris Johnson announces lockdown
Image: picture-alliance/empics
  • Boris Johnson has announced strict social distancing measures in the UK
  • Italian cases have slowed, with 602 new deaths and 4,789 new cases
  • The IMF expects a global recession that could be worse than the 2008-2009 global financial crisis
  • Germany could lose nearly €500 billion ($538 billion) through the effects of coronavirus and a partial lockdown
  • Chancellor Angela Merkel has tested negative after being quarantined
  • The global death toll from the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic is more than 16,000, around 365,000 people are infected

Read more: Emergencies, disasters, curfews: Who decides what in Germany?

Updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC/GMT)

23:00 President Donald Trump says he will not let the coronavirus pandemic "turn into a long-lasting financial problem," and that he would make a decision on reopening the US economy after a 15-day shutdown expires next week.

"America will again and soon be open for business," Trump told reporters at the White House, adding that the economy would be back to normal "a lot sooner than three or four months.

Ahead of the briefing, the president signed an executive order to prevent hoarding and price gouging of certain in-demand products, such as hand sanitizer and surgical masks.

Trump also said 8 million respirators and more than 13 million surgical masks were being distributed across the country, and that clinical trials on anti-coronavirus drugs would soon begin in New York.

Read more: Coronavirus: No fathers allowed in delivery rooms

21:47 Here is the latest from Africa:

South Africa: A nationwide 21-day lockdown will begin at midnight on Thursday, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Monday. People will only be allowed to leave their homes to seek medical care, buy food or collect a social grant.

Health workers, emergency personnel and security services would be among those exempt from the lockdown.

All businesses will be closed except for pharmacies, laboratories, banks, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, supermarkets, petrol stations and health care providers. The military will be deployed on the streets to support police and ensure that quarantine measures are implemented, Ramaphosa said. Latest figures: 402 infections, 0 deaths, 4 recovered.

Nigeria: Authorities confirmed five new cases of coronavirus as well as its first death — a man aged 67. Land borders are to be shut for four weeks and the country's two main international airports, in Lagos and Abuja, were scheduled to close from Monday night. Latest figures: 36 infections, 1 death, 2 recovered.

Libya: A parallel government in eastern Libya backed by General Khalifa Haftar will impose a 24-hour curfew for 10 days and come into effect from Wednesday until April 3 as a preventative measure against coronavirus. There are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Libya. The country, which has been embroiled in civil war since 2011, ranks 168 of 195 nations worldwide in preparedness for a health crisis, according to the Global Health Security Index, a project of the John Hopkins Center for Health Security.

Democratic Republic of the Congo: The governor of Haut-Katanga province, Jacques Kyabula, imposed a two-day lockdown in the country's copper and cobalt heartland. Kyabula also issued the closure of the province boundaries after two people tested positive for the virus in the provincial capital, Lubumbashi. Latest figures: 36 infections, 1 death, 0 recoveries.

Ethiopia: The country has closed its land borders to almost all human traffic to counter the spread of the coronavirus. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced the shutdown on Monday as part of a series of new measures following recent government struggles to enforce prevention measures. Latest figures: 11 infections, 0 deaths, 0 recoveries.

Zimbabwe: The country's second coronavirus patient, a 30-year-old man, has died in the capital Harare, according to its state broadcaster. The government has closed schools, cancelled public and sporting events and restricted gatherings. Latest figures: 3 infections, 1 death, 0 recoveries.

Egypt: Parliament postponed on Monday any further sessions until April 12 to prevent further spread of the coronavirus, according to state news agency MENA. The decision came after two senior army officers died from coronavirus within 24 hours of each other as they took part in operations to curb the pathogen.

The Egyptian army has been carrying out a campaign to sterilize government buildings and public places. President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi on Sunday had called on all Egyptians to stay at home. Latest figures: 327 infections, 14 deaths, 56 recoveries.

Tunisia: President Kais Saied on Monday ordered the deployment of its army to ensure people adhere to the lockdown measures that were announced a day earlier. The country also imposed a curfew last week. People are required to stay home except to buy necessities. Latest figures: 89 infections, 3 deaths, 1 recovery.

Sudan: Sudan will impose a nationwide curfew starting on Tuesday, a member of the ruling transitional council announced on Monday. Latest figures: 1 infection, 0 deaths, 0 recoveries.

20:41 UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered a lockdown on public life for British citizens and introduced penalties for those who do not follow them.

"You must stay at home," he told British people in his daily press briefing. "If you don't follow the rules the police will have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings."

Gatherings of more than two people have been banned. People are only allowed to leave their house to exercise outside once a day, to go to work if they absolutely cannot work from home, for shopping trips as infrequently as possible and to help or for medical purposes.

