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Posted: 2020-03-29 15:48:08

Spain's health ministry has announced 838 new coronavirus deaths, marking the country's highest daily jump in fatalities and bringing its total to 6,528.

Elsewhere, US President Donald Trump backed away from imposing a quarantine in the New York area, instead directing that a "strong travel advisory" be issued for the region to limit the spread of the new coronavirus.


The US now accounts for the highest number of coronavirus infections of any nation, recording more than 122,000 confirmed cases on Saturday. The death toll in the country surged past 2,000, more than double the figure two days ago. 

Worldwide, the number of cases has reached more than 684,000. Some 145,000 people have recovered, while more than 32,000 have died. 

Here are the latest updates:

15:44 GMT - Four in 10 people worldwide confined in some form

More than 3.38 billion people worldwide have been asked or ordered to follow confinement measures in the fight against COVID-19, according to an AFP news agency database.

That represents around 43 percent of the total world population, which is 7.79 billion people according to a United Nations count in 2020.

The Chinese province Hubei and its capital city Wuhan, the first epicentre of the novel coronavirus, were the first to introduce confinement measures at the end of January.

Military Emergency Unit members disinfect Nuevos Ministerios metro station during a partial lockdown as part of a 15-day state of emergency to combat the spr

Military Emergency Unit members disinfect Nuevos Ministerios metro station during a partial lockdown as part of a 15-day state of emergency to combat the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Madrid, Spain [Javier Barbancho/Reuters]

15:24 GMT - Syria reports first death from coronavirus

Syria's Health Ministry reported its first death due to Covid-19.

A woman died soon after she was admitted to a hospital where a test confirmed she had been infected with the novel coronavirus,  the ministry added in a statement.

Meanwhile, the Syrian government banned movement between provinces, from late Tuesday until April 16, as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of the virus.

15:15 GMT - Plane catches fire on takeoff at Philippine airport, eight dead

A Japan-bound plane caught fire on takeoff at Manila airport in the Philippines, killing all eight people on board, airport authorities said.

The Westwind aircraft was headed for Haneda airport on a medical evacuation mission carrying six Filipino crew members and two passengers, an American and a Canadian, authorities said without naming any of them.

Firefighters rushed to the end of the runway where the aircraft was engulfed in flames, dousing it with chemical foam, an airport authority statement said.

Most passenger aircraft at the airport have been grounded for weeks since the government put Manila and the rest of the main Philippine island of Luzon on quarantine to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus.

15:01 GMT - Saudi Arabia expands lockdown as coronavirus death toll doubles

Saudi Arabia halted entry and exit into Jeddah governorate, expanding lockdown rules as it reported four new deaths from a coronavirus outbreak that continues to spread in the region despite drastic measures to contain it.

The Saudi health ministry said four more foreign residents, in Jeddah and Medina, had died from the virus, taking the total to eight.

The kingdom confirmed 96 new infections to raise its tally to 1,299, the highest among Gulf Arab states.

Qatar Airways launches campaign to take stranded travellers home

14:47 GMT - Modi seeks 'forgiveness' from India's poor over COVID-19 lockdown

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked the nation's poor for forgiveness, as the economic and human toll from his 21-day nationwide lockdown deepens and criticism mounts over a lack of adequate planning ahead of the decision.

"I apologise for taking these harsh steps that have caused difficulties in your lives, especially the poor people," Modi said in his monthly address broadcast on state radio.

Read more here

14:36 GMT - Areas in Pakistan capital disinfected after coronavirus cases reported

Officials sprayed disinfectant in a suburb of Pakistan's capital Islamabad where some cases of the new coronavirus have been identified.

All points of entry to the city have been cordoned off by police, and the military has been deployed to enforce checkpoints.

Federal health authorities in Pakistan have reported that the number of people testing positive for the new virus is increasing. 

14:22 GMT - Fauci says coronavirus deaths in US could top 100,000

The United States government's foremost infection disease expert says the country could experience more than 100,000 deaths and millions of infections from the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, speaking on CNN's “State of the Union” on Sunday, offered his prognosis as the federal government weighs rolling back guidelines on social distancing in areas that have not been hard-hit by the outbreak at the conclusion of the nationwide 15-day effort to slow the spread of the virus.

