President Trump has tested negative for the new coronavirus, according to the president’s personal physician.

The White House released the test results Saturday night after Trump told reporters hours earlier that he had taken the coronavirus test, following days of resisting being screened despite the fact that he had been in recent contact with three people who have tested positive for the virus.

Trump told reporters at a White House briefing on Saturday that he had his temperature taken and it was “totally normal,” shortly before stepping into the room to discuss the government’s efforts to halt the spread of the virus. The pandemic has now infected more than 2,200 people in the U.S. and caused at least 50 deaths.

The president had multiple direct and indirect contacts with people who have since tested positive for the virus, including three people he spent time with last weekend at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida.

The Brazilian Embassy in Washington said late Friday that the country’s chargé d’affaires, Nestor Forster, tested positive after sitting at Trump’s dinner table. So, too, have a top aide to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who took a photo with Trump and attended a party with him, and another person who attended a campaign fundraiser with the president that Sunday, according to two Republican officials who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss private health matters.

Trump, after days of insisting that he was not exhibiting symptoms of the virus, relented after being pressed by reporters about his resistance to testing when multiple lawmakers and countless citizens across the country who have had the same degree of exposure have not only tried to get tested, but also chosen to try to avoid potentially infecting others.

U.S. ADDS U.K. TO TRAVEL BAN LIST

WASHINGTON — President Trump announced Saturday that the United States will broaden its European travel ban, adding Britain and Ireland to its list, and was considering imposing restrictions on travel within the U.S. to areas hit hard by the coronavirus spread.

Under the restrictions on European travel, American citizens, green card holders and others are still allowed to return home to the U.S., but will be funneled to 13 airports and be subjected to health screenings and quarantine orders.

“If you don’t have to travel, I wouldn’t do it,” Trump said. The White House began testing the temperatures of everyone who’s been close to Trump; he said his own temperature was normal and he was feeling fine.

The new travel restrictions come as Britain has seen its death toll from the virus nearly double from the day before to 21, and the number of people infected rise to over 1,100 from about 800 the previous day. Ireland had 90 confirmed cases and one death by Friday. The Irish government hasn’t released any updated figures since.

The U.S. said earlier in the week a 30-day ban on flights covered only the 26-nation Schengen area, the European Union’s border-free travel zone, which excludes Britain and Ireland. Vice President Mike Pence said the restrictions on Britain and Ireland would go into effect midnight on Monday night. Read the full story here.

MASSACHUSETTS RELAXES RULES ON WHO CAN GET TESTED

BOSTON — Massachusetts relaxed rules on who can get tested for the coronavirus Saturday in an effort to slow the spread of the outbreak as more cases in the state were announced.

The state also announced a new command center to coordinate the response to the virus. State Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders will lead the center, which state officials said will focus on expanding testing, preventing health care equipment shortages and ensuring hospitals are ready for large numbers of patients.

“Far more people are going to get tested,” Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, said Saturday morning at a news conference called to announce the changes.

The state has tested 475 people for the virus as of Friday. Before the change announced Saturday, health professionals had to seek state approval before administering a test for the virus.

The new rules will allow a physician to administer the test without approval if a patient meets certain requirements, such as international travel to affected regions or contact with someone who is showing symptoms of the virus.

The number of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 in Massachusetts rose to 138 when officials announced the latest numbers Saturday evening, an increase of 15 over the day before.

“We are preparing for more confirmed cases,” Baker said.

FRANCE CLOSES ALL RESTAURANTS, CAFES AND SHOPS

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced that France is shutting down all restaurants, cafes, cinemas and non-essential retail shops, starting Sunday, to combat the accelerated spread of the virus in the country.

He said grocery stores, pharmacies, banks and other public services including transport will be allowed to remain open.

French authorities had already shut down all schools, banned gatherings of more than 100 people and advised people to limit their social life. Philippe said these measures were “not well implemented.”

“We must show all together more discipline,” he added.

