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Coronavirus: 'No shortages' in Germany, says top official

March 20, 2020

More than 11,000 people have died from the coronavirus outbreak worldwide, the latest figures show. A top German crisis response official has said there is no need for food hoarding. Follow DW for the latest.

An empty street in Munich
Image: picture-alliance/Zuma/S. Babbar

UPDATE: Click here to follow's DW's live coronavirus updates from Saturday

  • Cases in Germany have passed 19,000, with 53 people dead
  • Over 600 more deaths have been announced in Italy, the largest rise in a single day
  • Bavaria has announced a statewide lockdown, while several other German states are taking similar measures
  • Germany is considering a nationwide lockdown
  • More than 11,000 people have died globally, half of them in Europe
  • Over 260,000 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed worldwide
  • Over 87,000 cases have recovered worldwide, Johns Hopkins University reports

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

Read more: Coronavirus and the EU: The nation versus the union?

23:42 The total number of COVID-19 cases in Canada has crossed 1,000, according to the latest figures.

22:57 USA Swimming has called for a postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in a letter to the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC). The letter asks the USOPC to advocate for pushing the games by a year and "speak up for the athletes." 

22:48 Cuba has closed its borders to all non-residents in an attempt to slow down the spread of COVID-19. The country has 21 confirmed coronavirus cases.

22:45 A member of US Vice President Mike Pence’s office has tested positive for coronavirus, Pence's press secretary said President Donald Trump and Pence did not have close contact with the patient.

22:28 The United Arab Emirates announced the country’s first two deaths from COVID-19 on Friday. The UAE has reported 98 cases of coronavirus. 

22:18 Brazil reported a sharp spike in the number of coronavirus infections in the country on Friday, with the latest number rising to 904 from 621 a day earlier. According to the Health Ministry, there have been at least 11 deaths due to the coronavirus in Brazil.

21:56 Washington, D.C., has announced an extension of school and restaurant closures after the US capital saw its first COVID-19 death. The ban on large gatherings will also extend through the end of April, as the city saw its largest single-day increase in coronavirus cases a day earlier. 

21:32 Canada has announced it will no longer allow asylum-seekers into the country. As it prepares to close the border with the United States, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that "irregular travelers" will be turned back at the border, including those seeking asylum from war or persecution.

21:08 The German government is planning to spend €3 billion ($3.2 billion) to support hospitals as the COVID-19 pandemic puts them under increased pressure, German broadcaster RND reported.

Many pre-planned operations and treatments have been canceled or postponed throughout Germany owing to the increasing number of coronavirus cases. This money will partially attempt to tackle this problem.

The aid package for hospitals is only part of a larger financial package expected to be announced on Monday, according to RND. The total amount to be pumped in could be over €150 billion.

20:45 Almost half of the coronavirus deaths in Bavaria appear to have come from a single care home for the elderly in the city of Würzburg. 

Nine of the home’s residents died after becoming infected with the COVID-19 virus, the DPA news agency reported. 

All were over 80 years of age and had underlying medical conditions, the head of the care home was reported as saying.

Of the facility's 160 residents, five more were said to have been hospitalized and another 10 were being cared for in isolation at the home after testing positive for COVID-19. Meanwhile, 23 members of staff were said to be in quarantine after also testing positive for the virus.

Bavarian authorities say there have been 20 coronavirus deaths so far in the state, with at least 3,107 people testing positive for the Sars-CoV-2 virus.

19:50 More and more US states are issuing shelter-in-place or lockdown orders. Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker has now joined his counterparts in New York and California ordering all residents to remain at home except for essential reasons.

19:45 German carmaker Daimler is shutting down a major part of its US operations due to the spread of the coronavirus, German news agency dpa reported. Production at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Tuscaloosa in Alabama will be stopped for an initial two weeks, the company announced on Friday. 

19:15 The official in charge of the German government's crisis response agency said Germany was more than capable of feeding its population in the current situation. 

There would be "no shortages in the foreseeable future," Christoph Unger, president of the Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK), told DW. "I myself went shopping this morning, the shelves were full to breaking point. True, in some areas they were empty."

Tightened restrictions on the freedom of movement in Bavaria and other states would "impact all areas of society," Unger said. His office would "monitor the situation."

Unger added that the BBK had for many years advised citizens to "keep a certain amount of emergency supplies at home."  "But 50 kilos of flour or dozens of packets of toilet paper are completely unnecessary and a sign of a lack of solidarity," Unger said.

18:58 France reported 78 new deaths of COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the total deaths to 450.

