12th March 2020 – United Kingdom – 590 Cases ¦ 10 Deaths
22:16 Belgium closes schools and restaurants
Belgium has announced it is closing schools, cafes, bars and restaurants.
Supermarkets and pharmacies will remain open. Other stores will remain open during the week but will close on weekends
21:52 Portugal to shut schools from Monday
Portugal has become the latest European country to announce the closure of schools, starting on Monday.
21:06 BT chief tests positive
In the UK, the chief executive of telecoms company BT Group has tested positive for coronavirus.
Philip Jansen said he was experiencing “relatively mild” symptoms and would work remotely. The firm is working with Public Health England to clean its offices and advise staff who had interacted with the executive.
“There will be no disruption to the business,” Mr Jansen said.
20:33 Shares around the world plunge
Shares around the world have plunged over fears that the coronavirus pandemic will affect economic growth.
The main UK index dropped more than 10%, its worst day since 1987. In the US, the Dow and S&P 500 were also hit hard.
19:56 US suspends all major sport
All major sport in the US has been suspended amid the coronavirus outbreak. The NBA has suspended all matches until further notice after a Utah Jazz player tested positive for coronavirus. The National Hockey League and the Major Soccer League have also paused their seasons. And Major League Baseball has delayed the start of its season by at least two weeks.
19:36 Slovenia declares epidemic
Slovenia has declared a coronavirus epidemic. It follows a steep rise in the number of cases. There are now almost 100 patients with Covid-19. All schools will close from Monday and leave for medical staff has been cancelled. Major sporting events have been cancelled. These include this weekend’s Alpine Ski World Cup at Kranjska Gora and the following weekend’s Ski Flying World Championships at Planica. All football matches have been postponed. The incoming government – formed after Prime Minister Marjan Šarec’s resignation this year – says it will enact further measures after it takes office tomorrow evening.
19:27 Macron confirms French elections will go ahead
French President Emmanuel Macron has confirmed that the country’s local elections will go ahead. There had been suggestions that they could be cancelled due to coronavirus. But Mr Macron also announced that schools across the country would close from Monday. The president also said businesses would be asked to allow staff to work from home. He also urged people over 70 and those with health issues to stay at home. Public transport would remain operating, he added.
19:22 White House to close to the public
One of the United States’s iconic buildings, the White House, is closing its doors to the public. Normally visitors can apply for a guided tour of the building where the president lives and works, but that’s been suspended until further notice.
19:15 Nepal cancels Everest climbing season
Nepal’s government has cancelled the Everest expedition season amid the coronavirus pandemic. Narayan Prasad Bidari, Secretary of the Office of Prime Minister, said: “We have decided to halt all tourist visas until April 30.” The decision was made by a committee headed by Deputy PM Ishwor Pokhrel. The decision reads: “As of now, all issued permits and permits yet to be issued for the 2020 Everest season will be cancelled.” Any foreigners who are unable to avoid coming to Nepal from 14 March should stay in quarantine for 14 days, it adds. China has already cancelled expeditions from the northern side of the mountain. Most climbers come from the US, India, China, UK, Japan, and South Korea.
Lakpa Sherpa, managing director of Pioneer Adventure, said: “My nine Chinese clients and a Japanese client have cancelled already. Many trekking teams are not coming, which is a big loss for sherpas like us who make most of our money during this time.”
Adrian Ballinger, an American climber operating from the north side of the mountain earlier wrote on Facebook: “Climbing a mountain is not currently worth the transmission risk in the base camps, nor upon returning home.”
Nepal’s government has asked its citizens to avoid mass gatherings including marriages and public functions. The country’s parliament was closed for a week after concerns were raised about a member’s health.
18:45 Budapest closes arts spaces
Budapest is closing all of its cinemas, theatres, museums and libraries from today, state news agency MTI has said.
Mayor Gergely Karacsony announced that performances would be suspended at all cinemas and theatres maintained by the city, and services would be suspended at museums and libraries.
