Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Monday announced further stringent measures to combat the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) after the country on Monday recorded its first coronavirus-related death.
The deceased is a 30 year-old son of a local businessman who had recently returned from the United States.
Mnangagwa announced a series of coronavirus fighting measures which come into force with immediate effect.
Among others, the president announced the closure of the country's borders to all human traffic except for returning residents and cargo.
He said returning residents will be subject to strict screening procedures including rigorous enforcement of the 21-day self-quarantine.
The president also imposed a blanket ban on entertainment and recreational activities, including gatherings around night clubs, bars, beer halls, movie houses, swimming pools, gymnasiums and sporting activities.
He discouraged citizens from undertaking unnecessary travel in and around the country.
Mnangagwa also limited visits to hospitals and clinics to one visit per day involving only one relative per patient while the number of public gatherings for such events as religious fellowships, weddings, conferences and funerals has been limited to 50.
Government, he said, will not at this stage close informal markets but encouraged citizens to limit visits to such markets.
Businesses were also urged to come up with measures to reduce human concentration in their workplaces, with non-essential staff encouraged to work from home.
"I am aware that this curtailment of social activities will be hard on all of us. However, such tough measures have become necessary and unavoidable for our collective safety as a nation," Mnangagwa said.
He said government will conduct rigorous contact tracing of all the people who had come into contact with the infected persons and health personnel and law enforcement agencies will be deployed to help with the tracing operations.
"Additionally, citizens are also encouraged to observe social distancing parameters as spelt out by the World Health Organization," he said.
Mnangagwa last week declared the pandemic a national disaster.
One new confirmed case of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) was reported Monday in Wuhan after the former hardest-hit city had seen zero new reports for five consecutive days.
The health commission of Hubei Province, of which Wuhan is the capital, said Tuesday the latest case in Wuhan was the only new COVID-19 case in the central Chinese province Monday.
Hubei saw seven new deaths, all of which were in Wuhan, bringing the total number of deaths in the province to 3,160.
The province also saw 444 patients discharged from hospital after recovery on Monday. Among the 4,200 patients being treated in hospital, 1,203 were still in severe condition and another 336 in critical condition, according to the commission.
Hubei has so far reported a total of 67,801 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 50,006 in Wuhan.
Britain has become the latest European country to go into effective lockdown to deal with the threat of the coronavirus pandemic, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Monday sweeping curbs on everyday activity including the banning of any gatherings of more than two people who do not live together.
As well as instructing the public to "stay at home" for all but a few exceptions, Johnson said he was ordering shops that don't sell essential goods, such as food and medicines, to close immediately.
In as somber an address to the nation as any prime minister has arguably delivered since World War II, Johnson said it was critical to prevent the virus from spreading between households and that police would be authorized to break up gatherings of more than two people from different households in public in order to deal with the "biggest threat this country has faced for decades."
"I must give the British people a very simple instruction," the prime minister said while seated behind a desk. "You must stay at home."
The measures announced mark a departure from the British government's until-now more relaxed approach to the worldwide pandemic, which has stood in contrast to the lockdowns put in place elsewhere in Europe, notably in Italy, France and Spain. Though Britain has already closed schools, bars and restaurants and urged people to stay home, the advice for people to keep their distance have either been ignored or not understood fully enough — concerns over the strategy were stoked over the past weekend when many of the country's open spaces were packed out in the sunny weather.
Under the measures which Johnson did not term as a lockdown, people will only be allowed to leave home for a few "very limited purposes" to relieve the pressure on the National Health Service, Johnson said.
These include shopping for basic necessities "as infrequently as possible," one form of exercise a day done alone or with household members, medical reasons or travelling to work that cannot be done from home or that is "absolutely necessary."
"That's all — these are the only reasons you should leave your home," Johnson said. "To ensure compliance with the government's instruction to stay at home, we will immediately close all shops selling non-essential goods, including clothing and electronic stores and other premises, including libraries, playgrounds and outdoor gyms, and places of worship."
Social events, including weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies, will also be stopped. Funerals are exempt. Parks will also remain open for exercise, but any gatherings will be broken up.
