For the first time, there's been an acknowledgment from the Japanese Prime Minister that the Tokyo Olympic Games may have to be postponed because of coronavirus. Shinzo Abe told parliament a delay might have to be considered if safety could not be guaranteed. From Tokyo, here's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes. Prime Minister Abe's statement is an acknowledgement of what has been obvious to many here in Japan for some time. The COVID-19 pandemic means the Tokyo Games probably cannot go ahead on time in July. Mr. Abe's statement came hours after the International Olympic Committee had said it was making contingency plans, including the possibility of postponing the games. But Mr. Abe and the IOC say no final decision will be made for another month. That is still too slow for some countries. Canada's Olympic Committee has now declared it will not send a team to the Tokyo Games unless they are postponed by at least a year. Other National Olympic Committees may now follow.
The authorities in South Korea have reported the lowest number of new daily coronavirus cases since infection rates peak four weeks ago, fuelling hope that Asia's worst outbreak outside China may be easing up. From Seoul, Laura Bicker. 64 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in South Korea in the last 24 hours, the lowest number of daily new infections since the virus peaked on February 29. 111 people have died, which is also one of the lowest fatality rates in the world. The government is urging the country to maintain infection control measures such as social distancing for the next 15 days. Emergency alerts have been issued to call on people to stay away from places which encourage mass gathering, such as churches, karaoke rooms, night clubs, and gyms.
Bipartisan talks have been continuing at the United States Senate in an effort to agree on a huge coronavirus stimulus bill. The Republican majority leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, has said that unless a deal is reached with Democrats later on Monday, he will force the chamber to vote on the matter. It's not clear how that process would work with several Republicans in self-isolation.
New Zealand is to shut all non-essential services, schools and offices over the next 48 hours, and bars, cafes, restaurants and cinemas will be forced to close. New Zealand's Finance Minister Grant Robertson said he was aware of people's economic worries. We will make sure that all New Zealanders continue to receive some form of income through this period. The priority of our government is the health and wellbeing of our people, and we will do what it takes to keep everybody safe. We are all in this together.
This is the latest world news from the BBC.
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