Coronavirus updates: UAE suspends flights, Saudi imposes curfew | News

Coronavirus updates: UAE suspends flights, Saudi imposes curfew | News

The UAE is suspending all passenger and transit flights for two weeks, while Saudi Arabia has imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew to curb the spread of the the coronavirus pandemic.

In Europe, Italy has moved to stop all travel within the country, as more than 5,400 people have died in the country from COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.

Spain, the second-worst affected country in Europe, plans to extend a state of emergency until April 11, after recording more than 1,700 deaths.


More than 14,500 people have died from COVID-19 globally. An estimated 98,000 of the 336,000 people who have been diagnosed with the disease across the world have recovered, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.

I’m Mersiha Gadzo in Doha taking over the blog from my colleague Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur with Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

Here are the latest updates:

Monday, March 23

08:45 GMT – Britain now has access to 12,000 ventilators: health minister

Britain now has access to 12,000 ventilators after it bought more from existing providers and its manufacturers are stepping up further production, Health Minister Matt Hancock said.

“We’ve made serious progress on that, there’s now over 12,000 that we’ve managed to get to,” he told BBC Radio.

“We started with 5,000 so we’ve been buying ventilators and we’ve also been engaged with companies who are going to turn their production over to ventilators.”

08:40 GMT – Hong Kong bans all non-resident arrivals

Hong Kong will ban all non-residents from entering the financial hub from Wednesday, its leader said, as it tries to halt a recent spike in virus infections from people returning from abroad.

“From midnight of March 25, all non-Hong Kong residents flying in from overseas will not be allowed into the city,” Chief Executive Carrie Lam said, adding the order would be in place for at least two weeks.

Passengers wear protective suits, amid the outbreak of coronavirus, at Hong Kong International Airport, Hong Kong, China March 17, 2020. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Passengers wear protective suits at Hong Kong International Airport [Tyrone Siu/Reuters]

08:30 GMT – Infections in the Philippines rise to 462 cases

The Philippines’ health ministry confirmed 82 new coronavirus infections, bringing the total number of cases to 462.

08:25 GMT – What does having the coronavirus feel like?

Why do we get a fever and cough? Where does the sore throat come from and why do some people suffer from diarrhoea? To understand this, we need to understand how the virus takes control of our bodies.

Read more here.

08:13 GMT – Brazil football stadiums to turn into coronavirus field hospitals

Brazil’s top football clubs are handing over their stadiums for health authorities to turn them into field hospitals and clinics to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Read more here.

General Views of Rio de Janeiro as the Coronavirus (COVID - 19) Continues to Spread

An aerial view of Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil [Buda Mendes/Getty Images]

08:00 GMT – Germany reports 31 more deaths

Confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany has risen to 22,672 and 86 people have died from the disease, a tally by public health agency Robert Koch Institute (RKI) showed.

That compares with 18,610 cases and 55 deaths the day before on Sunday, when RKI warned that the actual number was likely higher as not all local health authorities had submitted their figures over the weekend.

07:45 GMT – Scores of Indian districts under lockdown

Authorities in India have placed at least 75 districts across the country under stringent lockdown after cases of coronavirus were detected from those areas, as the world’s second-most populous nation stepped up measures to halt the spread of the pandemic.

Read more here.

07:20 GMT – UAE suspends passenger, transit flights

The UAE, home to the world’s busiest international airport is suspending all passenger and transit flights for two weeks.

The country’s emergency and crisis management body and its Civil Aviation Authority said in a statement the decision to stop all commercial flights will take effect in 48 hours.

Dubai’s famous shopping malls will also close “for a renewable period of two weeks”.

Fresh food markets will also close but pharmacies and food retail outlets will stay open. Restaurants are limited to home deliveries.

Emirates suspends all passenger flights over coronavirus outbreak

07:00 GMT – Saudi Arabia imposes dusk-to-dawn curfew

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman announced a nationwide dusk-to-dawn curfew from Monday in a bid to limit the spread of the new coronavirus.

The curfew – from 7pm until 6am – will be imposed for 21 days, the official Saudi Press Agency reported, citing a royal order.

The move comes after Saudi Arabia on Sunday said the number of COVID-19 cases had jumped to 511, the highest in the Gulf.

General view shows the empty garden of the King Fahd Library, following the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia March 19, 2020. Picture taken March 19, 2020. REUTERS/Ah

General view shows the empty garden of the King Fahd Library in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia [Ahmed Yosri/Reuters]

06:50 GMT – Montenegro records first death

A 65-year old man died shortly after his arrival at a hospital in the capital Podgorica on Sunday night, broadcaster RTCG reported.

The man had earlier travelled to Serbia, RTCG reported.

Currently, 22 people have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, in the Balkan country.

Another 5,500 people suspected to have the virus were under observation, health authorities said.

06:30 GMT – Three doctors die from coronavirus in Philippines

At least three doctors have died in the Phiippines where thousands of medical workers braved to treat patients despite the lack of protective gear, officials said.

Several other doctors were reported to be in critical condition, while hundreds of health care workers were in quarantine after being exposed to the virus in various hospitals in Manila, according to hospitals and colleagues.

The three doctors – a cardiologist, an anaesthesologist and an oncologist – were infected with the virus while treating patients in three different hospitals in Manila, according to the Philippine Medical Association and the hospitals.

