23rd March 2020 – United Kingdom 

Total Cases

23/03/2020

New Cases

23/03/2020

Deaths

23/03/2020

Recovered

23/03/2020

Infected

Source: Public Health England and news reports. (Public Health England Web Site)
Key: UK USA Other

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23:51 Sports Direct says it will stay open

UK sports retailer Sports Direct says it will stay open despite the guidance announced by the government.

Its rationale was set out by finance chief Chris Wootton in an email sent to the Press Association news agency: “We stock a huge range of sports equipment designed for exercising at home… indeed home fitness is the number one trending topic on social media after coronavirus itself.

“Against the backdrop of the closure of gyms the demand for these types of products has increased exponentially as the population looks to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

“Consequently, we are uniquely well placed to help keep the UK as fit and healthy as possible during this crisis and thus our Sports Direct and Evans Cycles stores will remain open where possible to allow us to do this (in accordance with the Government’s current social distancing guidance).”

Comment: We can’t see this being allowed, but wait and see.

21:52 The new UK restrictions in detail

Britain’s prime minister Boris Johnson has announced a major ramping up of coronavirus measures that will affect every single one of us living in the UK.

Here are the major points of his speech:

  • From tonight, people in Britain will be allowed to leave theirhomes for only “very limited purposes” – shopping for basic necessities; for one form of exercise a day; for any medical need; and to travel to and from work when “absolutely necessary”
  • People are warned not to meet friends or family members who they do not live with
  • Shopping is only permitted for essentials like food and medicine, and people are advised to do it “as little as you can”
  • Police have powers to enforce the rules, including through fines and dispersing gatherings
  • All shops selling non-essential goods, such as clothing and electronic stores, are ordered to close
  • Libraries, playgrounds, outdoor gyms and places of worship are to close
  • All gatherings of more than two people in public – excluding people you live with – are banned
  • All social events, including weddings and baptisms are banned. Funerals are not included in the new restrictions.
  • Parks will remain open for exercise but gatherings will be dispersed

Restrictions “under constant review” and will be checked again in three weeks. They will be relaxed “if the evidence shows we are able to”

19:54 Team GB ‘expected to pull out of Olympics’

Great Britain will not send a team to Tokyo 2020 if the spread of coronavirus continues as predicted, says British Olympic Association chairman Hugh Robertson. “We can’t see any way that this can go ahead as things are constituted,” he says.

Canada has already pulled out of the Games, with the country’s prime minister Justin Trudeau saying other nations should “follow their lead”.

Australia has also said its athletes will prepare for a 2021 event instead, while Norway has been urged by its Olympics Committee president Berit Kjoell not to send athletes to the Games until the pandemic is under control. “I expect we will be joining Canada and Australia shortly,” added Mr Robertson.

The Olympic Games are scheduled to start on 24 July. Options include a postponement or a scaled-down version. Cancellation is “not on the agenda”, the International Olympic Committee said on Sunday.

19:08 Gaza: Virus fears in crowded strip

In Gaza, police patrol the beachfront to check coffee shops are closed and drive around with loudspeakers ordering people to stay home after the first two coronavirus cases were announced on Sunday.

Since the start of the pandemic, health officials have worried about it reaching this impoverished coastal enclave – one of the world’s most densely populated places.

Social distancing is almost impossible among large families living in Gaza’s crowded refugee camps and built-up neighbourhoods, raising fears that infection could spread fast and that overstretched hospitals could be overwhelmed.

“It’s a very difficult and challenging environment,” says Gerald Rockenschaub, the head of the World Health Organization in the Palestinian Territories. He rushed to Gaza after two men returning from Pakistan tested positive for coronavirus.

“The good thing is that they were in quarantine all the time. They are isolated now so that the risk that this spreads further is minimised,” Dr Rockenschaub says.

Getty ImagesCopyright: Getty Images
More medical supplies are being sent to Gaza, and Qatar has pledged $150m (£130m) over the coming six months to help combat the spread of Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.

