Life under lockdown in India: Foreign citizens stamped and quarantined in hotels
From CNN's Sandi Sidhu
India went under a nationwide total lockdown on Wednesday, with foreign citizens given only hours to figure out travel and accommodation plans.
Those who are still there now face home quarantines and difficulties finding places to stay.
Erin Vaeth, a 26-year-old American who resides in Beijing, was in the Indian city of Pushkar when the restrictions were announced. On Saturday, she was told she could not stay at her hotel without getting a medical checkup first -- so she went to a medical office, standing in line with dozens of other foreigners in the same situation.
She was given a note of approval, and told to check into a hostel -- where, the next day, all the guests had their wrist stamped with the words "home quarantined," and told they could not leave the hostel.
They're being cared for by hostel staff, she said -- but food is being rationed, and rising prices are getting out of hand.
Total lockdown: The lockdown is in place across all of India's 36 states and territories, affecting 1.3 billion people, for a minimum of 21 days.
4:48 a.m. ET, March 27, 2020
China once railed against travel restrictions, now it's closing the door to foreigners
Analysis by CNN's James Griffiths
China is closing its border to foreigners amid fears of imported novel coronavirus cases causing a second outbreak in the country where the infection was first detected.
In a statement late Thursday, the country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that "in view of the rapid spread of Covid-19 across the world, China has decided to temporarily suspend the entry into China by foreign nationals holding visas or residence permits" as of March 28.
Anyone wishing to enter the country will have to apply for a visa at their local Chinese embassy or consulate. The announcement did not say how long this would take.
The decision to effectively seal off the country is the latest in a series of moves intended to safeguard against infection from international travel, after more than 500 imported cases of the coronavirus were confirmed.
It also comes after Beijing repeatedly criticized other governments for taking similar measures during the early weeks and months of the coronavirus pandemic. The World Health Organization (WHO) also called on countries not to limit travel from China, while praising Beijing for measures taken to rein in infections.
Speaking in Israel after that country announced severe restrictions on all foreign arrivals, China's ambassador reportedly said that "in the darkest days of the Jewish people, we didn’t close the door on them. I hope Israel will not close the door on the Chinese."
The embassy later apologized, saying there was "no intention whatsoever to compare the dark days of the Holocaust with the current situation," according to the Times of Israel.
When the US raised its China travel advisory to the highest level in February, the country's foreign ministry said this "set a bad example" and was "certainly not a gesture of goodwill."
"Virus respects no borders. It requires a collective response from the international community," China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi said later that month. "In our view, the enhanced inspection measures taken by some countries are reasonable but some other countries have overreacted. Their overreaction has caused unnecessary panic and is not consistent with the WHO recommendations."
Three Japanese pro baseball players test positive for coronavirus
By CNN's Emiko Jozuka and Brad Lendon
Three Japanese pro baseball players from the Hanshin Tigers team have tested positive for coronavirus.
Players Shintaro Fujinami, Hayata Ito, and Kenya Nagasaki tested positive on March 26, according to a statement released by the Hashin Tigers on Friday.
"We are currently investigating who came into close contact with the three (infected) people," said the statement. "We will proceed to investigate in cooperation with public health centers, bearing in mind the safety of stakeholders and their families first."
The players were first suspected to have the virus after they complained of being unable to smell the scent of food and taste it, according to NHK, Japan's public broadcaster.
The baseball team has disinfected its stadiums and requested players and staff to stay at home for one week starting Thursday.
4:22 a.m. ET, March 27, 2020
Germany death toll rises to 253
From CNN’s Fred Pleitgen in Berlin
Germany now has 42,288 confirmed coronavirus cases, an increase of 5,780 in 24 hours, according to official numbers released Friday by the country’s infectious diseases centre, the Robert Koch Institute.
The figures show 253 people who tested positive for the virus have died.
4:13 a.m. ET, March 27, 2020
South Africa reports first two coronavirus deaths as nationwide lockdown begins
From CNN's David McKenzie and Brent Swails in Johannesburg
South Africa reported its first two coronavirus deaths and over 1,000 cases Friday, as the country begins a 21-day lockdown.
Soldiers and police are out on patrol in Johannesburg and telling the city’s homeless that they will be transported to designated shelters.
Phillip Dyantyi, a homeless man originally from the country’s Eastern Cape Province, told CNN that he and others are willing to go to shelters but authorities haven’t offered details. So for now they sit in large groups waiting for the next move.
In a televised address to the nation on Monday night, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced South Africa will be under a 21-day lockdown beginning midnight Thursday, calling on the country to "urgently and dramatically" escalate its response.
4:04 a.m. ET, March 27, 2020
If you're just joining us, here's the latest
The novel coronavirus pandemic continues to spread globally, with the US and Europe hit the hardest. Here's what you need to know:
The US becomes worst hit: The US now has the highest number of confirmed cases in the world, overtaking China and Italy. Today was the deadliest day in the US so far, with at least 233 new deaths reported nationwide. New York City has become the epicenter of the US outbreak.