Over 12,000 have now been confirmed to have coronavirus in France, but health officials warned this is a "minimal figure" compared to the real numbers.

18:42 US President Donald Trump invoked the decades-old Defense Production Act on Friday, aimed at getting medical supplies to the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic in the US. The act gives the government power to mobilize the private sector.

The Korea War-era act will primarily concern the manufacture of ventilators and other necessary medical equipment.

Trump also announced the US is closing its borders with Mexico to slow the spread of COVID-19, after already announcing similar measures with the Canadian border.

Congress will also debate a relief package of billions of dollars to help businesses and individuals.

Over 200 people have died in the US and cases have been reported in all 50 states.

18:30 New York has joined California in imposing stringent new lockdown measures. "We're going to close the valve, because the rate of increase in the number of cases portends a total overwhelming of our hospital system," New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

Starting Sunday, all New York workers in nonessential businesses must stay home as much as possible, and all gatherings of any size will be banned in the state, which is home to 19 million people.

Cuomo has been posting a series of tweets issuing instructions, all saying that New York state was "on pause."

18:15 The World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Ghebreyesus has spoken to address concerns including the time necessary to create a vaccine, financial aid for countries struggling to cope with the vaccine, and the possibility of over a million unconfirmed cases.

He promised that the WHO was working hard to help the supply of diagnostic tests, repeating his mantra that countries' best way to try to curb the spread of COVID-19 was to "test, test, test."

He also called on young people ignoring the "social distancing" advice issued by the WHO to do better. "I have a message for young people: You are not invincible. This coronavirus could put you in hospital for weeks, or even kill you," he said.

The WHO will now refer to "social distancing" as "physical distancing," to encourage people to stay in contact via technological means.

17:41 Belgium has become the latest European country to shut its borders to all but freight and travelers who are deemed to be on essential business.

Belgian Interior Minister Pieter De Crem announced the measure after talks with neighbors Britain, France, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

Coronavirus cases recorded in Belgium surged past 2,000 on Friday and the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 jumped up by 16 to 37.

Belgians who are still abroad will be allowed to return home. Other travelers will need an official document to prove their trip is needed for key services like national security, health care, or working for the European Union.

17:22 Italy has announced another 627 coronavirus-related deaths, the biggest rise in a 24-hour period so far. The total number of deaths rose to 4,032, with the number of infections now at 47,021.

UK PM Johnson tells cafes, pubs and restaurants to close

17:19 UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has told all pubs, cafes, bars and restaurants they must close from tonight.

The British premier was under pressure for not enforcing the closure of pubs and bars earlier this week, despite telling people to no longer frequent them. "I want to stress that we will review the situation each month to see if we can relax the measures," he told a daily briefing.

Johnson said the measures had been decided among the UK government and leaders of the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

16:51 Brazil on Friday has declared a state of emergency over the spreading coronavirus. The Senate voted electronically as two members have been infected.

President Jair Bolsonaro has received declining popularity levels for his handling of the crisis.

Brazil has 651 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and seven people have died.

16:34 The US is preparing for the "worst-case scenario" in Europe as coronavirus spreads throughout ranks, according to the US Commander in Europe, Air Force General Tod Wolters.

Over 2,600 US military personnel in Europe are self-isolating, he confirmed.

"That number includes those who may have been tested, but not positive, and those who did indeed test positive, which is 35," the Pentagon said.

Several military maneuvers in Europe, including the NATO Defender Europe mission, have been pared back, although they remain operational.

15:55 More than 120 German police officers have been infected with coronavirus and over 1,500 are in quarantine, German newspaper Die Welt reported Friday.

Around 1,000 of those quarantined and 30 of those infected are in the state of Baden-Württemberg.

Germany's federal police have limited some operations in order to keep working effectively, and some smaller police stations nationwide have been temporarily closed. Meetings and conferences have been moved online and lessons in the police training academy have been canceled.

15:37 Tunisia ordered a nationwide lockdown on Friday to stop the spread of coronavirus, following the example of several other countries.

President Kais Saied said in a televised broadcast that people should stay at home and stop moving between Tunisian cities.

The North African country has 54 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

15:34 The US said it is suspending all routine visa services around the world.

"In response to the significant worldwide challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of State is temporarily suspending routine visa services at all US embassies and consulates," a travel advisory said.

The suspension means that people from countries that require visas to enter the US will not be able to do so, but theoretically does not affect travelers from those countries that do not require visas.

15:30 Six cases of COVID-19 have thus far been confirmed among German members of parliament, the Bundestag.

