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US Live updates: Most of Outer Banks closing to visitors as authorities attempt to limit residents’ exposure to coronavirus

21:20  17 march  2020
21:20  17 march  2020 Source:   washingtonpost.com

Live updates: Brazilian official who met Trump and Pence at Mar-a-Lago tests positive for coronavirus

  Live updates: Brazilian official who met Trump and Pence at Mar-a-Lago tests positive for coronavirus President Trump’s order banning travel from Europe for 30 days due to coronavirus compounded upheaval in global markets Thursday as fears of a world recession mounted and Americans faced expanding restrictions at home. Trump scrapped his own domestic travel, while the NBA suspended its season after two players tested positive. MLS also suspended its season, and numerous college basketball tournaments were canceled. More than 1,300 cases have been reported in the United States, with at least 37 deaths. Tom Hanks became the first American celebrity to publicly announce a coronavirus diagnosis.

The rapidly spreading coronavirus outbreak continued to upend life across the world Tuesday as more countries tightened quarantine measures. Schools, offices, bars, restaurants and many stores remain closed across major U.S. and European cities, and dozens of countries are shutting their borders or implementing mandatory self-isolation stints for travelers arriving from abroad.

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Here are some other significant developments:

  • North Carolina’s Outer Banks will begin restricting tourists and visitors in an effort to reduce travel and limit permanent residents’ exposure to the coronavirus, officials in Dare County announced Tuesday.
  • The New York mayor said city officials are “absolutely considering” a shelter-in-place order similar to the one that took effect Monday in the San Francisco Bay area, where six counties are almost completely shut down.
  • Health departments in the United States on Monday reported the largest number of coronavirus-related deaths on any one day since the onset of the outbreak: 22, bringing the nationwide total to 89.
  • Calls have intensified for social distancing as one of the only measures that could prevent the United States from facing a situation as dire as Italy’s, where more than 2,000 people have been killed by the coronavirus. President Trump and his coronavirus task force suggested that tax deferments and possibly cash payments could be on the way for American individuals and businesses.
  • China’s Foreign Ministry hit back at Trump’s description of the pandemic as a “Chinese virus,” accusing him of insulting China and saying the United States “should first take care of its own business.”

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2:46 PM: Cruise ship carrying more than 200 Americans turned away after former passengers diagnosed with coronavirus

a large ship in a body of water: The cruise ship Marela Explorer docks at the port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain on Friday. (Cristobal Garcia/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock) The cruise ship Marela Explorer docks at the port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain on Friday. (Cristobal Garcia/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

More than 200 Americans are among more than 1,400 people on a cruise ship that was barred from disembarking passengers in the Spanish Canary Islands on Sunday as nations worldwide impose lockdowns and close borders to guard against the coronavirus.

The Costa Luminosa, operated by a subsidiary of Carnival, is one of a number of cruise ships unable to find ports willing to accept thousands of passengers as the crisis intensifies.

The ship passed through the Strait of Gibraltar on Tuesday and was headed toward its next scheduled stop in southern France, but it remains unclear what will happen when it arrives.

France began a lockdown Tuesday ordered by President Emmanuel Macron.

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There are 233 Americans aboard, the company said. Some passengers are growing increasingly anxious, according to relatives who have spoken to them. A number have developed coughs and one woman told her daughter that the crew appeared overwhelmed by the need to deliver food to all the cabins.

Read more here.

By: Rosalind S. Helderman and Tom Hamburger

2:42 PM: NYC Board of Correction calls for fast release of high-risk detainees


The New York City Board of Corrections is calling for the city’s jail system to “rapidly” reduce the detention population via emergency release, and immediately release detainees who are at the highest risk of coronavirus complications.

“Significantly fewer people in jail will limit the spread of COVID-19 infection among people in custody and those who work in the jails, minimize the number of people in custody who will need medical care, decrease the density of housing areas for people who remain in jail, and allow New Yorkers to maintain connections with and support from their loved ones,” the BOC, the independent oversight body for the city jail system, said in a statement Tuesday.

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The BOC’s advisory would mostly impact two different groups: people over 50 or who have existing health conditions like lung disease or cancer, who are at risk for severe complications if infected by covid-19, and detainees who are being jailed for “administrative reasons,” like failing to appear in court or violating parole.

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The board also recommends releasing people serving sentences of less than a year, and further called for the state’s corrections and health departments to issue guidance on how to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the jail system, pointing to officials in other municipalities who have done so, such as San Francisco.

Prisons and jails pose a unique public health threat amid the coronavirus outbreak because of the close quarters, often unsanitary conditions and restrictions on inmates, from accessing soap and water, alcohol-based hand sanitizer and inadequate medical care. Deteriorating conditions amid an escalating outbreak led to prison riots in Italy.

By: Kim Bellware

2:32 PM: Saudi Arabia bans prayer services at most mosques


Saudi Arabia announced Tuesday that it’s suspending prayer services at all mosques except for the country’s two holiest prayer sites, in Mecca and Medina, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

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“This is considered a religious duty dictated by the Islamic Sharia and its general and specific rules,” Mohammed al-Issa, secretary general of the Mecca-based Muslim World League, told Al Arabiya English, a Saudi-owned news channel. “Everybody knows that this pandemic requires taking every measure of precaution, including preventing any form of gathering with no exception.”

He added: “The Islamic Sharia advises people whose mouths smell after eating to not go to communal prayer, let alone if they were infected with a fatal virus which everybody has been warned about with no exceptions.”

Religious authorities worldwide have wrestled with how to balance the call to comfort communities and maintain traditions alongside preventive measures needed to stave off the coronavirus pandemic.

On Monday night, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis ordered all places of worship to suspend services except for individual prayers — a move seen as particularly targeting the Greek Orthodox Church, which has refused calls to alter practices that put people in close contact, such as having congregants during Communion sip from the same cup of wine.

Shrines and places of worship have been traced as sites of mass transmission in places such as Iran and South Korea.

That has led many countries to put in place restrictions that in other circumstances might cause an uproar. Pope Francis announced Saturday that he will hold pre-Easter services away from the public, after previously beginning to live-stream Sunday Mass.

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Prayer places inside Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque have been closed while Israel has banned all gatherings of more than 10 people, the minimum traditionally needed for a Jewish prayer service.

By: Miriam Berger

2:10 PM: Most of North Carolina’s Outer Banks shutting down to visitors and tourists

Much of North Carolina’s Outer Banks will begin restricting tourists and visitors this afternoon in an effort to reduce travel and limit permanent residents’ exposure to the coronavirus, officials in Dare County announced Tuesday.

In a statement posted to the county’s website, officials in Dare County, N.C., said the restrictions would begin at 2 p.m. Tuesday. Authorities will use checkpoints to close entry points and will require permits to gain access to the barrier island’s communities.

“In response to updated guidelines from the CDC to avoid discretionary travel and follow the President’s coronavirus guidelines for America, the Dare County Control Group has made the decision to restrict visitor access to Dare County,” the statement said.

“Beginning at 2 p.m., checkpoints will be established at entry points to Dare County, and no visitors will be allowed access.”

To gain entry, Dare County has established entry permits. But the permits are only available to “essential personnel,” including government workers, permanent residents and nonpermanent residents who own property or work in the county.

Dare County includes the popular beach destinations of Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills and Duck, and tourists traditionally begin flocking to the area in late spring. But the statement said the general public and visitors will not “be able to apply for a permit.”

“To avoid contact at checkpoints, please display your permit on your dashboard so it is clearly visible,” the statement said.

By: Tim Craig

2:09 PM: Millions of children rely on schools for meals. This is what happens when they close.

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In Cincinnati, school officials were trying to figure out what kind of nonperishable meals they could distribute to homeless students, who constitute nearly a tenth of the student body. In New Rochelle, N.Y., where residents have been confined to their homes, the National Guard delivered food to needy students.

And in Baltimore, a high school senior was contemplating how he would go two weeks without a school lunch.

As the growing coronavirus pandemic shut down school for millions of students, educators are worried not just about missed class time but also about missed meals. A majority of the nation’s 50 million schoolchildren come from households poor enough to qualify them for free or subsidized lunches.

Before the outbreak, schools served free lunches to more than 20 million students a day. The pandemic has raised questions about how the extended school closures, intended to slow an outbreak that poses particular peril to older people, could threaten the well-being of the young.

Some warn that the pandemic could spur a child hunger crisis. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced Tuesday that his department was collaborating with the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty, PepsiCo and Houston-based logistics company McLane Global to distribute 1 million meals over the course of five weeks to children in rural school districts.

They plan to target schools in areas that are unable to serve meals during the outbreak.

Read more here.

By: Moriah Balingit

2:07 PM: Trump denies he is belatedly treating the virus seriously, continues to attack Democrats


Even as President Trump and his administration urge Americans to come together, Trump has been attacking Democrats almost daily, from governors to former vice president Joe Biden.

He said during a Tuesday news conference that that will continue, accusing them of spreading false information. (Adm. Brett Giroir with the Health and Human Services Department said it’s not true that the U.S. government refused to buy coronavirus tests months ago from the World Health Organization, as Biden claimed in Sunday’s debate.)

Slideshow by photo services

Trump praised his administration’s much-criticized travel restrictions to parts of Europe, which were implemented hastily over the weekend and led to crowds of hundreds of people in airports across the country as incoming passengers got health screening, creating the exact opposite environment health experts recommend to avoid spreading the virus.

