Coronavirus: Italy extends quarantine nationwide; Iran furloughs 70,000 inmates



March 9 (UPI) — Italy extended its COVID-19 lockdown nationwide on Monday as the number of cases in the country continued to surge.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced he was extending restrictions put in place for the entire Lombardy region and 14 other provinces as the country has reported 463 deaths and 9,172 cases of the coronavirus.

At least 112 countries and territories have reported a confirmed case of the virus, totaling 113,603 worldwide and 3,996 deaths, according to a live tally of government data by Johns Hopkins University.

Conte also announced a ban on all public events, saying the move was taken in order to protect the country’s population.

“All the measure of the red zones are now extended to all of the national territory,” Conte said.

Europe

Britain’s caseload rose to 321 and three people died, health officials reported. A government spokesman said Prime Minister Boris Johnson chaired an emergency cabinet meeting at which it was accepted that the spread in Britain will be “significant,” but the country is still in a “contain phase.”

In Berlin, German Health Minister Jens Spahn told reporters more than 1,100 cases are confirmed and urged citizens to reduce travel, work from home if possible and avoid public transport.

The country also reported its first two deaths from the virus Monday, according to local officials.

Both deaths occurred in North Rhine-Westphalia, the state’s ministry of health said.

“The deaths show that we have to take the situation very seriously said Health Minister Karl-Josef Laumann.

In France, cases nearly doubled since Friday and 19 people have died. Switzerland has recorded its second death and increased the cases to nearly 300. Albania saw its first two cases.

Ireland canceled several St. Patrick’s Day parades due to fear regarding the spread of coronavirus, Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said.

“Due to the unique nature and scale of the St. Patrick’s Day festivities in terms of size, the mass gathering of local and international travelers and the continued progression of community transmission in some European countries, along with the emergence of a small number of cases of local transmission in Ireland, the government has decided that St. Patrick’s Day parades, including the Dublin parade, will not proceed,” the government said.

Cases in Belgium also rose by 39 on Monday to 239, and Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes decided to maintain the country’s risk management plan in Phase 2 with plans to discuss applying additional social distancing measures Tuesday at the National Security Council.

NATO also confirmed a staffer at its Brussels’ headquarters has tested positive for the virus.

Asia and Middle East

The number of COVID-19 cases continued to decline in China on Monday, as Chinese health officials on Monday reported 40 new infections of the virus and 22 deaths in the last 24-hour period.

Based on its daily updates, China has not reported a new case outside of Hubei in the last two days and has only reported five since last Wednesday.

Iranian state television said Monday almost 600 new cases have arisen, along with 43 deaths. About 2,400 patients have recovered there.

Iranian officials furloughed around 70,000 prisoners Monday to prevent further spread. Iran said there are criminal cases that involve people hoarding hygiene products and other medical supplies.

South Korea reported dozens of new infections on Monday, but said the spread is “coming under control.”

Saudi Arabia announced four new cases Monday, including a U.S. resident who was returning to the Middle Eastern nation following a multi-country trip. The new cases increased the Saudi number to 15, the Ministry of Health said in a statement.

Officials said the U.S. resident returned to Saudi Arabia after traveling through the Philippines and Italy. Two of the new cases involved Bahrain nationals who’d arrived in Saudia Arabia via Iraq.

Qatar said Monday it will close schools nationwide beginning Tuesday. The government in Doha said Sunday it is also barring all flights from 14 nations linked to the outbreak.



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