The United States might toughen movement restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus, with the country now reporting twice the number of cases as China where the outbreak began late last year.
US President Donald Trump told the media that guidelines on social distancing – encouraging people not to gather in groups of more than 10 and avoid dining out – would remain in force until the end of April, and said they could be “toughened a bit”.
The US has nearly 163,500 confirmed cases, the highest in the world. More than 3,000 people in the US have now died from COVID-19.
In the hard-hit countries of Europe, Italy reported the slowest daily rise in infections for two weeks, although the number of dead rose by 812. In Spain, an additional 800 deaths were reported.
Around the world, more than 784,000 people have been confirmed to have the virus, and nearly 165,000 have recovered. More than 37,500 people have died.
I’m Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur with Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.
Here are the latest updates.
Tuesday, March 31
04:00 GMT – Myanmar reports first COVID-19 death
Myanmar has reported its first death from the coronavirus – a 69-year-old man who also had cancer and died in a Yangon hospital.
The health ministry says the man had sought medical treatment in Australia and stopped in Singapore on his way home.
Myanmar has confirmed 14 cases of the virus, mostly in people who have travelled overseas.
03:45 GMT – Australia optimistic measures beginning to slow infections
Australia is optimistic that its strict measures on physical distancing are helping slow the spread of the coronavirus, but is urging people against complacency.
Health Minister Greg Hunt told a televised media conference the country had about 4,400 coronavirus cases, with the rate of growth in new infections slowing from 25-30 percent a week ago to an average of 9 percent over the past three days.
There were “early promising signs of the curve flattening,” Hunt said.
If you are wondering why the WHO has now begun using the term physical distancing rather than social distancing, Saba Aziz explains here.
03:15 GMT – WHO in Western Pacific urges region not to ‘let down guard’ in COVID-19
The WHO office for the Western Pacific is holding a virtual press conference on the outbreak in the region.
Regional Director Dr. Takeshi Kasai noted that while the region – outside China – had yet to see “large scale community transmission” he stressed the fight against the virus was a “long-term battle” requiring sustained contact tracing, physical distancing measures and the commitment of every single member of society.
“We cannot let down our guard,” he said.
02:40 GMT – ‘Stay away’: Japan puts 73 countries and territories off limits
Japan’s Foreign Ministry is urging citizens not to travel to 73 countries and regions, including the US, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
The country earlier announced new dates for the virus-delayed Tokyo Olympics. The summer games are now scheduled to start on 23 July next year.
— Tomoaki Ishigaki 石垣友明 (@TomoakiIshigaki) March 30, 2020
02:30 GMT – Spain to tighten movement restrictions from Tuesday
Spain is moving to tighten a three-week lockdown to slow the spread of the virus.
Healthcare workers account for about 14 percent of all those confirmed with the virus, which Jose Hernandez, an academic at the University of Cordoba told Al Jazeera “is arguably the most alarming news of all”.
Read more of Alasdair Fortheringham’s report from Granada here.
02:10 GMT – Mexico announces health emergency as cases climb past 1,000
Mexico’s government has announced a health emergency after the number of cases in the country passed 1,000 and deaths increased to 28.
All non-essential activities will be suspended until April 30, and the number of people allowed to gather limited to 50.
Health authorities are also urging vulnerable people and those over the age of 60 years old to observe stay-at-home recommendations.
01:30 GMT – First Catholic cardinal confirmed with COVID-19
Cardinal Angelo De Donatis has been diagnosed with the coronavirus, the first cardinal known to have the disease.
De Donatis, who is the vicar general of the Diocese of Rome, has been admitted to hospital, according to the Catholic News Agency.
The 66-year-old became a cardinal in 2018.
00:45 GMT – China reports 48 new cases
China has just released its daily coronavirus update, with 48 confirmed new cases.
The National Health Commission says all the cases came from overseas and there have been no new local infections.
China requires centralised quarantine for everyone arriving from overseas, and is maintaining strict distancing measures. State media is reminding people that those rules will be strictly enforced.
#COVID19 is far from ending, violations of regulations and law during the epidemic will be punished. Residents in Beijing are urged to strictly follow the epidemic control measures such as wearing masks, not gathering, not having meals together. pic.twitter.com/WfMGNeFqtF
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) March 31, 2020
00:30 GMT – Pentagon reports first coronavirus death of US soldier
The Pentagon has reported the first death of a US soldier from COVID-19.
The man was a New Jersey Army National Guardsman and had been in hospital since March 21.
Defense Secretary Mike Esper said it was a “sad day” for the country’s military and a “stinging loss”.
00:00 GMT – Indonesia urged to release ‘wrongfully held’ from overcrowded jails
Human Rights Watch (HRW) is urging Indonesia to release all those held ‘wrongfully’ in its jails, including all Papua political prisoners amid a growing risk of COVID-19 in the country’s overcrowded prisons.
HRW’s Indonesia researcher Andreas Harsono says the Ministry of Law and Human Rights, which manages the prison system, should also consider alternatives to detention for those nearing the end of their sentences and people jailed for minor offences such as failing to pay a fine.
Harsono says there were 270,000 people in prison as of March 23, more than double the system’s capacity. The trial of six West Papuan activists charged with treason is also continuing with more than 50 others on trial across the country.
Read all the updates from yesterday (March 30) here.