Coronavirus bill approved in Britain, Serbia announces massive testing

2020-03-24 04:07:17 GMT2020-03-24 12:07:17(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

BEIJING, March 24 (Xinhua) -- The world is now in a battle against the common threat of the COVID-19, a disease caused by a previously unknown coronavirus that has spread to over 180 countries and regions.

The following are the updates on the contagious illness.

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LONDON -- A new emergency bill to give the British government great powers to fight coronavirus was approved by lawmakers Monday night.

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock told the House of Commons that "to defeat it, we are proposing extraordinary measures of a kind never seen before in peacetime. Our goal is to protect life and to protect every part of the National Health Service."

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BELGRADE -- Serbian authorities plan to fight the COVID-19 in cooperation with Chinese experts, and have decided to start massive testing among its population, President Aleksandar Vucic said at a press conference on Monday.

Crisis staff for COVID-19 met experts from the frontlines of the battle in China, and according to Vucic who attended the meeting, they discussed ways for healthcare staff to treat the virus infection and deal with the virus itself.

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UNITED NATIONS -- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday called for an immediate global cease-fire in face of the novel coronavirus disease.

"It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives (against the coronavirus)," he said in a virtual press encounter.

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DAKAR -- Senegalese President Macky Sall on Monday declared a state of emergency to curb the spread of COVID-19 in his country, where a total of 79 cases have been reported.

"As of midnight tonight, I declare a state of emergency across the national territory," the president said in his speech to the nation, adding that the state of emergency across national territory, together with a curfew, is to raise the level of response to the spread of COVID- 19.

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NICOSIA -- Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades announced on Monday night a total ban on unnecessary movement in the country in a further move to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a televised address to the nation, Anastasiades said the ban comes into effect as from 6 p.m. on Tuesday until April 13, with violators of the decree being liable to an on-the-spot fine of 150 euros (161 U.S. dollars).

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COPENHAGEN -- Danish Prime Minister Mette Fredriksen on Monday announced the extension of the coronavirus lockdown for a further two weeks.

"We will now extend everything we have set in motion until April 13," Frederiksen said at a press conference.

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YANGON -- Myanmar reported its first confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Chin state and Yangon region late Monday, according to a release of the Ministry of Health and Sports.

A 36-year-old Myanmar national who arrived from the United States tested positive late Monday after being treated in isolation due to a high fever days ago in Chin state.

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BERLIN -- The German government brought home around 120,000 citizens who had been stranded abroad because of the coronavirus pandemic, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Monday.

"We have chartered our own aircraft," for example from Lufthansa, he said. Also, the government supported private travel operators by organizing landing permits and over-flight rights.

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GENEVA -- More than 300,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported from almost every country and region in the world, the chief of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday, noting "the pandemic is accelerating."

Speaking at a daily briefing, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it took 67 days from the first reported case of COVID-19 to reach the first 100,000 cases worldwide, while the second and the third 100,000 cases were reported just within 11 days and 4 days respectively.

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BERLIN -- The German government has approved the "largest aid package" in the country's history to combat the coronavirus, the Ministry of Finance (BMF) announced on Monday.

To finance a "protective shield" for families, employees, self-employed people and companies, the German government will seek to borrow around 156 billion euros (168 billion U.S. dollars), according to the BMF. 

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