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Russia to ground international flights on March 27 due to coronavirus

MOSCOW (Reuters) – The Russian government has ordered the civil aviation authority to suspend all regular and charter flights to and from Russia from March 27, the government said on its website.

Russian airlines will still be allowed to fly to other countries to bring Russian citizens back or if they are authorized by special government decisions.

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Europe failing to communicate its response to coronavirus crisis, France says

PARIS (Reuters) – Europe has failed to win the communications battle in its response to the coronavirus outbreak, leaving other powers such as China or Russia to win hearts and minds in the most affected countries like Italy, a French official said on Wednesday.

Italy, now the country worst-hit by the virus worldwide, was sharply critical of France and Germany after they initially declined to provide face masks and other equipment to help handle the outbreak.

Rome turned instead for help to China, which sent an airplane full of masks and ventilators bearing “Forza Italia” stickers with small Chinese and Italian flags – and leaving a powerful impression on Italians.

France and Germany later lifted their restrictions and sent hundreds of thousands of masks to Italy, but failed to garner enough media coverage to correct the first impression of a lack of European solidarity, the French official said.

“On the issue of solidarity, we had a narrative weakness,” an Elysee adviser told reporters. “Europe hasn’t, as a group, communicated enough on the concrete efforts it was making at the local or regional level towards one another.”

“Germany has sent masks to Italy, France has sent masks to Italy, as many as China has so far,” the official said, saying Paris had sent 1 million masks and 200,000 gowns to its neighbor despite a critical shortage for its own population.

German hospitals with spare capacity welcomed their first coronavirus patients from Italy on Tuesday.

“A lot has been done, so we need to get out of this Europe-bashing, because that’s not right,” the adviser to President Emmanuel Macron, a fervent European integrationist, said.

“Mistakes were made for sure, there was some flip-flopping, hesitations, but that’s the case everywhere in the world,” the official said. “When we see what’s going on in the United States today, Europe is not the continent that’s the least organised.”

But damage seems to have been done.

A recent poll by Monitor Italia showed 88% of Italians, once one of the most Europhile people in Europe, believed the European Union had not done enough to help their country.

The same poll showed those who believe EU membership is a disadvantage to Italy has risen to 67% from 47% in November.

China was not alone is outdoing European countries and Brussels on the communications front.

The Russian army has also flown medical help to Italy after receiving an order from President Vladimir Putin. The planes and trucks it sent bore giant stickers showing heart-shaped Russian and Italian flags next to one another with the slogan “From Russia with Love” in both Russian and Italian.

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Latest on the spread of the coronavirus around the world

(Reuters) – As coronavirus cases ballooned in Europe, several countries imposed or planned new restrictions to try to curb the spread. Britain told panic-buyers to calm down. California and three other U.S. states directed tens of millions of people to stay at home.

DEATHS, INFECTIONS

* More than 274,800 people have been infected across the world and 11,389 have died, according to a Reuters tally.

* For an interactive graphic tracking global spread: open tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser

EUROPE

* Britain told people panic-buying and hoarding food to calm down on Saturday, pointing to a video on social media showing an exhausted nurse driven to tears by finding shelves bare after her shift.

* Italy imposed further draconian restrictions on public life on Friday. The death toll in Italy leapt by 627 to 4,032, an increase of 18.4% – by far the largest daily rise in absolute terms since the contagion emerged a month ago.

* Spain said it would turn a Madrid conference center into a giant military hospital, as Europe’s second-worst outbreak claimed another 235 lives.

* France reported 78 new deaths on Friday, taking the total to 450, an increase of 21%.

* Germany may enforce a nationwide curfew if the country’s 83 million people fail to keep their distance from each other this weekend.

AMERICAS

* New Jersey’s governor was expected on Saturday to follow four other states – California, New York, Illinois and Connecticut – demanding that millions of Americans close up shop and stay home to slow the spread of coronavirus infections.

* The total number of known U.S. cases has climbed past 19,000 in a surge that health officials attributed in large part to an increase in diagnostic testing. More than 270 Americans have died.

* The U.S. Homeland Security Department said restrictions on travel across the U.S.-Canadian land border would begin at 11:59 p.m. EDT Friday and last until April 20.

* Mexico and the United States have agreed to form a joint task force to combat the spread at their border.

ASIA * China reported a record rise in imported coronavirus cases as students and expatriates returned home from the United States and Europe, sparking fears of a second wave of infections just as the country recovers from the initial outbreak.