Johnson said the police will have the power to enforce the new requirements, including through fines and dispersing gatherings, and that these emergency measures will be in place for at least three weeks, subject to constant review.
Johnson has come under mounting pressure to introduce tougher measures in response after many people were seen out in public over the weekend not properly observing the government's social distancing recommendations of staying at least two meters apart.
Officials at Snowdonia National Park in Wales, for example, introduced its own restrictions and urged the government to be more explicit with its social distancing advice after its "busiest visitor weekend in living memory." And responding to the visibly high use of parks and the London Underground during the outbreak, London Mayor Sadiq Khan implored people to stay at home unless they "absolutely need to" move about the city.
British Health Secretary Matt Hancock had earlier expressed frustration at the failure of many to abide by the government's restrictions, describing those who gathered in groups up and down the land as "very selfish."
The U.K. had the 10th-highest number of virus cases in the world, 5,903, and the sixth-highest number of virus-related deaths as of Monday, according to tallies from Johns Hopkins University. British government figures showed that 54 more people with the virus had died since Sunday, bringing the country's total to 335.
New infections are seemingly increasing at an exponential rate, raising concern that the country will be on a trajectory like Italy's in a week or two if containment efforts are not successful.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever or coughing. But for some older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. Over 100,000 people have recovered, mostly in China.
"The way ahead is hard, and it is still true that many lives will sadly be lost," Johnson said. "And yet it is also true that there is a clear way through .… And therefore, I urge you at this moment of national emergency to stay at home, protect our NHS and save lives."
Top congressional and White House officials emerged from grueling negotiations at the Capitol over the nearly $2 trillion coronavirus rescue package saying they expected to reach a deal Tuesday.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said they had spoken by phone with President Donald Trump during the long night of negotiations. While the two sides have resolved many issues in the sweeping package, some remain.
At midnight Monday, they emerged separately to say talks would continue into the night.
"We look forward to having a deal tomorrow," Mnuchin told reporters after exiting Schumer's office.
"The president is giving us direction," Mnuhcin said. "The president would like to have a deal and he's hopeful we can conclude this."
Moments later, Schumer agreed that a deal was almost within reach. "That's the expectation — that we finish it tomorrow and hopefully vote on it tomorrow evening," he said.
The long evening of shuttle negotiations came after a long day trying to close the deal. The massive package is a far-reaching effort to prop up the U.S. economy, help American households and bolster the health care system amid the growing crisis. Mnuchin said talks were expected to resume at 9:30 a.m. EDT.
Tensions flared Monday as Washington strained to respond to the worsening coronavirus outbreak, with Congress arguing over a nearly $2 trillion economic rescue package and an impatient President Donald Trump musing openly about letting the 15-day shutdown expire next Monday, March 30.
As the U.S. braces for an onslaught of sick Americans, and millions are forced indoors to avert a spike that risks overwhelming hospitals, the most ambitious federal intervention in modern times is testing whether Washington can act swiftly to deal with the pandemic on the home front.
"It's time to get with the program, time to pass historic relief," said an angry Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell earlier in the day as he opened the chamber after a nonstop weekend session that failed to produce a deal. "This is a national emergency."
Fuming, McConnell warned Democrats — pointedly House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — to quit stalling on "political games," as he described Democratic efforts to steer more of the aid toward public health and workers, and push other priorities.
Trump, who has largely been hands off from the negotiations, weighed in late Monday from the White House briefing room, declaring that Congress should vote "for the Senate bill as written," dismissing any Democratic proposal.
"It must go quickly," Trump said. "This is not the time for political agendas."
The president also sounded a note of frustration about the unprecedented modern-day effort to halt the virus's march by essentially shutting down public activities in ways that now threaten the U.S. economy.
Even though Trump's administration recommended Americans curtail activities starting a week ago, the president said: "We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself. At the end of the 15-day period, we will make a decision as to which way we want to go."
"Let's go to work," he said. "This country was not built to be shut down. This is not a county that was built for this."
Trump said that he may soon allow parts of the nation's economy, in regions less badly hit by the virus, to begin reopening, contradicting the advice of medical and public health experts across the country, if not the globe, to hunker down even more firmly.