He added that no matter how seriously the move affected tourism in the Hungarian capital, “this step must be taken to minimise the risk of epidemic”.
Hungary has 16 cases of the virus so far.
18:31 Norway reports first death
An elderly person has become the first person to die in Norway from coronavirus, Prime Minister Erna Solberg told the Norwegian broadcaster NRK. The total number of cases in the country rose to 621 on Wednesday.
Meanwhile King Harald and Queen Sonja will be self-isolating after visiting Jordan earlier this month, and six government ministers are also in quarantine, according to Norwegian channel TV2.
18:11 India reports first virus death
Indian authorities have reported that a 76-year-old man has died in the country after contracting coronavirus.
The unnamed man died yesterday in the southern city of Kalburgi. There was earlier speculation that he had been infected, but test results were only confirmed to the public today.
Five people have tested positive in Karnataka, the region where Kalburgi is based.
18:01 NHL suspends season
The National Hockey League (NHL) will pause its 2019-2020 season starting with tonight’s games, less than a day after a similar decision by the NBA.
The league contains 31 teams across the US and Canada.
“Following last night’s news that an NBA player has tested positive for coronavirus – and given that our leagues share so many facilities and locker rooms and it now seems likely that some member of the NHL community would test positive at some point – it is no longer appropriate to try to continue to play games at this time,” said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman in a statement.
“Our goal is to resume play as soon as it is appropriate and prudent.”
The NHL’s total revenue for the 2017-2018 season was approximately $4.86bn (£3.86bn).
Markets are facing their worst ever daily loss after shares around the world plunged.
17:43 Amsterdam’s top tourist attractions to close
The Van Gogh museum and the Rijksmuseum in the Dutch capital Amsterdam are to close until the end of March to help contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Other major attractions in the Netherlands are also to close temporarily, including the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam and art museums in The Hague and Rotterdam.
“In line with national policy regarding the coronavirus, the Rijksmuseum will close its doors to the public until March 31,” a museum statement said.
The Netherlands has reported 614 cases and five deaths from the virus. The government has banned events involving more than 100 people and is urging citizens to work from home.
17:42 New York Met Museum to shutter over virus fears
New York City’s renowned Metropolitan Museum of Art will temporarily close its doors at its mainstay location on Fifth Avenue, as well as the Met Breuer and Met Cloisters “to support New York City’s effort to contain the spread of Covid-19”.
Two employees of the museum have reportedly shown symptoms of the virus.
“While we don’t have any confirmed cases connected to the museum, we believe that we must do all that we can to ensure a safe and healthy environment for our community,” said Met President Daniel Weiss.
The Met – an American cultural landmark – draws more than seven million visitors each year, making it one of the most visited art museums in the world.
As of yet, the star-studded Met Gala – an annual benefit event for the Costume Institute at the Met – due on 4 May, is still a go.
17:15 Cases in Italy jump to more than 15,000
The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Italy has risen to 15,113 from 12,462 on Wednesday, officials say.
17:00 Johnson: ‘Worst public health crisis for a generation’
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is beginning a press conference from Downing Street.
He begins by saying he chaired an emergency meeting with ministers from across the UK.
“It is clear that coronavirus continues and will continue to spread across the world and our country over the next few months,” adds Mr Johnson.
“We have done what can be done to contain disease, which has bought us valuable time.
“But it is now a global pandemic and the worst public health crisis for a generation.”
He adds: “I must level with you, the British public, more families will lose their loved ones before their time.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson says it is time to move to the next stage of planning.
“The most dangerous period is not now, but some weeks away, depending how far it spreads,” he says.
However, new measures are going to be in place.
Staying at home for seven days if you have, however mild, a new continuous cough or higher temperature
Advise all those over-70s not to go on cruises
Advise against international school trips
Mr Johnson says they are only “considering the question of banning major events, including sporting fixtures” – not because of the spread of the virus, but because of the burden it puts on public services.
He also says schools should remain open.
“There is no escaping the reality [that these measures] will cause severe disruption across the country for many months.
