Key developments in the global coronavirus outbreak today include:
Global death toll nears 8,000
The number of deaths from coronavirus around the world has risen to 7,948, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker. The site says there are now 198,006 recorded cases worldwide with 81,950 of them having recovered. Infections, meanwhile, are nearing 200,000.
Travellers scramble to reach home
People around the world have begun racing to find a way to their home countries after nations began closing their borders, airlines cut flights and governments urged their citizens to return home. On Tuesday, Australia warned that overseas travel was becoming “more complex and difficult” and joined Canda, New Zealand, Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates in calling back its citizens.
WHO calls for aggressive action in south-east Asia
The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that some countries in south-east Asia are heading towards community transmission of Covid-19 and called for “aggressive” action to stop the spread. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO’s regional director, said the response in the region needed to be “scaled up”. Hours later, Thailand recorded a jump in cases of nearly 20% to 212.
US death toll passes 100
The US death toll passed 100 as coronavirus reached every state. California governor Gavin Newsom warned that most schools in the state will likely remain closed for the rest of the school year – until the end of August – because of coronavirus.
Treatment hope in Japan
Shares in the Japanese firm Fujifilm have shot up after medical authorities said a drug developed to treat new strains of influenza appeared to be effective in coronavirus patients. Fujifilm, best known for its photographic products, also makes favipiravir which had produced encouraging outcomes in clinical trials in Wuhan and Shenzhen involving 340 patients, according to Zhang Xinmin, an official at China’s science and technology ministry.
More trouble ahead for financial markets
Financial markets are set for another volatile day as the selling frenzy of the past two weeks continued in Asia Pacific on Wednesday where Australia’s main index lost 6.4%. More significantly, US futures trading suggest renewed losses on Wall Street when markets open in New York later. The S&P500 is set to lose more than 5% while the FTSE100 in London is on track to dip 3.7%. This is despite a mini rally on Wall Street on Tuesday and UK chancellor Rishi Sunak’s unveiling of a £350m package to do “whatever it takes” to shore up businesses.
Non residents banned from Taiwan
Authorities have said non-residents will be banned from entering the country from midnight. The restrictions exclude diplomats and holders of alien resident certificates.
Canadian emergency spreads
Two Canadian provinces have called a state of emergency, including the country’s most populous province, Ontario. It came as British Columbia announced another 83 confirmed cases on Tuesday, bringing the province’s total confirmed Covid-19 infections to 186. Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, is expected to unveil a multibillion-dollar stimulus package on Wednesday.
Australians told to stop travelling
Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, has stepped up the country’s response to the coronavirus crisis by announcing sweeping new measures to try to slow the spread of coronavirus, including a ban on indoor gatherings of more than 100 people, a global do-not-travel order, and strict new rules for visiting aged care homes. Amid continued evidence of panic-buying at supermarkets, he pleaded with people to stop hoarding, calling it “un-Australian”. Thousands of Australians have been left stranded overseas, as airlines cancel flights, and countries across the globe shut their borders entirely in an effort to contain the spread of Covid-19.
Kylie Moore-Gilbert not among prisoners released in Iran
British-Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert has not been reported among the 85,000 prisoners temporarily released from Iranian jails out of fear coronavirus could sweep through the country’s overcrowded prisons.