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Thursday, March 26, 2020, 23:17
Two more weeks of lockdown as Spain toll passes 4,000
By Agencies
Thursday, March 26, 2020, 23:17 By Agencies

A lone pedestrian walks on a deserted street of the old city in Pamplona, northern Spain, March 25, 2020. (ALVARO BARRIENTOS / AP)

WASHINGTON / BERLIN / BRUSSELS / BRASILIA / SAO PAULO / BUENOS AIRES / LA PAZ / PARIS / MADRID / LONDON / OTTAWA / NAIROBI / MEXICO CITY / MOSCOW / TIRANA / JOHANNESBURG / BUCHAREST / DAKAR - Spain's coronavirus lockdown was extended on Thursday to last until at least April 12 as Europe's second-worst hit country struggled to tackle a fast increase in the death toll.

Parliament voted in the early hours of Thursday to extend emergency measures - including the state of lockdown that has seen people confined to their homes except for essential trips for food, medicine and work.

With 4,089 fatalities, Spain now has the second-highest number of deaths globally after Italy's 6,820

Spain registered 655 fatalities from the coronavirus over the past 24 hours - down from over 700 on Wednesday, the health ministry reported on Thursday as the total death toll from the epidemic in the country rose to over 4,000.

The overall number of coronavirus cases soared to 56,188 from 47,610 on Wednesday. The number of reported deaths from the virus rose to 4,089 from 3,434 on Wednesday, the ministry said.

Spain now has the second-highest number of deaths globally after Italy's 6,820. 

READ MORE: Spain's death toll surpasses that of China

Spain's Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo became the third cabinet member to test positive for the virus, but the government said Wednesday she was doing well.

About 137,000 workers are known to have taken sick leave associated with the virus, including to go into preventative isolation.

The country's government is scrambling to get hold of protective equipment like masks, scrubs and gloves, and ventilators.

Spain has ordered 432 million euros (US$471.4 million) of masks, gloves and testing kits from China, and has turned to NATO partners for protective gear and ventilators.

In this photo provided by the French Army, military doctors work in the military field hospital in Mulhouse, eastern France, March 25, 2020. (JULEIN CHATELLIER / DICOD VIA AP)

Europe grapples with medical supply shortage

The coronavirus outbreak in Europe has caught many countries by surprise, and a shortage in protective medical supplies, such as face masks, gloves, protective gowns and goggles, and ventilators, is making medical professionals desperate.

China, which is recovering from the COVID-19 blow and slowly getting its manufacturing engine running, is lending a helping hand to many countries either through donations or assistance in procurement.

In Spain, some 100 engineers have started manufacturing 3D printed medical ventilators for COVID-19 patients

Engineers and innovators in Europe are coming up with creative ways to alleviate the strain in medical resources.

In Spain, some 100 engineers have started manufacturing 3D printed medical ventilators for COVID-19 patients, to the tune of 50 to 100 a day.

Production would be scaled up to up to 300 ventilators a day to help hospitals struggling to provide care to the patients.

ALSO READ: UN launches COVID-19 global humanitarian response plan

In Germany, startup Corevas has expanded the video chat system EmergencyEye to facilitate remote diagnosis by doctors during the coronavirus pandemic. Patients only need to have a smartphone, with no need for any special application.

A university hospital in Rome also started to use a new diagnostic tool that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to help quickly diagnose patients with coronavirus. The so-called "Infer-read" system is based on technology developed by a Chinese company called InferVision and adapted for use in Italy.

Businesses have also been mobilized to the rescue in Italy. Automobile maker Fiat Chrysler has repurposed one of its factories to produce surgical face masks. Fashion brands including Prada and Gucci are among at least 200 companies that have begun producing surgical gowns and masks. Sports car icon Ferrari is making respirators. More than 60 distilleries that normally make grappa and whiskey are instead using the ethyl alcohol they produce to make disinfectants.

