Iraqi workers spray disinfectant as a precaution against the coronavirus in the shrine of Imam Ali in Najaf, Iraq, Sunday, March 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Anmar Khalil)

Iraqi workers spray disinfectant as a precaution against the coronavirus in the shrine of Imam Ali in Najaf, Iraq, Sunday, March 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Anmar Khalil)

COVID-19 closes sites around the world as stocks, oil prices sink

Global oil prices suffered their worst percentage losses since the start of the 1991 Gulf War

Anxiety over the new coronavirus epidemic sent global stock markets and oil prices plunging Monday, touched off prison riots in Italy and caused a cascading shutdown of sites and events ranging from Saudi schools to a Holocaust march.

While many of Beijing’s white-collar workers returned to work as new cases of infection subsided in China, some 16 million people under a widespread lockdown in northern Italy struggled to navigate the new rules of their mass isolation.

Global oil prices suffered their worst percentage losses since the start of the 1991 Gulf War. In Saudi Arabia, shares of state oil giant Saudi Aramco dropped 10%, forcing a halt to trading of the company on Riyadh’s stock exchange.

Inmates at more than two dozen Italian prisons rioted against restrictions on family visits and other containment measures, and six died after they broke into the infirmary and overdosed on methadone.

Travellers at Milan’s main train station had to sign police forms self-certifying that they are travelling for “proven work needs,’’ situations of necessity, health reasons or to return home. They also needed to provide identity documents, contact numbers and an exact reason for travel.

Italy’s financial hub, Milan, and the popular tourist city of Venice were among the places under the quarantine lockdown. Across Italy, museums and archaeological sites were closed, weddings were cancelled and restaurants were told to keep patrons a meter (more than 3 feet) apart. The country has counted 7,375 cases of COVID-19 virus and 366 deaths, more than any other country outside of Asia.

Pope Francis celebrated Mass by himself Monday at the Vatican hotel where he lives, live-streaming the event, but he did resume some meetings.

Trying to send a message of confidence in the economy, French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife walked on Paris’ famous Champs-Elysees avenue, but kept a one-meter security distance from passersby. “I’m shaking hands using my heart,” he said, as he waved to people from a distance.

He called for a proportionate government response.

“We cannot shut down the country but we need to protect the most fragile people,” he said.

China’s slow re-emergence from weeks of extreme travel restrictions offers a grim sense of the longer-term effects the virus can have on a country’s economy.

“Our business is one-fifth of what it was before,” said Cheng Sheng, who helps run a stand in Beijing that sells sausages and noodles. “There’s much less foot traffic. There are no people.”

Infections were reported in more than half the world’s countries, and flashpoints were erupting around the globe. In all, more than 110,000 people have tested positive for the disease and more than 3,800 people with the virus have died, most of them in China. Some 62,000 people have already recovered.

In Iran, state television said the virus had killed another 43 people, pushing the official toll up to 237, with 7,161 confirmed cases. But many fear the scope of illness is far wider there.

In the United States, where more than 500 infections have been reported, the Grand Princess cruise ship, which has at least 21 confirmed virus cases, was expected to dock in Oakland, California, amid elaborate protective procedures.

Fleets of buses and planes were ready to whisk the more than 2,000 passengers to military bases or their home countries for a 14-day quarantine.

In Florida, passengers disembarked from the Regal Princess after it received clearance to dock. Two crew members eyed as possible carriers had negative tests for the virus.

The Caribbean Princess cruise ship, meanwhile, cut short a Fort Lauderdale-Mexico cruise because crew members had been on another ship where people were infected.

In Washington, the Capitol’s attending physician’s office said “several” members of Congress had contact with a person who attended a recent political conference and subsequently developed COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus. They “remain in good health,” the office said. Two members of Congress, Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Paul Gosar, said they are isolating themselves after determining they had contact with the person.

Countries around the world showed a willingness to take tough steps to try to stop the virus’ spread.

After earlier closing off its land borders, Saudi Arabia cut off air and sea travel to and from Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Italy, Kuwait, Lebanon, South Korea, Syria and the United Arab Emirates. All Saudi schools and universities were closing beginning Monday.

Qatar cut off travel to 15 countries and announced it would shut down schools and universities beginning Tuesday.