“O’Hare got backed up a little, but they got everybody,” Trump said, speaking of Chicago’s airport, where the health screenings created packed terminals and lines for hours. “ … It was an incredible thing. They did a fantastic job.”

Trump did not back down or apologize for his and his administration and allies describing the virus as “Chinese,” despite questions about whether it creates a stigma. He accused China of spreading rumors that the U.S. military had caused the virus as his reasoning for labeling the virus “Chinese.”

Trump brushed aside his change of tone Monday, when he for the first time in this crisis appeared to be taking the virus seriously rather than downplaying its danger, saying: “I’ve always viewed it as very serious. There is no difference yesterday from days before. I feel the tone is similar but some people said it wasn’t.”

Conservative media such as Fox News, whose viewers skew older, take their cues from Trump, and by Monday, many hosts stopped saying the virus was a “hoax” or not something to be worried about.

By: Amber Phillips

1:51 PM: OAS ambassador says planned meeting in Washington is ‘dangerous’

A group of ambassadors to the Organization of American States, a multilateral body for the Western Hemisphere, is objecting to a decision to move forward with a long-scheduled meeting in Washington on Friday to elect its secretary general, arguing that the session will contradict health recommendations issued by the White House to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Several nations are officially requesting a postponement of the meeting at the OAS’s Washington headquarters because many of the delegates are over 65 and have preexisting health conditions.

“To proceed with this meeting in circumstances where the president of the United States has said that no gatherings should be larger than 10 people and the CDC has warned against anything over 50 people is extremely dangerous, reckless and irresponsible,” said Ambassador Ronald Sanders of Antigua and Barbuda.

On Tuesday, Gonzalo Espariz, the OAS spokesman, initially said the session would be limited to about 100 people — which would have violated recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He later clarified that attendance will be kept to under 50 people to follow guidelines and said the OAS would require delegates to observe social distancing.

The White House on Monday said that meetings should be limited to 10 people.

Any vote delay, Espariz said, must be enacted by the member states. Representatives from the member states discussed a delay on Monday, he said, but had not come to agreement on changing the date.

Josué Fiallo, OAS ambassador from the Dominican Republic, described that call as simply “informative,” with no vote taken, and called for the OAS to find a way to delay the vote.

“After listening to President Trump yesterday, we think we should follow the most recent guidelines for social distancing and avoid gatherings,” Fiallo said.

By: Anthony Faiola and Carol Morello

1:42 PM: Trump emphasizes stay-home guidelines: ‘Enjoy your living room’


During a lengthy midday Tuesday news conference, President Trump repeated guidelines he announced Monday aimed at keeping Americans in groups of 10 or smaller for the next 15 days.

“We are asking everyone to work from home, if possible, to postpone unnecessary travel and limit social gatherings,” he said.

On Monday, Trump said these restrictions could last until July or August, but Tuesday he focused on how these guidelines for now are just for the next 14 or so days. “We will see what happens after that,” he said. “If we do this right, our country can be rolling again pretty quickly.”

“Enjoy your home. Stay,” Trump said of people considering flying to hot spots across the country and world for work. “I would recommend they just enjoy your living room.”

Trump said he is “not happy” with people who are still out and about, and he appeared to praise societal pressure to keep people home. “Those people are being shouted down by other people,” he said. “It’s almost like self-policing.”

He added a dire warning: “We have to get rid of this. We have to win this war, and ideally quickly, because the longer it takes, it’s not a good situation. And I’m not even talking about the economy. I’m talking about the lives of people.”

“If every American acts on the coronavirus guidelines,” Vice President Pence added later, “we could see substantial reductions in the spread of the coronavirus.”

White House coronavirus response coordinator Deborah Birx expanded on that message, asking older people to avoid going out at all, if possible.

“We are asking the older generations to stay in their homes,” she said, “and we are asking the younger generations to stop going out to bars and restaurants and spreading asymptomatic viruses on countertops.”

She applauded supermarket chains such as Stop & Shop for creating senior-only shopping times.

Trump said he is in talks with Walmart and other retailers to keep their shelves stocked, which he said is happening. But he urged Americans not to hoard food and supplies. “We are trying to get people to buy less, if that’s possible,” he said. “Don’t take everything. Just buy what you need for a while.”

By: Amber Phillips

1:40 PM: 21-year-old soccer coach dies after coronavirus, leukemia diagnosis

A 21-year-old Spanish soccer coach who died after contracting coronavirus was found to have had a form of leukemia, a condition of which he was previously unaware.

Francisco Garcia, coach of Atletica Portada Alta’s junior team in Malaga, died Sunday. He learned he had leukemia only after he was hospitalized with covid-19 symptoms, ESPN reported.

Although young people with coronavirus appear to typically have milder or no symptoms, preexisting conditions such as diabetes or asthma seriously complicate recovery from the virus.

“[W]e want to express our most profound condolences to the family and friends of our coach Francisco Garcia who has unfortunately left us today. What will we do without you now, Francis?” the club said in a statement on Facebook.

“You were always there with us at Portada or wherever we needed you, helping. How are we going to continue to conquer kilometers in the league? We don’t know how but for sure, we will do so for you. We will never forget you.”

According to the Spanish newspaper Malaga Hoy, Garcia sought medical attention when he began struggling to breathe and was found to have pneumonia and the virus.

“We are still in a state of shock,” Pepe Bueno, president of the club, told Malaga Hoy. “I do not believe it. I do not believe it. It seems impossible to me.”

By: Cindy Boren

1:16 PM: Medicare expands telemedicine to allow seniors to get virtual care at home

David Shulkin et al. standing in a room: President Trump talks with a patient during a Department of Veterans Affairs telehealth event in 2017. President Trump talks with a patient during a Department of Veterans Affairs telehealth event in 2017.

The Trump administration announced Tuesday that it would expand Medicare coverage of telehealth services to allow seniors to see their doctors without having to leave home.

As the coronavirus spreads throughout the country, doctors have raced to increase telehealth services to keep patients from flooding overtaxed emergency rooms and to reduce the risk of people with covid-19 infecting healthy patients and doctors.

They also have used telemedicine to help people with chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, avoid the hospital or the doctor’s office.

Telemedicine services typically involve video and audio visits between health-care providers and patients, and are available through hospital websites and apps. In most cases, patients can use their smartphones, laptops or tablets.

But the effort to use telehealth has been limited by payment rules. Before the change announced Tuesday, Medicare paid doctors for telehealth services only in certain circumstances.

For example, the beneficiary receiving the services had to live in a rural area and travel to a local medical facility to get the service from a remote location, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. In addition, seniors were not allowed to get the services at home.

The agency said that under the new policy, beneficiaries will be permitted to get telehealth services, including office visits, mental-health counseling and preventive health screenings, at home.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement that the change means providers “will be allowed to use everyday technologies to talk to telehealth patients” and that more telehealth services will be covered for millions more Medicare beneficiaries.

By: Laurie McGinley

12:59 PM: Covid-19 threatens U.S. health system with toll on doctors, nurses and EMTs

a group of people riding on the back of a truck: A caregiver tests a patient for coronavirus in Ohio on Monday. (Tony Dejak/Associated Press) A caregiver tests a patient for coronavirus in Ohio on Monday. (Tony Dejak/Associated Press)

Dozens of health-care workers have fallen ill with covid-19 and more are quarantined after exposure to the virus, an expected but worrisome development as the U.S. health system girds for an anticipated surge in infections.

From hotspots such as the Kirkland, Wash., nursing home where nearly four dozen staff tested positive for coronavirus, to outbreaks in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, California and elsewhere, the virus is picking off doctors, nurses and others needed in the rapidly expanding crisis.

“We all suspect it’s the tip of the iceberg,” said Liam Yore, a board member of the American College of Emergency Physicians. “The risk to our health-care workers is one of the great vulnerabilities of our health-care system in an epidemic like this,” he said. “Most ERs and health-care systems are running at capacity in normal times.”

Gauging how badly providers have been hit is difficult because no nationwide data have been released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, medical associations or health-care worker unions.

A federal official who was not authorized to speak with the media said the government has received reports of more than 60 infections among health-care workers. More than a dozen are related to travel. Authorities are investigating how the others became sick.

In previous outbreaks of infectious disease and in other countries where the current pandemic arrived earlier, health-care workers have experienced a disproportionate share of infections.

They have been put at risk in the U.S. not only by the nature of their jobs, but by shortages of protective equipment such as N95 face masks and government bungling of the testing program, which was delayed for weeks while the virus spread around the country undetected.

Read more here.

By: Lenny Bernstein, Shawn Boburg, Maria Sacchetti and Emma Brown

12:52 PM: Berlin plans new coronavirus hospital with 1,000-patient capacity


BERLIN — Berlin plans to set up a new hospital with the capacity to treat up to 1,000 coronavirus patients, as Germany prepares for an increase in infections.

“These measures are being taken as additional steps to secure an already well-positioned hospital system and prevent possible bottlenecks,” Berlin senator Dilek Kalayci said in a statement. Germany’s military, among other partners, will assist in setting up the facility, according to the plan.

Hospitals across Germany are attempting to expand their capacity to treat new infections by delaying non-urgent operations and acquiring additional ventilators and other ICU equipment. The new hospital is aimed at further increasing preparedness.

“Due to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic Berlin will experience more covid-19 infections. The highest patient volume is expected within the next months, depending on the course of the pandemic,” the statement said.

