March 24 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Emma Reynolds, Mike Hayes and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 1:09 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020
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2:03 a.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Hubei province will lift most lockdown measures on Wednesday

From CNN's Nectar Gan, Eric Cheung and Steven Jiang

China's Hubei province, ground zero for the worldwide novel coronavirus pandemic, is planning to lift nearly all lockdown restrictions across the province on Wednesday, authorities announced.

Similar measures will remain in place in Wuhan, the provincial capital, until April 8, authorities said on microblogging platform Weibo.

The mysterious illness that turned out to be Covid-19 was first reported in Wuhan in December. Authorities responded by locking down the province and forcing millions to remain indoors.

As of the end of the day Monday, Hubei had reported 67,801 coronavirus cases and 3,160 virus-related fatalities.

However, the rate of new infections has been brought down significantly -- the province has only reported one new infection in the past six days.

Nearly 82,000 people across mainland China have been infected, 3,277 of whom have died. More than 73,000 have recovered and been discharged from hospital.

1:51 a.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Macao is banning entry to most non-residents

From journalists Vanesse Chan and Eric Cheung in Hong Kong

Vehicles drive across a bridge on February 5 in Macao, China.
Vehicles drive across a bridge on February 5 in Macao, China. Anthony Kwan/Getty Images

Macao will ban most non-residents from entering the semiautonomous Chinese territory starting tomorrow, the city's leader said at a news conference Tuesday.

All foreign nationals will be denied entry into the city, Chief Executive Ho Iat-seng said.

Visitors from mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan who have not traveled to foreign countries can enter the city, but they will be required to undergo medical observation for 14 days.

Macao residents who are returning from overseas will be required to undergo medical observation for 14 days, Ho said.

The gambling mecca is one of Asia's most popular tourist destinations. Its economy is heavily reliant on gaming and tourist revenues, which have been severely impacted by coronavirus-related travel restrictions.

Twenty-five people in the city have contracted the virus, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University, 10 of whom have recovered.

1:40 a.m. ET, March 24, 2020

If you're just joining us, here's a quick catch up

People walk past closed shops in New Delhi on March 23, the first day of the lockdown.
People walk past closed shops in New Delhi on March 23, the first day of the lockdown. Manish Swarup/AP

Here are the latest developments on the coronavirus pandemic over the past few hours.

The situation in Asia today: Singapore reported its biggest one-day surge in cases since the outbreak began. Tokyo's governor warned that Japan's capital could be placed under lockdown if the number of coronavirus cases spike. Myanmar reported its first two cases. Beijing will quarantine and test all international arrivals, regardless of destination.

Australia: Hardest-hit state New South Wales reported 149 new cases on Monday, including 107 cases related to the Ruby Princess cruise ship. A woman passenger in her 70s died on Tuesday -- she was diagnosed with Covid-19 onboard the ship. The Northern Territory, South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland will enact border checkpoints on Tuesday and Wednesday.

More curfews and restrictions: India has expanded its mammoth lockdown to districts across 30 states and union territories, impacting about two thirds of the population. At least 16 US states have issued stay-at-home orders, which will impact 142 million people, or 43% of the US population. Albania has entered a strict 16-hour daily curfew.

Calls to postpone Olympics: New Zealand athletes became the latest to voice their support for postponing the 2020 Olympic Games, and are backed by the country’s Olympic committee. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is set to hold a call with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach this evening, as calls for a postponement grow louder.

1:28 a.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Australia's New South Wales sees big spike in coronavirus cases

From Eric Cheung in Hong Kong and Hilary Whiteman in Brisbane, Australia

A health worker assists visitors at a Covid-19 testing center in Sydney on March 23.
A health worker assists visitors at a Covid-19 testing center in Sydney on March 23. Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images

The Australian state of New South Wales reported that it identified 149 new novel coronavirus cases from 8 p.m. local time Sunday until 8 p.m. local time Monday, according to a statement from the state's Department of Health.

Those new patients include 107 cases related to the Ruby Princess cruise ship, authorities said. Public health officials were forced to track down nearly 2,647 people who disembarked from the ship in Sydney following revelations that four onboard had tested positive for the virus.

A woman passenger in her 70s, who was diagnosed with Covid-19 onboard the ship, died on Tuesday morning, authorities said. 

Total cases: As of Monday, Australia had reported 1,709 cases of novel coronavirus. New South Wales has reported 818 cases, more patients than any other state or territory in Australia.

Restricting movement: Several Australian states are implementing new restrictions on interstate travel in order to slow the virus' spread. South Australia, Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory will enact border checkpoints on Tuesday and Wednesday.

From Tuesday afternoon onward, the Northern Territory will require most people entering from other parts of the country to undergo a two-week quarantine, police said in a statement Monday. Those who do not comply face a fine of up to 62,800 Australian dollars ($37,160). 