Philippe confirmed that nation-wide municipal elections will go ahead as planned on Sunday but with special measures to keep people at a safe distance and clean shared material.

Health authorities said more than 4,500 cases have been confirmed in France on Saturday, including 91 deaths.

CANADA URGES CITIZENS TO GET HOME WHILE THEY CAN

The Canadian government says any Canadian who’s abroad should get back to Canada while it’s still possible. That’s a step up from previous advice, which urged travelers outside the country to think about doing so because of the pandemic.

Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne tweeted the new recommendation, warning that commercial travel options might not remain available.

Some countries have already taken measures such as stopping or sharply limiting air traffic. Canada is asking those who return to self-isolate for 14 days.

In Quebec, the government is asking everyone 70 years of age and older to stay home until further notice.

Premier Francois Legault says seniors are far more at risk for COVID-19 and that’s why he’s asking them to stay inside. He also says that no visitors will be allowed at hospitals, seniors’ residences and long-term care facilities.

Legault says the Canadian French speaking province has adopted a decree to declare a state of health emergency for at least 10 days.

U.S. SOLDIERS QUARANTINED IN AFGHANISTAN

U.S. soldiers returning from Afghanistan have been quarantined amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

On Saturday, 300 paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division returned to Fort Bragg in North Carolina after a nine-month deployment. This is one of the first large groups of military personnel to return home since the start of the pandemic.

The Army says the 14-day quarantine is out of an abundance of caution. As of Saturday, no one in the unit or on Fort Bragg has tested positive for the virus.

At Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in California, a second Marine has tested positive for COVID-19 and is being isolated at the base while receiving medical care. The air station says it is trying to determine who may have had contact with the Marine and to notify them of the situation.

WHITE HOUSE TAKING TEMPERATURES TO PROTECT PRESIDENT

The White House announced Saturday that it is now conducting temperature checks on anyone who is in close contact with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

The move is being taken out of an abundance of caution in response to the coronavirus outbreak, said Judd Deere, a White House spokesman.

Trump and Pence attended an afternoon news conference at the White House, and Trump said he had his own temperature taken before speaking to reporters.

“It was totally normal,” Trump said. “If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t have been here. ”

Trump has had multiple direct and indirect contacts with people who have tested positive for the pandemic virus. On Friday, he declared a state of emergency as schools and workplaces across the country shuttered, flights were canceled and Americans braced for war against the health threat.

Trump spent time last weekend at his private club in Florida with at least three people who have now tested positive.

The Brazilian Embassy in Washington announced late Friday that the country’s chargé d’affaires, Nestor Forster, tested positive after sitting at Trump’s dinner table. So, too, have a top aide to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and an individual who attended a fundraiser Sunday with Trump, according to two Republican officials who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss private health matters.

Trump has been known to flout public health advice — and was eagerly shaking hands during an event Friday — but acknowledged he “most likely” will be tested soon. The White House physician has indicated that Trump’s interactions were low risk and testing was not necessary.

A representative from the White House physician’s office took the temperate of members of the media who were at the White House on Saturday, going around to each person and putting the device to their heads. A reporter with a suspected elevated temperature was not allowed into the briefing room for a news conference with Trump and Pence about the outbreak.

Public health officials say that individuals with a cough and elevated temperatures of 100.4 degrees or higher are deemed concerning.

Pence’s spokeswoman, Katie Miller, tweeted that according to the White House Medical Unit, the temperature was taken three times over a 15 minute period and all three registered above the 1004. guidelines.

APPLE CLOSES STORES WORLDWIDE

Apple CEO Tim Cook says the tech giant’s retail operation outside of China is going online-only for two weeks as part of efforts to fight the global viral pandemic.

Cook tweeted that “Apple will be temporarily closing all stores outside of Greater China until March 27 and committing $15M to help with worldwide recovery.”

In a lengthier online statement, Cook said that Apple’s stores in China have all now reopened and what the company has learned there has helped it develop “best practices that are assisting enormously in our global response.”

Apple’s online stores are still open and workers will continue to be paid, he said.

