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Live Reporting

Joshua Cheetham, Thom Poole, Alexandra Fouché and Ashitha Nagesh

All times stated are UK

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  1. Our live page is closing

    We're pausing our live coverage for now, but we'll still be providing updates across the BBC News website. You can also scroll through this live page to see events as they happened today.

    Here are some of the biggest developments:

  2. US expands testing capabilities

    Mike Pence

    At a press conference, US Vice President Mike Pence said testing for coronavirus was expanding, with more than 2,000 labs around the country now ready to process tests. Drive-through tests will also be available in 10 states.

    He added that the government would be issuing updated guidelines on Monday to help prevent the spread.

  3. Trump praises Federal Reserve interest rate cut

    U.S. President Trump speaks during a news briefing

    At a press conference, US President Donald Trump said he was "very happy" with the Federal Reserve's emergency measures.

    Earlier today, the central bank said it would slash interest rates and launch a $700bn stimulus programme to protect the economy from the impact of coronavirus.

    President Trump said the country was doing well in its battle against the pandemic, and pleaded with people not to panic buy. He added that grocery shops would work round the clock to keep their stores stocked, insisting there was no need for people to hoard food.

  4. California orders mandatory isolation for over-65s

    California Governor Gavin Newsom has issued sweeping new restrictions for the US state.

    He's issued a compulsory isolation order for all residents aged 65 and above, and said the state is launching an effort to get get all homeless people indoors, in trailers and motels.

    The governor has also asked for bars, breweries and pubs to close their doors. He stopped short of closing restaurants, but said they need to halve their occupancy and operate home deliveries and collections.

    Governors in Ohio and Illinois issued similar orders on Sunday in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus.

  5. Canada airport screenings criticised

    Airport guard in Toronto

    On Friday, Canadian public safety minister Bill Blair announced "enhanced screening measures" at all international airports, as well as at rail, land and marine ports of entry.

    The government has said some measures are already in place, like additional screening questions at international kiosks.

    But some argue that airports are still not doing enough.

    One traveller noted on Twitter that they had waited in line at Toronto's Pearson International Airport for over an hour, packed in with hundreds of people and with no access to masks or sanitiser - and there was "zero screening".

    Another tweeted at the airport's official account, saying she had arrived back in Canada from abroad and was not asked any questions about her health or told to consider self-isolating. There appear to be similar issues at Vancouver International Airport.

    There are currently more than 250 confirmed cases in Canada.

  6. Central banks partner over US dollar liquidity swaps

    In another move to steady the global economy, the US Federal Reserve said it has signed an agreement with the central banks of Canada, Japan, Switzerland, the UK and the European Central Bank.

    Under the deal, the banks have agreed to lower the price of standing US dollar liquidity swap arrangements by 25 basis points. This means the new rate will be equivalent to the US dollar overnight index swap (OIS) rate plus 25 basis points.

    A currency swap line is an agreement allowing two central banks to exchange their native currencies. They are typically used to fund market interventions, preserve financial stability and protect national economies from the impact of market tensions.

    Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, said the new agreement "will help economies to bridge the disruption from an economic shock that could prove sharp and large, but should be temporary."

  7. BreakingUS Federal Reserve slashes interest rates

    The US Federal Reserve has made its second emergency cut to interest rates in less than two weeks.

    In a statement, the central bank said it would lower the benchmark borrowing rate to a range of 0-0.25%.

    It has pledged to keep it at this level "until it is confident that the economy has weathered recent events."

  8. Israel approves phone monitoring to track virus

    A woman talks on her mobile phone below banners for the Likud party

    Israel's government has approved the use of anti-terrorism tracking technology in the fight against coronavirus.

    Under the measure, Israel's security service Shin Bet will be able to track the movements of those whose have tested positive for virus, and discover the identities of anyone who may have come into contact with them. The monitoring will include phone data.

    In a tweet, Transport Minister Betzalel Smotrich insisted the move wouldn't lead to "a Big Brother state".

    Plans to introduce wide-scale cyber-tracking were criticised earlier this week by Nitzan Horowitz, leader of the left-wing Meretz party. Mr Horowitz said the "intrusive measures" would be "a harsh blow to privacy and basic liberty".

  9. Yankees report first known case in US baseball

    A New York Yankees hat and glove

    The New York Yankees have ordered all players from their minor league affiliates to be quarantined for two weeks after one tested positive for coronavirus.

    They've not divulged the player's identity, but said he had no known link to any Major League players.

