March 23 coronavirus news

By Julia Hollingsworth, James Griffiths, Adam Renton, Meg Wagner, Mike Hayes and Amy Woodyatt, CNN

Updated 9:46 p.m. ET, March 23, 2020
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5:15 a.m. ET, March 23, 2020

South Korea reports lowest daily number of infections since peaking last month

From CNN's Sophie Jeong and Yoonjung Seo in Seoul

People wait to be tested for coronavirus outside Yangji hospital in Seoul on March 17.
People wait to be tested for coronavirus outside Yangji hospital in Seoul on March 17. Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

South Korea reported 64 more coronavirus cases from Sunday, raising the national total to 8,961, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Monday in a news release.

It's the lowest daily figure since daily reported cases peaked at 909 on February 29.

The national death toll stands at 111, with seven deaths added on Sunday.

Among the 64 new cases, 24 are from Daegu, 14 from Gyeonggi Province, and 13 were confirmed through airport screening, according to the news release.

5:04 a.m. ET, March 23, 2020

India lockdowns affect more than 750 million people

People walk past closed shops in a market area in New Delhi, India on March 23.
People walk past closed shops in a market area in New Delhi, India on March 23. Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

Millions of people across India have been placed under lockdown until the end of the month as efforts to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus in the country intensify. 

Residents living in 75 districts across the country, including in major cities such as the capital New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Kolkata have been placed under travel, work and movement restrictions until March 31. 

Using data from the latest government census, which took place in 2011, more than 750 million people will be impacted by the new restrictions. Given that the data is from nine years ago, the actual number of people affected is likely to be much higher.

In the New Delhi metropolitan area, more than 16 million people have been asked to stay inside their homes. Public transportation, including the metro and rickshaws, have been suspended, and all shops, factories, places of worship and offices have been shut.

More than 12 million people could be affected in the city of Mumbai and 9 million in Bangalore, according to the census data.

6:48 a.m. ET, March 23, 2020

Just joining us? Here's the latest

Railway Protection Force personnel announce the suspension of railway services through the end of month at Sealdah Railway station in Kolkata, India on March 23.
Railway Protection Force personnel announce the suspension of railway services through the end of month at Sealdah Railway station in Kolkata, India on March 23. Dibyangshu Sarkar/AFP/Getty Images

The numbers: At least 341,000 people have contracted the novel coronavirus and over 14,700 have died, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University, which is tracking cases recorded by the World Health Organization and additional sources.

Hong Kong introduces new controls: The city will ban most non-residents from entering as it struggles to contain a new wave of infections. Other parts of Asia have also introduced new measures this week amid fears of imported cases.

Olympic dreams hang by a thread: For the first time Monday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe acknowledged that Tokyo 2020 may have to be postponed. Canada has already said it won't send a team even if the Games go ahead this year as planned.

US relief bill delayed: A key Senate vote related to a massive economic stimulus plan in response to the pandemic has been pushed back as lawmakers continue to wrangle over its contents.

Stock markets take a hit: European markets opened lower on Monday as the US Senate stalled on the stimulus plan for the US economy. The main markets all opened around 3% to 4% down, following losses in Asia and a big drop in US futures.

Indian cities go into lockdown: The capital New Delhi is among 75 districts in the country that will go into lockdown until March 31 in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Several districts are now enforcing a pre-existing law that makes it a punishable offence for four or more people to gather.

Australia urges halt to domestic travel: More than a thousand cases have been reported in the country as Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the closure of non-essential businesses and urged people to avoid domestic travel. It's only the latest blow to Australians after an intense summer of wildfires in what Morrison described as "the toughest year of our lives."

New Zealand issues highest-level alert: All non-essential businesses across the country will close, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. The Pacific nation had already limited international arrivals amid fears of imported cases.

Correction: This post has been updated to reflect that most travelers to Hong Kong will be banned from entering the territory from midnight on Wednesday.

4:40 a.m. ET, March 23, 2020

Crowds packed California beaches despite shelter in place order

From CNN's Hollie Silverman

People are seen on the beach in Huntington Beach, California on March 21.
People are seen on the beach in Huntington Beach, California on March 21. Michael Heiman/Getty Images

Crowds descended on California beaches, hiking trails and parks over the weekend in open defiance of a state order to shelter in place and avoid close contact with others.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a shelter in place order directing the state's nearly 40 million residents to stay home beginning March 20 to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

Instead, many public spaces were packed, prompting officials in some cities to order parks, recreation areas and beaches to close.

In response to the crowds, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced on Twitter late Sunday that he was closing sports and recreation at all LA City Parks. He said people should heed the closures and stay home.

"This weekend we saw too many people packing beaches, trails and parks," the mayor tweeted. "That doesn't mean gather elsewhere. This is serious. Stay home and save lives."

California is one of eight US states that have issued stay at home orders. Several countries around the world have also put in place similar measures.

Read the full story here.

4:29 a.m. ET, March 23, 2020

European markets open lower as US stalls on stimulus plan

European markets opened lower on Monday as the US Senate stalled on a stimulus plan for the US economy.

The main markets have all opened around 3% to 4% lower, with the German Dax and the French CAC 40 both down sharply.

