World News in Brief: March 24

Tuesday, 2020-03-24 13:54:56
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Few people are seen at the central train station in Athens, Greece, on March 23, 2020. City streets across Greece were deserted as the government launched on Monday a 14-day nationwide lockdown in an effort to contain the further spread of the COVID-19. Greece has registered so far 17 deaths linked to COVID-19, up from 15 reported a day earlier and 71 new confirmed cases, bringing the total to 695. (Photo: Xinhua)
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International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound said on Monday (March 23) that the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games are set to be postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak. The 78-year-old Canadian added that the games will likely be moved to 2021, and that the IOC will announce its next steps soon.

* More than 300,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in 189 countries and regions, said World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Monday, noting "The pandemic is accelerating." According to the WHO situation dashboard, 14,510 people have died worldwide from the coronavirus as of 10:00 CET (0900 GMT) Monday.

* Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith and authorities have visited facilities prepared for COVID-19 patients, despite there being no confirmed case in Laos.

* The Singaporean government will be donating US$500,000 to support the World Health Organization (WHO)'s Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan (SPRP) for COVID-19, which aims to limit human-to-human transmission of the virus.

* The number of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines has risen to 462, the country's Department of Health (DOH) said on Monday. The DOH said in a report that 33 people have died from the highly infectious disease while 18 have recovered.

* Thailand's Ministry of Public Health on Tuesday announced three more COVID-19 fatalities and 106 new infections, tallying Thailand's death toll to four and the total infections to 827.

* Japan's health ministry and local governments said Tuesday the total number of people infected with COVID-19 in Japan stood at 1,141 as of 11:00 a.m. local time here. The death toll in Japan from the pneumonia-causing virus currently stands at a total of 52 people, according to the health ministry, with the figure including those from the virus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined in Yokohama, close to Tokyo.

* The Republic of Korea President Moon Jae-in said Tuesday that his government will double the size of emergency corporate funding package to KRW100 trillion (US$80 billion) to help companies surmount the temporary liquidity shortage coming from the COVID-19 outbreak.

* The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in India Tuesday rose to 492, India's health ministry said. According to ministry officials, so far nine deaths related to COVID-19 have been reported across the country and 37 people have been discharged from hospitals after showing improvement.

* The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in New York City has reached 13,119 as of Monday night local time, according to data of the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University. A total of 124 deaths have been reported in the city, according to the CSSE. The largest US city with a population of 8.6 million has become a new epicenter of the outbreak, taking about 30 percent of the nation's tally of 43,901.

* Danish Prime Minister Mette Fredriksen on Monday announced the extension of the coronavirus lockdown for a further two weeks (until April 13). The announcement followed Monday's report from the State Serum Institute that the number of Danes killed by the coronavirus had risen dramatically to 24 from 13 within 24 hours, while the confirmed cases hit 1,460.

* Iran's death toll from COVID-19 climbed to 1,812 on Monday, after 127 new deaths were reported. Meanwhile, more countries in the Middle East decided to impose curfew to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The total number of COVID-19 infections in Iran, the worst-hit country in the region, climbed to 23,049, up by 1,411 from a day ago. A total of 8,376 of the infected have recovered.

* A total of 63,927 coronavirus cases have been assessed in Italy since the pandemic broke out in its northern regions on Feb. 21, the Civil Protection Department managing the COVID-19 emergency said on Monday. The number of total infections grew by 4,789, or 8 percent from 59,138 cases recorded on Sunday. Further 601 fatalities were also registered on Monday, with the death toll reaching 6,077.

* The Dutch government on Monday announced new additional measures to combat the novel coronavirus, including banning all meetings and gatherings, and fines for shops and people that do not obey the regulations. Since Sunday, 34 more patients in the Netherlands died from COVID-19, bringing the death toll to 213. In addition, 545 more people tested positive, and the total number of confirmed cases now stood at 4,749.

* Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa approved on Monday the state budget for 2020, according to a statement published on the Presidency website. The statement came after the president received Minister of State and Finance Mario Centeno for talks on the international and national economic and financial situation in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

* A female passenger in her 70s from the Ruby Princess cruise ship passed away after infection with COVID-19, health authorities confirmed on Tuesday, taking the total deaths in Australia to eight. There have been 133 diagnosed cases of COVID-19 on the ship, with 107 cases diagnosed in NSW and 26 cases interstate. The total number of infections in Australia increased to at least 1895, with 818 in the worst affected state of NSW.

* New Zealand reported 40 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday with more community transmission. Three new probable cases were also reported. As probable cases are now being included in the total count, New Zealand currently has 155 COVID-19 cases, including 142 cases that have tested positive, Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield told a press conference.

* Brazilian dailies on Monday urged unity and social responsibility to confront the COVID-19 pandemic that is spreading across Latin America. The Brazilian Health Ministry reported that the total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 rose from 1,546 to 1,891, and the number of fatal victims climbed from 25 to 34.

* Portugal recorded 2,060 confirmed cases of COVID-19 -- 460 more from Sunday, and 23 deaths, according to a bulletin from the Directorate-General for Health on Monday.

* Cuban President Miguel Diaz Canel on Monday urged state institutions, private sectors and people to increase control and discipline in an effort to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.

* The global economy is expected to contract 1.5 percent in 2020 amid the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, according to the forecast released by the Institute of International Finance (IIF) on Monday. The IIF, based in Washington D.C., is a global association of the financial industry with more than 450 members from more than 70 countries and regions.

* Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Monday that his government will allot CAD192 million (US$132 million) on the development and production of vaccines and treatments against COVID-19. There are now more than 1,500 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 21 deaths, in Canada.

* In Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), over 154 million children, or about 95 percent of the enrolled, are temporarily out of school due to the COVID-19, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said Monday.

* The number of confirmed coronavirus cases exceeded 700 in Finland on Monday, as the government began preparing further restrictions on everyday life to combat COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

* Two more COVID-19 patients died while another 219 new coronavirus cases were confirmed in Ireland on Monday, the country's Department of Health said in a statement. To date, there have been a total of 1,125 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and six COVID-19-related deaths in the country, said the statement, adding that the latest two victims of the disease are both male from the east of Ireland.

* Israeli Supreme Court on Monday ordered the parliament to hold a vote for electing a new speaker, in a move widely seen as a blow to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's attempt to hold on to power. At the same time, the nation is struggling to halt the rapid spread of the COVID-19 outbreak. The total number on confirmed infections rose to 1,442 on Monday.

* The G20 finance ministers and central bank governors agreed on Monday during a televised meeting to develop a joint G20 Action Plan in response to the COVID-19, said a statement by the G20 Saudi secretariat.

* US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday that the United States is reducing assistance by US$1 billion to Afghanistan this year due to the Afghan leadership's failure to form an inclusive government.

* The death toll from COVID-19 infection in Turkey climbed to 37 after seven more deaths were added on Monday, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said. The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Turkey rose to 1,529, according to the minister.

* The United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Monday announced 45 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the total confirmed cases to 198, state TV reported.

Xinhua