    It marks the first known case of the virus in America's professional baseball community.

    Like other teams in US Major League Baseball, the Yankees are partnered with minor league affiliates who provide experience and training for younger players. Successful players can also move up from affiliates to major league partners.

  10. Ohio to close bars and restaurants

    Ohio has become the first US state to order to the closure of all bars and restaurants, except for home deliveries and collections.

    In a tweet, state Governor Mike DeWine said the order would come into effect from 2100 local time (0100 GMT).

    View more on twitter
  11. White House to update US on outbreak

    Tara McKelvey

    BBC News, Washington DC

    White House

    Inside the White House presidential aides are getting ready for “a News Conference by the CoronaVirus Task Force”, as Trump put it in a tweet, at 17:00EST (21:00 GMT).

    Meanwhile, airports across the US have become chaotic temperature-checking zones as hordes of travellers return from Europe and the UK, downtown Washington looks like a ghost town (no taxis in sight and, starting tomorrow, buses running on a limited schedule), and the Governor of Illinois, JB Pritzker, said on Twitter last night that “the federal government needs to get its s@#t together”. (As a postscript, he added: “NOW.”)

    At the briefing today, journalists will ask the White House officials what additional measures – if any – they will be taking to restrict travel.

    My colleagues here in the West Wing also have a special interest in finding out whether one of the briefers, the vice-president, who has met with an official who’s infected with coronavirus, has himself been tested.

    As the president would say: stay tuned.

  12. In Africa, a sudden sense of urgency

    Andrew Harding

    BBC News, Johannesburg

    A security guard at entrance 5 with mask sanitises people's hands during the media briefing to discuss the first case of Covid-19 at Tygerberg Hospital in the Western Cape

    On a continent which the virus has been slow to penetrate – a sudden sense of urgency.

    Looking grave, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa warned of severe economic damage, but said there could be no half-measures.

    Foreign visitors from Britain, Italy the US and other high-risk countries will now be barred. Most land crossings into South Africa will also be shut. Gatherings of more than 100 people are no longer allowed. All schools will be closed.

    Kenya has announced similar measures.

    So far Africa as a whole has only confirmed about 300 cases, and six deaths – with Egypt, Algeria, Senegal and South Africa accounting for most of those.

    But there are concerns that the Coronavirus could quickly overwhelm many African health systems, and spread quickly in crowded neighbourhoods and among poorer communities, where people’s immune systems may already be weakened by malnutrition or disease.

    It is clear, said President Ramaphosa, that no country will be spared. But he said the greatest danger was fear and ignorance.

  13. Czech government introduces harshest restrictions in decades

    Rob Cameron

    BBC Prague Correspondent

    From midnight on Sunday, the Czech Republic will effectively seal its borders in an effort contain the spread of the coronavirus.

    Czechs are being encouraged to return home immediately. Those who find themselves stranded outside the country’s borders after midnight will still be allowed to return home, although those arriving from 15 ‘high-risk’ countries will have to undergo quarantine. But once home they - along with virtually every Czech citizen - will not be allowed to leave the country for the duration of the 30-day state of emergency.

    It's the most draconian restrictions introduced by a Czech government in the country's 27 years as an independent state.

    Jan Hamacek, Czech Minister of the Interior, told the BBC it is "the only effective way" to combat the outbreak.

    Most Czechs appear broadly sympathetic to the measures for perilous days, although there are voices of dissent.

    Petr Kutilek, a local politician for the Green Party, said he believed the government had not given a proper explanation of why such extreme limits were being imposed.

    “They also raise doubts that [the government] is in fact covering up for failures in providing health care professionals and other frontline responders with respirators and other vital equipment,” he added.

    For most Czechs, free movement is one of the hallowed four freedoms of EU membership. People seem ready to relinquish that right. At least for 30 days.

  14. Jerusalem stands with the people of Italy

    The Italian flag and a message of support have been projected onto the walls of Jerusalem"s Old City in a show of show of solidarity with Italy, where the virus has claimed more than 1,800 lives.

    A picture taken on March 15, 2020 shows the Italian flag projected on the walls of the ramparts of Jerusalem"s Old City in a show of support for those suffering from coronavirus in Italy
  15. BreakingVirus cases spike in France

    France has joined Italy and Spain in recording a sharp rise in the number of coronavirus cases.

    Health Minister Oliver Veran told news outlet France 2 that around 5,400 cases have been reported around the country, nearly 1,000 more than Saturday.