US

The US Senate on Wednesday unanimously passed a US$2-trillion bill aimed at helping unemployed workers and industries hurt by the coronavirus pandemic, as well as providing billions of dollars to buy urgently needed medical equipment.

By a vote of 96-0 the Senate passed the bill, sending it to the House of Representatives, which could vote sometime this week.

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Mark Esper has issued a stop movement order to the US military halting travel and movement abroad for up to 60 days in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus through the ranks, the Pentagon chief told Reuters on Wednesday.

The US Senate passed a US$2-trillion virus aid bill, and the Pentagon has ordered the US military to halt travel and movement abroad for up to 60 days

The Pentagon chief said the order applied to all US forces, civilian personnel, and families, while noting that there would be some exceptions.

The virus has already infected 227 US troops. Three US sailors on board the Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier in the Pacific tested positive for the coronavirus, US Navy officials said on Tuesday, the first known cases of the virus on board a US military ship at sea.

The death toll from COVID-19 in the United States has surpassed 1,000 as of Wednesday night, with over 68,000 confirmed cases, according to data from the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. 

Washington DC's municipal government ordered all non-essential businesses in the US capital to close for a month starting on Wednesday night due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

New York City, which has reported 210 deaths and 25,667 cases, will begin closing streets to traffic and ban close contact sports in city parks.

Trump issued federal disaster declarations for Louisiana and Iowa late on Tuesday and for Texas and Florida on Wednesday, freeing up federal funds to help states cope. New York, California and Washington state were given such status previously.

People hold out containers to be filled with lentil soup, outside a soup kitchen on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, Argentina, March 25, 2020, amid an ongoing national mandatory quarantine in the country. (NATACHA PISARENKO / AP)

Argentina

Argentina reported 117 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, its biggest one-day leap yet, bringing its total cases to 502.

The health ministry also confirmed for the first time that cases of local person-to-person “community transmission” had been detected. Eight deaths were reported.

Argentina is currently under a national mandatory quarantine until March 31. Its borders are also closed to non-residents during the same period.

Bolivia

Bolivia declared a national health emergency and extended its border lockdown on Wednesday, as the government seeks to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Interim President Jeanine Anez said in a public address that the border closure was extended to April 15 from March 31 previously.

Bolivia, which was already under a 14-day national quarantine, also tightened restrictions on movement, permitting only one person per household to go out between the hours of 7 am and noon on weekdays.

Bolivia has 38 confirmed cases of coronavirus, according to government data.

Senegal

Senegalese Ministry of Health and Social Action confirmed on Thursday the country's total COVID-19 cases have surpassed 100, with six new confirmed cases reported, bringing the total number to 105.

Among the 105 confirmed cases, 51 are imported ones.

Nine patients have been declared cured by local health authorities.

A police officer (center) uses a loudspeaker to urge people to go home as other officers patrol, in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, on March 25, 2020. (JULIO CESAR AGUILAR / AFP)

Mexico

Mexico's federal government will suspend all non-essential activities beginning on Thursday, Mexico's deputy health minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell told reporters.

Mexico registered 475 coronavirus cases on Wednesday, up from 405, and six deaths overall.

Mexico registered 475 coronavirus cases on Wednesday, up from 405, and six deaths overall

Dozens of people waited in their cars and on the sidewalk at a laboratory in an upscale Mexico City neighborhood on Wednesday to be tested for coronavirus, eager for diagnoses despite the government's insistence that not everyone needs to be tested.

Lopez-Gatell has recommended that only people who are in a high-risk group - such as over age 65 or with chronic health conditions - should seek medical help, to avoid spreading the virus at healthcare facilities.

People with light symptoms and no medical emergencies should remain home and let the virus run its course, he said.

By Wednesday, Mexico had tested 2,445 people that it found negative for coronavirus and was monitoring 1,656 other cases, the health ministry said.

Russia

Russia will suspend all regular and charter flights to and from the country from Friday due to the coronavirus crisis and close all shops in Moscow apart from food stores and pharmacies from this weekend, the government and city authorities said.

