15:47 Italy’s Deputy Health Minister, Pierpaolo Sileri, has urged European countries to enforce stricter lockdowns. “You need to close whatever you can close,” Sileri said in an interview with DW’s Sumi Somaskanda. He also encouraged governments to, “increase the number of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds and increase the number of doctors.”
The Deputy Health Minister told DW he was “quite optimistic,” but added that saying the worst was over would be premature.
“No doubt, there is a decrease in the number of infections and this is due to the restrictions that were made between the 8th and the 9th of March. But we will probably need ten to 15 more days to be sure that everything is over,” Sileri said.
14:45 India will enter a total lockdown tonight, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced.
“Starting from midnight today, the entire country will go under a complete lockdown,” Modi said in a televised address.
Modi said that the lockdown will be in place for the next 21 days.
“For the next few days, forget about going out. Stay at home. Do just one thing and stay at home,” he urged.
Modi said that the government is taking steps “to ensure continuous essential supplies” but did not immediately lay out plans for how food and other supplies will be distributed to the 1.3 billion people living in the country.
Modi said that he called on the state and regional governments in India to focus primarily on health services. So far the country has logged 469 active cases and 10 deaths.
14:43 Here are the most important developments so far today:
The US has been warned by the WHO that it may become the new epicenter of the pandemic.
The Tokyo Olympic Games, scheduled for July and August 2020, have officially been postponed for one year.
Australia has announced new restrictions on public life, ordering most non-essential businesses to close and banning foreign travel. Schools remain open.
The UK has announced strict restrictions on public life with a ban on gatherings of more than two people not from the same household. People can leave their house to exercise once a day; to go to work if they absolutely cannot work from home; for shopping trips and for medical purposes.
Germany has flown 7 tons of medical equipment to Italy’s Lombardy, and German hospitals have accepted patients from other parts of Italy. Meanwhile, France has sent patients to Luxembourg, Switzerland and western German states in an effort to free up intensive care beds.
China‘s Hubei province has announced that it will lift travel restrictions and again allow movement into and out of Hubei province on March 25. The city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, will have travel restrictions lifted on April 8, more than two months after the lockdown began.
14:35 The World Health Organization has warned that the US may become the new epicenter of the pandemic due to a “very large acceleration” in infections.
More than 42,000 people in the US are infected. Over the past 24 hours, 85% of new cases worldwide were from Europe and the US – now the “main drivers of the outbreak.” Of those, 40% were from the US.
“We are now seeing a very large acceleration in cases in the US. So it does have that potential. We cannot say that is the case yet but it does have that potential,” WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris.
She said the US has “a very large outbreak” that is “increasing in intensity”
“Each individual infecting two to three other people takes about three to five days, so we’re seeing what happened three or four days ago, or five days ago in many countries,” she said. The figures reveal that in the US, “a week ago there was a lot of transmission”.
Despite the surge in coronavirus infections, Harris said that the US was improving efforts in testing and isolation practices, as well as stepping up measures for tracing and quarantining people.
13:25 The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo have now officially been postponed until next year. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed the unprecedented decision following a request from Japan. The decision came after mounting pressure from the international community to postpone the games.
For more on the decision, read more here: Tokyo 2020 Olympics postponed until 2021
13:00 While other European countries are adding to growing lists of restrictions on public life, Sweden has kept schools, bars and restaurants open and is encouraging its citizens to go out for some exercise.
Gatherings of up to 500 people are still allowed in Sweden. The government has issued behavior advisories instead of official restrictions, suggesting people keep their distance in public and that they work from home if possible. But bars were full on the weekend and public transportation has been packed at rush hour.
Despite domestic and international criticism over the soft stance, Swedish authorities believe harsher restrictions aren’t worth the impact on society. Thus far, the number of coronavirus cases in Sweden are comparable with those of neighbors Norway and Denmark, countries with around half as many people as Sweden.
Bars and pubs are still open in Sweden, as other European countries go into lockdown
11:28 Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced stringent new restrictions on public and private life in a bid to flatten the curve of coronavirus. Latest figures for Australia show 2,044 confirmed cases and eight deaths.
