Italy orders all major sports events played without fans

UNTV News   •   March 5, 2020   •   1471

REUTERS – Italy has ordered all major sporting events throughout the country, including top-flight Serie A soccer games, to be played without fans for one month in a bid to curb Europe’s worst coronavirus outbreak.

The move, announced in a government decree, will also affect the Six Nations rugby international between Italy and England, due to be played in Rome on March 14, and the Champions League soccer match between Juventus and Olympique Lyonnais on March 17.

All schools and universities were closed on Wednesday (March 4) to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus in Italy where there have been more than 3,000 cases and the death toll has reached 107.

The ban on the public watching sports events, which had already been in force in three regions in the north but has now been extended nationwide, will last until April 3 at the earliest.

The decree said that “sports events and competitions of any order and discipline, carried out in any place, both public and private, are suspended” but could go ahead if there were no spectators.

It added that “sports associations and clubs, through their own medical staff, are required to carry out appropriate checks to limit the risk of spreading (the coronavirus) among athletes, technicians, managers and all accompanying persons participating.”

Until now, Serie A has preferred to call off games in the affected regions rather than play them in empty stadiums and 10 matches have been postponed as well as this week’s two Coppa Italia semi-final ties.

However, after a meeting of club and Serie A representatives earlier on Wednesday, Inter Milan chief executive Giuseppe Marotta said that playing without fans could be the only way of finishing the Serie A season.

Marotta suggested that the six matches which had been postponed last week — including the heavyweight Juventus v Inter clash — could be rescheduled for the coming weekend.

Six Nations organisers have postponed the match between Ireland and Italy in Dublin on March 7 but said on Monday (March 2) that all other games would go ahead, including Italy’s game against England in Rome, which was not affected by the original ban in the northern regions.

The organisers and the Italian rugby federation could not immediately be reached for comment.

UEFA has said it is in constant contact with local authorities and decisions over whether games should be played behind closed doors, or postponed, would be taken at the last minute.

(Production: Stefan Haskins)

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Philippines includes China, 4 other countries in travel ban list

Marje Pelayo   •   January 12, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang announced Tuesday (January 12) that the Philippine government is expanding its travel ban to include China and four other countries amid threats of a new coronavirus (COVID-19) variant.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that apart from China, travelers from Pakistan, Jamaica, Luxembourg and Oman are also not allowed to enter the country starting Wednesday (January 13) to Friday (January 15).

The expansion of travel restriction is part of the country’s measures to prevent the entry of new variants of coronavirus that were initially reported affecting residents in the United Kingdom and South Africa.

With five additional nations on the list, the Philippines so far has banned flights to and from 33 countries.

READ: PH expands entry restrictions, bans travelers from the US effective Jan. 3

However, the government clarified that Filipinos coming from the said countries may be allowed entry subject to a 14-day absolute facility-based quarantine period. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Pyongyang disinfects the city after North Korea introduced tougher curbs against coronavirus

UNTV News   •   July 29, 2020

North Korea’s state-run television on Tuesday (July 28) released a video of Pyongyang workers disinfecting the city as the state introduced tougher curbs against the coronavirus, after it locked down the town Kaesong, on the border with the South, to tackle what could be its first publicly confirmed infection.

Strict quarantine measures and the screening of districts were in progress and test kits, protective clothing and medical equipment were being supplied, the North’s KCNA state news agency said.

The measures come after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared an emergency on Sunday (July 26) after a person who defected to South Korea three years ago returned across the highly fortified demilitarised zone (DMZ) to Kaesong this month with symptoms of COVID-19, KCNA reported.

Reclusive North Korea had reported testing 1,211 people for the virus as of July 16 with all returning negative results, the World Health Organisation said in a statement sent to Reuters. The report said 696 nationals were under quarantine. (Reuters)

(Production: Minwoo Park)

Trump shifts rhetoric, warns virus is getting worse and urges use of masks

UNTV News   •   July 22, 2020

President Donald Trump warned Americans on Tuesday (July 21) that the toll from the novel coronavirus would get worse before it got better, and encouraged Americans to wear a mask if they cannot maintain social distance from people around them.

In his first briefing in months focused on the pandemic, Trump told reporters at the White House that the virus would probably get worse before it gets better, in one of his first recent acknowledgments of how bad the problem has become.

“Some areas of our country are doing very well. Others are doing less well. It will probably, unfortunately, get worse before it gets better – something I don’t like saying about things, but that’s the way it is,” he said.

In a shift in rhetoric, Trump encouraged Americans to wear masks, and pulled a mask out of his pocket, saying he carries it around.

“I mean I carry the mask,” he said, before reaching into his pocket and pulling out a blue face mask. “And I will use it gladly, no problem with it, and I’ve said that. And I say, if you can, use the mask. When you can, use the mask. If you’re close to each other, if you’re in a group, I would put it on when I’m in a group.”

Trump, who downplayed the virus in its early stages and has been focused on reopening the economy in recent months despite an increase in cases, has been reluctant to wear a mask himself in public. He wore one for the first time in public during a recent visit to a military hospital but has otherwise eschewed putting one on in front of the press.

Mask-wearing has become a partisan issue, with some Trump supporters saying being required to do infringes on their liberties.

As coronavirus cases skyrocket across the country, including in politically important states such as Florida, Texas and Arizona, the president is shifting his tone to try to get the number of cases under control as he fights for re-election against Democrat Joe Biden, who leads in opinion polls ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

He urged young Americans to avoid crowded bars where the virus could spread.

“We are imploring young Americans to avoid packed bars and other crowded indoor gatherings. Be safe and be smart,” he said.

Trump again argued that the virus would disappear at some point, but most of his comments on Tuesday were largely a sober recognition of how bad the problem has become.

Trump sought to leave some optimism about scientific developments in vaccines and treatments even as he acknowledged the grim statistics at present.

When asked if the U.S. would cooperate with China on a vaccine, Trump, who several times called the virus “the China virus” during the news conference, said Washington would.

“Yeah, we’re willing to work with anybody that’s going to get us a good result. We’re very close to the vaccine. I think we’re going to have some very good results,” he said.

Nearly 142,000 Americans have died from COVID-19. (Reuters)

(Production: Arlene Eiras)

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