Merkel says 70 percent of Germans could get coronavirus | News


Leaders from the European Union are promising to do “whatever it takes” to tackle the coronavirus outbreak, as Italy reported its biggest single-day death toll since the disease was first detected there last month.

The 27 leaders of the EU met in a video conference after facing criticism they had been too slow to deal with the outbreak, which first emerged in China at the end of last year.


Elsewhere, the virus continued to spread in the United States and appeared in new countries including Bolivia and Turkey, while Indonesia recorded its first death.

Globally, more than 4,000 people have died from the coronavirus and in excess of 113,000 cases have been confirmed, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). About 64,000 people have recovered from the illness around the world according to John Hopkins University.

This is Mersiha Gadzo in Doha taking over from my colleague Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur.

Here are the latest updates:

Wednesday, March 11

12:50 GMT – Coronavirus is curbing carbon emissions

COVID-19 is slowing economies and emissions, and experts say greener criteria could help avert future outbreaks.

Read more here.

12:30 GMT – Virus to drag Cathay Pacific into losses for first half of 2020

Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways said it expects to report a substantial loss in the first half of this year and slash more capacity as the coronavirus outbreak erodes travel demand, after posting a drop in 2019 earnings.

Read more here.

12:21 GMT – Traders bet US Federal Reserve will cut rates

Futures traders are betting the Federal Reserve will slash US interest rates in the coming months to blunt damage to the world’s largest economy.

The bet comes as governments and companies around the world are moving to control the spread of the new coronavirus by limiting travel and public gatherings.

Read more here.

11:49 GMT – Kuwait confirms three new cases

Kuwait confirmed three new cases of the coronavirus , bringing the total number to 72, according to the country’s health ministry.

Abdullah al-Sanad, a ministry spokesperson, said one individual recently returned from Iran, while two others came in contact with an infected person who arrived in Kuwait from Azerbaijan.

Only five of Kuwait’s 72 patients are in intensive care, four of whom are in stable condition, he said.

11:20 GMT – Merkel: Virus will infect up to 70 percent of Germans

German Chancellor Angela Merkel cited expert estimates that up to 70 percent of the population could be infected by the coronavirus.

Germany confirmed some 1,300 infections, with two deaths.

“You have to understand that if the virus is there, and the population has no immunity yet to this virus, there are no vaccines and no therapy so far, a high percentage – experts say 60 to 70 percent – of the population will be infected,” Merkel said at a news conference in Berlin.

She said the priority is to slow the spread of the disease “so all the measures we are taking are of the greatest significance because they are giving us time – it does matter what we do, it is not in vain.”

The government recommended the cancellation of events with more than 1,000 people, among other things.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said authorities will do what is necessary to counter the coronavirus during a press conference in Berlin [Abdulhamid Hosbas/Anadolu Agency]

11:18 GMT – Madrid reports 10 new deaths

Madrid health authorities reported 10 new deaths linked to the coronavirus, with the total number of fatalities in the region reaching 31.

The region’s health department said the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus rose to 1,024 as of Wednesday, compared with 782 cases on Tuesday.

10:58 GMT – Iran’s death toll rises to 354

Iran’s death toll reached 354, a rise of 63 in the past 24 hours, a health ministry spokesman said.

Around 9,000 people were infected, Kianush Jahanpur told state TV, calling on people to avoid unnecessary trips and stay at home.

10:32 GMT – Morocco confirms 5th coronavirus case

Two more cases of the coronavirus were confirmed in Morocco, raising the total number of confirmed cases to five, the country’s health ministry announced.

The new cases come a day after the North African country reported its first fatality.

The victim was an 89-year-old woman “who was suffering from chronic diseases of the respiratory system and heart”, according to the ministry.

10:21 GMT – South Africa confirms six new cases

South Africa confirmed six new cases of coronavirus, increasing the total toll to 13, according to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases.

The new cases are a 33-year-old woman who had been in Italy; a 34-year-old man and a 33-year-old woman who had been in Germany; a 57-year-old man who had been in Austria and Italy; a 40-year-old man who had been in Portugal; and a 36-year-old man who visited Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Turkey.

