Italy records highest single toll from coronavirus: Live updates

Coronavirus kills 168 more people in Italy in a day, raising death toll to 631, as Morocco, Lebanon confirm 1st deaths.

Coronavirus has killed 168 more people in Italy in the past 24 hours, the highest toll in a single day since the start of the outbreak in the country.

The whole of Italy – a country of some 60 million people – was placed under quarantine as the government stepped up efforts to tackle the coronavirus outbreak that has killed 631 people and affected more than 10,000.


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Globally, more than 4,000 people have died from the coronavirus and over 113,000 cases have been confirmed, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). About 64,000 people have recovered around the world. 

Here are the latest updates:

Tuesday, March 10

22:20 GMT – Turkey confirms first coronavirus case

Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said that one male patient was diagnosed with the novel coronavirus after going through testing, Reuters news agency reported. 

It is the country’s first confirmed case of the coronavirus. 

Koca said the person is in isolation and family members of the patient are under observation. 

22:00 GMT – Pence confirms Trump’s stimulus proposal includes payroll tax relief 

US Vice President Mike Pence confirmed that the stimulus proposal President Donald Trump discussed with lawmakers included payroll tax relief.

Pence also said the Trump administration wants small and mid-size businesses to have resources to provide paid family leave to workers. 

21:08 GMT – Honduras suspends deportation flights 

Honduras has deportation flights from Mexico, a senior official told reporters, citing coronavirus fears. 

Reuters news agency reported that Foreign Minister Nelly Jerez said the flights will be stopped because Honduras does not have the capacity to quarantine people who may be infected at the airport. 

Bus deportations, however, will not be affected. 

20:30 GMT – Bernie Sanders cancels Cleveland rally over coronavirus concerns

US Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has canceled a rally in Cleveland over concerns about holding large public gatherings during the coronavirus outbreak.

“Out of concern for public health and safety, we are canceling tonight’s rally in Cleveland,” campaign spokesman Mike Casca said in a statement.

“We are heeding the public warnings from Ohio state officials, who have communicated concern about holding large, indoor events during the coronavirus outbreak,” he said.

“All future Bernie 2020 events will be evaluated on a case by case basis.”

19:55 GMT – EU pledges $28bn to tackle coronavirus crisis

The European Commission will set up an EU fund worth 25 billion euros ($28bn) to tackle the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus outbreak, the head of the EU executive branch said. 

Speaking after an emergency video conference of EU leaders, Ursula von der Leyen said the investment fund should be financed with 7.5 billion euros of EU money and help vulnerable sectors of the economy.

“This instrument will reach 25 billion euros quickly. To realise this I will propose to council and parliament this week to release 7.5 billion euros of investment liquidity,” von der Leyen told a news conference in Brussels.

19:32 GMT – Air Canada suspends Italy flights

Air Canada, the country’s flag carrier, has halted all flights to and from Italy over the coronavirus outbreak, until at least May 1.  

The airline’s last flight to Rome is scheduled to take off from Toronto on Tuesday, with the final return flight departing Rome for Montreal on Wednesday. All affected affected customers will be notified and offered a full refund, it said. 

Air Canada said regulations and “ongoing health and safety concerns” prompted the decision.

19:21 GMT – Algeria suspends political, sports gatherings

Algeria has suspended economic, cultural and political gatherings to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Health Minister Abderrahmane Benbouzid said. 

The sports ministry earlier announced the postponement of all international sports gatherings and said local sports events would be played behind closed doors.

So far, Algeria has confirmed 20 cases of coronavirus.

18:47 GMT – New York sending in National Guard to control virus

New York’s governor announced he is sending the National Guard into a New York City suburb to help fight what is believed to be the nation’s biggest cluster of coronavirus cases.

Schools, houses of worship and large gathering places will be closed for two weeks in a “containment area” centered in New Rochelle, and the troops will scrub surfaces and deliver food to the zone, which extends a mile in all directions from a point near a synagogue connected to some of the cases, Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

18:35 GMT – Trump, Democrats at odds over coronavirus economic proposals

United States President Donald Trump and Congress are moving towards new legislation to support the US economy with competing priorities.

Democrats in the US House of Representatives want to focus any legislation on helping families that may be hurt by school and workplace closures.

Trump and Republicans in the Senate, meanwhile, have promoted the idea of a temporary elimination of payroll taxes as a way to boost the economy – a plan many Democrats have dismissed.

Read more here. 