Schools, public markets and wedding halls have already been shut for two weeks. Now restrictions have been tightened.

“The number of people on the streets has dramatically decreased and so has my work,” says taxi driver Alaa Saleh.

“I’m worried about having no income but I’m also worried because my job brings me into close contact with people, so maybe I could catch the virus.”

Gaza has been kept under blockade by Israel and Egypt since the militant group, Hamas, took full control of the territory in 2007. Up to now, some Gazans had been commenting on the irony of how their enforced isolation appeared to be protecting them during this health crisis.

18:00 ‘All British travellers should return home now’

The UK’s foreign secretary is calling for all British travellers to return home now while transport allows. Last week, Dominic Raab changed travel advice for the UK to warn against all but essential travel globally for 30 days. But in a new statement, he warns the pace at which borders are closing, airlines are suspending flights and exit bans are being enforced, there is no time to lose. Mr Raab says: “If you are on holiday abroad the time to come home is now while you still can.”

17:49 ‘Mad’ increase in demand for hens

With eggs hard to come by in UK supermarkets, poultry breeders and suppliers are seeing a huge increase in demand for hens. Suzie Baldwin of Hollywater Hens in Hampshire says the industry has “gone mad” this month.

She has had to limit customers to three chickens each, having had people requesting up to 20 birds. While she has refused to sell to people without the proper set up, she is concerned about what happens to all the animals when those buying them return to work once restrictions are lifted.

Howard Dobson of Poultry Paddock in Staffordshire says he sold a month’s supply of laying hens within 24 hours on Friday, a surge he puts down to people wanting a pastime while self-isolating, as well the lack of eggs in shops. He also has had enquiries from people wanting to rear their own chickens for meat, which he says is “quite unusual”.

Liz Andreozzi of Sussex Garden Poultry says her phone has not stopped ringing, despite having sold out of her month’s supply last week. She too is “hugely concerned” about the hens’ welfare and is now looking to put in place social-distancing measures to keep herself and customers safe for any future sales.

17:19 Italy death toll continues to fall 

Italy has reported another 602 deaths from coronavirus, Reuters news agency says. That brings the total death toll up to 6,078 – but it means that the daily number of deaths has fallen for the second day in a row, down from 651 on Sunday.

Crucially, our Rome correspondent Mark Lowen says, the rise in new infections has slowed again, from 9 to 8.1%.

16:55 New York governor orders hospitals to expand capacity

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says he will issue an order demanding state hospitals increase their capacity by at least 50%. There are at least 20,875 confirmed cases in New York state – making up almost 6% of cases worldwide.

Mr Cuomo echoed concerns from officials throughout the country about states competing against each other for supplies amid widespread shortages. “I’m bidding up other states,” he said. “California offers them $4, I offer $5, another state calls in and offers $6. It’s not the way to do it.” The governor said he had spoken to Illinois Governor Jay Pritzker, who has also expressed anxiety about the state-by-state bidding war for desperately needed supplies, such as masks and ventilators.

Governor Cuomo said he had made progress in securing hundreds of thousands of items equipment – including masks, gloves and gowns. “Today we can get masks to everyone who needs them,” he said.

His announcement follows continued warnings from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio about his city’s dire need for medical supplies. “If we don’t get the equipment, we’re literally going to lose lives,” he said.

So far, New York has tested more than 78,000 people, Mr Cuomo said – more testing per capita than South Korea, which has been heralded for its efficient response.

16:47 UK coronavirus death toll rises to 335

A further 46 people in England who tested positive for Covid-19 have died, NHS England has said.The patients were aged between 47 and 105 years old and all had underlying health conditions.

This brings the total UK death toll to 335, with four deaths announced in both Scotland and Wales earlier on Monday.

16:21 Coronavirus pandemic ‘accelerating’: WHO chief

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) says the coronavirus pandemic is “accelerating”.

Speaking at a press briefing in Geneva, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “It took 67 days from the first reported case to reach 100,000 cases, 11 days for the second 100,000 cases, and just four days for the third 100,000 cases.”