Johnson also announced the closure of all shops selling nonessential goods. Libraries, playgrounds and places of worship will also close, along with all social events and ceremonies — excluding funerals.

The restrictions will be reviewed after three weeks. Johnson paid tribute to the UK's National Health Service, but also said that "no healthcare system in the world" could handle the effects of COVID-19 unless the spread is slowed as much as possible.

He also thanked the 7,500 retired and former medical staff who have signed up to rejoin the medical profession to help tackle the virus.

The drastic new measures bring the UK into line with France, Spain and Italy, all of which have a higher number of reported cases. The UK currently has 6,724 confirmed cases and 336 deaths, with 140 recoveries.

20:12 France has announced it will close down all open air food markets and tighten regulations on outside exercise, starting on Tuesday. Outings for exercise will be limited to one hour per day and people must remain within 1 kilometer of their homes, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said.

"Many of our citizens would like things to go back to as they were before, but that won't happen tomorrow," he wrote on Twitter. "The confinement period could still last several weeks."

Philippe also refused to rule out curfews, but said they would be decided in local areas by mayors and local councils. He also said coronavirus victims’ funerals must be limited to no more than 20 people.

Meanwhile, the Netherlands has upped social distancing measures, prohibiting all public events and meetings until June 1.

France currently has 20,104 confirmed cases, 862 deaths and 2,207 have recovered. The Netherlands has 4,764 cases, 214 deaths and 3 have recovered.

19:35 Most airlines have implemented new measures as the aviation industry reels from the coronavirus pandemic.

Lufthansa, which has already slashed a number of flights, announced cuts in working hours and its dividend. Lufthansa was in talks with German state development bank KfW but has said state aid was not yet necessary.

Lufthansa's low-cost carrier Eurowings announced that as of March 25, it is further cutting back its flights. Affected customers will be informed. Two of its flight operations will be shut down for the time being. 

Eurowings Germany is also expected to cut back considerably its own flight schedules and focus instead on return flights and servicing major German cities. 

The Lufthansa Group announced on Thursday it would reduce flights to only 5% of the originally planned program by April 19. Around 700 of its aircraft will be grounded.

Greece's Aegean Airlines is suspending all international flights starting Thursday through April 30.

Austrian Airlines said it was extending the suspension of all its regular services until April 19.

Europe's Airbus said it was withdrawing its 2020 financial guidance, dropping a proposed 2019 dividend that had a cash value of €1.4 billion euros ($1.5 billion) and suspending funding for staff pension schemes. Its US rival Boeing, under similar pressure, has called for a $60 billion lifeline for the industry.

Meanwhile, enginemaker GE Aviation said it would cut 10% of its US workforce. 

Around 10,000 staff at Singapore Airlines will be affected by cost-cutting measures, including unpaid leave.

Read more: Fragile airline sector struggles to beat coronavirus

18:45 Secretary-general of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development Angel Gurria tells DW that the economic fallout from the pandemic will far outlast the outbreak itself. He says the measures required to contain the pandemic, including social distancing and lockdowns, have put the global economy into a "deep-freeze state". 

Gurria said the deep freeze could go on for a while. He cautioned against viewing the disruption to manufacturing, the impact on travel, and the broad shutdown of the retail industry as a "mere pause" while the world deals with the pandemic. A quick return to business-as-usual post-corona virus is not to be expected. 

Gurria also called for more global coordination of "mutually-reinforcing" health measures such as testing and treatment, as well as economic policies around jobs, taxation, and support for small-and-medium sized businesses. 

18:34 As the world waits for an official announcement on whether the Summer Olympic Games will be delayed, major soccer games in Europe have been postponed. The European League final, the Champions League final and the women’s Champions League final, all scheduled for May, have officially been postponed.

"No decision has been taken on rearranged dates," said UEFA in a statement.

18:23 German Minister for Families Franziska Giffey has called on local authorities to help women who may be subject to increased domestic violence owing to restrictions on public life.

"If women’s refuges have no space, then the district must consider how to look after women in need," she said in Berlin on Monday. Germany is expecting "an increased number of cases," of domestic violence, she explained.

Fears of increased domestic violence, especially against women and children, were raised last week when restrictions in Germany meant that families will be spending increased time together at home. Around 144,000 women are victims of domestic violence or threatening behavior, Giffey’s office estimates.

Read more: Coronavirus: Fears of domestic violence, child abuse rise

17:50 Italian infection rate falls

New cases in Italy have fallen for the second day running. Official data data showed 4,789 new cases, nearly 700 fewer than the figure reported yesterday. There were also fewer deaths — 600  compared to 651 on Sunday.

