The Latest: Japan urges against nonessential travel to US

March 22, 2020 GMT
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People queue waiting to enter a supermarket in Turin, Italy, Saturday, March 21, 2020. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some it can cause more severe illness. (Marco Alpozzi/LaPresse via AP)
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People queue waiting to enter a supermarket in Turin, Italy, Saturday, March 21, 2020. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some it can cause more severe illness. (Marco Alpozzi/LaPresse via AP)

TOKYO (AP) — The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected more than 307,200 people and killed more than 13,000. The COVID-19 illness causes mild or moderate symptoms in most people, but severe symptoms are more likely in the elderly or those with existing health problems. More than 92,300 people have recovered so far, mostly in China.


—Japan urges no nonessential travel to the United States.

—Singapore to fully shut its borders after recording its first two deaths.

—Colombia reports its first death from the coronavirus.

—Sri Lanka police detain nearly 300 for breaching curfew.


Japan has issued a travel warning for its nationals, urging not to make unessential trips to the United States because of the rapidly expanding coronavirus outbreak in that country, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Japan has taken similar steps to most European countries and banned trips to China, South Korea as well as Iceland, San Marino and parts of Italy, Switzerland and Spain.

As of Saturday, the U.S. had 15,219 confirmed cases and 201 deaths, the ministry said, citing the U.S. Center for Disease Control.

The foreign ministry also said the decision came after the U.S. raised travel caution to Japan and four countries to level three, urging Americans not to make nonessential trips to Japan and requiring a 14-day self-imposed quarantine for Japanese nationals entering the U.S.


SINGAPORE — Singapore says it will fully shut its borders starting Tuesday after recording its first two deaths.

The city-state has banned visitors from several countries and requires all short-term visitors to observe a 14-day home quarantine. But the government says all short-term visitors beginning Tuesday will be barred from entering or transiting through the country.

It said in a statement Sunday that this will reduce the risk of imported cases and free up resources to focus on its citizens. It said Singapore citizens, permanent residents and foreigners with a long-term work pass can return but must undergo a 14-day self-quarantine.

The city-state of nearly 6 million people has recorded 432 cases so far. On Saturday, it reported that a 75-year-old Singaporean woman and an Indonesian visitor, 64, have succumbed to the virus.


BOGOTA, Colombia — Colombia is reporting its first death from the new coronavirus.

Officials said Saturday that he was a 58-year-old taxi driver who had driven tourists from Italy, which is one the countries worst hit by the virus.

Colombia’s Ministry of Health says the man had previous health issues, including untreated diabetes.

President Iván Duque has prohibited all non-resident foreigners from entering the country and has decreed a mandatory quarantine starting Tuesday.

Colombia has confirmed 210 cases of the coronavirus.


COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Police say they have detained 291 people for breaching a three-day curfew which has been imposed as part of strict measures designed to contain the spreading of the coronavirus in the Indian Ocean island nation.

Police said Sunday the detentions were made by police during patrols to ensure that people stay in their homes. The curfew was imposed on Friday and will end on Tuesday.

Some of them were arrested for boozing at a playground while some were loitering on streets during the curfew.

The government is urging people to stay at homes as the number of positive cases have risen to 77.


PERTH, Australia — Australia has unveiled a 66.4 billion Australian dollar ($38.50 billion) stimulus package in a bid to ward off a recession and safeguard employment from the coronavirus pandemic.

The package includes cash payments for eligible small businesses and welfare recipients. The total economic assistance packages so far total almost 10% of the country’s GDP.

Australia has recorded more than 1,000 cases of the virus as fears heighten that it is headed for its first recession in nearly three decades.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says: “We want to help businesses keep going as best they can or to pause instead of falling apart. We want to ensure that when this crisis has passed Australia can bounce back.”

He says more draconian social distancing measures would be considered during a Cabinet meeting Sunday.

