Headlines for March 16, 2020

Today, an extended coronavirus global roundup. The coronavirus pandemic death toll has topped 6,500 deaths with about 170,000 confirmed cases worldwide. At least 77,000 people have now recovered from the disease, though some reports suggest it has had lasting health impacts and that reinfection is possible.

Sweeping measures are being rolled out across Europe, which is now considered the epicenter of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Italy remains on lockdown as it reported 368 new deaths Sunday, bringing its death toll to over 1,800.

The Vatican announced it will close Holy Week celebrations to the public.

Spain is now also on lockdown in an attempt to slow down the spread of the coronavirus. Spain has the second most cases of the disease in Europe after Italy, and the fifth-highest number worldwide, with 8,000 infections and nearly 300 deaths as of Sunday. Video emerged of people in Spain cheering medical workers in the streets as the country prepared to shut down. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s wife, Begoña Gómez, has been diagnosed with COVID-19. Deputy Prime Minister Pablo Iglesias went into quarantine after his partner, also a minister, was diagnosed with COVID-19. Meanwhile, Ortega Smith and Santiago Abascal of the far-right Vox party have tested positive, and the party announced all lawmakers would work remotely.

In France, the government ordered restaurants, bars and movie theaters shut down. Half of the coronavirus patients in critical condition in France are under the age of 60.

Austria has banned gatherings of more than five people, as well as set a curfew, enforced with fines. Germany and Denmark are closing their borders.

Meanwhile, in Britain, the government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson is under fire for limiting its recommendation to self-isolate to people over the age of 70. Britain’s chief science adviser also suggested letting a certain number of people get infected to build “herd immunity,” but government officials backed away from the comments, saying it was not the official policy.

Ireland has closed all pubs and bars days before St Patrick’s Day celebrations.
In Iran, the death toll has topped 720, with nearly 14,000 confirmed cases. In the past 24 hours, at least 100 people have died. An official said many of those who died were otherwise healthy. Around 15% of the fatalities were under 40 years of age.

Lebanon is embarking on a two-week lockdown, closing its airport and borders, and ordering people to stay in their homes.

South Africa has declared a national disaster as COVID-19 takes a foothold on the African continent. Kenya said it was closing its border to all nonresidents to curb the spread of the disease. At least 26 African countries are now reporting cases.

In Latin America, Colombia and Panama are blocking entry for nonresidents and citizens, and requiring those reentering the country to self-isolate for two weeks. Guatemala announced the first coronavirus death over the weekend. The 85-year-old man entered the country through Madrid last month.

In mainland China, where the coronavirus first emerged but has steadily declined in recent days, 16 new cases and 14 new deaths were reported Sunday. There are now more confirmed infections outside of mainland China than inside. China has offered to help countries including Iran, Iraq and Italy deal with the outbreak.

Meanwhile, the youth climate strike known as “Fridays for Future” has moved to a digital strike. Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg, who started the weekly strike, tweeted, “School strike week 82. In a crisis we change our behaviour and adapt to the new circumstances for the greater good of society.”

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