Italy is suffering through the worst outbreak in Europe and has imposed a stringent, nation-wide lockdown. Authorities are still waiting to claim success, saying it is too early to determine if cases are actually slowing.

With a shortage of hospital beds, authorities have been closely watching recovery rates, which are up 6%.

"Today I can say that the positive trend is confirmed," Giulio Gallera, Health Commissioner for the Lombardy region, said before the Civil Protection Agency gave its figures. "It's not yet the time to declare victory, on the contrary ... it is time to more more focused than ever, but we can see a light at the end of the tunnel," he said.

Italy's National Health Institute (ISS) chief Silvio Brusaferro said: "These are positive numbers, but I do not have the courage to firmly state that there is a downward trend."

In Germany, the President of the Robert Koch Institute Lothar Wieler cautioned against too much optimism that the measures taken in Germany to counter the coronavirus could soon take effect.

"We see a trend that the exponential growth curve is somewhat flattening out," Wieler said, adding that a clearer overview on the effectiveness of Germany's counter coronavirus measures might be ready by Wednesday.

"It is in our hands to combat the epidemic … Keeping a distance is today's order," Wieler said, adding that social distancing measures must be strengthened and that "there is still a gap between knowledge and action."

Austria, which saw a week and a half of strict social distancing measures, reported on Sunday that the number of confirmed infections rose by around 15% over the weekend, having dropped continuously from the peak rate of 40% before the lockdown.

17:41 The International Monetary Fund expects a global recession in 2020 that could be worse the global financial crisis of 2008-2009.

The IMF strongly supports "extraordinary" fiscal actions and moves to ease monetary policy in a number of countries, adding that it was paramount to focus on the containment of the coronavirus as well as the strengthening of health systems.

Advanced economies are in a better position to respond while emerging countries are expected to be hit harder, IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva said. She urged advanced economies to step up support for low-income countries, adding that the IMF is "ready to deploy all our $1 trillion lending capacity."

In a separate meeting, G20 Finance ministers and central bank governors agreed to create an action plan and monitor it's impact on markets.

Meanwhile, the World Bank has pledged $150 billion (€139 billion) over the next 15 months to to support developing countries. The World Bank chief called on G20 countries to allow the world's lowest-income countries to suspend all intergovernmental debt repayments.

17:35 EU finance ministers have agreed to suspend the stringent rules on running public deficits for member states. This historic decision will allow governments under pressure to spend freely to tackle the pandemic.

In a statement explaining the "general escape clause," governments are given "the needed flexibility to take all necessary measures for supporting our health and civil protection systems and to protect our economies."

As well as freeing up money for healthcare, the move will allow EU governments to hand out financial aid to help workers and businesses facing loss of income.

17:16 The World Health Organization (WHO) is undertaking "initial investigations" into claims that a loss of sense and smell may be symptoms of COVID-19, the WHO's Maria van Kerkhove has announced. Doctors in the US and the UK called over the weekend for the sense losses to be added to the official list of symptoms, which currently includes a dry cough and fever.

Patients on social media have also reported the loss of taste and smell as a key symptom. Among them is British lawmaker Nadine Dorries.

16:42 Here is the latest from across Asia:

Thailand: It is preparing to close many of its land border crossings. Tens of thousands of migrant workers have left Thailand for neighboring countries while Thai workers from the countryside are leaving Bangkok after businesses and other public places were shut down. Remaining migrant workers have just one day to leave. Latest figures: 721 infected, 1 death,  52 recovered.

Indonesia: 65 new positive cases have been confirmed. Jakarta has shut down entertainment venues including cinemas as it enters a two-week emergency period. Some 465,000 police across the country will disperse any public gatherings. People have been told to work from home. Latest figures: 579 infected, 49 deaths, 30 recovered. 

South Korea: 64 new cases have been confirmed, the lowest daily count yet. This includes 13 overseas travelers. Yesterday, it announced a 15-day intensive social distancing policy. Latest figures: 8,961 infected, 111 deaths, 3,166 recovered.

India: The federal government has suspended the national train network and warned of severe legal penalties for those who fail to obey new rules. India will also ground all domestic passenger flights from Wednesday. Only cargo flights will be permitted. Yesterday, Modi's call for a 14-hour voluntary curfew marked India's first nationwide effort at social isolation. Latest figures: 425 infected, 8 deaths, 24 recovered.

Bangladesh: Bangladesh will deploy soldiers nationwide during a 10-day holiday period to make sure citizens practice social distancing. Soldiers will also help organize the treatment of patients and the isolation of suspected cases. All public and private offices will be shut from Thursday until April 4 and all people are encouraged to stay indoors. Only emergency services, markets and pharmacies will be excluded from the ban. Public transport will be limited. Latest figures: 33 infections, 3 deaths, 5 recovered.