He said he would address G20 heads of state and government this week to ask them to work together to boost production of protective gear.

16:10 British bus operators announce reduced timetables

British bus operators have been announcing reduced timetables, in response to the government’s measure’s to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Operators in north-east England and Scotland have said they will reduce services from Monday, while there will be fewer services in the West Midlands from Wednesday. It follows similar commitments from other operators.

It comes as many people across the country begin to work from home in order to reduce the chances of spreading the virus.

Meanwhile, new rail timetables began across the UK on Monday. Many passengers affected have been told they are entitled to refunds.

15:49 Loss of smell and taste – new symptoms?

There have been increasing numbers of people reporting a lost sense of smell and taste on social media. Some have tested positive for the new coronavirus, while others who haven’t had a test wonder if the symptoms could be another common sign of it.

Ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialists in the UK have also noticed the rising reports of anosmia – the term for loss of smell – amid the pandemic. It’s no surprise that this would happen – viruses behind the common cold often cause us to lose our sense of smell and/or taste too. But the specialists say it should be added to the list of symptoms for triggering self-isolation – especially in the absence of any other symptoms. The move could “reduce the number of otherwise asymptomatic individuals who continue to act as vectors, not realising the need to self-isolate”, says the doctors’ body ENT UK.

The American Academy of Otolaryngology agrees that the symptoms should alert doctors to screen patients for the virus. And with ear, nose and throat surgeons currently experiencing higher rates of infection compared to other healthcare workers, there could be a link.

In Germany, specialists note that more than two-thirds of coronavirus cases experienced anosmia.

In South Korea, 30% of patients who tested positive said a lost sense of smell was their main symptom if their other symptoms were only mild.

However, the evidence at present is all anecdotal and has not been confirmed by research. The main symptoms of coronavirus continue to be a high temperature and a new, continuous cough, which means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours.

15:15 Ethiopia closes borders as cases rise

Ethiopia has introduced strict measures, including closing its borders, as the number of confirmed cases rises to 11.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced that from Monday, the nation’s defence forces would halt all movement along Ethiopia’s borders except for goods coming in.

Security forces are also going to enforce a ban on large gatherings that’s already in place.

The PM also said the government would allocate 5bn Birr ($150m; £129m) towards trying to halt the spread of the disease.

14:58 Denmark extends nationwide lockdown

Denmark’s prime minister has just announced that a nationwide lockdown will be extended until 13 April. The lockdown has closed schools and restaurants in the country and kept most public sector workers at home.

In a press conference, PM Mette Frederiksen said the extended lockdown would mean schools, bars, libraries, gyms, hairdressers and other services would remain closed for another two weeks.

The country has reported more than 1,300 coronavirus cases and 13 deaths so far, according to the World Health Organization. It is just one of many countries around the world to order lockdowns in a bid to tackle the virus

14:53 Tunisian army deployed to enforce lockdown

In Tunisia, the army has been deployed on the streets to ensure people are respecting the lockdown put in place on Sunday. It requires people to stay at home except to buy necessities.

The country has reported 89 confirmed cases of the virus and three deaths.

14:33 Doctor calls for more restrictions on movement in UK

As the UK government urges the public to follow advice on social distancing, some doctors are calling for more stringent measures. Helen Ward, a professor of public health at Imperial College London, is one of a group of doctors who wrote to the Times newspaper on Saturday to warn the UK is “losing a very small window of opportunity to minimise the disease burden from Covid-19 and prevent a health system collapse”.

14:15 Global hotel chains temporarily lay off staff

Some of the world’s biggest hotel operators are temporarily laying off tens of thousands of workers as they deal with the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. Marriott International, which is the world’s largest hotel company, have said “We are adjusting global operations accordingly which has meant either reduction in hours or a temporary leave for many of our associates at our properties.” Hilton Worldwide and Hyatt Hotels have also said that they are halting work in parts of their businesses. In a statement, Hyatt said “A number of Hyatt hotels have had to temporarily suspend operations mainly due to governmental guidelines to support social distancing and due to actions taken by our corporate customers.”

