Six coronavirus deaths in US, China cases slow: Live updates

Six coronavirus deaths in US, China cases slow: Live updates thumbnail
India, Germany and Iran have reported new cases of the coronavirus as the World Health Organization warned the world is in "uncharted territory". More than 90,000 cases have been confirmed globally, according to the WHO. The number of deaths from the virus has reached 3,110 globally. The United States reported six deaths from the coronavirus as the…

India, Germany and Iran have reported new cases of the coronavirus as the World Health Organization warned the world is in “uncharted territory”.

More than 90,000 cases have been confirmed globally, according to the WHO. The number of deaths from the virus has reached 3,110 globally.

The United States reported six deaths from the coronavirus as the outbreak that started in China continues to spread and the WHO urges countries to step up containment measures to rein in the infection.


Here are the latest updates:

Tuesday, March 3

15:29 GMT – US Federal Reserve cuts interest rates amid virus outbreak

US stocks jumped after the Federal Reserve made an emergency rate cut to help shield the economy from the impact from the virus outbreak.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 172 points, or 0.6% as of 10:10am Eastern time (15:10 GMT). It had been down as much as 356 points shortly before the announcement.

The Fed cut short-term rates by half a percentage point, the biggest cut in more than a decade. 

15:17 GMT – Fourth person dies in France: Health ministry

A fourth person has died in France due to a coronavirus infection, the Health Ministry has said.

It gave no details on the person’s age or nationality.

Coronavirus France - AFP

France has reported 191 confirmed cases of coronavirus so far [Jean-Philippe Ksiazek/AFP]

14:38 GMT – Follow recommendations, wash hands: Khamenei

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei said Iranians should follow the recommendations of authorities to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

“Don’t violate the recommendations and instructions of the responsible authorities in terms of prevention, in terms of keeping hands, face and living environment clean and not infecting these and preventing the infection of these,” he said. Khamenei also said the outbreak should not be overblown.

“The issue is an issue that will pass. It’s not something extraordinary,” he said. “I don’t want to minimise the issue but let’s not make it very big, either.”

14:30 GMT – Passengers from 10 countries must provide certificates showing they are virus-free: Kuwait CAA 

Kuwait’s civil aviation authority said passengers from 10 countries including Turkey, Lebanon, Georgia, Egypt and India – must produce certificates issued by the Kuwaiti embassy in their country saying they are coronavirus free.

Passengers who do not provide the certificates will not be allowed into Kuwait, the aviation authority said on Twitter.

14:15 GMT – Jailed UK-Iranian woman ‘in perfect health’ – Iran official

Iran said Tuesday a British-Iranian woman jailed in Tehran is “in perfect health” after the dual national reportedly expressed fears of contracting the coronavirus behind bars.

On Saturday, Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of 41-year-old Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, said Nazanin believed she had contracted the COVID-19 illness.

Iran’s judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said on Tuesday she was “in perfect health”.

“Yesterday she talked to her family by phone. There has been news about her recently that was fake news,” he said on state television.

Ratcliffe, who was arrested at Tehran airport in April 2016, is serving a five-year term for sedition at Evin prison in the Iranian capital.

Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe

Ratcliffe is ‘in perfect health’ Iranian officials claim [File: Reuters]

13:48 GMT – Six new cases confirmed in Oman

Oman’s Ministry of Health confirmed six new cases of the new coronavirus in the Gulf nation, raising the total number to 12, according to the ministry’s twitter account.

All new cases were related to travel to Iran, the ministry said. Four of the patients are Iranian nationals and two are from Bahrain.

13:34 GMT – G7 to employ ‘all appropriate tools’ to combat coronavirus risks

G7 finance ministers and central bank governors said they would use all appropriate policy tools to achieve strong and sustainable growth amid the coronavirus outbreak, which is fuelling global recession fears.

In a joint statement issued after a conference call, they said Group of Seven (G7) finance ministers were ready to take action, including fiscal measures where appropriate, while central banks would continue to work to support price stability and economic growth.

This is Usaid Siddiqui in Doha taking over from my colleague Farah Najjar.

