For the coming weeks, Worldcrunch will be delivering daily updates on the coronavirus global pandemic. The insidious path of COVID-19 across the planet teaches is a blunt reminder of how small the world has become. Our network of multilingual journalists are busy finding out what's being reported locally — everywhere — to provide as clear a picture as possible of what it means for all of us at home, around the world.
SPOTLIGHT: CHINA TO CENTRAL AMERICA, HOW TO STOP THE SPREAD
As COVID-19 continues its wildfire advance across the globe, the most hopeful sign has come from China, where the outbreak began. The illness appears, incredibly, to have been contained — almost. It still has far more total cases confirmed (81,000+) than any other country, but on Thursday reported no new locally transmitted cases. The announcement is a milestone in the ongoing pandemic as China's strict lockdown tactics have been a roadmap for other countries now being hit hard.
Still, the situation on the ground in China also comes with a caveat, because despite the absence of new domestic transmissions Thursday, health workers detect 34 new cases the same day of people presumed to have contracted the illness abroad and brought into the country. The numbers raise concerns that China could face "a second wave of infections," as The Guardian reports, and offer a sobering reminder of just how difficult it is to stop the virus' spread in our highly interconnected planet.
That same lesson was also on display yesterday on the other side of the world, in Central America, where the impoverished nations of El Salvador and Nicaragua both reported their first confirmed COVID-19 cases. The yet-to-be-identified Salvadoran patient, according to a report by the online news site El Faro, likely contracted the virus in Italy and entered El Salvador through a "blind spot" along the country's borders, which the government officially closed the day before.
All passenger flights in and out of El Salvador are also frozen, including planes bringing deportees from the United States, which has the highest number of confirmed cases in the Americas. The case in Nicaragua involves a 40-year-old patient who arrived earlier this week from Panama, the Nicaraguan news site Confidencial reports. It is becoming increasingly clear that coronavirus is an enemy that must be fought on two fronts: at home and abroad.
THE SITUATION - 7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW
Australia to bar all foreign visitors for six months, closing down a $45 billion international tourism industry.
Splitting Relief: The Trump administration spelled out the first details of a $1 trillion economic package, asking Congress for $500 billion for direct payments to citizens and $500 billion in loans for businesses.
Italy reports 475 deaths on Wednesday, the highest one-day total in any country so far. Here's a grim image of how that looks in the northern city of Bergamo.
Next in Europe: Spain death toll jumped suddenly by 209 overnight. With the virus now spreading at a similar pace as in Italy (doubling every third day) the question is if the spread will slow down, like in South Korea, or keep accelerating. See graph in this El Pais article.
Schools Out: UNESCO estimates that COVID-19 has forced one-half of the world's children are out of school.
Postponed: The much anticipated reunion of the ‘Friends' TV show, with a $400 million pricetag, is off for now.