March 19 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Emma Reynolds and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 10:42 p.m. ET, March 19, 2020
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6:24 a.m. ET, March 19, 2020

US government is preparing for coronavirus pandemic that could last up to 18 months

From CNN's Christina Maxouris

A health care worker prepares to tend to patients at a drive-in testing center in Jericho, New York, on March 18.
A health care worker prepares to tend to patients at a drive-in testing center in Jericho, New York, on March 18. Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Nearly two months after the first US coronavirus case, the federal government is now preparing for a pandemic that could last up to 18 months or longer and "include multiple waves of illness," a report obtained by CNN shows.

The report, dated Friday, is a behind-the-scenes look at how the administration is ramping preparedness and how the whole of the federal government is being mobilized to tackle the crisis in our midst.

While not saying specifically that the administration believes the pandemic will last 18 months, the document lays out the contingency plans they are making have to assume a longer timeline to ensure preparedness.

"Shortages of products may occur, impacting healthcare, emergency services, and other elements of critical infrastructure. This includes potentially critical shortages of diagnostics, medical supplies (including PPE and pharmaceuticals), and staffing in some locations," the report outlines in one potential scenario.

The country is already feeling the strain: Hospitals have sounded the alarm on quickly vanishing supplies as the outbreak in the US shows no signs of slowing -- in just 24 hours, cases soared by more than 40%.

The US government announced this week it would help make up for potential medical supply shortages and deploy two hospital ships to help increase medical capacity.

Nearly 9,000 Americans have tested positive for the virus. At least 149 have died.

Read more here and here.

##Daily Life

5:32 a.m. ET, March 19, 2020

China has no new local infections for the first time, after months of lockdowns and quarantine

From CNN's Ben Westcott and Shanshan Wang

A worker disinfects around the No. 7 Hospital, once designated for only coronavirus patients, in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province on Thursday, March 19. The hospital is getting back to be a normal hospital after the last coronavirus patient was transferred away.
A worker disinfects around the No. 7 Hospital, once designated for only coronavirus patients, in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province on Thursday, March 19. The hospital is getting back to be a normal hospital after the last coronavirus patient was transferred away. FeatureChina via AP Images

China has reported no new locally transmitted coronavirus cases for the first time since the the pandemic began, marking a major turning point in the global battle to contain Covid-19.

At a news conference on Thursday morning, officials from China's National Health Commission announced there had been just 34 new cases in the past 24 hours -- all imported from overseas -- and eight new deaths, all in Hubei, the province where the virus was first identified.

There were there no new reported cases in Hubei at all on Wednesday.

Why this matters: The milestone will likely be held up as proof of the ongoing success of China's sweeping, top-down efforts to control the virus, despite persistent allegations that local officials mishandled the initial outbreak. Just last month, mainland China was reporting thousands of new cases every day, and was considered the most high-risk infection area in the world.

In the weeks following the early spread of the virus, the government enacted draconian quarantine measures and strict travel restrictions affecting hundreds of millions of citizens. In some hard-hit cities, residents have been unable to leave their apartments for more than a month, while transport between major population hubs has been limited or halted altogether.

The unprecedented nature of the measures has exacted a steep toll, both on the many millions of ordinary Chinese forced to endure life under lockdown and the country's economy, which has seen a steep decline in recent weeks.

But it has also apparently worked, with zero new local transmissions.

And as the danger has lessened in China, the global infection rate continues to accelerate, with countries across multiple continents now grappling with fast-expanding outbreaks of their own.

Read the full story here:

5:19 a.m. ET, March 19, 2020

Japan's Emperor and Empress are postponing a state visit to the UK because of the virus

From CNN's Max Foster

Japan's Empress Masako and Emperor Naruhito at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan, on January 2.
Japan's Empress Masako and Emperor Naruhito at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan, on January 2. Credit: Carl Court/Getty Images

The Emperor and Empress of Japan have postponed a state visit to the UK that was planned for spring due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a statement from Buckingham Palace.

The visit will be rescheduled for a later date.

Earlier in February, the Japanese Imperial Household canceled public birthday celebrations for Emperor Naruhito over fears that large crowds could allow the coronavirus to spread.

It would have been the first public celebration of Emperor Naruhito’s birthday; he took the throne last year after his father, Akihito, became the first emperor to abdicate in 200 years.

5:08 a.m. ET, March 19, 2020

Just joining us? Here's the latest on the coronavirus pandemic

In this March 18 photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, people applaud as departing medical workers enter Wuhan Tianhe International Airport in Wuhan in central China's Hubei Province.
In this March 18 photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, people applaud as departing medical workers enter Wuhan Tianhe International Airport in Wuhan in central China's Hubei Province. Ke Hao/Xinhua via AP

The numbers: Johns Hopkins University, which is tracking cases reported by the World Health Organization and additional sources, puts the total number of cases worldwide at more than 218,800, with at least 8,800 deaths.

China reports no new domestic cases: For the first time, the country where the coronavirus pandemic began has announced no new locally transmitted infections -- a pivotal moment in the battle to contain Covid-19. All 34 new cases reported yesterday were imported from overseas.

UK ramps up measures: From Friday, schools across the UK will close until further notice. Northern Ireland’s schools will close starting Monday. Dozens of London Underground stations will close after the government advised to stop non-essential social contact. An additional 10,000 military personnel will be placed "at a higher readiness" to support public services as part of a new coronavirus support force.

Latest restrictions: Germany is extending its entry restrictions at six national borders to air and shipping traffic, the European Union has closed its external borders for 30 days, the UAE is banning incoming travelers and residency visa holders and Australia and New Zealand are both banning entry to foreign citizens and non-residents.

