UK's brutal new virus crackdown

 

British leader Boris Johnson has announced a series of tough new measures in the country, in response to people ignoring social distancing measures.

All shops selling non-essential goods like clothes and electronics will be closed, as will outdoor gyms and libraries.

The country has also banned meetings of more than two people in public, taking a leaf out of Germany's book.

"You should not be meeting friends. If your friends ask you to meet - you should say no," he said.

"You should not be going shopping except for essentials, and do this as little as possible.

"If you don't follow the rules, the police will have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings.

"To ensure compliance to stay at home, we will immediately close all shops selling non-essential goods including clothing and electronics, and other premises including libraries, outdoor gyms and places of worship.

"We will stop all gatherings of more than two people in public … and stop all social events including weddings and baptisms, but excluding funerals.

"Parks will remain open for exercise, but gatherings will be dispersed."

"No prime minister wants to impose measures like this," Mr Johnson added. "And that's why we've produced a huge and unprecedented

program of support, both for workers and for business. And I can assure you that we will keep these restrictions under constant review."

He said the measures will be reviewed again in three weeks.

All shops selling non-essential goods like clothes and electronics will be closed, as will outdoor gyms and libraries.

The country has also banned meetings of more than two people in public, taking a leaf out of Germany's book.

Globally, cases have soared to more than 350,000 with 15,328 deaths. Nearly 100,000 have recovered from the disease and it's estimated there could be hundreds of thousands of undetected cases. 

Soldiers in Spain make grim discovery

Gavin Fernando

Soldiers in Spain who are helping to run residential homes amid the coronavirus outbreak have found a number of elderly people abandoned and dead in their beds, according to the country's defence minister.

Defence Minister Margarita Robles said members of the specialist Military Emergencies Unit had found the corpses of elderly people as they were cleaning and disinfecting hospitals.

"During some of its visits, the army has seen some totally abandoned elderly people - even some who were dead in their beds," she told the Ana Rosa TV programme, according to The Guardian.

"We're going to be very blunt and implacable over this and we have a very clear message: the full weight of the law will fall on those who don't meet their obligations," she said.

It comes as Spain has recorded 467 deaths over the last 24 hours - 2,182 lives up from 1,720 on Sunday - while the number of confirmed cases has increased from 28,572 to 33,089.

  21m agoMarch 24, 2020HIGHLIGHT

Italy reports 602 new deaths

Gavin Fernando

Italy has reported 602 new deaths from the coronavirus over the last 24 hours, bringing the country's death toll to 6,077.

There are now 63,928 confirmed cases across the whole country.

The number of reported deaths in Italy dropped for a second day in a row, after on Saturday reaching an all-time high of 793.

3h agoMarch 24, 2020

1.5 billion told to 'stay home' to blunt virus spread

Victoria Craw

At least 1.5 billion people or one fifth of the world's population have been told to stay home to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Worldwide, more than 350,000 people have been infected and 15,000 have died.

As the number of cases in China fell, the dangers to Europe and the US have grown exponentially, although Germany on Monday cautiously reported some flattening of its infection curve.

European and US cities have gone into widespread lockdowns banning everything but essential services across Italy, France, Spain and Germany. UK GPs have written to 1.5 million of the most vulnerable patients warning them to stay home for the next 12 weeks for their own safety. Pregnant women are also advised to stay home if possible.

The effect of such major lockdowns remains to be seen, with Italian and Spanish authorities hoping to approach the peak in the coming days based on their calculations of the virus incubation period versus the timing of lockdown measures being introduced.

 

  1:06 amMarch 24, 2020

Italy faces critical ten days

Victoria Craw

Italy has banned domestic travel and shut down a range of industries as the PM begs for a final ten-day push to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Italy has become the hardest hit country outside of China in the COVID-19 pandemic that has gripped the world. It has recorded 59,138 cases, 5,476 deaths and 7,024 recovered from the disease.

China had 81,496 cases and 3,153 deaths in Hubei province where the outbreak began. On Monday the US surged into third place in terms of number of infections, with 35,225 cases, data from John Hopkins shows.

Italian Prime Minsiter Giuseppe Conte told residents the next 10 days is crucial as it's hoped the number of infections will start to drop.

"Everyone's effort is needed," he said. "The country's social and economic strength is at stake."

The rate of increase in deaths and infections slowed on Sunday. There were 651 fatalities on Sunday compared with Saturday's record 793 deaths while the number of new reported infections fell to 5,560 from 6,557.

But Mr Conte warned it was too early to let the guard down and pleaded with nationals to sacrifice their freedoms for the common good for two weeks.

