Coronavirus latest US House passes virus aid bill

Coronavirus latest US House passes virus aid bill

The US House of Representatives has approved an aid package that provides free medical testing and paid leave for people struggling with the coronavirus. The bill now moves to the senate. Follow DW for the latest.

US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi prior to the House vote on a coronavirus aid package
  • US House of Representatives pass bill to help workers hurt by coronavirus measures
  • Ban on EU citizens traveling to US goes into effect
  • Colombia bars entry to arrivals from Asia and Europe, closes border with Venezuela
  • The infection has spread to countries in Africa and Latin America that, until now, had remained untouched

Updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC/GMT)

06:24 Saudi Arabia is suspending all international flights for two weeks in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“The Kingdom’s government decided to suspend international flights for two weeks (Starting from Sunday March 15th) as part of its efforts to prevent the spread of #CoronaVirus,” the foreign ministry tweeted.

06:17 New Zealand announced the world’s tightest border controls requiring all incoming travellers, including its own citizens, to self-isolate for two weeks. The restrictions will begin on Sunday.

“Alongside Israel, and a small number of Pacific Islands who have effectively closed their border, this decision will mean New Zealand will have the widest ranging and toughest border restrictions of any country in the world,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

04:41 Coronavirus aid legislation has passed in the US House of Representatives. The bill provides free coronavirus testing, paid sick leave for people who contract the virus, stronger unemployment insurance, and greater food aid to families that require it.

Having passed with overwhelming support in the House, the bill now moves to the Senate for a vote scheduled for early next week.

04:31 A White House physician has confirmed that US President Donald Trump last weekend encountered a second individual who later tested positive for coronavirus.

The president does not require quarantine or testing for the virus, Dr. Sean P. Conley said in a statement.

“The President’s exposure to the first individual was extremely limited (photograph, handshake) and though he spent more time in closer proximity to the second case, all interactions occurred before any symptom onset,” he said.

04:25 Colombia is barring entry to all visitors who were in Asia or Europe in the last two weeks.

04:20 Beginning Monday, the Badminton World Federation will suspend all tournaments.

04:15 Starting at midnight on Sunday, everyone entering New Zealand must self-quarantine for 14 days, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said.

“This decision will mean New Zealand will have the widest-ranging and toughest border restrictions of any country in the world,” Ardern said in a press conference.

People from small South Pacific island countries that have yet to report cases of coronavirus will be exempt.

04:11 Colombia is closing its border with Venezuela to slow the spread of COVID-19.

04:10 Honduras has recorded its third case of coronavirus.

04:05 US President Donald Trump’s 30-day ban on foreign travelers arriving from Europe has now gone into effect.

04:00 The US Department of Defense is halting all domestic travel for military members from March 16 through May 11 in an attempt to limit the spread of coronavirus throughout the armed forces.

The move applies to all service members, Department of Defense civilians, and their families, a statement from the Pentagon said.

“This restriction will halt all domestic travel, including Permanent Change of Station, and Temporary Duty,” it said.

03:55 Uruguay is barring entry to travelers from Germany and 8 other “risk countries.” These include China, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Iran, Italy, Spain, and France.

The Latin American country confirmed its first four cases of coronavirus on Friday.

03:50 Puerto Rico has announced its first cases of coronavirus. Three cases have been confirmed in the US territory, Governor Wanda Vazquez said.

As a result, Puerto Rico’s public school system will close for 14 days to slow the spread of the infection.

03:45 The virus has caused huge disruptions to daily life around the globe, and that includes sports. Check out the latest coronavirus developments in the sports world here.

03:38 German Health Minister Jens Spahn reiterated on Twitter that people returning to Germany from Italy, Austria, and Switzerland should self-quarantine at home for 14 days.

“If you have been in Italy, Switzerland, or Austria within the last 14 days: avoid unnecessary contacts and stay at home for two weeks,” the minister wrote on Twitter. This applies “whether you have symptoms or not.”

03:32 Mexico is considering imposing travel restrictions on its northern border with the US to prevent coronavirus from spreading south into the Latin American country.

“If it were technically necessary to consider mechanisms of restriction or stronger surveillance, we would have to take into account not that Mexico would bring the virus to the United States, rather than the United States could bring it here,” Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell said in a press conference.

Mexico currently has 26 confirmed cases of coronavirus.

03:21 Cambodia is blocking entry to foreign travelers from Germany, Italy, Spain, France and the US for 30 days starting on Tuesday to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The Southeast Asian country has reported seven cases of coronavirus, six of them foreigners.

03:11 Starting from Sunday, Saudi Arabia will suspend all international flights for two weeks.

02:55 The German Association of General Practitioners has called for rules regarding sick leave to be relaxed in light of the coronavirus outbreak.

The simple process of obtaining a seven-day medical leave of absence should be extended to 14 days, association chairman Ulrich Weigelt told the Rheinische Post. Medical professionals have said that the contagion period for COVID-19 is 14 days.


02:50 The US Transportation Department has issued an emergency declaration that waives hours-of-service requirements for commercial drivers transporting emergency coronavirus relief.

“This declaration will help America’s commercial drivers get these critical goods to impacted areas faster and more efficiently,” said the department’s acting administrator, Jim Mullen, in a statement.

The declaration covers vehicles carrying medical equipment and testing supplies, food to restock stores, and supplies such as gloves, masks, disinfectants, and soap.

The order requires that drivers receive time off once a delivery is complete. It is this first time such an order has been issued on a national level.

02:43 The Czech government says it will close all restaurants and shops, with the exception of groceries, pharmacies, and drug stores, for the next 10 days.