The Czech Republic banned visits to hospitals and retirement homes and began random checks on vehicles arriving at border crossings, including taking the temperatures of occupants.

Organizers of the annual Holocaust remembrance march in southern Poland postponed the event this year due to coronavirus fears, and soccer authorities announced two Champions League matches and one in Germany’s Bundesliga would take place with no fans.

China reported 40 new cases of the virus Monday, its lowest number since Jan. 20. More than three-quarters of the country’s surviving virus patients have been released from treatment. South Korea reported 165 more cases Monday, bringing its total to 7,478.

Albania announced its first COVID-19 cases, a father and son who had returned from Italy, and the president of the Philippines declared a public health emergency.

___

Sedensky reported from Bangkok. Contributing to this report were Ken Moritsugu in Beijing; Tong-hyung Kim in Seoul, South Korea; Lori Hinnant in Paris; Carlo Piovano in London; Nicole Winfield in Rome; and Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

___

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

___

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.

Colleen Barry And Matt Sedensky, The Associated Press

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

In 2017, a member of the Disneyana Fan Club curated a small Community Treasures exhibit at the Museum of Surrey about the early days of Disney and the cartoonist Walt Disney. The museum is now accepting applications for its 2022 Community Treasures exhibition. (Photo: Submitted)
Museum of Surrey wants to spotlight local organizations and clubs

Museum now accepting applications for its 2022 Community Treasures exhibit

Musician Dana Vande is seen in a screenshot from a music video on Youtube. Vande recently released a pro-lockdown track in response to an Eric Clapton and Van Morrison anti-lockdown track.
Cloverdale musician writes pandemic response song to Van Morrison and Eric Clapton

Dana Vande answers a Clapton-Morrison anti-lockdown track with a pro-lockdown track

Delta Police Constable Jason Martens and Dezi, a nine-year-old German Shepherd that recently retired after 10 years with Delta Police. (Photo submitted)
Delta Police dog retires on a high note after decade of service

Nine-year-old German Shepherd now fights over toys instead of chasing down bad guys

Surrey RCMP Constable Mike Della-Paolera as seen in a cut-out used for the detachment’s Operation Double Take program. (File photo)
Surrey’s tall ‘Operation Double Take’ cop is on the move

Cut-out of Constable Mike Della-Paolera used in program to curb speeding and dangerous driving

Family and friends of Hudson Brooks marched as part of a call for answers from an IIO investigation into his 2015 death. (Black Press Media files)
Inquest to look into RCMP shooting death of Hudson Brooks

Charges agains the RCMP officer who shot Brooks were stayed in 2019

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check in the early morning of June 4, 2020, in Edmundston, N.B. (Facebook)
Frustrated family denied access to B.C. Indigenous woman’s police shooting report

Independent investigation into B.C. woman’s fatal shooting in New Brunswick filed to Crown

Nurses collect samples from a patient in a COVID suspect room in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
5 British Columbians under 20 years old battled COVID-19 in ICU in recent weeks

Overall hospitalizations have fallen but young people battling the virus in hospital has increased

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Canada released proposed regulations Jan. 2 for the fisheries minister to maintain Canada’s major fish stocks at sustainable levels and recover those at risk. (File photo)
New laws would cement DFO accountability to depleted fish stocks

Three B.C. salmon stocks first in line for priority attention under proposed regulations

Trees destroyed a Shoreacres home during a wind storm Jan. 13, 2021. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay woman flees just before tree crushes house

Pamala DeRosa is thankful to be alive

Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue had a helicopter rescue in Golden Ears Park on Saturday. (Special to The News)
Helicopter Rescue in Golden Ears park

Ridge Meadows search team assists injured hiker

Singletree Winery in Abbotsford has opened two domes where customers can enjoy wine tastings and local goodies. (Photo by Megan Ashley Creative)
Abbotsford winery first in Fraser Valley to open wine-tasting domes

Singletree Winery offers two themed transparent enclosures

Gin, one of the Kantymirs’ two sheep. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)
Sheep start up ATV, sit in cars and go for walks in Salmon Arm

Until they bought two sheep, Ken and Karleen Kantymir didin’t realize just how social the animals are

Most Read