Global virus cases surpasses 400,000


More than 400,000 cases of coronavirus have now been confirmed across 169 countries, and more than 18,000 people have died.

In Spain, health authorities announced 6,584 new infections on Tuesday and 514 deaths - a new record that brings its total death toll to 2,696.

Japan and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have also agreed to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Olympics for "about one year".


1.3 billion people go into lockdown in India

Alle McMahon

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has ordered a 21-day lockdown of the country's 1.3 billion people to try to protect the world's second-most populous country from the coronavirus.

Health researchers have warned that more than a million people in India could be infected with the coronavirus by mid-May, prompting the government to shut down all air and train travel, businesses and schools.

Mr Modi went further on Tuesday, saying nobody in the world's biggest democracy would be allowed to leave their homes for the next three weeks from midnight on Tuesday.

"The only way to save ourselves from coronavirus is if we don't leave our homes, whatever happens, we stay at home," he said in his second address within a week.

"Every district, every lane, every village will be under lockdown," he added, warning the country would be set back by decades if it didn't shut down and fight the virus.

Scores of people turned up at shops in Delhi and Mumbai and elsewhere to buy essentials before the ban orders went into effect.

India has found 482 cases of the coronavirus and 10 people have died from the COVID-19 disease it causes.

However alarm is growing across the region about prospects for its spread into impoverished communities and the ability of resource-starved public health sectors to cope.

The Indian government said essential services including groceries, fuel stations and banks will remain open.


  4h agoMarch 25, 2020HIGHLIGHT

Italy virus cases '10 times' official data

Alle McMahon

The number of coronavirus cases in Italy is probably 10 times the official tally, the head of the agency collating the data says.

Italy has seen more fatalities than any other country, with the latest figures showing that 6820 people have died from the infection in barely a month. The number of confirmed cases has hit 69,000.

However, testing for the disease has often been limited to people seeking hospital care, meaning that thousands of infections have certainly gone undetected.

"A ratio of one certified case out of every 10 is credible," Civil Protection Agency head Angelo Borrelli told La Repubblica newspaper, indicating he believed as many as 640,000 people could have been infected.


After four weeks of steep increases in deaths and cases, the growth rate has eased since Sunday, raising hopes the most aggressive phase of the contagion might be over.

Bergamo mayor Giorgio Gori, in the hard-hit northern region of Lombardy, said the official numbers of the last two days indicated a slowdown in the epidemic.

"I am being cautious because I do not want to delude myself, but at the same time I have a lot of hope that two whole weeks of lockdown plus increasingly restrictive measures are producing results," he told a group of foreign reporters.
The government has shut down all non-essential business until April 3.


  12:26 amMarch 25, 2020HIGHLIGHT

US could become next virus epicentre: WHO

Alle McMahon

The World Health Organistion (WHO) has warned the United States could overtake Europe as the next epicentre of the global coronavirus pandemic.

More than 46,400 cases of COVID-19 have now been confirmed across the US and 591 people have died, but a WHO spokesperson said on Tuesday she was expecting those numbers to surge.

"We are now seeing a very large acceleration in the number of cases from the US, so it does have that potential (to overtake Europe)," Ms Harris told reporters.

"We cannot say that that is the case yet, but it does have that potential. They have a very large outbreak and an outbreak increasing in intensity."

Ms Harris said 85 per cent of new virus cases were currently coming from Europe and the US, making them the two "main drivers of the outbreak".

There was "a lot of transmission" in the US last week, but there have also been some "very big positives", she added.

"Testing is being ramped up; there are more efforts to isolate, care for every confirmed case and trace and quarantine people," she said.

"And also a very, very strong community mobilisation. There are some extremely heartwarming and fantastic stories coming out of the US about what people are doing for each other."

In New York, governor Andrew Cuomo said the city's rate of infections was doubling every three days.

"The rate of infections is going up. It's spiking. The apex is higher than we thought. It's sooner than we thought … The apex could be here in as little as 14-21 days," he said.

- With wires

  12:03 amMarch 25, 2020HIGHLIGHT

London's tube still packed to the brim

Alle McMahon

Extraordinary photos have emerged of London commuters continuing to pile into the tube, despite the government urging people to stay at home.

This photo was taken at Mile End station in London's north-east at about 6:40am on Tuesday.

Another photo showed people packed into a District Line service.


The pictures come less than 24 hours after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson enforced a nationwide lockdown, telling people to stay inside their homes unless buying essential supplies, attending to their medical needs, exercising, or travelling to work if "absolutely necessary".

People have also been told they should not meet up with friends or extended family, and all outdoor gatherings should be limited to just two people or less.

"The coronavirus is the biggest threat this country has faced in decades," Mr Johnson said.

"Without a huge national effort to halt the growth of this virus, there will come a moment where no health service in the world could possibly cope because there won't be enough ventilators, enough intensive care beds, enough doctors and nurses."

More than 8,077 cases of coronavirus have now been recorded across the UK, and 422 people have died.

Twenty-seven million people watched Mr Johnson's address on Monday night, according to the BBC.

  11:21 pmMarch 25, 2020HIGHLIGHT

Tokyo Olympics officially postponed

Alle McMahon

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics have been postponed, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has announced.

The Games were scheduled for July 24-August 9 but will now place place no later than the summer of 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic, it said.

The historic decision came after telephone discussions between IOC president Thomas Bach and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

It is the first postponement of an Olympics in peacetime.

The IOC had come under mounting pressure in recent days to postpone the world's biggest sporting event, with top federations pulling out and teams, athletes and sports bodies all calling for a delay.

Read more.

  11:12 pmMarch 25, 2020HIGHLIGHT

Spain reports record number of deaths, infections

Alle McMahon


Another 514 people have died from the coronavirus in Spain, local health authorities say, raising its death toll to 2,696.

More than 6,500 new cases were also confirmed on Tuesday, bringing its total number of infections to 39, 673.

Both figures are new daily records for the country.

"This is the tough week," Fernando Simon, the head of the Spanish health emergency coordination centre, said at a daily briefing.

Mr Simon also said some 5,400 health workers were infected.

Originally published as Global virus cases surpasses 400,000

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