“But it will help slow disease and save lives.”
The UK PM adds: “Things seem tough now, but remember, we will get through this epidemic… if we look out for each other and commit wholeheartedly to a national effort.”
The UK’s Chief Scientific Officer, Sir Patrick Vallance, says between 5,000 and 10,000 people in the UK will already have the virus.
“The actions we need to take is to delay the peak and to push the peak down,” he says.
Reducing the number of cases at any one time is very important for the NHS, says Sir Patrick, as it helps the health service cope with the numbers.
“It is not possible to stop everyone getting it and not helpful, as we need to build immunity,” he adds.
16:56 Czechs refuse entry to citizens of 15 countries
BBC Prague Correspondent
Czechs famously like to appear stoical in the face of adversity, but the state of emergency declared by the government on Thursday afternoon is draconian in the extreme.
To limit the spread of Covid-19, the existing school closures and bans on public events attended by over 100 people have been ramped up. Now all events attended by over 30 people have been banned, but more critically – all bars, restaurants and pubs must now close from 20:00 to 06:00 local time.
For a country with the highest per capita beer consumption in the world, this represents an unprecedented interruption of normality.
To further prevent the spread of Coronavirus from abroad, citizens of 15 countries – China, South Korea, Iran, Italy, Spain, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, the UK, Denmark and France – will be refused entry from midnight on Friday.
The Czech Republic is heavily reliant on foreign tourism – this will effectively suspend tourism overnight.
Those citizens with permanent or long-term residence in the Czech Republic will be allowed back in. However, a ban on Czech citizens visiting those 15 “at risk” countries will also apply to foreigners with long-term residence – meaning those who live here will now effectively be prevented from visiting their home countries for 30 days.
16:43 Satellite photos show ‘coronavirus burial pits’ in Iran
We have an update from Iran, which reported 75 new deaths linked to Covid-19 on Thursday, bringing the overall number to 429. At least 10,075 people have also been infected.
The Washington Post reports that satellite photographs appear to show Iranian authorities have excavated two large trenches at a cemetery in the city of Qom to bury the rising number of people who have died as a result of the new coronavirus disease.
15:00 Latin America’s biggest airline cuts international flights
Latam, Latin America’s biggest airline, has announced it is cancelling 30% of its international flights because of falling demand as a result of the coronavirus.
The measure will be in place between 1 April and 30 May and will apply mainly to flights from South America to Europe and the US.
In a statement, Roberto Alvo, vice president of the Chilean-Brazilian airline, described this as a “complex and extraordinarily dynamic scenario”.
The global airline industry is facing a massive downturn in passenger numbers due to travel restrictions.
14:53 Netherlands bans gatherings of more than 100
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has banned meetings of more than 100 and told people they should work from home if possible, until at least 31 March. Companies are also being advised to rotate staff to reduce the risk of infection from coronavirus.
The prime minister said he had introduced the measures because of the likelihood of “untraceable” cases of the virus in the Netherlands.
14:39 UK deaths rise to 10, 590 confirmed cases
The number of coronavirus related deaths have risen to 10, according to the Department of Health and Social Care.
A total of 590 people have tested positive out of 29,764 who have been tested.
There are now 590 confirmed cases in the UK, up from 456 on Wednesday – with 491 in England, 60 in Scotland, 20 in Northern Ireland and 19 in Wales.
It comes as the government is expected to announce within hours that it is stepping up its coronavirus response.
14:23 Philippine capital Manila to be locked down
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has announced a “lockdown” of the capital Manila in a bid to combat the spread of coronavirus.
Two people have died and 53 cases have been confirmed.
He announced a cancellation of domestic land, sea and air travel to and from the capital, as well as community quarantine measures.
The president also announced bans on mass gatherings, a month of school closures and the quarantining of communities where cases are detected
14:14 UK ministers and scientists gather for emergency meeting
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is hosting an emergency meeting with some of the country’s chief scientists this afternoon.
