Coronavirus death toll passes 1,000: Live updates

The United States has registered more than 1,000 COVID-19 deaths as the country confirmed more than 69,000 cases.

The US Senate passed a sweeping $2 trillion measure to aid workers, businesses, and the healthcare system. It has gone back to the lower house for approval.

Meanwhile, United Nations chief Antonio Guterres has launched an appeal for $2bn in international humanitarian aid to help poorer countries tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

More than 472,000 people around the world have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University. More than 114,000 have recovered, while more than 21,000 people have died.

Spain recorded more than 700 fatalities in 24 hours. It is now the second-worst affected country in the world after Italy.

Here are the latest updates:

Thursday, March 26

09:48 GMT – Japan PM Abe sets up coronavirus task force

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has established a task force under the country’s revised emergency law to deal with the global rise in coronavirus infections and deaths.

It is necessary for people to act as one to overcome what can be described as a national crisis, Abe said in Tokyo.

Japan will ban entry from 21 European countries as well as Iran, to take effect from March 27, Abe said.

Coronavirus: Doctor warns of ‘incoming disaster’ in Gaza (02:49)

09:47 GMT – Uzbekistan locks down two more cities

Uzbekistan is locking down the cities of Namangan and Andijan to prevent the spread of coronavirus, the two cities’ municipal authorities said.

Uzbekistan, which has already locked down its capital Tashkent, has reported 65 cases of the disease, including some in the densely populated Fergana valley where Namangan and Andijan are located.

09:37 GMT – Uganda’s Bobi Wine releases song to fight coronavirus pandemic

Ugandan musician-turned-politician Bobi Wine has released a song to raise awareness about the coronavirus pandemic as his country imposes new restriction in a bid to stem the spread of the virus.

Read more here.

09:18 GMT – Malaysia report 235 new cases

Malaysia reported 235 new coronavirus cases in its biggest daily jump, bringing the total number of cases to 2,031.

The number of deaths from coronavirus rose to 23, the health ministry said.

Malaysia’s total number of cases has now doubled in a week. On Wednesday, the government extended curbs on travel and movement to until April 14th to contain the spread of the virus.

08:52 GMT – Indonesia reports 103 new cases, 20 more deaths

Indonesia has confirmed 103 new coronavirus cases, bringing the Southeast Asian country’s total to 893, Health Ministry official Achmad Yurianto said.

The number of new deaths due to coronavirus rose by 20, taking the total number of deaths to 78, he said, adding a total of 35 people had recovered from the virus.

Burial for coronavirus victims in Indonesia
Officers lift coffins to bury the dead infected with the coronavirus in Jakarta, Indonesia [Eko Siswono Toyudho/Anadolu]

08:36 GMT – Philippines reports 7 new deaths, 71 more cases

The Philippine health ministry reported seven new coronavirus deaths and 71 new confirmed infections.

It brings the country’s confirmed cases to 707 and deaths to 45 so far, among them six doctors, Health Secretary Francisco Duque told a regular news conference.

He said case numbers would rise in the coming days as more tests are carried out.

08:20 GMT – China says no new cases confirmed locally

China’s National Health Commission (NHC) said six more people died of the virus and 67 new cases were confirmed, but all of them were imported.

“Hubei reported no new cases of confirmed infection, no new cases of suspected infections, and 6 deaths, 5 in Wuhan,” the NHC said.

People wearing face masks line up outside Xianning Central Hospital in Xianning
People wearing face masks line up outside Xianning Central Hospital in Xianning [Aly Song/Reuters]

08:09 GMT – South Korea: 97-year-old recovers from coronavirus

A woman, 97, has recovered from the coronavirus after a two-week treatment in South Korea’s Pohang Medical Centre.

She was discharged and placed in self-isolation at home to protect her from re-infection, The Korea Times reported.

The oldest patient on the course of recovery in the same hospital is a 104-year-old woman, the report said.

07:52 GMT – Moscow to close all non-essential shops

Moscow will close all shops except for pharmacies and grocery stores, the city’s mayor Sergei Sobyanin said.

This measure, which also includes the closure of restaurants, cafes and bars, will last from March 28 until April 5, Sobyanin said in a statement.

07:43 GMT – Nine doctors die from coronavirus in Philippines

Nine doctors have died in the Philippines from the coronavirus, the country’s top medical association said, as hospitals were overwhelmed and medics complained about a lack of protection on the front lines.

The Philippine Medical Association said that health workers were not getting enough protection.