"I would say between 100,000 and 200,000 cases," he said, correcting himself to say he meant deaths. "We're going to have millions of cases."

But he added "I don't want to be held to that” because the pandemic is "such a moving target".


14:05 GMT - Italy to extend lockdown beyond April 3: minister

Italy's government will "inevitably" extend beyond April 3 the containment measures it had approved to stem the coronavirus outbreak in the country, the regional affairs minister said.

Italy has suffered the most deaths from the virus epidemic and was the first Western country to introduce severe restrictions on movement after uncovering the outbreak just over five weeks ago.

The government has since increasingly tightened them and these were initially expected to be softened from next Friday. "The measures that were due on April 3 will inevitably be extended," Francesco Boccia said in an interview with SkyTG24.

Italy's coronavirus death toll passes 10,000

13:48 GMT - Over one hundred new coronavirus cases reported in Pakistan

Pakistan's coronavirus infections continued to increase with the addition of 121 new cases. The South Asian nation now has 1,526 cases of the coronavirus.

Thirteen people have died so far of the Covid-19 disease it can cause, according to Health Minister Zafar Mirza.

Mirza said that 71 per cent of coronavirus cases in Pakistan are imported, mainly pilgrims who returned from Iran.

13:29 GMT - UK coronavirus death toll rises to 1,228 people

The number of people who have died after testing positive for coronavirus in the United Kingdom rose to 1,228, according to figures released on Sunday, an increase of 209.

The previous increase saw the death toll rise by 260 people.

13:12 GMT - Swiss govt says 257 dead from coronavirus

The Swiss death toll from coronavirus has reached 257, the country's public health agency said, up from 235 people the previous day.

The number of confirmed cases also increased to 14,336 from 13,213 on Saturday, it said.

Can airlines survive the coronavirus crisis? Inside Story

Hello, this is Usaid Siddiqui in Doha taking over from my colleague Ramy Allahoum.

12:50 GMT - Saudi toll double to eight 

Saudi Arabia's death toll from the coronavirus doubled to eight after four died overnight, according to a health ministry spokesman.

The kingdom reported 96 new cases, bringing the total number of infections to 1,299, the highest among Arab Gulf countries.

12:30 GMT - Dutch coronavirus cases surpass 10,000 

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the Netherlands surged past the 10,000 mark, health authorities said, adding that deaths and hospitalisations were waning. 

The Netherlands' National Institute for Health (RIVM) said confirmed cases rose by 1,104 to 10,866, an 11% increase. There were 132 new deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities to 771.

"Just as in the preceding days, the number of hospitalized patients and the number of deaths are increasing less quickly than would have been expected without measures," the RIVM said.

But because health authorities were mostly testing the very sick and healthcare workers for the virus, the real number of infections is likely to be far higher, the RIVM said.

11:50 GMT - Coronavirus tests credibility, utility of EU: French minister 

The European Union's response to the coronavirus outbreak will determine the bloc's credibility and utility, Amelie de Montchalin, France's European Affairs minister, has warned.

"If Europe is just a single market when times are good, then it has no sense," de Montchalin told France Inter radio, warning that the continent's far-right parties stand to gain the most if member states failed to coordinate efforts. 

11:40 GMT - Pope Francis backs UN chief's call for global ceasefire 

Pope Francis has backed calls by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for a global ceasefire in order to better deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking at his weekly blessing, Francis appealed to everyone to "stop every form of bellicose hostility and to favour the creation of corridors for humanitarian help, diplomatic efforts and attention to those who find themselves in situations of great vulnerability".

11:30 GMT - Switzerland reports 22 deaths, 1,123 new infections

The Swiss death toll from coronavirus reached 257 up from 235 people the previous day, according to the country's public health agency.

It said infections rose by 1,123 to 14,336.

