Governments around the world are scrambling to introduce measures to contain the spread of COVID-19, which is growing globally even as transmission in China where the virus originated at the end of last year continues to show signs of slowing.
There are more than 90,000 cases confirmed around the world – the overwhelming majority in China – but as deaths are reported in Italy, Iran and the United States authorities are considering new quarantine zones and travel restrictions.
In South Korea, where the president has declared “war” on COVID-19, some 516 new cases were announced on Wednesday morning, bringing the total to 5,328.
Meanwhile, Poland, Morocco, Andorra, Armenia and Argentina have all confirmed their first cases of the virus in the past 24 hours.
Timeline: How China’s new coronavirus spread
Coronavirus: Which countries have confirmed cases?
What happens if you catch the new coronavirus?
Here are the latest updates:
Wednesday, March 4
08:19 GMT – France to regulate price of antibacterial gel
France will regulate the price of antibacterial gels after prices were reported to have increased heavily since the coronavirus outbreak began in December last year, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said.
A decree regulating the price would be published during the day, Le Maire told French BFM Business radio.
A pharmacists’ union on Wednesday told franceinfo radio that the price rise was unacceptable, and called for government intervention.
08:12 GMT – Russia suspends export of masks amid concerns over coronavirus
Russia has suspended the export of surgical masks and medical gear including bandages and one-use chemical protection suits, according to a government resolution, amid fears over the the spread of the coronavirus. It added that the suspension would not affect exports being made for humanitarian reasons.
Russia has not reported any confirmed cases of people contracting coronavirus while inside the country, though six people who got infected elsewhere have received or are receiving treatment in Russia.
“It is mainly necessary to prevent a so-called ‘artificial deficit’ in certain medical items – masks, respirators, antiviral agents that speculators can export abroad,” Industry Minister Denis Manturov said.
08:02 GMT – Poland confirms first case of coronavirus
Poland has confirmed its first coronavirus infection, Poland’s Health Minister Lukasz Szumowski said.
Szumowski said the patient is in hospital in Zielona Gora, western Poland, adding that he is in good condiiton.
07:55 GMT – India confirms new cases, bringing total number of cases to 28
India’s health minister has announced that 14 out of 21 Italian nationals have tested positive for the coronavirus.
In remarks to ANI news agency, Harsh Vardhan said the total number of cases in the country now stood at 28. All flights and passengers will now be part of universal screening, he added.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan: 14 out of 21 Italian nationals have found positive for coronavirus. They have been sent to at Indo-Tibetan Border Police’s (ITBP) quarantine facility in Chhawla. pic.twitter.com/IJqP1e13tT
— ANI (@ANI) March 4, 2020
07:47 GMT – Hong Kong residents due to arrive from Wuhan in first chartered flight
The first chartered flight evacuating residents of Hong Kong from Wuhan – the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak – is scheduled to arrive in Hong Kong at 09:10 GMT.
07:04 GMT – Greece confirms eighth case of coronavirus
Greece’s health ministry has confirmed one more case, bringing the total number of people infected with coronavirus in the country to eight.
The new case in the second city of Thessaloniki involves a Greek citizen who is closely related to an earlier infected person.
06:47 GMT – Japan’s Hokkaido island reports three new cases
Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido reported three more cases of coronavirus infections, bringing the total to 82 in the prefecture.
The new cases all involve men, one in his 50s and the other two in their 60s, the prefecture said on its website.
Hokkaido accounts for the highest number of infections among Japan’s prefectures.
06:42 GMT – Ireland confirms second case of coronavirus
Irish health authorities have confirmed a second case of the coronavirus.
The patient is a woman in the east of the country who recently travelled to Italy, according to Ireland’s Department of Health.
“Today we are confirming that Ireland has diagnosed one new case of COVID-19. The case arises in a female in the east of the country and is associated with travel from Northern Italy,” Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer with the Department of Health told reporters.
This is Farah Najjar in Doha taking over from my colleague Kate Mayberry .
03:50 GMT – Air New Zealand deep-cleaning three planes after COVID-19 case
Air New Zealand is deep cleaning three of its planes after it was confirmed a woman diagnosed with the country’s first case of COVID-19 travelled on its flight from Singapore to Auckland, as well as on two regional flights.
In a statement on its website, the airline’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Ben Johnston said the airline was working with the Ministry of Health to identify and contact passengers who were on the flights.
He added that its aircraft are already subject to a thorough cleaning process, including tray tables and inflight entertainment screens, with a disinfectant that kills viruses.
“We also remove all headsets, headrest covers, pillow covers, and blankets after every international flight. Domestic and regional services surfaces and bathrooms are wiped with disinfectant spray.”
