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Team USA pushes for Olympics delay as millions more ordered to stay at home

Here are the latest updates from around the world.
Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in New York
A member of Joint Task Force 2, composed of soldiers and airmen from the New York Army and Air National Guard, wears a face mask while carrying paper towels as he arrives to sanitize and disinfect the Young Israel of New Rochelle synagogue in New Rochelle, New York, on March 23, 2020.Andrew Kelly / Reuters

The United Kingdom went into lockdown Monday as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tried to stem the spread of coronavirus, which has infected more than 5,000 people and killed hundreds in his country.

More American states did the same, too. Officials in Louisiana, New Mexico, Washington and West Virginia issued stay-at-home orders. “Right now, every time you leave your house, you are putting yourself, your family and your community at risk,” New Mexico Gov. Lujan Grisham said.

Team USA's Olympic and Paralympic Committee called for the International Olympic Committee Summer Games in Tokyo.

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This live coverage has ended. Continue reading March 24 Coronavirus news.

928d ago / 2:13 PM UTC

Pompeo: Iran supreme leader's 'fabrications' about coronavirus put lives at risk

Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s "fabrications" about the coronavirus are dangerous and put the lives of Iranians and people around the world at greater risk, the U.S. State Department said Monday. The comment came after Khamenei characterized the U.S. offer to help Iran fight coronavirus as strange, describing U.S. leaders as “charlatans and liars."

In a statement released Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused the Iranian regime of ignoring repeated warnings from its own health officials, and denying its first death from the coronavirus for at least nine days. More than 1,800 people have died from the virus in Iran so far, with the total number of cases now over 23,000. 

"The regime continues to lie to the Iranian people and the world about the number of cases and deaths, which are unfortunately far higher than the regime admits," Pompeo said.

He also added that the United States has offered over $100 million in medical assistance to foreign countries, including Iran, but Khamenei rejected the offer because "he works tirelessly to concoct conspiracy theories and prioritizes ideology over the Iranian people."

 

928d ago / 2:11 PM UTC

Angela Merkel tested for coronavirus, remains in self-imposed quarantine

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel was tested for the coronavirus Monday as she remains in self-imposed quarantine after coming into contact with a coronavirus-infected doctor. 

Germany’s government spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters Merkel, 65, is doing well and that she led the cabinet by phone today from home. “She was tested today and we’re waiting for the results,” he said, adding that she received many messages of support. 

Image: The empty chair of German Chancellor Angela Merkel during her weekly cabinet meeting at the chancellery in Berlin. She participated by video conference.
The empty chair of German Chancellor Angela Merkel during the weekly cabinet meeting at the chancellery in Berlin. Merkel participated by video conference. She went into a self-imposed home quarantine on Sunday after a doctor who she saw on Friday tested positive for coronavirus over the weekend.Fabrizio Bensch / AFP - Getty Images

Seibert said they do not know when the test results would be back.

Last week, Merkel received a vaccine shot against pneumococcus, a pneumonia-causing bacteria, from a doctor who later tested positive for coronavirus, her office said Sunday. 

Asked for further details on how the chancellor was set up to work from home and if her husband was in quarantine as well, Seibert refused to comment, only adding that “the chancellor is in a position to conduct business.” 

928d ago / 2:06 PM UTC

CVS to hire 50,000 workers, including those furloughed from other companies

CVS Health plans to immediately hire 50,000 new workers, with many roles filled by people who were furloughed from other companies because of the coronavirus, the company announced Monday.

The drugstore chain said it will hire temporary, part-time and full-time store associates, home delivery drivers, distribution center workers and customer service representatives.

It plans to hire employees from major clients who have had to furlough workers, including Hilton and Marriott.

CVS Health employees will also receive $150 to $500 bonuses and an additional 24 hours of paid sick leave in addition to 14 days of paid leave for any employee who tests positive for COVID-19 or needs to be quarantined as a result of potential exposure.

928d ago / 1:58 PM UTC

Photo: The scene in Cairo

Image: A worker disinfects the Royal Mummies Hall at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo on March 23, 2020.
A worker disinfects the Royal Mummies Hall at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo on Monday.Khaled Desouki / AFP - Getty Images
928d ago / 12:33 PM UTC

Global infections on track to reach 350,000; over 15,000 deaths worldwide

The number of global coronavirus infections is on track to reach 350,000 on Monday, according to the data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. 

The number of deaths worldwide has climbed to 15,308 after big overnight increases in Italy and Spain. 

Italy is the hardest-hit nation in the world in terms of total number of deaths, with its death toll reaching 5,476 deaths Monday as its health care system struggles to cope with outbreak. 

Numbers provided by the World Health Organization, which slightly differ, suggest more than 292,000 global infections and 12,784 deaths. 

928d ago / 12:25 PM UTC

Chinese billionaire Jack Ma donates supplies to Africa

A plane carrying 6 million face masks and other life-saving equipment donated by Chinese billionaire and Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma arrived in Ethiopia on Sunday as Africa scrambles to contain a growing number of coronavirus cases, Ethiopia's prime minister tweeted.

The shipment also includes over a million coronavirus testing kits, and 60,000 protective suits and face shields. Ma's foundation said the supplies would be distributed across Africa, going first to countries that were particularly vulnerable to the pandemic.

For several days, governments across the continent have imposed tough measures to restrict travel and close public spaces to curb the spread of the virus. 

The African region has so far registered 739 cases of coronavirus and 20 deaths, according to the latest numbers from the World Health Organization, but there are concerns about how well health care systems in Africa's developing nations could handle the coronavirus pandemic.

928d ago / 12:24 PM UTC

Harvey Weinstein tests positive for coronavirus

Convicted rapist and disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein tested positive for coronavirus, the head of the New York state corrections officers union told NBC News.

Weinstein, 68, was transferred to Wende Correctional Facility, a maximum-security state prison east of Buffalo, NY, on Wednesday. There, he tested positive for coronavirus, Michael Powers, president of the New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association, learned on Sunday and told NBC News Monday.

Weinstein is currently in isolation at the prison, Powers said, and several staff at the facility have also been quarantined.

Read the full report here.

928d ago / 12:20 PM UTC
928d ago / 12:16 PM UTC

Federal Reserve pledges asset purchases with no limit to support markets

The Federal Reserve said Monday it will launch a barrage of programs aimed at helping markets function more efficiently in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

Among the initiatives is a commitment to continue its asset purchasing program “in the amounts needed to support smooth market functioning and effective transmission of monetary policy to broader financial conditions and the economy.”

Others include an unspecified lending program for Main Street businesses and the Term Asset-Backed Loan Facility implemented during the financial crisis. Markets reacted positively to the moves, cutting most of the losses in stock market futures that had once been “limit down” in overnight trading.

Read the full story here.

928d ago / 12:04 PM UTC

Baghdad's coronavirus travel ban extended

The Iraqi government has extended a ban on travel in and out of Baghdad to March 28 as it tries to stem the coronavirus outbreak.

The move comes after hundreds of thousands of people defied coronavirus restrictions and attempted to visit a shrine sacred to Shiite Muslims in Baghdad over the weekend, forcing the Iraqi government to deploy troops to close the area. 

The government has also extended its ban on all flights in and out of the country’s airports.

Iraq has so far recorded 233 cases and 20 coronavirus deaths, according to the country's heath officials.

928d ago / 12:04 PM UTC

'This week, it's going to get bad'

WASHINGTON — U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams warned Monday that the coronavirus outbreak will worsen this week and said that people across the country are not taking the threat seriously enough.

“I want America to understand this week, it's going to get bad,” Adams said in an interview on the “TODAY” show.

The disease is spreading, he said, because many people — especially young people — are not abiding by guidance to stay at home and practice social distancing.

“Right now, there are not enough people out there who are taking this seriously,” he said.

Read full story here.

928d ago / 12:02 PM UTC

What scams should I watch for during the coronavirus outbreak?

The watchdog for the U.S. Health and Human Services Department has issued a fraud alert for coronavirus scams such as fraudulent testing kits and treatment across the country.

A spokesperson for the HHS inspector general says telemarketers have been calling people offering fake coronavirus tests while other scammers have been looking to hire phony technicians to swab multiple people, charge them for tests, but never provide results.  The inspector general's agents have also noticed an uptick in “door to door visits and social media ads about unapproved treatments.”

Other scams have offered fake telemedicine as part of an identity theft scheme, the inspector general warned.  The office has also found fake charities applying for grants to help people in the community who are needy. 

928d ago / 11:35 AM UTC

Spain's coronavirus death toll tops 2,000

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Spain's death toll from the growing coronavirus pandemic has now topped 2,000, only three days after its number of deaths hit 1,000

The country's health ministry said Monday there are now 33,090 confirmed coronavirus cases and 2,182 deaths in the country. 

Spain, the second hardest-hit country in Europe after Italy, sought to extend its state of emergency Sunday by another two weeks until April 11. Announced on March 14, it was intended to last 15 days, and bars people from all but essential outings. The extension would need to be approved by Parliament. 

“We are at war,” the country's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez told a news briefing.

928d ago / 11:14 AM UTC

Iran records more than 1,400 new cases in 24 hours

Iran confirmed more than 1,400 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours on Monday as the country struggles to contain its coronavirus epidemic. 

Health officials also announced 127 new deaths, bringing the death toll to 1,812.

There are now a total of 23,049 confirmed cases in Iran, one of the global hot spots of the coronavirus pandemic.

On Sunday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei rejected the U.S. offer to help in its fight against the virus, accusing U.S. leaders of being “charlatans and liars."

928d ago / 11:08 AM UTC

Rep. Ben McAdams hospitalized after coronavirus positive test

WASHINGTON — Rep. Ben McAdams, D-Utah, who tested positive last week for the disease caused by the coronavirus, said Sunday night that he has been hospitalized since Friday because of “severe shortness of breath.”

McAdams said in a statement that he experienced worsening symptoms Friday evening and he called the hotline for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. He said he was told to go to the hospital.

“I was admitted and have been receiving oxygen as I struggled to maintain my blood oxygen at appropriate levels. I am now off oxygen and feeling relatively better and expect to be released as soon as the doctor determines it is appropriate,” he said in a statement posted on his Twitter account.

McAdams said his experience has shown him “how critical it is to follow the advice of the CDC and the Utah Department of Health in order to stop the spread of this virus.”

928d ago / 11:08 AM UTC

Florida closes all state parks

All state parks in Florida will close Monday for the foreseeable future as the state tries to stop the spread of coronavirus.

The decision, made by Gov. Ron DeSantis, was announced late Sunday evening. Florida State Parks said on Twitter that while "many measures" had been taken to attempt to safely provide access to the parks, "this has not resulted in the reductions needed to best protect public health."

Florida's announcement comes after the state fell under intense national scrutiny for keeping its beaches open for too long. Local officials in Florida towns and cities ended up taking it upon themselves to close beaches last week after the governor's initial refusal.

Florida had 768 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 12 deaths as of Sunday, according to NBC News tallies.

928d ago / 11:01 AM UTC

Cuban health workers arrive in Italy to staff field hospital

A delegation of 52 Cuban health workers arrived in Lombardy, Italy on Sunday to work in a field hospital in the region at the heart of Italy's coronavirus outbreak. 

The team, which includes doctors and nurses specializing in pulmonology, intensive care, infectious diseases and emergency medicine, will work at a newly-built field hospital in Crema, Lombardy, according to regional officials. 

Lombardy has been Italy's most affected region in the pandemic, with 27,206 cases and 3,456 deaths reported. 

On Sunday, 651 people across Italy as a whole died from the virus, and 952 more people had officially recovered, Italy's Civil Protection Department confirmed in a press conference on Sunday.

928d ago / 10:48 AM UTC

Coronavirus may force Olympics to be postponed, Japan's Abe says

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Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe acknowledged for the first time on Monday that the Summer Olympic Games could be delayed due to the coronavirus as countries began threatening to keep their athletes at home.

"If it’s difficult to proceed in its complete form, then we must think about the athletes first and consider postponing," Abe told Parliament.

Meanwhile, the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee told reporters it would not make a final decision for another four weeks.

"Cancellation would not solve any problem and would help nobody," the international committee's president, Thomas Bach, said Sunday. He added that canceling the games would "destroy" the dreams of 11,000 athletes from around the world.

Read the full story here. 

928d ago / 10:41 AM UTC

Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque compound closed over coronavirus fears

Image: The Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City stands deserted Monday after closing to help stem the spread of coronavirus.
The Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City stands deserted Monday after closing to help stem the spread of coronavirus. Ahmad Gharabli / AFP - Getty Images

Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque compound was closed to worshipers on Monday to help stem the spread of coronavirus, the Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs in Jordan, which acts as custodian of the site, announced.

Employees who work at the compound, also home to the Dome of the Rock shrine, will continue to be able to access the area, and the call to prayer will still take place.

The closure, which took effect at dawn on Monday, is in place until further notice. 

Israel has so far recorded 1,238 cases of coronavirus and one death. 

928d ago / 10:10 AM UTC

London Tube packed as government warns people to stay apart

Image: Passengers squeeze into a busy Underground train at Stratford station in east London on Monday.
Passengers squeeze into a busy Underground train in Stratford in east London on Monday. The U.K. government has warned people to practice social distancing, but has kept public transport running, and shops and parks open.Daniel Leal-Olivas / AFP - Getty Images
928d ago / 9:50 AM UTC

Hong Kong to ban tourist arrivals as coronavirus numbers rise

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Image: Pedestrians wear face masks in Hong Kong on Monday.
Pedestrians wear face masks to protect against coronavirus in Hong Kong on Monday.Anthony Wallace / AFP - Getty Images

Hong Kong authorities said Monday they are banning tourist arrivals from the global financial hub as the city is facing a growing number of coronavirus cases. The city government announced 39 new cases of coronavirus on Monday, 30 of which had a recent travel history, bringing its total to 357 and four deaths.

The order kicks in on Wednesday. 

The semi-autonomous territory detected its first cases as early as January, but thanks to severe social distancing measures and a strong community response it has managed to avoid the scale of contagion seen in other countries and territories.

It is now faces the risk that visitors carrying the virus could spread it, undoing efforts to contain it.

928d ago / 9:22 AM UTC

500 U.S. tourists depart Peru after border closure

Hundreds of Americans have left Peru after getting stranded in the country amid travel chaos caused by the coronavirus pandemic. 

The U.S. Embassy in the country's capital Lima said they are working with the Peruvian government on all options for U.S. citizens to depart the country and are arranging charter aircraft.

It said approximately 500 American tourists departed Peru this weekend, including some of the most urgent medical cases. 

Earlier this month, Peru issued a state of emergency, closing all international borders and leaving many Americans stranded and unable to get out.

928d ago / 9:17 AM UTC

British public warned of 'tougher measures' after weekend of gatherings

Image: People gathered on Sunday at the seafront in Whitstable, east of London, despite requests for social distancing from the government.
People gathered on Sunday at the seafront in Whitstable, east of London, on Sunday despite official pleas for social distancing. The U.K. government has warned of tougher measures if the British public continues to ignore the measure. Ben Stansall / AFP - Getty Images
928d ago / 9:04 AM UTC

928d ago / 8:52 AM UTC

Saudi Arabia imposes nationwide curfew amid coronavirus epidemic

Image: A cleric calls for prayer at an empty mosque on Friday as prayers were suspended following the spread of coronavirus.
A cleric calls for prayer at an empty mosque on Friday as prayers were suspended following the spread of the coronavirus in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Ahmed Yosri / Reuters

Saudi Arabia has imposed a nationwide curfew as it tries to stem the spread of coronavirus, the country's state news agency reported Monday. 

Saudi ruler King Salman issued an order for a curfew between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. local time, Saudi Press Agency said. 

The curfew kicks in Monday evening and will be in effect for the next 21 days. 

Employees in the so-called vital sectors, whose work requires continued performance during the curfew, are exempt from the order. 

Saudi Arabia has taken some of the most drastic steps in the region, including halting international flights, suspending work at most institutions and closing public venues.

The country has recorded 119 new cases on Sunday, bringing the total to 511.

928d ago / 8:38 AM UTC

War-ravaged Syria records its first coronavirus case

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Image: A Syrian Red Crescent member sprays disinfectant along an alley of the historic Hamidiyah souk (market) in the old city of Syria's capital Damascus
A Syrian Red Crescent member sprays disinfectant along an alley in Damascus on Sunday as part of efforts against the coronavirus pandemic.Louai Beshara / AFP - Getty Images

Syria registered its first case of coronavirus Sunday, the country's health officials said, according to Syrian state news agency SANA.

Health officials said the individual who tested positive came from abroad, without specifying a country, SANA reported. 

Health Minister Nizar al-Yaziji told state media “necessary measures” had been taken regarding the individual, who he said would be quarantined for 14 days and given medical checks.

Damascus announced a ban on public transport on Sunday as it stepped up a lockdown introduced in recent days, including the closure of schools, parks, restaurants and various public institutions, as well as calling off army conscription.

The country ravaged by nine years of civil war has a wrecked health care system that many fear would not be able to handle an epidemic, but government authorities have denied any outbreak or cover-up.

928d ago / 8:35 AM UTC

928d ago / 8:16 AM UTC

928d ago / 8:13 AM UTC

How are imposters imitating the World Health Organization?

The World Health Organization warned over the weekend of an uptick in criminals disguising themselves as WHO workers to steal money or personal identity information vulnerable people. 

The United Nations branch responsible for public health around the globe urged people to verify the authenticity of anyone claiming to be from WHO. It also issued a list of questions and information the organization will never ask for.  

The only request for financial support WHO has made, it said, was for people to give to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. "Any other appeal for funding or donations that appears to be from WHO is a scam," the organization said.  

The World Health Organization will:

never ask for your username or password to access safety information

never email attachments you didn’t ask for

never ask you to visit a link outside of www.who.int

never charge money to apply for a job, register for a conference, or reserve a hotel

never conduct lotteries or offer prizes, grants, certificates or funding through email.

WHO

 

928d ago / 3:08 AM UTC

IOC says canceling Tokyo Olympics wouldn't solve anything and 'isn't on the agenda'

The International Olympic Committee said Sunday that canceling the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo "is not on the agenda," even as Australia and Canada became the first two countries to pull out of the games because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Olympic committees of both countries issued statements late Sunday (midday Monday in Australia) saying they wouldn't send teams unless the games are postponed for a year. The games are scheduled to open in just four months.

In a long statement, the International Olympic Committee, or IOC, said the spread of the coronavirus and COVID-19, the disease it causes, had led the organization's executive board to conclude that "the IOC needs to take the next step in its scenario-planning."

But it said "a cancellation of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 would not solve any of the problems or help anybody."

"Therefore, cancellation is not on the agenda," it said.

928d ago / 2:22 AM UTC

Parks, trails closed in Los Angeles area

More than 75,000 acres of parks and trails were closed indefinitely in and around the Los Angeles region Sunday because of the coronavirus pandemic, authorities said.

The announcement, by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, expands on an order Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti issued earlier Sunday closing sports and recreation at city parks and parking at city beaches as images of packed trails and beaches sparked an outcry while California is under a statewide stay-at-home order.

"This is serious. Stay home and save lives," Garcetti tweeted.

The two orders effectively close all parks and restrict access to many beaches across tens of thousands of acres from Los Angeles north across the San Fernando Valley, including the popular Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy.

928d ago / 2:16 AM UTC

Canada, Australia pull out of Olympics

Canada and Australia will not send athletes to the Olympics later this year if the games are not delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic, officials said Sunday.

In a statement, the Canadian Olympic Committee said it was “urgently” calling on the groups that organize the games to postpone the event for one year. “This is not solely about athlete health — this is about public health,” the group said.

In a similar statement announced Monday in Australia, that nation's organizing committee said its board had "unanimously agreed that an Australian Team could not be assembled in the changing circumstances at home and abroad."

Read the full story.