Pelosi assailed Trump's idea and fluctuating response to the crisis.
"He's a notion-monger, just tossing out things that have no relationship to a well coordinated, science-based, government-wide response to this," Pelosi said on a health-care conference call. "Thank God for the governors who are taking the lead in their state. Thank God for some of the people in the administration who speak truth to power."
The White House team led by Mnuchin worked on Capitol Hill for a fourth straight day of talks as negotiators narrowed on a bipartisan accord.
In the nearly empty building, the virus continued to strike close. Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who announced he tested positive for coronavirus, is now among five senators under self-quarantine. Several other lawmakers have cycled in and out of isolation. And the husband of Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., is in a hospital with pneumonia after testing positive, she said Monday.
First lady Melania Trump, meanwhile, has tested negative for the coronavirus, Trump said.
With a wary population watching and waiting, Washington labored under the size and scope of a rescue package — larger than the 2008 bank bailout and 2009 recovery act combined.
Democrats are holding out as they argue the package is tilted toward corporations and should do more to help suddenly jobless workers and health care providers with dire needs.
In particular, Schumer, D-N.Y., wants constraints on the largely Republican-led effort to provide $500 billion for corporations, which Democrats have called a "slush fund." Schumer wants the bill to limit stock buy-backs, CEO pay and layoffs.
Yet, he said, "We're very close to reaching a deal." Even so, another attempt to move the package forward snagged, blocked as Democrats refused to quit negotiating.
Democrats won one concession — to provide four months of expanded unemployment benefits, rather than just three as proposed, according to an official granted anonymity to discuss the private talks. The jobless pay also would extend to self-employed and so-called gig workers.
But Republicans complained Democrats were holding out for more labor protections for workers, wanting assurances that corporations taking federal aid will commit to retaining their employees.
Pelosi came out with the House Democrats' own sweeping $2.5 trillion bill, which would provide $1,500 directly to the public and $200 billion to the states, as governors are pleading for aid. She urged Senate negotiators "to move closer to the values" in it.
Trump has balked at using his authority under the recently invoked Defense Protection Act to compel the private sector to manufacture needed medical supplies like masks and ventilators, even as he encourages them to spur production. "We are a country not based on nationalizing our business," said Trump, who has repeatedly railed against socialism overseas and among Democrats.
From his home, Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden criticized Trump for stopping short of using the full force of emergency federal authority .
"Trump keeps saying he's a wartime president," Biden said in an online address. "Well, start acting like one."
On the economic front, the Federal Reserve announced Monday it will lend to small and large businesses and local governments as well as extend its bond-buying programs as part of a series of sweeping steps to support the flow of credit through an economy ravaged by the viral outbreak.
Central to the emerging rescue package is as much as $350 billion for small businesses to keep making payroll while workers are forced to stay home. The package also proposes a one-time rebate of about $1,200 per person, or $3,000 for a family of four, as well as extended unemployment benefits.
Hospitals would get about $110 billion for the expected influx of sick patients, said Mnuchin. But Democrats are pushing for more health-care dollars for the front-line hospitals and workers.
The urgency to act is mounting, as jobless claims skyrocket and financial markets are eager for signs that Washington can soften the blow of the health-care crisis and what experts say is a looming recession.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.
Doctors and nurses pleaded for supplies such as masks and ventilators that are critical in their battle to treat a surging number of coronavirus patients, while governments on Tuesday continued to roll out measures that have put more than one-fifth of the world's population under some form of lockdown.
High in the Himalayan mountains, Nepal became the latest country to compel its citizens to stay at home, joining large parts of Europe, Southeast Asia and the entire West Coast of the United States. By shuttering businesses, clearing streets and keeping people away from one another, authorities hope they can slow the spread of the pandemic and keep their health care systems from becoming overwhelmed.
In Britain, which on Monday imposed its most draconian peacetime restrictions on businesses and gatherings, health workers begged for more gear, saying they felt like "cannon fodder." In France, doctors scrounged masks from construction workers and factory floors.