* All 41 of the new confirmed cases in China were imported from overseas, the country’s National Health Commission said on Saturday.

* A Chinese report into the coronavirus death of a young doctor reprimanded by police when he tried to raise the alarm about the disease drew quick criticism online.

* Indonesia’s total of cases rose to 450, with 38 deaths, a health ministry official said on Saturday. This comes a day after the governor of Jakarta declared a state of emergency in the Indonesian capital for the next two weeks.

* Malaysia’s cases jumped to 1,183 on Saturday with four deaths, and the government warned of more cases next week as it looks for people who attended a mass religious gathering linked to a majority of the cases.

* Vietnam will suspend all inbound international flights, the government said in a statement on Saturday.

MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA

* Iran’s death toll from the outbreak rose on Saturday by more than 100 to 1,556, and the total number of people infected now exceeds 20,000, a health ministry official said.

* Saudi Arabia, which has announced a $31.93 billion support package, has suspended all domestic flights, buses, taxis and trains for 14 days starting Saturday.

* The disease stopped communal Muslim prayers for the first time in living memory in many mosques from Indonesia to Morocco on Friday.

* Egypt on Saturday ordered mosques and churches to shut their doors to worshippers, after calls for the government to follow steps taken by neighboring countries.

* Angola on Saturday confirmed its first two cases of coronavirus, while Mauritius recorded its first death as the virus spreads across Africa.

ECONOMIC FALLOUT

* The coronavirus stimulus package being negotiated by the U.S. Senate would be worth more than $2 trillion, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Saturday.

* Germany is readying an emergency budget worth more than 150 billion euros ($160 billion) to shore up jobs and businesses at risk from the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak, the finance minister said on Saturday.

* Amazon.com Inc said on Saturday it is raising overtime pay for associates working in its U.S. warehouses, as the world’s largest online retailer tries to meet the rapidly growing demand for online shopping from consumers stuck at home.

* Wall Street retreated on Friday after New York ordered residents to stay at home, rattling investors who had welcomed this week’s fiscal and monetary measures. [MKTS/GLOB]

* The Trump administration plans to send a special energy envoy to Saudi Arabia to work with the kingdom on stabilizing the global oil market, officials said on Friday.

* Lockdowns and panic food buying could ignite world food inflation even though there are ample supplies of staple grains and oilseeds in key exporting nations, a senior economist at FAO and agricultural analysts said.

* The British government will pay a massive share of private sector wage bills to discourage bosses from firing staff.

* Vehicle production could be reduced by about 1.44 million in Europe, North America and Latin America, according to an estimate by information provider IHS Markit.

* The container shipping industry, a bellwether for international trade, has been blown off course with container lines re-routing cargoes and reducing calls to Chinese ports.

* Indian key crop prices have plunged as much as 50% just as farmers prepare for harvest, putting paid to prospects for a rural economic rebound.

EVENTS

* USA Track and Field (USATF), the governing body of American athletics, on Saturday called for a postponement of the Tokyo Olympics.

* Multiple sports events have been canceled or postponed.

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Winnipeg Harvest and food programs feeling pinch from coronavirus

As concerns about COVID-19 increase across Manitoba, Winnipeg Harvest is seeing its supply of food drop.

The food bank relies on donations from people and stores, but with people stockpiling and stores not having a lot of extra stock, the organization is feeling the pinch.

“This has never happened to Winnipeg Harvest,” CEO Karen Taylor-Hughes said.

“Because there’s so much buying going on in grocery stores, we’re having a hard time getting donations.”

Winnipeg Harvest also supplies food to nearly 100 other food bank programs across the city.

Taylor-Hughes said the number of people who will be relying on their services is only going to increase with some people losing their jobs.

“We are now asking folks to donate funds to help us purchase food. And we’re working with all the retailers who are reaching out to us and asking what our needs are so we can ensure that we keep the flow of food going.”

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Factbox: Latest on the spread of coronavirus around the world

(Reuters) – France and Spain joined Italy in imposing lockdowns on tens of millions of people, Australia ordered self-isolation of arriving foreigners and other countries extended entry bans as the world sought to contain the spreading coronavirus.

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.

DEATHS, INFECTIONS

– Globally more than 162,000 are infected and over 6,000 have died. Mainland China had 16 new confirmed cases on Sunday, down from 20 a day earlier. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in China so far to 80,860.

– For interactive graphic tracking global spread: open tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser

AMERICAS

– U.S. President Donald Trump tested negative for the coronavirus, his doctor said on Saturday, as the U.S. president extended his country’s travel ban to Britain and Ireland.