"We have not reached the most acute phase of the infection and the numbers will continue to grow," he said. "Much depends on the responsible behaviour of each one of us."

  9:11 pmMarch 23, 2020

Spain could be approaching 'peak'

Victoria Craw

The coronavirus death toll in Spain surged to 2,182 after 462 people died within 24 hours, the health ministry said on Monday.

The death rate showed a 27-percent increase on the figures released a day earlier, with the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 rising to 33,089 in Spain, one of the worst-hit countries in the world after China and Italy.

Madrid has already developed a temporary hospital in a convention centre and is using hotels to treat patients in the coronavirus pandemic.

Authorities believe Spanish cases could "peak" as early as this week.

Madrid health official Enrique Ruiz Escudero said: "We believe this week we'll reach the famous 'peak' - in which we see new cases, but less than the day before," he said.

The estimates are based on a link between the incubation period of the disease and Spain's introduction of social distancing measures.

- With wires

  9:04 pmMarch 23, 2020

The Austrian ski village that 'infected half of Europe'

Victoria Craw

An Austrian ski village dubbed the "Ibiza of the Alps" has been blamed as the source of hundreds of coronavirus infections that have spread across Europe.

The Tyrolean village of Ischgl in the Austrian Alps, home to 1500 people, has been pointpointed as ground zero for a host of cases tha tspread to Norway, Germany, Iceland and throughout Austria.

The first sign of trouble emerged on March 1 when Icelandic officials found 15 passengers on a flight from the region tested positive for COVID-19. However Austrian authorities denied there was a problem and skiiers from Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Germany all tested postive after being there - travelling home and infecting potentially hundreds more people.

Norway's health ministers believe 491 of the country's 1198 cases had been skiing in the region. The source is believed to be a German bartender at a bar that was the local village hub.

Now, the village has been sealed but the infection rate is double that of Vienna - the Austrian capital with 2 million people. German media have labelled it "the breeding ground", while other commentators blamed greed for money during the ski season as the reason for the high number of cases.

Tyrolean authorities posted a statement thanking "our guests, employees, hoteliers, restaurants and locals for a short but wonderful season 2019/2020."

"In the 14 days of quarantine, we will still have to deal with a variety of tasks. It is necessary that we take care of each other and support each other."

  8:44 pmMarch 23, 2020

US Secret Service staffer confirms COVID-19 case

Victoria Craw

A member of the US Secret Service, that provides security and protection for President Trump and his family, has tested postive for coronavirus.

The agency said in a statement on Monday the employee was in quarantine and would have their condition monitored. It believes the staffer has had no contact with anyone else from the agency for more than three weeks.

The US has joined the global race to track down ventilators and other medical equipment to fight coronavirus. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has warned the city is "ten days" away from running out of equipment.

 

  8:36 pmMarch 23, 2020

Save us from being 'cannon fodder', doctors plead

Victoria Craw

The UK Doctor's Association has published a heartbreaking plea calling for more protective equipment for frontline staff, saying their current stash will run out in 48 hours.

The letter written to the Sunday Times said many NHS staff feel like "cannon fodder" in the fight against coronavirus.

"Frontline doctors have been telling us for weeks that they do not feel safe at work," Dr Rinesh Parmar and Dr Samantha Batt-Rawden wrote on behalf of nearly 4000 frontline staff.

"Intensive care doctors and anaesthetists have told us they have been carrying out the highest-risk procedure, putting a patient on a ventilator, with masks that expired in 2015. Paediatricians have told us their stock of protective glasses and masks will run out in 48 hours, including in special care baby units."

 

It comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson pleads with the public to take social distancing seriously after parks were busy over the weekend.

An 18-year-old boy from Coventry with underlying health issues has become the youngest in the UK to die from the disease. Britain has recorded 5748 cases of coronavirus with 281 deaths.

  8:18 pmMarch 23, 2020

China blames US for 'wasting precious time'

Victoria Craw

China's foreign ministry spokesman has blamed the US for "completely wasting the precious time" in fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Monday the US had tried to "discredit others and look for a scapegoat to shift its responsibilities."

He said leaders should "stop politicizing the epidemic, stop stigmatizing and defaming China and other countries."

The COVID-19 pandemic originated in Wuhan and spread throughout Hubei province and the world. China initially tried to suppress news of the disease but then kicked into overdrive with a strict lockdown and intensive cleaning effort that helped to suppress transmission.

Wuhan has now gone five days without a new infection and people across the country are beginning to return to work. Meanwhile other countries around the world are in the sharp escalation period of the infection curve.

Originally published as 1.5 billion told 'stay home' to stop virus


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