“Some of these patients are already in hospital, while some, specifically those who are asymptomatic, are in self-quarantine,” the institute said in a statement.

Hong Kong - coronavirus

A newly-wed couple and their family wear protective masks as they take photos after marriage registration in Hong Kong [Tyrone Siu/Reuters]

10:06 GMT – G20 Agriculture and Water meeting postponed

A meeting of G20 Agriculture and Water ministers scheduled for March 17-19 in Saudi Arabia has been postponed until further notice, according to an email from organisers seen by Reuters.

09:54 GMT – Israel reports eight new cases, raising total to 76

Israel’s Health Ministry reported eight new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of cases to 76.

The ministry banned events of more than 2,000 people to curb the spread of the virus, according a report by The Jerusalem Post.

Israeli police also announced extra measures including special teams to ensure that people in quarantine are following all guidelines.

The police would now have access to data on civilians traveling in both directions, the report added.

10:14 GMT – Italy announces 25 billion euros to fight epidemic

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said that Italy is allocating an additional 25 billion euros ($28.3bn) to fight the coronavirus that has killed 631 people in the country.

Last week the cabinet said it would need just 7.5 billion euros, but since then the emergency has escalated dramatically.

09:48 GMT – Poland to close schools as of Monday

All Polish schools will close starting on Monday to curtail the spread of the coronavirus, Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said, adding that universities, museums and cinemas will be closed.

Poland has confirmed 26 cases of the coronavirus.

Coronavirus spreads uncertainty from Main Street to Wall Street | The Bottom Line

09:44 GMT – Bundesliga matches to be played without spectators

More of Germany’s top division Bundesliga matches will be held behind closed doors this weekend including Union Berlin against leaders Bayern Munich on Saturday, and Eintracht Frankfurt versus Borussia Moenchengladbach on Sunday, local authorities confirmed.

Several matches are already confirmed without fans including the Ruhr derby between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke on Saturday.

Frankfurt’s Europa League last-16 match against Basel will meanwhile go ahead as planned with spectators.

09:35 GMT – Kiev shuts schools, mass events

Ukraine’s capital Kiev will close schools and universities from Thursday until the end of March to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, city mayor Vitali Klitschko said.

He said the city would also restrict mass events in the capital, including concerts and conferences.

Cinemas and entertainment areas in shopping malls will also close.

Ukraine has so far reported one coronavirus case.

09:30 GMT – Tokyo 2020 Olympics chief: not considering changing plans

Tokyo 2020 Olympics chief Yoshiro Mori said his team was not considering changing plans for the games and that the board member who had suggested a delay because of the coronavirus had apologised.

Earlier, a member of the organising committee’s executive board told Reuters that a delay of one or two years would be the “most feasible” option if the Olympics could not be held this summer.

“It is our basic stance that we press ahead with preparation for a safe and secure Olympics,” Mori told reporters.

“Therefore we are not at all thinking about changing courses or plans.”

09:30 GMT – Global business travel could suffer $820bn, industry body says

The global business travel sector is expected to take a revenue hit of about $820bn, with China accounting for nearly half of the losses, as corporates curb travel plans in the face of the coronavirus epidemic, an industry body said.

Business travel to Asia has been the worst hit, with at least three out of every four companies reporting they have cancelled or suspended all or most business trips to China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and other Asia-Pacific destinations, according to a survey by Global Business Travel Association (GBTA).

Read more here.

09:17 GMT – Belgium reports first death

A 90-year-old passed away in a Brussels hospital, Health Minister Maggie De Block said in comments reported by Belga news agency.

It marks Belgium’s first death from the coronavirus.

An officer uses a thermal scanner in I Gusti Ngurah Rai International airport after Indonesia confirmed new cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Denpasar, Bali

An officer uses a thermal scanner at Indonesia’s airport in Bali [Antara Foto/Fikri Yusuf/Reuters]

09:15 GMT – Austrian rail operator suspends train connections with Italy

Austrian rail operator OBB said that it is suspending all passenger train connections to and from Italy until further notice.

There are normally about 20 daily OBB trains between the two countries, and especially the Brenner Pass is an important train route between Italy, Austria and Germany.

