World Health Organization Declares Coronavirus Outbreak A Pandemic
- World Health Organization declares coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.
- Italy Prime Minister orders almost all businesses nationwide to close as infections soar.
- British Airways and Ryanair cancel all flights to and from Italy with some rescue flights scheduled until Friday.
- The NBA suspends its season until further notice after basketball player Rudy Gobert tested positive for the virus.
- US President Trump suspends all travel to the US from European countries, except the UK, for 30 days.
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WHO Declares Coronavirus A Pandemic
The coronavirus outbreak has been categorized as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). Chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the number of cases outside China had increased 13-fold in two weeks. He said he was deeply concerned by alarming levels of inaction.
Airlines Cancel Thousands Of Flights
Several airlines including British Airways and Ryanair have canceled all flights to and from Italy for the next month, leaving some passengers stranded. Air France has also drastically reduced time tables. A small number of people leaving Italy will be able to book Ryanair flights which will still operate until Friday. easyJet will also operate rescue flights in the next few days. The UK government is working with the airline to work out exactly how many flights are needed to get people back home.
Norwegian Air has cut 15% of flights out of its schedule and will temporarily lay off some staff and British Airways has requested employees to take voluntary unpaid leave. In the US, United Airlines reported a 70% drop in domestic demand in the last few days and said it will make more deep cuts to flights in the coming months. American and Delta are also slashing international flights in the coming months by 10 to 25 percent.
Italy Shuts Down Shops
Italy Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has ordered almost all businesses nationwide to close as infections and deaths from the coronavirus continue to soar. Pharmacies, grocery stores, banks, and public transit will be allowed to operate, but any other commercial enterprise that is not vital, such as restaurants, bars, cafes, and beauty salons must close to limit the spread.
Just yesterday, Italy imposed stringent controls by banning public gatherings and urging all 60 million Italians to stay homes. Conte did not say when the new order would go into effect, but many businesses had already closed, either based on their own judgments or in expectation of a government order.
NBA Suspends Season
The NBA has suspended its season after basketball player Rudy Gobert tested positive for the virus. All games are canceled until further notice as the NBA determines the next steps for moving forward.
President Trump Suspends Travel
President Trump has suspended all travel to the US from European countries, except the UK, for 30 days. In an address to the nation, President Trump announced economic loans to effected states, deferred tax payments, and payroll tax relief.
Yesterday, in a meeting with Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill, President Trump pitched a 0% payroll tax rate that would last through the rest of this year. VP Pence also promised no surprise healthcare billing and extended coverage for coronavirus testing. Eight countries, including the U.S., are now each reporting more than 1,000 cases of coronavirus. There are now over 126k confirmed cases worldwide with 4,624 deaths.