Coronavirus: Iran death toll tops 600, Saudi to halt flights

The worldwide death toll from the coronavirus pandemic surged past 5,000 on Saturday with the total number of cases rising to more than 140,000, as the infection continues to prompt countries to take unprecedented measures to help stave off a global health crisis.

Saudi Arabia said it would suspend international flights for two weeks in response to the outbreak while New Zealand announced a mandatory two-week quarantine for anyone entering the country, just hours after cancelling the one-year memorial service of the Christchurch mosque attacks.

On Friday, US President Donald Trump declared a national emergency over the pandemic, opening the door to providing what he said was about $50bn in federal aid to fight the disease.

The World Health Organization (WHO), meanwhile, said Europe has now become the “epicentre” of the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

The virus has also spread to several countries on the African continent, with Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, Guinea, Mauritania and Eswatini (formerly known as Swaziland) all confirming their first cases on Friday and Saturday.

Saturday, March 14
14:20 GMT – Morocco’s coronavirus cases rise to 17: health ministry
Morocco confirmed nine new coronavirus cases on Saturday bringing the total number of infected people to 17, the health ministry said.

The new cases include the country’s first locally transmitted case while the remaining cases contracted the virus in Spain, Italy and France, the ministry said in a statement.

14:00 GMT – Dutch coronavirus infections rise to 959, with two more deaths
The number of confirmed coronavirus infections in the Netherlands rose by 155 to 959, Dutch health authorities said.

The number of deaths rose by two to a total of 12 from a day earlier, the Dutch National Institute for Public Health (RIVM) said in a statement.

12:40 GMT – India suspends domestic football and cricket games
India suspended domestic football until the end of this month, while domestic cricket was put on hold indefinitely due to the coronavirus.

The All India Football Federation said in a statement, following Ministry of Health and state government-level advice, “all footballing activities under the aegis of AIFF stay suspended till March 31”.

All I-League matches have also been suspended but the final of the franchise-based Indian Super League was due to go ahead without spectators in Goa later on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) suspended all domestic matches as well “till further notice”.

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