Sydney’s iconic Bondi Beach was closed on Saturday after thousands of people flouted regulations that prohibit more than 500 people gathering.


SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea on Sunday reported 98 more cases of the new coronavirus, taking the total here to 8,897.

Fatalities in South Korea increased by two to 104, according to the state-run Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


HONOLULU — Hawaii’s governor has instituted a mandatory 14-day quarantine starting Thursday of all people traveling to the state as part of efforts to fight the spread of the coronavirus, Hawaii News Now reported.

The order applies to returning residents as well as visitors.

“We need to come together as a community to fight this virus,” Gov. David Ige said at a news conference in the state Capitol. “This mandate is the first of its kind in the nation. We want this action to send the message to visitors and residents alike that we appreciate their love for Hawaii but we are asking them to postpone their visit.”

The state announced 11 new cases of people with the coronavirus, bringing Hawaii’s total to 48, according to Hawaii News Now. Three of them are hospitalized.

The U.S. Army announced a soldier with the 25th Infantry Battalion based in Hawaii tested positive for the coronavirus, the first case linked to the Army community in the state, Hawaii News Now reported. The soldier is in isolation.


SEATTLE — Target Corp. has apologized for selling face masks in Seattle stores while hospitals face a dire shortage.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said his office intervened when it received reports Saturday that the much-needed N95 masks were on Target shelves.

Target said on Twitter that the masks were being sold in error and that it was removing them from shelves and donating them to the Washington Department of Health. The company said it would also search its inventory for additional masks to donate.


BRASILIA, Brazil — The U.S. Embassy in Brazil says it is making “final arrangements” to return home 103 American citizens and two permanent residents.

They are currently stranded aboard the Silver Shadow cruise ship off the northeastern Brazilian city of Recife. The vessel has been in isolation and its passengers not allowed to disembark since a 78-year-old Canadian passenger tested positive for the coronavirus.

The embassy’s Saturday statement says a special charter flight will be sent out “as soon as possible.”


NEW YORK — Columbia University’s chief surgeon, Dr. Craig Smith, has been raising alarms about the rapid surge of patients and dwindling supplies in daily letters to colleagues that are being posted to the Columbia surgery department’s Twitter account.

Smith warned that new projections estimate the number of coronavirus patients will continue to grow over the next 22 to 32 days, overwhelming the New York-Presbyterian system’s emergency rooms and intensive care units, even with measures taken to build new capacity.

The projections show the system’s hospitals needing 700 to 934 ICU beds when the outbreak reaches its peak.

Just Friday, Smith wrote, the system saw a 50% increase in coronavirus patients, making for a total of 300 being treated and another 200 awaiting test results. He said hospitals in the system are burning through about 40,000 masks a day -- about 10 times the normal amount.

At NYU Langone Health, another hospital operator in New York City, the “ERs are extremely busy” and some patients are being treated in space retrofitted to expand capacity, spokesman Jim Mandler said Saturday.


WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, have tested negative for the coronavirus.

The vice president’s press secretary, Katie Miller, tweeted the results of the tests Saturday night.

Pence had announced earlier Saturday that, out of an abundance of caution, he and his wife would be tested for the virus. A member of the vice president’s staff had tested positive for the virus.

The vice president had said the staffer, who did not have close contact with either the president or vice president, was doing well. Still, Pence stood just a few feet from President Donald Trump at the podium during their press conference.


BEIJING — The Chinese city of Wuhan, where the global pandemic was first detected, went a fourth consecutive day on Sunday without reporting any new or suspected cases of the virus.

Elsewhere, the country reported 46 new cases over the previous 24 hours, 45 of them coming from overseas. The health ministry did not say where the domestic case was found. Another six deaths were also reported, one in Wuhan, four in the surrounding province of Hubei and one elsewhere.

China now recorded a total of 81,054 cases and 3,261 deaths. A total of 72,244 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 and the city remains isolated from the rest of the province, which is itself closed off to the rest of the country. Even while social distancing and quarantines for new arrivals remain the norm, China is striving to restore activity in the world’s second-largest economy.