11:15 GMT - Philippines reports 343 new cases, three deaths 

The Philippine health ministry announced 343 new coronavirus cases in what is the biggest overnight jump in infections to date. Three additional fatalities raised the death toll to 71.

The country of some 104 million people registered 1,418 infections while 42 patients recovered.

epa08317098 A soldier wearing a facemask stands guard in the street amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic crisis, in Las Pinas, south of Manila, Philippines, 24 March 2020. According to the Department

A soldier wearing a facemask stands guard in Las Pinas, south of Manila [Fracis R. Malasig/EPA-EFE]

10:55 GMT - Malaysia announces 150 new cases, seven deaths 

Malaysia has confirmed 150 new coronavirus cases, making it the southeast Asian countries with the most infections at 2,470.

Fatalities meanwhile rose by seven to 34, according to the health ministry.

10:50 GMT - Qatar Airways to need state support

Qatar Airways, one of the few airlines maintaining scheduled commercial passenger services, will continue to fly, Chief Executive Akbar al-Baker said in an interview, but warned that the carrier could soon run out of cash and seek state support.

"We will surely go to our government eventually," Baker told Reuters news agency, saying the company had enough cash to sustain operations for a "very short period".

Over the next two weeks, Qatar Airways expects to operate 1,800 flights. Some of flights have had 50 percent occupancy or less and if the company fills 45 percent of seats on flights over the next two weeks it will carry about 250,000 passengers.

"We have received many requests from governments all over the world, embassies in certain countries, requesting Qatar Airways not to stop flying," Baker said. "We will fly as long as it is necessary and we have requests to get stranded people to their homes, provided the airspace is open and the airports are open."

Watch the video below to find out more about the airline industry's woes amid the pandemic.

INSIDE STORY: Can airlines survive the coronavirus crisis? (25:00)

10:20 GMT - Indonesia cases rise by 130 to 1,285 

Indonesia has announced 130 new coronavirus cases, bringing to total number of infections to 1,285. The death toll meanwhile rose to 144 from 132 the previous day, according to Achmad Yurianto, a health ministry official. 

Yurianto added that more than 6,500 people had been tested across the country.

09:55 GMT - Deadliest day for Spain

Spain's coronavirus death toll rose by 838 cases overnight to 6,528, according to the health ministry. 

On Saturday, the country had reported 832 new deaths.

The total number of those infected rose to 78,797 from 72,248 on Saturday.

09:40 GMT - UK gov't 'very concerned' after cases surge past 1,000 mark 

The British government is "very concerned" following the latest figures which show more than 1,000 people had died after testing positive for coronavirus, senior minister Michael Gove said on Sunday.

"Naturally we are very concerned and our thoughts and prayers are with the families of all those who have lost loved-ones in the last few days," he told Sky News.

Special coronavirus precautions taken to protect elderly (2:12)

09:35 GMT - China worried imported cases could lead to second wave

A spokesperson for the Chinese health authority has expressed concern about the possibility of imported cases leading to a second wave of infections.

"Chinese already has an accumulated total of 693 cases entering from overseas, which means the possibility of a new round of infections remains relatively big," said Mi Geng of the National Health Commission. 

The commission reported 45 new COVID-19 cases on the mainland, of which all but one were imported by travelers from overseas.

09:15 GMT - German cases reach 52,547, total deaths 389

The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany has reached 52,547 after 3,965 people tested positive overnight, according to the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases' latest tally.

Meanwhile, the death toll rose to 389 from 325 the previous day.

Police officers wear face masks as they surround a spontaneous rally in Berlin's Kreuzberg district on March 28, 2020, amid the novel coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic. (Photo by David GANNON / AFP)

Germany has so far recorded more than 52,000 infections [David GANNON/AFP]

08:45 GMT - Worry over COVID-19 spreading in African refugee camps 

Scary, distressing, catastrophic: A bleak assessment by experts, humanitarians and epidemiologists on what a severe coronavirus outbreak would look like in countries across Africa sheltering millions of refugees and other vulnerable people.