Authorities announced the measures after Russia reported its biggest one day rise in coronavirus cases on Thursday, bringing the official tally to 840. Russia has reported two coronavirus deaths, and another woman, who was diagnosed with the virus has died.

President Vladimir Putin addressed the nation on Wednesday in a televised speech in which he unveiled new measures designed to slow the transmission of coronavirus, declaring next week a non-working week for many Russians and urging people to stay at home.

Russian businesses in the medical and pharmaceutical sectors, as well as enterprises that function on a continuous basis such as production plants in the metals and chemicals sectors, will not be taking the week off next week, the Kremlin said.

South Africa

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has tested negative for coronavirus, the presidency said in a statement on Thursday.

"The president submitted for testing as a precautionary measure upon the advice of physicians on Tuesday 24th March 2020 and received his results last night," the statement reads. 

South Africa's communications mininster said Wednesday that the country was considering giving telecoms companies increased spectrum, or airwave capacity, as millions of people switch to home working, testing networks and driving up data traffic.

Ramaphosa announced a 21-day national lockdown from midnight on Thursday in an address on Monday, saying Africa's most advanced economy needed to escalate its response to the spread of the coronavirus, which has infected 709 people in the country.

A billboard is installed on an apartment building in Cape Town, South Africa, March 25, 2020. (NARDUS ENGELBRECHT / AP)

Germany

The German lower house on Wednesday suspended the country's constitutionally enshrined debt brake, approving a 156 billion euros (US$168.39 billion) stimulus package by Chancellor Angela Merkel's government to weather the economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak.

The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Germany has risen to 36,508 and 198 people have died of the disease, statistics from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed on Thursday.

Cases rose by 4,995 compared with the previous day while the death toll climbed by 50, the tally showed.

Merkel, who has been self-quarantining after receiving a vaccination from a doctor later found to have the virus, tested negative for a second time.

Germany plans to insist that airline passengers arriving from non-EU countries go into quarantine for 14 days to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus, the Funke media group reported on Wednesday.

France

Declaring a war against "an invisible enemy," French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday announced the army operation "Resilience" to back the fight against the coronavirus pandemic and support the population.

The operation will focus on helping population and supporting public services to cope with the COVID-19 epidemic, notably in health, logistics and protection fields, Macron said.

The president announced that a Mistral amphibious helicopter carrier would be immediately sent to the southern Indian Ocean, and a Diksmuide helicopter carrier would be deployed by April in the Antilles-Guyana area to help transport patients.

Macron has also pledged "massive investments" in the country's public hospital health system, close to a breaking point as it copes with the coronavirus outbreak which has already caused 1,331 deaths in the country.

French health authorities reported 231 new deaths from coronavirus on Wednesday, while the number of cases had risen to 25,233.

Orly airport south of Paris, which is used mainly for short-haul flights, will be closed from March 31 until further notice, airport operator ADP said in a statement.

French President Emmanuel Macron, second left, visits the military field hospital in Mulhouse, eastern France, March 25, 2020. (MATHIEU CUGNOT / POOL PHOTO VIA AP)

UK

Health Minister Matt Hancock said on Thursday that 560,000 people had volunteered to help the National Health Service during the crisis.

The number of coronavirus deaths in the UK rose to 463 as of Wednesday from 422 on Tuesday, the British government said Wednesday, adding that 9,529 COVID-19 cases had now been reported in the country.

READ MORE: Prince Charles tests positive for virus, Queen in good health

Britain's upper house of parliament has approved emergency legislation designed to help the government tackle the coronavirus outbreak, paving the way for the far-reaching bill to become law.

The laws will create temporary powers across different areas, from giving police and immigration officers the ability to detain people to protect public health, to allowing people to leave their jobs to volunteer in the health service.

Testing as many people as possible for the coronavirus is vitally important but a global shortage of the materials needed is causing a supply bottleneck, medical authorities said.

The healthcare system will see a steady delivery of 8,000 more ventilators over the coming weeks, Junior Health Minister Edward Argar said Thursday.

