Daily COVID-19 pandemic roundup: March 18

(Update: adds information from US, the Americas, the Caribbean, The Netherlands)

Miami Desk, Mar 18 (efe-epa).- Here’s a roundup of stories around the world related to the novel coronavirus pandemic:

US: Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida is the first member of Congress to test positive for coronavirus, his office said, noting that he began having flu-like symptoms last Saturday, had a test performed and received the results on Wednesday. Although Diaz-Balart said in a statement that he was “feeling much better,” he urged the public to take the virus “extremely seriously.” So far, at least 14 US lawmakers are self-isolating themselves after coming into contact with infected individuals.

US: The big US theater chains, the most important market for the film industry, simultaneously announced on Wednesday that they will close all their theaters all over the country after the White House recommended that Americans avoid gathering in groups larger than 10. The decision was made by AMC or Regal, as well as by Alamo, Cinemark, Cineplex and Landmark.

US: Two people working at the New York Stock Exchange tested positive for the coronavirus, the exchange said in a statement Wednesday. The NYSE employee and a trading floor member were last in the building housing the exchange on March 13 and the NYSE announced shortly thereafter that it will move to full electronic trading on Monday, March 23 but that trading and regulatory oversight of all NYSE-listed securities “will continue without interruption” and operate under normal trading hours.

US: The two main US auto-makers – General Motors and Ford – temporarily suspended their production in North America due to the plunge in the demand for vehicles amid the Covid-19 crisis. The firms said that their plants will cese production of vehicles and parts in the coming hours and will remain closed at least until March 30. It is predicted that Fiat Chrysler, the third-largest US auto manufacturer, will announce a similar move.

HISPANIC ENTERTAINERS/MEDIA: A number of Latino celebrities and other well-known people have been affected by the coronavirus. The list includes: Colombian actress Danna Garcia; Ozuna, who is self-isolating because she has flu-like symptoms; US Spanish-language television anchors Jorge Ramos and Enrique Acevedo, who had direct or indirect contact with someone who tested positive for the virus and are self-isolating but experiencing no symptoms; as well as Telemundo personalities Adamari Lopez, Stephanie Himonidis (Chiquibaby) and journalist Rodner Figueroa, all of whom are self-isolating after potential contact with ill people. Argentina entertainer Lola Ponce is in quarantine in Mexico after returning from a visit to Italy.

MEXICO: Forty of the confirmed 93 coronavirus cases originated in Spain, Mexico City airport health authorities reported on Wednesday, noting that the country has not restricted the arrival of foreign flights. Twenty-four cases arrived from the US, 9 from Italy, 5 from Germany, 3 from France and 1 from Singapore. The other 11 confirmed cases originated in Mexico.

PERU: Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra announced that starting Wednesday evening a nationwide curfew will be in effect from 8 pm until 5 am, and starting at 5 am on Thursday people will be prohibited from driving private vehicles around the country in an attempt to limit the spread of the virus.

PERU: Peruvian indigenous leader Aurelio Chino has tested positive for coronavirus after traveling to The Netherlands to present a complaint against Pluspetrol for alleged tax evasion and pollution, a Web site furthering Peruvian Amazon Indians’ rights and concerns reported.

CHILE: The Santiago Stock Exchange plunged 12.09 percent on Wednesday to 2,876, it’s lowest level in 10 years, due largely to the crash in shares of Latam airline, which fell 44.01 percent during the trading session. Meanwhile, President Sebastian Piñera proclaimed a national emergency to limit the spread of the virus, which has infected at least 238 people at latest count.

FRENCH CARIBBEAN: Confirmed coronavirus cases have risen over the past week from 1 to 33 in the French overseas department of Guadeloupe, while in Martinique the number of cases rose from 10 to 19, one of whom has died, according to the Regional Health Agency. Health authorities in Guadeloupe warned that the number of cases is expected to rise “exponentially.”

JAMAICA/BERMUDA: Jamaica registered its first death from the coronavirus, a 79-year-old man with pre-existing health complications, while Bermuda announced its first two positive cases. Jamaica has a total of 14 remaining positive cases but the health ministry said they are progressing well.

THE NETHERLANDS: Dutch Minister for Medical Care Bruno Bruins collapsed during a parliamentary debate on Wednesday regarding measures being taken to limit the spread of the coronavirus, while he was listening to demands by ultrarightist lawmakers to put the country on full lockdown. Later, Bruins said on Twitter that he had simply been suffering from exhaustion and would be back at work on Thursday after a good night’s rest.


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