As the rapidly spreading virus gains ground, aid groups warn of the potentially disastrous consequences of a major outbreak of COVID-19, the highly infectious respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus, in places where healthcare systems are already strained and not easily accessible to large segments of the population.

Read more here.  

08:30 GMT -  'Things could get worse before they get better': UK's Johnson

In a letter being sent out to households across the country, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the government was contemplating further measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus. 

"We will not hesitate to go further if that is what the scientific and medical advice tells us we must do," wrote Johnson, who is working remotely after testing positive for the virus. 

"It's important for me to level with you - we know things will get worse before they get better," the letter reads.

"But we are making the right preparations, and the more we all follow the rules, the fewer lives will be lost and the sooner life can return to normal."

In this handout photo provided by Number 10 Downing Street, Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson chairs the morning Covid-19 Meeting remotely after self isolating after testing positive for the coro

Johnson chairs the morning Covid-19 Meeting remotely after testing positive for the coronavirus [Andrew Parsons/AP]

08:15 GMT - Saudi shuts entry and exit into Jeddah

Saudi Arabia has shut down entry and exit into the Jeddah governorate and brought forward a curfew there to begin at 3 pm local time, the official Saudi Press Agency said.

The same measures were applied to Riyadh, Mecca and Medina last week.

08:00 GMT - Mexico tells residents to stay home for a month 

Hugo Lopez-Gatell, Mexico's deputy health minister, asked all residents in the country to stay at home for a month to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

"This is our last chance. To the residents of Mexico, we say #StayHome," he wrote on Twitter.

There are 848 confirmed cases in the country. Some 16 people have died so far.

07:40 GMT - Kenyans brace for economic hardship

Like many others in Kenya's capital, Nairobi, Gerrard Ogut has decided to send his family to his village in the countryside for the foreseeable future.

"They're safer there," says Ogut, a father of three. Besides, "Life in the city just got unbearably tougher."

Indeed, these are hard times for many Kenyans - not least because of the fear of contracting the new coronavirus, for which there is no vaccine or known treatment regimen, but also due to the crushing blow the pandemic could deliver on East Africa's largest economy.

Read Pauline Mpungu's story from Nairobi here.

This is Ramy Allahoum in Doha, taking over the live blog from my colleague Zaheena Rasheed.

07:15 GMT - Tokyo confirms 68 new cases in biggest jump yet 

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Japan rose by 68 overnight, a record daily increase which brings the total number of infections to more than 1,700, public broadcaster NHK reported.

Japan has reported 55 deaths, excluding those from a cruise ship quarantined last month, according to NHK.

Trump drops idea of coronavirus lockdown (4:10)

07:00 GMT - Myanmar temporarily suspends entry visas

Myanmar suspended issuing entry visas starting on Sunday as part of efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The foreign ministry said diplomats, UN officials and ship and airline staff will be exempted from the measure which will go into effect on Sunday and last until late April.

Health authorities have so far reported five cases of COVID-19 in Myanmar.

06:50 GMT - Australia boosts funding to tackle domestic violence

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison has allocated 150 million Australian dollars ($100m) in funding to support people "experiencing domestic, family and sexual violence due to the fallout from the coronavirus".

In a statement, Morrison said Google was seeing a 75 percent increase in searches for domestic violence help - the highest in the past five years - and the new funds would be spent on counselling support for both victims and abusers.

The money is part of an AU$1.1bn ($700m) package to deal with the effects of the health and economic crisis caused by the coronavirus epidemic. It includes AU$669m ($413m) to be spent on expanding telehealth services and an initial AU$74m ($48m) will be spent on supporting the mental health of all Australians, the statement said.

06:20 GMT - Venezuela's Guaido calls for emergency government

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido called for the creation of a "national emergency government" to fight the spread of the coronavirus in the crisis-wracked country.

"Given the situation in Venezuela, which is going to worsen with the pandemic, today I present to the country the need to form a national emergency government," said Guaido, who had declared himself interim president of the South American country last year following a disputed election in 2018.

The unity government would include representatives from parties across the political divide, "but for obvious reasons cannot be led by" President Nicolas Maduro, Guaido said in a series of tweets.