London City Airport said it will suspend all commercial and private flights from Wednesday evening until the end of April following Britain's order that people should stay at home and stop travelling.

Brazil

President Jair Bolsonaro on Wednesday blasted as criminals the governors and mayors of Brazil's largest states and cities for imposing lockdowns to slow the coronavirus outbreak, as tensions with his health minister simmered.

The death toll rose to 57 from 46 while confirmed cases rose to 2,433 from 2,201 the day before.

"Other viruses have killed many more than this one and there wasn't all this commotion," Bolsonaro told journalists. "What a few mayors and governors are doing is a crime. They're destroying Brazil."

National security adviser Augusto Heleno on Wednesday ignored medical advice to self-isolate for two weeks, instead returning to work just seven days into his quarantine after a positive coronavirus test. Heleno also attended cabinet meetings on the day he was waiting for the test result, Reuters learned.

ALSO READ: WHO chief tells nations not to squander 2nd chance to curb virus

The government is struggling to transport medical equipment due to widespread flight cancellations, Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta said, forcing authorities to rely on ground transportation.

Mandetta said the ministry would allow doctors to use the anti-malarial drug chloroquine to treat coronavirus.

Canada

Canada has almost doubled the value of an aid package to help people and businesses deal with losses from the coronavirus outbreak, with Ottawa handing out more money than forecast, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said on Wednesday.

The package is worth C$52 billion (US$36.62 billion), up from an initial C$27 billion outlined last week.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada was testing 10,000 people a day for COVID-19, and Canada was ramping up production of emergency medical equipment and medication.

Officials ordered returning travelers to obey a 14-day quarantine or face fines and criminal charges.

In Ottawa, Mayor Jim Watson declared a state of emergency in the Canadian capital city on Wednesday morning due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Watson said the declaration will also enable Ottawa city to buy medical equipment more easily.

According to the most recent update, Ottawa has 25 confirmed COVID-19 cases. About 3,400 Canadians have been diagnosed with the coronavirus and 31 have died.

Romania

Romanian Health Minister Victor Costache has resigned and will be replaced by his deputy Nelu Tataru, the prime minister said on Thursday without elaborating.

Romania, which has recorded 906 coronavirus infections and 13 deaths, declared a state of emergency on March 16. Hospital across the country have complained about a lack of protective gear for personnel.

Albania

Albania declared the coronavirus a "natural calamity" on Wednesday, giving the authorities 30-day emergency powers to search houses, stop free movement and ban strikes in an effort to break the chain of an outbreak that has killed five so far.

Strict measures already announced, including a 16-hour daily curfew and orders to prevent people, even couples, from walking close to each other during the eight-hour window of free movement, would remain in place, the government said in a statement.

The new emergency measures will also include extending quarantines for those most at risk from the virus.

Since detecting its first coronavirus case 16 days ago, Albania has tested 1,041 people and found 146 were infected. Ten have recovered.

Belgium

A Red Cross-run homeless shelter in an abandoned office block in Brussels is helping the city's homeless observe Belgium's lockdown to fight the coronavirus.

Those who enter can stay all day, receive meals and do their laundry. A confinement zone has also been set up to offer a place for up to 15 people to stay should they develop symptoms, and the shelter has a small supply of medical equipment such as masks. From April 1, it will house only homeless people with the virus.

Belgium has reported 4,937 coronavirus cases, with 178 deaths.

Separately, the European Union's economics commissioner Paolo Gentiloni is in self-isolation after a member of his staff showed symptoms of COVID-19, his office said on Tuesday.

"The commissioner is well and working from home," his office said in a note.

Tunisia

Tunisia has confirmed 59 new cases of the coronavirus, Health Minister Abdelatif el-Mekki said in a televised news conference on Wednesday, taking the total number to 173.

Tunisia has instituted a curfew at nights and a lockdown during the day in which people are only allowed out to buy food or medicine or work in some key sectors.

