What’s Happening: People separated, China closing Everest

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A health official checks the body temperature of a government employee in Peshawar, Pakistan, Thursday, March 12, 2020. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. (AP Photo/Muhammad Sajjad)

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People around the world have become increasingly isolated from each other due to a mounting number of travel bans, school closures and canceled public events.

These are some of the latest developments on Thursday:

REGIONS ARE BEING KEPT APART

A day after the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, people across the world were facing the prospect of being stuck where they are for the foreseeable future. Strict bans on travel from much of Europe to the United States are to begin this weekend, while the U.S. State Department warned Americans to reconsider foreign travel. Austria’s 25,000 police officers were told they were not allowed to take any vacation at least until the end of April, a measure aimed at having enough officers to ensure order.

ITALIANS WAKE UP TO EVEN MORE RESTRICTIONS

In Italy, one of the world’s hardest hit countries, people woke up to yet further virus-containment restrictions. Premier Giuseppe Conte ordered restaurants, cafes and retail shops closed after imposing a nationwide lockdown on personal movement. Jewelry and clothing shops that on Tuesday and Wednesday had posted signs urging customers to queue up out the door a meter (3.3 feet) apart were closed until further notice. Supermarkets, pharmacies and outdoor markets were still open and supermarkets in particular had hours-long lines of customers queued up waiting to go inside a few at a time.

MARKETS SINK EVEN FURTHER

The massive sell-off that caused markets to plunge in response to the outbreak got even worse. European stocks tumbled 10%, despite moves by the European Central Bank to boost the economy. In Asia, stocks in Thailand and the Philippines fell so fast that trading was temporarily halted. And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down nearly 2,000 points, or over 8% and the S&P 500 was down 7.5%.

CHINA SHUTTING EVEREST TO CLIMBERS

Expedition operators on Mount Everest said that Chinese mountaineering officials will not allow spring climbs from their side of the mountain due to fears of the coronavirus. On the other side of the mountain in Nepal, operators say cancellations for the popular spring climbing season have been pouring in despite the mountain being open for business. As the virus is coming under control in China, officials there are taking steps to prevent new infections coming from abroad, including by putting overseas travelers arriving in Beijing into 14-day quarantine.

TENS OF THOUSANDS HAVE RECOVERED

Amid the fears and the quarantines, it’s been easy to ignore that tens of thousands of people haverecoveredfrom the coronavirus spreading around the world. A few patients with the virus who were interviewed by The Associated Press described symptoms no worse than a regular cold or flu, while some had no symptoms at all. COVID-19 disease is especially problematic for older adults and people with existing health problems. But most of those infected experience mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, and the vast majority get over their illness. According to the latest count, 126,000 people have been infected worldwide, 68,000 have recovered and 4,600 have died.

TRUMP OFFICIALS STRESS VIRUS ORIGINATED IN CHINA

Members of the Trump administration — on the defensive about how they have handled the coronavirus outbreak — are seeking to remind Americans that the coronavirus outbreak originated in China. They have repeatedly reminded people that the virus started in Wuhan, a city in China’s Hubei province, and they have faulted China’s initial handling of the outbreak. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called it the “Wuhan coronavirus.” China stresses that it is trying to help the international community battle the virus, sending medical teams to countries that need help now that the crisis at home is waning.

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The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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