The Latest: Official says Canada, US working on travel curbs

Health

A worker wearing protective gears disinfects as a precaution against the new coronavirus at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, March 17, 2020. The Korea Baseball Organization has postponed the start of new season to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some it can cause more severe illness. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

The Latest on the coronaviruspandemic, which has infected more than 198,000 people and killed more than 7,900. The COVID-19 illness causes mild or moderate symptoms in most people, but severe symptoms are more likely in the elderly or those with existing health problems. More than 81,000 people have recovered so far, mostly in China.

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A Canadian government official said late Tuesday that Canada and the United States are working out the details of a mutual ban on non-essential travel between the countries.

The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss details ahead of an announcement.

___ Contributed by AP writer Rob Gillies in Toronto.

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Taiwan is banning foreigners from entering the island.

Chen Shih-zhong, Taiwan’s health minister and commander of the Central Epidemic Epidemic Command Center, announced the ban that starts Thursday. Taiwanese people returning will have to quarantine at home for 14 days.

Taiwan has 77 cases of infection with the virus that causes COVID-19.

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South Korea’s vice health minister who gave daily televised briefings on the country’s anti-virus efforts is quarantining himself after meeting a hospital official who has COVID-19.

Ministry official Yoon Tae-ho on Wednesday said the vice minister, Kim Gang-lip, was among eight ministry officials who met with a group of hospital chiefs at a restaurant in Seoul last Friday to discuss quarantine and treatment for the coronavirus.

Yoon says the ministry officials were sent home Wednesday morning after the head of the Bundang Jeseng General Hospital in Seongnam, near Seoul, was confirmed to have COVID-19.

South Korea has more than 8,000 cases and a series of infections have hit government departments.

Oceans and Fisheries Minister Moon Seong-hyeok has been in quarantine after more than two dozen ministry officials tested positive for the virus, leaving health workers scrambling to sanitize rooms and shut down some of the corridors at a government complex in Sejong City.

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Hawaii’s governor is encouraging travelers to postpone their island vacations for at least the next 30 days as the state tries to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The governor is directing bars and clubs to close and for restaurants to focus on takeout, delivery and drive-through service. He called for gatherings to be limited to a maximum of 10 people.

Officials have closed schools and facilities and postponed events to prevent the disease from spreading widely in the community and overwhelming the healthcare system. Hawaii has recorded 14 cases of the new coronavirus.

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California’s governor said Tuesday that most of the state’s schools will likely remain closed for the rest of the school year because of the new coronavirus.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said nearly all the state’s schools have already shut down as the most populous state tries to stop the spread of the virus, and the rest will soon.

There are more than 6 million children out of school, he said.

The state has applied for a federal waiver that means children would not have to face academic tests once they eventually return to school.

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Two cruise ships turned away by other ports are headed to Honolulu.

Holland America Line’s Maasdam cruise ship, which had its port call for Hilo, Hawaii canceled, will disembark in Honolulu Harbor, state officials said.

The Maasdam, with 842 guests and 542 crew, is scheduled to arrive in Honolulu Friday.

Norwegian Cruise Line said that one of its vessels that had been turned away by Fiji and New Zealand is expected to disembark in Honolulu on Sunday. The Norwegian Jewel, of about 2,000 passengers, was refueling in American Samoa.

There are no cases of coronavirus on either ship, said Tim Sakahara, a spokesman for Hawaii’s transportation department.

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Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered a monthlong closure of casinos and other non-essential businesses like bars, movie theaters and gyms, to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

He’s also telling restaurants to close their dining rooms and only offer takeout or delivery.

The Democratic governor’s order Tuesday night follows similar moves by more than 10 other governors as states scramble to mitigate the risk of exposure to COVID-19.

Sisolak’s order gave thousands of businesses a little more than two days prepare. The governor’s order follows an order the mayor of Reno issued Monday night.

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The original epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic has reported just one new case for a second day.

Wuhan’s one new case reported Wednesday and one Tuesday came as the central Chinese city remains on lockdown and follows a peak of thousands of new cases daily about a month ago.

China reported just 13 new cases nationwide Wednesday. All 12 cases outside Wuhan were imported, according to the health ministry, including three in the capital Beijing, three in the financial hub of Shanghahi, one in the southwestern province of Sichuan, and five in the industrial heartland of Guangdong.

China has been quarantining new arrivals from overseas to maintain control of the disease.

China has recorded 80,890 cases of infection with the virus, including 3,237 deaths. Most of its patients have now recovered.

The first cases of COVID-19 were reported in Wuhan in December.

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Brazil’s government will request that Congress approve the declaration of a state of public calamity through the year’s end due to the coronavirus.

It would enable more public spending beyond the annual budget, to aid health and job preservation.

Economists have debated whether Brazil should consider scrapping its constitutional cap on expenditures to cope with the coronavirus’ impact. The government in the statement from Brazil’s presidential press office reaffirmed its commitment to the ceiling as the anchor of fiscal policy.

As recently as Tuesday morning President Jair Bolsonaro expressed skepticism about the coronavirus’ severity, saying hysteria was inappropriate. Later, Brazil reported its first death from the virus. Latin America’s largest nation also has nearly 300 confirmed cases.

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New Zealand health authorities said on Wednesday the number of confirmed cases of the new coronavirus had jumped from eight to 20.

But they say all are connected with overseas travel and there is no evidence yet of a local outbreak.

