While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, March 24

Britain imposes three-week lockdown to combat coronavirus spread

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday ordered people to stay at home, escalating an already unprecedented clampdown on daily life to try and halt the spread of coronavirus.

Deaths from the virus in Britain jumped by 54 to 335 on Monday as the government said the military would help ship millions of items of personal protective equipment including masks to healthcare workers who have complained of shortages.

“From this evening I must give the British people a very simple instruction – you must stay at home,” Johnson said in a televised address to the nation, replacing his usual daily news conference.

Johnson said people would only be allowed to leave their homes for basic necessities: exercise, for a medical need, to provide care or travelling to and from work where absolutely necessary.

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US$2 trillion coronavirus aid package stalls in US Senate

A far-reaching coronavirus economic stimulus package failed to advance in the US Senate on Monday as Democrats said it contained too little money for states and hospitals and not enough restrictions on a fund to help big businesses.

The 49-46 vote left the US$2 trillion (S$2.92 trillion) measure short of the 60 votes needed to advance, as the chamber remained deadlocked for a second day. Only one Democrat, Doug Jones of Alabama, voted with Republicans to advance the Bill.

Congress has already passed some legislation to blunt the economic toll of the pandemic that has killed at least 506 people in the United States and sickened more than 43,000, leading state governors to order nearly a third of the nation’s population to stay at home and threatening to throw millions out of work.

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Italy’s coronavirus deaths slow, offering glimmer of hope

The death toll from an outbreak of coronavirus in Italy rose by 602 on Monday, the smallest increase for four days, while the number of new cases also slowed, raising hope that the most aggressive phase of the epidemic may be passing.

The Civil Protection Agency said the number of fatalities from the month-old contagion stood at 6,077, while confirmed cases totalled 63,927, an increase of 4,789 over the past 24 hours – the smallest rise for five days.

“Today is perhaps the first positive day we have had in this hard, very tough month,” said Giulio Gallera, the top health official in the northern region of Lombardy, which has been hardest hit by the outbreak.

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Coronavirus pandemic is ‘accelerating’ but still possible to change trajectory: WHO

The coronavirus pandemic is clearly “accelerating”, the World Health Organisation warned on Monday, but said it was still possible to “change the trajectory” of the outbreak.

The remarks came as the number of deaths soared past 15,000, with more than 341,000 people infected worldwide, according to a tally compiled by AFP from official sources.

“The pandemic is accelerating,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual news conference. He said it took 67 days from the beginning of the outbreak in China in December for the virus to infect the first 100,000 people worldwide.

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G-20 says working on action plan to deal with global coronavirus pandemic

Finance ministers and central bankers from the world’s 20 largest economies agreed on Monday to develop an “action plan” to respond to a coronavirus pandemic that the IMF now expects to trigger a global recession, but they offered no specifics.

The G-20 secretariat issued the statement after the finance officials met by video conference for nearly two hours, seeking to stave off growing criticism that the world’s “fire station” has been slow to respond to the worsening crisis.

G-20 leaders are due to meet for an extraordinary summit in coming days as the virus continues its rapid spread, with 337,500 people infected across the world and over 14,600 dead.

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