Virus update: Confusion for travelers

Associated Press

ROME (AP) — The Latest on the coronavirus epidemic sweeping the globe (all times local):

1:10 p.m.

Confusion still reigns in Italy over who may travel where and under what circumstances, after the government imposed strict new limits on movements to contain the rapidly spreading virus.

Travelers at Milan's main train station are being required to sign a form from the police, self-certifying that they are traveling either for ''proven work needs,'' situations of necessity, health reasons or to return to their homes. They must provide their identity documents and contact phone numbers, and describe exactly the reason for moving.

Police officers in masks are checking tickets and documents as people line up to reach the train tracks, backed up by soldiers also in masks, and finally by railway security further back, unmasked. Procedures have tightened significantly since the blockade involving the populous region of Lombardy and 14 provinces went into effect. 

Over the weekend, railway security remained the only checks, but due to recommendations to keep a meter distance between people, they had moved their positions back and were no longer checking tickets, just watching people pass by.

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12:40 p.m.

Iran says the new coronavirus has killed another 43 people, pushing the death toll to 237 amid 7,161 confirmed cases.

The Health Ministry announced the new figure at a news conference Monday. There are over 7,640 confirmed cases of the virus across the wider Mideast.

Some experts worry Iran may be underreporting its cases. 

The rising death toll comes as Mideast stock markets have significantly dropped amid the outbreak and oil prices are falling by levels unseen since the 1991 Gulf War.

The new virus has caused major economic disruptions, including in global aviation, which has helped slow the demand for oil.

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11 a.m.

World oil demand is expected to fall this year for the first time since the global financial crisis in 2009, the International Energy Agency said Monday.

In its monthly report, the agency says it has cut its forecast for global oil demand by 1.1 million barrels a day as the new coronavirus wreaks havoc on the global economy. That will leave demand 90,000 barrels a day below the previous year.

The IEA, which advises mainly oil-importing countries on energy matters, says it still expects demand to return close to normal in the second half of this year. But it says that the outlook is highly uncertain and depends on how governments react to halt the spread of the virus.

The publication of the report comes as the price of crude was down about 20% on Monday as major producers Saudi Arabia and Russia failed to agree on Friday on reducing output. The Saudis made a play to grab market share by increasing output, which will mean more oil on the market just as demand is plunging.

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10:45 a.m.

The Philippine president has declared a state of public health emergency throughout the country after health officials confirmed over the weekend the first local transmission of the new coronavirus. 

Health officials reported Monday a doubling in just a day of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines to 20 confirmed infections.

President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration, which he made public on Monday, says the viral outbreak "constitutes an emergency that threatens national security which requires a whole-of-government response."

Under the declaration, authorities could order mandatory reporting of infections, enforce quarantines and other disease-control actions, including calling in police and other law enforcement agencies to help deal with the COVID-19 threat.

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10:15 a.m.

Pope Francis has celebrated morning Mass all by himself in the chapel of the Vatican hotel where he lives, and has offered up prayers for those infected with coronavirus and those caring for them.

The Holy See live-streamed Francis' Mass on Monday, evidence of new measures the Vatican City State has taken to contain the spread of the virus in line with restrictions adopted by the Italian government. With 7,375 people infected, Italy has the most cases outside Asia.

At 83, and with part of one lung removed, Francis would be at risk for serious complications if he were to catch the virus. He came down with a cold two weeks ago, but appears to have recovered and on Monday resumed private meetings, including with bishops from France and two departing ambassadors.

The Vatican, a 108-acre city state in the heart of Rome, has confirmed one positive case. The Vatican Museums have closed and nationwide, the Italian Catholic Church has suspended Masses and other celebrations to prevent people from congregating.

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9:55 a.m.

Singapore will allow the Costa Fortuna cruise ship to dock on Tuesday, after it was rejected by Thailand and Malaysia. 

Singapore's port authority and tourism board said in a joint statement Monday that the ship has declared that none of its passengers had any symptoms of respiratory illness. The statement also said all the ship's passengers had earlier underwent temperature screening and checks on their travel history before they boarded the ship, which last departed Singapore on March 3. 

The statement said the doctor on board the cruise liner will check all passengers and crew to ensure they are healthy before disembarkation. It said Singapore's cruise terminals remain open to scheduled cruise calls out of Singapore but unscheduled calls have been banned since last month. 

