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Coronavirus updates: Americans warned not to travel, Italy death toll surpasses China's

Here are the latest updates from around the world.
Image: A woman walks through the nearly empty Times Square subway station in New York on Thursday.
A woman walks through the nearly empty Times Square subway station in New York on Thursday.Lucas Jackson / Reuters

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The U.S. State Department on Thursday warned Americans to no longer travel abroad, and urged those already abroad to return, for fear they may become stranded as other countries increasingly lock down in the coronavirus pandemic.

Italy has surpassed China in total deaths connected to the coronavirus, with the country reporting 3,405 fatalities as of Thursday afternoon Eastern Time.

For the first time since the global coronavirus outbreak began, China has reported no new domestic cases of the illness.

Only eight deaths were reported for Wednesday, all of which occurred in Hubei province, which includes the city of Wuhan where the pandemic started. Globally, the number of coronavirus cases has topped 200,000, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Efforts to contain the spread of the virus in the U.S. and Europe have brought life in many major cities to a standstill, and governments are launching a variety of aid packages meant to alleviate the worst of the economic impact.

Markets were calmer on Thursday with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing slightly up by around 200 points.

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No new domestic cases in China for second day in row

China’s National Health Commission on Friday reported no new local coronavirus cases, which marked the second time it has done so since the epidemic began.

There were 39 new cases reported on the mainland Thursday, but all were called “new imported confirmed cases.” Deaths on the mainland rose by three, bringing the total dead to 3,248, according to the health commission’s numbers. 

There have been 80,967 cases reported on the mainland in all, the national health commission said.

Italy has surpassed China in total deaths connected to the coronavirus, with the country reporting 3,405 fatalities as of Thursday afternoon Eastern Time.

The coronavirus outbreak began in China, but the World Health Organization said last week that Europe has become the new epicenter of the pandemic.

When should someone get tested for coronavirus?

Invictus Games postpones, looks ahead to 2021

The Invictus Games scheduled for May 9-16 in The Hague have been postponed until next year because of coronavirus pandemic, organizers of the international competition for veterans announced Thursday.

“We are now investigating all options to reschedule the Invictus Games, subject to the availability of key facilities and resources, to May or June 2021,” organizers said in a statement.

Prince Harry, patron of the Invictus Games Foundation, said in a video that "this was an incredibly difficult decision for all of us to have to make." 

Olympic flame lands in Japan as doubts grow over Tokyo games

MATSUSHIMA AIR BASE, Japan — The Olympic flame arrived in Japan on Friday from Greece in a scaled-down ceremony at an air base in northern Japan.

The flame, carried in a special canister, touched down amid growing doubts if the Tokyo Games can open as scheduled on July 24 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Organizers and the International Olympic Committee say it will, but postponement or cancellation is viewed increasingly as a possible option.

Iran calls on U.S. to lift sanctions in order to save lives

UNITED NATIONS — Iran’s Mission to the United Nations is urging the international community to call on the United States to lift sanctions against the country immediately so it can import medicine and medical equipment desperately needed to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Iran is one of the hardest-hit countries in the world in the COVID-19 pandemic. Nine out of 10 cases in the Middle East come from the Islamic Republic, and fears remain that it may be under reporting its cases.

Iran’s U.N. Mission said in a statement late Thursday that “the inhuman and unlawful” U.S. sanctions are hampering efforts to prevent further spread of COVID-19 to other nations and are harming the health and lives of Iranians.

“In other words, while the U.S. is trying to curb the virus internally, it is helping the spread of virus externally by undermining the professional capabilities of certain affected countries who try to combat its pandemic,” the mission said.

Vermont announces first 2 deaths

Vermont officials on Thursday announced the state’s first two deaths among residents who have been infected with the new coronavirus.

Both were older than 80.

One was a Windsor County man who had been hospitalized at the VA Medical Center in White River Junction, and the other was a woman who was a resident of the Burlington Health and Rehab long-term care facility in Burlington, the state health department said.

Vermont has had 22 people who have tested positive for the coronavirus, which causes the illness COVID-19, as of Thursday afternoon according to the health department.

China exonerates doctor reprimanded for warning of virus

BEIJING — China has taken the highly unusual move of exonerating a doctor who was reprimanded for warning about the coronavirus outbreak and later died of the disease.

The official China News Service late Tuesday said police in the epicenter city of Wuhan had revoked its admonishment of Dr. Li Wenliang that had included a threat of arrest and issued a “solemn apology” to his family.

It said two police officers had been issued “disciplinary punishments” for the original handling of the matter, without giving further details.

In death, Li became the face of simmering anger at the ruling Communist Party’s controls over information and complaints that officials lie about or hide disease outbreaks, industrial accidents, natural disasters and financial frauds, while punishing whistleblowers and independent journalists.

The 33-year-old ophthalmologist died in early February at Wuhan Central Hospital, where he worked and likely contracted the virus while treating patients in the early days of the outbreak.

After seeing thousands of new cases daily at the peak of the city’s outbreak a month ago, Wuhan on Friday had its second consecutive day with no new confirmed or suspected cases.

AOC calls on Senate Intel chair Richard Burr to resign for stock selloff ahead of pandemic

Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is calling on Republican Sen. Richard Burr to resign after reports Thursday that the powerful Intelligence Committee chairman had privately warned well-connected donors of the dire impacts of the coronavirus pandemic last month while selling off up to $1.6 million of his own stocks.

As Intel chair, Ocasio-Cortez said on Twitter, the North Carolina Republican "got private briefings about Coronavirus weeks ago. Burr knew how bad it would be. He told the truth to his wealthy donors, while assuring the public that we were fine. THEN he sold off $1.6 million in stock before the fall. He needs to resign."

The freshman New York congresswoman was referring to two separate reports about Burr's activities in February. 

ProPublica reported that Burr, who co-wrote an op-ed for Fox News in early February saying "the United States today is better prepared than ever before to face emerging public health threats, like the coronavirus," sold off the stock around mid-February, about a week before the market started to drop because of coronavirus concerns.

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