12:30 GMT – Head of Iran’s emergency medical services infected with coronavirus

The head of Iran’s emergency medical services, Pirhossein Kolivand, has been infected with coronavirus, the ILNA news agency reported.

Kolivand’s “health is good and there is no need for concern”, the office said in a statement, according to ILNA.

11:50 GMT – Wuhan closes one of its makeshift hospitals

The Chinese city at the centre of the coronavirus epidemic closed its first makeshift hospital, one of 16 hurriedly built to handle the epidemic, after it discharged the last recovered patients, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

News of the closure coincided with a sharp decline in new cases in Hubei province and the provincial capital Wuhan, but the country remained on alert as Chinese nationals returning home are testing positive for the virus.

China’s central Hubei province, the epicentre of the country’s coronavirus outbreak, reported fewer than 200 cases of new infections for the first time since January.

11:41 GMT – Ukrainian airline suspends flights to Turin 

Ukrainian airline SkyUp said it was suspending flights to the northern Italian city of Turin due to the spread of the coronavirus.

“The airline suspends flights to Turin from March 5 to an estimated October 25,” it said in a statement. 

11:03 GMT – India confirms new coronavirus case 

An Italian national tested positive for coronavirus in the western Indian state of Rajasthan, a major tourist destination, a hospital official said.

This brings the number of people who have tested positive in the country to six.

10:48 GMT – Iran reports increasing number of deaths

Ali Reza Raisi, an Iranian health ministry official, said 77 people have died and 2,336 have been infected by coronavirus.

Raisi spoke at a news conference in the Iranian capital, Tehran.

10:42 GMT – Iran’s supreme leader orders armed forces to combat coronavirus 

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei ordered the Islamic republic’s armed forces to assist its Health Ministry in combating the spread of the new coronavirus.

“Whatever helps public health and prevents the spread of the disease is good and what helps to spread it is sin,” Khamenei said.

Iranian authorities now say they have plans to potentially mobilise 300,000 soldiers and volunteers to confront the virus.

Concern over the outbreak now stretches to Iran’s leadership – some of whom have fallen ill from the virus.

10:29 GMT – Qatar confirms new case

Qatar has confirmed a new case of coronavirus, according to the health ministry’s Twitter account, bringing the total number of infections to eight.

The Qatari national was among others who were evacuated from Iran on February 27, it said.

09:41 GMT – France shuts over 100 schools in bid to contain coronavirus 

French officials have closed about 120 schools in areas that have reported the largest numbers of coronavirus infections, and more could be closed in the coming days, Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said.

Both primary and secondary schools have been shut in the Oise department north of the capital Paris, where the main cluster of French cases has emerged, and where two people who died of the virus lived.

Officials have reported 191 coronavirus cases in France and three deaths.

Members of emergency and intensive care services are at work after a person was allegedly contaminated by the new Covid-19 Coronavirus, on March 2, 2020 at Etienne Marie de la Hante retirement home in

Members of emergency and intensive care services are at work after a person was allegedly contaminated by the the Coronavirus [Francois Nascimbeni/AFP]

09:25 GMT – Coronavirus changes greeting habits

As the coronavirus continues to spread across the world, some have abandoned the most common form of greeting: the handshake.

People are changing habits to reduce the risk of contracting the coronavirus and prevent it from spreading.

Read more here.

09:20 GMT – Germany reports 31 new cases

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany rose to 188 on Tuesday, up from 157 on Monday afternoon, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) said.

Thirteen of Germany’s 16 federal states have now reported cases of the coronavirus, with the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia being most affected, according to the RKI.

Germany has not reported a fatal case of the virus.

An employee with face mask and gloves waits behind the door of the corona diagnostic center in Duesseldorf, Germany, Monday, March 2, 2020 for the next patient. Germany faces several people infected w

An employee wearing a face mask and gloves waits behind the door of the coronavirus diagnostic centre in Duesseldorf, Germany, for the next patient [Martin Meissner/The Associated Press]

09:08 GMT – Ukraine reports first coronavirus case

Ukraine has reported its first case of coronavirus, according to the country’s prime minister. 

