Coronavirus: Over 2,000 die in Italy, Canada closes borders
With no cure for the deadly COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, in sight, world leaders have taken a more stringent approach, announcing the closure of borders and extending lockdown. In Italy, the worst-affected European nation, the death toll surged past 2,000. The country now has 27,980 infected people and has lost 2,158 to the virus, which originated in China. Here's our roundup.
It started in China, has spread across the world
COVID-19, that has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, started in the Asian country in mid-December and has spread to nearly 120 nations, killed 7,171 people, and infected 182,605. After China, Italy, Iran, and Spain were hit the worst and countries like Taiwan and Singapore, which are relatively close to it, managed to "flatten the curve" by announcing sweeping restrictions.
Italy reported over 300 deaths yesterday, announced financial aid
On Monday, Italy, that has been in lockdown, announced 349 new deaths, a rise of 19%. The official death toll has more than doubled since Thursday when the tally crossed 1,000. Battered due to coronavirus, the Italian government approved 25 billion euros ($28 billion) of spending. "This is a weighty economic package. We never thought we could face this flood with mops and buckets," said Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.
Spain is in full quarantine, has shut its borders
Other nations aren't faring too well, either. In Spain, 342 died and 9,942 got infected. With positive cases surging, the country shut its land borders. Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska said no one will be allowed to enter the country via land if they aren't natives returning home. Spain's residents are on quarantine and are allowed to leave homes, only for essential tasks.
For second consecutive day, death toll crossed 100 in Iran
Iran is another nation where things have been catastrophic. For a second straight day on Monday, the death toll crossed 100. With 129 new deaths, the tally stands at 853. "Based on the figures, we have passed the peak of the outbreak, but I still suggest people stay at home, and in case of urgency, observe all health protocols," President Hassan Rouhani said.
Canada bars most foreigners, takes lenient approach towards US
Separately, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his nation will close its borders for everyone who is not a permanent resident. The restrictions, however, don't extend to US citizens. From Wednesday, only airports at Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver will be welcoming international flights, Trudeau, whose wife tested positive, said. Meanwhile, in a wartime-resembling move, the European Union banned all foreigners for 30 days.
Restrictions imposed in California, Americans advised to stay at home
Last week, United States President Donald Trump announced a national emergency to deal with the menace, and several states have now gotten into aggressive action. Almost seven million people in California, that includes the Silicon Valley, have been ordered to "shelter in place" from Monday midnight. Yesterday, the White House asked Americans to work from home for the next 15 days.
We will be stronger than before: Trump
The United States will be powerfully supporting those industries, like Airlines and others, that are particularly affected by the Chinese Virus. We will be stronger than ever before!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 16, 2020
First participant received coronavirus investigation vaccine in US
On a relate note, the first human trial of the coronavirus vaccine began in Seattle. Developed by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), the vaccine is called mRNA-1273. Even if it is successful, the vaccine won't be available for at least 18 months after it undergoes a series of tests. Other countries, including India, have also managed to isolate coronavirus strains.
Idris Elba tests positive, says will keep well-wishers updated
As it turns out, celebrities aren't immune to the novel coronavirus either. Hollywood actor Idris Elba, known for his role as Stringer Bell in the critically-acclaimed show The Wire, informed he has tested positive. "I will keep you updated on how I'm doing. No panic," Elba said in a video. Earlier, Tom Hanks and wife Rita Wilson tested positive, and have now been discharged.
Taj Mahal, Siddhivinayak Temple will remain off-limits for visitors
Like other countries, the Indian government has also asked citizens to make social distancing their mantra for the next couple of days. Taj Mahal and all other ASI protected monuments and museums will remain shut till March 31. The iconic Siddhivinayak Temple of Mumbai will remain shut for devotees until further notice. Similarly, Madhya Pradesh's Mahakaleshwar Temple has also closed doors for devotees.
Test, test, test: WHO's clear message to countries
With the globe brought to a standstill due to the pandemic, WHO's Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the press that there was only one way to deal with coronavirus, i.e., testing. "We have a simple message to all countries - test, test, test. All countries should be able to test all suspected cases. They cannot fight this pandemic blindfolded," he advised.