Mr Johnson is expected to sign off plans to move from the “containment” phase of the outbreak to “delay” – basically steps to slow the spread of the virus through the population.
Ahead of the meeting one attendee, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, called for the cancellation of mass gatherings of 500 people or more.
14:12 US Capitol ‘closing to the public’
US congressional buildings in Washington DC will close to the public on Thursday until 1 April, the Associated Press news agency is reporting. That includes both the House of Representatives and Senate buildings, where members of Congress and their staff work. Ordinarily the public can obtain passes to tour the buildings or visit their representatives.
14:03 Miami Open tennis tournament postponed
Major tennis tournament the Miami Open, due to start on 25 March, has been suspended, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos A Gimenez has said.
Top players Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic had both raised concerns about attending the event.
The Indian Wells 2020 was cancelled on Monday. Organisers say it’s currently too early to make decisions about the French Open or Wimbledon tennis tournaments in the summer.
13:27 Slovakia to shut its borders
Slovakia is closing its borders to non-residents and shutting down international airports to prevent travel to and from the country, Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini has announced.
Border checks will be introduced and schools, sports and leisure centres will close. Shopping centres will also only open on weekdays, the prime minister said.
The country has reported 16 cases of coronavirus so far.
13:15 ‘Inappropriate for Scotland to carry on as normal’
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she will advise that mass gatherings of 500 people or more should be cancelled from the start of next week.
Speaking at First Minister’s Questions in Holyrood on Thursday, she said she anticipated a “sharp rise” in coronavirus cases in Scotland.
“Mass gatherings require to be policed, to have mass ambulance cover, and at a time when we need to be reducing the pressures on these frontline workers in order to free them up for the challenge ahead, I do think it is inappropriate that we continue as normal,” Ms Sturgeon said.
“The health secretary and I have decided this morning that we are minded that we will advise the cancellation, from the start of next week, of mass gatherings of 500 people or more.”
12:42 St Patrick’s Day events cancelled
Next Tuesday, 17 March, should have been the day that brings the Irish diaspora together in celebration.
But many St Patrick’s Day celebrations have this year been postponed on both sides of the Atlantic due to fears over coronavirus.
In the US, events in New York – which is widely considered the biggest parade of all – and Chicago are among them.
Travellers from the 26 countries in the Schengen border-free travel area are to be barred from entering the US. Those passing through any Schengen country in the 14 days before their arrival in the US will also be barred.
The UK – a country not in the Schengen area and where the ban does not apply – has said it does not plan to impose such a ban.
Reacting to the US travel ban, Chancellor Rishi Sunak told BBC Breakfast: “We haven’t believed that that’s the right thing to do, the evidence here doesn’t support that.
“What we are trying to do is contain the virus while recognising that it is now likely that it will spread more significantly.”
09:37 Global stocks plunge amid US-Europe travel ban
Markets are looking increasingly rattled by the global response to the coronavirus outbreak.
London’s FTSE 100 index sank about 6% in early trading on Thursday. That followed more falls in the US, with the Dow Jones losing nearly 6% on Wednesday.
It comes after US President Donald Trump restricted travel to the country from most of mainland Europe and the World Health Organization (WHO) labelled the outbreak a pandemic.
09:02 First coronavirus death in Greece
The Greek health ministry has confirmed the country’s first death of coronavirus.
The patient was a 66-year-old man, who contracted the virus while on a religious bus tour of Israel and Egypt last month.
He died in hospital in Patras, about 204km (127 miles) west of Athens.
Several others who were on the tour with him are now in hospital or quarantined.
06:17 Uganda to ‘spray’ passengers
All passengers at Uganda’s Entebbe International Airport will soon be sprayed with a disinfectant upon entry.
It comes as the Uganda government introduced a mandatory self-quarantine policy for travellers arriving from 16 “high risk countries”, including the UK and US.
The country currently has no cases of coronavirus.
06:04 Kazakhstan suspends all public events
Kazakhstan is suspending all public events and taking other virus prevention measures, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev wrote on Twitter on Thursday.