“International freight traffic will be maintained in consultation with the authorities in order to continue to ensure the movement of goods in the interests of security of supply within Europe,” OBB said.

09:14 GMT – Lagarde tells EU chiefs ECB looking at all tools

European Central Bank (ECB) President Christine Lagarde told European Union (EU) leaders that ECB policy makers would look at all policy tools at their meeting this week, particularly ones to provide “super-cheap” funding, Bloomberg News reported.

In the conference call late on Tuesday, the agency cited a person familiar with her comments as saying, Lagarde warned EU leaders that without coordinated action on the coronavirus outbreak Europe would see a scenario that would remind it of the 2008 financial crisis.

Lagarde also said that monetary policy measures can only work if governments throw their weight behind them too, according to the report.

09:00 GMT – Beijing orders quarantine for all international arrivals

All international arrivals in Beijing must undergo two weeks of quarantine, a city official said, as China tries to limit imported cases of the coronavirus.

Beijing had already required quarantine for people arriving from severely hit countries including South Korea, Iran, Italy and Japan but Zhang Qiang, a city government official, said at a press conference that those landing from any nation would now face 14-day isolation.

08:37 GMT – Thailand cancels all visas on arrival

Thailand will stop issuing visas on arrival for visitors from all countries that were previously eligible for them
and will also cancel visa exemptions for visitors from South Korea, Italy and Hong Kong.

Coronavirus: Pressure builds on UK government to step up measures

08:07 GMT – Iraq cancels Friday prayers in Karbala

Iraq cancelled Friday prayers in the Shia holy city of Karbala, according to a statement from local officials.

08:05 GMT – Bahrain reports 77 new cases

Bahrain’s health mninistry reported 77 new cases of coronavirus among citizens evacuated from Iran, raising the total to 189, 30 of whom have recovered.

07:52 GMT – Bank of England slashes key interest rate to 0.25 percent

The Bank of England (BoE) unexpectedly cut interest rates by half a percentage point to 0.25 percent as an emergency measure.

The central bank said in a statement the move would “help support businesses and consumer confidence at a difficult time”.

“Although the magnitude of the economic shock from Covid-19 is highly uncertain, activity is likely to weaken materially in the United Kingdom over the coming months,” the BoE said.

Read more here.

07:25 GMT – UK boosting funds to fight virus in Johnson’s first budget

The UK’s new finance minister Rishi Sunak will pledge billions of pounds to fight the effects of coronavirus on Wednesday, and the Bank of England might add its firepower to the attempt to stave off the risk of a new recession.

Sunak, in the job for less than a month, will deliver the first budget of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government against a backdrop of slumping stock markets and a rush by global policymakers to pump more stimulus into their economies.

Read more here.

UK coronavirus

A man wearing a protective face mask walks through Trafalgar Square in London [Henry Nicholls/Reuters]

07:14 GMT – India cancels visas for travellers from Germany, France, Spain

India has cancelled all visas granted to nationals from Germany, France and Spain issued on and before Thursday and asked Indian citizens to avoid travelling to these countries.

The new advisory comes as the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus raised to 50 in India.

The visas of all foreign nationals who have travelled to these three countries on February 1 or after and have not yet entered India are also cancelled, the Health Ministry advisory said.

07:00 GMT – US secretary of defence postpones visit to Pakistan, India

US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper postponed a key visit to Pakistan, India and other countries in the region, the Pentagon announced.

Secretary Esper planned to visit the region from March 16 to 20 for talks aimed at promoting the Afghan peace process. He was expected in Islamabad on March 19 for an overnight stay.

Other destinations on his trip included Uzbekistan and possibly Kabul.

06:28 GMT – Indonesia records first death

A 53-year-old woman has died from coronavirus in Indonesia, the country’s first recorded death from the virus, according to a health ministry official.

The woman, a foreign national, had underlying conditions including diabetes and hypertension, health ministry official Achmad Yurianto said, adding she had already been in critical condition when she was admitted to a hospital.

Indonesia has 26 other confirmed coronavirus patients.

06:27 GMT – Tokyo Disney parks extend closure until early April

The operator of Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea said the parks will remain closed through early April.