Shifting restrictions in China: New local transmissions have fallen to near zero in mainland China, so it's beginning to lift lockdowns and citizens are returning to normal life. But the number of imported cases from overseas is rising. On Thursday, China announced it would ban entry to foreign nationals holding visas or residence permits.
Trump and Xi speak: The leaders of China and the US had a telephone call late Thursday Washington time. Just what they discussed is still unclear, but Trump said on Twitter it was a "very good conversation." Chinese state media said the US President thanked Beijing for sending medical supplies.
Olympic-sized bill: With the Tokyo 2020 Olympics pushed to 2021, one economist has estimated that Japan could face economic losses of up to $36 billion due to the fallout from the cancelled Games and the country's worsening coronavirus epidemic.
Japan struggles: The country saw case numbers spike this week, and the Tokyo governor urged residents to stay at home this weekend. In response, crowds surged to panic buy at supermarkets, while others continued gathering in outdoor parks during the cherry blossom season.
Events canceled globally: With borders snapping shut and serious public health concerns globally, countless events have been rescheduled. The K-pop group BTS postponed part of their world tour. Art Basel, widely considered to be the world's biggest art fair, has also been postponed.
3:58 a.m. ET, March 27, 2020
Confusion and delays as airlines scramble to catch up with travel restrictions
From CNN's Sandi Sidhu
Liz Lord, an American citizen from Maryland, was on a bus traveling in India when Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered a complete nationwide lockdown on Wednesday.
After scrambling to find transportation, she made it back to the Indian capital New Delhi through 30 hours on taxis and buses. Once there, she had less than 6 hours to find a flight out of the country due to the new international travel suspensions.
But she has found herself stranded yet again today, with her flight canceled and no communication from the airline.
"International flight travel restrictions were extended until April 14 and all of our flights were canceled. Unfortunately my airline didn't tell me directly as they said they would if any changes were made to my flight," she told CNN. "I saw it through their Twitter page ... As of right now, if I Google my flight for March 29, it says it's still scheduled."
She said she has tried to reach out to anybody who can help -- the US embassy, Maryland officials, even speaking out on social media and to news outlets.
"We do want to come home, and many of us are willing to go through any medical exam or home quarantine that is necessary ... rather than having to wait three weeks," she said.
Watch more here:
3:58 a.m. ET, March 27, 2020
China's Xi Jinping calls on Trump to boost cooperation, state media reports
From CNN's Shanshan Wang in Beijing
Chinese President Xi Jinping told US President Donald Trump during a phone call on Friday that he hoped their two countries could “work together to boost cooperation in epidemic control and other fields,” according to an account of the conversation published by Chinese state media.
Xi also said that China is “willing to work with all parties, including the United States” in combating the pandemic and that he was “very concerned and worried about the epidemic development in the US,” according to China’s Xinhua news agency.
"Chinese people sincerely hope that the United States will soon control the spread of the epidemic (and) reduce the losses brought by the epidemic to the American people," Xi is reported to have told Trump during the call.
"To China and the US, cooperation serves the interests of the two countries and conflict can only hurt both. Cooperation is the only correct choice. It is hoped that the US will take substantive actions in improving Sino-US relations, and the two sides will work together to strengthen cooperation in areas such as containing the epidemic, and develop a relationship of no conflict, no confrontation, mutual respect, and win-win cooperation," Xi is reported to have said.
The White House has not yet released a readout or statement on the conversation and its contents.
According to Chinese state media, Trump offered thanks to China for providing medical supplies to the United States to fight the epidemic, and for "strengthening exchanges in the medical and health fields between the two countries, including cooperation in the development of effective anti-epidemic drugs."
In a tweet earlier today, Trump said it had been a "very good conversation." He added, "Much respect!"
3:31 a.m. ET, March 27, 2020
Angela Merkel says restrictive measures in Germany will continue
From CNN's Fred Pleitgen in Berlin
The partial lockdown and restrictive emergency measures in place in Germany will continue for a while, said German Chancellor Angela Merkel today.
“Right now is not the time to be talking about the loosening of these measures,” she said.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany is currently doubling about every 5 days, she said, adding that it needs to go down to every 10 days for a loosening of measures to even become an option.
Financial fallout: After a G20 video conference call and an EU heads of state conference call, she also reiterated Germany's position against Eurobonds, saying the European Stabilization Mechanism is the right instrument to deal with the financial fallout from the coronavirus crisis.
“We made clear from the German side, but also others did as well, that this is not the opinion of all states," Merkel said in reference to Spain and Italy's desire to try new ways to deal with the crisis and asking for Coronabonds.
Social distancing: Merkel added that while she is busy and working well in quarantine, she, like many German citizens, misses personal social contact.
“I miss that I can’t be in the cabinet meetings and can’t see the people there. And I miss having personal contacts," she said.