Taj Mahal closes as European Union considers non-essential travel ban – Today’s COVID-19 updates

taj mahal

(Sourabh Nilakhe, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.


As coronavirus continues to spread across the globe, here are some of the latest headlines, resources and stories to help you arm yourself with the best information.

Restrictions tightened around the globe
On Monday a range of national and local governments and agencies took new steps to limit travel and the spread of the virus. Here’s where new steps were taken:

  • France. Monday 16 March, President Emmanuel Macron ordered the French population to stay inside and go out only for necessities over the next 15 days. 100,000 officers will ensure the order is enforced and transport the sick to hospitals. Previous recommendations to social distance were not taken seriously, Macron said. “We are at war,” he added in an address to the public. Read more here.
  • Switzerland. All public and private events are banned. Restaurants will close and only essential businesses (post offices, pharmacies, banks, grocery stores) will remain open. Read more here.
  • Germany. Businesses such as clubs, bars, zoos and playgrounds will be closed. Hours will be restricted in restaurants and tables must be spaced apart. Germany also restricted traffic crossing its borders with France, Austria, Switzerland and Luxembourg to goods and commuters. Read more here.
  • European Union. In a proposal to be voted on Tuesday, nonessential travel into the region could be blocked for at least 30 days. Travel within the Schengen area — including Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland — would not be impacted. Read more here.
  • San Francisco. New restrictions announced Monday will prohibit residents from leaving their homes for all but the most essential trips (doctor visits, grocery shopping, medicine shopping). This restriction will stay in place until April 7. Read more here.
  • India. The historic Taj Mahal and other ticketed monuments and museums will close, the tourism ministry said. In Mumbai, those asked to self-isolate will be stamped in indelible ink with the date they can return from their “home quarantine.” Meanwhile, the country has widened its ban of international passengers from the EU, Turkey and the United Kingdom to include Indian passport holders. Read more here.
A private security guard checks the body temperature of a customer outside a Starbucks coffee shop, as a precaution against the spread of coronavirus, in New Delhi, India, March 17, 2020. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui - RC2JLF9GMI5O
A private security guard checks the body temperature of a customer outside a Starbucks coffee shop, as a precaution against the spread of coronavirus, in New Delhi, India,
Image: REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Many cases unreported

For each confirmed case of coronavirus, there could be five to 10 people who go undetected, say a group of scientists who have been tracking the virus. Read more here.

What is the World Economic Forum doing about the coronavirus outbreak?

A new strain of Coronavirus, COVID 19, is spreading around the world, causing deaths and major disruption to the global economy.

Responding to this crisis requires global cooperation among governments, international organizations and the business community, which is at the centre of the World Economic Forum’s mission as the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation.

The Forum has created the COVID Action Platform, a global platform to convene the business community for collective action, protect people’s livelihoods and facilitate business continuity, and mobilize support for the COVID-19 response. The platform is created with the support of the World Health Organization and is open to all businesses and industry groups, as well as other stakeholders, aiming to integrate and inform joint action.

As an organization, the Forum has a track record of supporting efforts to contain epidemics. In 2017, at our Annual Meeting, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) was launched – bringing together experts from government, business, health, academia and civil society to accelerate the development of vaccines. CEPI is currently supporting the race to develop a vaccine against this strand of the coronavirus.

Social distancing is important – but it’s not enough

In a briefing yesterday, WHO officials celebrated social distancing measures but warned that only a comprehensive approach could be truly effective. Countries need to test and isolate cases, according to Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “You must break the chains of transmission,” said the Director-General. “You cannot fight a fire blindfolded.” Read more here.

“You must test and isolate. You cannot fight a fire blindfolded.”

——Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Health Organization Director-General

Advice for anxiety and mental health
The virus can heighten anxieties, especially for healthcare workers dealing with situations they cannot control such as equipment shortages. In times like these,”You must always return to yourself,” says Yu Lei, a psychological consultant at Daqing Oilfield General Hospital, Daqing, Heilongjiang Province, China. “You must always return to yourself, be aware of yourself, and distinguish which emotions are yours, which are the patients, and which are your empathy.” For more mental health advice, read here.

How the virus impacts people of different ages
People under 40 appear to have a 0.2% chance of death if they catch the virus, while for those over 80 the risk is 15%. Since young people are more likely to be carriers, scientists stress that they have a special responsibility to help contain the spread of the disease. Read more here.

COVID-19 deaths in China, by age.
Image: Our World in Data

For more information, visit the WHO coronavirus page.

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