Parliamentarian Dorothee Bär told DW’s Kay-Alexander Scholz that only a maximum of one-third of the body is now physically meeting in Berlin’s Reichstag building. Older members of parliament and those in health risk groups are working from home and only younger parliamentarians who must conduct specialized meetings or committee business are doing so from the parliament building.

In order to speed the adoption of emergency financial packages and other urgent legal measures, the body has done away with its usual procedures and quickened adoption mechanisms.

14:50 Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, declared a state of emergency today. The city of 10 million has 215 confirmed cases of coronavirus and has reported 18 deaths. 

"Indonesia is likely to have many more cases than currently reported," said Professor Ian Henderson, director of the Institute for Molecular Bioscience at the University of Queensland. "Without large-scale testing, contact tracing and quarantine measures, the opportunity for spread of this virus is great."

Just under 2,000 people had been tested in the country as of Friday. The first case of coronavirus in Indonesia was discovered three weeks ago. For comparison, more than 5,000 tests per million people have been carried out in South Korea, and more than 2,000 per million in Italy, two of the countries most affected by the virus.

14:44 The Vatican has announced that the sins of faithful Catholics who have been struck down by the coronavirus will be forgiven.

In the unusual decree, the sins of the sick, their caregivers as well as health workers were all forgiven, provided they say a certain number of prayers and read the Holy Scriptures "for at least half an hour."

"The gift of special Indulgences is granted to the faithful suffering from COVID-19 disease, commonly known as coronavirus, as well as to health care workers, family members and all those who in any capacity, including through prayer, care for them," the Vatican said in a statement on its website. An indulgence in Catholic teaching is a way to reduce punishment for sins by performing a prayer or another spiritual act. 

In the same statement, the Vatican statement granted an indulgence to "the faithful suffering from coronavirus, who are subject to quarantine by order of the health authority in hospitals or in their own homes."

Pope Francis also tweeted his prayers for medical staff on Friday.

14:27 The German state of Rhineland-Palatinate has banned public meetings of more than five people. Restaurants have also been ordered to shut.

The new regulations are less drastic than the lockdown announced for Bavaria earlier, but those in breach of them could still face fines. The ban will go into force at midnight on Friday.

14:20 Employees of the McDonald's fast food chain in Germany will be able to help out at Aldi supermarkets, as the Corona crisis means that restaurants are forced to close or restrict hours. The staff are to be hired on a temporary basis.

A joint statement from McDonald's and both Aldi's northern and southern German divisions said staff could be transferred in an "unbureaucratic" manner.

"Every individual in Germany is currently called upon to do his or her part to overcome the crisis," said Holger Beeck, head of McDonald's Germany. "With this solution, we can do this and at the same time offer a classic win-win situation: Our employees can — if they want to — continue to be employed."

13:26 The UK has banned the "parallel export" of 80 medicines crucial to helping coronavirus patients. The ban includes adrenaline, insulin, paracetamol, and morphine among others. 

Parallel exporting is when medicines meant for UK patients are purchased at a higher price by another country, potentially causing a shortage in the UK. 

The UK Department of Health said companies found violating the ban could face tough penalties, including the possibility that their trading license would be suspended.

13:25 The president of Italy’s Lombardy region says he has asked the government to tighten the lockdown in his region, the Reuters news agency reports. 

Attilio Fontana said authorities had agreed to use the army to enforce the lockdown. He said data showed no signs of a slowdown in the coronavirus epidemic in his region.

13:52 The German state of Saarland wants to shut down restaurants and restrict people from going out in public, similar to moves Bavaria has taken. 

Saarland State Premier Tobias Hans will recommend the move to his cabinet this afternoon, the state chancellery confirmed.

12:50 Tour operators and Lufthansa have so far brought back 96,000 Germans stranded abroad as part of a government funded program put in place due to the coronavirus outbreak, the German Foreign Ministry has confirmed.

Earlier this week, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told DW of plans to repatriate the nationals as part of a €50 million operation.

Around 100 special flights have been organized, the spokeswoman for the Federal Foreign Office, Maria Adebahr, confirmed. 

Nevertheless, tens of thousands of tourists still remain stranded worldwide.

Passengers aboard a cruise ship off the coast of South Africa — including many Germans and Austrians — were expected to be flown home soon, the spokeswoman added.

Earlier, Foreign Minister Maas urged Germans not to travel in the coming weeks: "Travel warning - clarification: Our warning about tourist trips abroad is initially valid until the end of April. So it also includes the Easter holidays. This is painful for many, but absolutely necessary. Stay at home! Protect yourself and your fellow human beings!"

