The US Congress has voted for a $8.3bn emergency funding package to fight the coronavirus.
The move comes as the country reported a total of 11 deaths, including one in California, the first outside Washington state. More cases have also emerged in New York and Los Angeles with California declaring a state of emergency.
Meanwhile Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia and South Africa have marked their first cases of coronavirus while the biblical Church of Nativity in Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank closes due to coronavirus fears.
Globally, more than 95,000 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the vast majority in China where the virus originated late last year.
Thursday, March 5
14:45 GMT – SA Health Minister warns virus will test health system
South Africa’s health minister has warned that the country’s health system would be tested by the coronavirus, after it earlier confirmed its first case.
Addressing lawmakers in Cape Town, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said that South Africa was working with the WHO and other institutions to help diagnose the virus, called COVID-19, across Africa.
“I think we need to be upfront about it … Our system will be tested by the impact of coronavirus,” he said, according to Reuters news agency.
14:30 GMT – Cases in Greece triple with links pilgrim
Greece has said that 21 people linked to man who had tested positive for coronavirus after they all visited Israel and Egypt had themselves become infected.
The new cases brought the total in Greece to 31, and health ministry official Sotiris Tsiodras said a significant rise was expected in the coming weeks.
The 66-year-old man had recently returned from a religious pilgrimage to Israel and Egypt as part of a group. His wife also tested positive.
14:15 GMT – UN concerned over Cyprus crossing closure
The United Nations has voiced concern over the disruption caused by the Republic of Cyprus government’s temporary closure of several crossings on the divided island’s ceasefire line over the coronavirus crisis.
“Following the decision to temporarily close four crossing points along the buffer zone, UNFICYP is concerned by the ongoing disruption caused to people on both sides,” the UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus said in a statement. “While the UN supports all effective measures to address any potential public health emergency, it is imperative for the two sides to coordinate closely in order to provide a comprehensive response.”
The island is divided between the Republic of Cyprus, a European Union member state, and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which is recognised only by Ankara.
14:00 GMT – Rugby: Italy versus England Six Nation games postponed
England’s final Six Nations matches against Italy in Rome next week has been postponed amid fears over the coronavirus outbreak, tournament organisers have said.
“Six Nations notes the decree issued by the Italian Government with respect to all upcoming sporting events in that country,” organisers said in a statement. “The decision has now been taken to postpone the three matches between Italy and England (Men’s, Women’s, and U20) set to take place over the weekend of 13th/14th/15th March, with the intention to reschedule them at later dates.”
13:45 GMT – #CoronaVirusSA trends worldwide after first case confirmed
The hashtag #CoronaVirusSA began trending worldwide after the first case was confirmed in South Africa.
Authorities said the infected 38-year-old man had recently traveled to Italy with his wife. A “tracer team” has been identifying anyone who had contact with the man and his personal doctor has self isolated, South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases tweeted.
13:30 GMT – South Africa third sub-Saharan country to confirm coronavirus case
South Africa’s announcement that a case of coronavirus has been confirmed in the country makes it the third sub-Saharan country to report the infection.
Senegal has reported one case, while Nigeria has reported four, to date. Sub-Saharan Africa is considered high risk for an outbreak because of its close ties to China and weak health care infrastructure in many countries.
13:15 GMT – South Africa Health Minister: Citizens in China to be brought home
South African Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has said citizens currently quarantined in China will be returning home in the next few days.
Mkhize made the announcement shortly after the country confirmed its first case of the virus, a man who had recently travelled to Italy with his wife.
12:30 GMT – Netherlands braces for return of 900 students from Italian alps
Dutch health authorities said they were scrambling to put together a plan for the return of a group of about 900 students from a skiing trip in the north of Italy.
The trip by the youngsters, mostly in their early 20s, to the heart of Europe’s worst coronavirus outbreak has stoked fears of a wider spread of the virus in the Netherlands, where the number of confirmed coronavirus cases on Thursday stood at 38.
“We are working very hard to prepare for all different scenarios,” local health authorities spokeswoman Hanneke Mensink told Reuters news agency.
These scenarios might include plans to monitor or test all students involved after their return.
12:20 GMT – Egypt reports first case in an Egyptian national
Egypt recorded the first coronavirus case in an Egyptian national who had returned from Serbia via France, a joint statement from the health ministry and the World Health Organization said.
The North African country registered two cases before in foreigners, one of whom recovered and was released from quarantine.
12:06 GMT – Formal proposal to postpone matches shared: FIFA
FIFA shared a formal proposal to postpone upcoming matches in the Asian FIFA World Cup 2022 and AFC Asian Cup 2023 qualifiers with relevant member associations.
“For both FIFA and the AFC, the well-being and health of all individuals involved in football matches remains the highest priority,” FIFA’s statement read, adding that it will provide an update in the coming days following consultation with AFC member associations.
“Other topics of discussion were the women’s Olympic play-off between Korea Republic and China PR, as well as the AFC Futsal Championship Turkmenistan 2020,” it said.
12:00 GMT – South Africa confirms first case of coronavirus
South Africa’s health ministry confirmed its first case of coronavirus in the country.
The patient is a 38-year-old male who travelled to Italy with his wife, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said in a statement.
The couple returned to South Africa on March 1 and the patient consulted a private practitioner two days later with symptoms of fever, headache, malaise, a sore throat and a cough.
The patient has been in isolation since then as well as the doctor.
11:33 GMT – New Delhi primary schools closed
All government-run primary schools in the Indian capital will remain closed until March 31 as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus, the local education minister said.
11:17 GMT – US, Israel cancel military exercise
The US and Israel have scrapped the remainder of their joint military exercise Juniper Cobra 20 over the coronavirus outbreak, the US European Command based in Germany said.
“The decision is in alignment with recent Israeli Ministry of Health guidelines on COVID-19, and a precautionary measure to ensure the health and safety of all participants,” USEUCOM said in a statement.
10:54 GMT – Palestinian Authority issues foreign tourist ban
The Palestinian Authority ordered hotels in the occupied West Bank to stop receiving foreign tourists after four suspected cases of the coronavirus were found in Bethlehem.
The two-week restriction, announced by the Palestinian Tourism Ministry, goes into effect on Friday.