(JAMAICA OBSERVER) – More than 1.5 billion people — one-fifth of the world’s population — were asked or ordered to stay home in global efforts to contain the novel coronavirus pandemic which has infected 387,000 people and killed over 16,500. Over 101,000 people have recovered so far, mostly in China. Here’s the latest on this global crisis:
— In Jamaica, Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton announced that Jamaica’s number of confirmed COVID-19 cases stood at 21. Prime Minister Andrew Holness then announced that all schools in the country would remain closed until the end of the Easter holidays, and that as of Wednesday, March 25 citizens aged 75 and over are prohibited from leaving their homes for 14 days, subject to exemptions. Additionally, public sector workers aged 65 and older are to work from home, and there would be increased surveillance as COVID-19 reached the level of community spread in Jamaica.
— Belize’s Governor General Sir Colville Young brought into effect a state of emergency for Ambergris Caye, the largest island, located northeast of the country’s mainland, after it recorded its first case of the novel coronavirus.
— Haiti recorded three new cases of the coronavirus yesterday and health officials on the French-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country urged people to follow instructions given by the relevant authorities so as to prevent the spread of the virus. This brought the total number of positive cases in the country to five.
— Britain yesterday ordered a three-week lockdown to tackle the spread of the coronavirus, shutting “non-essential” shops and services, and banning gatherings of more than two people.
— Japan has asked for a one-year postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Games over the global coronavirus pandemic, and the International Olympic Committee has agreed, the country’s prime minister said Tuesday.
— The United Nations rights chief called Tuesday for any sanctions imposed on countries like Iran facing the new coronavirus pandemic to be re-evaluated to avoid pushing strained medical systems into collapse.
— More than 1,600 people have been arrested in Jordan in three days for violating a curfew aimed at stemming the spread of coronavirus, a security official said Tuesday.
The source said the 1,657 people arrested across Jordan since the curfew came into effect on Saturday had been placed in quarantine centres run by the army.
— More than 200,000 coronavirus cases have been declared in Europe, with Italy’s 63,927 infections and Spain’s 39,673 accounting for more than half of the total.
With at least 200,009 cases, including 10,732 deaths, Europe is the continent worst hit by the pandemic, ahead of Asia with 98,748 cases and 3,570 deaths. The first outbreak was in China in December.
— While most of Europe is locked down in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19, Sweden is keeping primary schools, restaurants and bars open and encouraging people to go outside for a nip of air.
The country’s soft approach, in stark contrast to the urgent tone elsewhere, has sparked heated debate whether Sweden is doing the right thing.
— Italian authorities on Tuesday announced the seizure of nearly 2,000 respirators intended for patients receiving hospital treatment for the novel coronavirus in Greece. Respirator exports have been banned in Italy since February 25.
Italian police and customs officials said the 1,840 units comprised both the valve that pumps oxygen and the accompanying mask and various tubes. Greece has reported 15 COVID-19 fatalities and more than 600 infections. Italy’s world-leading death toll topped 6,000 on Monday.