12:41 Government scientists in the UK have published evidence on their understanding of the evolution of COVID-19.

"This is an incredibly fast-moving, developing situation and as part of our collective efforts to give the clearest and most reliable scientific advice, SAGE (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) has and continues to draw upon a huge range of experts and a huge range of evidence," said Patrick Vallance, the British government's chief scientific adviser. 

"The collective evidence we have published today has played a considerable role in shaping our recommendations on when, how and why the government have made the interventions it has so far."

12:25 Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has urged citizens to stay home while also tweeting his praise for medical staff. The leader of the world's sixth-most-populous nation stressed that June would be the critical month in his country's fight against the outbreak.

Meanwhile, Bolsonaro has indicated he might take a third coronavirus test as the mystery surrounding his wellbeing deepens. Last week, Brazilian media reported that the president had tested positive for the virus, suggestions strongly refuted by both Bolsonaro and his son.

11:50 The German state of Bavaria is imposing  "fundamental restrictions" on public life in the fight against coronavirus.

"We’re shutting down public life almost completely," Bavarian State Premier Markus Söder said. 

People will only be allowed to leave their homes for necessary purposes, such as going to work or the doctor and buying groceries or medicine.

"It's not easy to take these decisions," Söder said. "We take these decisions according to the best of our knowledge and conscience. There will be a Bavaria after corona, but it will be a stronger one if we don't look away."

The measures will go into effect for two weeks starting Friday evening. 

Bavaria is the first German state to impose lockdown measures due to the coronavirus.

Read more: Germany coronavirus lockdown imminent if people don’t reel in social activities

11:45 Some 1,002 people have died in Spain from the coronavirus, according to government figures. Almost another 1,000 patients remain in a critical condition. The total confirmed number of cases now stands at 19,980, an increase of 16% in the last 24 hours. Meanwhile, Inditex, the owner of Zara and Massimo Dutti, may temporarily lay off all 25,000 of its store staff in Spain if the country's state of emergency extends beyond April 15.

11:36 France is trying to bring home some 130,000 French citizens currently stranded abroad.

"Our operating principle is that we want to get these 130,000 back on national territory," French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told France Info radio. The majority are out of the country due to holiday trips. 

The foreign ministry said it is trying to make special arrangements for flights out of countries where travel restrictions have been imposed. It has also asked airlines to continue flying to France and to reduce ticket prices for emergency returns. 

Le Drian also called on France’s expatriate population of over 3.5 million to remain where they are. 

The French Navy has also been roped in to the virus response efforts. A French warship is being used to evacuate critical COVID-19 patients from the French island of Corsica in the Mediterranean Sea to hospitals on the mainland, France’s Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly said on Friday.

10:20 Austria has extended the date of its restrictions to combat the spread of COVID-19 by three weeks. They will now remain in force until April 13, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has confirmed. Experts believe the measures are working, "but we must persevere," Kurz  said.

10:08 The number of coronavirus fatalities in Germany increased by 11 to 31 overnight, the head of Germany’s Robert Koch Institute (RKI) has said. 

Germany reported 2,958 new cases between Thursday and Friday, the head of the research institute Professor Lothar Wieler said in a press conference.

"We are in exponential growth," he said.

(Note that RKI figures can differ from those reported by the Johns Hopkins Institute (JHI). This is because RKI only reports numbers received through official channels, meaning reports can lag behind those of JHI, as health officials are busy tending to hospitals, patients, and the concerns of the public. 

JHI, meanwhile, strives to maintain a global case and fatality overview in real time by keeping track of figures reported by global, national, and local media outlets and health authorities. You might see figures from both organizations on DW.)

Wieler made pleas to the people of Germany to take the situation seriously and to follow health guidelines. 

"We can only slow down the epidemic if we play by the rules. Keep your distance. The virus is normally spread from person to person," he said. 

"I’m telling you this because I’m convinced that it’s right. We are in all in a crisis, the extent of which I personally never could have imagined."

09:49 YouTube will follow in the footsteps of Netflix by diminishing its streaming quality in the European Union to avoid straining the internet as thousands of Europeans begin working from home online.

The EU's Internal Markets chief, Thierry Breton, has previously urged streaming platforms to reduce the quality of their videos to prevent internet gridlock.

According to some studies, the two account for up to 25% of global internet traffic.

09:05 European stocks jumped around 5% in open trading this morning as promises of aid from European governments and central banks drew back investors.

Indexes including London’s FTSE, Frankfurt’s DAX, the Parisian CAC, and the pan-European STOXX 600 all leapt at least 4.9% in initial deals. 

Asian equities also rallied following a tough week, with Hong Kong stocks reporting gains of 4%. Indexes in Sydney, Shanghai, and Seoul jumped 0.7%, 1.6%, and 7%, respectively.

The STOXX 600, however, is still on track for its worst month since October 1987. Financial analysts expect continued volatility across all markets until the global health crisis is brought under control.

COVID-19 ravages the German economy

09:00 Following the warnings of possible lockdowns in Germany, here’s an overview of how some other European countries have reacted to the surge in coronavirus cases:

  • In Italy, a nationwide lockdown went into effect on March 10 after a cluster of cases in the north of the country
  • Spain became the second European country to impose a nationwide quarantine on Saturday after a similar outbreak to that of Italy
  • On Monday, France implemented a full lockdown, banning public gatherings and walks outside, and threatened citizens with fines if they contravened the strict measures. Cyclists, walkers and joggers are urged to stay at home.  
  • Ireland announced last week that it would impose a countrywide lockdown
  • Belgium went on lockdown on Wednesday, until at least April 5. The government asked citizens to stay at home and limit contact to their immediate family
  • Poland announced it would shut down businesses and ban international travel as of Friday March 20
  • On Monday, the EU put a stop to non-essential travel into the region for at least 30 days
  • The Czech Republic closed most shops and restaurants for 10 days and banned foreign travel starting March 14

08:55 In Germany, Chancellor Merkel's office has announced that unless citizens abide by the advice given earlier this week to curtail social activity, stricter measures will have to come into play. Merkel's Chief of Staff, Helge Braun, confirmed the government will be monitoring citizens' behavior over the weekend.

The German cities of Leverkusen and Freiburg have already implemented stricter measures than those announced by Merkel, and other regions may follow suit if people don't adhere to the advice of minimizing group activities.

A number of state premiers, however, have admitted lockdowns would be a last resort, and something they would rather avoid.

Read more: Will Germany impose a lockdown?

07:58 European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is open to the idea of issuing EU bonds, or "Corona bonds," to fight the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

In an interview with Deutschlandfunk radio, she also called on members of the bloc to put money into their economies and to help otherwise healthy companies survive the corona crisis, adding that the commission would offer "maximum legroom" in terms of how much debt countries could take on. 

The president also said that Brexit negotiations would continue, despite the fact that chief Brexit negotiator for the EU, Michel Barnier, has tested positive for the coronavirus. The UK’s chief Brexit negotiator David Frost, who has shown symptoms of the virus, is reportedly self-isolating as well. The commission is open to extending the Brexit deadline should UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson request it, von der Leyen said.

German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, for his part, has proposed state investments to help large companies.

"During this time, we can guarantee liquidity, as in credit and loans," to companies with many employees, he told German broadcaster ZDF, adding that all necessary financial instruments would be made available for companies "to make it through this difficult time."

Meanwhile, German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said he wants to streamline cooperation between the retail and food industries by weakening antitrust and cartel laws. 

07:30 The global death toll from the coronavirus outbreak has now surpassed 10,000, according to Johns Hopkins University. For comparison, the total death toll from the entire 2002-2003 SARS outbreak was 774.

Here’s an overview of the latest infection and fatality figures out of Europe and the US:

  • Germany - 15,077 cases - 44 deaths
  • Italy - 41,035 cases - 3,405 deaths
  • Spain - 18,077 cases - 833 deaths
  • US - 14,250 cases - 250 deaths
  • France - 10,995 cases - 372 deaths
  • Global - 244,523 cases - 10,030 deaths

Read more: Army called in as funeral services cannot cope with coronavirus victims

06:20 Here's a roundup of the latest coronavirus news from Asia:

  • The Sri Lankan government has implemented a 60-hour curfew across the whole island
  • Starting Sunday, South Korea will test and quarantine all arrivals from Europe regardless of whether they have symptoms, including South Korean nationals
  • The Philippines is to indefinitely ban the entry of foreigners after the government declared a state of calamity and a public health emergency
  • In China, some flights to Beijing are being rerouted to regional airports to relieve pressure on the capital's airport amid large-scale screening on incoming passengers
  • Wuhan, China has recorded a second consecutive day with no new confirmed or suspected cases
  • Malaysia will deploy its army from Sunday to assist police in enforcing a restricted movement order. It has reported 130 new infections bringing its tally to 1,030
  • Vietnam will suspend visa-free travel for citizens of Japan, Belarus and Russia from Saturday
  • Thailand reported 50 new confirmed coronavirus infections, taking its total number of cases to 322. It has enforced a de facto travel ban, requiring all arrivals to have a health certificate proving them free of infection
  • Hong Kong has reported 48 new cases of coronavirus, with the majority of infections coming from overseas
  • Indonesia has confirmed an additional 60 new cases while the death toll stands at 32

05:25 The US is fast-tracking anti-malarial drugs for use as a treatment against the deadly virus, President Donald Trump has announced. The news came after encouraging early results in France and China.

