Trump invokes Defence Production Act; Syria introduces travel restrictions; The UK, Spain, Italy see biggest daily rise in deaths. Follow the latest updates
- Coronavirus latest: at a glance
- Italy records 969 coronavirus deaths dashing hopes of turnaround
- Covid-19 workers in Spain: ‘You can feel the fear in the air’
- See all our coronavirus coverage
This tweet from the air traffic tracking service Flightradar24, showing the number of planes in the air on Friday evening compared to four weeks earlier, shows the remarkable impact of travel restrictions across Europe.
Spain has seen another record single-day death toll after 832 people died between Friday and Saturday, bringing the total number of those who have lost their lives to the coronavirus in the country to 5,69o, Sam Jones, the Guardian’s Madrid correspondent, reports.
As of today, Spain has confirmed 72,248 cases of the virus, up from 64,059 on Friday.
We have done what was required at every moment and we will continue down that path.
Iran has reported 139 new coronavirus deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the total for the country to 2,517, Reuters reports.
Kianoush Jahanpour, a health ministry spokesman, said on state TV that the total number of cases diagnosed had rised by 3,076 to 35,408, and that 3,206 people were in a critical condition.
The tycoon Richard Branson is trending on Twitter after news broke that his airline, Virgin Atlantic, is applying for hundreds of millions of pounds in state aid.
Twitter users, by and large, are not impressed.
Hi #RichardBranson, can you send me a full list of all your businesses please? Because I’m going to
BOYCOTT EVERY FUCKING ONE
If your company isn’t registered in the UK, you should get no bailouts. #RichardBranson
If your business model does not allow for contingencies/lacks insurance, you should get no bailouts.
If normal people “save for a rainy day”, so should corporations.
Can anyone provide a legitimate answer as to why Virgin Atlantic (and its owners) should get a bail out when the government never helped Thomas Cook, BMI, Monarch or FlyBe?? Anyone??? #VirginAtlantic #RichardBranson
Spain has reported 832 deaths from Covid-19 since Friday, bringing the total for the country to 5,690.
The health ministry also reported 8,189 new confirmed infections, bringing the total to 72,248.
Saudi Arabian Airlines has agreed to operate exceptional commercial flights to repatriate British nationals, Reuters reports.
They will take place in the week starting 29 March from Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam to London’s Heathrow airport. Additional flights will be put on if required, according to a British embassy email sent late on Friday.
Authorities in Finland have restricted movement out of Uusimaa, the region that includes the capital, Helsinki, to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Restrictions came into force at midnight and are expected to remain in force until 19 April, Yle Uutiset reports. They prevent people from entering or leaving Uusimaa, except to work, return home or care for a vulnerable person.
Feeling brave? Scientists at Oxford University are recruiting volunteers to take part in the UK’s first coronavirus vaccine trial.
For anyone who lives in Oxford and is feeling brave: the first UK vaccine trial is now recruiting, expected to begin within weeks https://t.co/JYFMSs88Ik
Police enforcing the coronavirus lockdown in South Africa fired rubber bullets at shoppers queuing outside a supermarket in Johannesburg, according to an Agence France-Presse photographer.
The agency said about 10 police vehicles had arrived in Yeoville, a poor part of the city’s central business district, where several hundred people who had gathered outside a Shoprite supermarket were failing to observe physical distancing rules.
The number of people on Jersey confirmed to have contracted the coronavirus has reached 52, and one person is confirmed to have died.
There are 83 tests still pending and 601 people have tested negative, according to an update the island’s government published on Facebook on Friday evening.
For readers more interested in the latest coronavirus news from the UK, my colleague Lucy Campbell has just published our UK-focused live blog. That means I will only be taking the top UK news lines for this blog, which from now on will focus on global developments.
Health officials in the Philippines reported 14 new coronavirus deaths and 272 new cases on Saturday, according to Reuters.
