Italy reports biggest spike of COVID-19 cases since outbreak

Italy has seen its biggest daily increase in coronavirus cases since the outbreak broke out in the north of the country on Feb. 21.

In its daily update, Italy’s civil protection agency said the number of people with the coronavirus rose by 1,247 in the last 24 hours, taking the total to at least 5,883.

Another 36 people also died as a result of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, taking the total to 233.

Italy has now reported more deaths from COVID-19 than both Iran and South Korea, the leading two hot-spots for the outbreak after China.

Officials said people in intensive care with ailments other than coronavirus in the hardest-hit region of Lombardy would be transferred to neighbouring regions, all of which have greater availability of hospital beds.

The president of the national health service, Silvio Brusaferro, urged people to abide by guidelines to limit contact as the only way to contain the virus.

Watch: Tips from the WHO on how to prepare for coronavirus

From hygiene tips to conversations you might not have considered having, here’s what you can do to get ready for an outbreak, according to Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme. 1:57

The fast-spreading outbreak hit a milestone on Friday, infecting more than 100,000 people worldwide in more than 90 countries. The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) urged all nations to continue to make containment their highest priority. By Saturday, about 102,000 had been infected, according to a Reuters tally of government announcements.

Slowing down the epidemic “saves lives and buys time” for preparedness and for research and development, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva.

Here’s what’s happening in the rest of Europe

The number of people in France diagnosed with COVID-19 jumped by 336 to 949 on Saturday. That’s the biggest daily increase France has recorded.

French health authorities said another seven people have died, taking the total to 16. Most have been over 70 years of age.

The head of the national health agency said that French hospitals are preparing emergency measures, including eventually bringing in retired doctors and students to help with growing demand if needed.

People are see at La Défense business district transportation hub in Paris on Friday. (Michel Euler/Associated Press)

An elderly man has become the second person in the U.K. to die from COVID-19. 

The man, in his early 80s, tested positive for the novel coronavirus and had underlying health conditions. He died Thursday while being treated at Milton Keynes University Hospital.

The U.K. confirmed 46 new cases on Saturday, bringing the total to 209 — England has 184 cases, Wales has two, Northern Ireland has seven and Scotland, 16.

People wearing face masks stand in Piccadilly Circus in London on Saturday. (Yui Mok/PA via AP)

Health authorities on the small Mediterranean island nation of Malta have raised the number of people with coronavirus to three, after the parents of the girl first infected tested positive too. Health Minister Chris Fearne says the girl and her family had visited northern Italy in late February and early March, returning to Malta via Rome.

On Friday, Slovakia and Serbia confirmed their first cases and the Netherlands reported its first death.

Here’s what’s happening in Canada

Six more people in B.C. have tested positive for COVID-19, including two residents at a long-term care home, provincial health officials have confirmed. A total of 27 people in B.C. have tested positive for the virus.

Canada’s first apparent case of community transmission was reported in British Columbia on Friday night, a Vancouver-area woman who has not travelled recently and had no known contact with anyone else diagnosed with the virus. 

In total, there are at least 60 cases of COVID-19 in Canada, including presumptive cases.

Watch: B.C. ramps up response to coronavirus outbreak

Province’s plan focuses on delaying, containing and preparing for the spread of the virus and minimizing serious illness and economic impact. 2:00

Here’s what’s happening in the U.S.

Washington state officials said Saturday that two more people have died from COVID-19, bringing the national U.S. total to 19. The first deaths on the East Coast were announced on Friday, with two people succumbing in Florida.

The two latest deaths were in Washington’s King County, the hardest hit area in the United States after the virus spread among residents at a nursing facility in the Seattle suburb of Kirkland.

A team of health workers from the U.S. Public Health Service arrived at the beleaguered LifeCare nursing home on Saturday.

A patient is put into an ambulance outside the LifeCare Center of Kirkland in Kirkland, Wash., on Saturday. (Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

Officials in California were deciding Saturday where to dock a cruise ship with 21 coronavirus cases aboard. Global Affairs Canada told CBC News it could not confirm the nationalities of the cases aboard.

The Grand Princess cruise ship was waiting off San Francisco with 3,500 people aboard, including 237 Canadians. U.S. authorities want it to go to a non-commercial port for everyone aboard to be tested amid evidence the ship was the breeding ground for a deadly cluster of 10 cases during an earlier voyage.

The ship, which was bound from Hawaii to San Francisco, was ordered to hold its position off the coast last Wednesday after a traveller from the previous voyage died of COVID-19. 

Testing so far has shown 19 crew members and two passengers are positive for the infection, Pence told reporters Friday.

Watch: Quarantined Grand Princess ship remains in limbo

This week state officials quarantined the Grand Princess cruise ship off the coast of California over fears of a possible COVID-19 outbreak. There are 235 Canadians among the 3,500 passengers and crew on board. 3:34

The Grand Princess is expected to arrive in Vancouver on April 2 and Victoria on April 3. Health authorities in the province are drawing up screening measures.

