Coronavirus pandemic: Worldwide death toll surges past 5,000

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The worldwide death toll from the coronavirus pandemic surged past 5,000 on Saturday with the total infected cases also rising to more than 140,000, as the infection continues to spread prompting different countries to take unprecedented measures to help stave off a global health crisis.

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) latest report showed 4,955 total fatalities as of 09:00 GMT on Friday, while Italy reported an additional 250 new deaths as of 17:08 GMT on the same day, and Iran announced 85 new deaths also on Friday.

Citing other sources aside from the WHO, the Johns Hopkins University data showed close to 5,400 deaths as of 23:33 GMT on Friday.


On Friday, US President Donald declared a national emergency over the coronavirus pandemic, opening the door to providing what he said was about $50bn in federal aid to fight the disease.

The WHO has warned that Europe has now become the “epicentre” of the pandemic, also known as COVID-19.

The virus has also spread to several countries on the African continent, with Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, Guinea, Mauritania and Eswatini (formerly known as Swaziland) all confirming their first cases on Friday and Saturday.

Some countries around the world have now taken the extraordinary step of closing its borders with neighbouring countries, or ordering everyone entering the country to self-quarantine.

Here are the latest updates:

Saturday, March 15

04:03 GMT Saturday – Colombia shuts border with Venezuela

Colombian President Ivan Duque Marquez has ordered the border with Venezuela closed as part of  the country’s coronavirus containment measure.

As of Friday, there were nine coronavirus cases in Colombia, with no reporting from Venezuela.

04:03 GMT Saturday – US military to halt domestic travel amid coronavirus

The US military has announced that it will halt all domestic travel, with some exceptions, for service members, Defense Department civilians and their families amid the fast-spreading coronavirus.

The memo, signed by Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist, said the policy would go into effect on Monday through May 11, according the Reuters news agency.

It added that exceptions could be granted for mission essential travel, travel necessary for humanitarian reasons, and travel warranted due to extreme hardship.

03:59 GMT Saturday – Czech govt closing most shops, restaurants

The Czech government will shut most shops and restaurants from 6 am local time on Saturday as part of measures to contain the spread of the new coronavirus, it said in an overnight statement.

Exceptions on the shop ban will include food stores, pharmacies and gas stations.

03:05 GMT Saturday – Cambodia bans entries of foreigners from five countries

Cambodia has announced an entry ban of foreigners from Italy, Germany, Spain, France and the US for 30 days, the Khmer Times reported on Saturday.

The ban will take effort on Tuesday, March 17. There are an estimated seven cases reported in Cambodia.


The deadly coronavirus pandemic will cost world tourism at least $22bn, according to the head of the World Travel and Tourism Council [Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP]

02:25 GMT Saturday – China coronavirus death toll hits 3,189

Mainland China had 11 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections on March 13, the country’s National Health Commission said on Saturday, up from eight cases a day earlier.

That brings the total number of confirmed cases in mainland China so far to 80,824.

The death toll from the outbreak in mainland China had reached 3,189 as of the end of Friday, up by 13 from the previous day.

All of the latest deaths were in the central province of Hubei, the epicentre of the outbreak, and 10 of them were in Hubei’s provincial capital of Wuhan.

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the total number of confirmed cases in mainland China so far to 80,824 [Ng Han Guan/AP]

02:13 GMT Saturday – Philippines reports sixth coronavirus death

The Philippine Department of Health announced on Saturday the death of another coronavirus patient – the first one reported from the southern island of Mindanao.

The health department statement said that the 54-year-old patient resident of Metro Manila died on Friday night at the Northern Mindanao Medical Center in the city of Cagayan de Oro.

The Philippines has at least 64 confirmed coronavirus cases. President Rodrigo Duterte has imposed a lockdown of the capital Metro Manila beginning of Sunday.

Coronavirus - Philippines

Village emergency response teams in Metro Manila undergo training on Friday in using protective suits when responding to potential cases of coronavirus [Rolex dela Pena/EPA]

01:15 GMT Saturday – Mexican coronavirus tally increases to 26

Mexico has registered a rise in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases to 26 from 15 a day earlier, Reuters news agency reported on Saturday quoting the Mexican health ministry.

There have been reports that Mexico is considering measures at its northern border to slow the spread of the coronavirus from the United States.

Earlier, Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell was quoted as saying that the contagion from the United States was a threat.

23:47 GMT Friday – Mauritania confirms first coronavirus case

Mauritania’s health ministry confirmed the first case of coronavirus in the West African country in a statement on Friday, according to Reuters news agency.

23:10 GMT Friday – UK plans to ban mass gatherings next week

The United Kingdom is planning to introduce emergency laws next week to ban mass gatherings in an attempt to curb the coronavirus outbreak, Reuters news agency reported citing Sky News late on Friday.

“We have drafted emergency legislation to give the government the powers it needs to deal with coronavirus, including powers to stop mass gatherings and compensate organisations,” Sky News quoted the source as saying, according to the report.

You can read all the updates from yesterday (March 13) here.

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