Coronavirus: Latest from around the world - Sunday, March 29

As of Sunday morning (NZ time), the SARS-CoV-2 virus - which causes COVID-19 - had infected a confirmed 622,450 people and killed at least 28,794.

New Zealand presently has at least 451 cases, but no deaths.

Here's what happened around the world overnight.

Europe

Italy

Italy, one of the hardest-hit countries, reported 5974 new confirmed cases and 889 deaths, sending its death toll to 10,023.It has now had 92,472 confirmed cases, second only to the US.

Spain

Spain's coronavirus death toll rose by 832 cases overnight to 5690, the health ministry said on Saturday, marking a new high in the daily rise in fatalities.

The total number of those infected rose to 72,248 from 64,059 on Friday.

Health emergency chief Fernando Simon said the epidemic appeared to be reaching its peak in some areas, but the nation was short of intensive care unit beds.

Germany

The number of confirmed cases in Germany has risen to 48,582 and 325 people have died of the disease.

Germans have been largely compliant with rules to prevent the coronavirus spread, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday, as her chief of staff said the shutdown would not be eased before April 20.

The Netherlands

The Netherlands reported 93 deaths from the new coronavirus to take its total to 639 while another 1159 cases of the virus were confirmed, both smaller rises than a day earlier.

The country has confirmed a total of 9762 cases of the virus.

France

French health authorities reported 299 new deaths from coronavirus on Thursday, taking the total to 1995.

United Kingdom

Britain is building new field hospitals in cities across the country, including London and Manchester, to bolster the response from its state-run National Health Service (NHS) ahead of an expected peak of coronavirus cases in the coming weeks.

Government figures showed 1019 people had died as of 1700 GMT on Friday (March 28), while the number of confirmed cases stood at 17,089 on Saturday morning, up 17.5 percent on a day earlier.

The country is largely on lockdown, with Britons urged to stay home. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and health minister Matt Hancock are among those who have tested positive.

Switzerland

The death toll in Switzerland from coronavirus had climbed to 235 while total cases stand at 13,213, the health ministry said on Saturday, though officials said their worst fears have so far not materialised.

The fatalities were up from 197 on Friday, with the number of confirmed infections increasing from 12,161.

Red Cross staff in protective suits during the nationwide lockdown to control the coronavirus spread on March 28, 2020 in Turin, Italy 1120
Red Cross staff in protective suits during the nationwide lockdown to control the coronavirus spread on March 28, 2020 in Turin, Italy. Photo credit: Getty

Americas

United States

The sum of known coronavirus US cases soared well past 100,000, with more than 1600 dead, as weary doctors and nurses protested at shortages of scarce medical supplies that some have to keep under lock and key or even buy on the black market.

The United States has had the most recorded coronavirus cases of any country since its count of infections eclipsed those of China and Italy on Thursday.

With at least 1638 lives lost as of Saturday morning, the United States ranked sixth in national death tolls from the pandemic.

Asia

Indonesia

Indonesia's capital Jakarta has announced a two-week extension of its state of emergency following a surge in coronavirus cases across the country, its governor says.

Anies Baswedan told reporters the state of emergency, imposed on March 20, would be extended until April 19.

"We're preparing ways to anticipate all possibilities that could happen in the city," Baswedan said. "We implore people of Jakarta to not leave Jakarta, especially for their home towns."

Indonesia's chief security minister Mahfud MD said on Friday that the government was considering a plan to ban "mudik" - the tradition in which millions of Indonesians leave towns and cities for their native villages at the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan in May.

Indonesia confirmed 109 new coronavirus infections on Saturday, taking the total cases in the country to 1155, a health ministry official said. Achmad Yurianto, the ministry official, confirmed 15 additional deaths, bringing the total to 102.

According to government data, a total of 627 cases have been recorded in Jakarta and 62 people have died.

India

India says it is planning to turn some railway coaches into isolation wards for patients with coronavirus as authorities scramble to prepare the country's health infrastructure for an expected surge in cases. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked the country's 1.3 billion people this week to stay indoors for three weeks in the world's biggest lockdown, seeking to curb the spread of the illness. 

India's network of trains, the country's lifeblood, has been idled. One train coach has been turned into a prototype quarantine facility, state-owned Indian Railways said in a statement on Saturday. Once they get clearance, the plan is for each of India's railway zones to convert 10 coaches into such wards every week, the company added. 

"Railways will offer clean, sanitised & hygienic surroundings for the patients to comfortably recover," tweeted railways minister Piyush Goyal. He did not specify how many people could be cared for in each coach. 

