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Italy is locking down much of the north, its economic engine.
Italy’s government is taking the extraordinary step of locking down entire sections of the country’s north, restricting movement for a quarter of the population in a sweeping effort to fight the coronavirus not seen outside of China.
“We are facing an emergency, a national emergency,” Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said in announcing the government decree in a news conference after 2 a.m.
The move is tantamount to sacrificing the Italian economy in the short term to save it from the ravages of the virus in the long term. The measures will turn stretches of Italy’s wealthy north — including the economic and cultural capital of Milan and landmark tourist destinations such as Venice — into quarantined red zones until at least April 3. They will prevent the free movement of roughly 16 million people.
Funerals and cultural events are all banned under the measures. The decree required distance of one meter, including in sporting events, bars and supermarkets
The Italian outbreak, already the worst in Europe and the worst outside of Asia, has inflicted serious damage on one of the Continent’s most fragile economies and triggered the closing of Italy’s schools.
Italy’s cases more than doubled this week from about 2,500 infections on Wednesday to more than 5,800 on Saturday, according to Italian authorities and the World Health Organization. Deaths rose by 36 to 233.
Nicola Zingaretti, the leader of Italy’s governing coalition’s Democratic Party, announced that he was now a patient. “Well, it’s arrived,” he said in a Facebook video from his home. He said he would follow all the protocols suggested by the authorities, who have urged infected people to self-quarantine.
France is also now one of the main centers of the epidemic in Europe. Health authorities on Saturday reported two more deaths, both in northern France, and 103 new infections, since Friday. France now has a total of 949 cases, including a member of the French Parliament.
France, Germany and other countries have imposed limits on the export of protective medical equipment, some of which is badly needed but in short supply.
In Spain, about 470 people have the virus, and fatalities reached 10 on Saturday. Barcelona officials have called off a marathon scheduled for March 15, but a big street rally on Sunday in Madrid for International Women’s Day will go ahead as planned.
The smallest E.U. nation, Malta, reported its first confirmed case on Saturday: a 12-year-old girl recently returned from a vacation in northern Italy. Her condition was described as good.
The police in London said they had arrested two teenagers in connection with a racially aggravated assault, days after a 23-year-old student from Singapore said he was attacked by a group of men, one of whom shouted “I don’t want your coronavirus in my country.”
New York State declares an emergency, and cases rise to 89.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo declared a state of emergency in New York on Saturday as the state’s number of confirmed cases rose, reaching 89 by the evening. Eleven are in New York City, the latest of which is an Uber driver.
The declaration of emergency will allow the state to speed up the purchasing of supplies and the hiring of workers to assist local health departments that have been handling the monitoring of thousands of quarantined patients, Mr. Cuomo said.
“Somebody has to go knock on their door, once a day,” he said during a midday briefing in the state Capitol. “This is labor intensive.”
The epicenter of the cases in New York continued to be just north of the city, in Westchester County, where the total reached 70. These cases were mostly, if not all, related to a cluster in Westchester that first came to the authorities’ attention after a New Rochelle resident, a 50-year-old lawyer, was confirmed as New York’s second coronavirus patient.
But there were also signs of wider spread, including a pair of cases in Saratoga County, north of the state capital of Albany — the first such confirmed cases outside of the New York City region.
The Uber driver, 33, walked into St. John’s Episcopal Hospital in the Far Rockaway section of Queens on Tuesday and reported flulike symptoms. He went home and returned later when his symptoms worsened, an official said.
He tested positive on Friday night, prompting more than 40 doctors, nurses and other workers at the hospital where he has been isolated to go into self-quarantine and seek testing, officials said on Saturday.
A spokesman for Uber said the driver was licensed to drop off passengers in the city, but not to pick them up in the five boroughs or city airports.
Attendee of conservative conference where Trump and Pence spoke tests positive.
An attendee of a conservative conference where President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence spoke last week has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the host of the conference.
The American Conservative Union, which hosts the annual Conservative Political Action Conference outside Washington, said the attendee was exposed to the virus before the four-day event and tested positive for it on Saturday.
“This attendee had no interaction with the president or the vice president and never attended the events in the main hall,” the group said in a statement. “The Trump administration is aware of the situation, and we will continue regular communication with all appropriate government officials.”
The attendee has been quarantined in New Jersey, the statement said.
At the conference, which draws thousands, Mr. Trump gave his administration good grades for its handling of the coronavirus outbreak, while his acting chief of staff at the time, Mick Mulvaney, said in a separate speech that journalists were hyping the coronavirus because “they think this will bring down the president.”
Mr. Mulvaney also minimized concerns over the virus.
“The flu kills people,” he said. “This is not Ebola. It’s not SARS, it’s not MERS. It’s not a death sentence; it’s not the same as the Ebola crisis.”
The U.S. count passes 400, with trouble spots on a cruise ship off California and a Starbucks in Seattle.