13:40 US stimulus bill blocked amid political division

The US Senate failed to pass a massive coronavirus aid package after Senate Democrats voted en masse to deny Republicans the necessary support. The party-line vote poses a major setback to the bill after days of breakneck negotiations between lawmakers and the Trump administration, racing to pass the emergency measure.

Expected to cost upwards of $1.8 trillion (£1.5 trillion) it would be the largest economic stimulus package in the country’s history. Democrats cited several concerns with the proposed legislation – including what they call a $500bn “corporate slush fund” – a loan programme controlled entirely by the Trump administration’s treasury department. But they now risk major political backlash for appearing to obstruct a much-needed economic boost.

Republicans quickly ripped into Democrats, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell accusing the lawmakers of creating a “spectacle” and of “playing games” with the economy.

But senators and officials say they still hope to reach a compromise. “We’re closer than we’ve ever been at any time over the past 48 hours to an agreement,” said top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer.

As of yet, any Senate bill will have at least three absent Republicans: Kentucky’s Rand Paul and both senators for Utah, Mitt Romney and Mike Lee. Mr Paul has tested positive for Covid-19 and both Mr Romney and Mr Lee are in self-quarantine after recent contact with their fellow senator.

13:05 Jerusalem holy site shuts down

The doors are bolted shut at the compound that hosts al-Aqsa mosque and Jerusalem’s iconic Dome of the Rock. At midday on Monday, two Muslim worshippers unrolled their prayer mats at one of the closed entrances to the plaza, and prayed on cobbled steps outside.

The holy site in Jerusalem’s Old City is known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif and to Jews as Temple Mount, and is sacred to both religions. Worshippers had been unable to enter the mosque itself for days, with prayer allowed only outside on the plaza as part of social distancing measures to counter coronavirus.

But on Sunday night the Waqf, the Islamic religious authority that administers the site, said Muslim worship would be suspended at all parts of the compound. “We feel bitter at having to take this step but we were compelled to do so in order protect the lives and health of the public and to safeguard humanity, in compliance with the religious rulings in the Islamic world,” the council said. Israeli media reported that entry by Jewish visitors to the contested site would also be halted.

The compound is frequently at the centre of Jerusalem’s crackling tensions and is administered according to a status quo agreement involving Israel, neighbouring Jordan and the Waqf. Under normal circumstances, any changes concerning access to the site can be politically explosive but the region has witnessed broad acceptance so far of measures to contain the virus’ spread.

12:37 Austria probes ski resort

Ischgl, a ski resort in Austria’s Tyrol province, has been linked with hundreds of cases of coronavirus. Now Tyrol’s government has asked state prosecutors to investigate whether a business at the resort failed to tell authorities about an infection at the end of February.

Austrian, German and Scandinavian health officials have all traced cases back to the tiny town, but it only shut for business last week.

12:26 India grounds all domestic flights

India’s government has said no domestic flights will take off from the early hours of Wednesday onwards. This will bring Indian airports to a standstill as international flights to India have already been cancelled.

The ban on flights coming from abroad came into effect on Sunday and is set to last for one week, but it could be extended. It’s unclear as yet how long domestic air travel will remain suspended.

Trains across the country have also been cancelled, and several states have shut their borders, severely limiting people’s ability to travel within the country. The unprecedented measures come as the number of active Covid-19 cases in India reaches 415. Seven deaths have been reported so far.

12:18 F1 postpones Azerbaijan Grand Prix

The Azerbaijan Grand Prix is the latest Formula 1 race to be postponed. The street race in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku was set to take place on 7 June.

It is the eighth race to be called off at the start of the 2020 World Championship season. The Canadian Grand Prix, on 14 June, is the first race on the schedule that has not been postponed.

11:38 Global economy will suffer for years to come – OECD

The world will take years to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has warned.

Angel Gurría, OECD secretary general, said the economic shock was already bigger than the financial crisis. He told the BBC it was “wishful thinking” to believe that countries would bounce back quickly.