Situation in US: 80% of coronavirus-related deaths in the US occurred in adults aged 65 and older, according to a report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The US has at least 8,898 cases and 149 deaths. The government is preparing for the pandemic to last up to 18 months.

Economy: The European Central Bank said it would spend $818 billion buying government debt and private securities to fight the coronavirus crash. South Korea is supplying 50 trillion won ($39.1 billion) in emergency funding to support small business.

New cases: South Korea confirmed 152 new coronavirus cases yesterday -- a rise after a week of diminishing infection rates. Singapore confirmed 47 new coronavirus cases yesterday -- its largest single-day increase in cases. Fiji confirmed the country's first coronavirus case -- bad news for Pacific Island nations, which are some of the most remote and aid-dependent in the world. Meanwhile, Russia and Mexico have reported their first coronavirus-related deaths.

5:04 a.m. ET, March 19, 2020

Mexico reports its first coronavirus-related death

From CNN's Daniel Silva Fernandez

Mexico has confirmed its first coronavirus-related death, the country’s health ministry announced in a tweet on Wednesday.

The patient, who also had diabetes, began showing symptoms of the coronavirus on March 9, according to the ministry.

The ministry did not specify where in Mexico the patient died, and extended its condolences to the patient's family in the tweet.

Mexico has 93 coronavirus cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

5:00 a.m. ET, March 19, 2020

Russia reports its first death from the coronavirus

From CNN’s Mary Ilyushina in Moscow

A patient with coronavirus has died in Moscow in Russia's first death of the pandemic, health authorities in the country reported today.

The patient was a 79-year-old woman who was hospitalized on March 13. She "had a number of chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis, and hypertension,” said the national coronavirus response center in a statement. 

According to the statement, the patient was first hospitalized in a private clinic, before being moved to a special facility, where she tested positive for the virus.

The woman suffered respiratory failure and received treatment in an intensive care unit.

Russia now has 147 cases of coronavirus. The country has placed travel restrictions on arriving foreign nationals, and Moscow has barred large public gatherings.

4:50 a.m. ET, March 19, 2020

India is expecting 26,000 people to arrive from the Gulf. They'll undergo self-isolation or quarantine

From CNN's Esha Mitra in New Delhi

Commuters wearing protective face masks as a precaution against the new virus wait at a bus station in Mumbai, India, Wednesday, March 18.
Commuters wearing protective face masks as a precaution against the new virus wait at a bus station in Mumbai, India, Wednesday, March 18. Rajanish Kakade/AP

The Indian city of Mumbai is preparing for the arrival of about 26,000 passengers, mostly Indian nationals, who are expected to return from Gulf countries over the next two weeks.

More than 20 flights a day arrive in Mumbai from Gulf nations like the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman. Yesterday, the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs passed an order that all passengers coming from or transiting through those countries will be quarantined for 14 days upon arrival, either at government facilities or at home.

Most of the travelers are Indian blue-collar workers on labor contracts in the Gulf countries, who are now returning home.

Arrivals who are asymptomatic and have homes in Mumbai can go home and self-isolate for 14 days. If they live in neighboring towns, they can still stay at home but are not allowed to take public transport.

If they show symptoms, or live far from Mumbai, they will be quarantined in government facilities, said municipal government officials.

Quarantine centers: One quarantine site is the Seven Hills Hospital in the Marol area of Mumbai -- but the city has also set up other quarantine facilities and a portal in partnership with hotels and marriage halls.

The government quarantine facilities have about 700 beds available, said P Velrasu, Additional Municipal Commissioner.

Mumbai currently has 45 cases of the coronavirus, according to the state's Ministry of Public Health and Family Welfare.

India has 169 cases in total, and three deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University, which is tracking cases reported by the World Health Organization and additional sources. 

4:43 a.m. ET, March 19, 2020

Singapore reports its largest single-day jump in coronavirus cases

From CNN's Isaac Yee in Hong Kong

Singapore confirmed 47 new coronavirus cases yesterday -- its largest single-day increase in cases so far.

Some 33 of the new cases were imported from Europe, North America, and Southeast Asia -- all regions that are experiencing spikes in cases, said the Singapore Ministry of Health in a statement.

Of the remaining cases, nine are linked to previous confirmed cases in the city, and five have no such associations.

These 47 cases raise the national total to 313. A total of 117 patients have fully recovered and been discharged from hospital. Some 196 patients are still being treated in hospital, including 15 who are in critical condition.

New measures: The jump in cases comes soon after Singapore announced that all travelers arriving in the country will face a mandatory 14-day home quarantine, effective Saturday. Singapore also advised all its citizens not to travel abroad.

4:31 a.m. ET, March 19, 2020

Germany extends border restrictions to air and sea travel

From CNN's Nadine Schmidt in Berlin

A passenger walks through an almost deserted terminal at the airport in Frankfurt, Germany, on Wednesday, March 18.
A passenger walks through an almost deserted terminal at the airport in Frankfurt, Germany, on Wednesday, March 18. Michael Probst/AP

Germany is extending its entry restrictions at six national borders to air and shipping traffic, the interior ministry said late Wednesday.

EU citizens coming from Austria, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Denmark will no longer be allowed into Germany by air or sea unless there is an “urgent reason to travel,” said the interior ministry in a statement.

Travelers coming from EU countries may only land at a German airport if they are traveling from their original destination to their home country.

Germany had imposed the land border closures with those six countries earlier this week.

Earlier today, German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned the public: She asked all citizens to play their part in containing the pandemic.

“Things are serious. Take this seriously. Since German unification, no, since the Second World War, there has not been a situation that was so dependent on us acting together in solidarity,” she said.