US President Donald Trump has backed away from imposing a quarantine in the New York area, instead directing that a “strong travel advisory” be issued for the region to limit the spread of the new coronavirus.
The announcement on Twitter came late on Saturday as criticism grew over Trump’s earlier call to prohibit travel in and out of virus hotspots in the states of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
The US now accounts for the highest number of coronavirus infections of any nation, recording more than 122,000 confirmed cases on Saturday. The death toll in the country surged past 2,000, more than double the figure two days ago.
In Spain, the number of deaths from COVID-19, the illness caused by the new virus, rose to 5,690, and in hard-hit Italy, the death toll jumped above 10,000.
Worldwide, the number of cases has reached more than 660,000. Some 139,000 people have recovered, while more than 30,000 have died.
Here are the latest updates:
Sunday, March 29
09:40 GMT – British gov’t ‘very concerned’ after cases surge past 1,000 mark
The British government is “very concerned” following the latest figures which show more than 1,000 people had died after testing positive for coronavirus, senior minister Michael Gove said on Sunday.
“Naturally we are very concerned and our thoughts and prayers are with the families of all those who have lost loved-ones in the last few days,” he told Sky News.
09:35 GMT – China worried imported cases could lead to second wave of infections
A spokesperson for the Chinese health authority has expressed concern about the possibility of imported cases leading to a second wave of infections.
“Chinese already has an accumulated total of 693 cases entering from overseas, which means the possibility of a new round of infections remains relatively big,” said Mi Geng of the National Health Commission.
The commission reported 45 new COVID-19 cases on the mainland, of which all but one were imported by travelers from overseas.
09:15 GMT – Germany’s coronavirus cases reach 52,547, total deaths 389
The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany has reached 52,547 after 3,965 people tested positive overnight, according to the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases’ latest tally.
Meanwhile, the death toll rose to 389 from 325 the previous day.
08:45 GMT – New front: Worry over COVID-19 spreading in African refugee camps
Scary, distressing, catastrophic: A bleak assessment by experts, humanitarians and epidemiologists on what a severe coronavirus outbreak would look like in countries across Africa sheltering millions of refugees and other vulnerable people.
As the rapidly spreading virus gains ground, aid groups warn of the potentially disastrous consequences of a major outbreak of COVID-19, the highly infectious respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus, in places where healthcare systems are already strained and not easily accessible to large segments of the population.
Read more here.
08:30 GMT – ‘Things could get worse before they get better’: UK’s Johnson
In a letter being sent out to households across the country, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the government was contemplating further measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
“We will not hesitate to go further if that is what the scientific and medical advice tells us we must do,” wrote Johnson, who is working remotely after testing positive for the virus.
“It’s important for me to level with you – we know things will get worse before they get better,” the letter reads.
“But we are making the right preparations, and the more we all follow the rules, the fewer lives will be lost and the sooner life can return to normal.”
08:15 GMT – Saudi Arabia shuts entry and exit into Jeddah, brings forward curfew
Saudi Arabia has shut down entry and exit into the Jeddah governorate and brought forward a curfew there to begin at 3 pm local time, the official Saudi Press Agency said.
The same measures were applied to Riyadh, Mecca and Medina last week.
08:00 GMT – Mexico tells residents to stay home for a month
Hugo Lopez-Gatell, Mexico’s deputy health minister, asked all residents in the country to stay at home for a month to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
En la medida en que logremos la inmovilización masiva de personas en el espacio público tendremos el beneficio de reducir la velocidad de transmisión del virus. Esta es nuestra última oportunidad de hacerlo ya. A las y los habitantes del país les decimos: #QuédateEnCasa. pic.twitter.com/DDTvJ4KKt0
— Hugo López-Gatell Ramírez (@HLGatell) March 29, 2020
“This is our last chance. To the residents of Mexico, we say #StayHome,” he wrote on Twitter.
There are 848 confirmed cases in the country. Some 16 people have died so far.
07:40 GMT – Kenyans brace for economic hardship
Like many others in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, Gerrard Ogut has decided to send his family to his village in the countryside for the foreseeable future.
“They’re safer there,” says Ogut, a father of three. Besides, “Life in the city just got unbearably tougher.”
Indeed, these are hard times for many Kenyans – not least because of the fear of contracting the new coronavirus, for which there is no vaccine or known treatment regimen, but also due to the crushing blow the pandemic could deliver on East Africa’s largest economy.
Read Pauline Mpungu’s story from Nairobi here.
07:15 GMT – Tokyo confirms 68 new cases in biggest jump yet
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Japan rose by 68 overnight, a record daily increase which brings the total number of infections to more than 1,700, public broadcaster NHK reported.
Japan has reported 55 deaths, excluding those from a cruise ship quarantined last month, according to NHK.
Trump drops idea of coronavirus lockdown (4:10)
07:00 GMT – Myanmar temporarily suspends entry visas
Myanmar suspended issuing entry visas starting on Sunday as part of efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The foreign ministry said diplomats, UN officials and ship and airline staff will be exempted from the measure which will go into effect on Sunday and last until late April.
Health authorities have so far reported five cases of COVID-19 in Myanmar.