– With limited testing available, U.S. officials have recorded nearly 3,000 cases and 65 deaths, up from 58 on Saturday.

– A U.S. sailor aboard a warship ship tested positive for the coronavirus for the first time, the U.S. Navy said on Sunday.

– Amid chaos at airports, Americans were urged to hunker down and face new realities. Washington suspended travel from certain European countries for 30 days beginning at midnight on Friday.

– U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Sunday the cost of a coronavirus aid package will likely be “significant but not huge.”

– Mnuchin said expected to have a better idea of the price tag this week and added he also planned to talk to lawmakers about critical aid to airlines, as well as the hotel and cruise ship industries.

– Guatemala logged its first fatality from coronavirus on Sunday as nations in South and Central America ramped up measures to contain the infection, with Panama banning entry of non-resident foreigners and Honduras closing its borders to passenger traffic for a week.

– Colombia will block entry to travelers who are not residents or citizens and will close schools and universities from Monday. Colombian citizens and foreign residents who arrive from March 16 will be required to perform an obligatory 14-day period of self isolation.

– Argentina published a decree establishing a 30-day ban on entry to non-residents who have traveled to a country highly affected by coronavirus in the last 14 days.

– Mexico warned the outbreak could last all year as it began rolling out tougher measures to contain the spread, calling for an end to large gatherings and extending Easter school holidays.

EUROPE

– Italy recorded 368 more deaths from the coronavirus outbreak on Sunday, its biggest one day rise. The country has recorded a total of 24,747 cases and 1,809 deaths by Sunday – a rise of 368 or 25% in the death toll in just 24 hours.

– France is preparing an order that would put its inhabitants under partial lockdown to combat the epidemic.

– The Czech Republic tightened restrictions on Monday to combat the outbreak, banning people from moving around except for work, shopping and some other limited activities until March 24.

– Belgium’s caretaker government received emergency powers to tackle the coronavirus crisis on Sunday after opposition parties gave it their backing.

– Austria announced major restrictions on movement in public places on Sunday, banning gatherings of more than five persons and urging Austrians to self-isolate, as well as putting further limits on who can enter the country.

– Slovenia will shut down its air traffic from Tuesday in an attempt to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

– Spain’s official coronavirus death toll rose by 152 overnight to 288 on Sunday. The number infected rose by 2,000 new cases to 7,753.

– The Netherlands will close all schools, cafes, restaurants and sport clubs nationwide, the government decided on Sunday, its most far-reaching moves yet on the epidemic.

– Britain will isolate older people “within weeks” and force into quarantine anyone diagnosed with coronavirus, the government said as it stepped up measures that have so far been less stringent than elsewhere in Europe.

– Germany urged people returning from Italy, Switzerland and Austria to self-isolate for up to two weeks.

– Pope Francis’ Holy Week and Easter services, which normally draw tens of thousands of people, will be held without the public attending because of the coronavirus outbreak, a step believed to be unprecedented in modern times.

ASIA

– China has tightened checks on international travelers at Beijing airport and said it will centrally quarantine all arrivals at its capital, after new imported coronavirus cases surpassed locally transmitted infections for a second day.

– South Korea reported 74 new coronavirus infections on Monday, bringing the country’s total to 8,236.

– Japan’s health ministry said it has identified 15 clusters of coronavirus infections around the country. The biggest cluster was in the Osaka area, with more than 50 infections centered around a music venue.

– Australia will impose 14-day self-isolation on international travelers arriving from midnight Sunday and ban cruise ships from foreign ports for 30 days, mirroring restrictions in nearby New Zealand aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus.

– Australia’s capital and the country’s second most populous state declared states of emergency on Monday, while large, non-essential gatherings were banned in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus after the national death toll rose to five. Australia has recorded nearly 300 cases of coronavirus.

– The Philippines recorded four additional coronavirus deaths and 29 new cases, bringing the domestic tally of infections to 140, as authorities placed the entire capital Manila under “community quarantine” for about a month beginning Sunday.

MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA

– Jordan confirmed 12 new cases of the coronavirus on Sunday, as the central bank announced measures to help troubled businesses and a tourism sector hit hard by the impact of the crisis.

– Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial was delayed on Sunday for two months, until May, due to the coronavirus.

