Singapore has first 2 deaths from coronavirus

SINGAPORE

Singapore has reported its first two deaths from the COVID-19 illness.

The health ministry says a 75-year-old Singaporean woman who was hospitalized Feb 23 developed complications and died from the coronavirus early Saturday.

The second victim was a 64-year-old Indonesian man who was hospitalized March 13 in critical condition upon arriving in Singapore. The man, who had heart disease, was earlier hospitalized in Indonesia for pneumonia before flying to Singapore.

Singapore currently has a total of 385 virus cases, nearly half of which are imported cases. The city-state has expanded its control measures, requiring all travelers entering the country to observe a 14-day home quarantine from Saturday.

MEXICO CITY 

Nissan says it will suspend vehicle production at its two Mexican assembly plants beginning next week as a protective measure against the spread of the coronavirus.

The Japanese automaker says in a statement released Friday night that work will be suspended from Wednesday through April 14.

Nissan says there are no confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus among its employees. Mexico’s government reported earlier Friday evening that the number of confirmed cases across the country had risen to 203, with two deaths.

Nissan has a small-car assembly plant in Aquascalientes in central Mexico, and it produces small cars and pickup trucks at a plant in Cuernavaca near Mexico City.

BOGOTA, Colombia 

Colombia is joining a growing list of nations that have imposed mandatory lockdowns for citizens in an effort to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

President Iván Duque announced Friday night that Colombians will be required to isolate in their homes beginning Tuesday and running through April 13.

Peru, Ecuador and Venezuela are among other Latin America countries that have already taken similar measures.

Colombia has confirmed 158 cases of coronavirus infections thus far, with no deaths, and officials are hoping that imposing drastic measures now will help reduce the number of cases in the weeks ahead.

Duque says the lockdown is a decision “for health and for life.”

Colombia’s capital city, Bogota, began its own lockdown Friday, leaving the city’s usually traffic-filled streets largely empty.

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka 

Sri Lankan authorities have closed all expressways for traffic after the government declared a 2 1/2-day curfew.

The island nation has stepped up its efforts to contain the spreading of coronavirus as the number of confirmed cases have risen to 70. The countrywide curfew, which began Friday night, will continue until Monday morning.

PORTLAND, Ore. 

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Multnomah County Commission Chair Deborah Kafoury say they are working on a forthcoming order directing Oregonians to “Stay Home and Stay Healthy,” to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Wheeler said Friday night that it will be a “stay at home unless it’s absolutely necessary to go out” order that will still allow people to visit grocery stores, pharmacies and walk their dogs. Officials plan to work out the details over the weekend.

California and New York have enacted similar measures. Brown has already ordered a six-week statewide school closure, a ban on gatherings of over 25 people and shutdown of bar/restaurant operations other than takeout and delivery for at least four weeks. The Oregon Health Authority has reported 114 COVID-19 cases and three deaths.

TOKYO

Japan’s health ministry says a Canadian man who was a passenger infected with the coronavirus while on board the cruise ship Diamond Princess died of COVID-19 pneumonia Saturday.

The ministry offered condolences to the man, who is only identified as a man in his 70s. The ship that had carried an infected passenger early in its voyage returned to its home port Yokohama near Tokyo in early February. The 3,711 on board remained on the ship for a two-week quarantine that was much criticized as ineffective as allegedly making the vessel “an incubator.”

The Canadian is the eighth confirmed death from among those on the ship, where 712 people were infected and transferred to hospitals during the quarantine. A total of 551 have recovered and left hospitals, the ministry said. Of about 1,000 passengers who were allowed to return home after the 14-day on-board quarantine, seven later tested positive.

SEOUL, South Korea 

South Korea has reported 147 new infections of the coronavirus and eight more deaths, bringing its totals to 8,799 cases and 102 deaths.

South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 327,509 people have been tested for COVID-19 as of Saturday and 2,612 people have been released from hospitals.

The country’s infections have slowed from early March, when it reported around 500 new cases per day, mostly from the worst-hit city of Daegu and surrounding areas in the country’s southeast.

But there’s growing concern over a steady rise of infections in the Seoul metropolitan area, where about half of South Korea’s 51 million people live.

Health authorities are also alarmed about the possibility that the virus re-enters from abroad amid widening outbreaks in Europe, North America and beyond.

From Sunday, South Korean authorities will test all passengers arriving from Europe for COVID-19. They will also enforce 14-day quarantines on South Korean nationals returning from Europe and foreigners entering South Korea from Europe on long-term stay visas.

BEIJING 

While entry and exit from Wuhan remains tightly restricted, businesses such as supermarkets, convenience stores and shops selling fresh fruit, vegetables and other daily necessities can re-open.

Only one person per household bearing a special pass can go out each day, with shopping time limited to two hours.

Wuhan, the virus outbreak’s epicenter, reported no new or suspected cases for a third straight day.

Meanwhile, Premier Li Keqiang on Friday urged “efforts to stabilize and support market entities to strengthen the engines for economic recovery,” according to the official Xinhua News Agency. Li “stressed a stronger sense of urgency on the work and production resumption, as well as the recovery of economic and social order,” including financial assistance to small and medium-size enterprises that form a core source of employment and key links in supply chains.

“Unreasonable restrictions that hinder the resumption of work” should be lifted, Li said. “With effective prevention and control measures, necessary health monitoring and emergency response forces in place, epidemic prevention and work resumption can be advanced in a synchronized way.”

Among measures to help people find new jobs, the central government has launched a website that it hopes will help fill 10 million vacancies by the end of June.

SEATTLE 

The city of Seattle and the surrounding King County are closing playgrounds, basketball and tennis courts, picnic shelters, ballfields and other active recreation areas in order to follow COVID-19 social distancing guidelines.

Officials made the announcement Friday night, saying ballfields and playing fields will remain open for walking and other non-team activities. Parks, natural lands, regional trails, backcountry trails, and beaches where social distancing can be maintained remain open, officials said. Washington state has the most deaths in the U.S. from the coronavirus with at least 83.

“With schools closed and people adapting to new work habits, our parks and open spaces can provide an important break in these stressful times. It is clear, however, that we must continue to be vigilant in these places, as well, and make sure all our residents put into practice Public Health directives,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said.

BEIJING 

The virus outbreak’s epicenter of Wuhan reported no new or suspected cases again for a third consecutive day.

Overall, China on Saturday reported 41 new cases detected over the previous 24 hours, all among people traveling from overseas, and another seven deaths, six in Wuhan. China now has a total of 81,008 cases and 3,255 deaths.

A total of 71,740 people have been declared cured and released from hospital. Wuhan must go 14 straight days without a new case in order for draconian travel restrictions to be lifted.

People are now better able to move around in the surrounding province of Hubei, although its provincial borders remain closed to the rest of the country. Beijing and other cities are increasingly vibrant as the government attempts to mitigate disastrous effects on the world’s second largest economy, but social distancing and quarantines for new arrivals remain the norm.

ANKARA, Turkey

Turkey says five more people have died from the coronavirus outbreak, raising the number of deaths in the country to nine.

The number of infections meanwhile, jumped to 670 on Friday, with 311 more cases detected in the past 24 hours, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced on Twitter. The surge comes as Turkey increased the number of tests to screen for COVID-19.

Koca said the five who lost their lives on Friday were elderly with “weak resistance” to the virus.

JERUSALEM 

Israel has reported its first death from the coronavirus.

Jerusalem’s Shaarei Tzedek Hospital said the 88-year-old man died late Friday, a week after he was hospitalized. The hospital said the man had a history of health problems.

Israel has reported more than 700 cases of COVID-19.

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