Coronavirus has killed more people in Italy than in any other country, after deaths there rose by 427 in a day.
The number of deaths now stands at 3,405, which is more than in China where the virus originated last year.
There have been 3,245 reported deaths in China, but there have been questions over the reliability of its data.
A lockdown imposed on 12 March in Italy has been extended beyond the original 25 March end date. Nearly all Italians have been told to stay at home.
Despite these measures, the number of new cases and deaths has continued to spiral.
There have been 220,000 cases of the virus worldwide with more than 9,000 deaths.
Australia and New Zealand close borders
Australia has closed its borders to all but citizens and residents from 9pm on Friday. No end date for the measure was given. The country’s central bank also cut interest rates to a the historically low figure of 0.25%, and announced a major financial stimulus package. The airline Qantas stood down two thirds of its workforce. New Zealand’s border will be closed to all but citizens and residents from Thursday night. The move is unprecedented in both countries.
China’s Hubei province records no new cases for first time
China reported 34 new cases of Covid-19 on Thursday, but for the first time, none were in Hubei province – the centre of the outbreak. All 34 were so-called “imported cases” , of people who had returned to the China with infections. Chinese state media listed Iran, Italy, South Korea, and the UK as the top four places people had returned from during the outbreak.
Donald Trump signs coronavirus bill ordering free virus testing
US legislation that will expand Medicaid and unemployment benefits, mandate paid sick leave and childcare leave for certain employees, and order free coronavirus testing, has been passed in an effort to to limit the damage from the pandemic. Infections in the US passed 9,400.
London closes dozens of tube stations
Dozens of London Underground stations are to be closed indefinitely amid a toughening of measures to try to slow the spread of coronavirus. Transport for London announced a series of changes late on Wednesday evening as it urged people in the capital not to travel if at all possible. “People should not be travelling, by any means, unless they really, really have to,” said the mayor, Sadiq Khan. On Wednesday the UK announced the closure of all schools, the first in its modern history.
Iran to pardon 10,000 prisoners
Tehran plans to pardon 10,000 prisoners, including political ones, in honour of the Iranian new year on Friday. It was not stated whether the pardons would include the British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe – who was released on Tuesday for two weeks, when 85,000 were let out temporarily because of coronavirus – or the British-Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert, who was not known to have been released.
Italy’s death toll approaches China’s
Nearly 3,000 people have died in Italy from Covid-19, a figure that is rapidly approaching China’s death toll of 3,245. The sheer number of cases and fatalities has overwhelmed the funeral industry, where coffins awaiting burial are lined up in churches and the corpses of those who died at home are being kept in sealed-off rooms for days.
South Korea launches stimulus package
South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, on Thursday pledged $39 billion) in emergency financing for small businesses along with other stimulus measures to help shore up its economy, which has been battered by the coronavirus crisis.
Japan’s deputy prime minister says Olympics are ‘cursed’
Taro Aso, who has a history of making gaffes, has described the Tokyo Olympics as “cursed”, as speculation over postponing the event due to the outbreak mounted. The nation’s northernmost island of Hokkaido has lifted its state of emergency, less than three weeks after its governor, Naomichi Suzuki, asked residents to remain indoors after a spike in the number of local cases of the virus.
Foreigners stranded in Panama
Between 400 and 500 foreigners are stranded in Panama after a “tribal” festival and music event ended with many of them being quarantined at the concert site near the Caribbean beach of Playa Chiquita, an organiser said Wednesday.