The Latest: Illegal border crossing into U.S. down 50%
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 92,000 people have recovered so far, mostly in China.
TOP OF THE HOUR:
— Illegal border crossings into U.S. have dropped by 50% amid coronavirus pandemic.
— Spain to extend national state of emergency to at least one month.
— Stockholm teams with Swedish military to build make-shift hospital.
WASHINGTON — Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf says illegal border crossings have dropped by 50% after restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Trump administration is turning back anyone crossing illegally, among other restrictions.
Wolf says because migrants often come without identification paperwork it’s unclear how to trace their medical history and to determine if they are arriving from an area hard-hit by the virus.
But the Trump administration has also made restriction immigration a top priority, regardless of the pandemic and had already been sending thousands of asylum seekers back to Mexico to wait out their cases. The nation’s immigration courts are still operating with limited closures and some hearings delayed.
Wolf said on Fox News “Sunday Morning Futures” that the borders between the U.S. and Mexico and U.S. and Canada are not shut down, but are only allowing for necessary trade and travel.
He says there’s more than $2 billion combined trade at both borders and it’s important to keep that going. But he says anyone coming for tourism should stay home.
MADRID — Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez says he plans to extend the national state of emergency that includes strict measures to combat the coronavirus.
It means the countrywide lockdown will last at least one month.
Spain is finishing its first week of what was initially a 15-day state of emergency that imposes stay-at-home restrictions and store closings. But with infections and deaths continuing to rise, Sánchez has decided not to wait to extend the lockdown.
To do so, his government will ask the Parliament for its necessary approval on Tuesday.
Spain, the hardest hit country after China and Italy, has 28,572 infections and 1,720 deaths.
STOCKHOLM — The city of Stockholm says it has teamed up with the Swedish military to build a make-shift hospital inside a large fair and convention center south of the Swedish capital to accommodate a rapidly growing number of coronavirus patients.
Stockholm region officials said the building of the facility will start immediately in co-operation with the Swedish Armed Forces. It will include an intensive care unit.
Stockholm had 661 confirmed cases and seven deaths by Sunday. Nationwide, Sweden has seen a large hike in coronavirus cases in the past week with 1,747 cases and 20 deaths confirmed in the country Sunday.
WASHINGTON — U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says he expects Congress and the White House to reach full agreement later Sunday on an economic stimulus package that could approach $2 trillion to address the coronavirus crisis.
The package would include $3,000 checks to families and other aid to last the next 10 weeks.
Mnuchin tells “Fox News Sunday” that there is a “fundamental understanding” reached with Republican and Democratic congressional leaders to provide significant aid.
He says the deal includes federal loans to small businesses so they can retain their workers; cash payments averaging $3,000 for a family of four as well as “enhanced” unemployment insurance.
The package also will allow the Federal Reserve to leverage up to $4 trillion of liquidity to support the nation’s economy, while hospitals will get “approximately” $110 billion to address a crush of people infected with the virus.
Mnuchin says President Donald Trump has “every expectation” the aid package will help workers and the economy improve “four or eight weeks from now,” but if the virus is still raging after 10 weeks, “we’ll go back to Congress again.”
Mnuchin says he expects a Senate vote on the deal on Monday morning.
WASHINGTON — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says her state needs the federal government to provide not only more test kits and masks but also clear guidance on how best to fight the spread of the coronavirus.
Speaking Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” Whitmer said her state and others are doing the best they can, “but it would be nice to have a national strategy.” As it is, she said the states are “all building the airplane as we fly it.”
She criticized the federal government for not focusing on the threat much earlier. She also said she didn’t want to belabor the point because she needs to be able to work with the federal government.
She said she doesn’t want to fight with the White House, but says a point will come in which failures will need to be examined.
LONDON — Authorities in Britain’s remotest regions say an influx of people trying to get away from crowded urban areas is putting local lives at risk.
Scottish authorities told people heading to the sparsely populated Highlands to stay at holiday homes or in camper vans to go home.
The Road to The Isles group, which represents tourism businesses in part of the scenic region, said its area had an aging population and just one ambulance, with the nearest hospital 100 miles (160 kms) away.
Chairwoman Sine MacKellaig-Davis urged people “to stay home, care for loved ones and, as soon as it’s safe to do so, the Road to the Isles and its communities and businesses will welcome you.”
Judy Murray, mother of tennis star Andy Murrray, had a blunter message. She tweeted “Message for those relocating to the countryside” above a picture of a car and trailer with “Go home idiots” and “Covid-19″ painted on the side.
PRAGUE — The Czech Foreign Ministry is sending a military plane to the Baltics and secured deals with commercial airlines to take home stranded Czech nationals in Egypt, Philippines and Vietnam.
Various restrictive measures on movement adopted by the governments around the globe due to the outbreak of the coronavirus have made it difficult for many to return.
Altogether some 600 Czechs should return by those flights, plus 100 people from other EU countries who were offered seats.
The government have already been sending buses for the Czechs stranded at the airports in Munich, Frankfurt and Berlin in Germany as well Vienna in Austria.
WASHINGTON — Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey says his state is desperate for more face masks and other personal protective equipment and is not getting nearly what it needs from the federal government.
Murphy said, “We’ve had a big ask into the strategic stockpile in the White House. They’ve given us a fraction of our ask.”
New Jersey is now fourth in the country in terms of the number of positive cases, which the governor says hit more than 1,300 on Saturday with 16 fatalities.
He also cited an urgent need for direct financial assistance from the federal government to help workers and small business. He said, “We think New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut alone, those four states, need $100 billion, direct cash assistance, to allow us to continue the fight.”
Murphy spoke Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Long-haul carrier Emirates says it will suspend all passenger flights beginning Wednesday over the coronavirus outbreak.
