The Latest: Australian gov’t minister Dutton has new virus

The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic:

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Australia’s home affairs minister says he is infected with the new coronavirus.

Australian authorities have stepped up their response to the COVID-19 outbreak by recommending people avoid organized, nonessential gatherings of 500 or more from Monday and to reconsider all international travel.

Australia has more than 120 cases of infection with the virus that causes COVID-19. It is mild to moderate for most people but can be severe in older adults and those with existing health problems.

Dutton said Friday he was in isolation in a hospital after confirmation he has the virus.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he intended to attend a rugby league football match in Sydney on Saturday despite the government advise against large public gatherings.

Morrison announced his weekend sports plans before his Cabinet colleague Dutton revealed he was contagious. Opposition leader Anthony Albanese had already abandoned his plans to attend the same match because of the escalated health warnings.

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Chinese President Xi Jinping has told the U.N. that his nation wants to conduct joint research on drugs and vaccines and offer “as much assistance as it can” to countries where the novel coronavirus is spreading.

State media reported Friday that Xi told U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres by phone that economic and daily life are gradually returning to normal in China thanks to “arduous endeavors” at prevention and control.

Xi was quoted as saying: “The Chinese people will definitely prevail over the COVID-19 epidemic and will also definitely realize its intended targets for economic and social development.”

He was also quoted as saying that the Chinese people’s “hard work has won precious time for and made important contributions to other countries’ epidemic prevention and control.”

China, where the virus was first discovered, recorded just eight new infections on Friday.

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The Indonesian government is overseeing a campaign to clean 10,000 mosques around the country as part of its bid to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The cleaning campaign kicked off Friday at Istiqlal mosque in Jakarta and was witnessed by President Joko Widodo and other officials.

Indonesian Religious Affairs Minister Fachrul Razi called on officers at mosques nationwide to roll up the carpets and spray disinfectant. The minister also called on worshippers at mosques to avoid any form of physical contact.

Razi said: “We temporarily recommend not to doing hand shaking, kissing on the cheek or other body contact as it is the medium of the transmission.”

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Singapore has tightened measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus including expanding border controls, banning cruise ships and limiting mass gatherings.

From Sunday, travelers from Italy, Spain, France and Germany will not be allowed to enter the Southeast Asian city-state. Singapore earlier banned those from South Korea, Iran and China.

The Health Ministry said Friday that travelers who showed symptoms but tested negative for COVID-19 will now have to quarantine themselves at home for 14 days.

With immediate effect, it said Singapore will also cease port calls for all cruise vessels.

In addition, it said all ticketed cultural, sports and entertainment events with 250 participants or more are to be deferred or canceled. For all other mass gatherings, including private functions and religious services, it urged organizers to ensure precautionary measures are taken including registering details of participants for possible contact tracing.

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Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Categories: National News