Gaza confirms first coronavirus cases

03:55 GMT – US coronavirus package held up in Senate

The United States’s $1 trillion-plus coronavirus response bill has been held up by partisan battles in the Senate, but talks continued over Democrats’ demands for more funding for medical care and state and local efforts to combat the pandemic.

The measure faltered after it failed to get the necessary 60 votes in the 100-member chamber to clear a procedural hurdle after days of negotiations.

You can find out more about this here.

03:35 GMT – New Zealand to ‘go into self-isolation’

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the country will move into its highest alert level, with all-non-essential services, schools and offices to be shut over the next 48 hours.

The move means bars, cafes, restaurants and cinemas will be shut. Supermarkets and pharmacies will remain open, Ardern said, adding that the country was well supplied.

All schools will be closed from Tuesday, she said.

“New Zealand is now preparing to go into self-isolation,” Ardern told a news conference.

03:25 GMT – Communities where social distancing and self-isolation are impossible

The idea of “social distancing” and “self-isolation” is next to impossible for 44-year-old Bangkok resident Maliwan Kamdaeng; one of 100,000 people living in Khong Toey, the city’s largest slum community.

Like many people in the settlement, Maliwan lives with her extended family in a modest house of wood and metal sheets squeezed in with others that line narrow alleyways. You can find out more about her concerns in this story by Caleb Quinley.

Coronavirus: Worldwide applause for frontline medical staff

03:15 GMT – Singapore Airlines grounds most of fleet

Singapore Airlines will cut capacity by 96 percent and ground almost all of its fleet after the coronavirus prompted Singapore to close its borders.

The carrier says the pandemic is the “greatest challenge” it has ever faced.

Singapore announced on Sunday it would close its borders to short-term visitors and transiting passengers, after reporting a number of imported cases. You can find out more on the latest situation in Singapore in this report from Tom Benner.

03:05 GMT – Jailed Weinstein has coronavirus

Harvey Weinstein, the former movie producer jailed for sexual assault and rape, has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to an official at the prison officers union. 

Michael Powers, president of the New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association, says the 68-year-old has been placed in isolation, but expressed concern for prison officers who do not have proper protective equipment. Several staff members have been quarantined.

02:50 GMT – More cases of imported coronavirus found in China

Mainland China continues to see more cases of coronavirus being imported from abroad and is ramping up control measures to cope. 

The National Health Commission says there were 39 new confirmed cases on Sunday, down from 46 a day earlier. All involved travellers arriving from abroad.

With 10 new imported cases, Beijing is expanding measures to contain imported infections, with all international flights now directed away from the capital to other cities, including Shanghai.

China Beijing

Flights are being diverted away from Beijing in order to curb the number of imported cases of coronavirus in the capital [Thomas Peter/Reuters]

Shanghai and Guangzhou have said all arriving international passengers will undergo tests to screen for the coronavirus, expanding a programme that previously only applied to those coming from heavily-affected countries.

Shanghai reported 10 new cases on Sunday.

02:45 GMT – Hopes grow South Korea outbreak is easing

South Korea has reported its lowest number of new coronavirus cases since a peak on February 29, and a downward trend in daily infections is raising hopes the outbreak might be easing.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said there were 64 new cases on Monday, taking the total to 8,961. The death toll rose by one to 110.

The new numbers marked the 12th day in a row the country has posted new infections of around 100 or less, compared with 909 cases recorded on the last day of February.

In contrast, 257 patients were released from hospitals where they had been isolated for treatment, the KCDC said. 

02:40 GMT – Canada says it will not participate in Olympics

Canada has said it will not send a team to the summer games, while Australia has said it is preparing for a postponement until next summer.

“The AOC (Australian Olympic Committee) believes our athletes now need to prioritise their own health and of those around them, and to be able to return to the families, in discussion with their National Federations,” the AOC said in a statement.

Canada earlier announced it would not send its team to the Olympics and Paralympics in the summer of 2020, and called for a postponement.

We’ll have more on the story later.

00:15 GMT – Postponing Olympics may become an ‘option’ – Abe

Speculation continues over the fate of the Olympic Games, which are due to take place in Japan in July,

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has told parliament that postponing the games may become an option if holding the event in its “complete form” becomes impossible.

He said cancellation was not an option.

Tokyo Olympics Japan

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, has said the Tokyo Olympics could be postponed, but will not be cancelled [File: Issei Kato/Reuters]

00:10 GMT – New Zealand cases rise; opposition puts campaign on hold

New Zealand has reported an additional 36 confirmed cases of coronavirus, two of which are related to community transmission its Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield, told the media on Monday.

Shortly after the numbers were released, the opposition announced it was suspending its campaign for elections that are due to take place in September.

New Zealand now has 102 cases.

00:00 GMT – British scientists to track spread of virus

UK scientists will track the spread of the new coronavirus and watch for emerging mutations by using gene sequencing to analyse the strains causing thousands of COVID-19 infections across the country, the government said on Monday.

Researchers will collect data from samples from infected patients in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, the government said in a statement.

Scientists will then map out and analyse the full genetic codes of the COVID-19 samples.

“Genomic sequencing will help us understand COVID-19 and its spread. It can also help guide treatments in the future and see the impact of interventions,” Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, said in the statement. 

Click here to read all the latest updates from yesterday (March 22).

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