SPAIN TO FOLLOW ITALY INTO TOTAL LOCKDOWN

BARCELONA, Spain — Spain was set to follow Italy on Saturday in declaring a nationwide lockdown as European countries took ever more sweeping measures to reduce contact among people and slow the accelerating spread of the coronavirus.

China, meanwhile, where the virus first emerged late last year, continued to relax its drastic measures in its hardest-hit region.

According to a draft government order seen by The Associated Press, Spain’s government planned to announce a two-week state of emergency and tight restrictions on movement by the country’s 46 million people. Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez was due to address the nation in the afternoon.

Airline flights bound for Spain turned around as word spread of the lockdown.

People will be allowed to leave their homes only to buy food and medicine, commute to work, go to hospitals and banks, or take trips related to the care of the young and the elderly. Those rules will take effect at 8 a.m. (0700 GMT) Monday.

Effectively immediately, Spain is also closing all schools, universities, restaurants, bars and hotels nationwide along with non-essential stores, a step some regions have already taken.

NEARLY 6,000 INFECTED IN SPAIN

Health authorities in Spain say coronavirus infections have reached 5,753 people, of which almost 3,000 are in the capital, Madrid.

That represents a national increase of more than 1,500 in 24 hours.

No new figures for deaths were immediately announced, but as of Friday, Spain had recorded 120 COVID-19 deaths.

Spain’s Cabinet is meeting on Saturday to declare a two-week state of emergency, giving the government extraordinary powers that include restricting free movement.

JAPAN DOES NOT DECLARE EMERGENCY YET

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says the coronavirus outbreak in his country has not reached a point that requires him to declare a national emergency like the U.S. and parts of Europe.

He said the per-capita infection in Japan is much lower than other countries, though the situation is still volatile and Japan should remain on its guard. “At the moment, we don’t have a situation that requires a state of emergency,” Abe said.

The global economy has been hit hard by the pandemic, and that includes Japan, Abe said, pledging to urgently implement economic measures from a $4 billion package he announced earlier this month.

Japan’s parliament has enacted a time-bound law that allows Abe to declare a national emergency to take measures against the coronavirus, but the law is controversial because it could severely limit civil rights.

Japan as of Friday had 1,413 confirmed cases, including 697 from a cruise ship that docked in the country. There have been 28 deaths, of which seven were former cruise passengers.

GROUPS AGREE TO KEEP ITALIAN FACTORIES OPEN

Union leaders, industrialists and the Italian government have reached agreement on special measures to keep the country’s factories running during the national lockdown aimed at combatting the spread of the new coronavirus.

After a marathon 18-hour session by video conference, involving several ministers and Premier Giuseppe Conte, participants signed off on a protocol Saturday morning.

Conte has declared the country’s production must not stop, especially in the sectors of food and health supplies. He has promised free disposable gloves and masks for factory workers.

Union leaders said the protocol stipulates that union representatives and workers have a say in safety measures. Among them are that drivers of trucks bringing in supplies from outside companies must stay in their cabs while goods are unloaded. Another measure sees workers entering or leaving factories in staggered numbers instead of entire shifts at once.

Some unions had threatened to strike if strict measures weren’t implemented. Italy has the largest outbreak of COVID-19 outside of China.

DENMARK CLOSING ALL BORDERS

Denmark is closing all its borders to travelers in a bid to tackle the spread of the new coronavirus.

The Danish government said late Friday that the country will close its borders — land, sea and air — at midday on Saturday until April 13. All passenger traffic to and from Denmark will be stopped.

Travelers will be turned away at the border unless they can show that they have “a legitimate reason” to be there, such as that they are Danish citizens or foreign nationals living and working in the country.

“We are in uncharted territory,” Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen told a news conference. “We’re in the middle of something none of us hase faced before.”

“I know that the overall list of measures (announced by Denmark) is very extreme and will be seen as very extreme, but I am convinced that it’s worth it.”

Denmark has so far confirmed 827 cases of the virus in its population of 5.6 million.

