Daily COVID-19 pandemic roundup: March 19

(Update: adds information from Panama, Caribbean, North America, Spain)

Miami Desk, Mar 19 (efe-epa).- Here’s a roundup of stories around the world related to the coronavirus pandemic:

PANAMA: Panama will halt all international passenger air travel starting March 22, President Laurentino Cortizo said. The Central American country, which has 109 confirmed coronavirus cases and one death from the illness, previously banned arriving flights from Europe and Asia.

CARIBBEAN: Cases of coronavirus continued to increase in the region. The most difficult situation is in the French territory of Guadalupe, where the number of confirmed infections climbed from one to 33 in the course of a week. Martinique, meanwhile, saw an increase from 10 to 15. Jamaica reports 15 confirmed infections and 32 people in isolation.

NORTH AMERICA: Toyota, Volkswagen, Subaru and Tesla announced the suspension of vehicle production in North America due to the Covid-19 emergency, following the example of General Motors and Ford. Media outlets said an employee at a Toyota plant in Cambridge, Canada, tested positive for the virus. Tesla, which earlier planned to continue production with a reduced number of staff, now plans to halt work at its factory in Fremont, California.

SPAIN: Iberia Airlines, the Spanish flag carrier, presented a plan to lay off 13,900 workers for three months amid the virtual collapse of air travel due to coronavirus. The measure will affect 90 percent of the employees involved in flight operations, ground support, maintenance and cargo services. Iberia said the layoff could be extended beyond 90 days or cut short depending on market conditions.

UNITED NATIONS: Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged governments to curb the outbreak and looming economic crisis, warning that if the disease allowed to spread especially in the most vulnerable regions “millions of people will die”.

MAURITANIA: The country, which has two cases, declared a curfew between 8pm and 6am, ordered the closure of cafes and restaurants and banned public gatherings.

FRANCE: President Emmanuel Macron announced an investment of 5 billion euros over the next 10 years in scientific research programs in addition to 50 million euros to fight the outbreak, which has seen more than 9,100 cases and 260 deaths.

UNITED KINGDOM: Queen Elizabeth II asked the British public to remain united and protest the vulnerable as the 93-year-old left London’s Buckingham Palace to move to Windsor Castle, just outside the capital, as the number of deaths in the country surpassed 130.

NETHERLANDS: Health Minister Bruno Bruins, who fainted on Wednesday from fatigue in the middle of a parliamentary debate on measures to curb the spread of the outbreak, has resigned. The government has faced growing criticism and calls to isolate the population as the number of cases reached 2,460 cases and deaths 76.

VATICAN: Pope Francis invited “every family, every member of the faithful and every religious community” to join a rosary prayer at 9pm for those affected by the pandemic.

ROMANIA: The government will modify the penal code to introduce a new crime of omission of information of personal medical histories and recent movements, which will be applied to people who conceal having coronavirus or lie about the countries and people they have visited.

THAILAND: The government recorded 60 new cases Thursday, following four consecutive days of more than 30 new infections per day after a slow growth in infections since January. The new cases bringing the total to 272, with 42 discharges and one death.

SOUTH KOREA: South Korea reported 152 new cases of coronavirus Thursday, 59 more than the day before, for a total of 8,565 infections and 91 deaths.

JAPAN: Toyota Motor announced Thursday the suspension of activity in all its production plants, including those in Canada, Mexico and the United States, citing staff safety and an anticipated drop in market demand. The company plans to resume production on March 25.

CHINA: China for the first time Wednesday did not register any new local infection, however there was a spike in “imported” cases with 34, up from 12 of the 13 new infections a day earlier being imported. Eight new deaths were registered, bringing the total to 3,245 among the 80,928 infections, while 70,420 have been discharged.

FIJI: Health Minister Ifereimi Waqainabete on Thursday confirmed the country’s first case in a person who had recently traveled overseas. Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said travel restrictions will now apply to all those who have been in the United States and Europe within 14 days of arrival in Fiji and anyone entering will serve quarantine for 14 days, while gatherings of 20 or more people are banned, and nightclubs, fitness centers and cinemas are closed. EFE

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