Here is the latest from Greece, from my colleague Helena Smith.
Greece has announced it is halting all remaining flights to Italy following a mini-cabinet meeting chaired by prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
It was also decided to further bolster Greece’s health system by hiring hundreds of more doctors and nurses to cope with demands posed by coronavirus.
Hospitals nationwide were at the sharp end of budget cuts ordered by international creditors in return for rescue loans during the country’s long-running debt crisis.
Greek authorities have confirmed 190 Covid-19 cases so far but the number is likely to rise when new figures are released later today. The death toll rose to three this morning.
The government spokesman, Stelios Petsas, announced he was going into self-imposed isolation and would be working from home after his wife was diagnosed with the virus.
Almost all of downtown Athens now resembles a ghost town. Streets in the ancient Plaka district beneath the Acropolis were eerily empty with cafes and tavernas boarded up and closed.
Archaeological sites were also shut “until March 30.” The Olympic flame, which was lit in ancient Olympia on Thursday for the Tokyo 2020 games – and in more normal times would now be on a cross-country relay – arrived at Athens’ Kallimarmaro stadio this afternoon, five days ahead of schedule after the race was cancelled because of public health fears.
It will remain in the stadium until it is handed over to the Organising Committee Tokyo 2020 on March 19th.
Like other archaeological sites, the stadium is closed.
Hundreds of members of the scientific community have sent two open letters to the British government, voicing their concerns about the response to the coronavirus outbreak.
One comes from 198 academics in the field of maths and science, calling for urgent measures of social distancing across the UK.
It says: “Going for ‘herd immunity’ at this point does not seem a viable option, as this will put NHS at an even stronger level of stress, risking many more lives than necessary.”
Another letter has been signed by 164 behavioural scientists. It raises concerns about the idea of “behavioural fatigue” – the idea that if the public are instructed to take preventative measures too early, they’ll eventually revert back to prior behaviour.
The letter suggests that this has been a cornerstone of British government policy on coronavirus and sheds doubt on the evidence behind this.
“While we fully support an evidence-based approach to policy that draws on behavioural science, we are not convinced that enough is known about ‘behavioural fatigue’ or to what extent these insights apply to the current exceptional circumstances,” it says.
“If ‘behavioural fatigue’ truly represents a key factor in the government’s decision to delay high-visibility interventions, we urge the government to share an adequate evidence base in support of that decision. If one is lacking, we urge the government to reconsider these decisions,” it ends.
Syria has shut schools, cancelled most public events, and reduced public sector hours to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The Health Ministry said the steps were “preventative” and “precautionary” and intended to raise the health sector’s readiness to control the virus should it emerge, and says there have been no cases in the country.
Jordan will would stop all incoming and outgoing passenger flights into the country from Tuesday, the prime minister, Omar Razzaz, has confirmed.
He also said that universities and schools would be closed for two weeks, with all tourist sites, sports and cinemas also set to close.
Jordan had one confirmed Covid-19 case, but this was successfully treated and the patient left hospital on Friday. It had already closed its borders with Egypt, Iraq, Syria and the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel.
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