Estonia

Estonia recorded on Wednesday its first coronavirus death, when an 83-year-old patient died in Tallinn, the daily newspaper Postimees reported, citing a hospital spokesman.

Estonia has so far recorded 404 infected people, according to official statistics.

Beds are lined up inside the Espacio Riesco Convention Center as part of its transformation to a makeshift hospital complex for treating new coronavirus patients, in Santiago, Chile, March 25, 2020. (ESTEBAN FELIX / AP)

Chile

Chile has surpassed 1,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus since the outbreak began in the Andean nation, its health ministry said on Wednesday, among the highest tallies in Latin America.

The ministry confirmed 1,142 total cases and said three people had died during the outbreak. The South American nation reported 220 new confirmed cases for the past 24 hours.

So far, 22 people infected with the virus have recovered, according to the ministry.

On Wednesday, the Ministry of Education announced all classes, already suspended, would be canceled through May.

Zimbabwe

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) on Wednesday announced the suspension of all electoral activities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The suspension affects the conduct of a by-election which was due to be held in Ward 16 of Chiredzi Rural District Council on 4 April 2020 and the filling of any other vacancy which may arise during this period," ZEC chairperson Priscilla Chigumba said in a statement.

Meanwhile, nurses at Zimbabwe's state hospitals started walking off the job, saying the government had failed to respond to their demands for protective equipment as they brace for a battle against the coronavirus.

Customs officials at the country's biggest airport have also stopped reporting for work, fearing exposure to the coronavirus and a lack of measures to prevent its spread, their union said.

Junior doctors at Harare Central Hospital, the country's second biggest, have also withdrawn their services due to a lack of protective clothing to handle coronavirus patients, their union said.

The virus has killed one person from three confirmed cases in Zimbabwe.

Nigeria

The Nigerian Army is preparing to forcibly transfer the sick to hospital and enforce curbs on movement to try to shield the country from coronavirus, and is leasing equipment for "possible mass burial", according to an army memo seen by Reuters.

The memo from Army headquarters also outlines plans to protect government food storage from looters as Africa's most populous nation braces for the illness to spread further in the country.

The memo said the army is suspending all leave passes for all personnel and called for them to be on "maximum security alert and be ready for deployment."

There are currently 46 confirmed cases in Nigeria, and one death, but the infection has hit the top levels of society, infecting President Muhammadu Buhari's chief of staff.

On Wednesday, Nigeria's Rivers state governor said he would close the borders to human movement in or out of the state starting on Thursday to protect it from coronavirus.

Kenya

Kenya on Wednesday said it will cut the value-added tax rate to 14 percent from 16 percent as part of a series of measures to help cushion the economy from the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, President Uhuru Kenyatta said in a televised address.

The East African country has so far confirmed 28 cases of the COVID-19 disease and its critical tourism and farm export businesses have been feeling the pinch from the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

Kenyatta said that there will be 100 percent tax relief for Kenyans earning a monthly income of up to 24,000 Kenyan Shillings (US$226) to increase their disposable income.

Kenyatta also said the government will institute a daily curfew beginning on March 27 from 7 pm to 5 am to curtail the spread of the virus.

Lithuania

Lithuania's government on Wednesday extended the nationwide quarantine until April 13, citing the rapid spread of coronavirus in the Baltic country.

"This is a minimum term, another two weeks. It will depend on all of us if it will be prolonged later," Lithuania's Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis was quoted as saying by local media.

Skvernelis will lead a newly established crisis coordination committee, local news agency Elta reported.

"The crisis management system has been updated -- the special committee of the Lithuanian government will operate with the participation of all main ministers. It will coordinate the situation related to managing the coronavirus outbreak," said Skvernelis.

As of March 25, four coronavirus patients had died in Lithuania. According to the Ministry of Health, 3,471 samples have been tested, of which 255 came back positive.

Mali

Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita declared a state of health emergency in Mali on Wednesday evening and instituted a curfew from March 26.

Uganda

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Wednesday announced a 14-day suspension of public transport as one of the measures aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19 in the east African country.

