Coronavirus updates: China to ease Hubei curbs, UK in lockdown

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Coronavirus updates: China to ease Hubei curbs, UK in lockdown

Countries worldwide urge people to ‘stay at home’ as global death toll reaches 16,500 and confirmed cases top 380,000.

China has said it will relax many restrictions on travel to and from Hubei, the province where the coronavirus outbreak began, on Wednesday, as the United Kingdom announced strict controls on movement to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The UK move came after the country reportred 52 more deaths and followed the imposition of strict lockdowns in France, Spain and Italy, as Europe reels from a pandemic that the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned is accelerating. In Africa, Senegal, South African and the Ivory Coast were among the countries to also announce sweeping movement restrictions.

More 16,500 people have died from COVID-19 about the world, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University. Nearly 102,000 of the 382,000 people who have been diagnosed with the disease have recovered.

I’m Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur with Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

Here are the latest updates:

Tuesday, March 24

08:30 GMT – Taiwan coronavirus cases surpass 200 mark

Taiwan has reported 20 additional coronavirus cases, taking its tally to 215 cases, the government said in a statement.

The new cases involve arrivals from overseas, including Britain, Ireland, Turkey and Indonesia.

08:10 GMT – German cases up by 4,764, total hits 27,436

The Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases said 4,764 new cases of the coronavirus have been detecting in Germany, raising the total number of infections to 27,436.

It added that the number of fatalities rose to 114 from 86 the previous day.

08:00 GMT – China’s Hubei province to remove travel ban

Many travel restrictions in and out of China’s Hubei province will be remove starting on Wednesday, the local health commission has announced, with the exception of Wuhan, the provincial capital and epicenter of the country’s coronavirus outbreak.

Restrictions for leaving Wuhan will be eased on April 8 and people will be able to travel through a health code, according to the commission. The city of some 11 million people has been under lockdown since January 23.

READ ALSO: Which countries have confirmed Coronavirus cases?

07:45 GMT – Thailand confirms 106 new cases, three deaths

Thailand has reported 106 new coronavirus cases and three more deaths, a health official said. The country now has 827 cases and 4 deaths since the outbreak began.

Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a Public Health Ministry spokesman, said all three fatalities were patients who had other health complications.

These include  a 70-year-old man who had tuberculosis, a 45-year-old man who had diabetes and a 79-year-old man who had health problems, Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a Public Health Ministry spokesman, said.

Since the start of the outbreak, 57 patients have recovered and gone home, while 766 are still being treated in hospitals.

07:30 GMT – Macau announces new restrictions on HK, China visitors

Visitors from mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan who have travelled overseas in the past 14 days will be banned from entering Macau, the territory’s leader said.

Ho Iat Seng said those who haven’t been abroad will nevertheless be quarantined for 14 days. Visitors from mainland China account for more than 90 percent of visitors to the former Portuguese colony, now the world’s biggest gambling hub.

So far, authorities there have detected 25 confirmed coronavirus cases.

07:20 GMT – Philippines reports 39 new cases

The Philippine health ministry confirmed 39 new cases of the coronavirus, bringing the country’s total number of infections to 501.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told reporters that 33 people have so far died from the virus while 19 people have recovered.

Separately, the economic planning agency raised concern about the state of the economy, saying there was a possibility it could contract as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

07:15 GMT – South Korea confirms 76 new cases, bringing total to 9,037

South Korea has reported 76 new cases of the coronavirus, bring the total number of infections to 9,037, Yonhap news agency reported health authorities as saying.

07:00 GMT – Olympics to depend on progress made in battle against coronavirus

Whether the Olympics take place or not depends in large part on the international community’s ability to curb the spread of the coronavirus, a Japanese minister in charge of overseeing the games said.

“I believe the Tokyo Games cannot move toward the ‘complete form’ that the prime minister [Shinzo Abe] has mentioned as long as countries of the world have not put an end to the coronavirus,” Olympics Minister Seiko Hashimoto told reporters.

“So, it’s first and foremost for us to join forces and respond firmly for putting an end to the coronavirus,” she said.

Abe is expected to hold a telephone conference with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach to discuss the possibility of postponing the games by a year.

READ ALSO: Nations Increase Lockdowns; Olympics Near Delay: Virus Update

06:30 GMT – South Korea registers new cases from overseas

South Korea says 19 of 1,444 passengers who arrived from Europe on Sunday were found to have the coronavirus, the first cases detected after authorities began testing all people coming from the continent.

South Korean Health Ministry official Yoon Tae-ho also said that 101 of some 1,200 passengers who arrived from Europe on Monday have exhibited fever or respiratory symptoms.

While the country’s infections have been slowing, there’s concern about the reintroduction of COVID-19 amid broadening outbreaks in the West.

South Korea says it will fully fund the treatment for virus carriers regardless of their nationality. Even if they test negative, South Korean nationals arriving from Europe or foreigners who enter the country from Europe on long-term stay visas are required to quarantine themselves at home for two weeks.

06:15 GMT – Australia coronavirus deaths rise to eight

A woman who was infected with the new coronavirus on a cruise ship has become Australia’s eighth COVID-19 death.

Health authorities say the woman, in her 70s, died in a Sydney hospital on Tuesday.

She was one of the initial three cases confirmed aboard the Ruby Princess and was taken to a hospital on Thursday.

