The Latest on the world’s coronavirus pandemic, which has infected more than 156,000 people and killed more than 5,800. The disease for most people causes only mild or moderate symptoms but for some, especially the elderly or people with underlying health conditions, it can cause more severe illness. Nearly 74,000 people have recovered from it so far, mostly in China.

SEATTLE — U.S. researchers gave the first shots in a first test of an experimental coronavirus vaccine Monday, leading off a worldwide hunt for protection even as the pandemic surges.

With careful jabs in the arms of four healthy volunteers, scientists at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Research Institute in Seattle began an anxiously awaited first-stage study of a potential COVID-19 vaccine developed in record time after the new virus exploded out of China and fanned out across the globe.

“We’re team coronavirus now,” Kaiser Permanente study leader Dr. Lisa Jackson said on the eve of the experiment. “Everyone wants to do what they can in this emergency.”

Monday’s milestone marked just the beginning of a series of studies in people needed to prove whether the shots are safe and could work. Even if the research goes well, a vaccine would not be available for widespread use for 12 to 18 months, said Dr. Anthony Fauci of the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

At a news conference, President Trump praised how quickly the research had progressed. Fauci noted that 65 days have passed since Chinese scientists shared the virus’ genetic sequence. He said he believed that was a record for developing a vaccine to test.

This vaccine candidate, code-named mRNA-1273, was developed by the NIH and Massachusetts-based biotechnology company Moderna Inc. There’s no chance participants could get infected because the shots do not contain the coronavirus itself.

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CDC RECOMMENDS HALTING GATHERINGS OF 50 PEOPLE OR MORE

In the most extreme effort yet to slow the march of coronavirus in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that events of 50 people or more not be held for about two months.

For the next eight weeks, organizers should cancel or postpone in-person events of that size throughout the U.S., the agency said on its website Sunday. When feasible, organizers could modify events to be virtual.

The advisory doesn’t apply to the day-to-day operation of organizations such as schools, institutes of higher learning, or businesses – although many of those entities have taken steps of their own.

U.S. authorities are focusing on “flattening the curve” of the virus’s spread, to prevent health care and other facilities from becoming overwhelmed.

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TRUMP URGES PUBLIC TO ‘RELAX,’ STOP HOARDING

rump urges public to ‘relax,’ stop hoarding

President Trump is urging the public to stop hoarding groceries, telling Americans to “take it easy” and “relax.”

Trump’s Sunday message comes as many supermarket shelves across the country have been picked bare, with people stockpiling supplies like canned goods and toilet paper.

Trump said at a White House briefing that stores are working to keep up with demand, but added “there’s no need for anyone in the country to hoard” essentials.

“You don’t have to buy so much. Take it easy. Just relax” because “it all will pass,” the president said, adding: “Can you buy a little bit less, please?”

Trump held a call earlier Sunday with the officials from the nation’s leading grocery stores. He said he was told the stores are stocking up even more than they would around Christmas time.

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FED SLASHES RATE TO NEAR ZERO, EASES LENDING RULES

The Federal Reserve took emergency action Sunday and slashed its benchmark interest rate by a full percentage point to nearly zero and announced it would purchase more Treasury securities to encourage lending to try to offset the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

The central bank said the effects of the outbreak will weigh on economic activity in the near term and pose risks to the economic outlook. The central bank said it will keep rates at nearly zero until it feels confident the economy has weathered recent events.

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CALIFORNIA CALLS FOR CLOSURE OF ALL BARS, WINERIES

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sunday called for all bars, wineries, nightclubs and brewpubs to close in the nation’s most populous state and urged seniors and people with chronic health conditions to isolate themselves at home in a bid to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

The state also will reduce occupancy in restaurants by half to keep people farther away from each other, Newsom said at a news conference.

“We require social distancing in these establishments,” the governor said, using the phrase that’s become part of everyday conversation about keeping away from other people to prevent the spread of the illness.

It comes as the governors in Illinois and Ohio shut down all bars and restaurants and officials elsewhere said they were considering similar restrictions.

In California, the new orders are “guidelines” that “we have the capacity to enforce if necessary,” Newsom said.

The state has confirmed 335 cases of the virus and recorded its sixth death.

BOSTON RESTAURANTS TO CLOSE EARLY, CUT DINERS

Restaurants and bars in Boston will have to reduce their dining room capacity by half and close early in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the city’s mayor announced Sunday.