Museveni said private vehicles are allowed to move provided they do not carry more than three people including the driver.

Museveni also banned crowding in markets, noting that markets should only be allowed to sell food.

The president said the country currently has 14 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Five cases were confirmed on Wednesday, including two Chinese nationals.

Uganda said it had closed its borders to all new refugee arrivals as part of efforts to contain the coronavirus. The country has long kept its doors open to those fleeing conflict and other troubles in the region.

Finland

The Finnish government on Wednesday officially announced the plan to block its Uusimaa region, which includes the capital area, to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

The Uusimaa region is currently epidemic centre of COVID-19 in Finland, according to Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL). As of Wednesday, 561 of the 880 confirmed cases were in Uusimaa.

Prime Minister Sanna Marin said that the blockade could start earliest on March 27. Commuting to jobs will be allowed, as well as necessary travel for family affairs, but others like leisure travel in and out of Uusimaa region will not be permitted. 

Marin on Wednesday also appealed to the restaurant industry in Finland to close voluntarily, as the legislation to enforce the closing was delayed. 

Two people have died from the virus in the last 24 hours, according to THL. 

Peru

Peru's Health Ministry reported two new fatalities from the COVID-19 epidemic, bringing the nation's total death toll to nine, with 480 confirmed cases of infection.

Peru has declared a state of emergency in a bid to contain the epidemic. The government has imposed an 8 pm to 5 a.m. curfew through March 30 to restrict movement and contact among the population. 

Egypt

The Egyptian Health Ministry announced on Wednesday that the total number of COVID-19 cases has reached 456 so far, including 21 deaths and 95 recoveries.

Egypt confirmed 54 new cases and one death on Wednesday, the ministry's spokesman Khaled Megahed said in a statement.

Switzerland

The death toll in Switzerland from coronavirus infections has increased to 103, the Swiss government said on Wednesday.

The number of dead was up from the 90 reported on Tuesday, the Federal Office of Public Health said. Total confirmed cases also increased to 9,765, it said, from just under 9,000 on Tuesday.

Poland

The Polish government announced an economic aid package worth 212 billion zloty (US$50.5 billion) on Wednesday, as the number of confirmed cases in the country has reached 1,031.

The Polish Health Ministry announced Wednesday afternoon that so far 14 people have died from the disease in the country.

Congregations of more than two people have been banned with exceptions for families, while members of the public are only allowed to leave their homes for work, medical reasons and buying essentials. Public transport is still operating in cities, but with strict limits on the number of passengers for each vehicle.

The measures will apply until at least April 11. Previous measures, including school closures and a ban for non-residents or non-Polish nationals to enter the country, have been extended until April 13.

Poland's upcoming presidential elections, planned on May 10, are to go ahead despite ongoing criticism from opposition groups.

Czech Republic

Czech President Milos Zeman on Wednesday signed into law an increase in the state's annual budget deficit, the president's office said in a press release.

The approved deficit will now rise from 40 billion Czech crowns (US$1.57 billion) to 200 billion crowns (US$7.89 billion dollars).

As of Wednesday night, 1,654 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in the country, with six deaths and 10 recoveries. 

The Ministry of Health issued a decree stating that a maximum of two people can assemble in public, with exceptions for members of one household, professionals at the same working place, or people at funerals.

Greece

Greece's COVID-19 fatalities have increased to 22 while confirmed infections now amounted to 821, Health Ministry officials announced on Wednesday at a regular press briefing.

Due to an increase in the past few hours of confirmed cases in Echinos, a small community in northern Greece in Xanthi region, the authorities decided to quarantine the entire community from Wednesday afternoon for 14 days, said Nikos Hardalias, deputy minister for civil protection and crises management at the Ministry of Citizen Protection.

Residents were not allowed to leave their homes for any reason, and firemen will be delivering them food and medicines, he said.

A municipal worker disinfects a tram stop in Budapest, Hungary, March 25, 2020. (MARTON MONUS / MTI VIA AP)

Hungary

The construction of a new container hospital in Kiskunhalas, central Hungary, is well underway, and ventilators have already been installed, according to the Hungarian government's coronavirus information website on Wednesday.