As of Monday evening, there were 6,012 infected people in Germany, with 300 in Berlin, according to the Robert Koch Institute, the federal agency tasked with disease control.

By: Luisa Beck

12:49 PM: Uber and Lyft suspend shared rides


Uber announced it will suspend shared rides for customers in the United States and Canada, while Lyft said it is pausing shared rides across all markets.

Starting Tuesday, users of the Uber app will see “unavailable” next to the Pool option, which lets up to three people share a ride at a discounted price. It’s unclear when the restriction will be lifted.

“We will continue to monitor the situation closely and base our actions on official guidance," a Lyft spokesperson told The Washington Post.

The announcements come a day after the White House urged people to not gather in groups of 10 or more. Experts have recommended limiting rides as part of social distancing practices.

Uber has taken other steps in the face of the pandemic. After it was reported gig workers wouldn’t be subsidized with sick pay, the ride-sharing platform announced financial assistance for up to 14 days for drivers who are asked to self-isolate.

Lyft said it would similarly support affected drivers and distribute 200,000 bottles of hand sanitizer and other cleaning supplies to drivers, at no cost to them.

Uber asked riders to wash their hands before and after the drive, sit in the back seat and consider rolling down the window to improve ventilation.

Uber also announced Monday that it would waive the delivery fee for more than 100,000 local restaurants in the United States and Canada, helping businesses affected by slower foot traffic.

By: Meryl Kornfield

12:25 PM: Spain announces 200 billion euro package to mitigate coronavirus effects


MADRID — The Spanish government announced a 200 billion euro package Tuesday — the equivalent of 20 percent of Spain’s gross domestic product — to cushion the impact of coronavirus in the country.

“We aren’t going to leave anyone behind,” Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said in a televised address after a Cabinet meeting. “The state is going to assume the entire shock of this screeching halt to the Spanish economy.”

The move comes days after Spain announced a national lockdown as part of the state of emergency because of the climbing numbers of coronavirus cases, which reached more than 11,178 on Tuesday. A total of 491 people have died.

The sweeping economic plan includes measures that facilitate telecommuting for businesses, a moratorium on mortgage payments for those with reduced income, basic utilities for vulnerable groups, access for companies to use temporary unemployment benefits and relaxing unemployment restrictions, among many others.

A total of 100 billion euros ($110 billion) will come from public funds, he said.

Sanchez thanked Spanish society for respecting the lockdown, which means residents cannot leave their homes without an essential reason. He also announced stricter measures that include limiting border crossings and further reducing approved businesses open to the public.

“The time period this will last will depend on how we behave and for that reason, social discipline is important.”

By: Pamela Rolfe

12:13 PM: White House announces intention to defer tax payments and supports sending payments to individuals


On Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced that the IRS would defer $300 billion worth of tax payments for Americans and businesses in the midst of the coronavirus fallout.

Mnuchin urged Americans who can afford it to still file their taxes by April 15, but he said that anyone who owes money to the IRS can defer that payment, interest-free, for 90 days, up to $1 million for individuals and up to $10 million for corporations.

Mnuchin and President Trump also said that they support sending payments to Americans as soon as possible, though they did not offer additional details on how that might work, saying there are several options, including a payroll tax cut or just cutting Americans checks. That would need to be approved by Congress, where there is bipartisan support for such an idea.

“I think we are going to do something that gets money as quickly as possible” into the hands of Americans, Trump said.

“We’re looking at sending checks to Americans immediately,” Mnuchin said “ ... and I mean now, in the next two weeks."

He left the news conference to head to Capitol Hill to negotiate this and a broader coronavirus aid package with senators.

By: Amber Phillips

12:08 PM: Germany’s ‘Big Brother’ cast is about to learn about the global coronavirus crisis


BERLIN — When the first cast members of Germany’s “Big Brother” reality show entered isolation on Feb. 6, the coronavirus outbreak was still a story centered largely on China, where it first emerged.

But on Tuesday evening, the TV network that airs the show — Germany’s SAT. 1 — is set to inform the cast for the first time about the dramatic events that have since unfolded worldwide.

The cast will be able to “ask questions and view video messages from relatives,” SAT. 1 said in a statement.

While some of the cast members are fully unaware of events since Feb. 6, according to the TV station, some more recently added contestants were banned from discussing the developments.

Germany has reintroduced checks along some of its borders in recent days and shuttered bars, clubs and schools in many regions.

Meanwhile, flagship carrier Lufthansa said Tuesday it is working on an “air bridge” to supply the country amid concerns that border closures are increasingly disrupting supply flows across the continent.

There are more than 7,600 confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany and at least 20 deaths.

“Big Brother” is aired from Cologne, which is in one of the German regions most affected by the coronavirus.

By: Rick Noack

11:54 AM: U.S., China test first coronavirus vaccines in people


The first tests of a possible coronavirus vaccine in people are starting, even as U.S. experts have continued to remind people that this is only a first step and it will be at least a year before a vaccine is broadly available.

The U.S. trial, based at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle, is a six-week study geared to test the safety and dosage of an experimental vaccine being developed jointly by the National Institutes of Health and the biotech company Moderna.

The test, in 45 healthy people, will also give the first hints of whether the vaccine works by triggering the immune system — but it will need to be followed by a much longer and larger trial before it can be used broadly.

China announced it would begin safety trials of its own vaccine Monday night.

Countries and companies around the world have been racing to develop a vaccine. The pace of progress is unprecedented, but old-fashioned public health measures like social distancing remain crucial because vaccines are still in the initial phases of being tested.

Depending on the course of the outbreak, it is possible that regulators will be flexible to speed things up for the most vulnerable — for example, allowing it to be tested in front-line health-care workers before it is approved, as happened in Ebola in a 2018 outbreak in Congo.

By: Carolyn Y. Johnson

11:48 AM: Maryland postpones April primary to June


Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced Tuesday that he is postponing the state’s April 28 primary election to June 2 due to the risk of the coronavirus.

A special election to fill the congressional seat that became vacant with the death of Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D), which is also scheduled for April 28, will be mail-in only, Hogan said. Maryland is among a handful of states that have postponed their primaries because of the pandemic, including Georgia, Louisiana and Kentucky.

Hogan’s announcement comes after Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) announced late Monday that polls would not open Tuesday, despite a state judge’s ruling the election must go on. DeWine said holding the election would “force poll workers and voters to place themselves at an unacceptable health risk of contracting coronavirus.”

Voters in Arizona, Florida and Illinois are heading to the polls Tuesday.

In Maryland’s elections, in addition to the presidential primary, there will be congressional matchups and a competitive mayoral race in Baltimore in June.

The governor in Maryland has the authority to postpone elections, change locations or specify alternate means of voting when a state of emergency has been declared, according to state law.

By: Rachel Chason

11:37 AM: At-risk Americans are not taking more precautions than other people, poll finds

Americans who face the greatest risk of developing serious health conditions from a covid-19 infection are not being more careful than lower-risk groups, according to a poll released Tuesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The Centers for Disease Control considers high-risk groups people older than 60, those who have a chronic health condition (such as lung disease or diabetes) or those who live in households with someone who does. Those groups, the CDC says, are most likely to develop complications from an infection that include pneumonia and organ failure, both of which can be deadly.

The KFF poll asked respondents about five types of precautions that are recommended by health experts to limit exposure to the coronavirus: canceling or changing travel plans; canceling plans to attend large gatherings; stocking up on supplies such as medications and household cleaners; working and conducting other activities from home; and using a protective mask.

The responses, gathered March 11 through 15, showed that the 60-and-older and other high-risk groups took the same level of precaution as all adults overall, despite their increased risk.

The one precaution that at-risk respondents were even less engaged in than all adults overall was the advice to avoid large gatherings: Poll results showed that while 40 percent of all adults overall were likely to cancel plans to attend large gatherings, only 29 percent of adults over 60 and the already-health compromised said they were doing so.

After warnings from public health officials, local and statewide governments around the United States have taken increasingly strict measures to limit person-to-person exposure, including a “shelter in place” order shutting down the Bay Area, statewide curfews in New Jersey, and bar and restaurant closures in more than a dozen states.

By: Kim Bellware

11:34 AM: Queen Elizabeth to leave Buckingham Palace amid rising coronavirus cases in London


LONDON — Buckingham Palace has announced more changes to Queen Elizabeth II’s schedule, calling mounting cancellations and postponements a “sensible precaution” amid the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

The palace confirmed Tuesday that the reigning monarch, 93, will relocate to Windsor Castle — around 25 miles away from her residence in London — ahead of schedule this week.

She is expected to remain at Windsor until after the Easter holiday.

“In consultation with the Medical Household and Government, a number of public events with large numbers of people due to have been attended by The Queen, and other Members of the Royal Family, in the coming months will be canceled or postponed,” the palace statement said.

Garden parties due to take place at Buckingham Palace in May have been canceled along with April’s Maundy Service.

“Further announcements on Trooping the Colour, the 75th anniversary of VE Day and the State Visit by the Emperor and Empress of Japan will be made in due course,” the palace said.

On Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that transmissions in London are increasing. The United Kingdom has more than 1,500 cases and 55 deaths.

By: Jennifer Hassan

11:32 AM: At least 19 dead in one Madrid nursing home, Spanish newspaper reports

At least 19 residents of a single Spanish nursing home have died as the virus has swiftly torn through Madrid in just days, according to El Pais, a Spanish news site based in the city.

