UN urges G20 to adopt ‘wartime plan’; Prince Charles tests positive for coronavirus; Senate and White House reach stimulus deal
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Iran reported 2,206 new Coronavirus cases in last 24 hours raising the total number to 27,017, reports my colleague Akhtar Mohammad Makoii.
Spokesman for Iran’s health ministry also announced 143 deaths in the same period raising the total number of deaths to 2,077.
So far 9,625 patients have recovered.
Kiyanoosh Jahanpoor, Iranian health ministry spokesman said 68 % of the deaths are above 60 years old, 32 % are under 60.
The head of the Netherlands’ public health institute has told the Dutch parliament that measures to control the spread of coronavirus appear to be working, Dutch News reports.
Jaap van Dissel said the country was seeing a “positive trend”, 10 days after authorities introduced a ban on mass gatherings and closed restaurants, bars, schools and cannabis-selling coffee shops.
Spain now has the world’s second-highest tally of coronavirus deaths, after 738 more were reported on Wednesday, the country’s deadliest toll in one day, Associated Press reports.
With 3,434 coronavirus patients dead, Spain surpassed China’s death toll of 3,285. Italy still has the most deaths of any nation in the world with 6,820.
Prince Charles has tested positive for coronavirus and is displaying mild symptoms “but otherwise remains in good health”, Clarence House has said.
Charles, the next in line to the throne, is 71 years old, making him a member of those at risk groups who have been encouraged by the government to completely self-isolate for 12 weeks.
In accordance with government and medical advice, the prince and the duchess are now self-isolating at home in Scotland. The tests were carried out by the NHS in Aberdeenshire where they met the criteria required for testing.
It is not possible to ascertain from whom the prince caught the virus owing to the high number of engagements he carried out in his public role during recent weeks.
A crack down on travel and an imposition of social distancing measures are to be introduced in Iran in the next 24 hours, Patrick Wintour, the Guardian’s diplomatic editor, reports.
The country’s President Hassan Rouhani made the announcement at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday following recommendations from the health ministry about the course of the pandemic.
China’s tough lockdown and social distancing measures in Wuhan and other provinces appear to have successfully ended coronavirus infections and may chart a route back to normal life, according to a report from the University of London’s Imperial College, Sarah Boseley, the Guardian’s health editor, reports.
The report, from Prof Neil Ferguson and his team who have been the main modellers of the epidemic for the UK and other governments, suggests it is possible to lift the social distancing restrictions, as China has begun to do, without a resurgence of the epidemic.
At this difficult time, these results suggest that, after containment, a carefully managed and monitored relaxation of effective large-scale lockdowns may be possible even before an effective vaccine is available.
Restrictions on movement brought in to curb the spread of the coronavirus are preventing aid from reaching refugees and displaced peoples, the Norwegian Refugee council has said.
The organisation said 300,000 refugees in the Middle East are among those who it is not able to reach, as it called on governments to relax border restrictions for the delivery of humanitarian aid.
While governments are taking tough and much-needed measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus, millions of refugees and displaced people still depend on humanitarian assistance. Aid workers should fall into the same category as medical staff, food retailers or pharmacists. If supermarkets and pharmacies can remain operational during this crisis, then so should the delivery of humanitarian aid.
The risk of Covid-19 spreading to overcrowded displacement sites in Asia, Middle East and parts of Africa is extremely high, and will lead to a humanitarian catastrophe if we can´t protect those most at risk of infection.
The head of Germany’s leading public health body, said it is still “too early” to say whether physical distancing measures are having an effect in the country, Kate Connolly reports from Berlin.
Lothar Wieler, president of the Robert Koch Institute, said he had hoped that by today it might have been possible to see if the measures had led to a fall in infections.
Our UK-focused coronavirus and politics live blog is now online, anchored by Andrew Sparrow and Lucy Campbell.
As well as general UK coronavirus news lines they will be covering evidence from Prof Neil Ferguson, director of the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis at Imperial College, to the Commons science committee about coronavirus at 10.15am, Prime Ministers’ Questions at 12pm, and the resumption of the debate in the Lords on the draconian coronavirus bill at 3.30pm.
Ireland has changed the criteria for testing for coronavirus to prioritise people that show two symptoms rather than just one, Rory Carroll reports from Dublin.
The National Public Health Emergency Team announced late on Tuesday that people must show fever and at least one sign of respiratory disease, such as coughing or shortness of breath, before being referred for testing.
Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, has warned that more tube services in the UK capital may have to be cut because of staff sickness rates approaching 30%, Rowena Mason, deputy political editor, reports. He said the highly trained staff could not be replaced and repeated calls for the government to forcibly shut construction sites.
The government has been under pressure over the conditions of construction workers packing on to crowded public transport and gathering together on sites and in canteens, failing to heed social distancing rules. But Robert Jenrick, the communities secretary insisted that sites could remain open where social distancing is observed and claimed it was essential for infrastructure works to continue and dangerous cladding to be removed from buildings.
There will be construction sites where following the government guidelines is possible. Where it isn’t possible they shouldn’t operating.
European Union leaders are to call for “a true European crisis management centre”, according to a leaked document that seeks to draw lessons from the coronavirus pandemic, Jennifer Rankin reports from Brussels.
The EU’s 27 leaders will hold a conference call on Thursday, replacing the spring summit that was due to take place in Brussels, which is usually devoted to the economy. Instead the agenda will be dominated by coronavirus, the impact on people, health systems and the economy.
It’s a real catastrophe. There is medical equipment produced by Swedish companies that – due to trade restrictions – can’t reach the patient.
– 82% of Swedish companies have difficulties in exports/imports due to Corona. Today’s figures.
– 70% last week
1.3 million people have a job in Sweden thanks to exports.
We need to
– secure the Single Market
– avoid all types of export bans
– secure that goods can cross borders
The Nepali government has decided to allow Nepalis stranded at the border with India to come home ‘one last time’, provided they abide by a 14-day quarantine after returning to the country, the Himalayan Times reports.
Yubaraj Khatiwada, the spokesperson for the government, said returnees would have to show their identity cards in order to be admitted. Quarantines will be arranged by provincial governments.
The government does not intend to unnecessarily bother citizens. These measures are for their own safety. I hope people will cooperate.
A British man is reportedly among nine people who have died from Covid-19 in Hungary, which so far has confirmed 226 coronavirus infections.
Hungarian authorities say the pandemic has now reached its second stage in the central European country, with infections now spreading in the community, About Hungary reports.
The virus can be anywhere and anybody can become infected.
An international survey has found that 70% of people in the world’s seven wealthiest economies expect their households to lose income as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, Reuters reports.
The poll, by Kantar, included results from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States.
More than 170,000 people have already signed up overnight to volunteer for the NHS to help tackle the coronavirus, according to Stephen Powis, National Medical Director of NHS England, Simon Murphy reports.
It comes after Matt Hancock yesterday launched a call to arms for an army of a quarter of a million volunteers to come forward to help support the NHS fight back against the coronavirus pandemic.
Yesterday we sent out a call to arms for an army of NHS volunteers, looking for a quarter of a million volunteers, and I can say that overnight we’ve already had 170,000 people sign up – so that’s three a minute signing up to help the NHS. It’s an absolutely astonishing response.”
I think at times of crisis, people come together. And the vast majority of people in this country are doing what the government has asked us all to do. But it’s important that everyone does that as that will save lives.
I know there’s vast numbers of people looking to help neighbours, vulnerable people who live close by, so no it doesn’t surprise me at all. In times like this as the chief medical officer has already said, we see outbreaks of altruism, people wanting to help, so it’s a wonderful response in the same way that all those doctors coming back, nurses coming back, I’m bowled over by it.
French government scientific advisers have recommended a total of six weeks’ lockdown, a suggestion president Emmanuel Macron and his ministers are considering but seem reluctant to announce at this moment, Kim Willsher, the Guardian’s Paris correspondent, reports.
France is carrying out 9,000 tests for the virus every day. Jérôme Salomon, director of the country’s health authority, has said this will be increased by an additional 10,000 by the end of this week.
Rabbis in Israel have made an exemption for the upcoming Passover feast, ruling that families and friends do not have to gather around a single table, Oliver Holmes, the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent, reports.
Instead, the traditional dinner can be held via the video conference call program Zoom to prevent the spread of Covid-19, according to the Jerusalem Post newspaper.
A charity taking legal action to call for the release of hundreds of people with underlying health disorders held in immigration detention in the UK, PA Media reports.
Detention Action says a “significant proportion” of the approximately 1,500 people detained over their immigration status in the country have serious underlying health conditions that place them at “a significant risk of serious harm or death” during the Covid-19 crisis.
Afghanistan has reported 33 new Coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, marking the biggest one-day rise in the war-torn country, Akhtar Mohammad Makoii reports from Herat, the country’s worst-affected city.
One death has also been reported, raising the total number of deaths to two. The latest death is a 45-year-old woman who died of Covid-19 last night in Herat.
In Japan, businesses, sports fans and the people feel “massively let down” by the decision to postpone the Olympics, which has been pushed back to an unspecified date, Justin McCurry, the Guardian’s Tokyo correspondent, reports.
On Tuesday, the Tokyo 2020 countdown clock showed there were just 122 days to go before the Olympics opening ceremony.
We begin with some news from Africa, just published on the Guardian this morning. Lucy Lamble, of our global development team, reports that government ministers across Africa have called for the suspension of debt interest payments as their countries adapt to cope with the Covid-19 crisis.
The numbers of cases being reported in Africa are still behind Europe and the US but rises are being confirmed in South Africa, Kenya, Egypt, Algeria and Burkina Faso, among others, and there is fear of what economic consequences the pandemic might wreak.
Hello, this is Damien Gayle taking charge of the coronavirus live blog as a quiet, locked-down morning begins in London.
For the next few hours I will be bringing you news from the Guardian’s network of correspondents across the planet, the news wires and whatever I can dredge up from social media.
That’s it from me, Helen Sullivan for today. I’ll now be handing the blog over to my esteemed colleague Damien Gayle, who will, from a safe distance, be taking you through the next few hours of coronavirus pandemic news.
A summary of the biggest developments in the global coronavirus outbreak.
Related: Coronavirus latest: at a glance
More on the state of the pandemic in China now.
Mainland China reported a drop in new confirmed coronavirus cases on Wednesday as imported infections fell and no locally transmitted infections were reported, including in central Hubei province.
Malaysia will extend a two-week restriction of movement order and unveil a second economic stimulus package as the number of coronavirus cases continue to climb, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Wednesday.
Taiwan’s government announced 19 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, all imported, bringing the total number of infected people on the island to 235.
Taiwan also reported one extra case late on Tuesday, in addition to the 20 new cases it announced earlier that same day.
On Wednesday’s episode of Today in Focus: An avalanche of misinformation, fake news and hoaxes are being shared widely online as people seek reliable information on the coronavirus crisis. The Guardian’s media editor, Jim Waterson, examines where the falsehoods are coming from.
Related: Going viral: fake news and Covid-19
The Guardian’s Sam Jones reports from Madrid with Stephen Burgen in Barcelona:
If you see anything we haven’t covered but possibly should, have something you’d like more clarity on, or think you’ve seen something new that might make our readers laugh do let me know on Twitter @helenrsullivan.
For those of you just waking up in the UK, here are the front pages for Wednesday, 25 March.