Another Princess Cruises ship, the Diamond Princess, grappled with a coronavirus outbreak as it was docked in Yokohama, Japan, last month.

A former passenger of that ship who was infected with coronavirus died on Friday, bringing the death toll from the ship to seven, Japanese public broadcaster NHK said on Saturday. NHK did not reveal the man’s nationality, other than to say he was not Japanese.

Here’s what’s happening in Africa

A Nile cruise boat carrying over 150 tourists and Egyptian crew was under quarantine in the southern city of Luxor, as 45 people on board tested positive for the new coronavirus, authorities said.

A Taiwanese-American tourist who had previously been on the same ship tested positive when she returned to Taiwan, the World Health Organization informed Egyptian authorities, who then tested everyone on the ship.

Health authorities first found that a dozen of the ship’s Egyptian crew members had contracted the fast-spreading virus, and said they did not show symptoms, according to a joint statement from Egypt’s Health Ministry and the WHO on Friday.

Nile river boat MS River Anuket docks in the city of Luxor in southern Egypt on Saturday. (Maggie Michael/Associated Press)

At a news conference in Cairo later Saturday, Health Minister Hala Zayed said 33 others tested positive for the virus. Of the total 45 infected passengers and crew, 19 were foreigners, officials said. Zayed did not elaborate on the nationalities of the non-Egyptians.

The new cases brought to 48 the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Egypt, including 21 foreign nationals and 27 Egyptians.

Cameroon and Togo confirmed their first cases of coronavirus on Friday, bringing the number of countries in sub-Saharan Africa reporting infections to five.

Here’s what’s happening in the Middle East

Iran says 21 more people have died from the coronavirus, raising the country’s death toll to 145. More than 1,000 infections were also confirmed overnight, bringing the country’s total to 5,823 cases.

Iran has the vast majority of cases in the Middle East. The capital, Tehran, has the most infections, with more than 1,500 cases, followed by the Shiite holy city of Qom with 668 and the northern province of Mazandaran with 606.

A worker disinfects the shrine of the Shiite Saint Imam Abdulazim in Shahr-e-Ray, south of Tehran, Iran, on Saturday. (Ebrahim Noroozi/Associated Press)

In the West Bank, some guests have been quarantined in a hotel in Bethlehem as part of precautions against the coronavirus, a Palestinian government spokesperson said on Saturday.

The city has been in lockdown since nine cases of the virus were recorded there earlier in the week.

Security forces wearing face masks could be seen Saturday securing the perimeter around the Angel Hotel. The entrance of the street leading to the hotel was cordoned off and an ambulance was parked outside.

Palestinian security forces wearing masks disinfect their hands next to a hotel that has been sealed off in the town of Beit Jala, on the edge of Bethlehem, following suspected cases of coronavirus. (Musa al Shaer/AFP via Getty Images)

Elsewhere in the region, the United Arab Emirates reported 15 additional coronavirus cases Saturday, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 45. To stymie the spread of the virus, the UAE has suspended schools, nurseries and universities for a month. It has also stopped flights to Iran and limited flights to China.

Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, announced there would be no spectators for sports competitions starting Saturday to combat the spread of the virus. The kingdom has five confirmed cases, but has taken unprecedented measures against its spread, including halting all pilgrimage in Mecca, Islam’s holiest site.

Here’s what’s happening in East Asia

South Korea — the hardest-hit country after China — reported 448 new cases on Saturday for a total of 7,041. South Korea also reported four more deaths, raising the death toll to 48.

Mainland China, where the outbreak began late last year, has reported 80,651 cases, including 3,070 deaths.

About a quarter of China’s new confirmed cases and almost all of those outside the epicentre in Wuhan originated outside the country on Friday, according to official data.

Chinese state media said dozens of people were trapped after a five-storey hotel being used for coronavirus quarantine collapsed in the southeast Chinese port city of Quanzhou on Saturday

Watch: Coronavirus quarantine hotel collapses in China

Dozens remained trapped after a five-storey hotel being used for coronavirus quarantine collapsed in the southeast Chinese port city of Quanzhou, state media said. 2:16

Here’s what’s happening in Latin America

A 64-year-old man died in Argentina as a result of the new coronavirus, the first such death in Latin America, health authorities announced Saturday.

The Ministry of Health said the patient lived in Buenos Aires and had been confirmed with COVID-19 after coming down with a cough, fever and sore throat following a recent trip to Europe.

The patient, who suffered kidney failure, had a history of diabetes, hypertension and bronchitis before being infected with the virus, a statement said. He had been in intensive care since being admitted to a public hospital Wednesday.

People cover their faces while leaving Hospital Cosme Argerich in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Saturday. (Mariana Greif/Reuters)

Officials said the man was not one of the eight confirmed COVID-19 cases previously reported for Argentina, but his case was confirmed by tests Saturday.

Elsewhere in the region, officials in Peru announced five new cases of COVID-19 infection Saturday, raising the country’s total to six. Paraguay reported its first case, and Chile said it now had seven confirmed cases, up from five.

Mexico, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Colombia and Costa Rica also have reported confirmed cases.

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