The OECD has called on governments to rip up spending rules to ensure speedy testing and treatment of the virus.

10:56 Moscow is bracing itself

“You might not like this, but it’s because we care.” That’s how Moscow’s mayor, not known for his human touch, began an address to city residents, ordering the over-65s and anyone with serious health conditions to stay at home.

“My dear, older Muscovites… grannies and grandads,” he began, telling them that from Thursday, they should only go to work if their role was absolutely vital and only go outside to the chemist’s or to get food.

Sergei Sobyanin said the coronavirus pandemic was “raging” on Russia’s borders, although he still insisted the situation inside the country was “more or less calm” for now.

That kind of messaging has created some confusion, even complacency, in recent weeks.

But the number of confirmed cases is now increasing on a familiar trajectory and is highest in Russia’s capital, at 262.

So Moscow is bracing itself. The streets are far quieter; schools, galleries and gyms are all closed. Many people, including the elderly, have already moved to their dachas, or country houses, where they’re hoping to sit out this crisis.

10:45 Spain death toll tops 2,000

The death toll in Spain has reached 2,182, the government has announced, after 462 people passed away in the past 24 hours.

10:24 UK rail users entitled to ticket refunds

Reduced timetables across the country mean fewer services are operating from Monday. The move has been made because more people are working from home, and in order to free up tracks for freight trains to move products around the country. The government has just announced that many ticket holders will be entitled to a refund.

Those with an advance ticket will be able to get a refund free of charge, while all season ticket holders can claim a refund “for time unused on their tickets free of administrative charges”. Ticket holders should contact their operator for details, the Department for Transport says. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the refunds were available “to ensure no-one is unfairly out of pocket for doing the right thing”.

09:50 New UK powers could be reviewed every six months

More now on the Coronavirus Bill which seeks to give the UK government new powers to enforce emergency measures. The government will ask MPs to back the bill later.

However, it will introduced an amendment to ensure the powers must be renewed every six months, our assistant political editor Norman Smith reports.

Some MPs – including former cabinet minister David Davis – had expressed concern that the powers in the bill were so extensive that there should be some sort of time limit to the legislation. The Coronavirus Bill will be debated in Parliament later.

09:01 First cases reported in Gaza

The first two cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in the Palestinian territory of Gaza.

The two cases are both men, aged 79 and 63, who returned to Gaza from Pakistan this weekend, travelling via Egypt. They are now in quarantine in the town of Rafah, on the border with Egypt. Officials said everyone they had come into contact with had also been placed in isolation.

About two million people live in Gaza’s overcrowded refugee camps and cities. If the virus spreads, it would be an additional burden on the territory’s already-overstretched health system.

Speaking in the West Bank yesterday, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh ordered people to stay at home for two weeks from Sunday night, with the exception of essential workers – medical staff, pharmacists, grocers and bakers. Others are only allowed to leave home to buy essentials.

08:52 HK looking to ban sales of alcohol

In a press conference on Monday, the city’s leader Carrie Lam said the government would look at changing the law to enable authorities to ban bars and restaurants from selling alcohol, broadcaster RTHK reports.

It comes after at least five people, who later tested positive for the virus, were found to have visited the popular party district of Lan Kwai Fong, said news site South China Morning Post.

08:20 Costa Coffee to close in UK

Costa Coffee is closing its stores in the UK from this evening. “At Costa Coffee our number one priority is the safety of our store teams and customers,” it said in a statement. “As the need to support social distancing increases, we have taken the decision to temporarily close our stores.”

The company said it would “do its best” to keep Costa stores open in hospitals, where it would continue to provide free takeaway coffee for the next two weeks to NHS workers. All staff members whose store has closed will be paid their full average weekly pay for eight weeks.

Some stores had already moved to takeaway only. This picture was taken at London Paddington station on Friday.

07:39 Hong Kong ‘to ban all tourists’

Hong Kong will ban all tourists and transit travellers to the city, the South China Morning Post has reported, quoting sources.

