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Italy: Coronavirus Death Toll Spikes To 366, Lockdown Takes Effect


Italy’s coronavirus death toll spiked Sunday by 133 to 366, the most in any country outside China.

With the growing health risks, Rome imposed a new emergency decree, locking down the northern part of the country with a quarter of Italy’s population.

That includes the Lombardy region and the financial capital, Milan. In addition, Italy is closing off 14 other provinces, including Veneto, home of Venice.

Travel into and out the areas will be highly restricted until early next month, as the country seeks to slow the tide of fatalities from the virus. Museums, theaters, cinemas and other entertainment venues have also been ordered to close.

Italy has also asked retired doctors to return to service to help treat coronavirus victims.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization said that 100 countries are now reporting coronavirus cases with more than 106,000 people reported as being ill, while deaths have surpassed 3,500.

“While very serious, this should not discourage us,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “There are many things everyone, everywhere can and should do now.”

Tedros praised Italy for “taking bold, courageous steps aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus (and) protecting their country. They are making genuine sacrifices.” He said the WHO “stands in solidarity” with Italy and “is here to continue supporting you.”

In the U.S., where there have been at least 19 deaths, U.S. President Donald Trump said on Twitter, “We have a perfectly coordinated and fin- tuned plan at the White House for our attack on CoronaVirus. We moved VERY early to close borders to certain areas, which was a Godsend. V.P. is doing a great job. The Fake News Media is doing everything possible to make us look bad. Sad!”

Surgeon General Jerome Adams told CNN that U.S. health officials want Americans, especially older people, to “rethink getting on a cruise or a long-haul flight” in an effort to limit their risk of being confined with someone who might have the coronavirus.

Adams said that by Monday the U.S. expects to have 2 million test kits available.

“If you’re health care provider thinks you need a test, you’ll get it,” he said.

Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, urged Americans to take the threat of the coronavirus seriously.

“You have to look at any large gathering” and consider the possible consequences of attending, he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” show, and specifically advised against going on a cruise vacation.

The Grand Princess cruise ship, which has at least 21 cases of coronavirus, is scheduled to dock in Oakland, California, Monday. The ship has been held at sea since last week when San Francisco refused to allow it to return there because of the outbreak. It is carrying more than 3,500 passengers and crew.

Nearly 1,000 Californians on board, will be quarantined for 14 days at military bases in California, Georgia and Texas, where they will be monitored for COVID-19. The ship carried passengers from 54 countries, and the State Department is working to send several hundred foreign passengers home.

France, which has also had 19 deaths and 1,126 cases as of Sunday, is banning events of more than 1,000 people in hopes of slowing the spread of the coronavirus.

Across the English Channel, Great Britain reported its largest one-day increases in confirmed cases: 273 cases, up by 64 cases, or 30%. A third person has died.

Iran said Sunday the coronavirus has killed 49 more people, an increase of 25%, in the last 24 hours, bringing its death toll to 194. The country has 6,566 confirmed cases.

In China, a hotel used to quarantine people who had had been exposed to the virus collapsed Sunday. At least 10 people were killed and 23 are missing. The virus first erupted in China late last year.

Saudi Arabia announced early Sunday it was suspending classes and activities at mosques starting Monday. It reported later the closure of a winter wonderland and the shopping and entertainment district of Riyadh boulevard because of the virus. It reported four more cases, for a total of 11.

Bahrain announced Sunday that Formula One’s Bahrain Grand Prix will be run March 22 without spectators; it will be televised only.  

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