Washington State raised its count of cases to more than 100 on Saturday and added two more deaths, bringing the state’s toll to 16 and the nation’s to 19.
New cases were also announced in Florida, Arizona, Oregon and other states, but most caseloads remain in the single digits. Still, the U.S. has recorded more than 410 cases.
The director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Robert R. Redfield, urged local officials not to give up on fighting the virus’s spread in their communities.
In an interview on Friday night, he pointed to the success countries like China and Singapore had with “aggressive travel restrictions, aggressive containment strategies, early diagnosis, isolation, contract tracing, expanded testing in people coming in with flu-like illness in their hospitals.”
Dr. Redfield said it was not too late for those measures to be effective in the U.S. “We still have a real opportunity to contain, control, the spread of this virus,” he said.
California, which, after Washington State, has the country’s most confirmed cases, announced one new case in Madera County that health officials said was tied to the Grand Princess cruise ship.
Oregon health officials said four more people had tested positive, bringing the total number of people being treated there to six. In Georgia, three people in three separate counties were confirmed to have the virus, doubling the state’s positive cases.
Officials in Arizona announced that two people who lived in the same household of a previously confirmed case also tested positive for the virus, bringing the state’s total to five, and Florida reported its eighth case. Florida also announced the East Coast’s first deaths on Friday, those of two people who had traveled internationally.
On Friday night Starbucks reported that one of its employees in downtown Seattle had tested positive. The company said the store has been closed for cleaning.
Also in the Seattle area, two Microsoft employees were being treated for the coronavirus, a company spokesman said on Friday. Microsoft did not close its campus, but it had already advised employees to work from home if possible.
Living the idled life on the Grand Princess.
“I’m ready to get the hell off this ship,” Cookie Clark said by telephone on Saturday from her cabin on the Grand Princess, as it waited 50 miles off the coast of California. “Floating around is getting very stressful.”
Vice President Mike Pence said Friday that the ship, with more than 3,500 people on board, would come ashore at a noncommercial port but did not say when or where.
Early Saturday, a critically ill passenger was evacuated from the ship by Coast Guard cutter, in a case unrelated to coronavirus, the cruise ship company said in a statement. The Coast Guard delivered protective equipment, including gloves and face masks to the ship by helicopter on Friday evening.
Ms. Clark, 76, and her husband, Joe Clark, 81, of Oakdale, Calif., said they had been watching the news constantly and were angry when they heard President Trump say on Friday that he preferred the ship did not dock in the United States because that would push up the number of American cases.
“As American citizens we have a right to be back on U.S. soil,” Mr. Clark said.
Ms. Clark, a retired realtor, said she was appalled. “We’re just numbers to him,” she said. On Saturday, executives from Princess Cruises said that the authorities had not yet told them where or when the Grand Princess would dock.
Jan Swartz, the president of Princess Cruises, told reporters in a conference call that she was disappointed the federal government had announced test results of passengers and crew on Friday before informing the company of them.
Out of 46 people tested for the virus 21 people tested positive, most of them crew members.
Grant Tarling, the chief medical officer of the company, said the Centers for Disease Control had not informed the cruise company how many other people on the ship, which is carrying more than 3,000 people, would be tested.
Dr. Tarling said the company believed that the virus was brought aboard the ship by a passenger from Placer County, who had boarded the ship on Feb. 11 and disembarked on Feb. 21.
Outbreak on Nile tourism boat suggests broader danger.
Egypt’s health minister announced 33 new infections on a quarantined Nile cruise boat on Sunday, including foreign tourists and Egyptian crew members, bringing to 45 the number onboard who have tested positive.
The boat, which local media said was named A Sara, is docked at Luxor near the famous Valley of the Kings, one of the Middle East’s most popular tourist attractions. A vacationing Taiwanese-American woman who took a trip on the boat in late January tested positive in Taiwan weeks later, drawing the World Health Organization to retrace her travels.
The long gap between infection and detection on the cruiser raises the possibility that the coronavirus could have been transmitted to several groups of tourists, foreign and domestic, during the month of February.
Typically, Nile cruise ships travel along the river between the cities of Luxor and Aswan for two or three nights, stopping at ancient temples along the river. In the past week, at least 26 foreign tourists have tested positive after returning home from Egypt, mostly to the United States, France and Greece.
Of those, at least three are confirmed to have traveled on the quarantined cruiser — the Taiwanese-American woman and a husband and wife from California, who have since been hospitalized.
At a news conference in Cairo on Saturday, the health minister, Hala Zayed, said that all 101 foreigners and 70 Egyptians aboard the cruiser had been tested. Of those who tested positive, 19 were foreign and 26 Egyptian. All 45 were to be sent to a hospital in Marsa Matrouh, on Egypt’s north coast.
Argentina reports South America’s first death from coronavirus.
A 64-year-old man in Argentina’s capital has died after contracting the coronavirus, the first death from the virus in South America.