Oriental Land also said the openings of new zones and attractions, scheduled for April 15, will be pushed back to mid-May, as the government calls on the public to avoid unnecessary outings and crowded places.

EU promises ‘whatever it takes’ to curb coronavirus (3:05)

06:25 GMT – Vietnam’s cases rise to 35 after new infections from Europe

Weeks after Vietnam declared that all 16 of its coronavirus cases had recovered, the number of infected patients rose following the reintroduction of the virus on a flight from Britain.

Vietnam’s health ministry reported a total of 35 coronavirus cases, more than double the original 16.

Thirteen passengers who were on a Vietnam Airlines flight from London to Hanoi on March 2 tested positive for the virus, most of them British or Vietnamese people who had travelled to other parts of Europe, including Italy, the ministry said.

06:20 GMT – Turkey reports first case of coronavirus

Turkey’s Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said the case was a male patient who had returned from Europe, but did not provide more details, citing the patient’s right to privacy.

Koca said the patient was quarantined and his family members and other people who had come into contact with him had been isolated.

“An early diagnosis was made. If there is an infection in the country, it is very limited,” Anadolu Agency quoted him as saying.

Read more here.

06:15 GMT – Shares fall as US coronavirus measures disappoint

Asian shares and Wall Street futures fell as growing scepticism about the US’ stimulus package to fight the coronavirus outbreak knocked the steam out of an earlier rally.

Read more here.

06:00 GMT

I’m handing over this blog shortly to my colleague Mersiha in Doha. A quick summary of this morning’s developments:

Japan has recorded its biggest single-day increase in cases, while Panama recorded the first death in Central America.

In the US, the national guard has been sent to help in containment in the town of New Rochelle in New York state, while in the UK, Nadine Dorries, a junior health minister has been diagnosed with the virus.

Countries are stepping up measures to curb social interaction with big events including the Coachella festival in California postponed or cancelled. They’re also setting aside big sums to support health and the economy – Australia’s package is worth $1.6bn.

In China meanwhile, the outbreak continues to slow. A day after the visit of President Xi Jinping to Wuhan, the province said it would allow some companies to resume work. A travel ban will remain in force.

05:40 GMT – China’s Hubei easing some restrictions but travel ban remains

Officials in China’s central province of Hubei say some companies will be able to resume operations, in a slight loosening of the restrictions that were imposed on the province at the epicentre of the outbreak nearly two months ago.

Businesses providing daily necessities can get back to work immediately, while those that are key links in national or global supply chains can open with the permission of the relevant authorities.

A ban preventing anyone from leaving the province remains in force. 

04:30 GMT – Taiwan evacuees arrive back from Wuhan

Two planes carrying 361 Taiwanese from Wuhan have arrived back on the island after weeks of negotiations between Taipei and Beijing, which claims democratically-ruled Taiwan as its own. 

The passengers were all given health checks and sent for a 14-day quarantine.

One flight brought Taiwanese back to the island in early February before disputes delayed the others.

Taiwan’s Health Minister, Chen Shih-chung, said both sides had been “extremely concerned” with making the flights happen.

03:30 GMT – Washington state to ban crowds of 250 or more – Associated Press

Associated Press is reporting that Jay Inslee, the governor of Washington state, plans to ban gatherings and events of more than 250 people in the Seattle area.

Inslee is expected to hold a press conference on Wednesday morning.

03:05 GMT – Chinese city reverses relaxation policy, to continue transport ban

Qianjiang in China’s Hubei province said on Wednesday it will continue with strict transportation bans, revoking a policy of relaxation announced the previous day.

The city said in an announcement on WeChat that it would “continue to implement strict traffic and personnel control … to win the epidemic.”

Qianjiang had said on Tuesday that all traffic checkpoints would be removed, public transportation would operate again and firms would be able to resume work in the near future, according to a report on an official website.

02:05 GMT – Arsenal and Manchester City match called off over virus

Wednesday’s planned match between Arsenal and Manchester City has become the first in the Premier League to be called off because of the coronavirus.

The League said the decision was made as a “precautionary measure” after Evangelos Marinakis, the owner of Greek side Olympiakos, tested positive for the virus.