18:10 GMT – Pentagon says coronavirus cases likely higher than official count

The US military’s official tally of service members and related personnel who have been infected by the coronavirus likely undercounts the actual total, the Pentagon acknowledged, as a second service member in the United States tested positive for the virus.

“I think that it is likely, given what we are seeing around the world, and the fact that we have people all over the world, that there are more,” Joint Staff Surgeon Air Force Brigadier General Paul Friedrichs told a Pentagon news briefing.

18:05 GMT – Portugal suspends flights to and from Italy 

Portugal’s government suspended all passenger flights to and from Italy for 14 days starting on Wednesday as a preventative measure to stem the spread of coronavirus, it said in a statement.

On Monday the government suspended flights to Italy’s most affected northern regions, but it now said that “after constant monitoring of the evolution of the epidemic and following Italy’s decision to put the country on quarantine, it was decided to expand the suspension to all Italian regions”.

17:18 GMT – Italy coronavirus deaths jump to 631

The death toll in Italy from the novel coronavirus has surged to 631 after 168 more fatalities were confirmed in the last 24 hours, according to officials.

It is the highest single-day toll to date since the outbreak started in the European country.

The total number of cases in Italy also rose to 10,149 from a previous 9,172, the Civil Protection Agency said.

17:00 GMT – Berlin cancels large cultural events over virus fears

Large cultural events in Berlin’s theatres, operas and concert houses will be cancelled from Wednesday to prevent coronavirus contagion, authorities in the German capital said.

The measure will remain in place until April 19, and will also affect concerts at the renowned Berlin Philharmonic, Berlin’s culture senator, Klaus Lederer, said, adding that it was “regrettable but one must assume the responsibility”.

15:33 GMT – Six new cases confirmed in Qatar

Six more coronavirus cases were confirmed in Qatar, the country’s health ministry said, taking the total number of infections in the Gulf state to 24.

All the new cases are expatriate residents, who have had contact with previously announced community cases, the ministry said in a statement. 

15:25 GMT – Germany v Italy friendly to be played without fans

Germany and Italy will play their international football friendly on March 31 in Nuremberg behind closed doors due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, Germany’s Football Association (DFB) said. 

The virus has already had an impact on German football with several Bundesliga games to be played without spectators. 

 Read more about how the virus has affected global sports. 

15:19 GMT – Greece shuts schools, universities for two weeks

Greece will shut schools, universities, daycare centres and other educational establishments for two weeks to contain the spread of the coronavirus, the health minister said.

14:36 GMT – Qatar bans shisha in all cafes and restaurants

Qatar has decided to prohibit the smoking of shisha in all cafes and restaurants in the country as a preventive measure against coronavirus, the Ministry of Public Health said.

“The decision comes in light of the current health conditions as well as in line with preventive measures to prevent infection with Coronavirus (COVID-19),” a ministry statement said.

So far, there are 18 confirmed cases of infection in Qatar. 

14:20 GMT – DRC confirms first coronavirus case

The Democratic Republic of the Congo has confirmed its first case of coronavirus in the capital Kinshasa, the health ministry said.

The patient is a Belgian citizen, who has been in the country for several days, Health Minister Eteni Longondo said, adding: “He is confined to a hospital.”

A second statement later issued by the health ministry said the patient is a Congolese citizen, who has been placed in quarantine. 

13:56 GMT – Morocco reports first coronavirus death

Morocco’s health ministry confirmed the country’s first death from coronavirus in Casablanca as its overall number of new infections rose to three.

The dead patient, who entered Morocco from Italy’s Bologna, is an 89-year-old Moroccan woman suffering from respiratory and heart diseases, the health ministry said in a statement.

Morocco cancelled all trips to and from Italy and banned fans from attending football matches, cancelled events involving foreign travellers and gatherings of more than 1,000 people as precautionary measures to avert an outbreak of the virus.

13:47 GMT – Sixth person dies in the UK, cases rise to 373

A sixth person has died from coronavirus in the United Kingdom, the health ministry said, as the number of confirmed cases increased to 373, up from 319 the day before

The octogenarian patient, who was being treated by West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust, had underlying health conditions, Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, said in a statement. 

13:40 GMT – Brunei reports five more coronavirus cases

Brunei said five more people had tested positive for the coronavirus after the tiny Southeast Asian nation reported its first case a day ago.

The first coronavirus patient in the sultanate was a 53-year-old Bruneian man who returned from the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur on March 3 and started showing symptoms four days later, Brunei’s health ministry said.

