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” for 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
09:20 GMT – Indonesia’s coronavirus cases rise to 96, 5 deaths
Indonesia reported 27 more coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of confirmed infection to 96 in the Southeast Asian country, said Achmad Yurianto, a health ministry official.
The total number of deaths from coronavirus rose to five, Yurianto said.
Cases were found in several cities across the archipelago, including the capital Jakarta, some cities in western and central Java, Manado city on Sulawesi island and Pontianak on Borneo island, he said.
09:05 GMT – Namibia reports first two cases
Namibia reported its first two cases of coronavirus, with a Spanish couple who arrived in the Southern African country on Wednesday both testing positive and quarantined, Health Minister Kalumbi Shangula said.
Despite the news, the government would continue with plans to celebrate Namibia’s Independence Day on March 21, Shangula told a press conference.
08:50 GMT – Philippines confirms 34 new coronavirus cases
The Philippines reported an 34 new confirmed coronavirus cases, bringing total to 98, ahead of the implementation of quarantine measures in the capital Manila.
It marked the largest single-day increase in confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian nation, which has eight coronavirus deaths.
Details of the new cases are being validated and authorities are verifying reports of additional cases, Health Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told a news conference.
08:40 GMT – China’s imported cases surpassed the number of those locally transmitted
China appears to be facing a new challenge as the number of infections coming from outside its borders
is now higher than the one of locally transmitted cases. The trend is taking place as China continues to slow the spread of the virus domestically.
The National Heath Commission confirmed 11 new cases, but seven of those were all detected in travellers coming into China from overseas, specifically Italy, the United States and Saudi Arabia.
Later on Saturday, Shanghai’s city government confirmed a further two imported cases in travellers from France and Spain.
08:20 GMT – Iran stops Abadan oil refinery expansion until mid-April
Iran has decided to halt work on the expansion of its Abadan oil refinery until mid-April.
“In order to prevent the spread of Coronavirus, the second phase of the Abadan refinery project will be halted from next week until mid-Farvardin (first Iranian calendar month which starts on March 20),” the semi-official Mehr news agency said, citing Managing Director of National Iranian Oil Engineering and Construction Company (NIOEC) Saeed Sattari Naini.
In December 2017, China’s Sinopec Engineering (Group) Company, signed a deal with National Iranian Oil Engineering and Construction Company to carry out the work over a period of four years.
08:10 GMT – Cambodia to close schools in two cities
Cambodia has ordered the closure of schools in the capital, Phnom Penh, and the popular tourist destination of Siem Reap in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, local media reported on Saturday.
An annual two-week school break next month during the Khmer New Year holiday would start early, the Education Ministry said.
Students will return to school after the holiday period, which will be observed April 14 to 16 this year.
Cambodia has so far reported seven infections in total.
07:42 GMT – Apple to close retail stores outside China
Apple will close all its retail stores outside China until March 27 hoping to minimize the risk of coronavirus transmission.
“We will be closing all of our retail stores outside of Greater China until March 27,” Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote in a letter posted on the company’s website.
“In all of our offices, we are moving to flexible work arrangements worldwide outside of Greater China,” he added. “That means team members should work remotely if their job allows”.
07:21 GMT – Trump, coronavirus and the politics of a pandemic
Experts warn world leaders will have to overcome nationalist tendencies to deal with the rapidly spreading disease.
Read more here.
07:06 GMT – Jakarta shuts down schools for two weeks
Schools across Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, will close for two weeks after 69 people tested positive and four people died from the novel coronavirus.
“People have been calling for these measures for a number of days now as this growing sense of anxiety builds up about the coronavirus outbreak,” said Al Jazeera’s Jessica Washington, reporting from Jakarta.
“There are concerns particularly around transparency and how Indonesia’s government is handling this crisis,” Washington said.