15th March 2020 – United Kingdom – 1,372 (+232) Cases ¦ 35 (+14) Deaths


16:58 ‘Please stay at home’ drones in Spain

On Saturday, Spain’s 47 million citizens were ordered to stay indoors except for necessary trips. Social gatherings were banned.

Spanish police have been using drones to enforce these restrictions in Spain’s fight against Covid-19.

16:04 UK death toll rises to 35

Fourteen more people have died from the coronavirus in the UK, raising the death toll to 35, the UK’s health department says.

There have been a total of 1,372 positive tests for coronavirus in the UK as of Sunday, up from 1,140 on Saturday, the department added.

15:42 Slovenia bans public transport from midnight

Public transport across Slovenia will stop operating from midnight local time (23:00 GMT), in an effort to restrict the spread of coronavirus.

In a statement announcing the move, the government also said that as well as the public transport ban, taxis would only be allowed to take passengers if they had first “made arrangements for proper disinfection of parts of the vehicle that are in regular physical contact with the passenger”.

There are currently 96 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Slovenia.

15:08 Kenya imposes sweeping travel restrictions

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has announced that national borders will be closed to travellers from any country with reported coronavirus cases.

Only Kenyan citizens and foreigners with valid residence permits are exempt, so long as they agree to be quarantined.

Mr Kenyatta said the directive will take effect within 48 hours, and will remain in place for 30 days. If needed, it can be extended by the Kenya’s National Emergency Response Committee.

In addition, from Monday all schools will be closed around the country. Universities will also close from Friday.

Kenya confirmed its first case of coronavirus on Friday, and the president said two more have been discovered since.

14:53 US border officials find fake test kits

Border protection officers in Los Angeles have seized a package containing suspected counterfeit coronavirus test kits arriving from the UK.

The package was initially declared as “purified water vials” with a value of $196.81 (£160), but officers found glass containers labelled as Covid-19 test kits inside. These have been turned over to the US drug agency for further inspection.

Diagnostic testing in the US is conducted only in verified public health laboratories.

14:21 Two US states move presidential contests over virus

Louisiana and Georgia have decided to reschedule their forthcoming primary elections, where voters must decide whether former Vice-President Joe Biden or Senator Bernie Sanders is best suited to take on President Donald Trump in the November general election.

Both candidates have cancelled recent campaign events due to coronavirus concerns.

Louisiana will now vote on 20 June instead of in April and Georgia on 19 May instead of late March. Democrats in the US territory of Puerto Rico have also requested the election there be postponed to late April.

But four states that are due to vote on Tuesday – including the key battlegrounds of Florida and Ohio – have not moved their elections.

14:16 Germany ‘to close some borders’

From Monday, Germany will close its land borders with Austria, France and Switzerland to curb the spread of coronavirus, local media report.

The decision has not yet been announced by Germany’s government.

14:08 Hungary reports first virus death

A 75-year-old man has become the first person to die from coronavirus in Hungary.

The government said he died after being taken to South Pest Central Hospital with suspected coronavirus and pneumonia.

There are 32 reported cases of the virus in Hungary and 159 people are currently in quarantine, according to official figures. In response to the outbreak, the government has closed its lands borders with Austria and Slovenia, closed all schools and placed restrictions on public gatherings.

13:59 Nike temporarily shuts up shop

Nike is temporarily closing hundreds of stores across the world from Monday.

All of its branches in the US, Canada, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand are going to remain shut until 27 March, the company says. The company has almost 400 stores in the US alone.

Nike told US media that its workers would be paid in full during this time off.

Its stores in South Korea, Japan, most of China and “many other countries” are going to stay open.

13:45 The Netherlands reports 176 new cases

The Dutch health ministry has recorded 176 new cases of the virus during the last 24 hours, along with eight virus-related deaths.

It said the total number of infections around the country now stands at 1,135.

13:34 Iranian death toll rises

Only China and Italy have been hit harder by the outbreak in terms of case numbers and deaths.

Iranian officials have reiterated their advice that people should stay at home and cancel all travel.

13:12 Spain reports large jump in new cases

Spain has recorded 2,000 new virus cases and more than 100 deaths in 24 hours, AFP news agency reports.

12:44 UK advises against ‘all but essential travel’ to the US

The UK Foreign Office has updated its advice on travel to the US, with its guidance now against “all but essential travel to the whole country”.

12:30 Coronavirus: Isolation for over-70s ‘a big ask’

More on the UK’s plans for protecting the elderly and vulnerable from coronavirus.

Anyone over the age of 70 in the coming weeks will be asked to stay at home to shield themselves from the outbreak.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the BBC’s Andrew Marr that this shouldn’t stop healthy individuals helping those who were self-isolating.

12:24 Groups of five or more banned in Austria

Austria has banned gatherings of five people or more as part of a series of new, tighter restrictions to “starve” the coronavirus.

The government is also closing restaurants from Tuesday, and is telling people not to leave the home apart from to go to work, get food or grab other necessities, or to help people.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz tweeted: “We’re aware those are massive restrictions but they are necessary to defend the health of the Austrian people and starve out Covid-19.”

People have also been banned from entering Austria from the UK, Netherlands, Russia and Ukraine – an extension of a ban that was already in place for Italy and Switzerland.

11:23 France to reduce long-distance transport

France will progressively reduce long-distance train, bus and plane travel on its territory over the coming days to limit the spread of the virus, the ecology minister has said.