Wuhan is a center of China’s crucial auto industry and a special train carrying more than 1,000 employees of Dongfeng Motor Corporation arrived Saturday afternoon in the city for the first time since the outbreak. All were sent directly by bus to factories or residential communities.


WASHINGTON — Washington DC has announced 21 new identified cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus, including a 9-year-old girl, bringing the total to 98. The new infections include a cluster of young people, with 12 victims identified below the age of 40.

District of Columbia health officials have long predicted that the local numbers would spike as more people were tested. Earlier Thursday, they announced that a third member of the DC fire department had tested positive.

Mayor Muriel Bowser has declared a state of emergency and closed all schools through the end of the month. The popular Cherry Blossom Festival has been postponed, White House and Capitol tours have been cancelled and the National Zoo, Smithsonian museum network and Kennedy Center have closed.

Washington’s tally doesn’t include people who may have been infected in Washington but live in nearby northern Virginia or southern Maryland.


MOSCOW — The Russian Defense Ministry says it is ready to fly its mobile medical teams and disinfection equipment to Italy to help it deal with the new coronavirus.

The ministry’s statement followed Saturday’s phone call between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in which the Russian leader offered to send military medical personnel and equipment to help Italy contain the outbreak of the new coronavirus.

The Russian Defense Ministry says its transport planes stand ready to airlift eight mobile medical teams along with various medical equipment and aerosol disinfection trucks to Italy.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu had a call with his Italian counterpart Lorenzo Guerini, who said Italy was ready to receive Russian planes with medical personnel and equipment starting Sunday.


WASHINGTON — An inmate at a federal jail in New York City has tested positive for the new coronavirus, marking the first confirmed case in the federal prison system.

The federal Bureau of Prisons says the man is housed at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn and complained of chest pains on Thursday, a few days after he arrived at the facility.

Officials say he was taken to a hospital and tested for COVID-19. The inmate was discharged from the hospital on Friday and returned to the jail, where he was immediately placed in isolation.

The Bureau of Prisons learned Saturday he had tested positive for COVID-19.


The Palestinian Health Ministry has announced the first two cases of the coronavirus in the Gaza Strip.

The ministry said early Sunday that the cases were for two people who returned recently from Pakistan.

The discovery increases fears of a potential outbreak in the crowded enclave, amid an overstretched health care system that struggles under years of an Israeli-Egyptian blockade and Palestinian political division.


ROME — Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte has told the nation he is tightening the lockdown to fight the rampaging spread of the coronavirus, shutting down all production facilities except those that are “necessary, crucial, indispensable to guarantee essential goods” for the country. Conte said Italy is living through “ïts gravest crisis since World War II.”

Conte said while it’s not easy to renounce habits, that sacrifice pales in comparison to the sacrifices made by other citizens, ranging from doctors and nurses to supermarket clerks and security forces.

Local authorities in Italy’s northern regions have been pleading with the national government to enact ever stricter measures. The most hard-hit region, Lombardy, accounts for more than 60% of Italy’s rapidly surging death toll.

Italy’s economy has been stagnant for several years, and some in the country were reluctant to shut down industry, in a move that would deepen Italy’s economic crisis.

The new stricter measures will be in effect until April 3.


PARDUBICE, Czech Republic — A giant transport plane landed late Saturday at an airport in the Czech Republic loaded with over 100 tons of much needed supplies for the medical sector to combat the outbreak of the coronavirus. The transport was part of a NATO program.

The Czech Defense Ministry said the plane was flying from the city of Shenzhen in south-eastern China with over 106 metric tons (117 tons) of equipment.

The Czech Republic has 995 infected people with the coronavirus.

The flight was made possible by the Strategic Air Lift International Solution (SALIS), whose goal is to provide to participating NATO allies a capability to transport heavy and outsized cargo.


The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.