Spain, France tighten curbs in coronavirus fight: Live updates

Spaniards told to stay at home, and French nightlife closes down after WHO says Europe new epicentre of outbreak.

Spain and France have announced sweeping new restrictions on daily life in a bid to contain the coronavirus outbreaks in their countries, as the Philippines seals off Manila in the most aggressive response to the pandemic yet seen in Southeast Asia. 

Spaniards will be confined to their homes from Monday morning, France has closed off all ‘non-essential’ public spaces, while thousands of police in the Philippines, with the support of the army and coastguard, have begun sealing off the sprawling city to domestic travellers. A night curfew will also be imposed.

In other developments, US President Donald Trump was tested for the virus, with the result coming back negative.

Meanwhile, Begona Gomez – the wife of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez – has been diagnosed with the virus.

The worldwide death toll from COVID-19 now exceeds 5,000 people.


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The World Health Organization (WHO) has described Europe as the new “epicentre” of the outbreak, which began late last year in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

The US has announced that it is extending the travel restrictions imposed on most European nations to the United Kingdom and Ireland with effect from Monday.

Here are the latest updates:

Sunday, March 15

02:10 GMT – Wife of Spain’s prime minister confirmed to have coronavirus

Begona Gomez – the wife of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez – was diagnosed with the coronavirus shortly after her husband announced sweeping new measures designed to keep people off the streets and contain the spread of the virus.

As Al Jazeera’s Graham Keeley writes from Barcelona, the restrictions are something of a shock in a country where life is lived outside in bars, restaurants or on the beaches.

01:30 GMT – Korea cases continue to slow

South Korea reported 76 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in its morning update on the country’s coronavirus outbreak, down from 107 on Saturday.

The country now has 8,162 confirmed cases of the virus, with 75 deaths.

01:15 GMT – China imported cases exceed local infections for second time

China recorded more imported cases of coronavirus than locally-originated ones for a second time on Saturday, according to data released by the National Health Commission (NHC) on Sunday.

Mainland China had 20 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections on March 14, up from 11 cases a day earlier. Of Saturday’s cases, 16 involved travellers entering China from overseas, it said.

The remaining four cases were recorded in the city of Wuhan. Saturday also marked the tenth consecutive day where Hubei province, recorded zero new infections outside Wuhan, its provincial capital.

Of the 16 imported cases, 5 were found in the capital Beijing and three in Shanghai. The provinces of Zhejiang, Gansu and Guangdong respectively reported four, three and one cases.

00:30 GMT – Australia ‘national’ cabinet to meet on Sunday on coronavirus 

Australia’s new national cabinet is set to meet on Sunday as the country’s cases of coronavirus topped 250 to discuss its response to the outbreak.

The national cabinet, which includes federal, state and territory leaders, will hold its first meeting via teleconference on Sunday.

The government has already advised against non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people from Monday.

The meeting is expected to discuss whether schools should be closed and whether border controls should be further tightened to contain COVID-19.

“We are rightly, keeping all options on the table, whether it’s in relation to travel or whether it’s in relation to schools. The schools question will be very much guided by the medical advice,” Health Minister Greg Hunt told ABC television.

“One of the things that they have talked about, is not moving too early on something like that.”

00:15 GMT – US president tests negative for coronavirus

US President Donald Trump was tested for the coronavirus and the result was negative.

Here’s the official letter from Reuters’ Jeff Mason.

 00:00 GMT – Iranians ignoring calls to stay at home, as Qom shrines ordered shut

Iran has ordered the closure of religious shrines in the holy city of Qom, where the country’s coronavirus outbreak is thought to have begun.

It’s also urging people to limit their movements and stay off the streets, and has announced all construction work in the capital, Tehran will stop.

Al Jazeera’s Zein Basravi, who is in Iran, says there is much scepticism about the government response.

“Certainly, [the closures] are better later than never,” he said. “But critics will say it’s too little, too late, the damage has already been done, the virus has already spread throughout the country from Qom.” 

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

I’m Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur. 

It’s the morning of March 15.

A summary of the latest developments:

You can read all the latest updates from yesterday (March 14) here.

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