Thailand last week refused to let the ship, which has some 2,000 passengers, to dock at the resort island of Phuket since it carried 64 Italians. Malaysia on Saturday also banned the ship from stopping at a northern port.

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9:45 a.m.

In a first, games in Germany's Bundesliga soccer league can now take place without fans. 

The governor of Germany's western state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Armin Laschet, which has been hardest-hit by the spread of the virus, said he would implement the national health ministry's recommendations to cancel events with more than 1,000 people.

A Wednesday game between FC Cologne and Borussia Moenchengladbach will take place without audience, the state's health minister said. 

Germany has reported 1,040 cases of the new coronavirus. 

Also, after an overnight meeting, Germany's coalition government says Monday it will ease and financially support regulations for short-time work. The government also wants to financially support companies that are suffering losses because of the virus sweeping the globe.

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8 a.m.

Organizers of the annual Holocaust remembrance march in southern Poland say it has been postponed this year because of fears about the new coronavirus sweeping the globe.

Each year the "March of the Living" aims to walk 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) between the two parts of the former Nazi German death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau. The organizing committee's chairman Shmuel Rosenman says Monday that after consulting with health officials he was forced to announce "with a heavy heart" that this' year's march would be postponed.

The event was expected to draw 110 delegations from around the world.

During World War II, Nazi Germany killed some 1.1 million people in Auschwitz-Birkenau, the vast majority of them Jews. Some 300,000 people have walked in the march since it began in 1988.

Israel has so far confirmed 39 cases of coronavirus and 20,000 people have been ordered into 14-day home quarantines protectively. Scores of flights in and out of the country have been canceled.

Poland has 11 cases of the virus.

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7 a.m.

Albania's Health Ministry has reported the country's first two infections from the COVID-19 coronavirus, a father and son who had returned from Florence in Italy.

After exhibiting symptoms they were hospitalized. Authorities are trying to find all their contacts.

Italy, the epicenter of Europe's outbreak, on Sunday quarantined 16 million people in the country's north in a bold move to try to contain the virus. Italy has 7,375 confirmed infections and 366 deaths of virus patients, one of the most severe outbreaks outside of China, where the virus first emerged late last year.

Prime Minister Edi Rama held an an urgent Cabinet meeting Monday morning on the virus. Authorities said they will close schools until April 3, suspend flights to and from Italy's "red quarantine zones" and limit gatherings.

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7 a.m.

The state oil giant Saudi Aramco saw its shares drop by 10% as Riyadh's stock market opened on Monday, halting trading.

The Tadawul market only allows stocks to fluctuate by 10% a day, meaning it halted traded as the market opened. The drop came as global oil prices suffered their worst losses since the start of the 1991 Gulf War.

Other Mideast markets fell as well as the new coronavirus has affected global energy prices and OPEC failed to make a production cut deal with Russia last week.

Boursa Kuwait shut down within 30 minutes of opening Monday as stocks again dropped by 10%, the third such emergency halt to trading in recent days.

Earlier Monday, coronavirus concerns led Saudi Arabia to cut off air and sea travel to and from nine countries: Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Italy, Kuwait, Lebanon, South Korea, Syria and the United Arab Emirates. That comes after the kingdom earlier closed off its land borders as well. 

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7 a.m.

A special North Korean flight carrying presumably dozens of diplomats and other foreigners arrived in Russia's Far East on Monday, as the North tightens a lockdown intended to fend off the coronavirus.

North Korea has not publicly confirmed a single case of the COVID-19 illness, but its state media have reported that thousands of people have been quarantined as part of strict prevention measures.

Seemingly dozens of passengers, most of them wearing face masks and some accompanied by children, lined up at Pyongyang International Airport. North Korean health workers wearing white protective suits scanned them for fevers. 

Russian state news agency Tass says there were about 60 foreigners aboard, including 13 Russian citizens, flown out to Vladivostok in Russia. The North lifted a monthlong quarantine on foreign diplomats based in Pyongyang on March 2, allowing them to leave the country if needed.

Colin Crooks, the British ambassador to Pyongyang, tweeted, "Sad to say farewell this morning to colleagues from German Embassy and French Office #NorthKorea which are closing temporarily." He said the British Embassy would remain open. 

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Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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