With borders slamming shut, schools and businesses closing and increasingly drastic restrictions on movement, tens of millions of people across EU and Turkey are heeding official calls to isolate themselves and slow the spread of the virus.

Municipality workers in protective suits disinfect Kugulu Park due to coronavirus concerns, in Ankara, Turkey, March 17, 2020.
Municipality workers in protective suits disinfect Kugulu Park due to coronavirus concerns, in Ankara, Turkey, March 17, 2020. (Reuters)

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Coronavirus claims first victim in Turkey

Turkey confirmed its first novel coronavirus-related death on Tuesday as the number of cases in the country has risen to 98.

"Today I lost my first patient in our fight against coronavirus," Health Minister Fahrettin Koca told a televised press conference, adding that the patient was an 89-year-old man.

"I've been monitoring him closely. He contracted the virus from one of his workers who had been in China."

Turkey, Italy discuss joint efforts

Turkish president and Italian prime minister discussed over the phone possible joint measures and cooperation against the coronavirus outbreak on Tuesday.

Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan offered condolences to Italy's Giuseppe Conte over the loss of lives due to the Covid-19, according to a statement by Turkey's Communications Directorate.

Tunisia introduces night curfew 

Tunisia will impose a curfew from 6 pm to 6 am [local time] starting Wednesday, Tunisia's president said on Tuesday, tightening the measures to counter the spread of coronavirus.

Tunisia, which declared 24 cases of the virus, closed mosques, cafes and markets, closed its land borders and suspended international flights.

Virus reaches all EU countries

The coronavirus has spread to all European countries as Montenegro confirmed the country's first cases on Tuesday.

The Montenegrin government said in a statement that two women, who had travelled abroad, were infected by the virus.

Prime Minister Dusko Markovic said in a news conference that the health condition of the patients is stable.

EU to ban foreign travellers for 30 days

The leaders of European Union nations have agreed to institute a travel ban that prohibits most foreigners from entering the bloc for 30 days to discourage the spread of the new coronavirus. 

EU leaders agreed on Tuesday to shut down the 27-nation's bloc's external borders immediately. 

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the proposal by EU officials "got a lot of support by the member states. It’s up to them now to implement. They said they will immediately do that."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said late Tuesday that European leaders agreed in a conference call to the Commission's proposal for an entry ban with "very, very limited exceptions." 

Merkel says citizens of Switzerland, Liechtenstein, the United Kingdom and Norway are exempt. 

The EU leaders also agreed to coordinate the repatriation of EU citizens stranded outside the bloc, she said.

Italy coronavirus death toll stands at 2,503

The death toll from an outbreak of coronavirus in Italy has risen in the last 24 hours by 345 to 2,503, an increase of 16 per cent, the Civil Protection Agency said on Tuesday.

The total number of cases in Italy, the European country hardest hit by the virus, rose to 31,506 from a previous 27,980, up 12.6 per cent, the slowest rate of increase since the contagion came to light on February 21.

Of those originally infected, 2,941 had fully recovered compared to 2,749 the day before. Some 2,060 people were in intensive care against a previous 1,851.

France reports 27 new deaths

French health authorities reported 27 new deaths from coronavirus on Tuesday, taking the total to 175 or an increase of around 18 percent, as the country entered its first day of lockdown to try and contain the outbreak.

During a press conference without any physical presence of journalists, health agency director Jerome Salomon added the number of cases had risen to 7,730, up from 6,633 on Monday, which is a rise of 16.5 percent in 24 hours.

Salomon said 699 people were in a serious condition, needing life support.

Spain logs nearly 2,000 new cases

Spain on Tuesday confirmed nearly 2,000 new cases of Covid-19, sending the total spiralling past 11,000, with 491 deaths, the health ministry said.

Spain is the fourth worst-hit country in the world after China, Italy and Iran, with numbers rising rapidly despite an unprecedented national lockdown, with the government ordering its 46 million population to stay home.

Over the past 24 hours, the number of people infected rose by 1,987, hiking the overall total to 11,178, the ministry's emergencies coordinator Fernando Simon said.

At the same time, the number of people who had recovered from the virus stood at 1,098, which equates to a 9.0 percent recovery rate.

France deploys 100,000 police and gendarmerie forces

France deployed 100,000 police and gendarmerie forces Tuesday to control people's movements because of the coronavirus outbreak, according to the country’s interior minister, Christophe Castaner.

The French interior minister said those who do not respect the new rules, would be fined up to $151.

President Emmanuel Macron had earlier announced that movement would be limited for 15 days, starting midday Tuesday.

As of late Monday, France reported 6,633 infections and 148 dead, an increase of 21 deaths and 1,210 new cases from the virus known as Covid-19.

Death toll rises in Iran

Iran announced another 135 deaths from the novel coronavirus, bringing the overall toll to 988 in one of the world's worst-hit countries.

"Reports by more than 56 laboratories indicated that we have had 1,178 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 infection in the past 24 hours," health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said in a televised news conference.

"This brings the total number of confirmed cases to 16,169 as of today noon," he added.

Vietnam to quarantine arrivals

Vietnam to start mandatory quarantine of all arrivals from the US, Europe and ASEAN countries, the government said in a statement.

Indonesia warns of escalating coronavirus cases

Indonesia is bracing for a significant increase in coronavirus cases as it widens efforts to locate and test victims, health ministry official Achmad Yurianto said on Tuesday.

