Headlines for March 11, 2020

Worldwide there are nearly 121,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 — the majority of them in China, where over 3,100 people have died.

In Iran, there have been 291 deaths and about 8,000 confirmed cases. Iran’s chief justice on Monday ordered the temporary release of 70,000 prisoners to slow the spread of the virus. The United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in Iran responded by calling on authorities to release political prisoners still being held, including thousands arrested during a bloody crackdown on anti-government protests last November.

In Europe, cases of COVID-19 have now been confirmed in every country in the European Union. Hardest hit is Italy, where authorities have placed travel restrictions on the entire population of 60 million people. In Britain, junior health minister Nadine Dorries was diagnosed Tuesday with coronavirus. Her illness has sparked fears in the British Parliament, which she recently visited, and at 10 Downing Street — the prime minister’s residence — where she attended a reception last week. Other high-level European officials have also gone into quarantine, including the president of the European Parliament, the leader of an Italian political party, the culture minister of France and the secretary general of the Vox party in Spain.

Back in the U.S., the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told lawmakers Tuesday that President Trump’s expanded wall on the U.S.-Mexico border would do nothing to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, as President Trump has claimed. CDC Director Robert Redfield also agreed with a Democratic lawmaker that it was wrong for Republicans to refer to COVID-19 as the “Chinese coronavirus” or “Wuhan virus.” This week, China’s Foreign Ministry condemned the rhetoric as a “despicable” campaign to stigmatize China.

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