All bars, pubs and entertainment venues will also be asked to shut, the sources told the news outlet ahead of an expected announcement by the city’s leader Carrie Lam later this afternoon.

Hong Kong is already quarantining all people arriving from abroad, and mainland China, for 14 days.

07:35 Iran tells US: ‘Lift sanctions if you want to help’

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has called US leaders “liars”, and has told them to lift sanctions instead of offering aid.

“American leaders are lying” he said in a televised speech. “If they want to help Iran, all they need to do is lift sanctions… then we can deal with the coronavirus outbreak. “You have blocked Iran’s oil exports, you have stopped Iran’s banking transactions.. your help offer is the biggest lie in history.” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei rejected the US’s offer of assistance yesterday.

More than 1,700 people have died of the virus in Iran, and there are more than 21,000 confirmed cases.

07:33 Jury trials on hold in England and Wales

All jury trials in England and Wales are to be put on hold, in response to the spread of the virus.

In a statement on Monday, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Burnett, said no new trials would start and that ongoing trials would be paused while arrangements were put in place so they can continue safely.

Last week, it was announced that no new trials expected to last three days or more would go ahead amid the deepening coronavirus crisis.

07:13 UK MPs to debate emergency powers

The UK is just waking up to another week of isolation and social distancing, brought in to try to stem the spread of the coronavirus. Later today, however, MPs will debate strengthening these measures with emergency legislation giving them additional powers.

Under the proposed new legislation, airports could shut and police would be able to force people with symptoms of the virus to isolate. The powers would be time-limited for two years, and it’s expected that MPs will approve them.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned the government would “very actively” consider tougher anti-virus measures over the following 24 hours.

06:56 The situation in Pakistan

Authorities in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province have ordered a 15-day lockdown in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Sindh accounts for 352 of the country’s 799 people who have so far tested positive. Of these, 130 cases are located in Karachi – the country’s largest business and industrial hub with a population of 15 million.

Recent test results have shown that while most coronavirus cases in Sindh originated from cross-border travel to Iran, more than 80 have been found to have been caused by local transmission – that is, among people who had no recent travel history.

All public parks, main markets and public transport have been ordered to shut, though medical and grocery stores will remain open during certain hours while journalists and newspaper hawkers have been allowed free movement to counter what a government official called “the spread of fake news.” Beginning Tuesday, the province will also shut down its two main airports – at Karachi and Sukkur – for domestic flights. International traffic has already been shut across the country.

These measures are at odds with the federal government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan, which is still reluctant to declare a country-wide lockdown.

06:42 UAE to suspend all flights

The United Arab Emirates – home to the world’s busiest international airport in Dubai – has announced that it will suspend all passenger and transit flights to and from the country for two weeks, starting from 25 March.

Dubai international airport saw 86.4 million passengers in 2019. It’s also home to Emirates – one of the world’s biggest airlines. Emirates has now also announced that it will suspend all passenger flights by 25 March.

It comes as all shopping and commercial centres are set to close in the next 48 hours. However stores selling essential goods,including supermarkets and pharmacies, will remain open.

Restaurants will have their service limited to deliveries.

06:37 Sri Lanka arrests nearly 2,000 people for violating curfew

Police in Sri Lanka have arrested nearly 2,000 people for violating a nationwide curfew that was declared on Friday. A police statement said they had arrested 1,754 people for curfew violations. A majority of these, the statement said, had been “aimlessly loitering” on the roads. Others had been arrested for gathering at playgrounds and drinking, drunk and disorderly behaviour and for opening their shops for trade. 

With 87 confirmed cases of coronavirus as of Sunday evening, officials are worried that the country’s healthcare system will not be able to cope with a full-blown outbreak.

06:36 UK thinking ‘very actively’ about stricter measures

The UK has shut down schools (for most children) and pubs, and has urged people to socially distance. But thousands of people flocked to parks and tourist hotspots over the weekend, drawing criticism online.