Russia has also said that its land borders with Norway will be closed to foreigners beginning Sunday, as will the borders of Russia’s Kaliningrad exclave with Poland. Belarus citizens, foreigners with legal residence in Russia and members of official delegations are excepted.

Other Russian borders with European countries remain open.

PANDEMIC REACHES AFRICA

The African nations of Rwanda and Mauritania have recorded their first cases of the coronavirus.

Rwanda’s health ministry says an Indian citizen has tested positive. The central African nation’s health ministry said in a statement Saturday that the man showed no symptoms when he arrived in Rwanda from the Indian city of Mumbai on March 8. It said that on March 13 the man checked himself into a health facility where he was immediately tested and is now in stable condition.

The West African nation of Mauritania confirmed its first case of the coronavirus in a foreigner who entered the country on March 9 from Europe. Minister of Health Mohamed Nazir Ould Hamid said late Friday night that the patient “was immediately removed and all medical measures taken to treat him and contain this first case of (the coronavirus) in our country.”

The virus is spreading to more African countries. Kenya, Guinea and Ethiopia reported their first cases on Friday, while Gabon and Ghana did so late Thursday. Sudan also reported its first case, a person who had already died.

Nineteen of Africa’s 54 countries have now registered virus cases. Authorities say the majority of the cases are imported.

ITALIAN PARKS, PLAYGROUNDS CLOSED

Already cooped up most of the day in their homes under Italy’s nationwide lockdown to fight the coronavirus, millions of Italians woke up on Saturday to find themselves deprived of one of the few simple pleasures left: a walk in the park.

Mayors of many cities, including Rome and Milan, had decided by late Friday to close public playgrounds and parks. Health authorities have lamented that too many people were gathering together, whether it was to kick around a soccer ball, or jog in groups.

Under a government decree issued earlier in the week, people had been allowed to walk, jog or bike in parks as long as they kept at least a distance of 1 meter between each other. But not everyone followed the rules.

Among the parks whose gates were locked Saturday was Rome’s sprawling Villa Pamphilj, a hilly expanse of umbrella pines and palm trees on the former grounds of a noble family. Italy has the world’s largest outbreak of the coronavirus after China.

SPAIN TO DECLARE EMERGENCY

Spain’s Cabinet will meet Saturday to declare a two-week state of emergency and announce more measures to control the outbreak of the coronavirus, which has spiked sharply in recent days to over 4,000 infections in the country.

The measure would allow the government to limit free movement, confiscate goods, and take over control of industries and private facilities, including private hospitals.

Residents in Madrid, which has around half the infections, and northeast Catalonia awoke Saturday to shuttered bars and restaurants and other nonessential commercial outlets as ordered by regional authorities.

AUSTRALIAN SAYS HE WAS NOT CONTAGIOUS

Australian Homes Affairs Minister Peter Dutton says his government has contacted the White House to inform them that he was not contagious with the new coronavirus during a recent visit to Washington.

Dutton told Melbourne radio TripleM in a telephone interview from a hospital in his hometown of Brisbane on Saturday that he’s been told he did not become contagious until three days after his return from the United States on Sunday.

Dutton says he started showing symptoms on Thursday and was tested positive the next day. Dutton says his symptoms have been “fairly mild.”

During his visit Dutton met with President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka and U.S. Attorney General William Barr.

JAKARTA CLOSES SCHOOLS FOR 2 WEEKS

Indonesia’s capital city is closing all of its public schools for the next 14 days from Monday amid the global coronavirus outbreak.

Jakarta Gov. Anies Baswedan made the announcement Saturday and said they will review the situation later and whether to extend the closure.

He urged Jakarta residents to conduct social distancing measures to reduce the risk of the virus spreading between individuals.

The governor previously announced a lockdown of all tourist destinations and entertainment sites in the Southeast Asian city for two weeks starting Saturday.

SOUTH KOREAN PRIME MINISTER URGES CONTINUED VIGILANCE

South Korea’s prime minister says the country’s war against the coronavirus is broadening despite a notable decline in new cases.

