ROME (AP) — More than half of the world’s countries have now reported a combined total of more than 110,000 cases of the new coronavirus. While most of the people infected so far — 62,000 — have recovered from the disease, the fast-spreading virus created spikes in deaths and infections around the world, including in Spain.
These are some of the latest developments on Monday:
MARKETS PLUNGE AMID VIRUS FEARS
Global stock markets and oil prices plungedand some warned that the risk of a global recession is growing. The main stock indexes in London, Frankfurt and on Wall Street in New York fell about 7%, a triggering a trading halt for 15 minutes on the U.S. exchange. Anxiety rose after Italy announced it was isolating cities and towns with 16 million people in its industrial and financial heartland. Global oil prices suffered their worst losses since the start of the 1991 Gulf War after OPEC nations and Russia could not agree last week on production cuts.
CHINA HAULS OUT ITS PROPAGANDA PLAYBOOK
The Communist Party in China has deployed its propaganda playbook to portray its leader as firmly in charge, leading an army of health workers in a “people’s war” against the new coronavirus. The main evening news on state TV regularly shows President Xi Jinping and his underlings giving instructions on fighting the outbreak or touring health facilities. Coverage also shows Chinese doctors and nurses on the front lines, drawing on a long Chinese tradition of upholding model workers and emphasizing sacrifices on behalf of the country and the party.
ITALY’S WIDE LOCKDOWN CAUSES CONFUSION, TENSIONS
Confusion reigned across northern Italy after the government imposed strict new limits on movements to contain the rapidly spreading virus in the epicenter of Europe’s outbreak. Travelers at Milan’s main train station had to sign police forms self-certifying that they were traveling for “proven work needs,” situations of necessity, health reasons or to return home. Police officers in masks checked tickets and documents as people lined up to reach the train tracks. Tensions in Italy’s overcrowded prisons erupted over new the coronavirus containment measures, with protests in at least two-dozen lock-ups. Six prisoners died after breaking into an infirmary and overdosing on anti-psychotic medicine.
CRUISE SHIP WOES
Federal and state officials in California prepared to receive thousands of people from acruise shipthat has been idling off the coast with at least 21 infected people aboard. Fences were being installed at an 11-acre site at the port of Oakland, as authorities readied flights and buses to whisk the more than 2,000 passengers aboard the Grand Princess to military bases or their home countries for a 14-day quarantine. More than 3,500 people on the ship hail from 54 countries. California Gov. Gavin Newsom and the mayor of Oakland sought to reassure the U.S. public that no one would be exposed to the Grand Princess passengers.
SPAIN SEES SPIKE IN INFECTIONS, DEATHS
Spanish health authorities are considering new virus containment measures after infections skyrocketed in two areas in the past few days. Roughly half of the 904 infections in Spain were in the central region of Madrid, where infections have more than doubled in the past 24 hours, from 202 to 469. Deaths in the region, where much of the contagion is being seen in nursing homes and amid health workers, also shot up from eight to 16 overnight. The other big virus cluster in Spain is in the northern Basque country, where many infections have been tied to people who attended a funeral.
MORE EVENTS CANCELED
The spread of the virus was forcing the cancellation and postponement of more and more events across the world, ranging from the somber to the lighthearted. That included an annual Holocaust remembrance event, March of the Living, at Auschwitz, originally set for April but put off to an undetermined date. Meanwhile, the Intentional Cannabis Business Conference, which bills itself as the largest cannabis networking event in Europe, postponed a Berlin convention from April until July.
Ireland also canceled all St. Patrick’s Day parades across the country in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus. The annual March 17 parade in Dublin is one of Ireland’s biggest tourist events, and typically draws half a million people onto the city’s streets.
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