366 coronavirus deaths in Italy, Saudi schools shut: Live updates

Death toll in Italy jumps by more than 130 in the past 24 hours, as Riyadh shuts schools and universities.

Italy Coronavirus
Italy is considering an unprecedented quarantine in its northern regions including Milan to stamp out the coronavirus [Andrew Fasani/EPA]

The death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in Italy has jumped by at least 133 in the past 24 hours, bringing its total to 366.

Italy imposed a quarantine in Lombardy and other severely affected areas, affecting some 16 million people as it stepped up efforts to tackle Europe’s largest outbreak.

The move came as the country struggles to contain the virus’s spread, with 1,247 new cases detected in the last 24 hours – a 25 percent surge. As of Sunday, Italy confirmed 7,375 infections. 

Meanwhile in Saudi Arabia, authorities locked down the eastern Qatif region in a bid to contain the fast-spreading virus. Riyadh also said it was suspending all public and private schools and universities across the country from Monday until further notice.

Also on Sunday, Iran reported 49 new coronavirus fatalities over the past 24 hours, bringing its death toll to 194.

The number of people diagnosed with the new coronavirus now exceeds 106,000 worldwide with several new countries reporting their first cases. Nearly 3,600 people have died. 

In Doha, taking over from Ramy Allahoum, this is Hamza Mohamed.

Here are the latest updates: 

Sunday, March 8

20:30 – GMT – Qatar bans arrivals from 14 countries

Qatar has temporarily barred travellers from 14 countries starting March 9 as a precaution against the spread of coronavirus, the government announced on Sunday.

The ban covers China, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Syria and Thailand.

Qatar Airways had already suspended flights to and from Italy.

Qatar reported three more cases of the virus on Sunday, bringing the total there to 15.

18:25 GMT – US state of Oregon declares state of emergency

Oregon declared a 60-day state of emergency on Sunday as coronavirus cases in the state doubled to 14.

“We will do everything in our power to keep Oregonians safe,” Kate Brown, Oregon governor, said at a news conference.

18:00 GMT – France reports three new deaths, toll hits 19

France reported three new coronavirus deaths on Sunday, taking the country’s death toll from the outbreak to 19.

As of Sunday, the total number of confirmed cases stood at 1,126, according to health officials. France has also banned gatherings of more than 1,000 people over virus fears.

17:30 GMT – Italy: Coronavirus death toll in Lombardy region jumps to 366

The death toll from coronavirus outbreak in the northern Italian region of Lombardy has risen to 366 from 154 in the past 24 hours, according to a local official.

Lombardy has borne the brunt of a nationwide contagion. The latest national death toll figures are due to be released later in the day.

As of Saturday, Italy has confirmed more than 5,880, according to WHO.

17:00 GMT – Switzerland: Patient dies from virus, death toll hits two

Swiss health officials reporting a patient infected with coronavirus has died, bringing the national death toll to two.

The patient died in hospital in Liestal, officials say.

As of Sunday, the number of confirmed cases in the country stands at 281.

15:10 GMT – Iraq protesters call for protective medical items to fight virus

Protesters gathered in the centre of Baghdad on Sunday to demand more help from the government to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

They called on Iraq’s ministry of health to provide further supplies of face masks and gloves for members of the public.

Demand for protective medical items, such as masks, gloves and gowns, is booming as the virus spreads in Iraq.

The country currently has more than 30 confirmed cases of the virus.

14:40 GMT – Cancel big public events to stop virus spread: German health minister 

Germany’s health minister, Jens Spahn, said all public events with more than 1,000 participants should be called off as the country battles the spread of coronavirus.

“Given how fast things are developing, that should change quickly,” he told DPA news agency.

On Sunday, Germany had a total of 847 confirmed cases, according to the country’s official disease control institute.

14:30 GMT – Netherlands: Coronavirus death toll jumps to three

The death toll from coronavirus infections in the Netherlands has jumped to three, after health officials reported two more fatalities.

The National Institute for Public Health said the deceased were two men, aged 82 and 86.

The two had previous medical problems before they were infected with the virus, according to officials. The Netherlands registered its first fatal case, an 86-year-old man who died in a hospital in Rotterdam, on Friday.

The total number of infections in the country increased to 265 on Sunday, from 188 a day earlier.

Health authorities said 131 of these patients had recently been to Italy, the country at the heart of Europe’s largest coronavirus outbreak.

14:20 GMT – Royal Air Maroc suspends flight to Venice, Milan

Morocco’s state carrier, Royal Air Maroc (RAM), has suspended flights to Italy’s Venice and Milan.

The two cities are currently under lockdown by Italian authorities due to a coronavirus outbreak.

The CN-ROP Royal Air Maroc Boeing 737 makes its final approach for landing at Toulouse-Blagnac airport, France, March 20, 2019. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau
 In January, the airline suspended direct flights to Beijing [Regis Duvignau [Reuters]

Flights will resume on April 8, the airline said in a statement. In January, the airline suspended direct flights to Beijing.