Under the updated rules:
• Traveling to foreign countries will be banned.
• Many non-essential businesses must now shut, including gastronomy businesses, except for delivery.
• Entertainment venues as well as gyms and training studios will close.
• Healthcare and beauty businesses including hair salons, must also shut.
• Weddings can go ahead with no more than five people and funerals can go ahead with no more than 10 people. Both are subject to social distancing rules
• Cultural sites and venues including museums and libraries must close.
• The new restrictions will come in force from midnight on Tuesday, schools will remain open.
Morrison also advised people keep group meetings to a minimum and only leave the house where absolutely essential. “These are heart-breaking events in our nation’s history and story,” he said.
The government is currently looking at making house parties an offence, according to state broadcaster ABC.
11:15 German parliamentarians have been asked to leave at least two seats empty next to their own in order to reduce the risk of spreading or catching coronavirus. Signs reading “please leave empty” were placed on many of the seats in the Bundestag on Tuesday.
Members of Germany’s lower house of parliament are being asked to leave at least two seats empty next to their own
11:00 The global pandemic meant that mourners held anunconventional service to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the Germanwings Flight 9525 crash, which killed all 150 people on board in southeastern France.
The initial commemoration, which was set to include victims’ relatives from Germany, Spain and other countries had to be canceled due to coronavirus. Instead, the mayors of two French municipalities in Vernet, close to the site of the crash, laid wreaths and held a minute’s silence. In Haltern-am-See in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, all church bells rang at 10:41 a.m.
10:30 German states are putting in place various measures to stop the spread of coronavirus in refugee homes and accommodation. These include testing, quarantines and shutting common rooms. Classes and group care for children in homes have stopped.
Several states, including hard-hit Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, are testing all new arrivals, with Bremen putting migrants in quarantine until the results are back.
North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony are examining people on arrival for symptoms and asking for details about their journey. NRW is not accepting any new arrivals or transfers for the next two weeks.
Despite the new measures, in Bavaria 10 residents have tested positive for COVID-19 and in Berlin four residents and a staff member in a home have been infected.
10:15 The western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia wants to take in up to 10 patients suffering from coronavirus from Italy, where hospitals have been overwhelmed. The Italian Air Force is prepared to transport the patients in the coming days.
“We need a borderless solidarity in Europe,” said NRW Minister President Armin Laschet. “We need to keep up the European spirit,” he added.
09:45 A total of 6 million protective face masks ordered by the German military have gone missing in Kenya. The German Ministry of Defense is seeking an explanation “into what happened.” The ministry has not incurred any financial loss as the masks had not yet been delivered or paid for, according to reports initially published in Der Spiegel.
The German government had drawn in the military to help with planning and logistics as the country readies itself to deal with coronavirus.
09:00 Here’s an overview of some of the most recent restrictions imposed by countries in Europe:
United Kingdom: On Monday night, the UK imposed a three-week lockdown, with the possibility of an extension. People may only leave their homes to go to work, buy groceries, visit the doctor, or for exercise. Gatherings of more than two people are not allowed.
France: The country has expanded on previously imposed lockdown restrictions. People exercising may still go outside, but runners and walkers may only go out for up to an hour a day and must remain within a kilometer of their homes. Most marketplaces have been required to close. Since French President Emmanuel Macron put the country on lockdown a week ago, people have only been allowed to leave home for necessary reasons, as in the UK.
Netherlands: In the Netherlands, the government has extended its ban on gatherings, pushing the end date back from April 6 to June 1. If people don’t follow the rules, a lockdown will be imposed, Prime Minister Mark Rutte has said. Everyone is required to keep a distance of at least 1.5 meters between themselves and other people.
Italy: On Saturday, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced the closure of all “non-essential factories.” Restrictions placed on the epicenter around Milan expired on Sunday and national measures are scheduled to expire on Wednesday. But Conte is expected to announce this week whether restrictions will be reimposed indefinitely. Italy has been living under lockdown for weeks.