"There's a wild race to get surgical masks," François Blanchecott, a biologist on the front lines of testing, told France Inter radio. "We're asking mayors' offices, industries, any enterprises that might have a store of masks."
The race to find equipment came as the World Health Organization warned that the outbreak was accelerating and called on countries to take strong, coordinated action.
"We are not helpless bystanders," said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO chief, noting that it took 67 days to reach 100,000 cases worldwide but just four days to go from 200,000 to 300,000. "We can change the trajectory of this pandemic."
Stocks continued to fall on Wall Street even after the Federal Reserve said it will lend to small and large businesses and local governments to help them through the crisis, while partisan divisions stalled efforts to pass a colossal aid package in Congress. Asian stock markets reacted more positively Tuesday, with benchmarks in Japan and South Korea posting significant gains.
The move toward lockdowns has been influenced by the apparent success of such measures in China, where the virus was first found late last year in the city of Wuhan. China barred people from leaving or entering the city on Jan. 23 and in succeeding days expanded what at the time were unprecedented measures to most of Hubei province and its tens of millions of residents.
On Tuesday, after more than a week in which the government said the vast majority of new virus cases were imported from abroad rather than community spread, authorities said the restrictions in Hubei would end and people who were cleared would be able to leave the province after midnight.
Authorities said Wuhan will remain locked down until April 8.
The scramble to marshal public health and political resources intensified in New York, where a statewide lockdown took effect Monday amid worries the city of 8.4 million is becoming one of the world's biggest hot spots. More than 12,000 people have tested positive in the city and almost 100 have died.
The mayor warned that the city's hospitals are just 10 days away from shortages in basic supplies, while the state's governor announced plans to convert a New York City convention center into a hospital.
"This is going to get much worse before it gets better," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
In Italy, declines in both new cases and deaths for a second consecutive day provided a faint glimmer of hope. Officials said Monday that the virus had claimed just over 600 more lives, down from 793 two days earlier.
The outbreak has killed more than 6,000 Italians, the highest death toll of any country, and pushed the health system to the breaking point there and in Spain.
The risk to doctors, nurses and others on the front lines has become plain: Italy has seen at least 18 doctors with the coronavirus die. Spain reported that more than 3,900 health care workers have become infected.
For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever or coughing. But for some older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. Over 100,000 people have recovered, mostly in China.
In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the virus the "biggest threat this country has faced for decades" as he ordered people to stay home and directed shops that don't sell essential goods to shut down. He warned that police would be authorized to break up public gatherings of more than two people.
In the U.S., President Donald Trump said he believes the American economy, which has been virtually shut down, could be reopened in weeks, not months.
Amid complaints of hospitals running low on masks, gloves and other critical gear, Trump signed an executive order making it a crime to stockpile supplies needed by medical workers. Attorney General William Barr said investigators will go after those hoarding goods on "an industrial scale" and price gouging.
China is now sending planeloads of protective gear and doctors to Europe, as the crisis continues to ease there.
On Capitol Hill, a nearly $2 trillion plan that would prop up businesses and send checks to American households has stalled. Democrats argued that it was tilted toward corporations rather than workers and health care providers.
Meanwhile, industries big and small kept shutting down. Boeing announced it was suspending production in the Seattle area, where it has two mammoth aircraft plants employing about 42,000 people.
Japan's prime minister and the head of the International Olympic Committee were to hold talks Tuesday as they consider postponing this summer's games in Tokyo.
More than 381,000 people worldwide have been infected and over 16,500 have died from the virus, according to a running tally kept by Johns Hopkins University. More than 1.5 billion people around the globe have been instructed to stay in their homes.
After just a few weeks, the U.S. has more than 46,000 cases and over 580 deaths. Indiana, Michigan, Oregon, Washington state and West Virginia joined states including California, Illinois and New York in asking or ordering residents to stay home and keep businesses closed — directives that cover more than one-third of the U.S. population.
Louisiana's governor urged residents to comply with his stay-at-home order, with New Orleans officials even removing basketball hoops from playgrounds and parks because people were still playing.
"The virus is here, and everybody needs to act as if they already have it," Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said.