Olympiakos played Arsenal 13 days ago and Marinakis met several members of the Arsenal squad and staff. The players are now in self-isolation.

02:00 GMT – South Korea reports 242 new cases

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released its latest update, reporting 242 new coronavirus cases.

The total number of cases in the country now stands at 7,755.

01:55 GMT – Panama records first coronavirus death in Central America

Panama’s health minister on Tuesday confirmed eight cases of the coronavirus in the country, including one death, the first virus-linked fatality in Central America.

“Of the eight patients we are reporting, one person is in intensive care, another unfortunately died,” Minister Rosario Turner said during a press conference in Panama City.

Panama coronavirus

Panama’s Health Minister Rosario Turner reports the country’s first death from the coronavirus at a media conference in Panama City [Erick Marciscano/Reuters]

The government said it would ban all mass gatherings including sporting events and concerts. State and private schools in affected areas will also be closed until April 7. 

01:50 GMT – Australia unveils $1.6bn health package to tackle virus

Australia has unveiled a 2.4 billion Australian dollars ($1.56bn) health package on Wednesday that proposes setting up fever clinics and offering cost-free facilities for people with mild symptoms to consult doctors over video calls.

“This package is about preventing and treating coronavirus in the coming weeks,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters in Canberra.

01:35 GMT – China cases rise as coronavirus comes in from overseas

Latest figures from China showed a slight increase in daily cases, as people were found to have the virus after returning from overseas.

The National Health Commission on Wednesday morning reported 24 new cases, compared with 19 the day before. There were 22 more deaths.

Ten of the new cases were imported and six were in Beijing in people who had travelled to the Chiense capital from Italy and the US.

All the deaths were in Hubei.

00:10 GMT – Bolivia reports first two cases of coronavirus

Bolivia’s Health Minister Anibal Cruz has announced the South American country’s first two cases of coronavirus.

00:05 GMT – Coachella music festival postponed until October over coronavirus

California’s Coachella music festival – one of the world’s biggest – has been postponed until October because of concerns over the coronavirus, organiser Goldenvoice said on Tuesday.

The festival usually brings half a million people to an open-air site east of Los Angeles was due to take place in April with a lineup including Rage Against the Machine, Frank Ocean and Travis Scott.

Coronavirus coachella

The US music festival Coachella attracts huge crowds. This year’s event has now been postponed until October as a result of the coronavirus [Etienne Laurent/EPA]

At the direction of local authorities, “we must sadly confirm the rescheduling of Coachella,” Goldenvoice said in a statement.

“While this decision comes at a time of universal uncertainty, we take the safety and health of our guests, staff and community very seriously,” it said.

00:00 GMT – Japan reports biggest single-day rise in cases: NHK

Japan confirmed 59 new cases of coronavirus infection on Tuesday, the biggest one-day rise since the start of the outbreak, public broadcaster NHK reported.

NHK says the total number of cases has risen to 1,278, including 696 from the Diamond Princess cruise ship and 14 returnees on charter flights from China.

One new infection was reported early on Wednesday, in the western prefecture of Hyogo.

There have been 19 deaths from the virus, including seven from the cruise ship.

23:30 GMT – UK junior health minister diagnosed with coronavirus

Nadine Dorries, a junior health minister in the UK government, has been diagnosed with the coronavirus and is in isolation.

The 62-year-old is now recovering but says she is worried for the health of her 84-year-old mother.

Dorries met hundreds of people in parliament over the past week and attended a reception with Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

I’m Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur.

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus.

Click here to read all the latest updates from yesterday (March 10).

Tokyo 2020 Olympics chief: not considering changing plans for games

TOKYO, March 11 (Reuters) – Tokyo 2020 Olympics chief Yoshiro Mori said on Wednesday his team was not considering changing plans for the games and that the board member who had suggested a delay because of the coronavirus had apologised.
Earlier, a member of the organising committee’s executive board told Reuters that a delay of one or two years would be the “most feasible” option if the Olympics could not be held this summer.
“It is our basic stance that we press ahead with preparation for a safe and secure Olympics,” Mori told reporters. “Therefore we are not at all thinking about changing courses or plans.”

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