The Latest: Europe’s beloved soccer tournament postponed

By | March 17, 2020

The Latest on the world’s coronavirus pandemic, which has infected more than 185,000 people and killed more than 7,300. 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 80,000 people have recovered so far, mostly in China.

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This year’s European Championship soccer tournament has been postponed for one year, upending a tradition dominates European life for a full month every four years.

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin says the spreading coronavirus “makes football and all life in Europe quite impossible.” UEFA plans to play the tournament next year from June 11 to July 11.

The 24-team competition was to be hosted in 12 different countries this year.

The postponement clears space to give national leagues and the Champions League and Europa League a chance to finish their seasons by June 30.

European soccer is in a shutdown and it is unclear when games can resume.

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The Church of England has put on hold Sunday services to the faithful as a result of the coronavirus outbreak after the British government imposed severe restrictions on public gatherings.

In a joint letter, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and the Archbishop of York John Sentamu called for the Church of England to become a “different sort of church” in the coming months to face the challenge of coronavirus. As a result, they said it was necessary to put public services on hold “until further notice.”

However, they insisted the church was not shutting up shop, and that it will become a church “rooted in prayer and serving others.” They said it was important that local food-banks still be supported and church-run homeless shelters wherever possible are kept open.

The archbishops expressed their desire that church buildings may, where practical, remain open as places of prayer, as long as worshippers distance themselves.

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Brazil has recorded its first death related to the new coronavirus outbreak, according to Sao Paulo state’s government.

Authorities do not know where the patient was infected and will provide more details about the patient’s identity later Tuesday. Brazil has 234 confirmed cases of the virus, more than half in Sao Paulo.

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Greece has announced new restrictions at migrant camps on Greek islands and mainland, aimed at fighting the spread of the coronavirus.

The measures include suspending school classes and all group activities for two weeks, as well as excluding non-essential staff from the sites, many of which are severely overcrowded. Other measures include health tests for newly arrived migrants and creating isolation areas at the camps.

No confirmed cases of the virus at migrant camps have been announced, but authorities fear the spread could be rapid given the camps’ poor sanitary conditions and overcrowding.

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A dozen residents of a New Orleans retirement home are now infected by the coronavirus, which Louisiana’s governor noted has proven more lethal for older people than other age groups.

The latest death from COVID-19 was a resident of the Lambeth House retirement home in New Orleans, Gov. John Bel Edwards said. The 84-year-old New Orleans man has become the third person in Louisiana to die from the new coronavirus.

Dr. Jennifer Avegno, leader of the city health department, stressed that the virus was spreading much faster in New Orleans than in other U.S. cities.

“This is a rapidly changing situation,” she said. “There is substantial community spread.”

The governor has ordered bars, gyms and movie theaters to close and limited restaurants to delivery and takeout.

The number of positive tests for the virus in Louisiana has reached 136.

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The aid group Doctors Without Borders says it’s essential for European Union nations to put their separate interests aside and share essential medical equipment in their response to the coronavirus crisis if they want to protect healthcare workers.

With Europe now the epicenter of the pandemic, the group said shortages of medical equipment such as protective gloves or masks are “increasingly commonplace” in Italy, where it has started to work in four hospitals.

“Nearly 1,700 healthcare workers, or 8% of the total COVID-19 cases in Italy, have been infected whilst tirelessly caring for the rising number of severely ill patients who require long-term hospitalization and specialized intensive care,” MSF said. “Without an influx of urgently needed protective equipment, more healthcare workers will fall ill, reducing the availability of care for patients, generating new clusters of cases.”

According to Dr. Claudia Lodesani, the situation in Italy is so critical that some doctors are forced to wear the same face mask for 12 hours.

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The British government is advising its citizens against non-essential international travel anywhere in the world for the next 30 days.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab says that with more and more countries losing their borders, there is a risk many Britons will become stranded.

He said the government had brought home hundreds of Britons stranded in China and other places hit by the outbreak, but warned that from now on people would only be repatriated “in exceptional circumstances.”

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China’s financial hub of Shanghai is expanding the number of countries whose citizens must undergo a 14-day quarantine rules to cover passengers entering the city from more countries and regions to contain the risk of the novel coronavirus outbreak, the local government said Tuesday.

Passengers who have traveled or lived in 16 countries, 14 days prior to entering Shanghai, are required to be quarantined at home or in designated facilities, the local government said at a press conference.

