Your Monday Briefing – The New York Times

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany has gone into isolation because her doctor tested positive for the new coronavirus, and her cabinet plans to make 150 billion euros in emergency funds available today for dealing with the pandemic. Here are the latest updates on the virus and maps of where it has spread.

Germany’s aid package represents the first time the country has taken on debt since adopting a balanced-budget law after the 2008 financial crisis. It’s yet another sign of growing urgency across the Continent — particularly in Spain, which has nearly a third of Europe’s 100,000-plus confirmed cases.

Initial missteps by officials in Italy have underscored the importance of early, strict isolation measures. Yet the stringent new measures being hastily imposed from Berlin to Barcelona still may not be enough to stop the virus from overwhelming more health systems. On Saturday, Italy reported 793 additional deaths, the biggest single-day toll of any country so far.

Other news from Europe and beyond:

  • Spain’s Parliament is expected to approve the government’s request to extend a national state of emergency until at least April 11. Lorenzo Sanz, the former president of the soccer powerhouse Real Madrid, died on Saturday after contracting the virus.

  • A 5.3-magnitude earthquake hit that just north of Zagreb, Croatia, on Sunday, injuring at least 17 people, has complicated the country’s efforts to respond to the outbreak.

  • Germany barred groups of more than two people from gathering, except for families, while Britain closed its pubs and schools.

  • The Palestinian authorities reported the first two coronavirus cases in the densely populated Gaza Strip, where aid workers say the virus’s spread could quickly lead to a public health disaster.

  • Canada said it would not send its athletes to the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, after the International Olympic Committee announced that it would decide within four weeks whether to delay or scale down the Games.

  • Early evidence suggests that a lost or reduced sense of smell, along with a loss of taste, are significant symptoms associated with Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Video: Three doctors and a nurse in a hard-hit region of Italy describe what they faced as the epidemic escalated.

By the time officials from China locked down Wuhan and acknowledged that the virus could spread among humans, it was too late: Local outbreaks had already been seeded around the world.

Our data journalists analyzed the movements of hundreds of millions of people to show why the most extensive travel restrictions in human history were unable to prevent a pandemic. Researchers believe that about 85 percent of infected travelers went undetected, even though they were still contagious.

Yesterday: The World Health Organization’s top emergency expert said that countries would beat the virus only if their lockdowns and travel restrictions were accompanied by rigorous efforts to find and isolate not only infected people but their contacts as well.

Looking back: One of our former correspondents examined notable epidemics of the past century, like the Spanish Flu and Ebola. “Globalization may have bound humanity in uneven chains of trade and profit,” he writes, “but it did not dissolve the primal fear of uncontrolled pestilence that has burrowed into human consciousness over millenniums.”

Religion is the solace of first resort for billions of people grappling with the coronavirus. “In times of hardship, fear or panic,” an Egyptian pilgrim said, “either you think, ‘How can God do this to us?’ or you run to Him for protection and for guidance, to make it all make sense.”

But communal gatherings, the keystone of so much religious practice, are now a clear threat to public health. And religious fervor has led some people toward cures that have no grounding in science.

Above, a woman pours water over a statue of Buddha in Myanmar, where a prominent Buddhist monk has said that a dose of one lime and three palm seeds would confer immunity to the virus.

Prisoner swap: Iran has released the French academic Roland Marchal, a French official said. In return, France has released an Iranian engineer who was detained over accusations that he had violated U.S. sanctions against Tehran, Iranian state media reported.

On Soccer: Liverpool was hoping to finally win the Premier League championship this season. Here’s how the dream fell apart.

Snapshot: Above, María Castillo de Lima, a singer at Argentina’s premier opera house, has turned what began as a drag persona into a permanent identity. Now she’s singing in the soprano range without resorting to a falsetto — and delighting critics in the process.

Question: How do we talk about travel when it’s grinding to a halt? Our Travel desk is compiling its first reader-generated “36 Hours” column.

What we’re watching: This video on Twitter. “It’s a bunch of Italian mayors and local leaders lashing out at people who are not obeying the decrees demanding that people stay at home,” writes Jason Horowitz, our Rome bureau chief, who has covered the coronavirus pandemic even through his own quarantine. “I did love this.”

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted all of the systems that keep our lives running. Add to that the pressures of work (and holding onto a job) in an increasingly precarious economy.

Those strains, felt across the world, were echoed in text exchanges between the editor of our gender initiative, Francesca Donner, and Corinne Purtill, a journalist based in Los Angeles. The two women have five children between them.

Francesca: “First things first: How do you maintain a sense of control when you’re WFH? Is there a daily routine? Do you get dressed every day?”

Corinne: “All good questions. If you take away one key point from this conversation, it should be this: Put on pants. Real pants. Every day.”

That was not Corinne’s only resonant piece of advice. “Days home with small children should be approached like airplane flights with small children,” she wrote. “Whatever it takes to get through it, do it, as long as they’re safe and not hurting anyone. We’re going to have to stretch some of our rules here.”

That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.

— Mike

Thank you
To Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford for the break from the news. You can reach the team at

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