The death toll is reminiscent of the coronavirus cluster at the Life Care Center in Washington state, which killed 29 people as of Monday. A spokesperson for the around 130-capacity MonteHermoso nursing home in Madrid confirmed the deaths to El Pais and stressed that the center was doing everything it could to save lives.

Family members of deceased residents told El Pais that some in the nursing home were dying before being transferred to a hospital or even having the chance for a coronavirus test. Spain officially limited access to nursing homes on March 8, citing the high rates of death and serious complications among older people and the immunocompromised who contract the virus that causes covid-19.

Yolanda Cumia told El Pais she received a call Tuesday at 2:30 in the morning from the nursing home that her 87-year-old father had died of respiratory failure.

“They are dropping like flies,” she said.

By: Miriam Berger

11:20 AM: Europe faces ‘critical shortages’ in medical supplies, WHO says

Days after the World Health Organization called Europe the “epicenter” of the novel coronavirus pandemic, global health officials say the continent is facing “critical shortages” of medical supplies.

Speaking at a news conference Tuesday morning, Hans Henri P. Kluge, the WHO regional director for Europe, said countries must work together and with companies, calling for solidarity in “unprecedented times.”

“I want to stress that the amount of need for support is growing,” he said. “Resources are critical to sustain our effort so that no one is left behind nor at the sidelines.”

As of Tuesday morning, the European Union and the United Kingdom have more than 61,000 confirmed cases of the virus. More than 2,700 people have died in Europe.

During the same news conference, Richard Pebody, head of respiratory viruses for England’s health department, said there is limited testing capacity in laboratories, urging people to only get tested if needed.

By: Meryl Kornfield

11:08 AM: ICU beds near full capacity in Italy’s hard-hit Lombardy region


ROME — In the region at the center of the coronavirus outbreak in Italy, hospitals have “almost run out” of intensive-care beds for patients with the virus, Lombardy’s health chief, Giulio Gallera, said Tuesday.

Officials have pointed out with growing concern that the health system of the Lombardy region cannot keep pace with the explosive growth of cases. As the number of critical patients exceeds the number of beds, it puts the region in the grim position of having to make decisions about who gets care — unless it can quickly add more space.

Even that solution brings problems, because health-care workers — many sick themselves — are already stretched so thin.

The Lombardy region, which includes Milan, has seen nearly 15,000 coronavirus cases, more than half of the country’s total, according to the latest government data. In Lombardy, 823 patients are in intensive care. The region has more than 1,000 intensive-care beds, and the majority are now designated for coronavirus patients; but the rest must be kept open for people with other critical problems.

The region is scrambling to open a makeshift facility at the Milan expo center, which would bring the possibility of another 500 beds. Italy is also trying to rush some 10,000 student doctors into the field, even allowing them to skip their final exams, Reuters reported.

Hospitals in northern Italy are widely thought to be the best in the country and are on par with other wealthy nations in Western Europe. Some health officials are worried that hospitals in Italy’s poorer south will struggle even more acutely if they see similar sharp outbreaks.

By: Chico Harlan

10:20 AM: As Amazon orders surge worldwide, warehouse workers sound alarms about coronavirus spread


As shoppers stock up on consumer staples, some Amazon warehouse workers are saying that the company is not doing enough to protect them from the novel coronavirus.

Warehouse workers in Spain and Italy have tested positive for the virus, while workers in New York and Chicago told The Washington Post that Amazon isn’t taking enough precautions as orders mount.

Some said workers were sent home only after they had coughs, and signs were posted advising workers to wash their hands. Others said their workplaces were being sprayed down by disinfectants.

But in interviews, warehouse workers in the United States and Europe say they worry their workplaces aren’t safe enough and could contribute to the spread of the virus. More than 1,500 workers from around the world have signed a petition that calls on the company to take additional steps to ensure the safety in their workplace.

(Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

Read more here.

By: Jay Greene and Elizabeth Dwoskin

10:06 AM: German politician expected to succeed Merkel says he has coronavirus


Friedrich Merz, a German politician widely seen as a front-runner to succeed Angela Merkel as leader of the country, announced Tuesday that he has tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

“Fortunately, I only have mild to moderate symptoms,” Merz wrote on Twitter, adding that he would be under quarantine until the end of next week and would cancel all his appointments.

In his message, Merz said he tested positive on Sunday. He did not mention where he may have been infected.

The 64-year-old German politician is a heavyweight in the center-right Christian Democratic Union of Germany and had once been a potential rival to Merkel for leader of the party.

As Merkel had risen in the party, Merz had stepped away from politics and joined the private sector, but after Merkel announced she would retire from politics, Merz returned.

Merkel protege Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer announced she would stand down in the CDU leadership party last month, making the more conservative and traditionalist Merz the front-runner to lead the party.

By: Adam Taylor

9:39 AM: Trump attacks Cuomo on politicizing coronavirus


President Trump fired at New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) on Twitter on Tuesday morning, telling Cuomo to “keep politics out” of the response to the novel coronavirus, which he called “Chinese virus.”

Cuomo wanted states to be treated the same, Trump wrote, even though New York has confirmed more cases than West Virginia.

West Virginia has tested 84 people as of Monday in public labs, according to its health department. New York state has 967 confirmed cases. New York’s population is about 11 times that of West Virginia.

“This is a national problem, and there are no national rules,” Cuomo told reporters on Monday. He has previously critiqued Trump as inciting “chaos” in a time of crisis.

Trump also called the coronavirus “Chinese Virus” earlier Monday night, which China’s Foreign Ministry responded to, telling reporters that the United States “should first take care of its own business” instead of insinuating that the Chinese were at fault for the virus.

Trump has previously faced criticism for associating the virus that has spread globally with China, even from religious circles.

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By: Meryl Kornfield

9:37 AM: New York mayor ‘absolutely considering’ shelter in place


New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) said officials are “absolutely considering” a shelter in place order for New York City residents similar to the one that took effect hours earlier in California, where six counties in the San Francisco Bay area were almost entirely shut down in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Speaking on CNN’s “New Day” on Tuesday, de Blasio’s comments came in response to a question of whether he would consider taking action as sweeping as what’s been seen in the Bay Area, home to about 6 million people.

The rising number of cases in the Bay Area, with a cluster of more than 100 confirmed cases in Silicon Valley’s Santa]

Clara County, prompted officials in six of the nine counties of the Bay Area to order residents to their homes and to remain there for weeks.

Sheltering in place orders are typically associated with events such as mass shootings, but residents under the order retain some freedom to move about for essential tasks such as grocery shopping or visiting the pharmacy, or routine activities such as walking dogs.

The order brought all nonessential business to a halt and limited restaurants to delivery and takeout. The Bay Area shutdown represents the strictest measures in the United States to slow the virus.

Puerto Rico instituted a full lockdown Monday in which residents can’t leave their homes without authorization. The Bay Area’s shutdown still allows for some activities and will be enforced by local sheriffs. The order is in effect as of Tuesday morning until April 7, which officials can end early or extend.

By: Kim Bellware

9:23 AM: Britain advises all citizens to avoid nonessential travel worldwide


LONDON — Britain’s foreign office said Tuesday that its citizens should forgo all nonessential travel worldwide.

After taking a go-slow approach for several weeks, a policy that was heavily criticized, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government is moving more quickly to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Britain is not outright banning travel, and compliance is voluntary. But the government advisory will probably result in a further profound reduction in international travel. The Heathrow airport in London is one of the busiest in the world.

The British government said its concern was not only that travelers would be exposed to the coronavirus abroad but also that they could find themselves stranded.

“U.K. travelers abroad now face widespread international border restrictions and lockdowns in various countries. The speed and range of those measures across other countries is unprecedented,” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in a statement.

The British foreign office advised travelers to “contact your airline, travel company, cruise line or other transport and accommodation providers and get in touch with your insurance provider.”

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By: William Booth

9:13 AM: Israel tightens restrictions as 24-hour drive-through testing stations open


JERUSALEM — Israel’s Health Ministry issued new warnings Tuesday against visiting national parks, beaches and any other public spaces to encourage social distancing to combat the coronavirus — a day after unusually warm weather brought out thousands of families stuck at home.

Israel’s first aid agency, Magen David Adom, said it would begin widespread testing Wednesday for the virus at 24-hour “drive through” centers where people could remain inside their vehicles.

The new directives came after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday announced further restrictions to movement, curbing all nonessential government services and telling those in the private sector to work from home. It is estimated that thousands of people have been put on unpaid leave or have lost their jobs as the government continues to push back against the virus.

Israel has confirmed around 300 cases of covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, with no fatalities.

On Tuesday, the first isolation facility for those with mild symptoms was opened in a Tel Aviv hotel, and authorities continued to discuss the possibility of locking down neighborhoods and towns with a large number of infected people.

The government on Monday approved emergency regulations enabling the Israel Security Agency to track the cellphones of patients for location data and the people they may have visited.

By: Ruth Eglash

8:54 AM: Mumbai to mark those quarantined at home with inky ‘badge of honor’

NEW DELHI — The civic agency governing Mumbai, India’s financial capital, will stamp the hands of people under quarantine as a measure to check the spread of coronavirus.

“Proud to protect Mumbaikars,” reads the stamp along with the date of home quarantine in images shared by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai on Twitter.

The indelible ink used, expected to last 14 days, is the same variety used to mark people during elections.

On Twitter, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation used #BadgeOfHonour to instill a sense of responsibility among citizens.