The numbers reported represent the country’s largest daily increase in deaths and infections since the outbreak began .
In a sign of the wider impact of the crisis now enveloping the world, wildlife rescue centres around the world are struggling to treat endangered species, Gloria Dickie reports.
As the coronavirus spreads from country to country, disrupting global travel and the economy, the centres are struggling to make ends meet. The Centre for Orangutan Protection in Kalimantan in Indonesia’s section of Borneo has temporarily shut down to minimise the spread of the virus.
Derbyshire police in the north of England made headlines this week after using a drone to shame dog walkers who had driven into the Peak District National park during the lockdown.
Now, the Guardian’s north of England editor Helen Pidd reports, police officers have been pouring black dye into a reservoir near Buxton known locally as “the blue lagoon” to make it less appealing to swimmers.
No doubt this is due to the picturesque location and the lovely weather (for once!) in Buxton.
However, the location is dangerous and this type of gathering is in contravention of the current instruction of the UK government.
The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus around the world has now passed 600,000, according to the tally kept by Johns Hopkins University. With many countries, including the UK, now only testing the most serious cases, however, the true extent of infections is likely to be much greater.
According to the university’s interactive map, 601,478 people had been confirmed as infected with Covid-19, and 27,862 deaths attributed to the disease. At least 131,826 people have recovered after falling ill.
The lockdown implemented to curb the spread of the coronavirus is disrupting UK government plans to recruit 20,000 new police officers – a key manifesto pledge of the Conservative party at the December election.
Assessment centres have been hit by sweeping closures of premises, PA Media reports. Katy Bourne, the chair of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC), who also serves as PCC for Sussex told the agency:
We began a big recruitment drive and along comes this virus. We don’t want to stop that recruitment. The national call has a lot of officers who are in the pipeline who have been through the assessment centres and are still waiting to come out to forces and so on.
The assessment centres nationally where you expect people to turn up to classrooms, obviously those can’t function because we are all isolated, we have got to stay at home.
The personal protective equipment (PPE) has been a big issue nationally. The police are out and about in the country they need protection.
I know from Sussex’s point of view they have managed to secure some. I know some police forces in other areas of the country have really struggled.
After a week in which France’s government has come under increasing criticism for perceived lack of transparency, the prime minister, Édouard Philippe, and the health minister, Olivier Véran, are holding a press conference on Saturday to outline the situation in detail and answer questions, Kim Willsher reports from Paris.
We will have the usual announcement of the daily update figures early evening.
Let’s begin with the latest from the UK. In Wales, teachers have been urged to keep schools open for NHS staff and carers during the two-week Easter holidays, PA Media reports.
The education minister, Kirsty Williams, who described school workers as national heroes for keeping more than 700 schools open during the coronavirus epidemic, said:
It takes a community to raise a child and that statement has never been more true. In this time of national need, our school community has stepped up and met the challenge.
More than 700 schools have stayed open to look after the children of NHS staff, carers, people who are saving lives. I am now asking you to do more and keep schools open during what would have been school holidays.
Wales has a strong tradition of supporting communities and I can confirm that the funding announced last week to support children in receipt of free school meals can be used to carry on providing free school meals over the Easter holiday.
This will allow local authorities to continue with their local arrangements while we establish a national scheme to support children in receipt of free school meals.
Hello everybody, this is Damien Gayle taking the reins of the live blog from London. As usual I will be bringing you the latest coronavirus updates from our network of correspondents around the world, from the news wires and anywhere else I can find it.
And as usual I will need the help of the Guardian’s global readership. Please send any coronavirus news from your part of the world to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or via a direct message to my Twitter profile, @damiengayle. Let me know what we’re missing.
That’s it from me, Helen Sullivan on this Saturday in what I can’t believe is still March. It’s been a long month.
I leave you now with my colleague Damien Gayle. I’ll be moving to a different room to watch an entire continent isolate itself from incoming flights. And who said self isolation wasn’t fun?