Separately, a World Trade Organization ministerial conference in Kazakhstan in June has been cancelled.
05:59 Pakistani man dies in Italy
Covid-19 has claimed the life of a second Pakistani, this time in Italy. The 61-year-old man lived in Brescia in Lombardy.
Yesterday a Pakistani PhD student was reported dead in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the outbreak emerged.
No coronavirus deaths have been reported on Pakistani soil.
A 14-year-old from the Gilgit-Baltistan region has tested positive, bringing the total in Pakistan to 20. The teenager had recently travelled to Iran and returned on 4 March.
05:43 White House St Patrick’s Day reception cancelled
As well as the St Patrick’s Day parade being postponed in New York – and other US cities – the White House has cancelled the annual St Patrick’s Day White House reception.
The White House said the decision was taken “out of an abundance of caution”.
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar is in the US and is still expected to meet President Trump.
05:38 Better news in South Korea
South Korea reported 114 new cases on Wednesday, its lowest daily total for more than two weeks.
There were also six more deaths, bringing the total to 66.
The daily total of cases was way down on the peak of 909 at the end of last month. But authorities say the danger has not passed.
“It is too early to say we are overcoming the disease,” Yoon Tae-ho, director general for public health policy, said at a briefing on Thursday.
“We are still witnessing sporadic outbreaks so we cannot lower our guard.”
05:26 Death toll in collapsed hotel rises to 29
The number of people killed when a Chinese hotel collapsed at the weekend has risen to 29. The hotel was being used for virus quarantine.
More than 70 people were in the hotel in Quanzhou; 27 died in the rubble and two died later.
05:18 New York postpones St Patrick’s Day parade
New York has postponed its annual St Patrick’s Day parade because of virus fears.
The march usually attracts around two million spectators, with more than 100,000 participants.
“I know this decision didn’t come easy, so I’ll make this promise: this is a postponement, not a cancellation,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
04:56 First death in Greece
Greece reported its first fatality on Thursday, a 66-year-old man who had returned from a religious pilgrimage to Israel and Egypt at the end of February, according to Reuters.
The man had underlying health issues, the health ministry said in a statement.
Greece reported 99 confirmed cases by late Wednesday.
04:46 White House: Ban only applies to ‘open border’ countries
The White House has confirmed that only the 26 countries in the Schengen Area will be affected by the European travel ban.
This means EU countries Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland and Romania will be unaffected.
President Trump had already made clear that the UK – which has left the EU, and was never in the Schengen Area – was not included in the ban.
04:19 Virus reaches French Polynesia
A member of France’s parliament representing French Polynesia has tested positive, reports AFP.
Maina Sage began feeling ill on Monday, two days after returning to the French pacific territory from France.
Sage is in self-isolation at her home and her symptoms were not considered serious, officials said.
The authorities did not say how she caught the virus. On 26 February she met French Culture Minister Franck Riester, who later tested positive.
04:08 Re-think your travel plans, says State Department
Americans should reconsider foreign travel, the State Department has said.
“The Department of State advises US citizens to reconsider travel abroad due to the global impact of Covid-19,” it said in a statement.
“Many areas throughout the world are now experiencing outbreaks and taking action that may limit traveller mobility, including quarantines and border restrictions.
“Even countries, jurisdictions, or areas where cases have not been reported may restrict travel without notice.”
04:05 Olympics to go ahead?
The Olympic flame for the 2020 Tokyo Games will be lit today in a ceremony in the ancient Greek city of Olympia – without any spectators.
Only 100 accredited guests from the International Olympic Committee and the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee will be allowed to attend the ceremony – down from 700 guests.
It’s still not clear if the Olympics will go ahead as planned – though Tokyo’s governor said a cancellation would be “unthinkable”.
Olympic executive board member Haruyuki Takahashi earlier said a realistic option would be to delay the Games by one or two years if it could not go ahead this summer.
