Senate, White House reach deal on $2 trillion stimulus plan

Here are the latest updates from around the world.

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
SUBSCRIBE

With roughly a third of the world under some form of lockdown, the White House and Senate leaders reached agreement on a landmark $2 trillion stimulus package to combat the economic impact of coronavirus.

The White House coronavirus coordinator asked people who have recently been in New York, where the death toll continues to climb, to quarantine themselves for 14 days, because they may have been exposed before leaving.

President Donald Trump is pushing for the country to get back to business by April 12, Easter Sunday, when he said he would like to see churches full of people. The World Health Organization, meanwhile, has warned that the U.S. could become the pandemic's new epicenter.

And as the number of cases in the U.K. reached 8,000 on Wednesday, Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, was confirmed to have tested positive for coronavirus.

Full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak

Download the NBC News app for latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak.

CORRECTION (March 25, 2020, 12:45 p.m. ET): An earlier version of the headline on this article misstated the status of the federal stimulus plan. The White House and Senate leaders have reached a deal, but the Senate has not yet passed the stimulus plan.

This live coverage has ended. Continue reading March 26 Coronavirus news.

Britain seeking 250,000 volunteers to help coronavirus response

Britain is “rallying the troops” for the war on coronavirus and seeking 250,000 volunteers to help out in its response to the epidemic as the number of deaths reached 422 Tuesday. 

Health secretary Matt Hancock said the National Health Service is looking for people in good health to help with shopping and medicine delivery for approximately 1.5 million who are “shielding” and are recommended to stay at home for 12 weeks due to serious underlying health conditions.

The volunteers will also be asked to help drive patients to and from hospital appointments, and to call people isolating at home to check up on them.

The U.K. went into full lockdown for at least three weeks Monday, announcing tougher restrictions.

9,000 Americans returned home amid coronavirus pandemic

U.S. citizens and residents board a bus before getting on a plane back to the United States on Monday after Peru imposed a travel ban to stop the spread of coronavirus. Sebastian Castaneda / Reuters

More than 9,000 Americans from 28 countries have returned to the United States as more countries impose travel bans and close their borders amid the growing coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. State Department said Tuesday.

The U.S. is "rising to meet the historic challenge posed by the COVID-19 pandemic," working to bring home citizens from every corner of the globe, a department spokesperson said in a statement, adding that thousands more Americans will be brought home in the coming days. 

The department has never undertaken an evacuation operation of such geographic breadth, scale, and complexity, the statement said. 

Evacuations have included more than 800 people from Wuhan in China, where the outbreak is believed to have originated, earlier this year and about 1,000 Americans from Morocco earlier this month. 

Coronavirus cases climb in South Africa

A customer pushes two shopping carts filled with food while shopping in Pretoria East, South Africa on Tuesday. Phill Makagoe / AFP - Getty Images

The number of coronavirus cases in South Africa has jumped to 709 from 554, the country's health minister Zweli Mkhize told a local news channel on Wednesday.

South Africa now has the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in sub-Saharan Africa, and public health experts are worried that the virus could overwhelm the healthcare system.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced a 21-day lockdown that will begin Thursday.

Ramaphosa also introduced some of the toughest measures on the continent, including deploying the army in the streets, closing mining operations and confining recently arrived tourists. 

Weddings delayed due to coronavirus

Companies seek epidemic insurance as coronavirus affects events

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics were postponed Tuesday, making the games the biggest global event to be affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

As the disease continues to spread, many companies and organizations have had to cancel or postpone major events around the world. That has led to increased interest in epidemic insurance.

"We definitely do see rising demand in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak," said Axel Rakette, a spokesperson for insurer Munich Re. "But it's not a common product — yet."

Events typically are protected by insurance policies in the event of cancellations. But most standard policies don't cover cancellations caused by communicable diseases and outbreaks. Insurers offer restricted coverage for epidemics or pandemics as a buy-back, which means a higher premium, so most companies don't opt to purchase it.

Read the full story here.

How countries around the world are working to flatten the curve

Senate agrees to $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill

WASHINGTON — The White House and Senate leaders reached an agreement early Wednesday on a massive $2 trillion coronavirus spending bill aimed at alleviating the economic impact of the outbreak.

“At last, we have a deal," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced shortly before 2 a.m. Wednesday. "In effect, this is a war-time investment."

Although the full text of the bill is not yet known, lawmakers indicated on Tuesday that the Republican’s initial proposal for direct cash payments would be included.

Read the full story here. 

Brazil president says coronavirus is overblown

RIO DE JANEIRO — President Jair Bolsonaro is sticking with his contention that concern about the new coronavirus is overblown and has accused Brazilian media of trying to stoke nationwide hysteria.

Bolsonaro said in a nationally televised address that the media had seized on the death toll in Italy, which he said is suffering so severely because of its elderly population and colder climate.

“The virus arrived, we are confronting it, and it will pass shortly," he said. "Our lives have to continue, jobs should be maintained.”

Bolsonaro added that certain Brazilian states should abandon their “scorched earth” policy of prohibiting public transport, closing business and schools, and calling for mass confinement at home for their residents.

About 2,200 people in Brazil have been infected so far, with 46 dead.

Trump approves disaster declarations for Louisiana, Iowa

President Donald Trump on Tuesday approved disaster declarations for the states of Iowa and Louisiana, the White House said.

The approvals follow declarations for New York, California and Washington state. Emergency declarations allow federal aid. Those three states have some of the highest number of cases in the country.

Iowa has 124 cases and reported its first death associated with COVID-19 on Tuesday. Louisiana has more than 1,300 cases and 46 deaths, according to its state health department.

Video diaries around the world: What it's like living in quarantine

Key medical glove factories cutting staff 50 percent

Malaysia’s medical glove factories, which make most of the world’s critical hand protection, are operating at half capacity just when they’re most needed, The Associated Press has learned.

Health care workers snap gloves on as the first line of protection against catching COVID-19 from patients, and they’re crucial to protecting patients as well. But medical-grade glove supplies are running low globally, even as more feverish, sweating and coughing patients arrive in hospitals by the day.

Malaysia is by far the world’s largest medical glove supplier, producing as many as three out of four gloves on market. 

The Malaysian government ordered factories to halt all manufacturing starting March 18. Then, one by one, those that make products deemed essential, including medical gloves, have been required to seek exemptions to reopen, but only with half of their workforce to reduce the risk of transmitting the new virus, according to industry reports and insider sources. The government says companies must meet domestic demand before exporting anything. The Malaysian Rubber Glove Manufacturers Association this week is asking for an exception.