The global coronavirus pandemic has infected nearly 200,000 people worldwide, causing mass disruptions as governments continue trying to slow the spread of the new respiratory illness.
Bulgaria announced it has entered into a fiscal deficit and Ukraine said it is seeking a bigger lending program from the International Monetary Fund beyond the $5.5 billion for which it was asking.
Confirmed cases in Bulgaria, the EU’s poorest but least indebted country, spiked by 30 percent on March 17 to 81. The government in Sofia banned all foreign and domestic holiday trips until April 13.
Kosovar President Hashim Thaci the same day asked the country’s parliament to declare a state of emergency, a vote that by law is required within 48 hours.
“As a president, I never thought that it would come to this moment,” Thaci said at a news conference.
The Balkan country has 19 registered cases of the virus and has closed all schools, borders, bars, and eateries, and canceled all flights, while keeping grocery stores and pharmacies open.
Neighboring Bosnia-Herzegovina declared a state of emergency to enable coordination of activities between its two autonomous regions.
“We are focusing in all ways on how to alleviate the consequences of the coronavirus,” Prime Minister Zoran Tegeltija told reporters.
Kyrgyzstan announced its first confirmed cases of the virus, as three citizens tested positive after arriving from Saudi Arabia, the the landlocked Central Asian’s health minister reported on March 17.
The same day, the government in Bishkek banned entry to all foreigners to protect against the virus.
Kyrgyzstan borders China and two of its neighbors, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, also confirmed their first cases this month.
Meanwhile, in the Czech Republic, authorities said they seized nearly 700,000 face masks needed for the coronavirus outbreak from a company that sought a higher price for shipment.
The EU country has reported 434 cases of the pathogen as of March 18.
“Very, very limited exceptions” will be given to people allowed to enter the EU during a 30-day entry ban, according to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, and Britain also agreed to the entry ban.
Originating in China in late December, the virus has caused nearly 8,000 deaths across the world. European Union leaders on March 17 agreed to shut down the bloc’s external borders for 30 days.
Italy now accounts for one-third of the global death toll with 2,503 deaths and 27,980 infections. Spain, the fourth-most infected country, has 11,178 registered cases and 491 deaths.
China, where the virus was first reported in December, has the most with 3,241.