What’s Happening: People separated, China closing Everest


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 sporting events.

These are some of the latest developments on Thursday:


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.


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. Many of the customers were actually working for food delivery services, which have seen such a huge spike in demand that some have stopped taking new orders.


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.


Amid the fears and the quarantines, it’s been easy to ignore that 60,000 people have recoveredfrom the coronavirus spreading around the world. A few patients with the virus who were interviewed by The Associated Press described symptoms that were no stronger than a regular cold or flu, while some had no symptoms at all. The disease can cause varying degrees of illness and is especially troublesome for older adults and people with existing health problems. But coronavirus creates only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, for most of those infected, and the vast majority recover. The number of cases worldwide has surpassed 120,000


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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