14:10 GMT – Trump: ‘Fake news media’ making US look bad amid virus spread

US President Donald Trump said “fake news media is doing everything possible” to make Washington look bad as the country steps up efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus.

“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,” Trump said in a tweet.

The US has confirmed more than 210 cases.

Meanwhile, a top public health official said signs of the virus spreading through the country was “not encouraging” and warned Americans may need to think carefully about attending large gatherings if it continues.

“I think we’re getting a better sense [of the scope of the outbreak] as the days go by,” Anthony Fauci, the head of the infectious diseases unit at the National Institutes of Health, told broadcaster NBC.

“Unfortunately, that better sense is not encouraging because we’re seeing community spread.”

Washington state is considering whether mandatory measures may be needed to curb social gatherings and contain the spread of coronavirus, Governor Jay Inslee said on Sunday.

“We certainly are contemplating requirements for what we call social distancing,” Inslee told on CBS.

“We are contemplating some next steps, particularly to protect our vulnerable populations, and our nursing homes and the like, and we are looking to determine whether mandatory measures are required,” he added.

13:30 GMT – Saudi Arabia: Authorities cordon off Qatif region

Saudi Arabia has cordoned off a region in the country’s Eastern Province in a bid to contain the coronavirus’ spread.

“Given that all 11 recorded positive cases of the new coronavirus are from Qatif … it has been decided … to temporarily suspend entry and exit from Qatif,” the interior ministry said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.

Qatif is a stronghold of the kingdom’s Shia minority.

Riyadh confirmed a total of 11 cases – most of them were people returning from religious pilgrimages to Iran.

Saudi Arabia map showing Qatif

12:30 GMT – Qatar records three new coronavirus cases 

Qatar’s public health ministry announced three additional coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of infections to 15. 

The patients were admitted to the Communicable Disease Center and are in complete isolation, the ministry said in a statement.

 “All those who were sharing the accommodation were subjected to quarantine, including all people who came in contact with the patients to make sure they are healthy and that no infection was transmitted to them,” the ministry said in a statement.

The patients’ accommodation is also being subjected to a thorough examination and is tracing the three individuals’ movements. 

12:10 GMT – Moscow threatens prison for those who fail to self-isolate 

Moscow city authorities threatened prison terms of up to five years on Sunday for people failing to self-isolate in their homes for two weeks after visiting countries hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak.

The city government had announced a “high alert regime” and imposed extra measures on Thursday to prevent a spread of the illness in the Russian capital.

Those who return from China, South Korea, Iran, France, Germany, Italy and Spain and other states showing possible “unfavourable” signs of coronavirus should self-isolate themselves at home for 14 days, Moscow city hall has said.

12:00 GMT – Hong Kong records third coronavirus death 

Honk Kong’s Hospital Authority said a 76-year-old woman passed away after falling ill from coronavirus, becoming the third person to die from the infection in the semi-autonomous territory. 

The patient had developed fever, shortness of breath, cough and abdominal pain on February 28 and was admitted to hospital the same day.

Four more cases were registered on Sunday, bringing the total number of infections to 114. 

11:40 GMT – Vietnman coronavirus cases jump to 29

Vietnam’s health ministry confirmed nine additional cases, bringing the the total number of infections to 29. The new cases include eight foreign tourists who arrived in the capital Hanoi from London on Monday. 

Following a swift response, authorities were able to treat the first 16 patients who tested positive for the virus. The ministry said 101 suspected cases were put in quarantine while an additional 23,228 people were being monitored. 

11:15 GMT – Iran death toll climbs to 194

Iran’s death toll from the coronavirus climbed to 194, up from 145 the previous day, healty ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said in a televised address. 

“There have been 743 people who have been added to the total of those infected by COVID-19 through lab test results,” he said. “In the past 24 hours, we have had 49 people who have died from this illness so we have at least 194 deaths until now.”

The cumulative number of cases in the country, which has been hardest hit by the virus in the Middle East region, totalled 6,566.

11:00 GMT – Number of coronavirus cases in South Africa rises to three 

The wife of the first patient to be infected with the coronavirus has tested positive for the virus, South Africa’s health ministry said in a statement, bringing the number of confirmed cases to three. 

To date, all three confirmed cases belonged to a group of 10 tourists who travelled to Italy, according to the statement. 

All those who may have come into contact with the infected individuals have been traced, except for one person who was not in South Africa.

10:00 GMT – Saudi Arabia confirms four more cases

Saudi Arabia’s health ministry registered four new cases of the coronavirus, bringing the total number of infections to 11. 

It separately announced a general amnesty for those who violate a travel ban to Iran. So far, 125 people have come forward. 

09:50 GMT – Czech PM: Italy should ban citizens from travelling to Europe 

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis urged Italy to ban its citizens from travelling abroad to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. 

