NEWS DIGEST 29.03.2020: Coronavirus quarantine U-turns and North Korean missile tests


The US President Donald Trump has backed down from imposing a statewide ‘lockdown’ on the state of New York, after yesterday insisting on the measure, called as New York became the worst affected area in the American coronavirus epidemic, reports Britain’s BBC News. The US has now the highest number of infections in the world. Its total of 100,000 cases has overtaken China, where the ‘Wuhan virus’ first originated – Coronavirus: Trump backs away from New York quarantine (BBC News) . In addition to New York, the neighbouring states of New Jersey and Connecticut are also experiencing a surge in cases of the virus, with all three states urged to cease non-essential travel to contain the epidemic in the New England region, reports The Guardian –  Coronavirus live news: New York, New Jersey and Connecticut told to halt non-essential travel (The Guardian UK Edition)

vehicles passing by road in new york
Photo by Mohamed Almari on


Also in The Guardian, the Dutch-operated cruise liner MV Zaandam, currently docked off Panama and struggling with an outbreak of COVID-19 onboard, was finally given permission by the Panamanian government to travel through the Panama Canal, but it was not known whether it would be allowed to dock anywhere in the central American country. Four passengers have already perished and dozens have been taken sick – Coronavirus: Panama to allow cruise liner Zaandam through canal(The Guardian UK Edition) Meanwhile, another UK newspaper, The Telegraph, released a YouTube video of a British couple aboard the Zaandam, which belongs to Holland America Lines, expressing significant concern over the situation aboard the ship. Celia and Nick Jones, in a candid video shot from their quarantined cabin, said they urgently needed to return to Britain to care for their vulnerable son, who has autism – British couple stranded on cruise ship Zaandam ‘extremely worried’ (The Telegraph/YouTube GB)

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British-Iranian currently held in detention in Iran on alleged spying charges for the past four years, may soon be released by a government amnesty as Iran is battered by the worldwide coronavirus outbreak, the Daily Mirror reports. She is currently under isolation at her parents’ home in the capital Tehran (Teheran) after narrowly escaping catching the virus herself – Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe appeals for clemency as coronavirus prison leave extended (Mirror)

Staying on the trending news of the COVID-19 pandemic, military personnel in Europe have been drafted in to fly Italian and French patients to Germany for treatment, reports The German army have stepped in to assist their immediate European neighbours who are struggling with high death and illness counts brought by the outbreak. One flight from the stricken north Italian town of Bergamo has already brought six patients to Cologne – Military flies Italian and French patients to Germany for treatment (Metro) Sadly this shining example of European co-operation was overshadowed by reports Italians are becoming fed up with the European Union over its response to the continent’s coronavirus crisis, with the country threatening to quit the Union and labelling it as ‘dead’, while Portugal lashed at ‘repugnant’ fellow member states, the Telegraph reports – End of the EU? Growing fury at ‘repugnant’ response as Italy condemns Brussels as ‘dead’ (The Telegraph)

North Korea has escalated tensions in the Far East of Asia after launching a missile in the direction of regional foe Japan, heightening nuclear tensions across the globe, reports Britain’s Daily Express. The incident, reported as occurring on the 20th March, saw ‘unidentified projectiles’ fired into the Sea of Japan – Pyongyang Fury: North Korea fires fire missile towards Japan as nuclear fears rise (Express). Meanwhile, The Guardian stated that the reclusive nation also test-fired another two short-range ballistic missiles today, which was condemned as ‘inappropriately timed’ by its Korean southern neighbourNorth Korea fires two missiles as Seoul condemns ‘inappropriate’ timing (The Guardian)


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