Singapore: The Health Ministry announced 54 new cases, mostly from residents returning from abroad. Singapore Airlines said it was facing the "greatest challenge" in its existence as it grounded almost all its planes until the end of April.  Latest figures: 509 infections, 2 deaths, 152 recovered.

Malaysia: The world's biggest source of rubber gloves has warned that the lockdown set to last until the end of March could result in a global shortage of protective equipment. Four more people died, two of whom were linked to an Islamic ceremony held at the end of February on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur. Around 15, 000 people attended the event, resulting in virus cases in Brunei, Cambodia, Singapore and Thailand, as well as in Malaysia. Only businesses providing "essential" services are allowed to operate. Latest figures: 1,518 infections, 14 deaths, 159 recovered.

Vietnam: Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has said the next 10-15 days will determine Vietnam's battle against the virus. Phuc said anyone violating quarantine measures or failing to submit a health declaration could face criminal charges. He also called for limits on big gatherings to curb the virus. Latest figures: 122 infections, 0 deaths, 17 recovered.

Cambodia: 31 French tourists traveling together have tested positive and been quarantined in a hotel.  Latest figures: 86 infections, 0 deaths, 2 recovered.

Philippines: At least three doctors have died in the Philippines. Thousands of medical workers across the country are treating COVID-19 patients without protective gear. Several other doctors were reported to be in critical condition while hundreds of healthcare workers were put under quarantine. Latest figures: 462 infections, 33 deaths, 18 recovered.

16:39 United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called for an "immediate global ceasefire" to safeguard victims in war-torn communities from the coronavirus. 

Guterres urged those engaged in warfare to "end the sickness of war and fight the disease that is ravaging our world. It starts by stopping the fighting everywhere now." The UN chief added that vulnerable groups including children, women, disabled people and the displaced are "at the highest risk of suffering devastating losses from COVID-19."

He said a coronavirus outbreak would further deteriorate already broken health systems and targeted health workers and hospitals in conflict areas.

16:35 The spread of COVID-19 is "accelerating," the World Health Organization (WHO) has announced. 

"It took 67 days from the first reported case to reach the first 100,000 cases, 11 days for the second 100,000 cases and just four days for the third 100,000 cases," WHO chief Tedros Ghebreyesus said in his daily virtual press briefing.

An announcement about the future of the Tokyo Summer Olympics is expected "very soon," Dr Mike Ryan of the WHO said, after several countries announced they would not participate in the Games.

Amid fears of a large outbreak in sub-Saharan Africa, which has a relatively small number of cases reported so far, Ryan added that he has "every faith that African nations are preparing for the outbreak" and that the WHO stands ready to help.

Tedros also called for solidarity and for countries to work together to fight the outbreak. 

"Solving this problem requires political coordination at the global level," he said. "I will be addressing heads of state from the G20 countries this week."

15:40 German Chancellor Angela Merkel has tested negative for the virus. She will undergo further tests. Merkel went into home quarantine on Sunday after meeting with a doctor who subsequently tested positive.  German Vice-Chancellor Olaf Scholz said earlier that Merkel is healthy but working from home. 

15:31 Here is the latest from across Europe

Belgium: An employee of the European Parliament has become the first person working for an EU institution in Brussels to die from COVID-19, according to the Agence France Presse. The Italian man in his 40s worked in the parliament's IT department. Meanwhile Brussels have handed out hundreds of fines to people ignoring lockdown rules. Latest figures: 3,743 infected, 88 deaths, 401 recovered.

Denmark: Prime Minister Mette Friedricksen has extended a lockdown and other measures to combat the new coronavirus in large parts of the country until April 13. Latest figures: 1,572 infected, 24 deaths, 15 recovered.

France: Two more doctors have died from COVID-19: a 66-year-old gynaecologist and a 60-year-old general practitioner. Latest figures: 16,937 infected, 676 deaths, 2,207 recovered.

Greece: Authorities have suspended flights from Britain and nearly all incoming travel from Turkey until April 15. The announcement came hours after a nationwide lockdown began. Greece has already suspended flights from Italy, Spain and non-EU countries. Greek's foreign ministry said on Sunday that specialty flights returned over 1,000 Greek nationals from abroad. Latest figures: 624 infected, 17 deaths, 19 recovered.

Hungary: An increasing number of Hungarians have begun arming themselves for protection. Many fear a possible unraveling of law and order as the pandemic worsens. Hungary has registered 167 COVID-19 cases, with seven deaths, though Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Monday the real number was probably much higher. Orban is considering instituting a national lockdown. Latest figures: 167 infected, 7 deaths, 16 recovered.