Guardian front page, Wednesday 25 March 2020: Doctors and nurses in threat to quit over safety pic.twitter.com/RckIo71rly
Chinese premier Li Keqiang has warned local governments not to cover up new cases of Covid-19, as low daily rates of infection prompted the relaxing of travel restrictions in Hubei province, where the pandemic started.
US Senate leaders have reached a deal with Trump administration officials on a nearly $2tn stimulus package to help rescue the American economy ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic as Donald Trump considers easing restrictions aimed at combating the contagion.
The Australian stock market leapt suddenly in last-minute trade to close up 5.5% on Wednesday.
Earlier, the market opened strongly after extraordinarily surges on Wall St overnight, before drifting lower during the afternoon.
As Australians receive the following text message:
In rural France, which is one week into the national coronavirus confinement, some places are even more eerily quiet than usual.
Scenes from India under lockdown now:
Mainland China reported a drop in new confirmed coronavirus cases on Wednesday as imported infections fell and zero locally transmitted infections were reported, including in central Hubei province.
The number of new cases totalled 47 on Tuesday, all of which were from travellers returning home, down from 78 a day earlier, the National Health Commission said.
Here are the latest global figures, according to Johns Hopkins University.
This pandemic has plunged us all into whitewater, but there are some certainties, writes Guardian Australia political editor Katharine Murphy.
An Australian man has been charged over a “prank” in which he coughed on a police officer on purpose while pretending he was infected with the new coronavirus as a friend filmed the incident, authorities said.
The man, aged 21, went into a police station at Coffs Harbour, a coastal city about 525 km (326 miles) north of Sydney, on Tuesday and approached a 71-year-old female officer.
Australia’s drugs regulator has been forced to restrict powers to prescribe a drug undergoing clinical trials to treat Covid-19, because doctors have been inappropriately prescribing it to themselves and their family members despite its potentially deadly side-effects.
The anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine and the similar compound chloroquine are currently used mostly for patients with autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, but stocks in Australia have been diminished thanks to global publicity – including from Donald Trump – about the potential of the drug to treat Covid-19.
Thailand has recorded 107 new coronavirus cases, bringing total to 934, a health official said on Wednesday.
If you have any tips, news you think we need to know, or something funny to share, get in touch on Twitter @helenrsullivan.
On Wednesday morning, India’s population of 1.3bn people awoke to the first day of lockdown. The confinement of the world’s second most populous nation to their homes for the next 21days, to combat the spread of coronavirus, is not only the largest attempted lockdown so far, but for a country where community and communal spaces form the basis of society, will also challenge the entire Indian way of life.
Donald Trump is aiming to reopen “large sections of the country” by Easter, he told reporters on Tuesday, as officials advised anyone who has recently left New York to self-quarantine for two weeks.
Walmart Inc’s Flipkart has suspended services, a notice on the Indian e-commerce firm’s website said on Wednesday, as India began a 21-day lockdown to fight the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Indian government has banned the export of hydroxychloroquine and formulations made from the medication, as experts test the efficacy of the drug in helping treat patients infected with Covid-19.
US President Donald Trump fully supports a delay in the Tokyo Olympics agreed between Japan and the international Olympic panel, a Japanese government spokesman said on Wednesday, citing comments made to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in a telephone call.
The US has been appealing to its allies for help in obtaining medical supplies to overcome critical shortages in its fight against coronavirus.
The Nigerian president’s influential chief of staff has tested positive for coronavirus, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said on Tuesday.
Abba Kyari, who is in his 70s, is an important figure in President Muhammadu Buhari’s government and his illness could have ramifications for the running of the country.
The Australian market has been sliding back all day after a strong start that saw the benchmark ASX200 index jump 5.8% at the opening bell.
Shortly after 2pm the index was up by just 2.3% compared to Tuesday’s closing price, driven down by a steady stream of company announcements revealing the damage the coronavirus crisis is doing to the economy.