So far, 133 passengers from the Ruby Princess have tested positive since the ship docked in Sydney following a 11-day New Zealand cruise. The 2,700 passengers had been cleared to go home without self-isolating because the cruise was regarded as low risk.

06:00 GMT – Beijing tightens overseas arrivals measures

All individuals arriving in China’s capital from overseas must take a COVID-19 test in addition to being quarantined starting Wednesday, the Beijing municipal government announced.

In a notice published online, Beijing authorities said those who have entered the city within the last 14 days also will undergo mandatory testing.

The heightened measures – which apply regardless of one’s final destination – follow a previous order that all overseas arrivals quarantine themselves at designated hotels at their own expense unless they live alone. The notice did not say whether this exemption still stands.

“Currently, the imported risk from the epidemic’s rapid spread overseas continues to rise,” said the Beijing notice.

03:50 GMT – New Zealand prepares for Wednesday lockdown

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern urged New Zealanders on Tuesday to reduce contact with others to a bare minimum in preparation for a one-month lockdown from midnight on Wednesday.

Ardern’s government wants to move fast to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

“Simplest thing is to stay at home … that’s how we will save lives,” Ardern told a news conference in Parliament.

Parliament will sit on Wednesday to impose the state of emergency and lockdown, she said.

03:20 GMT – Thailand reports two more deaths

Thailand has reported two more deaths from coronavirus, with total confirmed cases rising to 827.

READ ALSO: What are the Coronavirus symptoms and how do I protect myself?

03:10 GMT – Beijing tightens quarantine rules for arrivals from overseas

The Chinese capital is stepping up measures to deal with cases of coronavirus brought in by people returning from overseas.

All arrivals into Beijing will now have to take a test for COVID-19 as well as complete 14 days of centralised quarantine.

03:00 GMT – Philippines confirms 39 new cases

The Philippine health ministry has confirmed 39 new cases of the coronavirus, bringing the country’s total to 501.

The number of patients who have died from the virus is 33, while 19 have recovered, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told reporters.

02:30 GMT – Australia’s NSW reports sharp jump in cases

New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, recorded its highest daily rise in coronavirus cases on Tuesday and officials are warning of harsher penalties for anybody violating self-isolation orders.

NSW identified 149 new coronavirus cases overnight, bringing the state total to 818, and the national toll to 1,886 cases. Seven people have died from the disease.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the pandemic was at a “critical stage” and enforcement crucial.

“We are ramping up our compliance,” she told reporters in Sydney. “There are harsh penalties, and we’ll enforce that. We have to take this seriously.”

02:10 GMT – Thailand reports second death, cabinet to meet

Thailand’s cabinet is due to meet to discuss its coronavirus response after a second person died from COVID-19.

The country has 721 infections.

A press conference will be held at 10am (03:00 GMT), and the government will consider more measures to address the outbreak later on Tuesday.

02:05 GMT – China says only imported cases, but questions asked over reporting criteria

Caixin Global, a financial news agency in China, continues to raise questions about the way in which China is counting its coronavirus cases.

It spoke to an official in Wuhan, where the disease first originated, who says those who have the virus but have no symptoms are left out of the figures.

01:55 GMT – South Korea cases continue downward trend

More encouraging signs from South Korea.

It has just reported 76 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, the 13th day in a row that is has posted new infections of 100 or less.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) says total infections rose to 9,037. Two more people were confirmed dead, bringing the death toll to 120.

READ ALSO: Nigeria confirms first Coronavirus case in sub-Saharan Africa

01:40 GMT – Myanmar reports first confirmed cases of coronavirus

Myanmar has reported its first confirmed cases of coronavirus.

The health ministry said late on Monday that a 36-year-old travelling from the United States and 26-year-old returning from Britain, both Myanmar nationals, had tested positive.

“Investigation is ongoing on history of people who have been in contact with these two patients,” it said in a statement.

The Southeast Asian nation shares a long and porous border with China.

01:35 GMT – Cuba bans all citizens from leaving

Cuba is the latest country to impose a lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus – banning Cubans from leaving, closing schools and suspending inter-regional public transport.

Last Friday, foreign tourists were barred from entering the country.

Cuba has so far confirmed 40 cases

01:30 GMT – US says Tokyo Olympics should be postponed

More pressure on Japan to postpone the Summer Olympics with the US Olympic & Paralympic Committee the latest to say the 2020 game should be postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The committee says it surveyed some 4,000 of its athletes over the weekend and 65 percent of those who responded indicated their training had been severely affected or halted entirely due to virus-related restrictions.

“It’s more clear than ever that the path toward postponement is the most promising,” USOPC board chair Susanne Lyons and CEO Sarah Hirshland said in a statement.

00:15 GMT – New Zealand reports 40 new cases

New Zealand on Tuesday confirmed 40 new cases of coronavirus, taking the number of confirmed and possible cases in the country to 155.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said six people were in hospital and in stable condition. Four cases are being seen as community transmission, he said.

00:00 GMT – Astronauts in quarantine before ISS mission

Two Russian cosmonauts and a US astronaut are spending their final weeks on Earth in quarantine before their April 9 mission to the International Space Station.

The Expedition 63 crew will launch from Kazakhstan without the usual ceremonies to mark the occasion and will spend six months at the ISS.

“We are ready to go, we are healthy, we’ve been tested very well with the medical teams,” US astronaut Chris Cassidy said on Monday in a video from quarantine.