But that was dismissed by the head of the Tokyo 2020 organising committee who said the Games would go ahead as planned.
03:43 11 more cases in Thailand
Eleven new cases have been reported in Thailand, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 70.
All new patients were part of a group of friends who hung out together – one of them had come into close contact with a friend from Hong Kong who reportedly had Covid-19 like symptoms.
02:43 US staffer tests positive for virus
A staff member in US Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell’s office has tested positive for the virus, according to news site Politico.
Cantwell, who represents the US state of Washington, will close her office for the week and her staff will work remotely.
02:43 Asian markets plunge
Tokyo’s Nikkei index down more than 5%
02:30 India imposes strict restrictions on arrivals
India is suspending all tourist visas until 15 April in an attempt to control the coronavirus outbreak. The move comes into effect on Friday.
All “existing visas – except diplomatic, official, UN/International Organisations, employment, project visas – stand suspended till 15 April 2020,” said the Indian Ministry of Health in a tweet.
All incoming travellers – including Indians – from China, Italy, Iran, Korea, France, Spain and Germany will be quarantined for 14 days.
02:29 Trump’s announcement: Key points
To sum up: from behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, President Trump announced a number of measures to control the spread of the coronavirus to the US. Here are the main points:
All travel from Europeto the US suspended for the next 30 days – beginning on Friday at midnight.
TheUnited Kingdom is exempted
Trade and cargoare not affected, Mr Trump has confirmed on Twitter
The US iscutting red tapeto make anti-viral therapies available in record time
Financial relief“to ensure that working Americans impacted by the virus can stay home without fear or financial hardship”
Economic loansfor affected states and territories
This will provide more than $200bn of additional liquidity to the economy
Congress urged to provide Americans with immediatepayroll tax relief
02:18 Kuwait to suspend all flights
Kuwait will be suspending all commercial incoming and outgoing commercial flights from Friday “until further notice”, due to coronavirus concerns.
The state news agency KUNA said this did not include cargo flights.
02:18 Cases in China’s Hubei reach new low
China on Thursday reported eight new coronavirus cases in the province of Hubei where the virus first emerged.
This is the first time Hubei’s daily tally has been in the single digits.
Outside of Hubei, China had seven new cases – six of which were imported from abroad.
This brings the total number of confirmed cases in China to 80,793.
02:17 NBA suspends season
The US National Basketball Association (NBA) says it will suspend the season until a further notice after a Utah Jazz player tested positive for the coronavirus.
The NBA has not announced who the affected player is, but Reuters suggests it is Rudy Gobert.
The league said it would use this “hiatus to determine next steps moving foward”.
02:16 Which are the European countries affected?
Following President Trump’s announcement, Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad F. Wolf’s issued a statement with details of which countries were affected:
“Today President Donald J. Trump signed a Presidential Proclamation, which suspends the entry of most foreign nationals who have been in certain European countries at any point during the 14 days prior to their scheduled arrival to the United States. These countries, known as the Schengen Area, include:
02:15 US actor Tom Hanks tests positive for virus
US actor Tom Hanks and his wife actress Rita Wilson have both tested positive for coronavirus.
01:47 Trump: Strong action is needed
“I have decided to take several strong but necessary actions to protect the health and well-being of all Americans,” said Mr Trump.
“To keep new cases from entering our shores, we will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days. The new rules will go into effect Friday at midnight. These restrictions will be adjusted subject to conditions on the ground.”
01:46 Trump: EU had failed to control virus spread
“The European Union failed to take the same precautions and restrict travel from China and other hot spots. As a result a large number of new clusters in the United States were seeded by travelers from Europe,” Mr Trumps said, before making his announcement.
01:41 US issues travel ban to Europe
On the day that the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a pandemic, President Donald Trump addressed the nation from the White House to announce he was suspending travel from European countries – except the UK – for 30 days.
The ban comes into force on Friday.
The announcement comes in an effort to control the spread of Covid-19 into the US, where there are now 1,135 confirmed cases and 38 deaths.