"There will be quite a significant increase in the number of patients because we're actively tracing," he said.

Yurianto made the prediction as he revealed there were 38 new coronavirus cases in the past two days in Indonesia, bringing the total number of infections to 172, with five recorded deaths.

Meanwhile, Indonesia's foreign ministry said it will prohibit the entry and transit of visitors from seven European countries plus Iran from March 20 due to coronavirus concerns.

The seven European countries are Britain, Italy, France, Spain, Germany, Switzerland and Vatican City.

Restrictions for travellers from China and South Korea's Daegu city and Gyeongsangbuk-do province remain in place, the ministry said.

Coronavirus cluster tied to elderly day care centre
A cluster of coronavirus cases in Japan's Nagoya city has been linked to an elderly day care facility, underscoring the difficulty of shielding the aged from the outbreak in a country with the world's oldest population.

Nagoya, the capital of Aichi prefecture in Japan' central industrial heartland , has 99 confirmed cases of the coronavirus outbreak and has been struggling to find beds for patients. Aichi is the country's second hardest-hit region, with 123 cases.

Nagoya accounts for all 14 of the prefecture's deaths from the virus, a prefecture official said. At least 12 of those were linked to the cluster originating in the elderly day care facility, public broadcaster NHK said, although officials declined to give details.

In total, 50 cases linked to the elderly day care facility have been confirmed and all the patients are in hospital, a prefecture official said.

Thailand reports 30 new coronavirus cases – official

Thailand reported 30 new coronavirus cases, raising the country's total to 177, Sukhum Kanchanaphimai, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Public Health told a news conference.

Eleven of the new cases are connected to a crowded boxing match that saw a large number of coronavirus cases, while other cases are those that worked closely with foreigners, Sukhum said.

Most of the cases, 70 percent to 80 percent, in Thailand are recorded in Bangkok, he said.

Thailand has recorded one coronavirus fatality and 41 patients have recover ed and returned home.

Malaysia to ban people from crossing Singapore border

Malaysia will bar people from crossing its border with Singapore as part of travel curbs that take effect from Wednesday until March 31 to rein in the spread of a coronavirus, a news website said on Tuesday.

"Not allowed from tomorrow until March 31," the website, Malaysiakini, quoted the southeast Asian nation's director-general of immigration, Khairul Dzaimee Daud, as saying.

Hong Kong to quarantine all visitors 

Hong Kong will quarantine for 14 days all people entering the city starting midnight on Thursday to prevent an "explosion" of coronavirus cases around the world compromising one of the world's most successful outbreak limitation campaigns.

Speaking at her weekly press briefing on Tuesday, the Chinese city's leader Carrie Lam also advised residents to avoid all non-essential travel and added that schools, which have been shut since January, were unlikely to resume on April 20 as initially planned.

"If we don’t adopt some strict measures ... I’m afraid all precaution efforts done in the past two months would be wasted. It will affect the public health of Hong Kong."

Four of the 157 confirmed coronavirus patients in Hong Kong have died. Fifty of the latest 57 cases were people with recent travel history, Lam said.

21 news cases emerge in mainland China

Mainland China had 21 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections on Monday, the National Health Commission said on Tuesday, up from 16 a day earlier.

That brings the total number of confirmed cases in China so far to 80,881.

The death toll from the outbreak in China had reached 3,226 as of the end of Monday, up by 13 from the previous day.

In the central province of Hubei, the epicentre of theoutbreak, there were 12 new deaths, with the provincial capital of Wuhan accounting for 11 of the fatalities.

The number of imported cases of the virus in mainland China reached 143 as of Monday, up 20 from a day earlier.

Mongolia reports three new cases 

Mongolia has reported three new coronavirus cases among citizens repatriated by specially chartered planes from South Korea and Germany, the country's emergency commission said on Tuesday.

The commission said the patient from Germany was in critical condition.

Mongolia, which has sealed its southern border with China, last week confirmed its first coronavirus case, a French national working in the country.

Colombia to close borders 

Colombia will close its borders from Tuesday to prevent the spread of coronavirus and will keep them shut until May 30, President Ivan Duque said on Monday.

The Andean country currently has 54 confirmed cases of Covid-19, which has infected over 174,100 and killed nearly 6,700 worldwide, according to a recent Reuters tally.

Venezuela detects 16 new cases

President Nicolas Maduro said the entire country will enter quarantine on Tuesday due to coronavirus.

Venezuela detected 16 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Monday, Maduro said, adding that the total number of cases in the South American country has risen to 33.

Tokyo's Nikkei opens down 3 percent on virus fears

Toyko's key Nikkei index opened down three percent on Tuesday, extending global plunges as interest rate cuts and fresh stimulus by central banks failed to dampen fears over the coronavirus pandemic.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index was down 3.02 percent or 513.88 points to 16,528.11 minutes after the open, while the broader Topix index was down 2.66 percent, or 32.94 points, at 1,203.40.

New Zealand unveils pandemic stimulus package

New Zealand announced a US$7.3 billion economic stimulus package Tuesday to counter the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

"We will fight the virus, we will cushion the blow for business and workers, we will position for recovery," Finance Minister Grant Robertson told parliament.

Mexico coronavirus tally rises to 82

Mexico's Health Ministry said on Monday that confirmed cases of coronavirus infection in the country have risen to 82 from 53 a day earlier.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies