Firefighters disinfect a street against the new coronavirus, in western Tehran, Iran. Picture: Vahid Salemi/AP
Firefighters disinfect a street against the new coronavirus, in western Tehran, Iran. Picture: Vahid Salemi/AP

Coronavirus: Lockdowns, self-isolation and entry bans imposed to fight global spread

By Reuters Time of article published Mar 15, 2020

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France and Spain joined Italy in

imposing lockdowns on tens of millions of people, Australia

ordered self-isolation of arriving foreigners, and Argentina and

El Salvadore extended entry bans as the world sought to contain

the spreading coronavirus.

Panic buying in Australia, the United States and Britain saw

leaders appeal for calm over the virus that has infected over

138,000 people globally and killed more than 5,000.

Several countries imposed bans on mass gathering, shuttered

sporting, cultural and religious events, while medical experts

urged people to practice "social distancing" to curb the spread.

All of Pope Francis' Easter services next month will be held

without the faithful attending, the Vatican said on Sunday, in a

step believed to be unprecedented in modern times.

The services, four days of major events from Holy Thursday

to Easter Sunday, usually draw tens of thousands of people to

sites in Rome and in the Vatican.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said from midnight

Sunday international travellers arriving in the country would

need to isolate themselves for 14 days, and foreign cruise ships

would be banned for 30 days, given a rise in imported cases.

"What we've seen in recent weeks, is more countries having

issues with the virus and that means the source of some of those

transmissions are coming from more and more countries,"

Morrison told a news conference.

Australia's latest restrictions mirror those announced by

neighbouring New Zealand on Saturday. Australia has recorded

more than 250 coronavirus cases and three deaths.

TRAVEL BANS, AIRLINE CUTBACKS

US President Donald Trump declared a national emergency on

Friday. The United States has recorded more than 2,000 cases and

50 deaths, but has been criticised for slow testing.

Travel bans and a plunge in global air travel saw further

airline cut backs, with American Airlines Inc planning

to cut 75% of international flights through May 6 and ground

nearly all its widebody fleet.

A sign near the Breckenridge Ski Resort gondola in Breckenridge, Colorado outlines public health guidelines about social distancing to limit the spread of the new coronavirus. Picture: Liz Copan/Summit Daily News via AP

The dramatic announcement by the largest US airline came

hours after the White House said the United States would widen

new travel restrictions on Europeans to include travellers in

the United Kingdom and Ireland, starting Monday night.

Washington has already imposed flight restrictions on China.

China tightened checks on international travellers 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.

Anyone arriving to Beijing from abroad will be transferred

directly to a central quarantine facility for 14 days for

observation starting March 16, a city government official said.

China, where the epidemic began in December, appears to now

face a greater threat of new infections from outside its borders

as it continues to slow the spread of the virus domestically.

China has reported 80,984 cases and 3,203 deaths, according

to a Reuters tally, of which 66,911 have recovered in mainland

China, which has imposed draconian containment policies, locking

down several major cities.

LOCKDOWNS, STAY HOME

Spain put its 47 million inhabitants under partial lockdown

on Saturday as part of a 15-day state of emergency to combat the

epidemic in Europe's second worst-affected country after Italy.

Spain had 193 coronavirus deaths and 6,250 cases, public

broadcaster TVE said on Saturday, up from 120 deaths reported on

Friday.

France will shut shops, restaurants and entertainment

facilities from Sunday with its 67 million people were told to

stay home after confirmed infections doubled in 72 hours.

People take a picture in front of the Eiffel Tower closed after the French government banned all gatherings of over 100 people to limit the spread of the virus COVID-19, in Paris. Picture: Christophe Ena/AP

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said the government

had no other option after the public health authority said 91

people had died in France and almost 4,500 were now infected.

"We must absolutely limit our movements," he said.

Britain is preparing to ban mass gatherings, while isolating

people aged over 70 for up to four months is part of its action

plan to tackle coronavirus which will be implemented in the

coming weeks, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Sunday.

Argentina banned entry to non-residents who have travelled

to a country highly affected by coronavirus in the last 14 days,

the government officially announced late on Saturday.

The ban will last 30 days. Argentina has 45 cases of

coronavirus, the health ministry said, up from 21 on March 12.

Panama said flights arriving from Europe and Asia would be

temporarily suspended, with the exception of flights that

transport doctors, medical equipment or other humanitarian aid.

Colombia will expel four Europeans for violating compulsory

quarantine protocols, just hours after it closed its border with

Venezuela, the government said on Saturday.

ANTI-TERRORISM TRACKING TO FIGHT VIRUS

Israel will use anti-terrorism tracking technology and

partially shutdown its economy to minimise transmission risks,

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday.

Cyber tech monitoring would be deployed to locate people who

have been in contact with those carrying the virus, subject to

cabinet approval, Netanyahu told a news conference in Jerusalem.

Starting Sunday, South Korea began to subject visitors from

France, Germany, Britain, Spain and the Netherlands to stricter

border checks, after imposing similar rules for China, Italy and

Iran which have major outbreaks.

Visitors from those countries now need to download an app

which will report whether they have symptoms. South Korea has

been testing hundreds of thousands of people and tracking

potential carriers using cell phone and satellite technology.

Reuters

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