Coronavirus lockdown: India grapples with migrant workers' exodus (2:36)

05:15 GMT - Thailand reports 143 new cases and one death 

Thailand recorded 143 new coronavirus infections and one death on Sunday, Reuters news agency said, citing a spokesman for the Thai government. 

The latest victim was a 68-year-old man from Nonthaburi province who had attended a crowded boxing match in Bangkok where there had been a cluster of infections, according to Taweesin Wisanuyothin. 

The new figures bring the total number of cases and deaths since the beginning of the outbreak in Thailand to 1,338 and seven, respectively. 

04:00 GMT - As cases continue to slow in China, Wuhan reopens rail stations

China's National Health Commission reported 45 new COVID-19 cases on the mainland, of which all but one were imported by travellers from overseas. 

There were five new deaths in Wuhan, the city that was once at the epicentre of China's outbreak. Life is gradually returning to normal in the city, which has only reported one new case in the past 10 days, according to state media. 

Wuhan's subway and railway stations reopened on Saturday after two months of suspension, and a China- Europe cargo train departed Wuhan for Germany, carrying medical supplies.

Mainland China has recorded 81,439 confirmed cases and a total of 3,300 deaths throughout the outbreak.

03:40 GMT - Canadian PM's wife recovers from COVID-19 

Sophie Gregoire Trudeau said she has received a "clear bill of health" two weeks after testing positive for COVID-19. 

"It's all good for me now," she said in a video posted on Instagram. "We are going through some really rough times, and we are going to stick through it together." 

03:25 GMT - CDC issues travel advisory for New York area

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urged residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut states to "refrain from non-essential domestic travel for 14 days effective immediately". 

The travel warning did not apply to employees of critical infrastructure industries, including trucking, public health professionals, financial services and food supply, the agency said on its website. 

02:45 GMT - New Zealand confirms first coronavirus death 

New Zealand reported its first death from COVID-19, prompting Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to renew calls on the public to "stay at home, break the chain and save lives". 

The woman who died was a 70-year-old who had initially been diagnosed with influenza. Some 21 staff who were involved in the patient's care were now in self-isolation, according to a statement by the health ministry.

New Zealand recorded 60 new infections in the past 24 hours, bringing the number of confirmed cases to 476. 

01:15 GMT - South Korea reports 105 new cases, total at 9,583

Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 105 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of infections throughout the outbreak in the country to 9,583.

A total of 5,033 people have fully recovered, while the death toll was 152, the public health agency said.

00:50 GMT - Trump to issue 'strong travel advisory' for New York region

Trump said he will not impose a quarantine on the states of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, but would instead issue a "strong travel advisory" for the region.

In a Twitter post, Trump said he made the decision after consulting with the White House taskforce leading the federal response and the governors of the three affected states.

He wrote: "I have asked the @CDCgov to issue a strong Travel Advisory, to be administered by the Governors, in consultation with the Federal Government. A quarantine will not be necessary."

00:40 GMT - Coronavirus deaths surge past 2,000 in US

The death toll from coronavirus infections in the US doubled in two days, surging past 2,000, according to a tally by the Johns Hopkins University.  

The US now ranks sixth in deaths, after Italy, Spain, China, Iran and France.

The state of Rhode Island announced its first two deaths from the coronavirus, leaving just three states with zero reported deaths: Hawaii, West Virginia and Wyoming.

00:33 GMT - New York governor slams quarantine idea as 'anti-American'

Andrew Cuomo slammed Trump's suggestion of a quarantine in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, saying such a lockdown would amount to "a federal declaration of war".

"If you start walling off areas all across the country, it would be totally bizarre, counterproductive, anti-American, anti-social," the governor of New York told CNN, calling the idea "preposterous" and illegal. 

Cuomo added that roping off the nation's financial capital could "paralyse the economy" at a time Trump has called for measures to get the economy back on track.  

Hello, I'm Zaheena Rasheed in Male, Maldives, with Al Jazeera's continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

Read all the updates from yesterday, March 28, here

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