The country – which has already shut cafés, restaurants, schools and universities, and urged people to limit their movement – will now seek to limit long-distance travel to what is “strictly necessary”, Elisabeth Borne said.

11:23 France to reduce long-distance transport

France will progressively reduce long-distance train, bus and plane travel on its territory over the coming days to limit the spread of the virus, the ecology minister has said.

The country – which has already shut cafés, restaurants, schools and universities, and urged people to limit their movement – will now seek to limit long-distance travel to what is “strictly necessary”, Elisabeth Borne said.

11:10 Kazakhstan declares state of emergency

Kazakhstan has now declared a state of emergency, barring almost all travel to and from the country.

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has published a decree restricting entry and exit to everyone except diplomats, and people specifically invited by the government.

The decree also restricts the work of large retail trade facilities, and instructs regional officials to boost security at key buildings and facilities.

The measures are set to be in place until 15 April.

Kazakhstan currently has eight confirmed cases of coronavirus.

10:41 Expect widespread disruption – UK health minister

More on what UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Sunday morning about government plans to tackle the outbreak.

He told the BBC the UK had not ruled out following other countries by ordering the closure of restaurants, bars and other shops to prevent the virus spreading.

When asked if ministers were planning on shutting up shops other than pharmacies and supermarkets, Mr Hancock told the BBC: “We haven’t ruled that out, we will do what is necessary.”

He said efforts to fight the virus would “dirsupt the lives of almost everybody” in the country.

Addressing concerns about a lack of NHS ventilators, to help patients with the most severe symptoms, Mr Hancock acknowledged the 5,000 already available would not be enough. He said the government would be urging manufacturers to produce as many as possible.

10:21 All of Czech Republic ‘to be quarantined’

Everyone in the Czech Republic will be quarantined, local news agency CTK reports, quoting Prime Minister Andrej Babis.

The Czech ministry of health said earlier today that there were now 214 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the country – an increase of 25 since yesterday.

09:53 Mandatory quarantine begins in Manila

Police and soldiers have been clearing the streets of Manila as a mandatory quarantine comes into force.

Domestic flights in and out of the Philippine capital have also been halted for a month.

“People are advised to stay home and not do anything,” Interior Secretary Eduardo Año told reporters.

There are some exceptions to the quarantine, and people who need to go to work will be allowed to do so by going through checkpoints.

Buses, taxis and city trains have also been ordered to carry fewer passengers, so that people can sit at least a seat apart from each other. People with fevers aren’t allowed to board.

In recent days, the number of confirmed cases in the Philippines has almost doubled to 111, and eight people have died.

08:47 Governor of American Samoa self-isolates after Seattle trip

The Governor of American Samoa, Lolo Matalasi Moliga, has placed himself in isolation after visiting Seattle and Honolulu.

Seattle, Washington, has had the highest number of coronavirus-related deaths in the US.

On Saturday Seattle announced three new deaths and 60 new cases, bringing its total to 35 deaths and 387 cases.

American Samoa, a US territory, currently has no confirmed cases of the virus.

08:31 Christchurch memorial service cancelled

A memorial service for the first anniversary of the Christchurch mosque attacks in New Zealand has been cancelled.

Many were expected to travel to the memorial from around New Zealand and overseas.

But in a statement, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said: “We’re very saddened to cancel, but in remembering such a terrible tragedy, we shouldn’t create the risk of further harm being done.”

Yesterday, New Zealand announced mandatory self-isolation for all arrivals, except for those from the Pacific Islands.

08:23 Easter events to be held without faithful – Vatican

The Vatican has announced that its traditional Easter week celebrations will be held this year without a congregation, because of the pandemic.

The services, which run from Holy Thursday to Easter Sunday, usually draw tens of thousands of people to sites in Rome and in the Vatican.

08:16 Mandatory isolation for all arrivals to Australia

Australia is bringing in a mandatory 14-day self-isolation period for everyone arriving into the country from midnight Sydney time (13:00 GMT).

The rule is going to be enforced regardless of where people are travelling from.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison also said cruise ships would be banned from the country for 30 days.

He said: “In specific cases where we have Australians on cruise ships then there will be some bespoke arrangements that will be put in place directly under the command of the Australian Border Force to ensure the relevant protections are put in place.”

08:08 ‘Future of UK aviation’ at risk, say airlines 

UK airlines have asked the government for a package worth several billion pounds, as they warn they may not survive the coronavirus pandemic without emergency financial support.

In a stark message, Airlines UK said the government’s “prevarication” and “bean-counting” had to stop.

“We’re talking about the future of UK aviation – one of our world-class industries – and unless the government pulls itself together, who knows what will be left of it once we get out of this mess,” it added.

08:03 French ski resorts close

As a result of the latest restrictions in France, the organisation looking after the country’s ski resorts has announced all French resorts will close on Sunday.

“Holiday-makers and professionals, all of us sport-lovers, we must accept reality given the seriousness of the situation,” Domaines Skiables said.

07:38 Voting underway in France

Polls have iopened in France in local electionsin France despite widespread restrictions imposed to fight the pandemic.

On Saturday, the government ordered the closure of bars, restaurants, cinemas and many shops, and some politicians called for a postponement of the election.

Special precautions have been introduced at polling stations, but officials say they expect turnout to be low.