4:36 Traffic towards the German-Polish border in Görlitz is once again running smoothly after heavy congestion in the early hours of the morning. The A4 highway was backed up for 20 kilometers shortly after midnight as cars passed through border patrol into Poland.

03:19 Australia will not release its federal budget until October, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison saying it was not "sensible" to put together economic forecasts amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The pandemic has put the AU$2-trillion (US$1.17 trillion, €1.09 trillion) economy on the brink of its first recession in nearly three decades. The Oceanic country has already instituted lockdowns and travel bans over the coronavirus.

Morrison also announced a lockdown of remote indigenous communities "to prevent the spread of the virus."

Morrison added that he is taking decisions on the basis that the outbreak will last at least six months.

One of those decisions is for Australians to keep a four-square-meter (43-square-feet) gap around them in enclosed spaces to stem the spread of COVID-19.

Read more: Opinion: A call for a caring state

03:06 Saudi Arabia will suspend several forms of transportation, including all domestic flights, buses, taxis and trains, starting on Saturday, according to the Middle Eastern nation's state news agency.

02:31 The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is "considering different scenarios" when evaluating if and when the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo can take place.

"We are affected by this crisis like everyone else and we are concerned like everybody else," IOC President Thomas Bach told The New York Times newspaper. "We are not living in a bubble or on another planet. We are in the middle of our societies."

Bach said canceling the games "is not on the agenda" and the IOC is "committed to the success of these games."

"Of course we are considering different scenarios," he said. "But we are contrary to many other sports organizations or professional leagues in that we are four-and-a-half months away from the Games."

To the point - Corona: How Should We Handle this Crisis?

01:43 In a highly unusual move, China exonerated Dr. Li Wenliang, the doctor who warned of the coronavirus, after determining that he was "inappropriately" reprimanded by police.

A Chinese investigation determined that Wuhan police "acted inappropriately by issuing a disciplinary letter" and took "irregular law enforcement procedures," the CCTV state broadcaster reported on Thursday.

A report from the investigation suggested that the reprimand of the doctor, who later died from the disease, be withdrawn. The investigative team did denounce the "anti-establishment" labels of "hero" and "awakener" some had bestowed to Li.

Read more: Rome under quarantine: A diary in times of coronavirus

01:38 California Governor Gavin Newsom has ordered a statewide "stay at home" order, directing residents only to leave home when necessary to combat the coronavirus outbreak.

Newsom said projections show that hospitalizations could surge to 19,500 patients beyond capacity after modeling showed that 56% of the state's residents were expected to contract the virus.

He added that Los Angeles, the second-largest city in the US, would likely be "disproportionally impacted" by the pandemic. Earlier Thursday, Newsom asked President Donald Trump to send a US Navy hospital ship to the port of Los Angeles "immediately."

01:08 Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has ordered all residents to stay inside their homes as the US' second-largest city deals with the coronavirus pandemic. He also said residents should "immediately limit all nonessential movement."

"We're taking this urgent action to limit the spread of COVID-19 and save lives," Garcetti said at a news conference.

00:43 Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard proposed that the US-Mexico border remain open for commerce and work in the face of the coronavirus outbreak. Ebrard said he told his US counterpart, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, that "measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 should not paralyze economic activity." He added that his suggestions were met with a "good disposition."

00:29 Argentina will begin a mandatory quarantine at midnight on Friday, President Alberto Fernandez announced in a televised address. The measure, which restricts people to their homes, will last until March 31 and be enforced by security authorities.

"It is time for us to understand that we are caring for the health of Argentines," said Fernandez. "We have now dictated this measure trying to make the effects on the economy as least harmful as possible."

Argentina has 128 total confirmed cases of coronavirus, with three deaths.

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

00:19 New Zealand reported 11 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 39.

00:00 Catch up on yesterday's coronavirus updates here: Italy deaths surge past China

see, jsi, dv/bk  (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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