02:50 GMT – South Korea’s Moon calls off Middle East trip
South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in has called off a planned trip to the UAE, Egypt and Turkey in mid-March because of the coronavirus, according to the presidential Blue House.
“In response to the recent nationwide spread of COVID-19, we have decided not to go ahead with trips,” spokesman Kang Min-seok said in a statement.
The outbreak in South Korea is the largest outside China.
— The Office of President Moon Jae-in (@TheBlueHouseENG) March 3, 2020
02:45 GMT – Olympics will go ahead as planned
Sports events around the world have been cancelled as a result of the coronavirus, heightening speculation on the fate of the Olympics, which are due to start in Japan in a few months time.
This morning, top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga told journalists Japan was planning to hold the games as planned.
On Tuesday, Olympics Minister Seiko Hashimoto noted there could be a delay under Japan’s contract with the International Olympic Committee.
01:50 GMT Further slowdown in China
China’s data continues to show the outbreak there is slowing. The country reported 119 new confirmed cases to the end of March 3, compared with 125 the day before.
It is now had 80,270 cases since the virus first appeared in Wuhan late last year.
An additional 38 people died on March 3, bringing the death toll in mainland China to 2,981.
01:40 GMT Further spike in South Korea cases
The latest data from the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) shows 516 new cases of coronavirus in the northeast Asian country – a day after President Moon Jae-in declared “war” on the infection.
South Korea now has 5,328 cases with 32 deaths in the largest outbreak outside China.
The KCDC updates the data twice a day.
00:15 GMT – Nursing home worker confirmed with virus in Australia
A woman who works in a nursing home in northern Sydney has been confirmed to have the coronavirus, raising concerns for the elderly people who live there.
The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper says the woman is in her 50s and picked up the virus locally – the third such case in Australia.
Breaking: A Sydney woman in her 50s, the third locally acquired case of coronavirus, has been identified as an aged care worker at a facility near Macquarie University https://t.co/7Bf59SfptC
— The Sydney Morning Herald (@smh) March 3, 2020
00:00 GMT – Australian supermarkets ration toilet roll
Australia’s biggest supermarkets are rationing toilet paper after a wave of panic-buying.
Woolworths said in a statement on Wednesday that it was introducing a limit of four packs of toilet paper for each shopper, including online customers.
“It will help shore up stock levels as suppliers ramp up local production and deliveries in response to higher than usual demand,” the statement said. The country manager for Costco, Patrick Noone, a membership-based grocery discounter, said it was allowing customers only one pack of toilet paper, following an “influx of people in warehouses across the country in the past week ‘stocking up’.”
Costco had also put limits on purchases of milk, eggs, rice and disinfecting and soap products, he added in an email to Reuters.
#toiletpapergate and #toiletpapercrisis were the top two trends on Twitter in Australia on Wednesday.
Australians are not the only ones panic-buying. We have also seen it happen in Singapore and Indonesia. And on Tuesday, it seems New Yorkers were clearing the shelves of cleaning products.
Shelves in a New York shop cleared of cleaning products amid a growing coronavirus outbreak in the US [Brendan McDermid/Reuters]
Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s live blog on the coronavirus outbreak that is spreading around the world.
I’m Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur, taking over from my colleague Usaid Siddiqui.
A recap of Tuesday’s significant developments:
The number of deaths surged in Italy. It is now the country with the most deaths in the world outside China. The government there is considering new quarantine zones to tackle the virus.
Worrying developments in Iran too, where 77 people have died and more than 2,000 have been confirmed to have the infection.
In the US, the death toll now stands at nine with the outbreak centred on a nursing home but there are concerns the infection may have been spreading in the community for some time.
In more positive news, the number of new cases in China appears to be slowing. The World Health Organization says global understanding of the new virus is rapidly increasing and more governments are announcing concrete plans to deal with the outbreak.
Click here to read updates from Tuesday, March 3.
Ginsburg’s death punctures Biden’s carefully crafted ‘Seinfeld’ campaign
ANALYSIS/OPINION: The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (which has yet to be described as “untimely”) gives President Trump the opportunity he needs to change the subject and focus of the presidential campaign. Whether he can take advantage of it is an open question. At the same time, Justice Ginsburg’s death poses the most daunting…
The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (which has yet to be described as “untimely”) gives President Trump the opportunity he needs to change the subject and focus of the presidential campaign. Whether he can take advantage of it is an open question.
At the same time, Justice Ginsburg’s death poses the most daunting challenge to the Biden campaign’s careful and brilliant strategy. The Biden crew created and has remained committed to a campaign in which the candidate says nothing, surrogates say nothing and the campaign itself consists of very limited interaction of any kind — no door knocks, no field offices — with voters.