The falls follow on from losses in Asia, and a big drop in US futures. Dow futures fell 5%, while the Australian benchmark -- the S&P/ASX 200 -- closed 5.6% lower. Chinese and Korean markets were also down.

6:47 a.m. ET, March 23, 2020

Hong Kong bans most non-residents from entering the city

From journalist Anna Kam in Hong Kong 

A passenger arrives at Hong Kong's international airport on March 19.
A passenger arrives at Hong Kong's international airport on March 19. Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images

Most non-residents will be banned from entering Hong Kong from midnight Wednesday local time, Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced at a news conference on Monday.

Non-Hong Kong residents arriving from Macao, Taiwan and mainland China will be allowed to enter Hong Kong as long as they haven't travelled abroad for the last 14 days.

Travelers from Macao and Taiwan who enter Hong Kong will be subjected to mandatory 14-day quarantine – which is already in place for most travelers, including those from mainland China.

Travelers will also not be allowed to transit through Hong Kong airport.

The strict new measures come as the number of confirmed cases in the city has almost doubled in the past week.

Many of the cases were imported from overseas, as Hong Kong residents who had left -- either to work or study abroad, or to seek safety when the city seemed destined for a major outbreak earlier this year -- returned, bringing the virus back with them.

Correction: This post has been updated to reflect that most travelers to Hong Kong will be banned from entering the territory from midnight on Wednesday and give more information on the ban.

4:03 a.m. ET, March 23, 2020

Iranian leaders say US is impeding global coronavirus fight

From CNN's Ramin Mostaghim in Tehran and Hira Humayun in Atlanta

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks at the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, on February 15.
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks at the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, on February 15. Thomas Kienzle/AFP/Getty Images

The US is impeding the global fight against coronavirus with its sanctions on Iran, the country’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a tweet on Monday

“Iranian people appreciate the growing global campaign of government & civil society leaders calling for lifting of illegal US sanctions,” he said, adding that the US was “NOT listening” and the only remedy was to “DEFY US mass punishment.”

President weighs in: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on state TV that the US was responsible for “shortage of medicines and foodstuffs,” blaming American sanctions for hampering Iran’s efforts to contain the outbreak. 

Won't accept US aid: Rouhani said Iran will not accept US aid to combat the virus and said the US should lift sanctions on Iran if it wants to help contain the outbreak.

“The fact that Americans say that we are ready to assist Iran under coronavirus crisis is one of the biggest lies in history,” Rouhani said, adding, “Our nation knows what to do. Our medical staff have good command of their jobs.”

Rouhani and Zarif’s remarks come a day after Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused the US of creating the virus.

4:05 a.m. ET, March 23, 2020

This nursing home created a life-size "Hungry Hungry Hippos" game to keep residents occupied

Courtesy Bryn Celyn Care Home
Courtesy Bryn Celyn Care Home

The elderly are among the most vulnerable members of society -- and because of that, nursing homes have had to restrict visits during the coronavirus pandemic.

Without family visits to look forward to, nursing homes have had to come up with new ways to keep residents occupied.

At the Bryn Celyn Care Home in Wales, United Kingdom, residents have been playing a life-size version of the board game "Hungry Hungry Hippos."

This new version swaps crocodiles for boxes that residents slide across the floor to trap colorful balls.

Watch the full video here

3:40 a.m. ET, March 23, 2020

Millions in India under coronavirus lockdown as major cities restrict daily life

From CNN's Helen Regan, Esha Mitra and Swati Gupta

A man crosses a nearly empty Rajpath in New Delhi on March 22.
A man crosses a nearly empty Rajpath in New Delhi on March 22. Xavier Galiana/AFP/Getty Images

Millions of people across India have been placed under lockdown until the end of the month as efforts to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus in the country intensify. 

Residents living in 75 districts across the country, including in major cities such as the capital New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Kolkata have been placed under travel, work and movement restrictions until March 31. 

India -- the world's second most populous country -- has 415 cases of the coronavirus, including seven deaths, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. A sudden rise in cases has led to growing concerns over the country's capacity to test for the virus and that a major outbreak on the scale seen in Europe -- the pandemic's new epicenter -- will spread in the country.

Who is affected by the measures: In New Delhi, public transportation, including the metro and rickshaws, has been suspended, all shops, factories, places of worship and offices have been shut, interstate travel has stopped, borders with neighboring states have closed and people are required to stay in their homes until March 31. 

Exempt from the order are essential services such as grocery stores, hospitals, pharmacies, petrol stations, telecoms and postal services, and restaurants that deliver food.

Testing capacity: Dr. Balram Bhargava, director-general of the Indian Council of Medical Research, said that India has conducted 5,000 tests in the past week and a total of 15,000 so far. There are 111 labs operational with a per week testing capacity of 60,000 to 70,000 and around 60 more private labs are in the process of being approved to further increase testing capacity, according to Bhargava.

Other steps: Uttarakhand, Rajasthan and Telangana have all initiated state-wide lockdowns versus targeted restrictions of cities and districts.

Several districts, including the financial capital of Mumbai, have banned gatherings of four or more people, and officials can take legal action against those who violate the rule.

Read more here.