Coronavirus: Countries enforce mass closures to stem spread

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People look at closed doors of Prado museum in Madrid - 12 MarchImage source, EPA

Schools have been closed, sports events cancelled and cultural institutions shut around the world as countries try to stem the coronavirus outbreak.

In the US, six states told schools to close on Monday for at least two weeks.

Belgium announced sweeping measures including the closure of schools, cafes and restaurants, and cancellation of cultural and recreational events.

All forthcoming fixtures in Europe's top football contests the Champions and Europa leagues have been postponed.

In other developments:

More than 125,000 people have been diagnosed with Covid-19 in 118 countries around the world, according to the World Health Organization. The total number of deaths is more than 4,600.

Which countries are closing schools?

Schools in the US states of Ohio, Michigan, Oregon, Maryland, Kentucky and New Mexico have been told to shut on Monday for at least two weeks. The state of Washington has already closed schools in three counties.

French schools will be closed from Monday for 15 days, while those in Belgium will be closed until Easter.

The German states of Bavaria and Saarland said their schools would be closed until the end of Easter holidays in late April, and the capital Berlin will also start closing its schools next week.

The governments of the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Karnataka closed their schools and colleges, affecting tens of millions of students.

In the UK, the government said school closures were being considered but the scientific advice was that "this could do more harm than good" at this stage.

And what sporting events are off?

Several clubs in the premiership have been hit. Chelsea football club went into lockdown after player Callum Hudson-Odoi tested positive. All Chelsea personnel who have been in contact with him, including the entire senior men's team, will have to self-isolate for 14 days.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta tested positive. Leicester and Manchester City also have players in self-isolation.

The news follows a host of postponements and suspensions in European football, including all French football matches.

The NHL, NBA and MLS have all suspended their seasons in North America, and the ATP tour shut down for six weeks "to protect the health and safety of our players, staff, the wider tennis community and general public health".

This weekend's Formula One season-opening Australian Grand Prix has been called off.

The Nepalese government has cancelled all climbing permits for Mount Everest, following China's decision not to allow any expeditions on the northern side of the mountain.

Media caption,

Boris Johnson: "More families will lose loved ones before their time"

Ski areas in western Austria's Tyrol province are also to close down from Sunday, regional officials said Thursday.

What is the latest on lockdowns and quarantines?

The Czech Republic has said that from Monday it will ban all foreigners without temporary or permanent residency from entering the country and all Czech citizens from leaving. This follows similar measures by neighbouring Slovakia.

Malta has announced mandatory 14-day quarantines for everyone entering the country.

Belgium is the latest country to impose a blanket ban on restaurants, cafes and nightclubs, although chip shops will be allowed to remain open.

On Thursday, Italy's government imposed the closure of restaurants, bars and almost all shops except food stores and pharmacies. The death toll there has passed 1,000 but Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio says the measures imposed in the first area of the outbreak have been proving effective.

Media caption,

Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio: "There is a way to defeat this virus"

Four towns in Spain's Catalonia region were put under lockdown on Thursday, in a first in the country.

A number of key figures have also revealed they are self-isolating amid concerns they may have caught the virus.

How is the cultural sector being affected?

Some of the world's top museums and galleries have now shut their doors:

  • The Van Gogh museum and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam are closing until the end of March
  • In the US, New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, the largest art museum in the world, said it was temporarily closing all three of its locations in the city. All Smithsonian museums in Washington DC and New York City will close from Saturday

New York State's Governor Andrew Cuomo banned all gatherings of more than 500, prompting Broadway to suspend all its performances for a month

Belgium has announced a raft of restrictions, cancelling all cultural and recreational events from Friday night but stopping short of a lockdown

Disney has announced it will shut its theme parks in California, Florida and Paris.

In the world of film, Disney's Mulan became the latest major film release to be delayed, and the release of the latest Fast and Furious instalment was pushed back by 11 months. The Tribeca Film Festival was postponed in the US.