"We are at war," said French President Emmanuel Macron as he ordered 100,000 police officers and troops onto the streets to enforce strict lockdown laws

By Ian Horswill


Posted on March 17, 2020

Throughout Europe, the Americas and Australasia life has become very restrictive, civil liberties have been withdrawn, and life is like most people never known before due to the coronavirus COVID-19.

Lockdowns at where the coronavirus originated have been taking place for the 11 million people in Hubei, China, for the past two months. They are now starting to take place over most of the world as the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread.

“We have a simple message for all countries: Test, test, test. Test every suspected case,” said World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a virtual press conference. “If they test positive, isolate them and find out who they have been in contact with two days before they developed symptoms and test those people, too.”

In a damning indictment on the US and other countries testing for coronavirus, Tedros added: “All countries should be able to test all suspected cases. They cannot fight this pandemic blindfolded; they should know where the cases are.”

coronavirus pandemic
The confirmed number of coronavirus infections on 16 March 20202: Source: World Health Organization

In latest developments associated with the coronavirus:

  • The UK, France and Germany introduced stringent new measures.
  • UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the entire population must not go to pubs, restaurants and not engage in “non-essential contact” with other people. All employees should work from home from Tuesday “if possible” and around a third of the public – everyone over the age of 70, millions who are younger and suffer from health conditions, and pregnant women – are being asked to avoid almost all social contact from this weekend. Modelling by Imperial College London predicted 260,000 deaths in the UK.
  • “We are at war,” said French President Emmanuel Macron. He ordered 100,000 police officers and troops onto the streets to enforce a strict curfew and relaxed rules for residents to paying tax and rent. “Stay at home,” Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said, adding that fines of up to US$151 would be given to anyone who breaches the new restrictions. Coronavirus has killed 148 people and infected more than 6,600 people in France.
  • Macron reaffirmed unlimited financial support for businesses and employees affected, including up to €300 billion of state guarantees for bank loans to companies.
  • Germany has ordered the closure of non-essential shops to bars, clubs, theatres, museums, brothels and churches. In a statement, the government said grocery shops, markets, banks, pharmacies and delivery services would remain open, while restaurants and other eating establishments would generally be allowed to open between 6am and 6pm.
  • US President Donald Trump said the US outbreak could last all summer and gatherings should not be larger than 10 people.
  • Goldman Sachs estimated the US will have negative GDP growth in the second quarter of minus 5%, one of the worst ever, and many bank analysts now expect a recession in 2020 due to emergency social-distancing regulations.

  • Canada will deny entry into the country to anyone who is not a citizen or permanent resident.
  • Switzerland declared a national emergency, banning all public and private events from midnight and mobilising up to 8,000 troops.
  • The death rate in Italy – Europe’s worst-hit country – jumped by 349, bringing total fatalities there to more than 2,100.
  • Ireland’s government ordered the closure of 7,000 bars at the cost of 50,000 jobs, three days after 20,000 jobs were lost when it closed crèches and pre-schools.
  • Australia airline Qantas and its subsidiary Jetstar will cut international capacity by about 90% and domestic capacity by around 60% until at least the end of May.
  • Toyota closes factories in France and Portugal. Fiat, Renault and Peugeot owner PSA shuts sites across Europe.
  • The European Union banned the “non-essential” entry of all foreign nationals. Only residents, family members and essential staff – healthcare workers and medical experts – will be exempt from the measures imposed initially for 30 days.

The US stock market plunged to its worst day in more than three decades. Monday’s 12% drop for the S&P 500 means it has plummeted nearly 30% since setting a record less than a month ago, and it’s at its lowest point since the end of 2018. The S&P 500 had its worst loss since the Black Monday crash of 1987, falling 11.98%. The Nasdaq Composite fell around 970 points, or 12.3%, to end near 6,905, for its largest one-day percentage drop in history.

In Australia, by 11:25am AEDT, the All Ords index was up 0.7% to 5,095 points, while the ASX 200 was up 1%.

Top 10 countries with notified coronavirus deaths

  1. Hubei, China 3,111
  2. Italy 2,158
  3. Iran 853
  4. Spain 342
  5. France 148
  6. South Korea 75
  7. United Kingdom 55
  8. Washington DC, US 48
  9. Japan 27
  10. The Netherlands 24