He is urging vigilance after the emergence of infection clusters in areas including Seoul and warning of the possibility that the virus re-enters the country from abroad amid widening outbreaks in the West.

Chung Se-kyun’s comments during a government meeting on Saturday came as infections continued to slow in the worst-hit city of Daegu, which has reported daily increases of 60 to 70 cases over the past three days after averaging around 500 new cases per day a week ago.

South Korea reported 117 new cases and five more fatalities, bringing its total numbers to 8,086 cases and 72 deaths. Officials said 204 people were released from hospitals, making Saturday the second consecutive day that recoveries outnumbered new infections.

But there’s concern over a steady rise in infections in the Seoul metropolitan area, where at least 115 infections have been connected to a call center.

JAPANESE OFFICIAL TESTS POSITIVE

Japan’s Defense Ministry says one of its officials tested positive for the virus Friday after returning from Paris where he attended an international defense seminar.

The March 4-11 seminar was suspended on March 8 after a participant was found to have been infected.

The ministry said Saturday that the official was in his 40s and returned on a flight assigned by the French government, arriving at Tokyo’s Haneda international airport.

Although he had no symptoms, the official was picked up by a Self-Defense Force vehicle driven by personnel in protective gear and transported to a hospital for a test as a precaution. The result was positive.

The ministry said the Japanese official had stayed at his hotel until his departure from Paris on Friday.

TURKEY HALTS FLIGHTS FROM EUROPE

Turkey says flights from nine European countries will halt Saturday as the country reports its fifth case of coronavirus.

Transport Minister Mehmet Cahit Turhan said air travel to and from Germany, France, Spain, Belgium, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Austria and the Netherlands would be canceled until April 17.

Turkey has already suspended China, Italy, Iran, Iraq and South Korea flights.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said Turkey had recorded three more cases, two days after the country’s first case, a male patient who tested positive Wednesday after returning from Europe. All were relatives of the initial patient, Koca added.

NEW ZEALAND CLOSING BORDERS

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced what she says will be some of the toughest border restrictions in the world in an attempt to keep out the new coronavirus.

From Monday, all incoming passengers, including New Zealand citizens, will be required to isolate themselves for 14 days. The only countries exempt from the restrictions are a handful of Pacific islands that haven’t yet had any cases of COVID-19.

New Zealand has had only six confirmed cases of the illness. All of those have been connected with international travelers and there have been no signs yet of any local outbreaks.

The measures announced Saturday will have a big impact on New Zealand’s tourism industry, which provides the country’s largest single source of foreign income.

CZECH REPUBLIC CLOSES RETAIL STORES

The Czech Republic has approved further dramatic measures to try to stem the spread of the new coronavirus.

Announcing its decision in the middle of the night, the government ordered retail businesses including shopping malls to close as of Saturday morning.

The exceptions include essential services such as supermarkets, gas stations and pharmacies, electronics stores and places selling newspapers, glasses and supplies for pets.

Bars and restaurants will be closed as well casinos.

The measures are set to be in place for a least 10 days.

“We’re imposing those tough restrictions to prevent a massive spreading of the virus,” Prime Minister Andrej Babis said.

The Czech Republic has 150 cases of COVID-19.

COLOMBIA CLOSES BORDER WITH VENEZUELA

Colombia’s president has ordered his nation’s border with Venezuela closed as a coronavirus containment measure.

Iván Duque announced late Friday that all official border crossings with the neighboring Andean nation will be shuttered beginning at 5 a.m. Saturday.

The two nations share a porous 1,370-mile border that is crossed by thousands of Venezuelans each day searching for food and medicine. Many also cross to permanently leave their nation’s economic crisis.

Venezuelan officials announced earlier Friday that they have confirmed their first two coronavirus cases.

More than 4.5 million Venezuelans have fled in recent years, many arriving in Colombia. Experts in Colombia are concerned that the migration crisis could exacerbate the spread of coronavirus throughout the region.

 


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