02:24 China, the country the most affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, reported 11 new cases of coronavirus on Friday, bringing the national total to 80,824. Over 65,500 cases have already recovered and 3,189 people have died.

02:15 The US has reported its 50th coronavirus-related death.

02:11 The Philippines has reported another coronavirus death, bringing the national death toll to 6.

02:00 Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) have called for legal changes that would make it easier for working parents to care for children kept at home in situations like the coronavirus outbreak, which has caused many schools and preschools around the country to shut their doors.

“One possibility could be to expand the regulation that allows me to look after my child for ten days if he or she is ill. That could be extended to government-ordered school closings and the possible duration be extended,” SPD vice-chairwoman Anke Rehlinger told the Rheinische Post.

01:45 US Olympic wrestling trials have been postponed indefinitely due to coronavirus fears.

01:40 Chile has banned public events with more than 500 people.

01:35 Jamaica’s prime minister has declared the island a disaster area due to the threat of a coronavirus outbreak.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness said the country is seeking 100 Cuban nurses to help manage the spread of the infection. Travel restrictions are also being imposed on people arriving from Britain.

Thus far, Jamaica has eight confirmed cases of coronavirus.

01:25 Some churches in Rome have been reopened in response to criticism from Pope Francis. Despite the severe coronavirus outbreak in Italy, Cardinal Vicar Angelo De Donatis said he had decided to reopen some churches after meeting with the pope.

The pope had previously said that “drastic measures are not always good.” All churches remain closed to tourists, however.

Italy is second only to China in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases.

01:20 The US State Department has warned the Chinese ambassador to the US after a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman suggested that the US military brought COVID-19 to Wuhan, the Chinese city where the outbreak began.

“Spreading conspiracy theories is dangerous and ridiculous,” a state department official told Reuters. “We wanted to put the government on notice we won’t tolerate it for the good of the Chinese people and the world.”

01:16 South Korea, one of the countries the worst affected by the virus outbreak, reported 107 new cases of coronavirus on Friday. This brings the national total to 8,086.

01:15 Mexico’s health minister says the country has 26 confirmed cases of coronavirus.

01:11 New York City has opened its first drive-through coronavirus testing station. People concerned that they may have been infected with the virus can remain in their automobiles as a medical professional collects the necessary biological samples. These are then sent to a lab, which returns a positive or negative diagnosis within 24 hours.

Medical personnel swab a driver's nose at a drive-through coronavirus testing site in Seattle, WashingtonMedical personnel swab a driver’s nose at a drive-through coronavirus testing site in Seattle, Washington

01:00 Bolivia has reported seven locally transmitted cases of COVID-19, bringing the national total to 10, including three cases linked to travel.

00:55 US President Donald Trump says he fully supports the “H.R. 6201: Families First Coronavirus Response Act,” a bill that the US House of Representatives will vote on shortly.

00:51 Guatemala’s president is banning the entry into the country of people coming from the United States and Canada.

EU angry at US travel ban on 26 European countries

00:46 Argentine soccer club River Plate are refusing to play a match against Atletico Tucuman due to “the severe risks to the health of the professional squad,” the club has said.

One player has shown symptoms compatible with coronavirus. The club said they will shut down until further notice and are refusing to play any matches.

A day before, the Argentine government had canceled all international sporting events in the country until the end of the month.

00:41 The African countries of Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, Guinea and Mauritania have all confirmed their first cases of the new coronavirus.

00:39 Due to coronavirus fears, New Zealand has canceled a memorial service honoring the lives of 51 people killed in the Christchurch massacre last year.

On March 15, 2019, a gunman attacked two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Thousands of people had been expected to attend the remembrance service. New Zealand currently has five confirmed cases of COVID-19.

00:30 That White House has said that US President Donald Trump will host a video conference with all Group of 7 (G7) leaders early next week to discuss the development of the coronavirus outbreak.

00:20 Unions and student groups in Colombia say they plan to go ahead with a strike scheduled for March 25 to protest the social and economic policies of President Ivan Duque despite the coronavirus outbreak. Public marches have, however, been canceled.

“The strike on March 25 is going ahead. However, we are asking Colombians not to leave their houses as there will be no transport,” said Diogenes Orjuela, head of the Central Union of Workers. “We will hoist Colombian flags decorated with black tape to condemn the killings and violence. The strike will last 24 hours and we are not going to break protocols because safety is paramount,” Orjuela said.

Colombia’s government has declared a health emergency to try to contain the spread of the coronavirus.


00:15 2,450 passengers of a cruise ship have disembarked in California and are now being transported to quarantine sites.

00:10 The chairman of Germany’s conservative Christian Social Union Party (CSU), the Bavarian sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian-Democrats, has called for the German armed forces, or Bundeswehr, to be more involved in fighting the coronavirus outbreak.

“We should consider involving the Bundeswehr more,” said CSU Chairman and Bavarian President Markus Söder. “Their nursing personnel, doctors, laboratory facilities, and their free capacities in hospitals…In view of this crisis, it’s essential.”

A Bundeswehr spokesman told the Rheinische Post that the organization is currently assisting on an administrative level, for example by providing laboratory capacity and medical protective equipment.



Watch video26:01

Europe: COVID-19’s New Epicenter

00:03 Here’s a recap of the global figures:

  • 145,341 confirmed cases globally
  • 5,416 global deaths
  • 70,931 recovered

00:01 The Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases has added the Spanish capital of Madrid and the Austrian state of South Tirol to its list of high-risk areas for contracting the novel coronavirus.

The list had already included Italy, Iran, the province of Hubei in China — where the outbreak originated — the province of North Gyeongsang in South Korea, and the region of Grand Est in France.

kp/dr (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)

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