The patient, who had returned from a trip to Europe on Feb. 25, had been hospitalized since March 4 and was placed on a respirator, the country’s Health Ministry said in a news release.
The patient became sick on Feb. 28 with fever, cough and a sore throat. He had an extensive medical history that included diabetes, hypertension, chronic bronchitis and renal insufficiency.
The patient’s positive test came back today, according to the ministry.
The Argentine health authorities had said Friday there were eight confirmed cases across the country, all of which involved patients who had traveled to Europe. Six of those patients are in the city of Buenos Aires, one in Buenos Aires province and another in the central province of Córdoba.
Elsewhere in the region, neighboring Paraguay confirmed its first case of coronavirus Saturday, a 32-year-old who had arrived from Ecuador.
N.C.A.A. prepares for a new kind of March Madness.
Facing mounting concern over the spread of coronavirus cases, the N.C.A.A. is discussing whether to reduce the number of venues for the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments set to start in less than two weeks.
A decision has not yet been reached, but a narrowed list of playing sites is just one option.
College sports executives and medical experts are also considering holding games without spectators or just proceeding normally, but with enhanced public health efforts, such as hand sanitizer stations.
Brian Hainline, the N.C.A.A.’s chief medical officer, said it was “hard to imagine” the tournaments being canceled altogether.
Conference tournaments have already begun, and officials are expected to scrutinize those competitions for possible lessons to apply during the national tournaments. The men’s tournament is scheduled to begin on March 17, and the women’s tournament on March 20.
Tournament brackets will not be announced until March 15 and 16, and N.C.A.A. officials said they believe they had at least a few more days to assess the crisis and its possible impact on the games.
COLLEGE SPORTS Read our full story about how the N.C.A.A. is considering to use fewer venues during March Madness.
What everyone wants to know: What’s the fatality rate?
Understanding how deadly the coronavirus can be is a central factor for governments to gauge how drastic their countermeasures should be and for individuals to adjust their own anxiety.
But the real rate is elusive.
The World Health Organization’s estimate this week of 3.4 percent seemed to shock experts, some of whom said that 1 percent was more realistic.
There are several reasons we still don’t know the right number.
Not enough people have been tested. Incomplete testing means the reported death rates probably skew high; if many more cases were detected, the rates would fall. Until this week, people in the United States were only tested if they had traveled to China or had contact with other ill people. We now know that there were many infected people in the country who weren’t being counted.
The number of coronavirus deaths could also be incomplete. Cases where infected people died without being tested might be missed. And people can be infected for a long time before becoming sick enough to be at risk of death — which can throw off a short-term calculation.
The rate won’t be the same everywhere. Experts say differences in populations and health systems can raise or lower the death rate by country. For example, there is strong evidence that older people are at a higher risk of dying, so countries with more elderly may end up with a higher rate.
The women’s world hockey championships in Canada are canceled.
The two-week women’s world hockey championships, which was set to start on March 31 in Halifax and Truro, Nova Scotia, were canceled because of concerns over the ongoing spread of the coronavirus.
René Fasel, the president of the International Ice Hockey Federation, told The Associated Press that the federation could not safely host a 10-team international tournament.
The federation did not consider holding the event in empty arenas. Tom Renney, Hockey Canada’s chief executive, said Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer recommended abandoning the tournament altogether.
The cancellation comes at a difficult time for women’s hockey in North America.
In May, more than 200 of the world’s top players — including U.S. and Canadian national team members — vowed not to professionally compete in North America this season after the Canadian Women’s Hockey League ceased operations.
The women’s world hockey championships have been canceled once before in 2003 when they were hosted in Beijing during the SARS outbreak in China.
Another Diamond Princess passenger dies, while Malaysia and Thailand turn away an Italian vessel.
Japan announced that a man from Hong Kong who was a passenger on the Diamond Princess cruise ship died of the coronavirus on Friday, making it the eighth death associated with the vessel that was quarantined off Yokohama for two weeks in February.
On Saturday, another cruise ship, the Costa Fortuna, became the latest luxury liner to be kept at sea over coronavirus fears, after Malaysia and Thailand denied it entry for fear that 64 passengers from Italy could have brought the virus on board. The operator of the Costa Fortuna, Costa Cruises, said none of the ship’s passengers were suspected of having Covid-19, the illness caused by the virus.
Reporting and research were contributed by Jason Horowitz, David Halbfinger, Sheri Fink, Thomas Fuller, Mohammed Najib, Claire Fu, Eric Schmitt, Eliza Shapiro, Katie Rogers, Declan Walsh, Nada Rashwan, Roni Caryn Rabin, Keith Bradsher, Richard C. Paddock, Elian Peltier, Sarah Mervosh, Tim Arango, Raphael Minder, Jenny Gross, Ben Sisario, Julia Jacobs, Amy Qin, Sopan Deb, Aman Batheja, Daniel Politi and Marc Stein.
Orignially published in NYT.