“If it were up to me, test the frontliners first and test them again after seven days. Doctors could be carriers themselves,” Benito Atienza, vice president of the Philippine Medical Association, told AFP news agency.

UN launches virus aid plan, says ‘all of humanity’ at risk (03:44)

07:37 GMT – UK says 560,000 volunteers sign up to help NHS

Britain’s health Minister Matt Hancock said 560,000 people had volunteered to help the National Health Service during the coronavirus crisis, more than double the number he had hoped to recruit.

Britain had on Tuesday issued a call for 250,000 volunteers to sign up to help the NHS and vulnerable people hit by the coronavirus crisis.

Writing on Twitter, Hancock called the news “fantastic”.

07:25 GMT – Tokyo reports more than 40 new cases

The Japanese capital of Tokyo reported more than 40 new cases of coronavirus infections for the second day running, Jiji News reported.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike held an emergency news conference to warn of the risk of an explosive rise in infections, asking residents to avoid non-essential outings until April 12.

The city has become the centre of Japan’s coronavirus epidemic, with more than 250 cases.

07:15 GMT – Kashmir registers its first COVID-19 death

A 65-year-old man who had a recent travel history outside the region, became the first COVID-19 fatality in Indian-administered Kashmir, sparking fear and causing a stricter lockdown.

Rohit Kansal, the spokesperson of the region’s government, said the “first death due to coronavirus is a 65-year-old man from Srinagar”, he said, referring to the Srinagar man who tested positive two days ago.

Kansal said that four of his contacts have also tested positive for the virus.

Spanish medics demand protection as death toll overtakes China’s (02:28)

07:08 GMT – Russia’s Gazprom says 20 workers isolated at gas field

Gas giant Gazprom said 20 workers have been quarantined at Bovanenkovo gas field, one of its largest in northern Russia, after contact with a person who has coronavirus.

It said the contact occurred on March 16 and the isolation will last until March 30. Production has not been affected.

06:47 GMT – Iran starts intercity travel ban

Iran started an intercity travel ban, an Iranian official said in a televised news conference, amid fears of a second wave of coronavirus infections in the Middle East’s worst-hit country.

“Those who have travelled for the Iranian New Year holidays should immediately return to their cities without making any stop in the cities on their way back home,” said Hossein Zolfaghari, a member of Iran’s national headquarters for fighting the coronavirus.

“The closure of universities and schools as well as suspension of gatherings has been extended,” he said, adding that violators of the measures will face legal consequences.

05:45 GMT

I’ll be handing over this blog to my colleague Tamila Varshalomidze in Doha shortly.

Here are the main developments this morning:

It was a bit touch and go for a while, but the US Senate has finally passed a $2 trillion relief bill for those affected by the coronavirus. Now it goes back to the House of Representatives.

A number of countries are preparing to impose emergencies (Thailand) or extend them (Spain).

South Korea says it will deny entry to people travelling from overseas who refuse to download an app that tracks their self-isolation, while China says all its new cases continue to be “imported” – most of them Chinese nationals returning home.

US Senate approves $2 trillion coronavirus rescue bill (02:20)

05:35 GMT – China shifts narrative on coronavirus outbreak

With China’s own outbreak of coronavirus appearing to have calmed, the country’s state media is devoting considerable space to championing China’s efforts to help Italy, Iran and other countries that are now struggling to control a disease that first appeared in the city of Wuhan late last year.

Shawn Yuan, who is in China, has been following the shifting narrative.

#China will continue to send #medical #experts to countries in need: official

— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) March 26, 2020

05:25 GMT – Russia to suspend all international flights from March 27

The Russian government has ordered the civil aviation authority to suspend all regular and charter flights to and from Russia from March 27, the government said on its website.

Russian airlines will still be allowed to fly to other countries to bring Russian citizens back or if they are authorised by special government decisions.

05:10 GMT – Airlines, small businesses, hospitals: Who benefits?

A little more detail on the $2 trillion relief bill that finally made its way through the Senate on Wednesday and should get final approval later this week.

The measures include:

  • $500bn for a Treasury Department lending facility to support US companies, including airlines, with public oversight
  • $350bn for small businesses.
  • $100bn for hospitals, nurses and doctors to battle the outbreak
  • $150bn for state and local governments
  • $300bn in direct payments to most Americans of up to $1,200 per adult and $500 per child within about three weeks.
  • $250bn in federal unemployment benefits of $600 per week for individual employees as well as gig workers and independent contractors

You can find out more about what’s at stake in this story from Al Jazeera’s William Roberts.