Mayor Marty Walsh detailed the new rules on the same day that he declared a city public health emergency. That’s a formal step that city officials say will speed up the response to the virus and enable the city to seek state and federal aid.

The number of people infected with the virus in Massachusetts increased on Sunday to 164, up from 138 on Saturday.

Under the mayor’s order, restaurants will have to remove half of their tables and chairs to give diners more space and reduce the risk of transmission. In addition, lines outside restaurants will be prohibited, and all eateries will have to close at 11 p.m.

Drive-through restaurants and delivery and take-out restaurants will be exempt from the rules. Restaurants that violate the new rules are subject to an automatic 30-day closure.

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ITALY REPORTS 368 DEATHS IN LAST DAY

The number of cases of COVID-19 in Italy has surged higher again.

Some 3,590 more cases of the coronavirus were reported in a 24-hour period, nearly 100 more than the increase as the day before. The additional infections reported Sunday represent the country’s biggest day-to-day increase.

Italy’s Civil Protection chief Angelo Borrelli announced the latest number of cases, bringing the total number of people with the new coronavirus to 24,747. The number of deaths increased by 368 to 1,809.

According to the World Health Organization, the vast majority of people who get COVID-19 recover within weeks.

Italy’s national health institute chief Silvio Brusaferro said it is not known if Italy is reaching its peak and might start seeing the number of new cases decline.

AMERICANS MUST BE READY TO HUNKER DOWN

WASHINGTON — Americans must be ready for more drastic steps to slow the march of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S., Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday.

“Americans should be prepared that they are going to have to hunker down significantly more than we as a country are doing,” Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Asked if he would prefer some kind of 14-day national shutdown to “flatten the curve” of Covid-19 spread, Fauci said, “I would prefer as much as we possibly could.”

The veteran infectious diseases specialist made the rounds of Sunday talk shows, with at least five appearances scheduled.

On ABC’s “This Week,” Fauci said domestic travel restrictions are likely not in the immediate future but are possible as the U.S. refines its response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Travel restrictions within the country have not been seriously discussed,” Fauci said.

”I don’t see that now in the immediate future,” he said, adding that the Trump administration is “open minded” about steps it might have to take.

Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, said he was “absolutely” confident the federal government is doing what it needs to contain the Covid-19 outbreak.

Malaysia has reported 190 new cases, its sharpest daily jump that saw its total cases surge to 428.

Health Minister Adham Baba said Saturday most of the new cases were related to a recent mass Islamic religious gathering, that have also sickened some participants from Brunei and Singapore.

Authorities have said some 16,000 people, of whom 14,500 are Malaysians, attended the four-day event from Feb. 27 at a mosque in a Kuala Lumpur suburb. About a third of the Malaysian participants have been tested so far. Adham said all those who took part in the event and their close contacts must undergo mandatory quarantine for 14 days.

He said participants must report to district offices, vowing the government will “track and hunt them down.” He said the prime minister will head a special government meeting Monday to discuss further measures needed to contain infections.

SPANISH GOVERNMENT TO DEPLOY MILITARY PATROLS

Spain’s Defense Ministry said the government will deploy military units under a state of emergency that it has declared to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

The ministry said the emergency units, whose mission is to respond to domestic natural disasters and often assist in fighting wildfires, will go on a reconnaissance Sunday of areas considered virus hotspots. Those include Madrid, Sevilla, Valencia, Zaragoza, León and two of the Canary Islands.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said Friday that he would include the deployment of military resources as part of a battery of measures to stem the contagion curve.

Using powers given it under the two-week state of emergency declared Saturday, Spain’s government has restricted movements to essential errands and commuting to and from work. It has also closed restaurants, bars and most retail shops.

Police units are enforcing the confinement, patrolling the streets and public areas like parks.

The ministry has also called up military doctors from the reserve and ordered for military pharmacies to increase production of disinfectant solutions and other generic medicines.

PUERTO RICO CLOSES ALL BUSINESSES

Puerto Rico’s governor has ordered the closure of all businesses and nonessential government offices, except for gas stations and those dealing in food, health or finance.

Territorial Gov. Gov. Wanda Vázquez announced that the closures will start at 6 p.m. Sunday and last for two weeks.

The governor’s order affects shops, theaters, parks, malls, gyms and other activities. It follows confirmation of a fifth confirmed case of the new coronavirus in Puerto Rico.

Takeout restaurants, supermarkets, pharmacies and banks can remain open. But they’ll have to close each day at 6 p.m.