A health official says the virus was found in a man who travelled from Italy to Ukraine via Romania, adding that the patient was hospitalised on Saturday in western Ukraine. 

08:46 GMT – Beijing to quarantine travellers from S Korea, Japan, Iran and Italy

All travellers entering Beijing from the virus hotspots of South Korea, Japan, Iran and Italy will have to be quarantined for 14 days, Deputy Secretary-General of the Beijing Municipal Government Chen Bei said.

Shanghai earlier said it would also compel visitors who had recently travelled to countries with “relatively serious virus conditions” to submit to 14 days of isolation.

08:35 GMT – South Korea outbreak continues to grow

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) reported 374 new coronavirus cases in its midday update on Tuesday.

Earlier on Tuesday, the KCDC reported 600 confirmed cases from 24 hours prior.

This brings the total number of cases in the country to 5,186, making it the largest outbreak outside China.

08:21 GMT – Emirates airline asks staff to take unpaid leave

Major international airline Emirates is asking staff to take unpaid leave for up to a month at a time due to the spreading coronavirus. The outbreak has led to flight cancellations around the world.

Emirates has cancelled flights to Iran, Bahrain and to most of China because of the virus, and countries around the world have placed strict restrictions on the entry of non-nationals.

“Considering the availability of additional resources and the fact that many employees want to utilise their leave, we have provided our employees the option to avail leave or apply for voluntary unpaid leave for up to one month at a time,” Chief Operating Officer Adel al-Redha said in a statement.

08:16 GMT – Japan may be allowed to postpone Olympics to end of year

Tokyo’s contract with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) allows it to postpone the Games until the end of the year, Japan’s Olympics minister said on Friday, amid concern the coronavirus outbreak could force the IOC to cancel them.

“The contract calls for the Games to be held within 2020. That could be interpreted as allowing a postponement,” Seiko Hashimoto said in response to a lawmaker’s question in parliament.

Under the hosting agreement, the right to cancel the Games is the IOC’s alone.

FILE PHOTO: People wearing protective face masks, following an outbreak of the coronavirus, are seen in front of the Giant Olympic rings at the waterfront area at Odaiba Marine Park in Tokyo, Japan, F

People wearing protective face masks are seen in front of the Olympic rings in Odaiba Marine Park in Tokyo, Japan [Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters]

07:45 GMT – UK not planning to cancel major events: health minister 

British Secretary of Health Matt Hancock said Britain is not planning to cancel mass gatherings or large sports events due to concerns about coronavirus but that legislation would be needed in case action is required in the future.

“Right now, we do not recommend the cancelling of mass events and schools as well should not be closing unless there is a positive case and the schools have the advice to close,” Hancock told BBC TV.

“There may be things we have to do down the line that we don’t want to, but we will need the powers to do that hence proposing emergency legislation.”

07:37 GMT – UAE cancels, postpones events as coronavirus spreads in GCC

Concerts and sporting events in the United Arab Emirates, a tourism and business hub, have been cancelled or postponed as the coronavirus spreads in the Gulf.

The March 5-6 electronic music Ultra festival at Abu Dhabi’s 25,000-capacity Du arena and the March 21 K-pop concert Music Bank at Dubai’s 17,000-capacity Coca Cola Arena have been cancelled.

Organisers of Ultra, where electronic group Major Lazer and DJ Afrojack were to perform, cited travel restrictions imposed by some countries and airlines in the wake of the rapidly spreading virus.

The UAE, which has reported 21 cases, regularly hosts major conferences, concerts and sporting events.

07:29 GMT – Twitter staff to work from home over virus fears

Twitter staff across the world were asked to work from home starting Monday in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

The social media platform’s decision to ask its staff to avoid the office follows similar requests by governments in virus hotspots.

“We are strongly encouraging all employees globally to work from home if they’re able,” Twitter human resources chief Jennifer Christie said in a Monday blog post.

“Our goal is to lower the probability of the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus for us – and the world around us.”