Related: Coronavirus latest: at a glance
The NHS could have prevented “chaos and panic” had the system not been left “wholly unprepared for this pandemic”, the editor of a British medical journal has said.
Numerous warnings were issued but these were not heeded, Richard Horton wrote in The Lancet. He cited an example from his journal on 20 January, pointing to a global epidemic: “Preparedness plans should be readied for deployment at short notice, including securing supply chains of pharmaceuticals, personal protective equipment, hospital supplies and the necessary human resources to deal with the consequences of a global outbreak of this magnitude.”
The ratings agency Fitch has cut Britain’s sovereign debt rating to AA-, saying debt levels will jump as the government ramps up its spending to offset the near shutdown of the economy in the face of coronavirus.
Fitch downgraded the country by one notch to the same level as its rating for Belgium and the Czech Republic. It said a further cut could follow as it kept the rating on negative outlook.
Related: Fitch cuts UK credit rating to AA-
Here’s the wrap of coronavirus pandemic news from the last few hours:
The US has become the first country to exceed 100,000 confirmed coronavirus cases as Donald Trump signed into law the largest economic stimulus package in US history, a $2.2tn bill designed to rush federal assistance to workers and businesses.
The US Navy is the military service hit hardest by the coronavirus, as it scrambles to contain its first at-sea outbreak, with at least two dozen infected aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt, one of 11 active aircraft carriers whose mission is central to the Pentagon’s strategy for deterring war with China and Iran.
The US embassy in Riyadh said on Saturday it was working with the Saudi authorities to arrange repatriation flights to the United States on a commercial airline.
“No flights or departure/arrival locations have been confirmed at this time,” it said in a statement.
“It is likely that flights will be scheduled with little advance notice.”
Meanwhile a video shared on Twitter claims to shows a father crying after coming home to his son. The doctor is heard saying “No, no,” in Arabic as his son rushes to greet him.
A Saudi doctor returns home from the hospital, tells his son to keep his distance, then breaks down from the strain. pic.twitter.com/0ER9rYktdT
Related: Coronavirus latest: at a glance
The UK Ambassador to Madagascar and Comoros Phil Boyle pointed out on Twitter a few hours ago how few flights are going to and from Africa at the moment, as countries across the continent respond to the coronavirus pandemic.
The latest data, from FlightRadar24, still shows the continent as having close to zero aircraft leaving or arriving:
And flights globally for the last three months: pic.twitter.com/cz0t3n3n3Y
The Guardian’s Emma Graham-Harrison and Angela Giuffrida report from Rome with Helena Smith in Athens and Liz Ford in London.
Around the world, as cities have gone into lockdown to stop the spread of coronavirus, the mass efforts to save lives have put one vulnerable group more at risk.
Hong Kong has brought in new restrictions on gatherings and nightlife venues after a recent rise in imported cases and a cluster of 43 infections connected to live music venues.
Another 19 people were diagnosed with Covid-19 on Friday who are connected to the cluster.
In more British retail and manufacturing news, the prospect of weeks trapped at home has seen Britons embark on unlikely shopping sprees as they create home offices and gyms but also embrace hobbies ranging from dressmaking to jigsaw puzzling and growing their own veg, Zoe Wood and Joanna Partridge report for the Guardian.
In Australia, retailers Country Road, Mimco, Politix, Trenery and Witchery will close their doors as the spread of coronavirus leaves many shoppers confined to their homes.
The stable of retailers, owned by South African company Woolworths Holdings, announced the temporary closure of stores until further notice on Saturday.
Have questions, news tips, or jokes you think our readers would enjoy? I’m on Twitter @helenrsullivan.
Thailand reported 109 new coronavirus cases and one death on Saturday, bringing the total to 1,245 infections and 6 deaths, the spokesman of the government’s Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) said.
The new cases are higher than the 91 reported on Friday.