India has so far reported 873 confirmed cases, including 19 deaths.

Philippines

The Philippine health ministry on Saturday reported 14 new coronavirus deaths and 272 additional cases, marking the country's single largest daily increase in fatalities and infections.

The latest information brought total infections in the Philippines to 1,075 and deaths to 68, the health ministry said, adding that four patients have recovered, bringing the total to 35.

Vietnam

Vietnam's health ministry reported an additional 11 coronavirus cases on Saturday, bringing the total number in the Southeast Asian country to 174.

Vietnam had said in mid-February that all its then-16 confirmed coronavirus cases had recovered, but it has since been battling an influx of imported cases from overseas citizens and Vietnamese citizens escaping outbreaks elsewhere.

Japan

Tokyo 2020 Olympics organising committee President Yoshiro Mori has told international federations that deciding who foots the bill for postponing the Games to 2021 will be a "major challenge".

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Japanese organisers this week postponed the July 24-August 9 event due to the coronavirus pandemic - the first such delay in the modern Games' 124-year history.

Japan invested US$12 billion in the run-up to the Games and IOC President Thomas Bach had warned that the price tag will rise further.

"The extra cost that will arise from this postponement is inevitable," Mori wrote in a letter addressed to the 33 international federations of sports that make up the Tokyo Games programme.

"Deciding who will bear these costs and how it will be done will be a major challenge."

Infections in Japan have climbed to more than 1400, with 47 deaths, excluding those from a cruise ship quarantined last month. Hit early by the coronavirus in its initial spread from China, Japan had seen a more gradual rise than the recent surge in much of Europe and the United States.

Singapore 

Singapore reported 70 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, the health ministry said, taking the city-state's total infections to 802.

stay home
The message to Kiwis is clear. Photo credit: Getty

Middle East and Africa

South Africa

Troops patrolled the streets of Alexandra township in South Africa on Friday as authorities struggled to get residents to stick to the stringent measures put in place to stop the spread of the new coronavirus.

As residents queued up to do their shopping, police officers struggled to get the crowds to commit to the safe social distancing requirements.

Soldiers on Friday were seen patrolling the streets of the township asking people to stay indoors - requests that some failed to adhere to.

There is real fear the virus could hit hard in the overcrowded township if its residents don't comply with the lockdown and stay well away from each other.

As of Saturday, South Africa had reported 1170 cases of the coronavirus, the highest number of any African country.

Turkey

Turkey halted all intercity trains and limited domestic flights on Saturday, as the number of coronavirus cases jumped by a third in a day to 5698, with 92 dead.

Iraq

Iraqi doctors say the country may be singularly unprepared for the coronavirus, with the number of cases at 450 and deaths at 40.

Iran

Iran's death toll from the coronavirus outbreak rose to 2517 on Saturday (March 28), with 139 fatalities in the past 24 hours, according to Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour.

The total number of cases diagnosed rose by 3076 to 35,408, he said on state TV, adding that 3,206 were in a critical condition.

President Hassan Rouhani earlier reassured the public that the country, one of the most affected by the pandemic, has a strong healthcare system able to cope should there be a rapid progression of the disease.

Officials have complained that many Iranians ignored appeals to stay at home and cancel travel plans for the Persian New Year holidays that began on March 20.

Palestine

Palestinian groups in Gaza canceled mass rallies planned for next week along the border with Israel amid concerns about the spread of coronavirus in the densely-populated territory, organisers said on Saturday (March 28).

The rallies were called for March 30 to mark the second anniversary of the so-called 'Great March of Return' which had prompted weekly protests by Palestinians seeking to regain access to land, now in Israel, from which their ancestors were forced to flee during the country's creation in 1948.

"We call upon our people not to go to the Return encampments on March 30 and to stay home in order to maintain the safety of our people in the face of this lethal pandemic," said Khaled al-Batsh, a senior member of the Islamic Jihad militant group.

Instead, Batsh called upon Gazans to mark the day by raising Palestinian flags on their rooftops and burning Israeli ones.

According to Gaza medical officials, 215 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers firing from the other side of the border during the protests, with another 8000 suffering gunshot wounds. In the past few months, the weekly protests have been smaller.

So far, nine out of the 97 coronavirus cases confirmed in the Palestinian territories have been confirmed in the Gaza Strip.

Gaza's hospitals, which were overwhelmed during the protests by gunshot wounds and amputations, are now gearing up for the challenge of containing the coronavirus in the coastal enclave of 2 million Palestinians, many living in refugee camps.

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