Working from home will be mandatory for employees at the company’s South Korea, Hong Kong and Japan offices, Christie said.

06:48 GMT – South Korea’s president declares ‘war’ on coronavirus 

South Korea’s president declared “war” on the coronavirus, ordering additional hospital beds and more face masks to be made available.

President Moon Jae-in apologised for shortages of face masks and promised support for virus-hit small businesses in Asia’s fourth-biggest economy, which has now reported 4,812 cases of the disease and 34 deaths.

“The entire country has entered war against the infectious disease as the crisis in Daegu and Gyeongbuk province has reached the highest point,” he told a cabinet meeting, referring to the two hardest-hit parts of the country.

06:40 GMT – Pope tests negative for coronavirus: Italy report 

Pope Francis, who cancelled a Lent retreat for the first time in his papacy because he is suffering from a cold, has tested negative for coronavirus, the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero reported.

The 83-year-old Roman Catholic leader, who had part of one lung removed because of an illness decades ago, also cancelled most audiences last week.

06:37 GMT – Shanghai says visitors entering from virus-hit countries must be quarantined

Shanghai will require everyone entering the city from countries with “relatively serious virus conditions” to submit to 14 days of quarantine, an official said.

The rule will apply to all people regardless of nationality, said Xu Wei, an official with the city government’s news office, speaking to reporters at a briefing.

China’s #coronavirus lockdown has had an unexpected side-effect – a significant drop in pollution levels.

— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) March 3, 2020

06:25 GMT – Canada asks travellers from Iran to self-isolate 

Canada has asked travellers arriving from Iran – one of the countries hardest-hit by the coronavirus – to self-isolate at home for 14 days even if they are not showing any symptoms. 

Meanwhile, health authorities asked Canadians to avoid any non-essential travel to Iran and the northern region of Italy, which have both emerged as infection hotspots. 

Many cases in Canada had been linked to the Iran outbreak, Canadian Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam told reporters.

Canada has 27 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection. 

This is Farah Najjar in Doha taking over from my colleague Kate Mayberry.

04:45 GMT – G7 virus response might not detail fiscal, monetary steps – Reuters 

The Group of Seven industrial powers are drafting a statement on countering the impact of the coronavirus. For now, it does not specifically call for new government spending or coordinated interest rate cuts by central banks, a G7 official with direct knowledge of the deliberations told Reuters on Tuesday.

In the statement, expected on Tuesday or Wednesday, the G7 countries will pledge to work together to mitigate the damage to their economies from the fast-spreading epidemic, the source said on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.

Share prices have been rising on expectations of measures to boost the global economy. 

03:45 GMT – Guangdong imposes quarantine for visitors from virus-hit countries

China’s southern province of Guangdong says it will require travellers arriving from countries and regions with severe coronavirus outbreaks to quarantine themselves for 14 days, the government-backed Nanfang Daily newspaper reported on Tuesday.

The report did not name specific countries.

It said that between February 27 and March 1, 1,496 people had entered Guangdong from overseas areas hit hard by the virus but, to date, tests had shown that none had been infected.

03:40 GMT – Indonesia confirmed cases trigger panic buying

People in Jakarta rushed to supermarkets on Monday night to stock up on basic supplies shortly after President Joko Widodo announced the country had two confirmed cases of coronavirus.

Shoppers found queues were longer than usual for a weekday night and that basic supplies such as bottled water had sold out.

Indonesia coronavirus

Panic-buying hit supermarkets in Jakarta on Monday after the first cases of coronavirus were confirmed [Toh Heng Guan/Al Jazeera]

03:15 GMT – Church leader tests negative for virus

Lee Man-hee, the founder of the controversial Shincheonji Church of Jesus, has tested negative for the coronavirus He had been taken to a “drive-through” test site late on Monday.

The church is the at the centre of the outbreak in South Korea and has been heavily criticised over its response to the virus.

Lee apologised on Monday and called the epidemic a “great calamity” but refused to be tested by public authorities until a local governor threatened to drag him by force to be tested. Al Jazeera’s Rob McBride is in Seoul and you can watch his story below.