Even citizens will be barred from the streets between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m., save for those working in security, health or food distribution.

The governor’s order sets a six-month jail term or a fine of up to $5,000 for violators.

It came a day after the governor ordered schools closed until March 30.

MEXICO SHUTS DOWN SOCCER MATCHES

Professional soccer is shutting down in Mexico.

The move will follow Sunday’s matches, which were already being played before empty stands as a precaution due to the new coronavirus.

The measure applies to the men’s top-flight and second divisions and the fledgling women’s league.

Soccer officials said in a statement that the measure would remain in effect until it’s determined it’s safe to restart play in coordination with Mexico’s Health Department.

The decision follows similar ones elsewhere such as the United States, where professional and collegiate sports have been shut down.

Mexico previously played soccer matches without fans for several weeks during the 2009 H1N1 influenza health emergency, an outbreak with Mexico as the epicenter.

Mexico health officials on Saturday night raised the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the country to 41, up from 26 the previous day and 11 the day before that. On Sunday at least two more were announced by state-level authorities.

FIRST DEATH REPORTED IN CAYMAN ISLANDS

A man removed from a Caribbean cruise has become the first death from COVID-19 in the Cayman Islands.

The man apparently was a passenger on the same vessel, the Costa Luminosa, that experienced two other confirmed cases of the virus.

The islands’ government says that the 68-year-old patient was admitted to Health City in critical condition for urgent cardiac treatment on Feb. 29 following two cardiac arrests. Tests during treatment confirmed that he also had the virus.

Two other passengers from the ship, a 68-year-old Italian woman and her 70-year-old husband, were taken to a hospital in Puerto Rico. Tests confirmed they had the virus.

GERMANY CLOSES BORDERS

Germany will partially close its borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Luxembourg and Denmark as it steps up efforts to stem the spread of the new coronavirus.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer says the new checks will take effect at 8 a.m. Monday. He says people who commute across the border to work will still be able to cross, as will goods.

Seehofer said Sunday that people “without a valid reason to travel will no longer be allowed to enter and leave” Germany. He added that German citizens in the neighboring countries will be allowed back in.

Germany had confirmed nearly 4,000 infections with the virus by Saturday. Authorities have reported 11 deaths.

Germany’s northern neighbour, Denmark, and eastern neighbors Poland and the Czech Republic already closed their own frontiers in recent days. Germany also has borders with the Netherlands and Belgium, which are not affected.

POPE PRAYS FOR AN END DESPITE LOCKDOWN

Despite Italy’s lockdown, Pope Francis has visited two churches in Rome to pray for an end to the coronavirus pandemic.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said Francis first went to St. Mary Major Basilica on Sunday. It’s near Rome’s central train station.

After that, the pope walked along a stretch of a central Rome street to visit another church. The second church has a crucifix that was carried in 1522 in a procession so that a plague then afflicting Rome would end.

Bruni says the pope prayed for an end to the pandemic and the healing of those who are sick.

Italians are cooped up at home by a government decree to combat the spread of the coronavirus. More than 24,700 people in the country have been diagnosed with the disease and more than 1,800 people have died.

According to the World Health Organization, the vast majority of people who get COVID-19 recover within weeks.

BRITISH GOVERNMENT WILL DECLARE EMERGENCY

Britain’s top health official says the government plans to set out emergency powers this week to deal with the viral outbreak, including requiring elderly to self-isolate and banning mass gatherings.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Sunday the government’s bill laying out its emergency action plan would be unveiled on Tuesday and published on Thursday.

Britain has taken a different approach and hasn’t yet heavily restricted everyday activities in the same way other countries across Europe have done, but Hancock’s comments suggested the government was ready to escalate its efforts.

There were 1,140 confirmed virus cases and 21 deaths in Britain, according to the most recent figures.

POPE FRANCIS SPEAKS FROM INSIDE

Pope Francis has praised people for their continuing efforts to help vulnerable communities, including the poor and the homeless, amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Francis for a second Sunday delivered noon remarks and the spoken blessing from inside the Apostolic Library instead of from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square.

“Dear brothers and sisters, in these days St. Peter’s Square is closed, so my greeting is aimed directly at you are connected” via TV, online and other means.

Francis hailed the archbishop of Milan who last week went atop that city’s cathedral to pray before a statue of the Madonna as an example of priests’ “creativity” in keeping spiritually close to their flock. Francis expressed his ówn closeness to the sick, to those caring for them or tending to people isolated at home during lockdowns.