The 16 countries are the Republic of Korea, Italy, Iran, Japan, France, Spain, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Sweden, Belgium, Norway, the Netherlands, Denmark and Austria.

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The United Nations is appealing to donors not to lose sight of other humanitarian crises as the world responds to the coronavirus pandemic.

Jens Laerke, a spokesman for the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said in Geneva on Tuesday that “if we highlight one crisis, others should not fall into the shadows.”

Laerke said that more than 100 million people around the world rely on support from the U.N.’s humanitarian agencies.

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Regional authorities in Spain’s Balearic Islands are effectively locking down the Mediterranean archipelago by restricting all but a handful of daily flights and incoming boats for returning island residents.

The move comes after the local Diario de Mallorca newspaper reported that 48 private flights had landed in the islands over the weekend despite Spain’s state of emergency restrictions to stem the coronavirus outbreak. The archipelago has 92 of the country’s more than 11,000 infections.

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As clocks around France struck noon, the police patrols commenced, stopping anyone outside to try to contain the spreading virus.

The empty Eiffel Tower guarded over a Paris gradually going into lockdown.

Some Parisians looked out on their changing city from their wrought-iron balconies as the deadline hit.

Dozens of police deployed along the tree-lined Champs-Elysees, whose luxury boutiques stood shuttered, its wide sidewalks devoid of shoppers or selfie-takers. Tourists were told to go inside.

France’s government ordered the confinement as the number of virus cases topped 6,600, including 148 deaths.

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Canada’s largest province is declaring a state of emergency amid the pandemic.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford says all organized events of over 50 people are prohibited.

Ford says all restaurants and bars will be closed except for takeout or delivery. Grocery stores, pharmacies, corner stores and public transit will remain open.

Schools, child care centers and theaters are also closed in Canada’s most populous province.

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Russian health officials ordered coronavirus testing for everyone who returned from European countries in the last 14 days.

The decree released Tuesday by the country’s public health watchdog also outlines mandatory testing for everyone who returned from abroad in the past month and exhibited flu-like symptoms.

Previously, testing in Russia has been limited to people who showed symptoms and either returned from countries severely affected by the pandemic or had contact with those who had already been diagnosed with the virus.

The measure is one of the many Russian authorities took this week to tackle the spread of COVID-19 in the country, which has reported 114 cases.

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African nations are seeing two major investments in their coronavirus response.

Jack Ma, founder of the Chinese tech company Alibaba, says his foundation will donate more than 1 million testing kits. That’s 20,000 testing kits to each of Africa’s 54 countries as the coronavirus starts to spread on the continent.

Thirty African countries have confirmed cases but about a dozen lack testing capability. Ma says “we cannot … assume this continent of 1.3 billion people will blissfully escape the crisis.”

And Bloomberg Philanthropies announced a $ 40 million initiative to help vulnerable countries, notably in Africa.

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Canada’s second largest airline is suspending all commercial international and trans-border flights for a 30-day period as it helps operate rescue and repatriation flights in partnership with the Canadian government.

Westjet says it will suspend normal service on Sunday. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says now is the time for Canadians to come home.

Dr. Deborah Birx, who is coordinating the U.S. federal response to the virus, is calling on the “army of millennials” to lead the charge in fighting back against the coronavirus.

Birx said Tuesday on ABC’s “Good Morning America” that the nation needs millennials out doing everything they can to protect themselves from getting infected, but also protecting their parents and grandparents.

She says millennials who get infected typically will have milder symptoms than at-risk and older Americans. She says millennials, a term referring to those born in the 1980s to early 1990s, also tend to be good at networking and sharing information.

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The number of deaths in Spain due to the new coronavirus has jumped from 309 to 491 in 24 hours and new infections have risen to 11,178, nearly 2,000 more than a day earlier.

The numbers were reported Tuesday by the nation’s health emergency center director, Fernando Simón. With a population of 46 million, Spain became on Monday the fourth country in the world with most coronavirus cases, surpassing South Korea and edging closer to Iran.

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Britain’s dramatic escalation of social restrictions to fight COVID-19 was sparked by new scientific evidence suggesting that 250,000 people in the U.K. and more than 1 million in the U.S. might die if the country did not suppress the spread of the new coronavirus.

Imperial College London epidemiologists advising the U.K. government have published an analysis drawing on data from Italy, the hardest-hit European country with nearly 28,000 cases and 2,158 deaths.

They found that a strategy of “mitigation” — slowing but not stopping the spread of the virus while protecting vulnerable groups like the elderly — would still lead to a huge number of cases that would overwhelm the health care system.