An important message from the New Zealand police, who somehow still have a sense of humour. ‘Save the human race’ is a little strong, but otherwise a fairly good message for people in most countries:
N0w for a bit of stress relief with the help of the bored, rich and famous: here are the best celebrities to follow on social media, as curated by Sinead Stubbins for the Guardian.
Two Short Pomes For Twitter . Love pomes. ( btw stay safe. keep distance, wash yr hands and look — get on FaceTime or Skype- makes all the difference to those you love) pic.twitter.com/BDDgozz0su
People who suffer from hypertension appear to be very susceptible to the coronavirus, according to figures from Italy’s epidemiology institute.
The institute is releasing details about who is dying from the disease in Italy, which has seen the most fatalities of any country. One of the interesting details refers to the victims’ underlying health conditions, so-called comorbidities.
Peru’s death toll has climbed to seven. A 38-year-old man died after he contracted the disease while on a trip to Canada, the country’s health ministry has said. He dies in hospital in Lima after being admitted on Monday with respiratory failure. He was then diagnosed with atypical pneumonia.
More news from the Philippines now, where communist guerrillas said Wednesday they would observe a ceasefire in compliance with the UN chief’s call for a global halt in armed clashes during the coronavirus pandemic, AP reports.
A twist on jobs from Jacinda Ardern as opposed to Scott Morrison’s “Everyone who has a job in this economy is an essential worker.” https://t.co/f6TqiEhu15
The streets of New Zealand’s largest cities are beginning to empty, with most shops now closed, after the prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, declared a state of emergency a few hours ago.
In Dunedin packs of students continued to haunt the main thoroughfares, seeming to ignore the physical-distancing rules, and liquor stores did a swift trade, many running out of spirits such as bourbon and gin.
Homeless people were the most common demographic remaining on the streets of Dunedin, while the few remaining tourists were wearing masks and gloves.
Doctors are only seeing urgent patients in-person, and triaging everyone else over the phone. Many pharmacies were not allowing anyone inside, and were instead receiving and handing out prescriptions through the door.
Lines of an hour or more stretched outside the Warehouse, hardware stores, supermarkets and firewood depots.
The mood on the streets was calm, if slightly strained. “It feels like we’re in a movie,” said one man standing outside an inner-city pharmacy, waiting for a prescription. “It’s buzzy, it’s weird”.
Libya recorded its first confirmed case of the coronavirus on Tuesday, the UN-backed government announced, stoking concern that an outbreak could overwhelm the war-torn country’s already weakened health care system.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 100 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, bringing the total infections in the country to 9,137. The death toll rose by one to 126.
Of the new cases, 34 were from travellers, KCDC data showed.
The number of new cases is up from the previous day’s count of 76.
South Korea said it would tighten border checks for travellers from the United States by Friday as concerns rise over imported coronavirus cases despite a decline in domestically transmitted infections.
As New Zealand enters a state of emergency and prepares for the highest threat level to come into effect at midnight tonight, food delivery service Uber Eats has suspended operations in the country.
In an email sent to customers the company wrote:
The NZ Government has announced additional public health and social safety measures in response to Covid-19, which means only a very limited list of essential services will be allowed to operate during the four-week lockdown.
In light of that decision, and with all restaurants and cafes across the country asked to close, we are temporarily suspending the Uber Eats app in New Zealand, turning off the service at 10.00pm NZDT on Wednesday, March 25.
Brazil’s far-right president Jair Bolsonaro has claimed he “wouldn’t feel anything” if infected with coronavirus and rubbished efforts to contain the illness with large-scale quarantines as his country’s two biggest cities went into shutdown in a desperate bid to save lives.
The Philippine Congress on Tuesday approved a bill declaring a national emergency and authorizing the president to launch a massive aid program for 18 million families and tap private hospitals and ships in fighting the coronavirus outbreak.
