Hello Australia!! - New concerns over the US response to Covid-19 - Other nations take measures to stop the coronavirus' spread - A victory for green activists - And more in your CareerSpot Global News Briefs:

Saudi Arabia is banning some religious pilgrims, Japan is canceling school for a month, and Pope Francis has come down with a bad cough - just some of the latest developments in the Covid-19 outbreak.  Saudi Arabia's decision to ban visitors from countries with Covid-19 coronavirus cases could interrupt the travel plans of thousands of Muslims making the Umrah pilgrimage, which could be made any time of the year.  It's still undetermined if this ban will still be in place at the time of the Hajj, which is considered a mandatory pilgrimage and attracts millions of people to Mecca every year.  

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is asking all of Japan's elementary, junior high, and high schools to close from Monday through spring break, which typically ends in early April.  "The government attaches the top priority to the health and safety of children, among others," Mr. Abe said.  The number of confirmed COVID-19 virus patients in Japan keeps surging, with more than 200 patients outside of the earlier outbreak aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship off Yokohama which countered more than 700 infections.

The Vatican says Pope Francis is sticking with more of his schedule after he was seen coughing and sniffling at Ash Wednesday services.  Italy is definitely Europe' hardest hit country when it comes to the coronavirus - 400 cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed and twelve people have died, mostly in the northern Lombardy region.  Several people were seen wearing protective masks in Saint Peter's Square, although only one person wore one during the Pope's service.  Pope Francis is generally believed to be in good health, although he lost part of one lung because of tuberculosis during his early 20s in his native Buenos Aires.  

There is concern over the US response to the coronavirus after a series of blunders and odd decisions from the Trump administration.  Trump has been accused of playing down the seriousness of the Covid-19 threat, and has been angry about the stock market's negative reaction to the outbreak.  To that end, the Dow Jones plunged for a fourth consecutive day on Thursday in the US, closing at around 25,766 and wiping out all gains since 27 August of last year.  Trump's attempt to project an aura of control over the situation in yesterday's news conference was called "a little incoherent" as he contradicted his own health officials and expressed amazement at people catching the flu.

Trump put Vice President Mike Pence in charge of the US response to Covid-19, which opened its own can of worms.  Pence had come under intense criticism when he was governor of the state of Indiana over his horrid response to an HIV outbreak.  A Yale University study concluded that 90 percent of an outbreak 200 HIV infections in Indiana's poorest county could have been prevented if Pence had relented on his "moral objection" to a needle-exchange program for drug addicts.  Even after he eventually relented, he refused to allow it in the rest of the state.  Pence, an evangelical christian, is also a climate change denier and doesn't believe smoking cigarettes causes cancer.  His time in office ended with Indiana charting abnormally high rates of smokingobesity, and infant mortality.  

Anyway..

United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet is demanding "unfettered access" for her and her team if Beijing allows them to visit the Xinjiang region later this year.  Rights activists say China has basically turned the entire territory into a giant prison camp, with "re-education centers" that are actually prison labor facilities.  Xinjiang is home to the Uighur Muslim minority, some of whom are demanding more autonomy from Beijing while others are calling for independence.

Environmental activists won a big one in the UK, after Britain's High Court of Appeal nixed the government proposed third runway at Heathrow Airport.  "The Paris Agreement ought to have been taken into account," said judge Keith Lindblom in declaring the project illegal, "and an explanation given as to how it was taken into account, but it was not."  Campaigners are calling on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to cancel the project altogether.

A fired employee grabbed two guns, entered the 165-year old Miller brewery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (now called Molson-Coors), and killed five people before he took his own life.  This the eleventh mass murder since 2004 in Wisconsin, a state that used to be known for producing much of America's cheese and beer.