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Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven is urging high schools, universities and other educational institutions to close but not kindergartens or schools, which he could be shut down later.

Lofven told a press conference on Tuesday it had not been decided how long they would be closed, adding the government would follow the recommendations of the Public Health Agency of Sweden.

Education Minister Anna Ekstrom said that the Swedish “society must continue to function.”

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Turkey is bringing home more than 3,600 of its citizens who have been stranded in nine European countries after Turkey suspended flights to 20 destinations over the coronavirus outbreak.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Tuesday that the citizens will be returned to Turkey later in the day, on board 34 Turkish Airlines flights.

He said the returnees will be placed in quarantine for 14 days in Istanbul and in the nearby city of Kocaeli.

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Germany has launched a drive to bring home thousands of tourists stranded in popular winter vacation spots across the globe — particularly people on package holidays in Morocco, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines, the Maldives and Egypt.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Tuesday that the government is spending up to 50 million euros ($ 56 million) on the effort to bring Germans home over the coming days in cooperation with airlines including Lufthansa.

Maas didn’t give a precise number of stranded Germans but said there was a particularly large number in Morocco, with around 4,000 or 5,000.

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France’s government is pledging 45 billion euros ($ 50 billion) in aid for small businesses hurt by the spreading coronavirus.

That’s in addition to tens of billions already promised for French workers forced to stop working because of store and restaurant closures and strict new confinement measures.

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India says it will bar all passengers — including Indian citizens — from entering the country on flights from the European Union, Turkey and the United Kingdom beginning Wednesday.

According to a statement issued by India’s aviation regulator, travelers coming from or transiting through the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar will be required to undergo a 14-day quarantine when they arrive. Arrivals from China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, France, Spain and Germany are already subject to similar restrictions, while many border points with neighboring Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar have been shut.

India’s tourist ministry announced this week that it is shutting down the Taj Mahal, its iconic “monument of love,” to visitors.

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Qantas, Australia’s largest airline, says it will cut its international passenger capacity by 90% until the end of May due to falls in travel demand due to the new coronavirus and travel restrictions across multiple borders.

Qantas said in a statement Tuesday that domestic capacity will be cut by 60% until at least the end of May.

This represents the grounding of around 150 aircraft, including almost all of Qantas’ wide-body fleet.

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South Korea has further postponed the beginning of the new school year by two weeks to protect students from the spread of the coronavirus.

Education Minister Yoo Eun-hye said Tuesday that kindergartens as well as elementary, middle and high schools nationwide would now reopen on April 6, which is five weeks later than usual. It was the third time the country delayed the start of new school terms amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

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Wuhan, the city at the center of China’s coronavirus outbreak, recorded just one new case on Tuesday as officials said they believed the country was over the worst of the crisis.

Another 20 cases were recorded around the country, including nine in Beijing. All were reported among people who arrived from overseas.

Beijing has required all arrivals to undergo 14 days of quarantine but has not closed its borders. Other Chinese cities have adopted similar measures, even as authorities work to restart industries that are key to global supply chains.

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A South Korean province surrounding Seoul has threatened to shut down nearly 140 churches that have failed to implement preventive measures amid a spread of the coronavirus in the country’s most populous metropolitan region.

Gyeonggi Province said Tuesday that it has issued an administrative order for the churches to list the names of attendants, screen them for fever and ensure that they wear masks and are at least 2 meters apart during services until March 29. The province can close the churches and fine them as much as $ 2,400 if they fail to abide by the order.

More than 70 of the province’s COVID-19 cases have been connected to gatherings at Protestant churches. Forty-six of the infections have come from a small church in the city of Seongnam.

South Korea has confirmed 84 new cases of the virus and six more deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing its total numbers to 8,320 infections and 81 fatalities.

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Ohio’s top health official halted the state’s presidential primary over concerns about the coronavirus, hours before voting was to begin.

Gov. Mike DeWine announced the decision after failing to persuade a judge to delay in-person voting because crowds at polling places Tuesday could put people at unacceptable risk of catching and spreading the virus.

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The Philippine Stock Exchange was closed with no trading Tuesday after the president placed the northern part of the country including Manila in quarantine.

The exchange’s CEO said the end of trading activity would be “until further notice.”

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte placed the northern third of the country under an “enhanced community quarantine” that requires millions of people to stay mostly at home in an attempt to contain the coronavirus.

The Philippines has 140 cases of infection and 12 deaths.

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