Four hotels near the city’s international airport will provide paid quarantine facilities for incoming passengers. India has made it mandatory for passengers from at least 11 countries, including hot spots like China, Italy and Iran, to enter a two-week quarantine.

Mumbai has shut down schools, colleges, theaters, gyms and asked all nonessential offices to function at half capacity. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Monday appealed to people to “avoid public places” and public transport like trains and buses “if not needed.”

With 39 positive cases, the state of Maharashtra on the western coast has the highest number of cases in India, which has a total of 137 cases.

By: Niha Masih

8:27 AM: AMC, Nordstrom, Microsoft among major stores to close or change their hours

The coronavirus outbreak is prompting more store closures and limited business hours in the United States, as public health officials warn against crowds, and retail giants close their shops to contain the spread of the virus.

Dozens of retailers said earlier this week they would be closing, and more followed late on Monday and into Tuesday. Most companies said they are keeping their online stores open and compensating their hourly employees.

Here’s a running list of stores that are closing or changing their hours:

AMC

AMC Theatres closed all U.S. locations for six to 12 weeks starting Tuesday.

Regal

Regal closed all of its theaters starting Tuesday until further notice.

Nordstrom

The department store closed locations in the United Staters and Canada for two weeks starting Tuesday.

Microsoft

The tech and software giant closed all stores around the world late on Monday until further notice.

Sephora

The beauty retailer will be closing all of its stores starting Tuesday afternoon through April 3.

T-Mobile

The wireless carrier is closing 80 percent of its stores nationwide. The remainder, which are distributed around the country, will operate on reduced schedules and only stay open for eight hours, generally from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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By: Teo Armus

8:18 AM: Social distancing is so hard because it’s contrary to human nature


Consider the wild tiger. It consorts with fellow tigers only to mate or, if female, to briefly raise cubs. Otherwise, the tiger roams solo. Tigers are great at social distancing.

We are not tigers. Amid a novel coronavirus pandemic, some of us have defied public health officials’ exhortations and headed to bars to be with other members of our species. More of us have stared into the weeks to come and wondered how we will cope without basketball games, book groups, worship services, yoga classes and dinners with friends.

Hermits aside, humans are social animals, even what some call “ultra-social.” For millennia, survival has depended on being part of a group. If distancing seems hard, it’s not just you: It’s human nature.

“Humans are just really intrinsically social creatures. We are the most extreme example of a species that’s decided that collaborating with others is going to be my entire strategy,” said Steve Cole, a professor of medicine, psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the University of California at Los Angeles School of Medicine.

This has served us well, he added: “Despite the fact that we’re not that big or strong or covered by armored plates, we’ve managed to take over the world, in a literal sense.”

Read more here.

By: Karin Brulliard

8:04 AM: Health workers in Philippines can’t get to work amid mass lockdown


MANILA — The Philippines suspended all public transport to prevent the spread of covid-19 — a decision that proved problematic Tuesday when many front line health workers could not get to and from work.

The order for “enhanced community quarantine” over the island of Luzon — effectively covering half the population — was made less than six hours before it became effective on midnight. The decision suddenly barred throngs of commuters from moving within and out of metropolitan Manila.

Later on Tuesday, the situation was intensified when the country was put under a state of calamity, as cases rose to 187. Cebu Pacific Air announced the suspension of all flights across the country from March 19 to April 14. Philippine Airlines announced a similar suspension from Tuesday to April 12. International flights will operate until March 18.

Kath Valdez, a nurse at Philippine General Hospital, was stranded on Tuesday morning after a nine-hour shift. Staring down the possibility of a two-hour walk home, she eventually accepted a ride on a motorized tricycle, a popular form of local transport, in what she called a “dangerous” move because those vehicles have been barred from the roads.

Other colleagues could not go to work after being stopped at checkpoints, despite carrying health worker IDs, she said.

Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto tweeted that vehicles supplied by the local government to ferry people were “not enough.”

“Our risk assessment shows that we can’t ban tricycles at this point,” Sotto tweeted. “Health workers need to get to work.”

By Tuesday afternoon, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said his office was aware of the issue and that the government would organize bus lines and deploy military trucks to help.

But until a plan is clear, health workers and private individuals are taking matters into their own hands. Some asked for help through the Twitter hashtag #INeedARide, but others walked several kilometers to work.

Valdez made a car pool group for employees in her hospital, and more than 350 members joined.

Public transport suspension burdens health care workers, who already bear “the risk of acquiring the virus and anxiety of bringing it home,” Valdez lamented. “Now we can’t even go home safely.”

By: Regine Cabato

7:56 AM: How U.S. coronavirus testing stalled


As the novel coronavirus continues to spread across the United States, the struggles that overwhelmed the nation’s testing are becoming clearer.

First, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention moved too slowly to tap into the expertise of academia and private companies, experts said. For example, it wasn’t until last week that large companies such as Roche and Thermo Fisher won approval from the Food and Drug Administration to produce their own tests.

Moreover, while FDA and CDC officials have attributed some of the testing delays to their determination to meet exacting scientific standards they said were needed to protect public health, the government effort was nevertheless marred by a widespread manufacturing problem that stalled U.S. testing for most of February.

The CDC has yet to fully explain the nature of the manufacturing problem but told The Washington Post on Monday that the design could also have resulted in flawed tests.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the CDC, said earlier this month that it is investigating the defect in many of the initial coronavirus test kits.

The country’s inability to produce them left public health officials with limited means to determine where and how fast the coronavirus was spreading.

From mid-January until Feb. 28, fewer than 4,000 tests from the CDC were used out of more than 160,000 produced.

Meanwhile, a small Berlin-based company, for instance, produced and shipped more than 1.4 million tests by the end of February for the World Health Organization.

Read more here.

By: Peter Whoriskey and Neena Satija

7:39 AM: Iran announces new coronavirus deaths as WHO warns numbers are probably higher


ISTANBUL — Iran on Tuesday reported more than 100 deaths and close to 1,200 new cases of the novel coronavirus over the past 24 hours, as the World Health Organization warned that the number of infections was probably much higher.

Iran’s Health Ministry spokesman, Kianush Jahanpur, said that 135 people had died and 1,178 were confirmed infected, bringing the nation’s coronavirus death toll to 988. More than 16,000 cases have been recorded in Iran, which has the highest caseload after China and Italy. A number of senior officials have also been infected, some of whom have died.

On Monday, the WHO’s regional emergency director, Rick Brennan, told Reuters that the number of cases reported in Iran could represent only about a fifth of the real figures. He said that the discrepancy could be attributed to limited testing, Reuters reported.

“We’ve said the weakest link in their chain is the data,” he said of the Iranian government. “They are rapidly increasing their ability to test, and so the numbers will go up."

Iran announced its first two cases of coronavirus on Feb. 19 in the holy city of Qom. Since then, the virus has spread across the country and public health experts have criticized the government’s response to the outbreak.

On Tuesday, a spokesman for Iran’s judiciary said 85,000 prisoners had been released to help prevent the spread of the virus inside Iranian jails.

By: Erin Cunningham

7:37 AM: ‘The day the music died’: It’s St. Patrick’s Day and Ireland is on lockdown


St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland: a time for song, dance and celebration. But this year, the mood couldn’t be more different. The novel coronavirus outbreak has forced pubs to close, while parades and parties on Irish soil and overseas have been canceled.

“The day the music died,” tweeted an RTE journalist on Tuesday, sharing a video of silent streets that would usually host a traditional march.

In his annual March 17 address, Irish President Michael Higgins asked citizens to recall the values of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. The holiday “has become a profound expression of a common history that extends far beyond Irish shores,” he said.

“We must commit to working in a spirit of solidarity and cooperation, joining citizens across the world in fighting this global health emergency."

St. Patrick was kidnapped as a teenager in the 5th century A.D. and held in Irish captivity, but later returned to the island after joining the priesthood. Legends say he drove the snakes out of Ireland. His memory has become embedded in the Irish imagination — and that of the Irish-American diaspora in particular — as a hero whose annual celebration embodies the Irish spirit of resilience.

“For the first time in as long as I can remember we won’t get to see any of our friends and watch the parade,” said Sarah McGlynn, a resident of Listowel, County Kerry. “We painted shamrocks on the windows to make it feel like Saint Patrick’s day.”

But the lockdown won’t stop some having “the craic” (a good time). Many have organized their own parades, while others have created groups on WhatsApp to re-create pub quizzes in virtual mode and send memes to one another.

“We decided to try & cheer you all up with our very own #FarmParade,” read one tweet.

By: Jennifer Hassan and Siobhán O'Grady

7:34 AM: European financial indexes volatile, as cases surge and disruption mounts


BERLIN — European financial indexes remained volatile Tuesday, as more countries enforced lockdowns or border closures, threatening to disrupt crucial supply chains on the continent.

After initially rising, the STOXX 600 index plummeted again. Airline shares declined significantly, following announcements of grounded flights and staff being laid off across Europe.

European multinational aerospace corporation Airbus also saw its shares decline after it announced its production facilities in Spain and France would halt their work for four days.

Other signs of economic turmoil mounted Tuesday. In France, the finance minister suggested some major companies could be nationalized to save them. Meanwhile, in Germany, flag carrier Lufthansa said it was preparing for an “air bridge” to supply the country with goods — a wording that appeared reminiscent of the Allied powers’ efforts to keep West Berlin supplied during the Soviet blockade between 1948 and 1949.