1:18 a.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Two-thirds of India's population are facing coronavirus-related movement restrictions

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

Policemen erect barbed wire to stop commuters as they enforce a lockdown in Jammu, India on March 23.
Policemen erect barbed wire to stop commuters as they enforce a lockdown in Jammu, India on March 23. Channi Anand/AP

Hundreds of 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.

Thirty of India's 37 states and union territories have enacted lockdowns, affecting some two thirds of the 1.34 billion people who live in the country.

The most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, has still not announced a complete state lockdown but has implemented it across more than a dozen districts. The lockdown includes the shutdown of all non-essential services like public transport, malls and markets, among others.

Residents living in 548 districts across the country -- including in major cities such as the capital New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata -- now face travel, work and movement restrictions until March 31.

India has also essentially cut off the country to outsiders -- all 107 of the country's airport, seaport and land port immigration checkpoints have been shuttered, though the transfer of goods and supplies will continue.

To date, Indian authorities have confirmed nearly 500 coronavirus cases inside the country. Nine people have died.

Read more:

1:08 a.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Japan's Prime Minister will speak with the Olympics chief tonight

From CNN's Yoko Wakatsuki in Tokyo

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks during the graduation ceremony of the National Defense Academy on March 22, 2020 in Yokosuka, Japan.
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks during the graduation ceremony of the National Defense Academy on March 22, 2020 in Yokosuka, Japan. Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is going to hold a phone call with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach at 8 p.m. Tokyo time, Abe's office said, as calls for both the IOC and Japanese government to postpone the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo grow louder.

Abe and his ministers had previously resisted calls to either cancel or delay the Games, which are scheduled to start on July 24. But as other major sports leagues and events worldwide canceled and postponed tournaments and games, pressure has mounted for the IOC to do the same for the quadrennial competition.

Abe told lawmakers Monday that postponing the Games is a possibility, the first time he has publicly taken such a position.

Japan and the IOC have faced calls to postpone the Games in recent days from several athletes and countries.

The IOC said a final decision on postponement will be made within four weeks, due to the vast complexities of rescheduling a massive global sporting event like the Olympics. 

1:00 a.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Venezuela says it asked the US to help allow a repatriation flight for stranded citizens

From CNN's Jackie Castillo in Atlanta and Stefano Pozzebon in Bogota

Venezuela's Minister of Foreign Affairs Jorge Arreaza addresses the UN Human Rights Council on February 25 in Geneva.
Venezuela's Minister of Foreign Affairs Jorge Arreaza addresses the UN Human Rights Council on February 25 in Geneva. Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

The Venezuelan government said today it had asked for US cooperation to allow a flight to repatriate Venezuelan citizens stuck in the US.

In a statement, Venezuelan foreign minister Jorge Arreaza said the repatriation flight would be carried out by the country's flag carrier, Conviasa.

Conviasa is among several Venezuelan state companies currently under sanctions by the US. 

The US and more than 50 other countries do not recognize the government of embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. 

The United States has not yet publicly reacted to the Venezuelan request. 

12:51 a.m. ET, March 24, 2020

China is reopening parts of the Great Wall for tourists

From journalist Eric Cheung in Hong Kong

Tourists walk on a section of the Great Wall at Badaling, on November 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.
Tourists walk on a section of the Great Wall at Badaling, on November 30, 2019 in Beijing, China. Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

One of the most visited sections of China's Great Wall will be reopened for tourists Tuesday as the number of novel coronavirus cases in the country continues to drop.

However, only a portion of the Badaling Great Wall is being reopened, according to a post by local officials on the microblogging platform Weibo. Other sites, like a museum, will remain closed.

Visitors must reserve tickets online before visiting; present a QR code that confirms they are healthy; wear a face mask during their visit; and maintain a distance of at least 1 meter (3.3 feet) from others.

12:41 a.m. ET, March 24, 2020

Albania begins a nationwide 16-hour daily curfew 

From CNN's Alba Prifti in Atlanta

Military vehicles patrol the streets of Tirana, Albania on March 22.
Military vehicles patrol the streets of Tirana, Albania on March 22. Hektor Pustina/AP

Albania began a strict 16-hour daily curfew today, which had been announced over the weekend by Prime Minister Edi Rama.

Only essential staff are allowed to travel for work, and their commute is only allowed between the hours of 5 a.m. and 8 a.m. All citizens must be home by 1 p.m., and all travel must be via motor vehicles during those hours, according to a news release from the State Police.

The curfew restrictions apply nationwide, and include the food and pharmaceutical industries.

Food distribution trucks are the only transport excluded, but food production and service establishments can only be open during the limited hours, according to State Police.

Albania has 104 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and four deaths, according to the Ministry of Health's website.