Similarly, the campaign has been quiet about its preferred policies, other than its opposition to the current occupant of the White House. It is, in short, the “Seinfeld” of campaigns.
This approach is brilliant. It is predicated on Mr. Trump’s penchant to make everything good, bad or indifferent — about himself. Even in an election in which it is essential to draw distinctions between the candidates and make the campaign a referendum about the challenger, Mr. Trump has been unable to resist the spotlight.
The strategy also accounts for the intellectual and mental fragility of the Democratic Party’s own candidate. Mr. Biden is almost certainly incapable of enduring the physical and psychological demands of a traditional campaign. More importantly, the campaign’s silence throughout the duration of the election season has also enabled Mr. Biden to avoid taking sides in the sub rosa ideological strife incinerating the Democratic Party.
The opinion research about the race confirms the wisdom of the strategy. No matter what else has happened in the world, the race has been static for the last nine months. Mr. Biden retains a reliable 6- to 10-point advantage in nationwide surveys and holds narrow leads in most of the states that will determine the election.
Unfortunately for Mr. Biden, the death of Justice Ginsburg, and the nomination and confirmation of her replacement, guarantees that the internal disagreements among the Democrats will now break into public view. Leaders, most especially Mr. Biden, will be compelled to take positions with respect to institutional changes including ending the filibuster, packing the U.S. Supreme Court and providing statehood to places that may not want it (Puerto Rico) or to places to which the American people may not want to tie their fates.
Mr. Biden’s carefully-curated silence will be pierced. He will have to say something about each of these ill-advised ideas.
That will provide Mr. Trump with a way to expose his rival as what he is — an empty vessel for pink collectivism — rather than what he was — a marginally competent career clubhouse Democrat.
A contest that has been mired in stasis for the last eight months, has finally found its MacGuffin. The only question that remains is whether Mr. Trump can maintain the spotlight on Mr. Biden as he flails in the newly energized and volatile environment of an angry, splintered Democratic Party. That party rightly wants to be sure that all of its leaders are prepared to disrupt governmental institutions to the extent necessary to achieve its goals.
The struggle will clarify the Senate races as well. Sens. Joni Ernst of Iowa, Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina now have a chance to energize voters on their behalf. Gov. Steve Bullock in Montana will suffer in his Senate campaign, too, as he also is forced to pick sides.
Mr. Trump’s best chance to win reelection is to keep the attention on Mr. Biden for the next six weeks. That’s a tall order for a man like Mr. Trump. At this point, however, it is what remains.
• Michael McKenna, a columnist for The Washington Times, is the president of MWR Strategies. He was most recently a deputy assistant to the president and deputy director of the Office of Legislative Affairs at the White House.
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Death toll rises as wildfires ravage US West Coast |NationalTribune.com
The death toll from wildfires that have ravaged the United States’ West Coast has risen to 33 as the National Weather Service has issued a “red flag warning” amid high winds and dry conditions in Oregon and some California counties. Authorities said the conditions are expected to “contribute to a significant spread of new and…
The death toll from wildfires that have ravaged the United States’ West Coast has risen to 33 as the National Weather Service has issued a “red flag warning” amid high winds and dry conditions in Oregon and some California counties.
Authorities said the conditions are expected to “contribute to a significant spread of new and existing fires”, amid days of blazes across the states of California, Oregon and Washington that have destroyed neighbourhoods and forest land, leaving barren and grey landscapes the size of New Jersey.
At least 10 people have been killed in the past week throughout Oregon. Officials have said more people are missing from other blazes, and the number of fatalities is likely to rise. Twenty-two people have died in California since early August, and one person has been killed in Washington state.
‘Unprecedented’ wildfires rage across western US
On Sunday, search and rescue teams, with dogs in tow, were deployed across the blackened ruins of southern Oregon towns.
At least 35 active fires were burning in the state, as drought conditions, extreme temperatures, and high winds created the “perfect firestorm” for the blazes to grow, Governor Kate Brown told CBS news on Sunday.
Crews in Jackson County, Oregon were hoping to venture into rural areas where the Alameda Fire has abated slightly with slowing winds, sending up thick plumes of smoke as the embers burned. From Medford through the neighbouring communities of Phoenix and Talent, an apocalyptic scene of charred residential subdivisions and trailer parks stretched for miles along Highway 99.
After four days of brutally hot, windy weather, the weekend brought calmer winds blowing inland from the Pacific Ocean, and cooler, moister conditions that helped crews make headway against blazes that had burned unchecked earlier in the week.