South Korea church leader apologises over coronavirus outbreak

02:25 GMT – Australia to use biosecurity law in fight against virus

Australia’s attorney general has said the government will use its biosecurity to law to restrict the movements of people suspected of having the coronavirus. 

Speaking to the country’s public broadcaster ABC, Christian Porter said the government would use the law to either designate some places out of bounds or place a patient in detention at home.

“Under the biosecurity act, you could have the prevention of movement from persons in and out of particular places,” Porter told the ABC.

“You might have a major sporting event where people would be in very, very close proximity to each other and… it might be determined that the risk of transmission at a venue like that was too high.”

Australia passed the biosecurity law in 2015, replacing the Quarantine Act, which had been in force for more than 100 years. You can find out more about the act in this report by two academics at the Australian National University. 

02:20 GMT – Hong Kong to bring home citizens from Wuhan

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam has been holding her regular weekly press briefing.

She says Hong Kong has chartered four planes to bring back 533 Hong Kongers from Wuhan. The flights will be on Wednesday and Thursday and the passengers will be quarantined for 14 days upon arrival. 

02:12 GMT – China looks to recovered to tackle COVID-19

There has been lots of talk about vaccines for COVID-19, but they will take a long time to become available.

In the meantime, beyond avoiding infection (washing your hands more and touching your face less), doctors are looking for ways to treat the illness more effectively.

My colleague Shawn Yuan has been speaking to medics in China about the difficulties they’ve encountered in treating the new virus. Read his story here.

China coronavirus

Plasma donated by recovered patients has been collected for use in treating people battling severe cases of coronavirus [Yuan Zheng/EPA]

02:10 GMT – Pakistan confirms fifth case

Pakistan has reported a new case of coronavirus.

“We have now 5th confirmed case of COVID19 in federal areas,” Zafar Mirza, the country’s health minister said in a tweet early on Tuesday morning.

The patient is stable and being managed well, the minister added.

01:40 GMT – World in ‘uncharted territory’ with new virus – WHO

WHO Director General Dr Tedros Ghebreyesushas said the world is in “uncharted territory” with the new coronavirus because, while the infection can spread through a community, it can also be contained. 

He is urging countries around the world to focus on containing the virus, calling for “early, aggressive measures”.

“But containment of #COVID19 is feasible and must remain the top priority for all countries.

With early, aggressive measures, countries can stop transmission and save lives”-@DrTedros #coronavirus

— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) March 2, 2020

01:20 GMT – South Korea outbreak continues to grow

South Korea has reported 600 new coronavirus cases in its first daily update on Tuesday. The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) also says three more people died overnight.

Total cases in the country now stand at 4,812, making it the largest outbreak outside China.

01:15 GMT – New York governor seeks to reassure on medical costs

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has just issued a directive to all insurers to waive cost-sharing associated with virus testing.

“We can’t let cost be a barrier to access to COVID-19 testing,” he wrote on Twitter.

New Yorkers receiving Medicaid coverage will not have to pay a co-pay for any testing related to #coronavirus.

Currently all COVID-19 tests being conducted at the State’s Wadsworth Lab are fully covered.

— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) March 3, 2020 

00:45 GMT – China cases continue to slow

Figures just released by China’s National Health Commission suggest the outbreak there might be slowing.

Mainland China had 125 new confirmed cases on Monday, compared with 202 the day before. That is the lowest since the country started publishing national data in January.

In Wuhan, the number of new cases was 111, compared with 193.

The commission said 31 people died from the infection.

A recap of Monday’s major developments:

The death toll in the United States has risen to six with mounting concern that the virus has been spreading undetected in the northwestern state of Washington for weeks.

Deaths in Italy rose to 52, while Iran’s toll rose to 66. Italy is the hardest-hit country in Europe, while Iran has reported the most deaths outside China.

Countries including Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, the Czech Republic and Tunisia announced their first cases of the disease.

China reported more cases but the rate of infection appeared to be slowing.

Click here to read updates from Monday, March 2.

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