World's 'fifth-largest economy' on lockdown in COVID-19 crisis
The most heavily populated state in the US has been issued a full "shelter in place" order, with tens of millions of people ordered to stay home except for essential travel.
California, with a population of about 40 million (compared to Australia's 24.6 million), received the order from Governor Gavin Newsom just today.
The order could have unforeseen effects on the state's gigantic economy.
Ranked as a hypothetical country, California's economy was found to be the fifth-largest in the world in 2018, eclipsing Britain and India.
"Those that work in critical sectors should go to work. Grocery stores, pharmacies, banks and more will stay open," Gov. Newsom tweeted.
"We need to meet this moment and flatten the curve together."
Law enforcement will not arrest violators of the order, he said in a news conference today.
"I don't believe the people of California need to be told through law enforcement that it's appropriate just to home isolate, protect themselves," he told reporters.
It comes as the number of cases in California and the United States skyrocket.
The number of reports of positive tests has gone from a few thousand on Sunday to more than 13,000 as more people are infected and more people with COVID-19 find out through testing they have the disease.
Italy, with 60 million citizens, has recorded a total of at least 3405 deaths, or roughly 150 more than in China, a country with a population over 20 times larger.
Health authorities cited a variety of reasons for Italy's high toll, key among them its large population of elderly people, who are particularly susceptible to serious complications from the virus. Italy has the world's second-oldest population, and the vast majority of its dead — 87 per cent — were over 70.
the leader of a delegation from the Chinese Red Cross openly castigated Italians for failing to take the country's national lockdown seriously.
On a visit to the hard-hit city of Milan, Sun Shuopeng said he was shocked to see so many people walking around, using public transportation and eating out in hotels.
"Right now we need to stop all economic activity, and we need to stop the mobility of people," he said. "All people should be staying at home in quarantine."
Worldwide the death toll crept toward 10,000 and the total number of infections topped 240,000, including nearly 85,000 people who have recovered.
Around the world, the British government, criticised as slow to react to the virus, shifted gears and drew up legislation giving itself new powers to detain people and restrict gatherings. The bill is expected to be approved by Parliament next week.
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe pleaded with people to keep their distance from one another to avoid spreading the virus, even as the crisis pushed them to seek comfort.
"When you love someone, you should avoid taking them in your arms," he said in Parliament.
In China, yesterday marked the first time since January 20 that the locked-down city of Wuhan, where thousands once lay sick or dying in hurriedly constructed hospitals, reported no new locally transmitted cases. Authorities said all 34 new cases recorded over the previous day had come from abroad.
"Today, we have seen the dawn after so many days of hard effort," Jiao Yahui, a senior inspector at the National Health Commission, said.
China has been criticised for both its draconian methods of locking down infected people, and for dealing in alleged untruths about the extent of the virus spread.
However, China is slowly coming back to life, with the government saying about 80 per cent of economic activity has been restored, although millions of workers remain stranded by travel bans. Beijing's tourism industry is still on hold, just as it should be ramping up for the summer season.
The World Health Organisation warned, though, that the virus is spreading quickly in Africa, from about five countries a week and a half ago to 35 of the continent's 54 nations — an "extremely rapid evolution," the World Health Organisation's Africa chief, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, said.
Reported with CNN and AP.