As he did a week earlier, he later waved from the window and gave a silent blessing with his arm, but this time there were no members of the public in the square, just a few well-wishers standing just beyond the square’s boundaries.

ITALIANS FURTHER ISOLATED

Italians are being left even more isolated Sunday amid a national lockdown to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Italy’s transport minister signed a decree Saturday banning passengers from taking ferries to Sardinia, a large Mediterranean island.

Sardinia’s governor had asked for the ban to stop travelers from bringing possible infection from the mainland peninsula. Cargo can still go by ferry to the island, but every day people will need special permission from the governor to hop aboard.

The minister also banned overnight train trips, which many in the north had been taking to reach homes and families in the south. The Italian government is urging people not to travel to return home if possible, as the number of COVID-19 cases keep climbing in the country, mostly in the north.

Italy has the largest outbreak outside of China.

Austria’s leader says his government is limiting people’s movement nationwide.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz told the Austria Press Agency Sunday that there should be only three reasons for people to leave home: essential work, essential purchases such as food, and helping other people.

He said that people will be able to go out “only alone or with the people with whom (they) live in their apartment.

Kurz’s comments came shortly after the governor of Tyrol province had announced a lockdown for his Alpine region.

Austria, a country of some 8 million people, has confirmed 800 infections with the new coronavirus.

MORE NATIONS MOVE TO CLOSE BORDERS

More and more countries are taking border measures to try to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

Norway is set to close its airports and harbors due as of Monday, Prime Erna Solberg told Norwegian media. By midday Sunday, Norway has confirmed 1,133 cases of the virus.

Uzbekistan announced that international air and highway connections will be cut beginning Monday and all mass events, including observations of the holiday of Nowruz, are canceled.

Kazakhstan has declared a state of emergency that closes the borders to all forms of transport and closes shopping malls, theaters and other places of mass gatherings.

PROVINCE GOES ON LOCKDOWN

Austria’s Tyrol province is ordering a lockdown to fight the coronavirus, initially for a one-week period.

The provincial governor, Guenther Platter, announced Sunday that people will be allowed to leave their homes only for reasons such as buying food and medicine, visiting the doctor, getting cash or walking the dog.

Tyrol, an Alpine region that is popular with skiers, borders northern Italy and is one of the worst-hit areas of Austria, which already has largely shut down public life.

The lockdown measures mirror those already taken by Italy and Spain.

Austria has confirmed 758 cases of the new coronavirus and one death.

MASS LIMITED IN CATHOLIC POLAND

People in predominantly Catholic Poland, especially the elderly, have been advised to follow Sunday Mass on TV or on the radio and avoid being in crowds amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Churches remain open, but no more than 50 people can attend an indoors Mass at a time, to prevent the spread of the virus.

State and private TV stations and news portals were streaming live services early Sunday from some Warsaw churches. The seminary church could be seen empty during the service.

Poland has 111 confirmed coronavirus infections. Three patients have died and thirteen have recovered.

TRAVELERS MUST SELF ISOLATE

Singapore has announced that all travelers arriving from Southeast Asian countries, Japan, Switzerland and the United Kingdom or with a travel history to these countries within 14 days upon arrival will have to self-isolate under new efforts to battle the coronavirus.

The health ministry said the measure, starting Sunday, will also apply to Singapore residents. Southeast Asian visitors will also be required to submit information on their health for approval before their travel, it said.

The city-state, which has recorded 212 virus cases, has already banned visitors from China, Iran, Italy, France, Germany, South Korea and Spain. National Development Minister Lawrence Wong however, said the new measure will not apply to sea and land crossings with Malaysia due to high inter-dependency between the neighbors.

SRI LANK CLOSES GARDENS, PARKS

Sri Lanka has closed all of its national parks, zoos and botanical gardens as a part of measures to combat the spreading of the coronavirus.

The Indian Ocean island nation’s government says that the country’s 26 national wildlife parks, two zoos and two botanical gardens will be closed for visitors for two weeks starting Sunday.

Sri Lanka has confirmed 11 cases of the coronavirus.

___

The Republic of Congo, which is home to the World Health Organization’s regional Africa headquarters, has reported its first case of the coronavirus.

The government said late Saturday that a duel French and Republic of Congo citizen returned from Paris on an Ethiopian Airlines flight on March 1. After recently showing symptoms, they alerted authorities. The government asked that others on that flight come forward.

The new case means 25 of Africa’s 54 countries now have cases of the virus.