    The number of virus-related deaths has also risen from 91 to 120 during the last 24 hours.

  16. Biden draws criticism over call to vote

    Image caption: Voters earlier this month in Washington State

    On Tuesday, four more US states will hold primary contests where Democratic voters will select either Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders as their pick to run against Donald Trump in the November general election.

    Some states have already postponed their election, or are planning to, because of coronavirus concerns. Polling stations nationwide are considering ways to protect voters, such as hand-sanitising stations.

    The US voter groups with the highest historic turnout rate are Americans over the age of 45. Pew Research Center reports that in 2020, nearly a quarter of the electorate will be above 65.

    Sunday saw Mr Biden encourage healthy individuals to participate in the "most sacred American right" of voting, which drew some Twitter criticism.

    The former vice-president also said: "If you're exhibiting symptoms of Covid-19 or might be at risk, absentee or vote by mail options are the best way to make your voice heard while protecting your neighbours."

    View more on twitter
  17. Curfew in Iraqi capital

    Iraqi officials have imposed a curfew in the nation's capital, Baghdad, as they attempt to control the spread of coronavirus.

    There are currently 110 confirmed cases of the virus in Iraq.

    The state news agency announced that the curfew would be in effect from 17 to 24 March, Reuters news agency reports.

    Iraqi officials had earlier banned domestic travel from today until 25 March, except for emergencies, trade and those commuting for work.

  18. Are enough Indians being tested?

    Rajini Vaidyanathan

    BBC News

    Here in India they’ve effectively closed the borders. Most foreigners are not allowed to enter the country until 15 April as a coronavirus precaution.

    I made it back just before the restrictions came in, and had to go through mandatory medical checks before I was allowed through immigration.

    First I had to fill out a form asking for a range of information, including my seat number on the plane and my travel history going back a month. Next, a heat-sensing camera took a photograph of me to check my temperature was normal, before I was waved through.

    The process was extremely efficient, compared with the long lines seen at US airports.

    So far, the number of reported coronavirus cases in India is relatively low given the country’s population is about 1.3 billion.

    But there are concerns not enough people are being tested and that the true extent of coronavirus here is unknown.

    Testing at an Indian airport
    Image caption: New arrivals were being photographed with a heat-sensing camera

    A friend in Delhi who said he had a high fever and breathing difficulties was unable to reach the government helpline, despite calling more than 30 times. When he finally talked to someone in the Health Ministry (via a personal contact, not the helpline) he was told he wasn’t eligible for testing, so he decided to self-isolate.

    But if people like him who might be carrying the virus aren’t getting tested and are moving freely, the situation could become incredibly grave.

    The government says it has drawn up a multi-pronged strategy to contain the spread of Covid-19. Given this is the world’s second largest population, with poor public health access in many communities, the next steps it takes will be crucial.

  19. South Africa closes borders to 'high-risk' countries

    A traveller wearing a protective mask walks in OR Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg
    Image caption: Screenings will be strengthened at South African airports

    South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced the nation's borders will be closed to all foreign nationals from "high-risk" countries: Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Germany, the US, the UK and China.

    He said the travel ban would come in effect on 18 March.

    "Any person who has visited high-risk countries in the past 20 days will be denied a visa," the president said. "South African citizens returning from high-risk countries will be subjected to testing and self-isolation or quarantine on return to South Africa."

    He also said additional screenings would begin at airports, government travel would be limited, and gatherings of more than 100 people were now prohibited. Schools will also close from 18 March until after the Easter weekend.

    South Africa has the second-highest number of cases on the continent - 61, according to AFP news agency.

    Most infected individuals had recently travelled to Europe.

  20. Could the US see domestic travel restrictions?

    During a briefing on Saturday, the White House suggested domestic travel restrictions could be next.

    But the US infectious diseases chief Dr Anthony Fauci told ABC News on Sunday the move has "not been seriously discussed".

    "I don't see that right now in the immediate future," Dr Fauci said. "But remember, we are very open minded about whatever it takes to preserve the health of the American public."

    There are currently over 2,900 confirmed cases in the US, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center. There have been 57 deaths so far.

    Dr Fauci said he was confident that currently, the government was doing everything it can to control the outbreak.

    "You've got to be almost overreacting a bit to keep up with it," he said, adding that people "need to understand that things will get worse before they get better".

    Trump and Dr Fauci at a briefing
    Image caption: Dr Fauci (centre) says the government is working to prevent a worst-case scenario