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COVID-19: Italy quarantines north in bid to slow spread of coronavirus


The latest:

Italy took a page from China’s playbook over the weekend, attempting to lock down 16 million people — more than a quarter of its population — for nearly a month to halt the relentless march of the novel coronavirus across Europe.

Weddings and museums, movie theatres and shopping malls are all affected by the new restrictions, which focus on a swath of northern Italy but are disrupting daily life around the country.

Confusion reigned after the quarantine was announced, with residents and tourists from Venice to Milan trying to figure out how and when the new measures would be put into practice. Travellers crammed aboard standing-room-only trains, tucking their faces into scarves and sharing sanitizing gel.

After mass testing uncovered more than 7,300 infections, Italy now has registered more cases of the virus than any country but China, where the disease is in retreat. The death toll in the country rose to 366.

On Monday, the Italian government urged the European Union to adopt a package of measures to counter the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the economies of the block.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said Monday the government would further increase spending in a “massive shock  therapy” to offset the economic impact of the epidemic.

Around the globe, more and more events were cancelled or hidden behind closed doors, from the Pope’s Sunday service to a Formula One car race in Bahrain to a sumo competition in Japan, where wrestlers arrived at the arena in face masks and were required to use hand sanitizer before entering.

Here’s a look at what’s happening in Canada, the U.S. and hard-hit regions around the world.

Here’s what’s happening in Canada

In Canada, as of early Monday morning health officials in four provinces had reported 67 confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19.

Ontario’s health ministry on Sunday reported three new cases of COVID-19. Peel Public Health, which covers a large area north and west of Toronto, announced a man in his 50s who had recently returned from Germany had tested positive for COVID-19.

Quebec has reported a total of four confirmed and presumptive cases. The most recent patient — reported in the Montérégie region, southeast of Montreal — had recently returned from a cruise, officials said. 

Alberta has reported three presumptive and one confirmed case of COVID-19. Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, has said all of the cases of COVID-19 in the province to date are travel-related.

B.C. has reported 27 cases.

“We’ve seen the progression around the world, we’ve seen what’s happened in other communities, and we’re preparing as best we can for that,” Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s public health officer, said on Saturday.

Here’s what’s happening in the U.S.

Questions grew about whether to maintain U.S. presidential campaign rallies and other potential “super-spreading” gatherings, as the virus enters new states.

In Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown declared a 60-day state of emergency on Sunday as coronavirus cases in the state doubled to 14.

“We will do everything in our power to keep Oregonians safe,” Brown said at a news conference. 

Media reports put the number of cases in the U.S. at over 500.

Here’s what’s happening in Iran and the Middle East

In the Mideast, there have been over 7,000 confirmed cases, with the vast majority in hard-hit Iran, which has seen 194 reported deaths. Experts worry Iran may be underreporting its cases.

The new virus has caused major economic disruptions, including in global aviation, which has helped slow demand for oil. An OPEC meeting with Russia last week failed to see countries agree to a production cut. In response, Saudi Arabia has warned it will increase its production and slash its own prices to claw back market share.

Saudi Arabia closed off air and sea travel to nine countries affected by the novel coronavirus Monday as Mideast stock markets tumbled over fears about the widening outbreak’s effect on the global economy.

Qatar announced on Monday it was suspending schools and universities from Tuesday, March 10, to control the coronavirus outbreak, according to the state news agency.

Iran has released approximately 70,000 prisoners because of the coronavirus outbreak in the country, Iranian judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi said on Monday, according to Mizan, the news site of the judiciary.

Here’s what’s happening in Europe

France had 1,126 confirmed coronavirus cases and 19 deaths as of Sunday evening and the outbreak is having a growing impact on the euro zone’s second-biggest economy.

Germany on Monday reported 210 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, the Robert Koch Institute said.

Peter Keck, left, a spokesperson for the Esslingen district administration, poses from a car for photographers to demonstrate how the new drive-in for tests of the novel coronavirus works in Nuertingen, southern Germany. (Thomas Kienzle/AFP/Getty Images)

The number of cases in Germany rose to 1,112, up from 902 reported on Sunday.

In the U.K., Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to chair an emergency meeting on the virus. As of Sunday, there were 278 cases in the country, the BBC reported

Here’s what’s happening in Japan and South Korea

In South Korea, officials reported 165 new coronavirus cases, bringing the national tally to 7,478, while the death toll rose by one to 51. The numbers showed the rate of increase in new infections fell to its lowest level in 11 days in one of the most severely affected countries outside mainland China.

South Korean soldiers prepare to do work at an apartment complex that is under isolation amid mass infection of coronavirus disease reported in Daegu, South Korea. (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters)

A Japan Airlines Co Ltd. cabin attendant has tested positive for coronavirus, the airline said on Monday, the latest case in what has become a widening outbreak for Japan.

The infection comes after local media reported that one person in Kanagawa prefecture had died from the virus, bringing the country’s death toll so far to 15, including seven from the quarantined cruise ship near Tokyo.

Here’s what’s happening in China

Mainland China, outside Hubei province, reported no new locally transmitted cases for the second straight day, as a senior Communist Party official warned against reducing vigilance against the disease and of the risk to social stability.

“We must stay cautious, not be blindly optimistic and must not have war-weariness…,” said Chen Yixin, secretary general of the Communist Party’s Politics and Law Commission.

“We should not reduce the vigilance against the epidemic and the requirements of prevention and control.”

China had 40 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections on Sunday, the National Health Commission said on Monday, down from 44 cases a day earlier, and the lowest number since the health authority started publishing nationwide data on Jan. 20.

Of the new cases on Sunday, 36 were new infections in Wuhan, the provincial capital of Hubei, while the remaining four in Gansu province were imported from Iran.

The total number of imported cases hit 67, including the four Gansu cases.

Here’s a look at some other areas of concern around the world

A government worker disinfects a high school in Manila on Monday amid concerns about the spread of COVID-19. (Maria Tan/AFP/Getty Images)

  • The Philippine president has declared a state of public health emergency throughout the country after health officials confirmed over the weekend the first local transmission of the novel coronavirus.

  • Nigeria has a second confirmed coronavirus case, the country’s health minister said on Twitter on Monday. The first case was an Italian man who travelled to the southwestern state of Ogun.

  • Singapore will allow the Costa Fortuna cruise ship to dock on Tuesday, after it was rejected by Thailand and Malaysia.
     
  • Indonesia says the number of confirmed cases of people infected with the coronavirus had risen by 13, including 11 Indonesians and two foreigners, taking the total number of cases to 19 in the Southeast Asian country.
     
  • A special North Korean flight believed to be carrying dozens of diplomats and other foreigners has arrived in Russia’s Far East as the country tightens its lockdown to fend off the coronavirus. North Korea has not publicly confirmed a single case of the COVID-19 illness, but its state media have indicated thousands of people have been quarantined. North Korea lifted a month-long quarantine on foreign diplomats last week, allowing them to leave the country if needed.

 



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