Coronavirus: 15 March at a glance | World news
Key developments in the global coronavirus outbreak today include:
Spain in nationwide lockdown as PM’s wife tests positive
The Spanish government has formally declared a state of emergency over the coronavirus, placing the country in lockdown and ordering people to stay at home for the next two weeks unless they have to buy food or medicine or go to work or hospital. Speaking after a seven-hour cabinet meeting, the prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, whose wife has tested positive for the virus, said “extraordinary decisions” needed to be taken as Spain grappled with a “health, social and economic crisis”.
Airlines face meltdown as global travel bans multiply
The international travel industry faces a widespread shutdown after airlines announced new flight reductions and more countries introduced travel bans and isolation requirements. Travel businesses were hit with multiple doses of bad news, with the US expanding its Europe travel ban to include the UK and Ireland, a number of South American countries bringing in flight restrictions and Australia joining New Zealand in requiring all people entering the country to self-isolate for 14 days. American Airlines, the second biggest in the world, said on Saturday that it would start implementing a phased suspension of nearly all long-haul international flights from Monday.
Australia introduces mandatory self-isolation for all arrivals
All people arriving in Australia will be required to self-isolate for 14 days and cruise ship arrivals will be banned for at least 30 days, the prime minister, Scott Morrison, announced. Morrison told reporters in Sydney that the first meeting of the national cabinet on Sunday had agreed to legislate offences for people who breach the self-isolation rule and escalated advice to others to undertake social distancing, including refusing handshakes and keeping a distance of 1.5 metres away from people. The suite of new measures comes after criticism the government has failed to give clear messages about social distancing.
Coronavirus death toll in UK doubles in 24 hours
The coronavirus death toll in the UK nearly doubled in just 24 hours, with the number of confirmed cases of the disease surging by hundreds. Ten more patients, all of whom had underlying health conditions, died after contracting the virus – bringing the total fatalities in the country so far from 11 to 21.
Trump tests negative as US expands travel ban to UK and Ireland
Donald Trump has tested negative for the coronavirus as he announced new measures to tackle the crisis, including expanding the existing US travel ban to cover the UK and Ireland. In a briefing at the White House on Saturday, the president confirmed he had taken a test for the virus after coming into contact with a Brazilian government official last week in Florida who later tested positive for the disease. The president’s physician, Sean Conley, said in a statement on Saturday evening that Trump’s test was negative.
Race is on to develop a vaccine, but don’t expect one any time soon
About 35 companies and academic institutions are racing to create a coronavirus vaccine, at least four of which already have candidates that they have been testing in animals. The first of these – produced by Boston-based biotech firm Moderna – will enter human trials in April. But even if those trials go well, there are many barriers to widespread introduction of a vaccine.
Trump’s stumbles pave way to disaster, experts say
The US is on course to be severely ravaged by the coronavirus outbreak due to a delayed and dysfunctional testing regime and misleading messaging from the Trump administration, public health experts have warned. There are more than 2,000 confirmed cases in the US, but many believe the actual number of infected Americans is certain to be far higher, with the true toll obscured by a calamitous lack of testing. In the period from last Sunday until Wednesday morning, the Centers for Disease Control tested just 77 people in the US. By stark comparison the Utah Jazz basketball team alone managed to test 58 people as the NBA, along with scores of schools, Broadway shows and various other cultural and sporting events were shut down. Even in Washington state, where 31 people have died, health officials have had to ration test kits.
Global number of confirmed cases stands at 156,400, with 5,833 deaths
As of today 73,968 people have recovered, according to Johns Hopkins University. The institution runs a live tracker of coronavirus cases, based on official figures, meaning that the true figures may be somewhat higher.