The decision is a major one for the Dubai-based, government-owned airline built on linking the East to the West.
A statement from the carrier quoted Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, its chairman and CEO, as saying: “The world has literally gone into quarantine due to the COVID-19 outbreak. This is an unprecedented crisis situation in terms of breadth and scale: geographically, as well as from a health, social, and economic standpoint.”
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka has indefinitely extend the closure of the arrival terminal at it’s main international airport to prevent imported cases of the coronavirus.
The Indian ocean island nation stepped up efforts to contain the spreading of virus as the number of positive cases has now risen to 82.
Early this week, the government suspended arrival flights until March 25. On Sunday, the government announced that the restrictions of arrival flights “will continue until the country returns to normalcy.”
However, the airport’s departure terminal will continue to be operational and flights are allowed into the country to take departing passengers.
NEW YORK — New York City’s mayor is telling New Yorkers at the epicenter of the U.S. pandemic that it’s only going to get worse.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that his city is in desperate need of ventilators and other medical supplies and staff. He also lambasted the White House response as non-responsive.
He says he’s asked “repeatedly” for the U.S. military to mobilize, and has heard nothing.
The Mayor said the actions taken by American citizens are “much farther ahead than anything we’ve seen out of the White House.”
LONDON — British doctors and nurses are making urgent pleas for more protective equipment as the number of coronavirus patients in U.K. hospitals soars.
Almost 4,000 medical workers signed a letter to the Sunday Times saying front-line staff felt like “cannon fodder.” They warned that medics would die if they did not receive better equipment.
The letter said that intensive-care doctors and anaesthetists “have been carrying out the highest-risk procedure, putting a patient on a ventilator, with masks that expired in 2015.”
Britain’s coronavirus outbreak is not expected to peak for weeks, and already staff at some hospitals have complained about shortages of ventilators and protective equipment like face masks, safety glasses, gloves and protective suits.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said that hospitals would receive new stocks of protective equipment by Sunday afternoon.
The government has also ordered thousands of ventilators and has struck a deal with private hospitals to use thousands of beds and 20,000 medical staff to treat coronavirus patients.
ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s top health official has revised the country’s number of confirmed coronavirus cases to 646 cases. That’s down from the more than 700 confirmed cases reported a day earlier.
Zafar Mirza, the special assistant to prime minister Imran Khan, said the figures he was presenting came from all provincial health authorities. He said the total suspected cases are 5650.
Out of the confirmed cases, 292 tested positive in southern Sindh province, 152 in Punjab, 104 in Baluchistan, 31 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 55 in Gilgit Baltistan, 11 in Islamabad and one in Pakistan controled Kashmir.
PRAGUE — The Czech government is sending to Italy about 100,000 face masks and respirators that were among hundreds of thousands seized in the country earlier this week.
Czech authorities used emergency powers to raid a warehouse and seize 680,000 masks and 28,000 respirators on Tuesday.
The state was negotiating to acquire those badly needed masks and respirators with a private company but before reaching a deal the price significantly increased, prompting the seizure.
Interior Minister Jan Hamacek later acknowledged it turned out that 101,600 of the protective gear were sent by China’s Red Cross to fellow Chinese nationals living in Italy and apologized for the Czech move.
Czech police are investigating how those masks from China ended up in a warehouse located in northwestern town of Lovosice.
Czech Foreign Minister Tomas Petricek said on Sunday he would explain the situation to his Italian counterpart and the masks will be transported to Italy early next week.
CRAIOVA, Romania — Romania has reported its first death due to the coronavirus.
Authorities said Sunday the victim was a 67-year-old man with terminal cancer who returned March 6 from France, where he had been receiving treatment.
The man died while in the intensive care unit of a hospital for infectious diseases in the southwestern city of Craiova.
Romania has 367 confirmed cases of people infected with the coronavirus. The country will close its borders to foreigners Sunday night and curfews will be enforced.
WARSAW, Poland — A hospital in Poland has been sealed off and a quarantine ordered for all patients and employees after a 38-year-old patient tested positive for the coronavirus.
Nearly 70 people are now quarantined in Provincial Hospital of Lung Diseases and Tuberculosis in Wolica, near the central Polish city of Kalisz.
No one can leave the hospital until further notice and no one can enter.
The patient with COVID-19 has been transported to another hospital in severe condition.
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis is seeking to unite Christianity across denomination in prayer against the new virus ’’shaking humanity.”
The pope held his weekly Sunday blessing in his private library in the Apostolic Palace over virus concerns. He urged all Christians to join in reciting the ’’Our Father” prayer next Wednesday at noon.
The pope said he would lead a global blessing to an empty St. Peter’s Square on Friday. The ’’Urbi et Orbi,” blessing is normally reserved for Christmas Day and Easter and will be broadcast to the faithful.
The double prayer initiative of such a global and ecumenical nature is highly unusual and suggests the urgency with which the Vatican views the pandemic.
The pope began streaming his audiences earlier this month after the Vatican joined Italy in implementing drastic lockdown measures.
PERTH, Australia – Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has closed the country’s bars, clubs, cinemas and casinos to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
Morrison said the drastic measures nationwide would start Monday and also include sporting and religious venues. Restaurants and cafes will be restricted to takeout service only, but schools remain open.
Morrison said the rules were implemented because people disregarded social distancing requirements.
He said the restrictions would be in place for at least six months, but added that the time frame could be reconsidered if the health situation changes.
Earlier Sunday, Morrison unveiled a 66.4 billion Australian dollar ($38.50 billion) stimulus package that includes cash payments for eligible small businesses and welfare recipients.
Australia has confirmed more than 1,000 coronavirus cases, including seven deaths.
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