TURKEY SETS UP QUARANTINE FOR PILGRIMS

Turkey has set up quarantine locations for more than 10,300 people returning from pilgrimages to Islam’s holy sites in Saudi Arabia.

The Youth and Sport Ministry said Sunday that beds had been made available in university dormitories in the capital, Ankara, and the central Anatolian city of Konya for those returning from Umrah, a pilgrimage that can be made at any time of the year. Returnees will be quarantined for 14 days in an effort to combat the coronavirus.

Universities have been closed for three weeks due to the virus outbreak. Turkey’s latest case, its sixth, was a returning pilgrim.

INDONESIANS WILL WORK FROM HOME

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has asked people to work, study and worship from home to reduce the risk of being infected with the coronavirus.

Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, has confirmed 117 cases, with five deaths.

Widodo said at a news conference Sunday that his country faces an especially challenging fight against the coronavirus due to its unique geography. The sprawling archipelago nation comprises over 17,000 islands and is home to more than 260 million people.

AUSTRIA CLOSES RESTAURANTS

Austria is further tightening restrictions on public life, closing restaurants and sports facilities and halting flights to a number of countries in an effort to fight the coronavirus.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced the new measures in a parliamentary session on Sunday. The Austria Press Agency reported that he announced flight bans for Britain, Ukraine and Russia.

Restaurants will now have to close entirely starting on Tuesday. Previous plans had called for them to open only until 3 p.m.

Austria has confirmed 758 cases of the new coronavirus, including one death.

TRAVELERS FACE LONG SCREENING LINES

Travelers returning to the U.S. from Europe have been greeted with hourslong waits for required medical screenings at airports.

While American citizens, green card holders and some others are allowed to return to the U.S. amid new European travel restrictions, they’re being funneled to 13 U.S. airports where they’re subject to health screenings and quarantine orders.

Acting Secretary Chad Wolf says the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is trying to add additional screening capacity and work with airlines to expedite the process. In tweets posted early Sunday morning, he said it takes about a minute per screening.

Videos and photos posted to social media showed packed, winding lines of returning travelers. On Twitter, airports like Dallas/Fort Worth and Chicago O’Hare acknowledged the delays and asked for patience.

SOUTH KOREA DECLARES DISASTER ZONES

South Korea’s president has declared southeastern parts of the country hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak as “special disasters zones,” a designation that makes residents there eligible for emergency relief, tax benefits and other state financial support.

President Moon Jae-in’s office says he on Sunday approved a proposal by his prime minister to declare the Daegu city and some areas in the southeastern Gyeongsang province as such disaster zones.

It’s the first time for South Korea to declare any area a special disaster zone due to an infectious disease. Past disaster zone designations were declared for areas stricken by typhoons, floods and other national disasters.

South Korea has so far reported 8,162 coronavirus cases, about 88% of them in the southeastern region. More than 830 people have recovered.

NEW JERSEY IMPOSES CURFEWS

Just across the Hudson River from New York City, a New Jersey city is imposing a curfew on residents amid the virus outbreak.

Hoboken residents must stay in their homes from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. beginning Monday, a daily curfew that’s among the first and most far-reaching such measures taken in the U.S.

Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla announced Saturday night that exceptions will be made for emergencies and people required to work.

He also said bars and restaurants can only offer takeout and delivery services. Bars that don’t serve food will shut down altogether Sunday.

New Jersey has seen 69 virus cases statewide and two virus-related deaths.

NEW ZEALAND QUARANTINES CRUISE SHIP

In New Zealand, passengers aboard a cruise ship in the South Island tourist town of Akaroa are not being allowed off the vessel while three passengers are tested for the new coronavirus.

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said Sunday that one of the passengers on the Golden Princess is being treated as a suspected case because that person has developed symptoms of the disease and is a close contact of another person who has been confirmed as having contracted COVID-19.

Bloomfield says they should get the test results on Monday, and that officials are considering their response should the case be confirmed.

He says one lesson from observing problems with the virus spreading on other cruise ships is to avoid leaving everybody on board. Bloomfield didn’t elaborate on what form any response might take.

The news came just one day after New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the country was banning cruise ships from entering its waters as it took a more aggressive approach to COVID-19. The Golden Princess was already in New Zealand at the time Ardern made her announcement.

The cruise ship departed from Melbourne, Australia. An Akaroa cruise schedule indicates the ship was expected to have about 2,600 passengers and 1,100 crew.

 


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