(Reuters) – Here are today’s developments on the coronavirus epidemic:
The deserted streets and shopping centers that once marked out the city of Wuhan as the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak have now come to an entire European nation. Rome’s decision overnight to extend a lockdown across all Italy is unprecedented in peacetime and perhaps wartime too.
“The whole of Italy is closed now,” was the headline in the Corriere della Sera newspaper, bluntly summing up rules that forbid movement for reasons other than work, health needs or emergencies. Adding to the curfew feel is a stipulation that bars and restaurants will have to close from 6 p.m.
Is what largely worked for Wuhan transferable to a Western European nation? Epidemiologists have their doubts. John Edmunds, a professor at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said the measures were “almost certainly unsustainable”. But even if they delay the spread for a short while, that may help health services cope.
Back to normal – of sorts
The decision by Chinese President Xi Jinping to visit Wuhan, meanwhile, was clearly intended to convey one very simple message: things are getting back to normal.
As new cases tumble — China confirmed just 19 new coronavirus infections on Monday — Beijing is setting the stage for efforts to crank the world’s second-largest economy back into gear. Hubei province said it would implement a “health code” system to allow people in areas at medium or low risk to start traveling.
On the spread: There are over 114,300 cases of coronavirus and 4,026 deaths across 112 countries and regions as of Tuesday morning, according to a Reuters tally, including almost 4,300 cases and 199 deaths reported in the past day. Over 99% of cases and 90% of the new deaths were reported outside China.
For an interactive graphic of the spread, open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.
Markets come up for air
U.S. stock index futures rose more than 4% earlier, rebounding from a 7% slump a day earlier, as speculation about coordinated stimulus from global central banks and governments calmed panic-selling.
Japan will boost its special financing for small and mid-size firms hit by the coronavirus to 1.6 trillion yen ($15.3 billion), up from the roughly 500 billion yen previously announced, according to a government document seen by Reuters, while Australia said it would soon announce stimulus measures.
European leaders have a teleconference call at 5:00 p.m. CEP (1600 GMT) to assess what can be done to prevent the outbreak becoming a fully fledged crisis with implications for the bloc’s economy and financial stability.
‘Washing hands is super’, Lego disinfectant dispenser says
Elementary school students in the southern Taiwanese city of Kaohsiung have got creative over the coronavirus, building their own robot that dispenses alcohol disinfectant from Lego bricks.
The robot is equipped with a sensor that can tell when a pair of hands is in front of it, and even has a recorded voice that says “Washing hands is super”, after it dispenses the disinfectant.
See a selection of curated coronavirus coverage here: https://www.reuters.com/live-events/coronavirus-6-id2921484
(Compiled by Mark John; Editing by Catherine Evans)