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Travel

What’s Happening: Markets, Cruise Ships, Travel Chaos

March 9, 2020

ROME — More than half of the world’s countries have now reported a combined total of more than 110,000 cases of the new coronavirus. While most of the people infected so far — 62,000 — have recovered from the disease, the fast-spreading virus created spikes in deaths and infections around the world, including in Spain.

These are some of the latest developments on Monday:

MARKETS PLUNGE AMID VIRUS FEARS

Global stock markets and oil prices plunged and some warned that the risk of a global recession is growing. The main stock indexes in London, Frankfurt and on Wall Street in New York fell about 7%, a triggering a trading halt for 15 minutes on the U.S. exchange. Anxiety rose after Italy announced it was isolating cities and towns with 16 million people in its industrial and financial heartland. Global oil prices suffered their worst losses since the start of the 1991 Gulf War after OPEC nations and Russia could not agree last week on production cuts.

CHINA HAULS OUT ITS PROPAGANDA PLAYBOOK

The Communist Party in China has deployed its propaganda playbook to portray its leader as firmly in charge, leading an army of health workers in a “people’s war” against the new coronavirus. The main evening news on state TV regularly shows President Xi Jinping and his underlings giving instructions on fighting the outbreak or touring health facilities. Coverage also shows Chinese doctors and nurses on the front lines, drawing on a long Chinese tradition of upholding model workers and emphasizing sacrifices on behalf of the country and the party.

ITALY’S WIDE LOCKDOWN CAUSES CONFUSION, TENSIONS

Confusion reigned across northern Italy after the government imposed strict new limits on movements to contain the rapidly spreading virus in the epicenter of Europe’s outbreak. Travelers at Milan’s main train station had to sign police forms self-certifying that they were traveling for “proven work needs,” situations of necessity, health reasons or to return home. Police officers in masks checked tickets and documents as people lined up to reach the train tracks. Tensions in Italy’s overcrowded prisons erupted over new the coronavirus containment measures, with protests in at least two-dozen lock-ups. Six prisoners died after breaking into an infirmary and overdosing on methadone.

CRUISE SHIP WOES

Federal and state officials in California prepared to receive thousands of people from a cruise ship that has been idling off the coast with at least 21 infected people aboard. Fences were being installed at an 11-acre site at the port of Oakland, as authorities readied flights and buses to whisk the more than 2,000 passengers aboard the Grand Princess to military bases or their home countries for a 14-day quarantine. More than 3,500 people on the ship hail from 54 countries. California Gov. Gavin Newsom and the mayor of Oakland sought to reassure the U.S. public that no one would be exposed to the Grand Princess passengers.

SPAIN SEES SPIKE IN INFECTIONS, DEATHS

Spanish health authorities are considering new virus containment measures after infections skyrocketed in two areas in the past few days. Roughly half of the 904 infections in Spain were in the central region of Madrid, where infections have more than doubled in the past 24 hours, from 202 to 469. Deaths in the region, where much of the contagion is being seen in nursing homes and amid health workers, also shot up from eight to 16 overnight. The other big virus cluster in Spain is in the northern Basque country, where many infections have been tied to people who attended a funeral.

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