He was one of 90 Bruneians who attended a mass gathering of Islamic missionaries at a mosque in Kuala Lumpur. 

13:40 GMT – Spain cancels flights from Italy for two weeks 

Spain decided to cancel all direct flights from Italy for two weeks in a bid to stop the spread of the coronavirus, according to the government’s official gazette.

This measure will take effect from March 11 at midnight and continue until midnight of March 25, the gazette said.

13:25 GMT – Sweden’s coronavirus risk now ‘very high’

Sweden’s Public Health Agency raised the risk level for local contagion of the new coronavirus to “very high” from “moderate” and said it was seeing signs of community spread in the Nordic country.

The agency said in a statement it was seeing signs of community spread of the virus in the regions centred around the two biggest cities, Stockholm and Gothenberg.

“The agency does not see general contagion all over the country, but the risk level is now being raised to the highest possible,” it said.

The announcement came minutes after the Stockholm region reported a jump in confirmed coronavirus cases to 207, an increase of 60 since Monday.

13:17 GMT – Vatican closes St Peter’s Square, Basilica to tourists

St Peter’s Square and its main basilica have been closed to tourists and guided groups because of coronavirus, but individual members of the faithful can enter the basilica to pray, the Vatican said.

A statement said the Vatican would also be closing its post office in the square, which draws many tourists, as well as its bookstore and photo service.

A cafeteria inside the Vatican for employees would also close. All measures will remain in effect until April. 3. 

Harvard to move to virtual classes amid coronavirus outbreak

Harvard University asked its students not to return to campus after Spring Break and said it would begin moving to virtual instruction for graduate and undergraduate classes amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The US university’s goal is to complete the transition by March 23, it added in the statement posted on its website.

This is Saba Aziz in Doha taking over from my colleague  Mersiha Gadzo

12:24 GMT – Turkey says coronavirus outbreak ‘highly likely’

It is highly likely that there is a coronavirus outbreak in Turkey, but there have not been any confirmed cases for now, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said. 

“Europe is very late in taking measures and it is still being too slow,” Koca said. “It is highly likely this outbreak is currently in Turkey. There are no confirmed cases of this virus,” he added. 

10:50 GMT – Austria to deny entry for travellers from Italy

Austria will deny entry to people arriving from Italy in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said.

Other measures include cancelling university lectures and encouraging companies to allow employees to work from home, he said.

Indoor events of more than 100 people and outdoor events of more than 500 will also be banned.

10:50 GMT – Coronavirus kills 54 more people in Iran

The coronavirus has killed 54 more people in Iran in the past 24 hours, the highest toll in a single day since the start of the outbreak in the country.

This raised the death toll to 291 amid 8,042 cases, health ministry spokesperson Kianoush Jahanpour said in a televised conference.

881 new cases have been confirmed, taking the total infection tally to 8,042.

10:20 GMT – Denmark cancels flights from severely affected countries

All flights to Denmark from areas severely hit by the coronavirus such as northern Italy, Iran and South Korea will cease on Tuesday, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said.

10:15 GMT – Death toll in France jumps to 30

The death toll in France from the coronavirus outbreak has risen to 30 from 25 a day earlier, the French public health authority said.

10:06 GMT – British Airways cancels all Italian flights

British Airways cancelled all flights to and from Italy after the country was put on lockdown until next month to tackle coronavirus, it said.

“In light of the Italian government’s announcement and the UK government’s official travel advice, we have contacted all customers who are due to travel today [March 10],” the airline, owned by International Airlines Group (IAG), said.

10:03 GMT – Kazakhstan imposes travel restrictions

Kazakhstan barred entry to travellers from Italy and is adding France, Germany and Spain to the list from March 12, chief sanitary doctor Zhandarbek Bekshin said.

The Central Asian country neighbouring China has not reported any cases of coronavirus so far.

10:00 GMT – Serbia imposes travel restrictions

Serbia closed its borders for foreigners arriving from countries most affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

The temporary ban applies to people arriving from “Italy, certain provinces in China, South Korea, Iran and Switzerland”, the government said in a statement.

So far four people in Serbia, including a Chinese national, have tested positive for coronavirus.

09:56 GMT – Lebanon records first death

A 56-year-old Lebanese man has died from the coronavirus, marking the country’s first recorded death from an epidemic that has so far infected 41 people in the country.