The latest death is of a patient with some prior health complication, Taweesin Wisanuyothin, the CCSA spokesman said.
People in greater Tokyo and the Osaka area in western Japan hunkered down on Saturday as officials urged citizens to stay indoors to prevent a potential emergency, but some were carrying on as normal, Reuters reports.
Moody’s downgraded South Africa’s sovereign credit rating to “junk” status on Friday, heaping more pain on an economy already in recession and now staring down the barrel of a steep contraction over the global coronavirus pandemic.
The ratings firm downgraded the rating one notch to ‘Ba1’ from ‘Baa3’ and maintained a negative outlook, meaning another downgrade could follow if the economy performs worse or government debt rises faster than expected.
An annual budget in February showed a worsening of the fiscal picture, and the country entered a 21-day nationwide lockdown on Friday that will dent output as workers have been told to stay at home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
As the country marked its first day of #LockdownSA – chaotic scenes were observed in EThekwini @ the Durban Exhibition Centre, the city’s temporary reception Centre for homeless people. These homeless ppl say they were taken without their consent and then denied food. @NkoRaphael pic.twitter.com/Oq7XQSXr5D
NSW Health have also revealed that more than 100 Australian doctors and dentists, who were stranded on a cruise ship off the coast of Chile, have today returned to Australia.
China’s official media told people to stay on guard against the coronavirus on Saturday, and restrictions on foreigners entering went into effect, as the country reported no new locally transmitted infections and a small drop in imported cases.
“At this time, we must be extremely vigilant and cautious, and we must prevent the post-epidemic relaxation from coming too soon, leading to the loss of all our achievements,” the Communist Party’s official People’s Daily newspaper said in a front-page editorial.
The authorities also reversed planned re-openings of movie theatres, the state-owned China Securities Journal reported, citing sources.
A reminder that UK prime minister Boris Johnson became the first major world leader to test positive for Covid-19 in Friday night.
On 3 March, Johnson boasted that he was continuing to shake hands with ‘everybody’, including people who had tested positive for Covid-19.
Boris Johnson on 3 March below, saying how pleased he thought we would all be to know that he was continuing to shake hands with everybody, including coronavirus patients.
Me telling my gran over the phone that Boris has corona virus pic.twitter.com/2yYyloCyiG
Just a reminder that you can get in touch with me, Helen Sullivan, any time on Twitter @helenrsullivan.
Australia stepped up enforcement of social distancing rules on Saturday to contain community transmission of the novel coronavirus, implementing fines, closing beaches and threatening stricter measures if people defy pleas to stay at home, Reuters reports.
The death toll from the virus rose to 14 after an elderly woman died in an aged-care facility in New South Wales, where several residents and employees have tested positive for the virus, according to NSW health officials.
The country’s total number of confirmed coronavirus cases rose by 212 to 3,378 early on Saturday, two-thirds of them in NSW and Victoria states, according to the federal heath ministry.
The infection rate in Australia remains slower than in many other countries, although it is accelerating, especially in the most populous states of NSW and Victoria where more than half of the country’s 25.5 million people live.
A global shortage of condoms is looming, the world’s biggest producer said, after a coronavirus lockdown forced it to shut down production.
Malaysia’s Karex Bhd makes one in every five condoms globally. It has not produced a single condom from its three Malaysian factories for more than a week due to a lockdown imposed by the government to halt the spread of the virus.
That’s already a shortfall of 100 million condoms, normally marketed internationally by brands such as Durex, supplied to state healthcare systems such as Britain’s NHS or distributed by aid programmes such as the UN Population Fund.
There are already more than 6,000 hospitalised Covid-19 patients in New York, with almost 1,600 in intensive care, AP reports.
The state has logged a nation-high of 519 deaths, and has more than 44,000 confirmed cases.
An Iranian doctor says hundreds have died and thousands have been sickened from ingesting toxic methanol across the Islamic Republic out of the false belief it kills the new coronavirus, AP reports.