If you have any tips, news you think we need to know, or something funny to share, get in touch on Twitter @helenrsullivan.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged leaders of the worlds 20 major industrialised nations on Tuesday to adopt a wartime plan including a stimulus package in the trillions of dollars for businesses, workers and households in developing countries trying to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
In Argentina, new cases of coronavirus had their greatest daily leap so far Tuesday, with 86 new reported cases and two new deaths, bringing the total tally to 387 cases and six deaths so far. Argentina’s number is expected to grow at an accelerating pace in the days ahead, according to government projections, which estimate a minimum of 250,000 cases in the coming months.
Nike executives said Tuesday that shoppers in key Asian markets are beginning to return to stores as the company reported a rare drop in Chinese quarterly revenues cushioned by stronger e-commerce sales.
“Traffic is back,” Nike chief executive John Donahoe said of the dynamic in China that is also beginning to play out in Japan and South Korea, two other countries that also appear to be past the worst of the outbreak.
“Consumers are back in the stores,” he told analysts during an earnings conference call.
“They are often wearing facemasks, but they’re back in the store.”
New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern has meanwhile addressed the country regarding the state of emergency declared there today:
Giving a statement to New Zealand’s parliament, Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister, told lawmakers that a state of emergency had been invoked for the country, calling the measures “tools of last resort,” and exhorted New Zealanders to take an impending four week period of total self-isolation “deadly seriously.”
On the question of mixed messages, Scott Morrison says, confusingly:
The most urgent message that we’re getting for people to stay home is to stay home if you’re sick.
That is the most important urgent message.
With Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison now is mining executive Neville Power who, gratingly, Morrison keeps calling “Nev” (although this does seem to be a common nickname used by Power).
Power, the former head of Fortescue Metals, is to lead the country’s Coronavirus Commission.
#ScottMorrison having a laugh with his mate Nev during his speech while the rest of the country are in panic. Nice.
Nev Power is also what I call Neve Campbell making me gay
Scott Morrison’s COVID-19 Commission will be led by Neville ‘Nev’ Power, a former CEO of Fortescue Metals Group. When in doubt, always put the mining execs in charge
Australian prime minister Scott Morrison is speaking to media now and has announced that all elective surgery (outside urgent electives) will be postponed from tonight.
Morrison says the national cabinet has taken on board the medical experts recommendations to stop all non-urgent surgeries, to free up hospitals, staff, and resources, for what is coming:
From today, midnight, March 25 until further notice, all elective surgery other than Category 1 and urgent, and I stress, urgent Category 2 cases will be suspended.
This will apply in both the public and the private hospital system. Cancellation of elective surgery will allow the preservation of resources like personal protective equipment and allow health services to prepare for their role in the COVID-19 outbreak.
New Zealand is now in a State of National Emergency as it heads into a national lockdown tonight for at least four weeks.
We’ll have more on the news from New Zealand shortly. Moving to markets news now:
The global economy is going to take a “massive hit” as lockdown measures are rolled out across much of the world, according to the rating agency S&P. Economists are revising their forecasts for world GDP on a near-daily basis, S&P adds, and identifies key concerns.
The US economy is set to decline by at least 12% in the second quarter– double the figure S&P pencilled in last week. It also expects a Q1 contraction now as well.
The state of emergency just declared in New Zealand is effective immediately.
A state of emergency was declared in parliament at midday, with Level 4 restrictions – which the government had announced warned would to come into effect – to begin on Wednesday night at 11.59pm.
The New Zealand Health Ministry announced that there were 50 new confirmed and probable coronavirus cases in the country.
“There are 50 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand as at 9.30 am this morning,” it said in a statement.
New Zealand has declared a national state of emergency, Reuters reports. More on this soon.
HI, Helen Sullivan here. I’ll be taking you through the next few hours of coronavirus pandemic news from around the world.
As Hubei, China lifts some restrictions, Italy’s Prime Minister has promised theirs will end sooner than the end of July, and Trump insists the US doesn’t need a national lockdown.