Italy imposes nationwide restrictions to contain COVID-19

The latest:

  • Italy announces lockdown of entire country.
  • Canada confirms 1st COVID-19 death.
  • Grand Princess cruise ship, carrying more than 230 Canadians, docks in Oakland, Calif.
  • WHO says more than 100 countries have reported lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19; director general says threat of pandemic ‘very real.’
  • Stock markets tumble amid fears about the widening coronavirus outbreak.
  • Canada’s chief public health officer recommends Canadians avoid cruise travel.
  • Read more about how Canada will cope with community transmission of COVID-19.

Amid an ongoing battle to stop rising cases of coronavirus, Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte said Monday he is extending the lockdown on the northern part of the country, previously known as the “red zone,” to all of Italy.

Deeming it the “I stay home” decree, Conte said people should not move anywhere in Italy — one of the countries hardest-hit by COVID-19  — except for work and emergencies and that all public gatherings will be banned. 

The nationwide restrictions will take effect on Tuesday, Conte said. 

Restrictions in the north have been evident at Milan’s main train station, where passengers are required to sign a form from the police, self-certifying that they are travelling either for “proven work needs,” situations of necessity, health reasons or to return to their homes. They must provide their identity documents, contact phone numbers and describe exactly the reason for travel.

A police officer talks to people at Milan’s main train station, following a government decree that has shut down large areas in the north of the country, on Monday. (Daniele Mascolo/Reuters)

Police officers in masks are checking tickets and documents as people line up to reach the train tracks, backed up by soldiers also in masks, and finally by railway security further back, unmasked. Procedures have tightened significantly since the blockade involving the populous region of Lombardy and 14 provinces went into effect.

Over the weekend, railway security remained the only checks. But due to recommendations to keep a metre distance between people, they had moved their positions back and were no longer checking tickets — just watching people pass by.

COVID-19 in more than 100 countries

Worldwide, the number of cases of COVID-19 — which is caused by a novel coronavirus first seen in China — is more than 100,000, with cases identified in more than 100 countries around the world. 

The threat of a COVID-19 pandemic is “very real” as the coronavirus spreads to more countries and case numbers rise — but countries still have tools they can use to contain the novel virus and slow its spread, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a daily news briefing earlier on Monday.

“Now that the virus has a foothold in so many countries, the threat of a pandemic has become very real,” said “But it would be the first pandemic that could be controlled. The bottom line is we are not at the mercy of the virus.”

Tedros said all countries should have a comprehensive strategy to deal with the virus, which he described as an “uneven epidemic” around the world.

The WHO is concerned people will give up fighting the coronavirus if it is labelled a ‘pandemic.’ 2:24

The WHO chief said countries with no cases, sporadic cases or clusters should focus on “finding, testing, treating and isolating” individual cases, while also following up with an infected patient’s contacts.

In countries or regions with community spread, it becomes more difficult to test and trace contacts for every patient, he said. Officials in those areas may need to consider measures like cancelling big events or closing schools, Tedros said.

The vast majority of cases have been clustered in China, but case numbers have been rising in other nations, most notably Italy, Iran and South Korea. 

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

Here’s what’s happening in Canada

Canada announced its first COVID-19 death — in British Columbia — on Monday. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said a man living in a North Vancouver care home that had been identified as a COVID-19 hotspot had died. 

“This is obviously a very sad day for all of us, but especially for the family and loved ones of the man who passed away at the Lynn Valley Care Home,” said B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix. 

Henry also announced that five more cases had been confirmed in B.C., bringing the province’s total to 32, raising Canada’s total number of cases to 77.  

Ontario’s health ministry has reported 34 cases, the most in any Canadian province. 

Quebec has reported 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 on Monday reported seven cases, while B.C. has reported 32 cases.

The Public Health Agency of Canada, which assesses the risk around COVID-19, says the risk in Canada is low.

WATCH: What’s being done to protect the elderly from COVID-19?

Seniors advocate outlines the challenges behind taking care of the elderly during outbreaks like the coronavirus. 9:32

 Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said there are now more than 110,000 confirmed cases worldwide.

Speaking alongside the health and foreign affairs ministers on Monday, Tam recommended that Canadians avoid travelling on cruise ships.

Here’s what’s happening in the U.S.

In the United States, where more than 500 infections have been reported, attention was fixed Monday on cruise ships on opposite sides of the country that were kept at bay over fears of virus threats.

The Grand Princess cruise ship, which has at least 21 confirmed virus cases, arrived in the port of Oakland, Calif., on Monday afternoon, amid elaborate anti-coronavirus protective procedures. Fleets of buses and planes were ready to whisk the more than 2,000 passengers to military bases or their home countries for a 14-day quarantine.

More than 230 Canadians on the Grand Princess will be repatriated to the air force base in Trenton, Ont., where they will undergo a 14-day quarantine.

In Florida, passengers were disembarking from the Regal Princess after it received clearance to dock. Two crew members eyed as possible carriers had negative tests for the virus.

The Grand Princess cruise ship docked in Oakland, Calif., on Monday afternoon. More than 230 Canadians on board will be flown to the Trenton, Ont., air base, where they will be placed under quarantine for 14 days. (Fred Greaves/Reuters)

Trading in Wall Street futures was halted for the first time since the 2016 U.S. presidential election after they fell more than the daily limit of five per cent. Bond yields hit new lows as investors bought them up as safe havens.

The benchmark U.S. crude price was down over 20 per cent, the biggest daily drop since the Gulf war in 1991, to hit their lowest levels since 2016. They were down as much as 30 per cent earlier, deepening a rout that began when Saudi Arabia, Russia and other major producers failed to agree on cutting output to prop up prices. A breakdown in their co-operation suggested they will ramp up output just as demand is sliding.

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

State television in Iran said the virus had killed another 43 people, pushing the official toll up to 237 with 7,161 confirmed cases. But many fear the scope of illness is far wider there.

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

European Union leaders will hold emergency talks soon to discuss a joint response to the coronavirus, officials said on Monday, as the bloc’s executive considers relaxing state subsidy rules to allow extra public spending. The announcement of the teleconference, likely to take place on Tuesday, came after Italy and France called for Europe-wide stimulus to counter the economic impact of the epidemic.

France has reported 1,191 cases with 21 deaths.The number of people infected in the Netherlands increased to 321 on Monday, up from 264 a day earlier, Dutch health authorities said.

Germany on Monday reported 210 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, the Robert Koch Institute said.The number of cases in Germany rose to 1,112, up from 902 reported on Sunday.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned against thinking that measures to slow the spread of the new coronavirus are in vain, insisting that they are buying “valuable time.”

In the U.K., the number of confirmed cases stood at 319 on Monday.

Schools and universities in the Basque capital Vitoria will close for two weeks, sending tens of thousands of pupils home, authorities in the region said on Monday as the coronavirus spread in Spain. With nearly 150 confirmed cases, the Basque Country in northern Spain is among the worst-hit areas in the country, which has a total of 999 cases.

WATCH: Travelling soon? Microbiologist Keith Warriner breaks down the steps you can take to protect yourself

Flying during the coronavirus outbreak? Microbiologist Keith Warriner breaks down the steps you can take to protect yourself while travelling. 2:34

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.

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.

South Korean soldiers prepare to do work at an apartment complex that is under isolation amid mass infection of COVID-19 reported in Daegu, South Korea. (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters)

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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