Meanwhile, Volkswagen joined a range of other carmakers in announcing a shutdown of factories in Europe. On Monday, the company had said it faced serious supply chain disruptions from Italy and Spain.

In Spain, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases increased to over 11,100. The number of deaths approached 500. Italy has around 28,000 confirmed cases and more than 2,150 deaths.

Spain followed Italy and announced a nationwide lockdown over the weekend. Countries across Europe have imposed border checks or entry restrictions.

On Tuesday, Ukrainian authorities also announced sweeping new measures, including the closure of subways in Kyiv, the capital, and two other major cities, a shutdown of intercity transport and a ban on events with more than 10 people.

Sporting, cultural and religious events are being halted starting Tuesday, mirroring measures taken by numerous other European governments. Cafes, restaurants, shopping malls, gyms, museums, galleries and other cultural centers will also be closed starting Tuesday.

Robyn Dixon in Moscow contributed to this report.

By: Rick Noack

7:20 AM: Latin American countries close borders, enforce curfews


Masked soldiers blocked major roads in Peru’s capital of Lima on Monday, as the country suspended some constitutional rights, shuttered its borders and entered a state of enforced “social isolation” to contain the novel coronavirus.

It was one of several aggressive measures taken in recent days by governments in Latin America, which have been bracing for the pandemic’s nearly inevitable spread in the region. In recent days, Paraguay and Ecuador imposed curfews and Costa Rica and Uruguay announced border closures.

So far, the regional impact of the virus has been relatively mild. Just two countries — Brazil and Chile — were reporting more than 100 cases as of early on Tuesday, including at least six patients who had been quarantined on a virus-stricken cruise ship off the coast of Patagonia. Only four countries have confirmed fatalities.

But that did not stop Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele from suspending flights from Mexico after he accused that country’s government of allowing several passengers who had tested positive to board a plane headed to El Salvador.

In Colombia, meanwhile, President Iván Duque said the country would shut its sea, land and river borders, including major passages for the thousands of migrants who have been fleeing neighboring Venezuela on foot.

Venezuela, meanwhile, ordered a nationwide quarantine after cases doubled to 33, an all but guaranteed threat to the nation’s crippled health system.

On Monday, leaders of nine of South America’s 12 nations arranged plans on a conference call to coordinate a demand for medical supplies, according to Reuters.

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By: Teo Armus

7:14 AM: Spanish soccer team says 35 percent of its players, staff have tested positive for the virus


More than one-third of the players and coaching staff members from Spain’s Valencia professional soccer team have tested positive for the coronavirus, the club said in a statement that comes two days after it reported that five members had tested positive.

Although it did not break down how many positive tests belonged to players, Ezequiel Garay and Eliaquim Mangala confirmed on social media that they were in isolation after testing positive. “Despite the strict measures adopted by the club after their Champions League game [last month] … these latest results show the exposure inherent to such matches has caused a positive test rate of around 35 percent” the club said in a statement. It went on to add, “All cases are asymptomatic and those involved are currently isolated at home, receiving medical assessment and carrying out their scheduled training plan.”

Valencia had played Atalanta, based in Lombardy, in Milan, one of the hardest-hit areas in Italy, last month in a packed San Siro stadium before restrictions were placed on sports events. The teams played again last week at an empty stadium in Spain. Atalanta players and staff members were placed in isolation as well.

Garay wrote on Instagram on Sunday that “it is clear I have started 2020 on the wrong foot″ but added that he is “very well and must obey health authorities and stay isolated.”

Several players in Italy’s Serie A have tested positive for the virus. Real Madrid’s soccer and basketball teams were put in quarantine last week after a basketball player for the club tested positive. The soccer and basketball teams share training facilities.

By: Cindy Boren

6:50 AM: In an Italian city, obituaries fill the newspaper, but survivors mourn alone


ROME — As coronavirus has spread around the world in recent weeks, it is in Italy where people are contracting the virus — and dying of it — more rapidly than anywhere else.

And within Italy, Bergamo, a wealthy province of 1.1 million to the east of Milan, has become the most worrying hot spot. Hospitals are at the breaking point there. Residents describe Bergamo as a ghostly place where only ambulances and hearses are on the road at night. The local newspaper’s daily obituary section has grown from two or three pages to 10, in what the top editor likens to “war bulletins.”

By death toll alone, the coronavirus has landed in the northern province of Bergamo with the force of a historic disaster.

But its alarming power goes even further, all but ensuring that death and mourning happen in isolation — a trauma in which everybody must keep to themselves.

All across Bergamo, people are being picked up in ambulances, rushed to the hospital and dying in sealed-off wards where even their closest relatives are not allowed. Many funerals are taking place with only a priest and a ­funeral home employee present, while family members face restrictions on gathering, remain in quarantine or are too sick themselves.

So many have died that there is a waiting list for burial and cremation.

“I think it’s worse than a war,” said Marta Testa, 43, who is in self-quarantine and whose father died Wednesday of the virus at age 85. “Dad is waiting to be buried. And we are here waiting to tell him goodbye.”

Other countries are only beginning to grapple with the pandemic’s implications and the distance it forces between even the closest people. But in Italy, death by lonely death, its full cost is becoming apparent.

Read more here: In an Italian city, obituaries fill the newspaper, but survivors mourn alone

By: Chico Harlan and Stefano Pitrelli

6:46 AM: Two WHO staffers infected with coronavirus


The World Health Organization on Tuesday confirmed that two of its staffers have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier said “last week, the staff went home and later showed symptoms. They were tested and confirmed” to have the virus.

Lindmeier did not provide details on where the staffers were working or where they live but said they were not believed to have been infected during field work as part of the WHO’s coronavirus response.

Unrelated to the infections, said Lindmeier, the WHO has imposed teleworking for staffers, as border closures have made it more difficult for employees to travel to the organization’s offices.

On Monday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had confirmed its first employee coronavirus case. The U.S. agency employs 11,000 people.

“This individual is in good condition and is isolated to prevent spread of infection to others,” the CDC said in a statement Monday. “Our best wishes go to the employee for a rapid and full recovery.”

The CDC said the employee who tested positive was not involved in the covid-19 response.

By: Rick Noack

6:06 AM: Pandemic fuels U.S. rush to stock up on guns


It’s not just hand sanitizer that seems to be flying off shelves.

As the coronavirus shuts down schools and workplaces and sends shoppers in a mad frenzy for groceries and hygiene products, people around the country are also stocking up on guns.

Larry Hyatt, the owner of a firearms store in Charlotte, said the virus has prompted a spike in sales he has seen only once before in his six decades of business — after the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook.

“Financial meltdown, pandemic, crime, politics … You throw it all into the pot, and you have one hell of a mess,” he told the Guardian. Most of his customers have sought out assault-style rifles, a sign they want to protect themselves and their families, he added.

In California over the weekend, lines wrapping around the block formed outside a Culver City gun shop well before it opened.

“Politicians and anti-gun people have been telling us for the longest time that we don’t need guns,” one customer in line, John Gore, told the Los Angeles Times. “But right now, a lot of people are truly scared."

Ammo.com, an online gun seller, reported a 68 percent spike in sales between mid-February and early March. In Florida, officials ran more background checks Saturday than on any other day since 2012, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

But the rush to buy firearms has been building for weeks. On the west coast, Chinese Americans have been stocking up as they worry the virus’s origins in China may make them the targets of xenophobic violence, according to the Trace.

David Liu, who owns a gun store in the heart of Southern California’s Chinese American community, said he had seen a fivefold increase in sales over the past two weeks. His major suppliers are also out of stock.

“It’s like toilet paper,” he told the Los Angeles Times.

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By: Teo Armus

5:58 AM: Japan to hold Olympic torch relay without spectators


TOKYO — Japan will bar spectators from the ceremonies around the Olympic torch relay when it gets underway later this month, as the new coronavirus continues to disrupt the run-up to the Games.

The Japanese leg of the torch relay is due to begin in Fukushima on March 26, with departure and arrival ceremonies to take place every day as the flame is carried to the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo for the opening of the Games on July 24.

A statement from the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee said the ceremonies would still go ahead, with speeches and photo opportunities still taking place, but the public will not be allowed to attend, at least not during the initial phase of the relay. Spectators will be able to watch the torch pass by the roadside, but efforts will be made to prevent large crowds from gathering, Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto said.

Torchbearers themselves are asked to check their temperatures before running, wash their hands at every stage and observe “coughing etiquette.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that the leaders of the Group of Seven nations had agreed to support a “complete” Olympic Games, but he sidestepped a question on whether they had discussed delaying the event due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are doing everything in our power to prepare, and we want to aim for a complete event as proof that mankind can defeat the new coronavirus,” Abe said he had told G-7 leaders on Monday.

The remarks were widely interpreted as meaning that the Games would not be held without spectators but leaving the door open to a possible postponement. But later, Olympics Minister Seiko Hashimoto said a “complete” event referred to holding the games as scheduled this summer, with spectators present, Reuters reported.

For more about the choices facing Japan and the International Olympic Committee, read here.

By: Simon Denyer and Akiko Kashiwagi

5:41 AM: Polish ministers tested for coronavirus after one cabinet member is confirmed to have the virus


A group of Polish ministers is being tested for the coronavirus after the environment minister, Michal Wos, tested positive. Wos had attended a recent cabinet meeting, according to Reuters.