Still, emergency officials worried that the shifting weather might not be enough to quell the fires.
“We’re concerned that the incoming front is not going to provide a lot of rain here in the Medford region and it’s going to bring increased winds,” Bureau of Land Management spokesman Kyle Sullivan told Reuters news agency.
In California, nearly 17,000 firefighters were battling 29 major wildfires, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire). Improving weather conditions had helped them gain a measure of containment over most of the blazes.
More than 4,000 homes and other structures have been incinerated in the state alone over the past three weeks. Three million acres of land have been burned in the state, according to Cal Fire.
The heavy smoke that has painted California skies orange has also helped fire crews corral the state’s deadliest blaze this year by blocking the sun, reducing temperatures and raising humidity.
The smoke created cooler conditions in Oregon as well. But it was also blamed for creating the dirtiest air in at least 35 years in some places, which the state’s environmental quality spokesperson described as “literally off the charts”.
Took the drone up to show just how smoky it is in Daly City! @RobMayeda @KTVU @NWSBayArea @nbcbayarea @KPIXtv @MaryKPIX @abc7newsbayarea @DrewTumaABC7 @weatherchannel @Weather_West @WeatherNation @SFmeteorologist #CAwx #CAFires #CAfire #ORwx #ORfires #BayArea pic.twitter.com/uiaU2yxrfg
— Antonio Maffei (@AMaffeiWX) September 10, 2020
On Saturday, all five of the world’s most air-polluted cities were on the US West Coast, according to IQAir, with dense smog and ash coating the atmosphere from Los Angeles up to Vancouver in Canada.
In Portland, residents stuffed towels under door jambs to keep smoke out or wore N95 masks in their own homes.
Role of climate change
The three Democratic leaders of California, Oregon and Washing blamed the states’ dire conditions on climate change.
“It’s maddening right now we have this cosmic challenge to our communities, the entire West Coast of the United States on fire, to have a president to deny that these are not just wildfires, these are climate fires,” Washington State Governor Jay Inslee told ABC’s “This Week” programme.
Meanwhile, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said it was “undeniable” the extreme circumstances were connected to climate change.
A massive smoke plume – emanating from a ~74,000 acre (~115 square mile) wildfire near Sequoia National Forest in the Sierra Nevada mountains – moves downwind (northward) into central/northern California during the late morning hours on Sunday Sept 13, 2020. #KSwx #COwx #NEwx pic.twitter.com/XKYuNNetE8
— NWS Goodland (@NWSGoodland) September 13, 2020
Trump, for his part, is set to visit California on Monday and meet with federal and state officials.
He has said that western governors bear some of the blame for intense fire seasons in recent years, and has accused them of poor forest management.
“They never had anything like this,” said Trump, who systematically downplays global warming, at a campaign event in Nevada. “Please remember the words, very simple: forest management.”
John Lewis death sparks calls to rename Edmund Pettus Bridge for late civil rights icon
Calls to rename the Edmund Pettus Bridge civil-rights landmark in honor of late Rep. John Lewis have swelled following the Georgia Democrat’s death Friday at the age of 80. Beatles co-founder Paul McCartney and former United Nations ambassador Samantha Power are among the people who took to Twitter on Saturday to propose naming the bridge…
Calls to rename the Edmund Pettus Bridge civil-rights landmark in honor of late Rep. John Lewis have swelled following the Georgia Democrat’s death Friday at the age of 80.
Beatles co-founder Paul McCartney and former United Nations ambassador Samantha Power are among the people who took to Twitter on Saturday to propose naming the bridge for Lewis.
Online petitions created in support of the proposed name change, including some launched weeks before his death, received a spike in signatures over the weekend as well.
Mr. Lewis, a longtime civil rights activist, famously marched across the Pettus Bridge with fellow demonstrators during a 1965 protest that ended in them being viciously assaulted.
A flashpoint during the civil rights movement, the brutal attack was followed days later by the introduction of the Voting Rights Act, federal legislation to combat suppression of voting right of African Americans in the segregated South.
Spanning the Alabama River in the city of Selma, the bridge is currently named for Pettus, a former Confederate general, U.S. senator and Ku Klux Klan leader who died in 1907.
Mr. McCartney remembered Mr. Lewis as a “great leader who fought with honesty and bravery for civil rights in America” in a Twitter post where he endorsed renaming the bridge for him.
Ms. Power, the U.S. ambassador to the UN under former President Barack Obama, similarly encouraged her social media followers to sign a petition in support of the name change.
Two other separate but similar petitions hosted on the website Change.org had been digitally signed a combined total of close to 400,000 times since being created, meanwhile.
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