Brunei reported its first coronavirus death on Saturday, that of a 64-year-old man.
Brunei has reported 115 cases of the virus so far, some of which were linked to a religious gathering in Malaysia that authorities said had been attended by about 16,000 people.
The man who died had not attended the gathering but had a history of travel to Malaysia and Cambodia.
The director of one of Haiti’s top hospitals was kidnapped on Friday, prompting staff to refuse to take in new patients in protest, as the impoverished country battles an outbreak of the novel coronavirus amid a spike in gang violence.
Dr. Jerry Bitar, a surgeon, was kidnapped shortly after leaving for work at Hospital Bernard Mevs from his home in an upmarket neighborhood of the capital, hospital administrative assistant Carla Puzo told Reuters.
Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson returned to Los Angeles on Friday after spending more than two weeks in quarantine in Australia after testing positive for the coronavirus.
A chilling video from New York records the wails of ambulance sirens on Friday night, as patients are rushed to buckling hospitals amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The US has become the worst-affected country on earth, with more than 104,000 confirmed cases. New York state accounts for 44,000 of these.
Turn up the volume and listen to the sound of a city in the grips of #COVID19 . Every siren wailing is carrying more lives to an already overcrowded hospital.
And every siren signifies an EMT crew risking their lives to save others.#coronavirus pic.twitter.com/dSd3F9atmQ
In the US, congress ensured that the legislation for the US$2.2tn rescue plan for American businesses creates multiple layers of accountability, despite president Donald Trump’s declaration tat “I’ll be the oversight,” when lawmakers were in the final days of drafting the plan, AP reports.
Italy on Friday recorded the most daily deaths of any country since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, AFP reports.
Italy showed a continuing downward trend in infection rates, however.
South Korea reported 146 new coronavirus cases on Friday, the highest number in a week, its disease control agency said on Saturday, with the country suffering a rise in imported cases from Europe and the United States during recent days.
Aid groups warn that without measures millions could die in low-income countries and war zones such as Syria and Yemen, where hygiene conditions are already dire, AFP reports.
As India and other South Asian nations work to stop the spread of the virus, they face another battle: reams of misinformation, AP reports.
On Tuesday, Indians were ordered to stay indoors for three weeks in the worlds biggest coronavirus lockdown. In announcing the move, Modi reiterated the danger of misinformation. “I appeal to you to beware of any kind of rumours or superstitions,” the prime minister said.
As we continue to report on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, we’re looking for stories of how this unprecedented crisis has affected couples, families, friends and communities.
If you’ve been separated from a loved one by lockdowns, have had to cancel your wedding or miss an important family event, we’d like to hear from you. We’re always interested in hearing what you may have done in response, too, or how you and your loved ones (and neighbours) are supporting each other in these trying times.
Here’s the latest from Australia, which announced its 14th coronavirus-related death on Saturday.
Passengers on a cruise ship stranded off the coast of Panama have issued a desperate plea to be allowed to dock after four people died during a Covid-19 outbreak on board, the Guardian’s Patrick Greenfield and Erin McCormick report.
The latest leap in coronavirus cases has set a new record in Argentina, as the country braces for an expected sharp increase in cases over the coming weeks – despite the full national lockdown declared on March 20.
The total has reached 690 cases and 17 deaths so far, with 101 new cases and five deaths reported Friday.
In the US, Donuts Delite in Rochester is selling doughnuts featuring the face of Dr. Anthony Fauci’s – the doctor leading the US battle with coronavirus – surrounded by white frosting and topped off with patriotic sprinkles.
Fauci doughnuts giving new meaning to the phrase “comfort food”
(sold in Rochester, NY) pic.twitter.com/LM4Vyp9IcI
It appears the city of Los Angeles inadvertently notified more than 200 people about their Covid-19 results in a mass email that included the names of all recipients, according to LA Times reporter Soumya Karlamangla:
apparently the city of LA notified people of their negative covid results in a mass email but didn’t bcc anyone, so all 200+ recipients could see the names of everyone else who got tested, which is a huge privacy violation
this was the email forwarded to me. not including the long list of recipients for obvious reasons pic.twitter.com/HIl21Cxc2B
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Friday he will maintain his busy travel schedule dedicating infrastructure projects around Mexico in spite of growing restrictions prompted by the coronavirus, including a shutdown of most federal government operations, the Associated Press reports.
And here is a tweet about Boris Johnson testing positive for coronavirus:
Me telling my gran over the phone that Boris has corona virus pic.twitter.com/2yYyloCyiG
Here’s the clip of US president Donald Trump saying on Friday that he had a conversation with UK prime minister Boris Johnson, who has tested positive for coronavirus, and “the first thing he said to me is: ‘We need ventilators’”.
Trump mentioned Johnson “asking for ventilators today” twice during the Coronavirus Task Force briefing.
Thirty-nine Australians who were on board the Costa Luminosa, and are now trapped in quarantine in Rome, have gotten word that at least two of their international shipmates have died, Matilda Boseley reports for the Guardian.
The Australian state of New South Wales has confirmed 212 new cases of the virus since yesterday, bringing the state total to 1,617 confirmed cases. The state is the worst-affected by the virus.
The Mercy hospital ship docked on Friday morning at the Port of Los Angeles, joining California’s battle against the coronavirus as the state prepares to meet New York City levels of demand on hospitals, possibly within days.
Today, at the end of that contentious and partially accurate White House coronavirus briefing, a reporter asked Dr. Anthony Fauci – who has become a trusted figure for many Americans overwhelmed by the coronavirus pandemic – whether over the course of his career he had experienced anything like the past month in the United States?
Two key moments from Trump’s coronavirus briefing earlier today.
! Trump says he’s told Vice President Mike Pence not to call the governors of Washington or Michigan.
“They don’t treat you right, I don’t call.”
He says Pence is a different type of person and will call anyway.
Incredible moment.@jonkarl asks multiple times: Will everyone who needs a ventilator have one?
President Trump: “Don’t be a cutie pie. Everyone who needs one?”
A British man has described the ‘gut-wrenching pain’ of losing his mother to coronavirus.
Stuart Hamlin urges people to stay inside in an emotional video filmed hours after his mother died from the coronavirus. He describes his pain just four days after Tracy was admitted to hospital with Covid-19 symptoms.
Doctors and nurses on the front lines of the US coronavirus crisis pleaded on Friday for more protective gear and equipment to treat waves of patients expected to overwhelm hospitals as the number of known U.S. infections surpassed 100,000, with more than 1,600 dead, Reuters reports.
In the US, Gizmodo is reporting that a 17-year-old boy has become the first coronavirus patient to die after being denied treatment because he lacked private health insurance.
The Guardian is working to verify this story.
A 17-year-old boy in Los Angeles County who became the first teen believed to have died from complications with covid-19 in the U.S. was denied treatment at an urgent care clinic because he didn’t have health insurance, according to R. Rex Parris, the mayor of Lancaster, California.
“He didn’t have insurance, so they did not treat him,” Parris said in a video posted to YouTube:
This is absolutely barbaric. The cruelty and absurdity of our for-profit health care system is more obvious in the midst of this crisis than it has ever been. We need Medicare for All. https://t.co/jUsEA1Lp5M
China’s National Health Commission said on Saturday that 54 new coronavirus cases were reported on the mainland on Friday, all involving so-called imported cases.
There were 55 new cases a day earlier.
Hello and welcome to the Guardian’s live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic with me, Helen Sullivan. I’ll be taking you through the next few hours of important updates and breaking new as the number of cases worldwide moves towards 600,000.
Both the US and Italy now have more cases than China, with 101,657 and 86,498 respectively.