The man had been receiving treatment in a state-run Beirut hospital, a health ministry source told the AFP news agency, adding that the patient had recently returned from Egypt, which is also in the grip of COVID-19.

09:18 GMT – Japan unveils $4bn package

Japan unveiled a second package of measures worth about $4bn in spending to cope with the fallout of the coronavirus outbreak, focusing on providing support to small and mid-sized firms, amid mounting concerns about the fragile economy.

The package of 430.8 billion yen ($4.1bn) in spending, reflects the pressure policymakers are under to bolster fragile growth and stem the risk of corporate bankruptcies, as event cancellations and weakened tourism threaten to hit the economy hard.

To help fund the package, the government will tap the rest of this fiscal year’s budget reserve of about 270 billion yen ($2.6bn), Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.

09:15 GMT – Wizz Air suspends all flights to Italy, Israel

Wizz Air has suspended all flights to Italy and Israel after the two countries announced moves to try to contain coronavirus, the low-cost carrier said.

Flights to and from Italian airports will be cancelled from March 10 until April 3 and flights serving Israel’s Tel Aviv and Eilat will be suspended from March 12 until March 23, the company said.

09:09 GMT – Polish president calls off big election rallies

Polish President Andrzej Duda said he will not organise large campaign meetings ahead of elections in May in a bid to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

“I have made the decision that I will not organise large meetings in connection with my presidential campaign, because these are meetings that hundreds of people come to,” state news agency PAP quoted Duda as saying.

“It seems to me that the risk that this may lead to the spread of coronavirus is too great.”

09:00 GMT – Beijing to extend winter heating season

Beijing will extend its winter heating season by a week until March 22 as part of efforts to contain the coronavirus epidemic, an official from the municipal government said.

The extension of the period when centralised systems provide heat to homes will help people keep warm as they stay indoors, and limit the number of people catching colds and going to hospital where they risk infection, the official said.

08:58 GMT – Czech Republic closing schools, banning events

The Czech Republic will suspend schools other than universities from Wednesday, and ban events hosting more than 100 people, Prime Minister Andrej Babis said.

The country has so far reported 40 cases of coronavirus.

08:25 GMT – Number of cases in Philippines rises to 35

The Philippine health department has confirmed 11 new cases of COVID-19, raising the total number of people infected to 35.

President Rodrigo Duterte has placed the Philippines under a state of public health emergency, and suspended all school classes in the capital until Saturday.

Other restrictions in social activities were put in place, including the suspension of visits at the national prison and live audiences in television shows.

08:17 GMT – Payments on mortgages to be suspended across Italy

Payments on mortgages will be suspended across Italy due to the coronavirus outbreak, Italy’s deputy economy minister said.

“Yes, that will be the case, for individuals and households,” Laura Castelli said in an interview with Radio Anch’io.

Italy’s banking lobby ABI said on Monday lenders representing 90 percent of total banking assets would offer debt moratoriums to small firms and households grappling with the economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak.

08:05 GMT – Italy lockdown: what are the restrictions?

Italy is the first European country to put more than 60 million people on lockdown to stem the spread of coronavirus.

All sporting events, schools and universities have been cancelled. Places of public gathering such as cinemas, theatres and nightclubs remain closed.

Religious ceremonies including funerals and weddings will also be postponed.

Read more here about all the restrictions in place.

06:57 GMT – Palestinian COVID-19 cases jump to 26

Palestinian authorities confirmed a new coronavirus case in the occupied West Bank.

“The Health Ministry has reported a new coronavirus case in Bethlehem, which increased the number of people infected with coronavirus to 26,” government spokesman Ibrahim Melhem said in a statement.

Last week, the Palestinian Health Ministry announced a state of emergency in Bethlehem and Jericho over suspected coronavirus cases.

06:57 GMT – German tourist diagnosed with coronavirus in northern Cyprus

A German woman on holiday in northern Cyprus has been diagnosed with coronavirus, Anadolu news agency reported.

The Greek Cypriot government in the island’s south also confirmed its first two cases of coronavirus on Monday.

05:25 GMT – Hubei introduces ‘health code’ system to get people back to work

Authorities in China’s Hubei said on Tuesday they will implement a “health code” mobile phone-based monitoring system to start allowing people to travel within the province, as it tries to get life back to normal.

The statement, published on the government’s website, said the move was aimed at promoting the resumption of work and production.

China’s President Xi Jinping arrived in the provincial capital, Wuhan, on Tuesday for his first visit and is meeting medical workers and others involved in the fight against the virus. 

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