Michal Dworczyk, the prime minister’s chief of staff, said Tuesday that Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Health Minister Lukasz Szumowski did not attend that meeting. The ministers who were in attendance are in quarantine and the results of their tests are expected Tuesday.

To date, Poland has 177 confirmed cases of the virus and four deaths.

On Sunday, the Polish government took more steps to prevent the spread of the virus by banning all foreigners from entering the country. Citizens returning from trips abroad must undergo a compulsory quarantine period of 14 days once back at home.

International air and rail travel services have also been suspended. Bars, restaurants and cafes across the country are offering takeout and delivery services. In a tweet, the prime minister’s office said that banks and other financial establishments would operate as normal.

By: Jennifer Hassan

5:38 AM: Most weddings are postponed as glitzy Dubai shuts down


DUBAI — If you were planning on getting married this week in Dubai, the government strongly urges you to wait a month. In fact, going for a swim, a ride at an amusement park, a beer or even a massage have all been shut down in one of the Mideast’s premier tourist destinations.

After weeks of business as usual, this wealthy emirate known has moved suddenly to close down many of its attractions. Even places of worship have been shut down and the government Tuesday called on its citizens abroad to come home.

Restaurants will continue to serve but only if tables are at least six feet apart, there is no crowded waiting area and the dishwasher in the back is hot enough to disinfect the dishes (or it must use paper plates). The open buffets of Dubai’s renowned weekend brunches have also been banned for now.

Initial figures show a dramatic dent in Dubai’s vibrant tourist business last month, with a 30 percent drop in hotel occupancy levels compared with the previous year, according to market analysis firm STR.

For the month of February, average daily rates for hotels have also dropped by 20 percent while revenue per room fell by nearly 43 percent.

“Things changed very, very quickly, like they did with the oil crash in 2014, it was almost instantaneous. We started to see things decline quite quickly from Jan. 20,” said STR Middle East director, Philip Wooller, according to the Arabian Business news site.

The government has announced a stimulus plan to help businesses but that will be scant solace for families that have spent months and a great deal of money planning nuptials.

Authorities have said, however, that if absolutely necessary, a wedding can go forward under a number of conditions that may be rather unusual considering the occasion: Only close family members invited, everyone must be six feet from each other, and handshakes, hugs or kissing must be avoided.

And there will be no buffet.

By: Paul Schemm

4:55 AM: Penguins tour Chicago aquarium closed due to virus concerns


With much of Chicago under self-imposed quarantine, it was time for the penguins to take over.

The inquisitive birds wandered down the darkened hallways of Shedd Aquarium, checking out exhibits about the Amazon rainforest and southeast Asian streams.

They inspected giant tanks holding stingrays, dolphins and red-bellied piranhas, turning their heads to look in every direction like miniature tuxedo-clad security guards. Then, they waddled over to the empty information desk, ready to assume the job of greeting visitors whenever the crowds returned.That might take a while: With 105 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Illinois, Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) has banned gathering in groups of more than 50 people, and most of Chicago’s museums have opted to close.

But the absence of visitors on Monday had an upside for three of the Shedd’s rockhopper penguins, whose keepers took them on a “field trip” so that they could explore the usually-bustling aquarium for themselves.“

While Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium may be closed to the public, animal care staff and veterinarians are onsite 24/7,” a spokesman said in a Monday email to The Washington Post. “Without guests in the building, caretakers are getting creative in how they provide enrichment to animals — introducing new experiences, activities, foods and more to keep them active, encourage them to explore, problem-solve and express natural behaviors."

Read more here.

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By: Antonia Noori Farzan

4:51 AM: Animals at empty tourist sites run wild without visitors to feed them


The famous deer of Nara normally enjoy a pampered life. All year, tourists flock to the Japanese city to visit the world’s largest bronze statue of Buddha, feeding rice crackers to more than a thousand does and bucks that roam freely in the surrounding park.

But as the flow of tourists has been reduced to a trickle, the deer are now trotting out of the park in search of food.

Indeed, small herds have been seen galloping through city streets and approaching busy avenues, even traveling over a mile to a nearby subway station. Some hungry deer have eaten potted plants and chased after small children.

And they’re not alone. Amid travel restrictions, quarantines and other measures meant to contain the new coronavirus, a dramatic drop in tourism across several Asian countries has left some animals at popular tourist sites hungry because they are accustomed to humans feeding them.

A video posted to Facebook last week shows hordes of monkeys chasing after each other in the Thai city of Lopburi.

The popular attraction, which is — quite aptly — home to Phra Prang Sam Yot monkey temple, has been empty of the tourists who normally toss snacks to the macaques.

As the monkeys screech and chase around the few cars and motorcycles driving by, something lands amid the mob of primates, which seem to break into a huge fight.

Brawls like the one shown in the video do occur among the macaques of Lopburi, according to Asmita Sengupta, an ecologist in India who studies their ties to humans.

But they rarely happen between so many monkeys, she told the New York Times, showing that the coronavirus may indeed have caused a shortage in their food supply.

By: Teo Armus

4:40 AM: Turkey and Kuwait arrest dozens over spreading ‘inaccurate’ coronavirus news


DUBAI — Across the Middle East, governments are shutting down theaters, restaurants and public spaces to stem the advance of the coronavirus outbreak, as well going after those allegedly spreading false information about the pandemic.

Turkey’s Interior Ministry said it had identified 93 people that had made provocative and unfounded postings about the outbreak on social media and already arrested 19 of them.

Their posts claimed that the Turkish government hadn’t taken sufficient measures to combat the outbreak and was covering up the true extent of its spread. With only 47 cases, Turkey has escaped some of the higher infection rates of its neighbors.

In Kuwait, the Ministry of Interior said late Monday that the administrators of 14 websites had been referred to the prosecutors for committing “irregularities and disseminating inaccurate news” that has hampered the government effort to battle the outbreak.

Kuwait has taken some of the most stringent lockdown measures in the Persian Gulf, including closing public spaces and stopping flights. Interior Minister Ana al-Saleh said that if citizens didn’t obey the new rules, measures would be expanded to include mandatory curfews and the extradition of uncooperative expatriates.


In the United Arab Emirates, Attorney General Hamad Saif al-Shamsi warned the public on Tuesday that “spreading fake information and rumors is a crime punishable by law. He specifically told the public to stop sharing videos of people stocking up on food and panic buying.

"Such material unjustifiably trigger unnecessary fear and panic among residents," he explained.

Governments have been struggling to keep up with the flood of inaccurate and at times purposefully misleading information about the outbreak flooding the Internet, including conspiracy theories about the virus’s origins.

By: Paul Schemm

4:34 AM: Beijing hits back at Trump’s ‘China virus’ comment


BEIJING — One day after President Trump referred to coronavirus as “China virus," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang hit back, telling reporters Tuesday that the United States should “first take care of its own business.”

Geng said that U.S. political figures linking the outbreak to China amounts to “stigmatization against China.”

“We express strong indignation and firm objection to it,” he said at a daily briefing. “We urge the U.S. to correct its mistake and stop its groundless accusations against China."

The coronavirus emerged in Wuhan, central China, late last year, and went on to kill some 3,200 people in China. The ruling Communist Party faced widespread public anger for initially silencing doctors who tried to raise the alarm about the illness, and for official missteps that likely allowed the outbreak to spread farther, faster.

But as the pandemic spread to Europe and the United States, Chinese leaders, eager to deflect any blame for the outbreak, have increasingly called out missteps in the West and stoked conspiracy theories that the virus originated in the United States.

Sign up for our daily Coronavirus Updates newsletter to track the outbreak. All stories linked in the newsletter are free to access.

By: Siobhán O'Grady and Liu Yang

4:16 AM: With the world working from home, some see a chance to boogie

The deadly coronavirus outbreak is forcing a growing number of people around the world to self-isolate and work from home, leading not only to widespread anxiety but some positive vibes, too.

In a video shared on Instagram over the weekend, dozens of people in Seville, Spain, can be seen squatting and performing jumping jacks on their balconies as a man wearing sportswear and sunglasses motivates them from a platform below.

The fitness instructor, who goes by the name of Gonzalo, can be seen lunging on a platform below them as he encourages everyone watching to join in the routine.

Over the weekend, residents in Madrid and Granada came together to show their support for the emergency services. Some clapped from their windows in unison, while others stood on their balconies and let out cheers of appreciation.

On Monday, Spain’s death toll rose to 309. In Italy, DJs played hits from their balconies while another resident in Florence burst into song to fill the silence. Read more on how people are finding ways to come together, despite the restrictions keeping them apart.

By: Jennifer Hassan

4:14 AM: India shuts down the Taj Mahal, expands travel bans


NEW DELHI — India’s famous monument to love, the Taj Mahal, has been shut down till the end of the month as the authorities impose new travel bans and mandatory quarantines for arrivals to halt the spread of coronavirus.

The Taj Mahal received nearly 7 million visitors in 2018. On Feb. 24, President Trump toured it with the first lady as part of his India trip. Agra, the city where the Taj Mahal is located, reported confirmed cases after an Indian national with a history of recent international travel came to the city. The closure of the Taj Mahal came in conjunction with the shutting down of all ticketed monuments and museums, by Minister of Culture Prahlad Singh Patel.

India also greatly expanded its travel bans. Passengers from the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman and Kuwait will be mandatorily quarantined for two weeks beginning Wednesday. These countries near the Persian Gulf have a high population of Indians or those of Indian origin. Previously, only passengers from coronavirus hot spots such as China and Italy, among others, were being required to isolate themselves upon arrival in India.