Iceland: Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir is trying to stay at home after there was a case at her son's school. She said she would remain home pending test results, in line with recommendations from Iceland's health authorities. She missed a parliamentary session on Monday as a result. Latest figures: 588 infected, 1 death, 36 recovered.

Italy: Milan's Oglio Po hospital said 25 out of its 90 doctors have contracted the virus. One-fifth of the hospital's personnel, including nurses, technicians and other employees, has tested positive. Latest figures: 59,138 infected, 5,476 deaths, 7,024 recovered.

Ireland: The government is developing new guidelines to help people adhere to its recommendations to stay apart in public places. A senior official said the Irish government has received "significant feedback" from the public regarding the lack of social distancing. Latest figures: 906 infected, 4 deaths, 5 recovered.

Latvia: Nine members of Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins' 13-member cabinet are in home quarantine after contracting the new conoranvirus, the chancellery said. The outbreak can be traced back to a Latvian MP who said on Saturday that he had been diagnosed with the virus. The chancellery said government work is continuing at a distance and without one-on-one meetings. Latest figures: 180 infected, 0 deaths, 1 recovered.

Montenegro: Authorities have reportedly begun publishing a list of all people in quarantine including their adddresses, according to The Guardian. The intent behind the measure is to shame citizens into not breaking the rules. Latest figures: 22 infected, 1 death, 0 recovered.

Poland: The opposition has called for upcoming election to be postponed. The election is scheduled for May 10, with a possible second round to be held on May 24. Meanwhile, more Polish prisoners will be given the possibility to serve their sentences at home under a justice ministry proposal. Latest figures: 684 infected, 8 deaths, 13 recovered.

15:05 Germany has begun to accept COVID-19 patients from Italy and France. Western German states announced at the weekend they would help as French medical facilities struggle to cope with the number of cases, especially in the eastern region of Grand Est.

"Thank you to our European neighbors," French President Emmanuel Macron wrote on Twitter. "European solidarity is saving lives."

The eastern state of Saxony has welcomed six intensive care patients from Italy into hospitals in Leipzig and Dresden. Italy is facing more COVID-19 cases than any other country.

"Our solidarity does not end at borders," Saxon state premier Michael Kretschmer wrote on Twitter.

15:02: Germany has flown back around 120,000 people out of an estimated 200,000 tourists who were stranded abroad due to travel restrictions, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas says.

The German government is now setting its sites on travelers who are stuck in countries such as Mexico, Chile, New Zealand and Gambia — where it is more logistically difficult to repatriate them. 

Arranging flights has become increasingly challenging as more countries close airports and restrict airspace, Maas said. The government has been working with private travel companies but has also been chartering its own flights — bringing home around 10,000 Germans a day.

He also urged for better cooperation within the EU to repatriate other citizens within the bloc.

"You can coordinate it in such a way that you open the flights for citizens of other European states wherever there is space," Maas told public broadcaster ZDF.

Read more: Coronavirus: German government to fly home tens of thousands of tourists

14:37 The EU will introduce "green lanes" to speed up the transport of necessary supplies and food between EU member states, so trucks can cross the border in less than 15 minutes, according to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Over the weekend, delays at some border crossings led to lines of traffic more than 40 kilometers long, with some people waiting 18 hours to cross borders, which until recently were open.

EU antitrust regulators have also allowed suppliers to coordinate the distribution of scarce products without fear of breaching cartel rules. The European Competition Network (ECN) made the decision after the UK eased its competition rules to allow supermarkets to work together last week.

It warned against businesses working together to misuse the easing of regulations and seek maximum profits.

14:27 Here's what has happened so far today: 

Germany: The German cabinet approved a massive €156-billion ($166.5 billion) package for businesses hit by the coronavirus crisis. Experts estimate that the partial shutdown could cost the German economy nearly €500 billion. 

The German government is also pushing to double the number of beds in intensive care facilities, offering hospitals financial support for freeing up beds. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is working from home while she awaits the results of a coronavirus test, after coming in contact with a doctor who later tested positive for COVID-19.

Hong Kong: Starting on Wednesday, all tourists will be banned from entering Hong Kong following a recent spike in the number of cases. The global financial hub has so far confirmed 318 coronavirus cases and four deaths. 

Indonesia: The number of confirmed cases rose by 65, bringing the total number to 579. Indonesia's death toll also rose, bringing the number of people who have died from the virus up to 49.

Saudi Arabia: A nationwide dusk-to-dawn curfew has been imposed for the next 21 days. Only health sector employees as well as military and security officials are exempt. Saudi Arabia currently has 511 confirmed cases ad no reported deaths.

Japan: Pressure is mounting to postpone or call off the upcoming 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Organizers have said postponing the games is one of serval alternatives that will be discussed over the next four weeks.

13:13 German Health Minister Jens Spahn says hospitals that need more staff and beds will get financial help.

"If you need more beds, if you need more staff and equipment to treat coronavirus patients, you will be compensated financially," Spahn said.

The government will provide a daily payment of €560 per bed that is not being used or made free, Spahn said. He added that there will also be a €50,000 grant for new intensive-care beds with ventilators.

12:55 German Finance Minister and Vice-Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that Chancellor Angela Merkel is healthy and working from home, after she went into quarantine on Sunday following a meeting with a coronavirus-infected doctor. 

"She is simply in home office, as are many other people who have had to place themselves in self-isolation at home," he said. "She is active: we had the cabinet meeting together this morning." Scholz added that he would speak in Merkel’s place in the Bundestag lower house of parliament on Wednesday.

12:48 Police in Munich have arrested a man after he shared videos of himself licking a subway ticket machine. The 33-year-old said he wanted to spread coronavirus. It is unclear whether he has the potentially deadly infection. Police said the man has now been tested and that the results are pending.

12:15  The northwestern state of Lower Saxony has instituted a new wave of restrictions, including a ban on social contact, to hinder the spread of the coronavirus.

Police in Hanover, Oldenburg, Braunschweig, Goslar and Göttingen have increased police presence to enforce the new restrictions. No significant infractions were reported to have occurred, with some cities and municipalities using loudspeakers to break up crowds.

"That works really well in 99.9% of cases," a spokeswoman for the Braunschweig police department said.

12:10 German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said the country will double the number of beds in intensive care facilities.

His comments come amid calls by German intensive care physicians to provide more personal protective equipment (PPE) for coronavirus treatment. The German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive and Emergency Medicine said doctors were running out of items, including respiratory masks, protective gloves and gowns, and called for a speedy government intervention.

"If sufficient protective equipment is not provided for our medical staff within a few days now, they will soon no longer be able to work," said Uwe Janssens, the chief physician of the Clinic for Internal Medicine and Internal Intensive Care Medicine at the St. Antonius Hospital in Eschweiler. He added that hospitals are being forced to buy equipment at inflated prices, citing a price of €7 ($7.53) per mask — a product which usually costs between 11 and 60 cents.

12:05 G20 finance ministers have agreed on a need for coordinated efforts to counteract the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire tweeted after a conference call with other ministers. Their plan will include "financial support for developing countries (and) preparations for a common exit strategy from the crisis."

12:00 A call for social distancing and restrictions on travel have left some of Europe's biggest cities looking deserted as governments across the continent take drastic measures to control the spread of COVID-19.

11:47 India has announced it will ground all domestic flights to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

11:33 Germany’s federal cabinet approved an unprecedented aid package to save jobs and companies affected by the coronavirus-related economic crisis. 

The €156-billion ($166.5 billion) package aims to relieve tenants and make it easier to apply for government benefits, as well as to provide additional support to clinics. The measures are expected to be voted through by both houses of parliament by the end of the week.

10:25 Economic coordination between developed economies needs to exceed both the 1930s New Deal and the Marshall Plan, which rebuilt Europe following World War II, if the globe is to avoid long-term economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, the head of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has said.

"Only a sizeable, credible, internationally coordinated effort can deal with the immediate public health emergency, buffer the economic shock and develop a path towards recovery," said OECD chief Angel Gurria.

Many governments have unveiled emergency spending packages, but thus far there has been no coordinated effort put further by intergovernmental groups like the G7 or G20.

Read more: What you need to know about the Coronavirus

10:02 Germany is "seeing signs that the exponential growth curve is flattening off slightly," said Lothar Wieler, the head of the Robert Koch Institute.

However, the public health institute would only be able to definitively confirm the trend on Wednesday, Wieler said. He added that he was optimistic, and attributed the potential flattening to social distancing measures including school closures and bans on public gatherings.

Meanwhile, the death toll in Germany rose to 111 on Monday morning, with the most populous State of North-Rhine Westphalia the most affected.

09:55 The Ifo Institute, a Munich-based economic research firm, has estimated how detrimental the coronavirus epidemic in Germany would be to its economy.

If Germany were to institute a two-month lockdown, the institute estimates the shutdown would cost the German economy between €255 billion and €495 billion ($272 billion and $528 billion) and reduce the nation's annual GDP growth by between 7.2 and 11.2 percentage points. 

A three-month lockdown would cost the economy between €354 billion and €729 billion and shrink GDP growth by between 10.0 and 20.6 percentage points.

Meanwhile, 6 million short-time workers in Germany could be affected by the epidemic, while 1.8 million jobs subject to social security contributions could be cut, the research firm said.

09:45 Pope Francis has postponed his May 31 trip to Malta over coronavirus fears, the Vatican said on Monday. He was expected to speak about migrants' rights, in what would have been the first papal visit to the Mediterranean nation in a decade.

09:30 European Central Bank policymaker Carlos Costa says that eurozone governments should consider issuing common "coronabonds" in a targeted response to the coronavirus pandemic to avoid a potential new sovereign debt crisis. He joins a growing list of policymakers calling for a clear and coordinated plan.

09:20 Indonesia has reported 65 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number to 579, the country's health ministry said. They have also reported one new death, the country's 49th caused by the virus, while 30 patients have recovered from the disease.

09:10 Uzbekistan is set to lock down its capital city, Tashkent, from Tuesday, as all but one of the country’s 46 reported cases have been confirmed in the capital.

08:25 Hong Kong has announced that it will ban all tourist arrivals from Wednesday, following a spike in imported cases of the virus. The global financial hub has so far confirmed 318 coronavirus cases and four deaths. 

Meanwhile, Taiwan announced 26 new cases on Monday, bringing the total number of reported cases to 195. All but one of the cases in the island nation were imported by people who had traveled within the United States, Spain, the Netherlands, France, Switzerland and Britain, according to a government statement.

08:05 Germany’s number of coronavirus cases continued to rise on Monday, with a total of 24,873 confirmed cases, an increase of more than 2,500 cases from Sunday morning, according to the Johns Hopkins University. The country also reported a new total of 94 deaths, or 10 more than the day prior. So far, 266 people have made full recoveries.

07:45 European aviation manufacturer Airbus is abandoning its 2020 earnings forecast due to the economic uncertainty created by the coronavirus outbreak. 

"We have withdrawn our 2020 guidance due to the volatility of the situation," Airbus chief executive Guillaume Faury said in a statement.

The manufacturing giant also said it would revoke a 2019 dividend proposal "with an overall cash value of approximately €1.4 billion ($1.5 billion)" in order to improve the group’s liquidity and bottom line.

07:40 The United Nations (UN) is creating a global fund to support the treatment of coronavirus patients, particularly those in developing countries. 
"A multi-donor fund under UN auspices will provide predictability for our partners and help to make the efforts more effective," Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soereide said in a statement.
The fund will help countries with weak health systems and address long-term consequences of the coronavirus outbreak, the ministry said. A formal announcement is expected later this week.

07:00 Despite official warnings to avoid public areas, people in Tokyo were out in droves over the weekend to see the country's famous cherry blossom trees in bloom, AFP reports. 

Taking cherry blossom parties away from Japanese was like "taking hugs away from Italians," Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said, adding that he had urged people to avoid gathering in large groups under the trees as is the tradition.

Visitors wearing protective face masks following an outbreak of the coronavirus disease
Visitors wearing protective face masks were determined to enjoy the annual festival of colorImage: Reuters/Issei Kato

06:55 Sindh province in southern Pakistan has begun a 15-day complete lockdown. The province's nearly 48 million residents are prohibited from "unnecessary movement." Exceptions to the ban will be made to allow people to travel to purchase basic necessities and in the event of an emergency.

Sindh currently has more cases than any other province in Pakistan, with 333, while the south Asian nation has almost 800 in total.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has avoided a nationwide lockdown so far. However, critics say the country as a whole is not doing enough to stem the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

06:30 Tokyo 2020 Olympics chief Yoshiro Mori said that the games will not be canceled. Organizers will consider a postponement as one of many alternatives they will prepare over the next four weeks, Mori said in a news conference. 

Pressure to delay the July start date mounted over the weekend as several organizations, including US Track and Field and UK Athletics, spoke out in favor of a postponement.

Canada's Olympic and Paralympic Committees went a step further, saying they would not send athletes to the games if they are held as planned.

06:22 Saudi Arabia imposed a nationwide dusk-to-dawn curfew on Monday. The curfew is to be imposed for 21 days from 7 p.m. until 6 a.m. local time, the official Saudi press agency reported. Health sector employees as well as military and security officials will be exempt from the restrictions. The country had 511 cases of coronavirus as of Sunday, with no reported deaths.

06:10 US President Donald Trump said on Sunday that the nation would decide on "which way we want to go" following the end of a 15-day period. The comments followed contentious negotiations between Congress and the White House over a $2 trillion (€1.86 trillion) economic rescue package. Democrats objected to the draft aid bill, saying that it favored corporations and did little to help workers. 

