WASHINGTON – The World Health Organization said Sunday that 100 countries are now reporting coronavirus cases with more than 100,000 people reported as being ill.
“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.”
Italy, with 233 deaths, more than any other country outside of China, imposed a new emergency decree on Sunday, locking down the northern part of the country with a quarter of Italy’s population.
The northern part of the country includes the Lombardy region and the financial capital, Milan. In addition, Italy will close 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.
In the U.S., where there have been at least 19 deaths, President Donald Trump said on Twitter, “We have a perfectly coordinated and fine-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 two million test kits available.
“If your health care provider thinks you need a test, you’ll get it,” he said.
In a break with centuries of tradition, Pope Francis did not deliver the annual Angelus prayer live Sunday in Saint Peter’s Square. The Vatican, which has already reported one coronavirus case, is hoping to keep crowd size down in the tiny city-state in its attempt to stop the virus. The pontiff instead utilized 21st-century technology and delivered the prayer “via livestream by Vatican News and on screens in Saint Peter’s Square,” the Vatican said.
Iran said Sunday the coronavirus has killed 49 more people in the last 24 hours, bringing its death toll to 194. The Middle Eastern country has 6,566 confirmed cases.
In China, a hotel used to quarantine people with the virus collapsed Sunday. At least six people were killed in the incident. The virus first erupted in China late last year.
Reuters reported that at least two federal health screeners at Los Angeles International Airport had tested positive for the coronavirus and have been ordered to self-quarantine until March 17. The news agency said screeners, many of them federal workers, had already “asked their supervisors . . . to change official protocols and require stronger masks.”
The Grand Princess cruise ship, hit by a coronavirus outbreak, is scheduled to dock in Oakland, California, Monday. The ship has been held at sea since last week when San Francisco refused to allow the ship to return there because of the outbreak. The Grand Princess is carrying more than 3,500 passengers and crew.
Worldwide, there were more than 106,000 infections Sunday, while the death toll has surpassed 3,500.
Bahrain has announced it will hold its Formula 1 Grand Prix later this month, but without any spectators.
“Given the continued spread of COVID -19 globally, convening a major sporting event, which is open to the public and allows thousands of international travelers and local fans to interact in close proximity would not be the right thing to do at the present time,” the Bahrain International Circuit said Sunday.