The government over the weekend announced tough new border restrictions that require just about everybody arriving in the country to isolate themselves for two weeks, effectively halting the flow of tourists.

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The Federal Aviation Administration said it was temporarily closing the air traffic control tower at Chicago’s Midway Airport after “several” technicians tested positive for coronavirus.

The FAA said in a statement that the airport remains open and operations will continue at a reduced rate.

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The death toll in the U.S. from the new coronavirus passed 100 mark after Washington state reported six new fatalities, bringing the country’s total to 103.

Washington leads the nation in deaths, with 54. Thirty of those deaths were connected with a nursing home in a Seattle suburb.

New York on Tuesday reported more confirmed cases than Washington state for the first time. New York has topped 1,300 cases, while Washington was just over 1,000.

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Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly has closed all K-12 schools through the end of the semester, moving instruction online as the state responds to the coronavirus pandemic.

Kelly’s announcement Tuesday afternoon came as several school districts already had extended spring breaks and colleges and universities had moved to online instruction for the rest of the school year.

The state has 286 local school districts and nearly 500,000 students.

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The chair of the House Judiciary Committee and other Democratic leaders of the panel have asked federal regulators to take immediate action to protect consumers from price gouging in the pandemic.

In a letter to Federal Trade Commission Chairman Joseph Simons, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., didn’t specify what measures the FTC should take, but promised to pursue legislation if needed to bolster the agency’s efforts.

Concern over hoarding and price-gouging for medical masks, hand sanitizer and disinfectants has risen around the country. Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, for example, said Tuesday his office has received over 70 complaints.

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The largest retail and entertainment center in the U.S. shut down Tuesday in support of Minnesota’s efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic by discouraging people from gathering.

The Mall of America in the Minneapolis suburb of Bloomington, which draws visitors from across the country and around the world, closed its doors at 5 p.m. Tuesday and said they’ll remain shut through at least March 31. It cited orders from Gov. Tim Walz that are aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus.

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West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice on Tuesday night said the state has reported its first positive case of the new coronavirus, meaning that all 50 states have now confirmed cases.

Justice said the confirmed case is in the state’s Eastern Panhandle, an area close to Washington, D.C. He did not immediately disclose the county where the illness occurred.

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The Australian government is giving the nation’s ailing airlines a 715 million Australian dollar ($430 million) lifeline to help the sector through the new coronavirus pandemic.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said on Wednesday local time that a range of government charges will be refunded and waived to help airlines under pressure as domestic and global travel plummet.

The government will forgo fuel tax, air service charges and regional security fees. The move is expected to create an initial benefit of AU$159 million, with the government refunding charges paid since Feb. 1.

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Tunisia’s President Kais Saied has announced a nationwide curfew in the North African country.

In a tweet from the official presidential Twitter account, it said there would be a lockdown “from six o’clock in the evening until six o’clock in the morning.”

Saied addressed the Tunisian people Tuesday to announce the adoption of exceptional measures to counter the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tunisia previously suspended all international flights and closed its borders in an effort to contain the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

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The National Park Service said the Pearl Harbor National Memorial has closed temporarily following guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and public health officials.

The site includes the USS Arizona Memorial, which honors the 1,177 Marines and sailors killed when their battleship sank during the 1941 Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. The memorial normally receives about 1.8 million visitors each year.

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At least 17 elders from a Madrid nursing home have died in the past five days, city authorities said.

The Spanish capital’s regional authorities acknowledged late Tuesday that 17 people have died at the nursing home. The announcement came after worried relatives turned to the media to reveal a cluster of the new coronavirus that they fear may have infected many others.

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New York City residents should be prepared for the possibility of a shelter-in-place order within days, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday.

De Blasio said no decision had been made yet, but he wants city and state officials to make a decision within 48 hours, given the fast spread of the coronavirus.

Officials in six San Francisco Bay-area counties issued a “shelter-in-place” order that went into effect Tuesday, requiring nearly 7 million residents to stay inside and venture out only for food, medicine or exercise for three weeks.

___ Serbia has introduced a nationwide dusk-to-dawn curfew for all citizens and banned people older than 65 from leaving their households as part of an emergency law intended to fight the spread of coronavirus in the Balkan country.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic announced Europe’s harshest measures Tuesday, saying there are intended to save lives.

He said that the army is taking over hospitals, border checkpoints, and 17 immigration centers in Serbia.

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Spain, the fourth hardest-hit nation in the coronavirus pandemic, has requested medical supplies from China.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez spoke Tuesday as Beijing was preparing its first shipment of aid to the European country, according to the Chinese embassy in Madrid.

A spokesman from China’s embassy in Spain said Beijing was readying a shipment of test kits, surgical masks and protection glasses. The official, who was not authorized to be named in media reports, said that China was also “positively considering” sending doctors to Spain.

Spain has 11,309 confirmed infections and has seen 509 deaths.

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The Trump admiration is allowing Americans to delay paying their taxes and is hoping to send stimulus checks directly to people as the nation grapples with the coronavirus pandemic.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is encouraging Americans who can to file their taxes on or before April 15 to do so so that they don’t lose out on their tax refunds.

But he says that, if Americans owe the IRS money, they can defer up to $1 million for individuals and $10 million for corporations without interest and penalties for 90 days.

President Donald Trump and Mnuchin also say during a White House briefing that they want to send checks to Americans in the next two weeks in an effort to curb the economic impact of the pandemic.

Across the United States, over 4,660 people have been infected by the COVID-19 virus and 95 people have died.

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Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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