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More lockdowns as virus tightens global grip

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Lockdowns and curfews are being introduced and enforced by more countries in a bid to slow the rapid spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Covid-19 has now infected more than 190,000 people, and killed more than 7,500.

Italy – the second hardest-hit country after China – added 3500 more positive cases yesterday, to total more than 31,000.

Another 345 people died in Italy overnight, adding to a death toll surpassing 2500. Doctors Without Borders said that nearly 1700 healthcare workers, or 8 per cent of total Covid-19 cases, had been infected.

Spain’s death toll reached 491, with cases leaping from 9161 on Monday to more than 11,000 yesterday.

Malaysia reported its first two coronavirus deaths including a man who attended a mass Muslim gathering linked to nearly two-thirds of the country’s infections.

Malaysia’s cases rose by 120 to 673, the highest in Southeast Asia.

Brazil reported its first coronavirus death, with 234 confirmed cases, more than half in Sao Paulo.

France has begun enforcing a national lockdown as cases topped 6600, including 148 deaths.

As the army controls borders and helps transport the sick, 100,000 police have been deployed after president Emmanuel Macron said citizens could leave their homes only to buy food, go to work, seek medical care or get some exercise.

In Paris, police patrolled eerily quiet boulevards, stopping drivers and pedestrians and demanding that they present an interior ministry document justifying their movement.

The form can be downloaded on the ministry website and citizens can present an electronic version on their smartphones.

Hours before the lockdown took effect, Parisians rushed in large numbers to train stations or took to the roads to escape the capital, prompting dismay from some in provincial France, where many fear city-dwellers will bring the virus with them and accelerate its spread.

German police broke up so-called “corona parties” after young people gathered despite official admonitions against socialising to curb the spread of coronavirus.

About 100 people met on Monday evening in a park in the Bavarian city of Nuremberg to party, using a music and lighting system powered by a generator, while others gathered in a nearby town.

Serbia introduced a country-wide dusk-to-dawn curfew for all citizens and banned people older than 65 from leaving their households.

The Serbian army is taking over hospitals, border checkpoints and 17 immigration centres.

In the US, New York City residents have been told they should be prepared for the possibility of a shelter-in-place order within days.

Mayor Bill 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.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said late on Tuesday that European Union leaders had agreed in a conference call to the Commission’s proposal for an entry ban to the bloc, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Britain, with “very, very limited exceptions” for 30 days.

Germany will implement the decision immediately. The countries also agreed on the need to ensure continued cross-border travel for commuters, she said.

Merkel said that there will be “grave, very grave consequences” for European economies as a result of the outbreak and that was one of the reasons to safeguard the flow of goods.

The Trump admiration is allowing people in the US to delay paying their taxes.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and President Donald Trump also said during a White House briefing that they want to send cheques to people in the next two weeks in an effort to curb the economic impact of the pandemic

Jordan’s government has ordered most people to stay at home and ordered the printing of newspapers to stop.

The authorities banned the printing of newspapers “because they help the transmission of the pandemic”, while the army will be used to prevent people from moving between cities and localities.

Jordan has already closed all schools and universities for 15 days and banned praying at churches and mosques.

-with AAP

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