"We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself," Trump tweeted.

05:55 Nepal has closed its borders with India and China over coronavirus fears. All cross-border movements will be restricted for a week from 10 a.m. local time until midnight on March 29, according to Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada.

The move came just hours after Nepal suspended all international passenger flights. The Himalayan nation currently has just one case of coronavirus, and shares borders with China on its northern side and India on its three other sides.

03:33 Former media mogul and convicted rapist Harvey Weinstein has tested positive for coronavirus, multiple media reports said on Sunday.

Weinstein, 68, was sentenced to 23 years in prison on charges of sexual assault and rape earlier this month. He was admitted to a Manhattan hospital for heart problems soon after. He is currently in isolation at the Wende Correctional Facility, where he was moved from New York City's Rikers Island jail on Wednesday, Michael Powers, the president of the state corrections officers union told Reuters.

03:25 South Korea reported 64 new coronavirus infections on Monday — the lowest increase in almost a month, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

The latest figures are part of a downward trend in new cases, with the KCDC posting daily tallies of under 100 for the past several days.

The country has 8,961 confirmed cases — 60% of them linked to a branch of the Shincheonji religious sect in the southeastern city of Daegu. A total of 111 people have died.

02:37 The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) on Monday echoed Canada's sentiments, asking its athletes to prepare for the Tokyo Olympics to be held in the summer of 2021. The AOC said "it was clear" that the Games could not continue this year amidst the coronavirus crisis.

02:22 The Canadian Olympic Committee on Sunday said it would not send any athletes to Tokyo for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. It urged the International Olympic Committee and the WHO to postpone the games by a year.

"This is not solely about athlete health — it is about public health," said a statement by the committee. "With COVID-19 and the associated risks, it is not safe for our athletes, and the health and safety of their families and the broader Canadian community for athletes to continue training towards these Games."

Read more: Coronavirus stops real sport, opens door to virtual world

01:26 New Zealand's prime minister says the country is shifting to its highest alert level, meaning schools, offices and nonessential services will be shut down in the next 48 hours.

"New Zealand is now preparing to go into self-isolation," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told a news conference.

Supermarkets and pharmacies will remain open, but bars, cafes, cinemas and restaurants will close.

The number of cases in New Zealand has now passed 100, with 36 new cases confirmed on Monday.

01:09 The United Arab Emirates, home to one of the world's busiest airports, is halting all passenger and transit flights for two weeks in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The decision, reported by official state news agency WAM, is expected to take effect in 48 hours. It does not apply to cargo and emergency evacuation flights. The Gulf state's airports in Abu Dhabi and Dubai are major international hubs connecting Europe and other Western countries to Asia and Australia.

00:35 Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says postponing the Tokyo Olympic Games "may become inevitable" due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Summer Olympics in the Japanese capital are scheduled to begin on July 24. But sporting bodies around the world have called for the event to be pushed back, saying the COVID-19 outbreak has affected athlete training and Games preparation.

Abe told parliament that Japan was still committed to hosting a "complete" Games, and that canceling the event was not an option. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said it will make a decision on whether or not to postpone it in the next four weeks.

Read more: Coronavirus has Olympic athletes 'running on the spot' — sports scientist

00:00 Here is the latest from Europe's three hardest-hit countries:

Italy: After shutting down all non-essential factories and companies in the country, Italy is looking at highly specific measures to control the coronavirus outbreak. In the hardest-hit region of Lombardy, the government has banned any exercise that cannot be carried out on personal property and set a radius for how far people can take their dogs for a walk: 200 meters. Fines for violations have been raised to €5,000 ($5,345). Two-thirds of the coronavirus-related deaths in the country have been reported from this region.

Latest figures: 59,138 infected, 5,476 deaths

Spain: Spain sought to extend its state of emergency until April 11, close to a month after it was imposed on March 14. Stating that the country is "at war," Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez hinted at a larger role for the military in response to the spreading pandemic. He also added that the EU "can do and must do more" to help member nations deal with the economic impact of coronavirus

Latest figures: 28,603 infected, 1,756 deaths

France: A 67-year-old emergency room medic became the first medical professional to die of coronavirus in the country. In light of the spike in COVID-19 fatalities, the French government is imposing tougher penalties on people who defy the nationwide confinement order. Penalties may range from €135 to €3,700 ($145 to $3,960). A prison term of six months has also been approved for repeat offenses.

Latest figures: 14,485 infected, 562 deaths

Catch up on yesterday's coronavirus developments here: Angela Merkel to quarantine after meeting infected doctor

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