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Over 3,000 cases in the U.S.; airport chaos due to new screenings

Here are the latest updates from around the world.
Image: People wait in line to go through customs at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport in Grapevine, Texas, on March 14, 2020.
People wait in line to go through customs at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport in Grapevine, Texas, on March 14, 2020.Austin Boschen / via AP

Americans are racing to cut vacations short and re-book flights home this weekend as Europe continues to lock down towns and cities amid the spread of coronavirus.

The CDC said Sunday that all events of 50 people or more should be canceled for the next eight weeks, guidance that advocates for people to engage in "social distancing" through early May.

New York City announced it would close public schools, and many cities around the country ordered bars and restaurants closed, with some even issuing curfews, to encourage social distancing. Meantime, brick-and-mortar retailers began shutting down stores.

Stock futures plunged Sunday night, despite unprecedented emergency action from the Federal Reserve, which announced a rate cut.

The United States has surpassed 3,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, and the death toll climbed to at least 61, with 25 of the deaths associated with the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington.

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Dueling U.S., U.K. travel restrictions and advisories strain transatlantic relations

A man waits for a traveler at the international terminal of O'Hare Airport in Chicago on Friday.Scott Olson / Getty Images

LONDON — Amid a worsening coronavirus epidemic, the U.S. and the U.K. engaged in a political tit for tat Sunday after Britain advised its citizens against all but essential travel to the U.S. hours after the White House announced it would expand a European travel ban to include the United Kingdom and Ireland.

With 1,140 people testing positive for the virus, 21 dead and up to 10,000 suspected cases, the British government has called for a national effort to fight the spread of the epidemic similar to the one which helped the country through the Second World War.

"Our generation has never been tested like this," health minister Matt Hancock wrote in right-leaning newspaper The Sunday Telegraph, calling the coronavirus "the biggest public health emergency in a generation."

But travel restrictions imposed by the U.S. are adding more strain to the so-called "special relationship" between the United States and Britain.

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The scene in California

People shop for toilet paper and other provisions at a Costco store in Novato, Calif., on March 14, 2020.Josh Edelson / AFP - Getty Images

Danish government to cover 75 percent of workers’ wages

The Danish government announced a new agreement on Sunday that would cover up to 75 percent of workers’ wages for those whose jobs are threatened by the virus outbreak.

At a press conference, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said the initiative will initially stretch retroactively from March 9 and will last until June 9. 

Frederiksen also called on companies to send home staff, but to avoid firing people as a reduction measure. 

Stuck in their apartments, Spaniards applaud health care workers

Despite the announcement of the lockdown of Spain “people have not forgotten to applaud medical staff from their balconies," according to Twitter user @GiedreP who filmed a round of applause for health care workers in Madrid on Saturday night.

Bursts of applause are appearing on social media across Spain and also in other European countries, such as Italy, as housebound people look for ways to show their appreciation.

In a TV address Saturday, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez detailed the lockdown measures — similar to those imposed in Italy — as part of a two-week state of emergency to fight the sharp rise in infections. Sanchez's wife Begona Gomez tested positive for the virus on Saturday.

Hundreds of scientists warn U.K. government’s response is ‘risking lives’

An empty platform at Green Park Station in London, Britain, Friday.Simon Dawson / Reuters

Hundreds of scientists have warned the U.K. government that its response to the coronavirus epidemic is “risking many more lives than necessary,” in an open letter on Saturday night.

More than 300 academics living and working in the U.K. called for immediate measures to restrict the spread of Covid-19, criticizing the U.K.’s strategy of delaying widespread restrictions, as seen in other European countries, in a bid to achieve "herd immunity." They argued that this would put the National Health Service under even more stress as the number of infections grows throughout Europe.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock however told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show on Sunday morning that herd immunity was not part of the government's strategy and that the immediate priority was the preservation of life.

Coronavirus fears leave ski slopes empty

Skiers walk past a closed chair-lift after the closure of all ski resorts, in Les Crosets, Switzerland, Sunday.DENIS BALIBOUSE / Reuters

American Airlines to suspend nearly all international flights

American Airlines said it will start a phased suspension of nearly all long-haul international flights starting Monday, due to reduced demand and travel restrictions from the outbreak.

Between March 16 and May 6, the company will reduce its international capacity by 75 percent on a "year over year basis," it said in a statement Saturday.

The airline also anticipates its domestic capacity in April will be reduced by 20 percent compared to last year. It also projected it will be reduced by 30 percent in May.

Mexico braces for outbreak lasting 'all year'

Mexico has warned that the coronavirus outbreak could last all year as it rolled out tougher measures to contain the spread.

The education ministry said it would extend the Easter break for some 33 million students, doubling the length of their vacation. Meanwhile, the health ministry recommended canceling gatherings with 5,000 people or more.

“We’re preparing for an epidemic that could last all year,” Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell told a news conference Saturday.

Mexico’s confirmed coronavirus infections had risen to 41 on Saturday up from 26 a day earlier, the government said. It has not reported any fatalities from the virus.

South Korea declares Daegu a special disaster zone

The president of South Korea declared the city of Daegu a special disaster zone on Sunday, according to a presidential spokesperson.

While South Korea has recently reported a downward trend in new cases, Daegu accounts for a majority of cases in the country due to an outbreak in a church.

South Korea reported 76 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, bringing the country’s total to 8,162 with 75 total deaths, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. Sunday's numbers are in line trend of falling cases, which are down from the 107 recorded on Saturday.

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China tightens airport checks as imported cases tick up

China tightened checks on international travelers arriving at Beijing airport on Sunday, after the number of imported new coronavirus infections surpassed locally transmitted cases for a second day in a row.

The government announced that all international arrivals at will be sent to special facilities for 14 days of monitoring. People with certain special needs will be allowed to return to their homes for self-quarantine  only after strict evaluation, they said.

Mainland China reported 20 new cases of infections on March 14 — up from 11 cases a day earlier — data from by the National Health Commission showed on Sunday. Of those, 16 were internationally imported, it said.