Coronavirus updates: United States becomes centre of virus pandemic


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By Yvette Tan, Andreas Illmer and Saira Asher

All times stated are UK

  1. What’s happening in Australia?

    Jay Savage

    BBC News, Sydney

    Here are some of the latest developments:

    • More than 3,000 people have now tested
      positive, with 13 deaths
    • Federal and state leaders met this morning. There are no announcements yet – but local media reports that stricter lockdowns and rental assistance measures are being considered
    • PM Scott Morrison has told
      G20 leaders that Australia will help small Pacific nations get access to “critical health services”
    • Hundreds of Australians stranded in Peru and Uruguay will return
      home on specially arranged flights, the government says

    Two people on horses at Balnarring beach in Victoria this morning

    Copyright: Getty Images

    Image caption: Racehorses train in Balnarring, Victoria, this morning – the sport is among few still continuing
  2. China to close off country to foreigners

    China will soon ban foreigners with valid Chinese visas and residence permits, in a drastic move to limit the number of imported virus cases in the country.

    The Foreign Ministry said the temporary ban would kick in on 28 March.

    Exemptions will be given to travelling diplomats and holders of “C” visas – foreigners who provide international transportation services.

    It comes as the number of imported cases continues to rise as more Chinese nationals return home.

    China recorded one domestic case and 54 new imported cases on Thursday – there are now 595 imported cases across the country.

    A masked man looks out from the fence set up to curb the COVID epidemic in Wuhan

    Copyright: Getty Images

  3. US unemployment ‘worse than catastrophic’

    Empty street in New York

    Copyright: Getty Images

    Despite the US president trying to assure citizens that he would protect the economy, the new unemployment numbers came as a shock.

    The data was predicted to be catastrophic. The actual total, 3.3 million, turned out to be even worse than expected, says the BBC’s North America reporter Anthony Zurcher.

    The record-breaking amount reflects a US economy put into deep-freeze almost overnight. When times are bad, financial hardship becomes a roar that drowns out all other concern.

    You can read more of Anthony’s analysis here on what the unemployment numbers mean for the US and Donald Trump.

  4. Inside a South Korean ICU

    In South Korea, nurses caring for seriously ill patients with the Covid-19 disease have been working in two-hour shifts.

    Each time they go in, they suit up in heavy self-contained respiratory systems like these. Watch more here:

    Video content

    Video caption: Coronavirus: Inside a Covid-19 intensive care unit
  5. Canada ‘strongly opposes’ US border troops plan

    Canada has criticised a US proposal to deploy troops along their undefended joint border, calling it “unnecessary”.

    Last week, both countries agreed to close their border to non-essential travel to slow the spread of the virus. A US official said the troops would help border patrol officers enforce this ban.

    But Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said it was “strongly opposed to this”, calling it a “entirely unnecessary step which we would view as damaging to our relationship”.

    However, the Wall Street Journal is now reporting that the US has since scrapped these plans after Canada’s strong objections. We’ll bring you more details on this when we have them.

  6. Doctor dies in the UK from suspected coronavirus

    Dr Habib Zaidi

    Copyright: NHS SOUTHEND CCG

    The family of a GP who has died of suspected coronavirus have said he sacrificed his life for his profession.

    Dr Habib Zaidi, 76, died in intensive care at Southend Hospital, Essex, 24 hours after falling ill on Tuesday. His daughter Dr Sarah Zaidi, also a GP, said he showed “textbook symptoms” of the virus.

    If test results confirm he had Covid-19, he would be the first doctor in the UK to die from the virus.

    Dr Sarah Zaidi told the BBC: “For that to be the thing that took him is too much to bear. It is reflective of his sacrifice. He had a vocational attitude to service.

    “He was treated as a definitive case. There is little clinical doubt it is coronavirus, the test result is academic.”

    Dr Habib Zaidi, a GP in Leigh-on-Sea for more than 45 years, had been self-isolating and not seen patients in person for about a week.

    His wife Dr Talat Zaidi and all their four children work in the medical profession.

    Read more here.

  7. Epicentre of the epicentre: New York State

    New York skyline

    Copyright: Reuters

    Looking at those US numbers in a bit more detail is illuminating. More testing explains this steep rise in confirmed infections: 83,836 is the number right now, but that is likely to soar once again.

    So far 1,209 people have died and 681 have recovered.

    But by far the worst-affected state is New York which has seen 365 deaths and reports from hospitals in New York City depict a health system on the brink.

    Observers continue to warn that the true number of US infections could be much higher – and they point the finger at a shortage of test kits.

  8. UK erupts in applause

    Applause was heard all over the UK last night as people thanked healthcare staff for working through the virus outbreak.

    People flocked to their balconies, windows and gardens as part of the “Clap for Carers” tribute, which also saw the Royal Family and the prime minister take part.

    The National Health Service (NHS) called the tribute “emotional”.

    Video content

    Video caption: Clap for our Carers: National applause for coronavirus health workers
  9. More than half a million infected worldwide

    There are now almost 530,000 people worldwide confirmed with the new coronavirus. While more than 120,000 have recovered, the global death toll stands at just under 24,000.

    The country with the highest number is now the United States, with 83,836 cases. That’s followed by China with 81,782 – although most of those have recovered and the number of new infections in the country where the outbreak started is tiny.

    In Europe, the worst-hit country remains Italy with more than 80,000 cases, and the world’s worst death toll at 8,215.

    Spain, Germany, France and Iran all have between 30,000 and 60,000 cases and the UK has now almost 12,000 confirmed infections and 580 deaths.

    You can find all those numbers at the coronavirus map by the Johns Hopkins University. The numbers change fast, reflecting the persistent rise of confirmed cases around the globe.

  10. Welcome back

    Hello and welcome back to our rolling coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. We’re writing to you from Singapore this morning – we’ll be handling over to our teams in London later today. Here’s a quick glance at your news today:

    • The US now has more confirmed cases of coronavirus than any country – overtaking China, where the virus emerged. There are now 83,500 cases in the US, according to a Johns Hopkins tally. China has 81,782 cases
    • However, the US death toll lags behind China which has 3,291 fatalities. The US death toll stands at 1,288
    • Canada has criticised a US proposal to deploy troops along their joint border to help fight the spread of the virus. The deputy prime minister called it “entirely unnecessary”
    • And finally, some heartwarming news. People across the UK joined a massive round of applause (from their balconies and windows) to thank health workers for their hard work

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