05:05 GMT – Nigerian army preparing for strict lockdown, forced transfers of sick

The Nigerian Army is preparing to forcibly transfer the sick to hospital and enforce strict curbs on movement to curb the spread of the coronavirus in Africa’s most populous country, according to Reuters news agency.

A memo from army headquarters seen by the news agency outlines measures to protect government food storage from looters and says the military is also leasing equipment for “possible mass burial”.

04:25 GMT – Thailand announces 111 new confirmed cases

Thailand has announced 111 new confirmed cases of coronavirus, after declaring a state of emergency to come into effect at midnight (17:00 GMT).

The measures will include the closure of all border crossings except to Thai nationals, diplomats and their families and people with permission to work in Thailand.

The total known cases of the virus now stands at 1,045.

Thailand Myanmar
Migrant workers from Myanmar have been trying to return home through the border at Mae Sot with an emergency due to come into force at midnight [Reuters]

03:30 GMT – US Senate passes $2 trillion coronavirus package

After a series of last-minute hiccups, the US Senate has finally passed a $2 trillion package to support the health system, workers and business hurt by the coronavirus outbreak.

We’ll have more on that story shortly.

03:30 GMT – Parliament in Spain votes to extend state of emergency until April 11

Spain’s parliament has voted in favour of the government’s request to extend the state of emergency – and a nationwide lockdown – by two weeks.

The emergency was first declared on March 14 and includes strict stay-at-home rules.

More people have died in Spain from COVID-19 than any other country except for Italy.

02:50 GMT – Cases in US near 70,000, with more than 1,000 dead

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the US is nearing 70,000 with more than 1,000 people now reported to have died from COVID-19, according to AFP news agency.

More on how each state is handling the outbreak here.

02:45 GMT – Japan to set up coronavirus HQ, possible emergency declaration

Japan’s government is preparing to set up a special headquarters on coronavirus as early as Thursday afternoon, in a move that could set the stage for declaring a state of emergency over the outbreak, the Kyodo news agency reported.

The prime minister can declare a state of emergency if the disease is seen as posing a “grave danger” to lives and if its spread threatens the economy.

02:30 GMT – Overseas arrivals to South Korea to be refused entry without app

Yonhap news agency is reporting that South Korea will deny entry to people arriving in the country from overseas if they refuse to install an app to monitor them while they are in self-isolation.

South Korea South Korea has been tightening restrictions on people who arrive in the country from overseas [Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters]

02:25 GMT – Border closures, flight suspensions leave people stranded

Countries around the world have advised their citizens overseas to return home as quickly as they can as lockdowns accelerate, borders are sealed off and even transit passengers banned.

But that is easier said than done.

Al Jazeera’s Ian Neubauer spoke to people stuck in limbo at Kuala Lumpur’s international airport.

01:50 GMT – Mexico to suspend all non-essential activity from Thursday

Mexico’s Deputy Health Minister Dr Hugo Lopez-Gatell says all non-essential activities in the country will be suspended from Thursday.

Mexico has reported 475 confirmed cases of coronavirus and six deaths.

01:20 GMT – South Korea cases rise by 104, five more deaths

South Korea’s just given its latest update. The country confirmed 104 new cases, bringing the total to 9,241, with five more deaths.

Some 414 people were discharged from hospital after making a full recovery. In all, 4,144 people in South Korea have been cured of the virus.

00:10 GMT – China cases climb again; all from overseas

Mainland China has reported a further increase in coronavirus cases – all of them in people returning to the country from overseas.

The National Health Commission reported 67 new cases as of the end of Wednesday, compared with 47 a day earlier.

The number of deaths rose by six to 3,287.

No new domestically transmitted cases of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) were reported on the Chinese mainland on Wednesday

— China Xinhua News (@XHNews) March 26, 2020

00:00 GMT – Trump administration cut CDC China staff

Reuters news agency is reporting that the administration of US President Donald Trump cut the staff of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) working in China by two-thirds in the two years before the coronavirus emerged.

Most of the reductions were at the Beijing office. The CDC’s headcount in China has dropped from about 47 when Trump took office in January 2017 to about 14 now, Reuters said.

21:59 GMT (Wednesday) – $2 trillion virus rescue bill hits delay in Senate

The $2 trillion economic rescue package to provide aid to American businesses, workers and healthcare systems strained by the coronavirus outbreak has run into last-minute delays in the Senate.

The measure is the largest economic relief bill in US history. More on that story here.

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

Read all the updates from yesterday (March 24) here.

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