In Budapest, a provisional hospital has been set up for 330 people on the premises of the Hungarian fair center Hungexpo, the website said, adding that the temporary facility can easily be expanded.

The Hungarian government has also ordered the expansion of intensive care capacity in the country's hospitals.

According to official figures, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Hungary stood at 226 on Wednesday, with 21 reported recoveries and 10 fatalities.

Steven Dick, deputy head of mission at the British Embassy in Budapest, died on Tuesday after contracting the coronavirus, the Foreign Office said on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the government said that Hungary has banned the commercial export of hydroxychloroquine sulfate, an ingredient used in drugs for coronavirus treatment in several countries. 

Sudan

Sudan released 4,217 prisoners on Wednesday as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus, state news agency SUNA said, citing a health ministry official who said those freed had been tested for possible infections.

Sudan has confirmed three cases of the coronavirus so far.

The country, which declared a public health emergency last week, has imposed a nationwide curfew at night to help curb the spread of the coronavirus and closed all its airports, ports and land crossings.

Burkina Faso

Thirty-two new cases of COVID-19 were reported on Wednesday in Burkina Faso, bringing the total number of cases to 146.

Three more patients have recovered, bringing the total number of recoveries to seven, according to a statement by The Government Information Service, a government body to publish official information.

Cyprus

Cypriot cities and towns were deserted on Wednesday, the first full day of a lockdown imposed by the government to stop the spread of the coronavirus infections, as the Health Ministry announced eight more new COVID-19 cases, bringing the tally to 132.

There were also three coronavirus deaths in the previous four days, involving two Britons and a Cypriot. One of the Britons had underlying illnesses, but the second Briton was healthy at 60 and the Cypriot was a 58-year old man without any health problems.

Mozambique

Mozambique's Health Minister Armindo Tiago said on Wednesday that the number of cases of COVID-19 in the country rose to five, as two more individuals have tested positive.

Morocco

The number of COVID-19 cases in Morocco has risen to 225 by Wednesday evening, an increase of 55 in the past 24 hours, Moroccan health ministry said in a statement.

According to the ministry, six deaths from the COVID-19 were reported and seven have recovered.

Tanzania

Health authorities in Tanzania's Zanzibar on Wednesday confirmed the second case of COVID-19 in the archipelago, bringing the total confirmed cases to 13 in the country.

Hamad Rashid, Zanzibar's Minister for Health, said 65 people have been quarantined for 14 days on the islands and they were being monitored by health authorities.

A man wearing a face mask exits a government store with his ration of eggs, in Havana, Cuba, March 25, 2020. (RAMON ESPINOSA / AP)

Cuba

Authorities in Cuba on Wednesday suspended public transportation in the country's 15 provinces, including bus lines, trains and flights, and also grounded private transport services in multiple regions.

Ferries to the Isle of Youth, the second-largest Cuban island, were to be suspended starting Thursday. Passengers who already purchased tickets would be able to get a refund over the next three months, officials said.

Cuba has reported 57 confirmed cases of infection and one death.

Colombia

Colombia, where 470 cases have been reported, launched a nationwide lockdown on Wednesday through April 13.

Colombia's National Police chief Oscar Atehortua said 269 people around the country had been fined in the initial hours of the mandatory quarantine for failing to self-isolate.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica's government has begun transferring about 2,600 migrants bound for the United States from its southern border with Panama to its frontier with Nicaragua, citing concerns that large crowds may speed up the spread of the coronavirus.

Costa Rica has reported 177 confirmed coronavirus cases with two deaths so far.

The migrant transfers will continue through this week, Costa Rica's immigration ministry said. It was not clear if Nicaragua, whose borders remain open, would accept the migrants.   

Ecuador

Ecuador, with the Latin America's second highest infection and death rates after Brazil, has reported a total of 1,211 cases and 29 deaths so far.


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