06:50 GMT – Australia boosts funding to tackle domestic violence
Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has allocated 150 million Australian dollars ($100m) in funding to support people “experiencing domestic, family and sexual violence due to the fallout from the coronavirus”.
In a statement, Morrison said Google was seeing a 75 percent increase in searches for domestic violence help – the highest in the past five years – and the new funds would be spent on counselling support for both victims and abusers.
The money is part of an AU$1.1bn ($700m) package to deal with the effects of the health and economic crisis caused by the coronavirus epidemic. It includes AU$669m ($413m) to be spent on expanding telehealth services and an initial AU$74m ($48m) will be spent on supporting the mental health of all Australians, the statement said.
06:20 GMT – Venezuela’s Guaido calls for emergency government
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido called for the creation of a “national emergency government” to fight the spread of the coronavirus in the crisis-wracked country.
“Given the situation in Venezuela, which is going to worsen with the pandemic, today I present to the country the need to form a national emergency government,” said Guaido, who had declared himself interim president of the South American country last year following a disputed election in 2018.
The unity government would include representatives from parties across the political divide, “but for obvious reasons cannot be led by” President Nicolas Maduro, Guaido said in a series of tweets.
Coronavirus lockdown: India grapples with migrant workers’ exodus (2:36)
05:15 GMT – Thailand reports 143 new cases and one death
Thailand recorded 143 new coronavirus infections and one death on Sunday, Reuters news agency said, citing a spokesman for the Thai government.
The latest victim was a 68-year-old man from Nonthaburi province who had attended a crowded boxing match in Bangkok where there had been a cluster of infections, according to Taweesin Wisanuyothin.
The new figures bring the total number of cases and deaths since the beginning of the outbreak in Thailand to 1,338 and seven, respectively.
04:00 GMT – As cases continue to slow in China, Wuhan reopens rail stations
China’s National Health Commission reported 45 new COVID-19 cases on the mainland, of which all but one were imported by travellers from overseas.
There were five new deaths in Wuhan, the city that was once at the epicentre of China’s outbreak. Life is gradually returning to normal in the city, which has only reported one new case in the past 10 days, according to state media.
Wuhan’s subway and railway stations reopened on Saturday after two months of suspension, and a China- Europe cargo train departed Wuhan for Germany, carrying medical supplies.
Mainland China has recorded 81,439 confirmed cases and a total of 3,300 deaths throughout the outbreak.
03:40 GMT – Canadian PM’s wife recovers from COVID-19
Sophie Gregoire Trudeau said she has received a “clear bill of health” two weeks after testing positive for COVID-19.
“It’s all good for me now,” she said in a video posted on Instagram. “We are going through some really rough times, and we are going to stick through it together.”
03:25 GMT – CDC issues travel advisory for New York area
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urged residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut states to “refrain from non-essential domestic travel for 14 days effective immediately”.
The travel warning did not apply to employees of critical infrastructure industries, including trucking, public health professionals, financial services and food supply, the agency said on its website.
02:45 GMT – New Zealand confirms first coronavirus death
New Zealand reported its first death from COVID-19, prompting Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to renew calls on the public to “stay at home, break the chain and save lives”.
The woman who died was a 70-year-old who had initially been diagnosed with influenza. Some 21 staff who were involved in the patient’s care were now in self-isolation, according to a statement by the health ministry.
New Zealand recorded 60 new infections in the past 24 hours, bringing the number of confirmed cases to 476.
01:15 GMT – South Korea reports 105 new cases, total at 9,583
Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 105 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of infections throughout the outbreak in the country to 9,583.
A total of 5,033 people have fully recovered, while the death toll was 152, the public health agency said.
00:50 GMT – Trump to issue ‘strong travel advisory’ for New York region
Trump said he will not impose a quarantine on the states of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, but would instead issue a “strong travel advisory” for the region.
In a Twitter post, Trump said he made the decision after consulting with the White House taskforce leading the federal response and the governors of the three affected states.
He wrote: “I have asked the @CDCgov to issue a strong Travel Advisory, to be administered by the Governors, in consultation with the Federal Government. A quarantine will not be necessary.”
….Federal Government. A quarantine will not be necessary. Full details will be released by CDC tonight. Thank you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 29, 2020
00:40 GMT – Coronavirus deaths surge past 2,000 in US
The death toll from coronavirus infections in the US doubled in two days, surging past 2,000, according to a tally by the Johns Hopkins University.
The US now ranks sixth in deaths, after Italy, Spain, China, Iran and France.
The state of Rhode Island announced its first two deaths from the coronavirus, leaving just three states with zero reported deaths: Hawaii, West Virginia and Wyoming.
00:33 GMT – New York governor slams quarantine idea as ‘anti-American’
Andrew Cuomo slammed Trump’s suggestion of a quarantine in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, saying such a lockdown would amount to “a federal declaration of war”.
“If you start walling off areas all across the country, it would be totally bizarre, counterproductive, anti-American, anti-social,” the governor of New York told CNN, calling the idea “preposterous” and illegal.
Cuomo added that roping off the nation’s financial capital could “paralyse the economy” at a time Trump has called for measures to get the economy back on track.
Hello, I’m Zaheena Rasheed in Male, Maldives, with Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.
Read all the updates from yesterday, March 28, here.