Another drastic step likely to impact Indian nationals as well is the suspension of all travel from countries of the European Union, Turkey and Britain. “No airline shall board a passenger from these nations to India,” the government said in a release. Afghanistan, the Philippines and Malaysia were added to the list later. India was one of the first countries to suspend all short-term visas and seal most of its land borders.

India, a country of more than 1.3 billion, has only reported three deaths and 126 confirmed cases so far.

By: Niha Masih

3:08 AM: Trump announced Google was building a virus screening tool. Then someone had to build it.


Last week, a team of health science experts within Google parent Alphabet Inc. were exploring ways that software could help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Then came the White House news conference, the California governor’s endorsement, the scramble to build a disease screening website in three days — and on Monday, a crush of publicity around how the site failed to live up to expectations.

In a short period of time, a relatively obscure subsidiary of Alphabet called Verily has become a front-line player in the fight against a global pandemic.

President Trump’s decree, during a Rose Garden briefing last Friday, that 1,700 engineers at Google were working on a coronavirus test-finding tool that would be ready in a few days sent executives at Verily into a panic, according to two people briefed on the episode.

He was referring to Verily. And they were nowhere close to launching such a tool.

Verily’s rush to build a covid-19 screening tool on the fly underscored how tech companies have been forced to improvise to stay in Trump’s good graces, despite the president’s tendency to make false claims about their expansion plans, take credit for their research efforts and mix up the names of their CEOs.

Despite the White House’s insistence on relying on the private sector for solutions, Verily’s effort shows that Silicon Valley has no easy answers to a global health crisis that threatens to overwhelm U.S. hospitals with patients in the coming weeks.

Read the full story here.

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By: Douglas MacMillan, Heather Kelly, Elizabeth Dwoskin and Josh Dawsey

2:22 AM: New Zealand to deport two visitors after they violated quarantine


New Zealand will deport two visitors who entered the country from Southeast Asia and failed to follow orders to self-quarantine, local media reported Tuesday. Almost all visitors entering New Zealand from abroad are required to self-isolate for 14 days following their entry into the country.

Immigration official Stephen Vaughan called the tourists’ behavior “completely irresponsible” and said it “will not be tolerated, which is why these individuals have been made liable for deportation,” the New Zealand Herald reported Tuesday.

Vaughan said the two people are being held in forced quarantine and if they do not leave the country after that time they will be detained.

The newspaper reported that another visitor is facing similar consequences after she landed in the country and proceeded to a backpacking hostel rather than self-isolating.

The Herald reported that the woman indicated to officials she did not plan to self-quarantine and could soon be deported. Officials plan to check in on people who were forced into quarantine to ensure they are complying with government rules.

“There has been the odd person who has come through and perhaps expressed the view they weren’t going to self-isolate, and they’ve been spoken to and convinced that it is the right thing to do,” the newspaper quoted Ashley Bloomfield, director general of health, as saying.

“We are also starting, from today, the spot checks on people who are self-isolating, just to help reassure us and other New Zealanders that people are doing the right thing," he said.

By: Siobhán O'Grady

2:17 AM: Trump calls on Americans to avoid gatherings as local officials order shutdowns


President Trump told Americans on Monday to avoid groups of 10 or more and refrain from eating in restaurants, marking what may be his most serious acknowledgement yet of the threat posed to the United States by the new coronavirus.

As millions of students stayed home from school, businesses and offices shut their doors and daily life came to a halt, Trump suggested at a news conference that the outbreak could last until July or August — just one day after he said the virus was under control.

As of late on Monday, more than 4,400 cases of the virus had been reported nationwide, including at least one patient in 49 states and the District of Columbia. At least 89 deaths had been confirmed, according to a Washington Post tally.

The ripple effects have been nothing short of striking: For the first time in a century, the Supreme Court postponed oral arguments. Even after the Federal Reserve said it was slashing interest rates to zero, stocks crashed to their worst single-day losses since 1987.

Governors and mayors announced their own sweeping measures to contain the virus, amid stalled testing and a warning from the surgeon general that the United States could face a situation similar to Italy, which has reported tens of thousands of cases.


Ohio ordered its polls not to open, and Puerto Rico said it would enforce a total shutdown of the island. In the San Francisco area, six counties ordered the area’s more than 6.5 million residents to stay at home until at least April 7. The directive, the most drastic yet, goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. Pacific time (3:01 a.m. ET) on Tuesday.

Still, Trump told governors in a conference call that states must figure out how to obtain life-saving medical equipment by themselves. After the call, Trump went on Twitter to single out New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) to “do more.”

Cuomo soon shot back: “I have to do more? No — YOU have to do something! You’re supposed to be the President.”

Sign up for our daily Coronavirus Updates newsletter to track the outbreak. All stories linked in the newsletter are free to access.

By: Teo Armus

1:14 AM: Hong Kong places all foreign arrivals under mandatory home quarantine, extends red travel alert to all countries


HONG KONG — Hong Kong on Tuesday announced mandatory 14-day self-quarantine for all foreign arrivals, as the Chinese territory said it would extend a travel alert to warn against nonessential travel to nearly all the planet.

A red outbound travel warning will be issued later Tuesday for all countries, Chief Executive Carrie Lam told reporters, except for mainland China, Taiwan and Macao. Mandatory quarantine arrangements have been in place for arrivals from mainland China since early February. The new restrictions will take effect from Thursday at midnight.

The Asian financial center experienced a surge in coronavirus cases in late January and early February, but has largely managed to bring the spread of the virus under control in the weeks since.

In recent days, though, Hong Kong has recorded a new uptick in cases, all of them imported from overseas. Of the 57 new cases in the past two weeks, 50 came from travelers arriving in Hong Kong from other countries, bringing the total in the city to 158 cases.

“We really need to preserve the results that we’ve achieved” in managing the virus, Lam said. New quarantine restrictions will not apply to Taiwan, the self-governing island which Beijing considers to be part of China.

Schools in Hong Kong have been closed since late January, but were slated to reopen in late April. Lam said Tuesday that timeline seems highly unlikely now, and that even if the situation were to stabilize, schools will open in phases. “This virus is a bit tricky, there’s a lot of pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic cases in society,” she said, urging continued vigilance.

By: Shibani Mahtani

1:02 AM: Analysis: South Korea’s coronavirus success story underscores how the U.S. initially failed

There seems to be no shortage of grim tidings for those in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic. In the United States, public-health officials are bracing for cases of infection to skyrocket and hospitals to get overcrowded. The U.S. surgeon general, Jerome Adams, warned Monday that there’s “every chance that we could be Italy” — a bleak analogy given the mounting death toll in Europe’s worst-affected country.

But elsewhere there are greater signs of encouragement. Apart from China, South Korea was one of the worst-hit countries in the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak. But an aggressive response has made it one of the exemplars in the midst of the pandemic — thanks to its swift implementation of a mass-scale testing regime as well as its consistent, transparent messaging to the public throughout the arc of the crisis. On both counts in the initial months of the outbreak, the Trump administration fared poorly.

In South Korea, infections surged over a 10-day span in late February when a cluster of a few dozen cases mushroomed into more than 5,000. But rates of infection have slowed since the country snapped into action. Out of more than 8,000 confirmed cases of the virus, only 75 people have died so far — a fatality rate lower than the 3 percent average seen worldwide.

Read more about South Korea’s success at containing the virus in today’s WorldView newsletter.

By: Ishaan Tharoor

1:02 AM: China reports more imported than local infections as restrictions on travelers increase


HONG KONG — China again reported more imported than local cases of the virus, as fears mount that travelers entering the country from abroad could reignite an outbreak in the country.

Chinese authorities reported 21 new infections in mainland China on Tuesday, and said 20 of them were recorded in people who had recently entered the country from abroad.

Reports of local cases have slowed dramatically in China in recent weeks, even in Hubei province, the once-epicenter of the crisis. But as the outbreak moved across the globe and China took drastic measures to try to control the spread of the virus, reported cases steadily ticked downward.

Authorities there are now imposing stringent measures on travelers entering from abroad, including forced quarantine.

By: Siobhán O'Grady

1:01 AM: South Korea reports another slow day in new cases as recovery signs grow

South Korea reported 84 new cases of coronavirus on Tuesday, a relatively small number compared with earlier in its massive outbreak, adding to signs that the country — among the hardest hit initially — may be headed toward recovery.

Two people also died in the past day, bringing the country’s total death toll to 81, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Concern arose in recent days as new clusters were identified in the capital, Seoul, but the overall number of cases appears to be slowing down after sweeping government testing measures and controversial public tracking of confirmed patients’ movements.

Over the weekend, President Moon Jae-in’s office declared some of the country’s hardest-hit areas as “special disaster zones,” which will allow the government to limit taxes on residents and pay for major recovery efforts.

By: Siobhán O'Grady

With coronavirus spreading, neighbor worries her Amish neighbors 'wouldn't know' .
Mary Swander put the wheels in motion and with the help of others, the Amish community of Kalona has seemed to heed warnings about the coronavirus.It was March 13, five days after Iowa announced its first coronavirus patient, and the man Swander was speaking with seemed unaware of the pandemic that was just then creeping into Iowa. The longer they spoke, the more her worry grew – for her friend and the other 1,200 Amish residents in Johnson and Washington counties.

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This is interesting!