At his daily news conference on Sunday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said new, stricter measures may now be introduced. “I don’t think you need to use your imagination very much to see where we might have to go, and we will think about this very very actively in the next 24 hours,” he said. “We need to think about the kind of measures we’ve seen elsewhere – other countries that have been forced to bring in restrictions on people’s movements altogether.”

06:31 Cruise ship with sick passengers heads for Perth

A ship with more than 250 sick people is headed to the Australian city of Perth.

Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan said hundreds on board the MSC Magnifica had reported “upper respiratory illness” – none of them have yet been confirmed to have Covid-19. Mr McGowan said that these passengers were from “overseas – Germany, France and Italy”. He said overseas passengers would not be allowed off the ship. There are around 1,700 passengers in total. The cruise liner is due to dock as early as today.

Last week, hundreds of passengers disembarked off the Ruby Princess in downtown Sydney, despite confirmed cases of the virus on board

06:21 Weinstein tests positive in prison

Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein had tested positive for the virus. Weinstein, who was found guilty of rape and sexual assault last month, is now being held at the Wende Correctional Facility in upstate New York. Before arriving at Wende, he had spent time at Rikers Island, a prison in New York City, and a hospital where he was treated for heart problems and chest pains.

06:00 Sending children to school in UK ‘should be last resort’

In the UK, schools are closed – except to the children of key workers, such as medics, police, and those involved in food distribution.

Only one parent needs to be a key worker for the exemption to apply. Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said sending a child to school should be seen “as a last resort”. “It is likely that more children than expected will turn up at school,” he said.

Mary Bousted – join leader of another teachers’ group, the National Education Union – urged everyone to “play fair”. “There may have to be some difficult conversations with parents,” she said.

05:05 ‘Stay away from churches and karaoke rooms’

South Korea has reported the lowest number of new coronavirus cases since infection rates peaked four weeks ago, fuelling hope Asia’s worst outbreak outside China may be abating. But health officials have warned that this is not the time to be complacent and that the country faces a long war against the infection.

The government sent out emergency alerts at the weekend urging people to stay away from places which encourage mass gatherings such as churches, karaoke rooms, nightclubs and gyms. They also asked religious leaders to check the temperature of followers and keep them at least 2m apart during any services they deemed necessary.

In fact a number of churches are now facing legal action after violating such guidelines. Sixty-four new cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in the last 24 hours taking the total number of infected patients in the country to 8,961 and 111 people have died.

04:56 India’s capital – a city of 18 million – shuts down

As Covid-19 cases in India soared to 359 over the weekend, Indian cities have begun shutting down. That includes the capital, Delhi – a city of more than 18 million people, spread across nearly 1,500 sq km (572 sq miles). It has reported 29 active cases so far.

All shops, schools, offices and factories have been closed here until 31 March; public transport, such as buses, metro stations, taxis and auto-rickshaws have all stopped running; and the city has also sealed its borders with neighbouring states. Only “essential services”, which includes emergency services, groceries, pharmacies, water and power supply, and the media, are allowed to function – and only their employees can use buses or drive their own vehicles.

The city has also invoked a colonial-era law that prohibits a gathering of more than four people. “Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures,” the city’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted on Sunday evening.

04:28 North Korea warns on quarantine

North Korea’s state newspaper the Rodong Sinmun has called for “unconditional and absolute” adherence to coronavirus quarantine regulations, reported South Korean news outlet Yonhap. The article is reportedly seen as a warning to officials – it warned them against seeking privileges, saying the rules applied equally to everyone with no exceptions. 

North Korea claims there are no virus cases in the country, though this has been seriously questioned by experts.

04:00 Turkish Airlines halts most international flights

We told you about dramatic moves from Singapore Airlines earlier, now Turkish Airlines has said it will halt all its international flights by Friday, except those to Hong Kong, Moscow, Ethiopia, New York and Washington. The carrier said 85% of its passenger planes were not currently in use.

It comes after Turkey banned flights from more than 60 countries due to the coronavirus pandemic. The announcement by Turkish Airlines follows similar moves by major airlines around the world.