– President Michel Aoun declared a medical state of emergency in Lebanon on Sunday and called on people to work from home as the country steps up measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

– Gulf Arab states expanded measures, with the United Arab Emirates shuttering several public venues including parks and the Abu Dhabi bourse trading hall, as infections continued to spread in the region.

ECONOMIC FALLOUT

– With panic buying on Main Street and fear-driven sell-offs on Wall Street, the U.S. Federal Reserve cut interest rates to near zero on Sunday in another emergency move to help shore up the U.S. economy amid the rapidly escalating coronavirus pandemic.

– Stock markets and the dollar were roiled on Monday after the Federal Reserve slashed interest rates in an emergency move and its major peers offered cheap U.S. dollars to break a logjam in global lending markets.

– The United States’ biggest banks will stop buying back their own shares, and will instead use that capital to lend to individuals and businesses affected by the coronavirus, an industry trade group said on Sunday.

– European Union finance ministers plan to agree on Monday on a coordinated economic response to the coronavirus pandemic, with the European Commission forecasting the effects of the virus could push the EU into a recession.

– Manufacturing in Britain weakened sharply in early 2020 even before concerns about the coronavirus crisis escalated, adding urgency to the need for a trade deal with the European Union.

– South Korea’s finance ministry on Monday pledged to take swift and stern stabilization measures to prevent herd-like behavior in currency market, and to supply liquidity if needed as the economy comes under pressure due to the coronavirus outbreak.

– With one of Wall Street’s wildest weeks in recent memory now in the history books, investors braced for more uncertainty and big market swings ahead.

– New home prices in China stalled for the first time in nearly five years in February, according to Reuters calculations.

– More major retailers said on Sunday they would shut stores in the United States to limit the spread of the coronavirus, including Nike, Under Armour, and Lululemon Athletica.

– Saudi Aramco said it plans to cut capital spending in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, and also posted a plunge in profit for last year, missing forecasts in its first earnings announcement as a listed company.

– Most major Middle Eastern stock markets closed lower on Sunday amid fears of economic fallout from coronavirus precautions, with Egypt falling the most and Saudi Aramco slipping after it missed profit forecasts.

– Airlines called on the British government to help ensure their survival during the coronavirus crisis on Sunday after the U.S. extended restrictions on European travelers to include Britain.

– Britain’s food retailers appealed to shoppers to stop panic buying, saying purchasing more than they need would mean others will be left without.

SPORTS

– The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games flame handover in Athens next week will be done in an empty stadium amid the coronavirus outbreak, Greece’s Olympic Committee said on Sunday.

– A European qualifying event for this year’s Tokyo Olympic boxing tournament will be closed to spectators from Monday.

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Factbox: Latest on the spread of coronavirus around the world

(Reuters) – The World Health Organization (WHO) described the coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic and said Italy and Iran were on the frontline of the disease and other countries would soon join them.

For an interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus, click here

DEATHS/INFECTIONS

– More than 126,100 people have been infected globally and over 4,600 have died, according to a Reuters tally of government announcements.

– Mainland China had 15 new infections, down from 24 cases a day earlier, bringing the total to 80,793. The death toll touched 3,169, up by 11 from the previous day.

EUROPE

– Greece reported its first fatality, a 66 year old man who had returned from a religious pilgrimage to Israel and Egypt at the end of February.

– Death toll in Italy jumped by 196 in 24 hours to 827 and the government said it would restrict movement further and ramp up spending to soften the financial impact. The total number of infections rose to 12,462.

– In the UK, two elderly people died, taking the toll to eight. The number of confirmed cases rose to 456, up from 373 a day earlier.

– Sweden, with around 460 confirmed cases, reported its first death on Wednesday. The country has banned public gatherings of more than 500 people to stop the spread of the disease.

– Switzerland stepped up measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus that has killed four people and sickened hundreds in the Alpine country.

– France’s coronavirus death toll rose by almost 50% to 48. The total number of confirmed cases rose to 2,281.

– In Denmark, 514 people were diagnosed with the coronavirus as of Wednesday, rising 10-fold since Monday. The country will close all schools and universities and start sending home all employees in the public sector with non-critical jobs.

– Turkey confirmed its first case on Wednesday, becoming the last major economy to report an outbreak after taking what the WHO described as “vigilant, cautious” measures to delay the disease.

– Poland, which has confirmed 26 cases, will close all schools starting Monday.

– Bosnia, Serbia and Moldova have closed air travel from virus-hit countries. Moldova and Bosnia’s Serb region have also shut schools and universities.

