The novel coronavirus disease-2019 (nCOVID-19 or COVID), declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation, has disrupted life and economy worldwide. As the number of patients in hospitals rises every day, governments are ordering a shutdown of schools, colleges, offices and stadiums. So far, 429 people have died in Iran. In order to control the virus infection, the security forces of the country have been ordered to evacuate roads within the next 24 hours.
In a televised statement, Iranian Army chief Major General Mohammad Bagheri said on Friday that the government of his country had given the newly constituted commission the responsibility of emptying shops, streets and roads. This decision has to be implemented within 24 hours across the country, he said.
Foreign Minister of Iran Mohammad Jawad Zarif has appealed to the Donald Trump administration to immediately lift the US sanctions imposed on the Shi’ah country due to its nuclear programme. He said that the restrictions had made it difficult for Iran to import medicines and medical equipment.
The COVID-19 infection is spreading so fast across the world that despite several steps including travel restrictions and postponement of events, it is unlikely the pandemic can be controlled soon. Celebrities, including many politicians, have been in the grip of the affliction while many top leaders have switched to the Indian ‘namaste‘ to wish and greet people to avoid making physical contact with people, through which one may contract COVID.
In Iran, Ali Akbar Vilayati, an adviser to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is infected.
Italy, Iran worst affected after China
The virus has killed 5,043 people in around 120 countries and regions around the world and 133,970 people have been infected by it. The death toll in China has risen to 3,176 after seven more cases of COVID were reported on Friday. The number of people infected with the COVID reached 80,813 on Thursday in China.
Italy (1,016 deaths, 15,113 cases), Iran (429 deaths, 10,075 cases), Spain (84 deaths, 3,004 cases) and South Korea (67 deaths, 7,979 cases) are the worst affected. In Japan, 675 people have been found infected with the virus.
Ghana, Kenya, St Vincent and the Grenadines have confirmed earlier cases in their regions. The first death has been confirmed in Norway.
EU Commission objects to US travel ban
CNN reported yesterday: “Trump announced that the US will impose a 30-day ban on foreigners who in the past two weeks have been in the European Union’s Schengen Zone, the 26 countries that abolished border and passport controls at their mutual borders to encourage free flow of goods, people and services.”
The European Union Commission has expressed outrage over the travel ban the Donald Trump administration announced yesterday even though some of its member countries have themselves banned the entry of foreign nationals.
The commission said some controls could be justified, but not all will have the same effective effect from the travel ban. It instead insisted on border screening.
“The coronavirus is a global crisis, not limited to any continent and it requires cooperation rather than unilateral action,” the president of the European Council, Charles Michel, and the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement.
Proposal to cancel Olympics rejected
While US President Trump suggested the Tokyo Olympics be postponed, Japan has rejected the idea. Japan’s Olympic Minister and Olympic bronze medalist Seiko Hashimoto said at a press conference in Tokyo on Friday, “The IOC and the organising committee are not considering cancelling or postponing the Olympics — none at all.”
The International Olympic Committee and Tokyo organisers had been firm on their statement that the Olympic Games will begin on 24 July — after the COVID spread in China three months ago.
Air India not to send aircraft to these countries
Coronavirus caused the first death in India on Thursday and the number of people infected has risen to 81.
The Indian embassy in the US has issued helpline numbers to answer questions on travel restrictions recently implemented by India to prevent the spread of the COVID. One may dial the number round the clock.
State-run carrier Air India has decided to discontinue flights to Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Israel, South Korea and Sri Lanka until 30 April amid growing concern over the global COVID pandemic.
Commoners, celebrities alike infected
The outbreak of the COVID in China in December 2019, which has taken the form of a global pandemic, is afflicting ordinary citizens as well as celebrities around the world. The wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier today tested positive.
Vilayati of Iran was examined after COVID hit a top assistant to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro’s communications chief Fabio Vajgarten was found infected with COVID-19 after a visit to the US last weekend. The two met Trump during a trip to the US. Vazgarten was photographed standing next to Trump, but Trump said he was not worried and the White House said he did not need to undergo a test.
A Philippine diplomat in New York has tested COVID-positive, which is the first case of the virus at the UN headquarters in the city.
Australia’s Minister of Home Affairs Peter Dutton has been found infected too.
Countries fighting coronavirus on a war-footing
The Australian government has announced a ban on all non-essential events, which may attract 500 or more people, Monday onwards. This restriction will not apply to schools, universities, public transport and airports.
The parliament of Japan enacted a law on Friday that allowed the country’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to declare an emergency if the situation of coronavirus infection worsened in the country.
The Sindh province government, in a bid to stop the spread of COVID, has declared all educational institutions closed till 31 May. Along with this, the annual examinations of Classes IX and X have been postponed.
The US administration has decided to close Disneyland in California from Saturday.
Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for the cancellation of non-essential events that may involve hundreds of people — to prevent the spread of COVID.
President Emanuel Macron had announced on Thursday that schools would be closed indefinitely next week onwards to prevent the spread of COVID.
Nepal on Friday postponed the clearance for expeditions to Mt Everest due to the coronavirus epidemic.
India’s southern neighbour on Friday imposed a temporary prohibition on the arrival of passengers from Iran, Italy and South Korea.