03:50 Saudi Arabia to impose nationwide curfew

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has ordered a nationwide curfew starting on Monday after a spike in coronavirus infections. The curfew is from 7pm to 6am for 21 days according to state news agency SPA.

Meanwhile the United Arab Emirates has suspended all passenger and transit flights in and out of the country. All shopping centres will shut and restaurants will only do delivery services.

03:39 New York has 5% of Covid-19 cases worldwide

The city of New York has more than 15,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus – accounting for roughly 5% of the cases worldwide.

02:59 70,000 students coming back to Taiwan raises fears

Tens of thousands of overseas Taiwanese, including an estimated 70,000 students who were studying in Europe, are expected to return in the coming days – indeed many have begun doing so. There are worries they may significantly raise the number of confirmed cases here.

Many returnees lined up for special taxis at the airport last week to take them home or to facilities to undergo 14 days of mandatory quarantine. Still, with 169 cases and two deaths as of Sunday, Taiwan is doing far better than many countries, especially given its proximity to China and high rate of travel among its population.

Health officials here are now working hard to isolate newly confirmed cases, but also find people they had come in contact with, so they can test, quarantine and stop the disease spreading into the community.

02:42 Singapore Airlines cuts 96% of capacity

Singapore Airlines has slashed 96% of its capacity until the end of April, amid an unprecedented crisis in the airline industry. The move will result in 138 SIA and SilkAir planes being grounded – out of a fleet of 147.

Its low-cost carrier Scoot will also suspend most of its network, grounding 47 out of 49 planes. The group called the outbreak the “greatest challenge [it] has faced in its existence”.

02:17 Australia tells athletes to prepare for Tokyo 2021

The Australian Olympic Committee has told its athletes to prepare for an Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2021, reports the ABC. It comes as Canada’s Olympic Committee said it would not send athletes to the Tokyo Games, scheduled to take place in July this year.

02:05 Richard Branson to inject $250 million

Virgin mogul Richard Branson will invest $250 million dollars into his business to “protect and save jobs”.

In a blogpost on Sunday, he called the outbreak the “most significant crisis the world has experienced in my lifetime”. He said his businesses had been badly affected, that many of his airlines had to ground planes, health clubs and hotels by the chain had closed and that all bookings to their holiday company had stopped. He said his investment would be pumped in over the next weeks and months.

01:45 Olympics could be postponed

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said postponing the Olympic Games could become an option if it was not possible to hold it in its “complete form”.

He said the country might have “no option but to consider postponing the games”, but added that cancellation was not an option. This is a dramatic shift from what he had said earlier last week. He had then confidently announced that Japan would “overcome the spread of the infection and host the Olympics without problem”.

The Olympics are due to be held in the capital Tokyo this July.

01:44 Canada will not send athletes to Tokyo 2020

Canadian Olympic Committee has called on the IOC to postpone the Tokyo Games for one year, according to a Reuters report. Team Canada said it would not send its athletes to Tokyo 2020 due to the coronavirus risk – adding that the world is “in the midst of a global health crisis far more significant than sport”.

01:35 Massive Australian queues for welfare support

In the past hour it has ticked over midday in Australia – marking the official beginning of a nationwide shutdown.

All non-essential services such as pubs and gyms are being closed, and restaurants will now be takeaway only. We have more specific details here. As businesses grind to a halt, long queues of people seeking government assistance have formed outside welfare offices. It’s been exacerbated by the website which administers them, My.gov.au, crashing amid massive demand.

Authorities have urged people to persist with online applications. “Please consider the health and safety of our customers and staff and do not visit our service centres unless there’s a critical need for you to be there,” a statement by Services Australia says.

01:35 NZ to shut down services

New Zealand is the latest country to step up measures and within 48 hours the coronavirus alert will rise to Level 4. Here’s what that means for the country:

Non-essential businesses, including bars, restaurants, cafes – must close
Schools to close entirely
Public transport only available for people in essential services
People instructed to stay home
These measures will be in place for at least four weeks.

Sources: Various news sources including but not limited to BBC News, Fox News, CNN.