Firefighters wearing protective suits undergo training to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais state, Brazil, on March 20, 2020. Photo: AFP

Here are the latest developments in the coronavirus crisis:

Chinese epicenter a ‘hope’

The World Health Organization (WHO) says that Wuhan, the original Chinese epicentre of the outbreak, reporting no new daily cases for the first time gave “hope” to the rest of the world.

The UN health agency’s chief  also warns young people they are “not invincible” against the pandemic.

Treatment prospects

Swiss laboratory Novartis offers to make available up to 130 million doses of anti-malarial drug chloroquine, which is considered a potential efficient treatment for the coronavirus.

Pharmaceutical industry executives say they expect it will take 12 to 18 months to roll out a vaccine and jointly pledge to make it available worldwide based on need.

More than 11,000 dead

More than a quarter of a million cases of the new coronavirus have been recorded, with 11,129 deaths, according to an AFP tally compiled at 1900 GMT on Friday based on official sources.

There have been at least 258,930 infections reported in 163 countries and territories.

Italy has suffered the most deaths, 4,032, out of 47,021 cases, with 627 fatalities over the past 24 hours.

China has 80,976 cases, including 3,248 fatalities and 71,150 people recovered.

The worst-affected countries after that are Iran with 1,433 deaths, Spain with 1,002 deaths, France 450 deaths . 


Tunisia and Argentina declare nationwide confinement. 

Austria is extending its confinement measures to April 13.

California is placed under lockdown, while New York’s governor orders non-essential businesses to close and bans all gatherings.

US President Donald Trump says there is no need for a national lockdown.

Bavaria, Germany’s largest state, and the Sarre lockdown.

Jordan will impose a curfew from Saturday.

Rules tightened

Britain orders the closure of pubs, restaurants, cinemas, gyms and theatres.

Malaysia  is to deploy the army to help the police make people respect confinement.

Borders tightening 

The US-Mexico border will be closed for non-essential travel, following a similar move for the US-Canada border.

Washington suspends the delivery of all ordinary visas for countries around the world.

Belgium shuts its borders to all but freight and travellers deemed to be on essential business.

Bolivia closes its land and air borders.

Economic measures

The European Commission suspends the European Union’s budgetary discipline rules, allowing member states to spend as much as necessary to fight the economic consequences of the coronavirus.

The British government says it will help cover the wages of people hit by the outbreak.

Millions miss school meals

Some 300 million children who depend on school meals are missing out due to closures triggered by pandemic, the World Food Programme says.

Airlines hit

British airline easyJet says it will ground the majority of its planes from March 24.

Latin America’s second-biggest carrier Avianca suspends its international flights and put its 5,000 employees on unpaid leave.