Daily COVID-19 pandemic roundup: March 15

(Update: adds information from Russia, Ukraine, the Middle East and Italy)

Miami Desk, Mar 15 (efe-epa).- Here’s a roundup of stories around the world related to the novel coronavirus pandemic:

WHO: The World Health Organization on Sunday registered 10,982 new cases of coronavirus worldwide, bringing the total number of cases since the outbreak began in December to 153,517. Of the new cases, just 27 occurred in China, a marked lessening of the reported rate of infection there. A total of 5,535 people have died from the virus, an increase of 343 in the last 24 hours.

RUSSIA: Moscow will close its land border with Poland and Norway on Monday to prevent the entry of people infected with the coronavirus from those nations, according to an order signed Sunday by Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin. Russia currently has reported 63 cases of the virus and on Monday will restrict air travel with all European Union countries, Switzerland and Norway, although certain charter flights will be exempted. Aeroflot announced it will suspend service to 16 cities in Europe and with Uzbekistan, and will cut rail links with Latvia, Ukraine and Moldova.

UKRAINE: Starting Monday and lasting until April 3, Ukraine will ban entry of all foreigners and on Tuesday will suspend international air traffic.

ITALY: The Covid-19 death toll in Italy climbed to 1,809 on Sunday, an increase of 368 in the last 24 hours, according to Civil Protection chief Angelo Borrelli. The number of infected people rose to 20,603, 2,853 more than on Saturday, and 2,335 people have been listed as “recovered” from the virus, an increase of 369 since the last daily bulletin.

MOROCCO: King Mohammed VI announced the creation of a special 1 million euro fund to alleviate the effects of the economic crisis the coronavirus will cause on “vulnerable” sectors, mainly tourism, in the North African country. There are 28 diagnosed cases of the disease in Morocco, and Europe – which has been hard-hit by the virus – is one of the main tourist-sending locations to Morocco.

QATAR: The Qatari government announced it will invest $20 billion to help the private sector cope with the impact of the coronavirus as one of a series of actions to address the issue, including the exemption from customs taxes on medical products and food for six months. Qatar also banned flights to Doha for 14 days as of Wednesday, except for the transit and the airlifts carrying Qataris who want to return. Public transport also will be suspended starting Sunday night, and people over 55, pregnant women and those with chronic diseases will be allowed to work from home, if possible.

LEBANON: Lebanon announced a “health emergency,” including a package of measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19, which has infected 99 people and killed at least three, according to the World Health Organization. Information Minister Manal Abdel Samad announced the closure of all airports and border crossing points until March 29, although UN mission personnel, diplomats and cargo planes will be exempt from the ban.

OMAN: Oman also closed its borders to all foreigners except citizens of Persian Gulf states. Twenty-two Covid-19 cases have been reported in Oman and all Friday Muslim prayers and gatherings for weddings and funerals have been banned starting March 17.


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