UN: Coronavirus disrupting education of 849.4m worldwide

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)

The coronavirus pandemic is disrupting the education of an eye-popping 849.4 million people worldwide, the monitoring arm of the United Nations’ Cultural and Education Agency (UNESCO) said yesterday.

Schools, nurseries and universities are now closed in 113 countries across the globe to contain the spread of coronavirus, suspending learning for hundreds of millions of children, youth and adults.

Of those, 102 countries have closed all educational institutions nationwide, while a further 11 have closed schools in some regions, according to UNESCO monitoring.

Millions more would be affected should those 11 countries decide to shutter all schools, the UN agency said.

In China, where the coronavirus outbreak originated in December, some selected schools have begun to re-open as the daily number of reported cases begins to fall.

The majority remain closed, however, disrupting the learning of 233.2 million school children and 45.3 million university students in China alone, UNESCO figures showed.

‘Pandemic could leave up to 24.7m unemployed’

The coronavirus pandemic could cost up to 24.7 million jobs around the world if governments fail to come up with a coordinated policy response to the economic fallout of the health crisis, an official said.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) said this yesterday in Geneva.

UK schools to close until further notice as deaths toll hit 104

Schools in the UK are to shut from Friday until further notice as a response to the coronavirus pandemic, the prime minister has said.

Schools in England and Wales will close except for looking after the children of keyworkers and vulnerable children.

Exams will not go ahead in this academic year, education secretary Gavin Williamson has said.

It came as UK deaths reached 104 after the NHS said a further 32 people had died in England.

Confirmed cases in the UK rose to 2,626 yesterday, from 1,950 on Tuesday. There have been 56,221 tests carried out in the UK for Covid-19, of which 53,595 were confirmed negative.

The government said it plans to more than double the number of tests being carried out in England to 25,000 a day.

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Scotland and Wales earlier said schools would close from the same day while schools in Northern Ireland will close to pupils today and staff on Monday.

Italy’s deaths rise by record 475 in a day

The number of people dying from coronavirus in Italy has risen by 475 in one day to nearly 3,000 – the biggest increase since the outbreak.

There are a total of 35,713 confirmed cases in the country, with more than 4,000 having successfully recovered.

Lombardy, the worst-hit region, recorded 319 deaths in one day.

Italy is the world’s worst affected country after China, where the virus originated last year. At least, 8,758 people have died, most in China.

The vast majority of the more than 200,000 confirmed cases – 80% – have occurred in Europe and the Western Pacific region, which includes much of Asia, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said.

Many countries have taken drastic measures, including social distancing and cancelling major events to help slow transmission and reduce pressure on the health systems.

EU entry ban hits travellers as lockdown widens

Travellers from outside the EU are being turned away from airports and borders after the 27-country bloc imposed a 30-day ban to halt the spread of coronavirus.

A group flying in from Turkey was turned away from Germany’s biggest airport in Frankfurt late on Tuesday, DPA news agency reports.

EU leaders agreed that internal borders that have been erected in recent days should come down.

At least 8,248 people have died and 205,452 people have been infected worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University. Europe has been identified by the WHO as the “epicentre of the epidemic”.

In the EEA (European Economic Area), which includes the EU states and the UK, at least 3,426 people have died and 35,329 have been infected, with Italy and Spain hit particularly badly.

Belgium is the latest EU country to introduce a lockdown for its 11.4 million citizens.

People have been urged to stay at home as much as possible and only essential travel will be allowed. Most shops will close, but physical activity is allowed as long as people respect social distancing.

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The Swiss government has also told its citizens to stay at home, while Serbia has told over-65s to stay indoors and imposed a night-time curfew on everyone.

The 30-day entry ban will not affect Europeans going home or cross-border workers. UK citizens are also not affected by it because an interim Brexit deal still ties the UK to EU rules.

U.S.-Canada border to close amid virus crisis

U.S. President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have agreed to close the U.S.-Canada border to all non-essential travel in an attempt to curb the spread of coronavirus.

“We will be, by mutual consent, temporarily closing our northern border with Canada,” Trump tweeted.

He said trade would not be affected. Both countries had already issued sweeping travel bans but had maintained exemptions for each other.

Canada relies on the U.S. for approximately 75% of its exports.

The two leaders spoke yesterday to discuss the changes, Trudeau said.

“I want to be clear though that essential travel will still continue,” he said at a press conference.

“No matter whom you are or what you do, this is a time when you should be focused on your health and that of your neighbours. Not: are you going to lose your job, are you going to run out of money for food or medications.”

Canada – which has about a ninth of the population of the US – has 598 confirmed cases, with eight deaths.

President Trump has announced a stimulus plan that could include sending a $1,000 (£844) cheque to every American.

Yesterday, Trudeau announced a CAD$82bn (US$56.4bn) aid package, including $27bn in direct support to workers and businesses.

Trudeau’s wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, tested positive for the virus last week. The prime minister has self-isolated in Ottawa but has displayed no symptoms.

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