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WHO declares coronavirus a global pandemic

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The World Health Organization has declared the worldwide outbreak of the new coronavirus a pandemic, with more than 118,000 cases in 114 countries and 4,291 deaths.

“We have called every day for countries to take urgent and aggressive action. We have rung the alarm bell loud and clear,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday.

Leaders from the European Union are promising to do “whatever it takes” to tackle the coronavirus outbreak, which first emerged in China at the end of last year

The virus continued to spread in the United States and appeared in new countries including Bolivia and Turkey, while Indonesia and Sweden recorded their first deaths.

More than 66,000 people have recovered from the illness around the world, according to John Hopkins University.

Here are the latest updates:

Wednesday, March 11

17:07 GMT – Russia suspends flights to Italy, Germany, France and Spain 

Russia has decided to suspend most flights to and from Italy, Germany, France and Spain over the coronavirus outbreak, starting from Friday.

Russia will stop issuing tourist visas to Italian citizens to prevent a spread of the virus, the country’s coronavirus crisis center said in a statement.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Russia rose to 28 from 20 and all the people tested positive in the last day had previously traveled to Italy, according to the statement. 

16:42 GMT – India suspends all tourist visas 

India will suspend all tourist visas to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the country, the government said in a statement.

“All existing visas, except diplomatic, official, UN/international organisations, employment, project visas, stand suspended till 15th April 2020,” it said in the statement.

The order will come into effect from 12:00 GMT on March 13.

16:29 GMT – WHO declares pandemic over outbreak

The World Health Organization has declared the global coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.

“We are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction. We have therefore made the assessement that COVID-19 can be characterised as a pandemic,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a news briefing in Geneva. 

In the past two weeks, the number of COVID-19 cases outside the outbreak epicentre China has increased 13-fold and the number of affected countries has tripled, he added. 

15:46 GMT – Kuwait halts all commercial flights 

Kuwait will halt all commercial flights to and from the Gulf Arab state starting on Friday until further notice, with the exception of cargo flights, state news agency KUNA said.

Authorities also announced a public holiday in the country from March 12 to March 26, with work resuming on March 29, KUNA said, adding that entities providing vital services would remain open.

It said people were banned from going to restaurants and cafes, including those inside malls.

15:44 GMT – First death in Sweden from coronavirus

Sweden reported its first death from the new coronavirus with an elderly patient dying in intensive care at a hospital in the Stockholm region.

Sweden has around 460 confirmed cases of the virus, the first of which was identified at the end of January.

“The patient has had COVID-19 as well as an underlying sickness,” the regional health authority said in a statement.

15:41 GMT – Qatar records 238 new cases of coronavirus 

The number of confirmed novel coronavirus cases in Qatar jumped from 24 to 262 in one day, Qatar’s health ministry said. 

All the 238 new cases are expatriates who had interacted with people previously identified as infected, the ministry said in a statement. 

15:15 GMT – FIFA Congress postponed due to coronavirus 

FIFA has decided to reschedule its annual Congress from June to September due to the coronavirus outbreak, football’s world governing body said.

The 70th FIFA Congress will now be held on September 18 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, it said in a statement.

15:12 GMT – Ivory Coast confirms first case of coronavirus 

Ivory Coast has confirmed its first case of coronavirus, a 45-year-old Ivorian man who had recently travelled to Italy, the health ministry said in a statement.

15:01 GMT – Bulgaria reports first death from coronavirus

A 66-year-old Bulgarian woman became the first to die of the coronavirus in the country, the health ministry said. 

The woman was taken to an emergency hospital in Sofia on Tuesday with severe pneumonia. She was the sixth Bulgarian with a confirmed conorovirus infection.

14:52 GMT – Malta bans travel from more European countries

Malta has banned travel from Germany, France, Spain and Switzerland to try to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Robert Abela said.

The small Mediterranean island imposed similar restrictions on travel from Italy on Monday.

“The decision has been taken on the advice of the medical authorities because of the sharp increase in the spread of the virus,” Abela told a news conference.

14:30 GMT – Homeless in US at ‘high risk’ of contraction

The Seattle area has the US’s third largest concentration of citizens, experiencing homelessness, and the city has become the centre of the US’s battle against the spread of the novel coronavirus that has already led to at least 27 deaths, 22 of them in Washington state.