Mar. 19, 2020

REUTERS

The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed legislation on Wednesday providing billions of dollars to limit the damage from the coronavirus pandemic through free testing, paid sick leave and expanded safety-net spending.

As Wall Street extended its deep sell-off on Wednesday over fears about the coronavirus, the Dow Jones Industrial Average effectively erased the last of the once sizeable gains it made under U.S. President Donald Trump.

With Bernie Sanders on the ropes in the race for the Democratic Party nomination, Joe Biden can turn his attention now to a November matchup against Republican Donald Trump, backed by momentum in states that decide U.S. presidential elections.

The Philippines is stopping the issuance of visas to foreigners, banning all nationalities from entering the country to halt the spread of coronavirus, its foreign minister said on Thursday.

The United Kingdom was bracing on Thursday for the virtual shut down of London as underground train stations across the capital closed and Prime Minister Boris Johnson mulled tougher measures to tackle the coronavirus crisis.

Mexican officials are dragging their feet on border closures and coronavirus containment measures, in what critics call a high risk strategy driven by bad memories of a shutdown a decade ago that deepened the country's recession during the swine flu epidemic.

Mexico has registered its first death from coronavirus, a 41-year-old diabetic Mexican man whose symptoms began last week, the health ministry said late on Wednesday.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in pledged $39 billion in emergency financing for small businesses and other stimulus measures to prop up the country's coronavirus-hit economy.

Moscow city authorities on Thursday reported Russia's first coronavirus-related death, a 79-year-old woman in Moscow with underlying health issues, as President Vladimir Putin said authorities fighting the virus should be ready for anything.

Israel's foreign intelligence service Mossad has obtained coronavirus testing kits for the country, Israeli officials said on Thursday. The Mossad haul included 100,000 kits procured from Gulf Arab states that do not formally recognize Israel but which have pursued low-level coordination on regional security challenges such as Iran.

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits surged to a 2-1/2-year high last week as companies in the services sector laid off workers because of the coronavirus pandemic that has fractured economic activity. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits jumped 70,000 to a seasonally adjusted 281,000 for the week ended March 14.

The U.S. Federal Reserve opened the taps on Thursday for central banks in nine additional countries to access dollars in hopes of preventing the coronavirus epidemic from causing a global economic rout.

The European Central Bank launched 750 billion euro emergency bond purchase scheme in a bid to stop a pandemic-induced financial rout from shredding the euro zone's economy and raising fresh concerns about the currency bloc's viability.

U.S. researchers, following the lead of scientists in other countries, have launched studies to see whether widely-available, low-cost generic drugs can be used to help treat the illness caused by the new coronavirus.

The crisis for airlines deepened on Thursday as Lufthansa warned the industry might not survive without state aid if the coronavirus pandemic lasts a long time, and Qantas Airways told most of its 30,000 staff to take leave.

Tokyo 2020 organizers received the Olympic flame in a scaled-down handover ceremony in the Greek capital on Thursday, amid the coronavirus spread that has cast doubt on the global, multi-billion dollar event.

Microsoft said Teams, its chat and conferencing app, reached 32 million users March 11 amid a surge in remote work by companies around the world in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

AP Top Stories

China and the epicenter of its coronavirus outbreak, Wuhan city, have reported no new domestic transmissions for the first time, raising hopes that strict containment efforts to stop the spread of the virus are working.

The Senate voted to approve a second coronavirus aid bill Wednesday, paving the way for lawmakers to turn their attention to a third proposal that could include direct payments to Americans. The legislation, dubbed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, passed on a 90-8 vote in the Senate, and President Trump signed it into law Wednesday evening.

A federal government plan to combat the coronavirus warned policymakers last week that a pandemic "will last 18 months or longer" and could include "multiple waves," resulting in widespread shortages that would strain consumers and the nation's health care system.

According to CNN and The Points Guy, Air Tahiti Nui, a small long-haul carrier based in the French Polynesia, is the newest titled holder thanks to a one-off nonstop flight from Papeete to Paris on Sunday. The flight stretched 9,775 miles. The total travel time was 15 hours and 52 minutes.

As doctors and medical workers across the US raise the alarm about the coronavirus's risk to prison populations, thousands of medics have signed an open letter calling upon the immigration authorities to release individuals and families from detention.

Africa should "prepare for the worst" as the coronavirus begins to spread locally, the World Health Organization's director-general said Wednesday, while South Africa became the continent's new focus of concern as cases nearly doubled to 116 from two days before.

Modeling has shown that more than 60,000 homeless people could become ill with the coronavirus in California over the next eight weeks, badly straining the healthcare system, the state governor said on Wednesday.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom placed the state's National Guard on alert Tuesday in case local communities would need protection to continue fighting the spread of the coronavirus disease, known as COVID-19.

Two cruise ships won't be allowed to disembark in Honolulu after being turned away by other ports, even with no positive cases of coronavirus on either vessel, officials said Wednesday.

BBC

Levels of air pollutants and warming gases over some cities and regions are showing significant drops as coronavirus impacts work and travel.

German police have raided premises nationwide linked to an anti-Semitic far-right movement called Reichsbürger (Citizens of the Reich). Neo-Nazi propaganda and firearms were seized in the raids, in 10 of Germany's 16 states.

President Donald Trump has said the US government's housing agency will stop repossessing homes until the end of April amid the coronavirus emergency. Evictions will be suspended over the same time frame in a moratorium protecting eight million mortgages.

Religious leaders in Kenya have suspended worship in some churches and mosques after the country confirmed seven coronavirus cases.

New Zealand's parliament has passed a bill decriminalizing abortion and allowing women to choose a termination up to 20 weeks into a pregnancy.

The UK car industry is slowly grinding to a halt after BMW, Toyota and Honda said they would temporarily shut down their UK factories because of the coronavirus pandemic. Nissan and Vauxhall have already closed plants amid falling sales and a lack of parts caused by the epidemic.

WND

Medical authorities in China have said a drug used in Japan to treat new strains of influenza appeared to be effective in coronavirus patients, Japanese media said on Wednesday.

A new study on Covid-19's origins is disproving this theory. A team of international researchers have concluded that the novel coronavirus has entirely natural origins through evolution. Public genome sequence data on Covid-19, as well as similar viruses, was extensively analyzed for this study. The results show absolutely no indication that the virus was produced artificially or in a lab setting.

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