– Austria will deny entry to people arriving from Italy and has banned indoor events of more than 100 people and close schools from next week until April, along with the Czech Republic which is also closing schools and universities.

– Bulgaria reported the first death from coronavirus. The confirmed cases in the Balkan country reached seven.

– Ukraine said it would restrict mass events and close schools and universities in capital Kiev.

AMERICAS

– U.S. President Donald Trump ordered the suspension of European travel to the United States for 30 days to help curb the spread of a coronavirus pandemic.

– The U.S. banking sector is strong and ready to help businesses and consumers weather the economic fallout from the coronavirus, Wall Street chief executives told President Trump in a meeting at the White House on Wednesday.

– The Democratic presidential contenders are reassessing how to campaign, after they canceled election night rallies on Tuesday on recommendation from public health officials.

– Cuba confirmed its first case on Wednesday.

– Guyana on Wednesday confirmed its first case of infection in a Guyanese woman who died after returning to the South American country last week from the United States.

– Costa Rica said the number of cases increased to 22, up from 13.

– Guatemala said it will ban the entry of citizens of European countries, Iran, China, South Korea and North Korea.

ASIA

– China’s Hubei province said public transport workers in Wuhan and those engaged in making medical supplies and daily necessities could return to work along with some industries that impact national or global supply chains.

– India said it will suspend a vast majority of visas to the country in a wide-reaching attempt to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

– Total infections in Japan rose to 1,278, including 696 from a cruise ship and 14 returnees on charter flights from China. One new infection was reported early on Wednesday, when the death toll stood at 19.

– South Korea reported 114 new cases and six more deaths. The new cases bring the country’s total to 7,869, with 66 deaths.

– Thailand reported 11 new cases, bringing the total cases to 70.

– Hong Kong will quarantine all visitors from Italy and parts of France, Germany and Japan for two weeks from March 13.

– Weeks after Vietnam declared that all its 16 cases had recovered, the number of infections is on the rise following a flight from Britain.

MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA

– Bahrain’s health ministry said on Wednesday 77 new cases have been recorded among citizens evacuated from Iran.

– Qatar reported 238 more cases among individuals under quarantine in a residential compound

– Egypt registered seven new cases, bringing the total cases to 67.

– Ivory Coast confirmed its first case of coronavirus. South Africa announced six new cases on Wednesday, bringing its total to 13.

– Lebanon reported its first death on Tuesday and Congo its first case, bringing the number of countries in sub-Saharan Africa hit by the epidemic to seven.

AUSTRALIA

– Australia’s government said it would pump A$17.6 billion ($11.4 billion) into the economy to prevent the outbreak from pushing the country into its first recession in nearly 30 years.

ECONOMIC FALLOUT

– Chinese manufacturers and sellers of drug ingredients said logistical hurdles and labor shortages are delaying some production and shipments, adding to concerns about the potential for global drug shortages.

– China’s central bank said it will take effective measures with the stock regulator to improve the financing function of the bond market in an attempt to support the economy.

– Canada will spend C$1 billion ($728 million) to fight the spread of coronavirus and stands ready to do more, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.

– Italy will ramp up spending to help the economy, earmarking 25 billion euros ($28.3 billion) to tackle the growing crisis, its Prime Minister said on Wednesday.

– German sportswear makers Adidas and Puma warned on Wednesday of a major decline in sales in China and said while there were early signs of improvement there, the impact had spread to other markets.

– Kazakhstan cut natural gas supplies to China by 20-25% on Wednesday.

MARKETS

– Financial markets reeled as stocks dived and oil slumped after Trump took the dramatic step of banning travel from Europe, threatening more disruptions to trade and the world economy.

EVENT CANCELED, POSTPONED, BEHIND CLOSED DOORS

– The National Basketball Association (NBA) said on Wednesday it was suspending the season until further notice after a Utah Jazz player tested positive.

– A meeting of G20 Agriculture and Water ministers scheduled for March 17-19 in Saudi Arabia has been postponed.

– FIFA has postponed its annual Congress, due to be held in Ethiopia in June, for three months.

– The inaugural edition of the multi-nation Fed Cup finals that were scheduled to be held in Budapest next month was postponed on Wednesday.

– The San Francisco-based NBA team Golden State Warriors will play their Thursday home game without spectators.

– The world figure skating championships, scheduled to be held in Montreal from March 16-22, have been canceled.

– The International Weightlifting Federation postponed the European championship from April to June.

– Arsenal isolated some players and the Premier League postponed its Manchester City match on Wednesday.

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