The World Bank has earmarked a US$100-million fast-track loan to help the Philippines fight COVID-19, the Philippine Department of Finance said. The Philippines now has 193 confirmed coronavirus cases, including 14 deaths. Four patients have recovered from the viral disease.

People wait in line with practicing social distancing outside a pharmacy in downtown Lisbon, Portugal, on March 17, 2020. Portugal reported 117 new cases of the COVID-19 infection as of Tuesday, bringing the total number of cases to 448, with one dead. (Photo: Xinhua)

* Cambodia confirmed Wednesday (March 18) that two more Malaysian men were tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of the confirmed cases in the kingdom to 35.

* The number of new coronavirus cases in Italy jumped dramatically on Tuesday, with more than 3,500 new cases, pushing the cumulative total number to over 30,000, according to new data released by the Civil Protection Department. The number of the dead reached 2,503 and that of recovered individuals rose to 2,941, compared to 2,158 and 2,749, respectively, a day earlier.

* The Spanish government on Tuesday announced that it will inject EUR200 billion (US$220 billion) into the national economy in a series of measures to offset the effects of coronavirus epidemic. On Tuesday, Spain's Ministry of Health, Consumer Affairs and Social Services confirmed that the country now has 11,178 COVID-19 cases and 491 fatalities.

* France has detected 7,730 cases of coronavirus infection, and 175 people had died of the virus, Health General Director Jerome Salomon announced on Tuesday at a daily update. In the last 24 hours, 1,097 more people were diagnosed with the COVID-19, which claimed 27 more deaths.

* The White House is seeking a stimulus package worth as much as US$1.2 trillion in spending, including direct payments to Americans, to cushion the US economy from coronavirus fallout, according to local media. The number of COVID-19 cases in the United States has topped 6,000 by 7 p.m. local time Tuesday (2300 GMT), according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. A total of 105 deaths have been reported across the country.

* Japan's health ministry and local governments said Wednesday the number of COVID-19 infections rose to 868 in Japan as of 10:30 a.m. local time here. The death toll in Japan from the pneumonia-causing virus currently stands at a total of 36 people, according to the health ministry, with the figure including those from the virus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined in Yokohama, close to Tokyo.

* The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia has continued to rise by approximately 20 percent, according to the latest data from the Department of Health. There have been 454 confirmed cases as of Wednesday morning -- an increase of 21 percent from 375 as of Tuesday morning.

* The Republic of Korea reported 93 more cases of the COVID-19 compared to 24 hours ago as of midnight Wednesday local time, raising the total number of infections to 8,413. The newly confirmed cases stayed below 100 for the fourth consecutive day, after recording the first double-digit growth in 23 days on Sunday. Three more deaths were confirmed, lifting the death toll to 84.

* As many as 1,950 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Britain as of Tuesday morning, according to the latest figure from the Department of Health and Social Care. This marks an increase of 407 cases in the past 24 hours. According to local reports, 56 people who tested positive for COVID-19 have died after a second death was confirmed in Scotland.

* Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday praised volunteers for helping people infected with COVID-19, primarily the elderly, who are the main victims of the disease. According to the latest official data, as of Tuesday, 114 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Russia, including five recovered.

* The Greek government on Tuesday announced the closure of national borders to non-EU citizens, with exceptions strictly for urgent family or business reasons, starting at 6:00 a.m. local time on Wednesday. The Health Ministry said at the press briefing that to date five people have lost his lives to the COVID-19 coronavirus and 35 new cases have been confirmed, bringing the total confirmed cases nationwide to 387.

* Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar Tuesday called on the public to be fully prepared for a prolonged impact of the coronavirus outbreak in the country and promised that his government will do whatever it requires to do in the battle against the disease. To date, there are altogether 292 confirmed cases of COVID and two COVID-19-related deaths in Ireland, according to the figures released by the Irish health department on Tuesday evening.

* Iran on Tuesday reported 1,178 more confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 135 more deaths from the novel coronavirus, with the death toll edging toward 1,000. Iran's Ministry of Health and Medical Education announced that the total number of COVID-19 cases increased to 16,169, as the death toll reached 988. A total of 5,389 people have recovered.

* India's iconic monument of love - Taj Mahal was closed down Tuesday amid COVID-19 scare, officials said. Taj Mahal in India's northern state of Uttar Pradesh is a UNESCO world heritage site and one of the world's leading tourist attractions. The number of COVID-19 cases in India Tuesday rose to 137, India's federal health ministry officials said. So far three people have died because of the disease in India.

* Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has called for unity with responsibility to win the war against COVID-19 in a televised address to the nation. The country has recorded at least 235 positive patients of COVID-19 so far.

* The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases topped 100 in both Peru and Ecuador on Tuesday, and Ecuador's government has begun implementing some of the harshest measures in Latin America.

* Romanian President Klaus Iohannis announced that the country will enter an emergency state starting March 16, in an effort to ensure that the government uses all resources to fight the COVID-19 epidemic.

* Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Tuesday a significant increase in the daily number of tests for diagnosing coronavirus. So far, only a few hundred tests have been made per day in Israel, reaching a maximum of about 1,000 per day, according to the Ministry of Health. According to Netanyahu, the number of tests will soon increase to 3,000 a day and will even reach 5,000 per day later.

* A royal decree was issued in Jordan on Tuesday imposing the defense law to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, the state-run Petra news agency reported.

* The Saudi-led coalition involved in a war in Yemen announced on Tuesday the foiling of a terrorist attempt in the southern Red Sea.

* Arab and western countries on Tuesday called on the Libya's rival parties to stop ongoing military action in the country in order to allow authorities to respond to the coronavirus.

* An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.1 jolted 101 km NNW of Sola, Vanuatu at 03:13:45 GMT on Wednesday, the US Geological Survey said. The epicenter, with a depth of 170.72 km, was initially determined to be at 13.0969 degrees south latitude and 167.0711 degrees east longitude.

* Over 138,000 Afghan refugees have returned or been deported from neighboring Pakistan and Iran since the beginning this year, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported Wednesday.

Source: Xinhua

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