As of midday on March 16th, the number of total cases of coronavirus around the globe sits at 188,298. Out of them 80,848 have recovered, and 7,499 have died. Italy is still leading globally with the most active cases, currently at 23,073 and a death toll of 2,158.
On March 16th, Italy reported 349 new deaths from COVID-19.
Canada closed its borders to all foreign nationals, except US citizens, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged people to stay at home to help stem the spread of the new coronavirus.
“We will be denying entry into Canada to people who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents,” Trudeau told reporters at a news conference outside his home, where he is under self-quarantine after his wife tested positive for the virus.
He said Americans were exempted from the border ban. Trudeau also said he will restrict international flights to four Canadian airports from March 18th. Domestic flights will not be affected.
Russia will ban the entry of foreign nationals and stateless people from March 18th to May 1st in response to the coronavirus outbreak, the government said. The ban will not apply to diplomatic representatives, airplane crew members and some other categories of people, it said.
French President Emmanuel Macron has announced strict reductions in movement starting from midday on March 17th, for at least 15 days, saying “we are at war.”
In a televised address to the nation, Macron said people should stay at home and only go out for essential activities. He said that anyone flouting the restrictions would be punished.
France will deploy 100,000 police to enforce a lockdown, and fixed checkpoints will be set up across the country.
“Stay at home,” Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said, adding that fines of up to 135 euros would be handed out to those who do not respect the new restrictions, which are centered on avoiding all but essential social contact.
Entry into the European Union’s Schengen zone will also be closed from March 17th, the French president said.
US President Donald Trump issued new guidelines to help fight the coronavirus, including a recommendation that people avoid social gatherings of more than 10 people, discretionary travel, and going to bars, restaurants and food courts.
At a White House news briefing, Trump said the new guidelines from his coronavirus task force applied for 15 days and were meant to slow the spread of the virus.
In an answer to a question about the US economy, the Republican president said the country “may be” heading towards recession amid the pandemic, which he called an “invisible enemy”.
Ireland expects its number of coronavirus cases to increase to around 15,000 by the end of the month from 169 currently, Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said, predicting it would be dealing with the pandemic for many months.
“We would expect that by the end of the month there would be maybe 15,000 people who would have tested positive for Covid-19, most of those will not need treatment but a proportion will need to be hospitalised and we need to make sure that it doesn’t happen at the same time,” Vardkar told a news conference.
China appears to have flattened the curve, and 20 out of 21 registered cases of coronavirus were people who came from abroad. Wuhan will require all overseas returnees to undergo quarantine.
Lockdowns in most of the European countries have begun, with Spain expected to have a very sharp rise in infected in the next several days.
Meanwhile, in Germany, the contestants in Big Brother entered the house on February 6th and haven’t been told of the international pandemic and the lockdowns.
The show’s producers, for the TV channel Sat.1, defended the decision not to update the housemates on the crisis going on in the outside world, telling the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung that the information blackout would only be lifted in certain circumstances, such as a family member’s illness. They also pointed to “special hygiene measures” taken to protect residents themselves from infection, though did not explain what those measures entailed.
But after uproar on social media, Sat.1 changed its position – and announced a live special episode, due to air before the regular slot at 7pm on the evening of March 17th, in which the housemates will be told of the growing crisis. They will be given the opportunity to ask questions about the state of the nation, as well as receive video messages from their relatives.
Big Brother Brazil’s cast are also completely unaware of coronavirus – since they entered the house on January 21st, producers have refused to update them on the outside world.
Big Brother Canada’s contestants are in a similar situation, as they entered the house on March 4th.
One clip, from Canada, shows the contestants discussing the sudden absence of a live audience for evictions from the house: when the first member left, just five days in, the crowd was audible from within the house, but by March 14th, when the second was evicted, the silence was noticeable.
this bit of canadian Big Brother where housemates have no idea why there wasn't a live audience crowd at evictions. this is what has finally tipped me over the edge pic.twitter.com/jqneBgp206
— Amitai (@taitoush) March 14, 2020
With every passing day, the entire coronavirus crisis is looking more and more like some freaky TV series that involves most of the countries around the world. While some political leaders call the ongoing developments a “war” against the invisible enemy, the real numbers and developments on the ground clearly demonstrate that the threat is drastically exaggerated and intentionally fueled by media and governments.
There are several phenomena caused by attempts of various forces and influence groups to exploit the coronavirus narrative:
- Financial circles and governments are using the coronavirus crisis in order to achieve own financial and political goals, as well as to cover crissi developments in the global economy (the Saudi offensive on the oil market is another sign of the crisis);
- The outbreak is exploited by the Washington establishment and its allies to increase pressure on the opponents of the US-dominated global order. China became the first target of the attack. Now, similar developments could be observed in Russia. Large Russian cities and even government bodies (like the foreign ministry) are being targeted by waves of fake news and artificial hysteria. Anti-government, Western-backed forces operating inside Russia will likely work to exploit the coronavirus narrative to destabilize the situation in the country;
- The virus outbreak became a useful pretext for a further regionalization of the world that breaks into seprated economic political clusters. The myth about the ‘European unity’ as well as the ‘Euro-Atlantic’ one is destroyed. All states are fighting the crisis almost alone. Only so-called “bad guys” like China, Venezuela or Cuba are offering their help to other states;
- Governments are strengthening surveillance and security measures limiting freedoms of citizens;
- Global corporations are exploiting the crisis to shape their business processes and pushing forward the concept of distance working (from home). So, they would be able to reduce costs and say goodbye to their already limited social obligations;
- Experts and analysts note that the increasing economic and social tensions are increasing chances of open military conflicts. One of the possible hot points is the Middle East, where the US-Iranian conflict is on the rise.
There are no doubts that the crisis will end. However, the world will not be same.
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