“It’s clear that Italy, unfortunately, doesn’t have it under control,” Babis said, also calling on Czechs who are currently in Italy to return home.

“They [Italians] shouldn’t travel to Europe because most of the cases in Germany, France, Spain … have originated in Italy.”

08:45 GMT – Bulgaria registers two additional cases

Bulgaria has reported two additional cases, bringing the total number in the country to four.

Todor Kantardzhiev, head of the National Centre of Infectious and Parasitic Diseases, said two men from the northern city of Pleven and two women from the central city of Gabrovo tested positive for the virus.

Neither had travelled recently or been in contact with someone returning from a country with a coronavirus outbreak, according to Kunchev.

08:25 GMT – Bahrain’s Formula 1 Grand Prix closed to fans

Bahrain’s Formula One Grand Prix scheduled to take place later this month will be restricted to participants, organisers said in a statement. 

“Given the continued spread of Covid-19 globally, convening a major sporting event, which is open to the public and allows thousands of international travellers and local fans to interact in close proximity, would not be the right thing to do at the present time,” read the statement.

08:10 GMT – Moldova confirms first coronavirus case

Moldova has registered its first confirmed case in a 48-year-old woman who recently returned from a trip to Italy.

“The person was taken from the airport… with bilateral pneumonia, acute respiratory failure, fever, cough, general weakness,” a health ministry statement said late on Saturday.

07:20 GMT – US cruise ship allowed to dock in Oakland, California

The coronavirus-stricken Grand Princess cruise ship has been given the green light to dock in Oakland, the tour operator said in a statement.

“Grand Princess will proceed to the Port of Oakland on Sunday to begin disembarking guests who require acute medical treatment and hospitalization,” the Princess Cruises tour company said.

“Guests who are California residents will go to a federally operated facility within California for testing and isolation, while non-Californians will be transported by the federal government to facilities in other states.”

The vessel, which has been stranded off the coast of California for four days, recorded 21 cases on board, including 19 crew and two American passengers.

Grand Princess cruise ship
Of the 3,535 people on board the Grand Princess, 21 have tested positive for the virus [California National Guard via AP]

06:30 GMT – Maldives records first two cases

The Maldives has reported its first cases of the novel coronavirus in two employees working at a tourist resort. They are believed to have caught the disease after coming into contact with an Italian tourist who tested positive upon returning to Italy.

The two are in stable condition and are in quarantine at a facility outside the capital, Male. 

This is Ramy Allahoum in Doha taking over from my colleague, Kate Mayberry.

Sunday, March 8

05:55 GMT – Death toll rises to six in China hotel collapse

The death toll in a hotel collapse in China has risen to six with 28 still missing, according to the Ministry of Emergency Management.

The building in Quanzhou, which was being used to house people under observation for the coronavirus, collapsed on Saturday evening.

As of 11:30am in Beijing (03:30 GMT), rescuers had found 43 people in the rubble – 36 have been sent to hospital while one did not need medical treatment.

05:40 GMT – Malaysia, Thailand bar cruise ship

Thailand and Malaysia have barred the Costa Fortuna, which has about 2,000 people on board including dozens of Italians, from docking at their ports.

Malaysian officials say there are about 64 Italians on board. 

The Star, a local newspaper, reported earlier on Sunday that Malaysian ports had banned all cruise ships following a directive from the Ministry of Transport.

The Costa Fortuna is now said to be on its way to Singapore. 

05:01 GMT – First case of coronavirus in US capital

A man in his 50s has tested positive for coronavirus in Washington, DC, the first case in the US capital. 

On Saturday, District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser said the man started exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 in late February.

He was admitted to a Washington, DC, hospital on Thursday and appeared to have no history of international travel and no close contacts to any other confirmed cases in the US, Bowser said.

“With his test yielding presumptive positive, DC Health has started its investigation in keeping with CDC [Centers for Disease Control] guidelines,” Bowser said. The investigation includes tracing the man’s movements, though the mayor declined to specify where the man lived.

04:30 GMT – 10 dead in China quarantine hotel collapse

State media in China say at least 10 people died in the collapse of a hotel in Quanzhou that was being used for coronavirus quarantine.

An estimated 23 others are believed trapped in the rubble. Rescuers pulled 48 people from the wreckage, of whom 38 are alive, the Ministry of Emergency Management said on social media.

The building in the coastal city of Quanzhou had been repurposed to house people who recently had contact with patients confirmed with COVID-19, the state-run People’s Daily newspaper reported.

China hotel
At least four people have been confirmed dead after a hotel in the eastern city of Quanzhou that was being used for coronavirus isolation collapsed on Saturday evening [Xiao Fan/EPA]

03:25 GMT – Italy quarantine will apply to 16 million people; remain until April 3

Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte says the government will enforce a strict quarantine in the state of Lombardy and 14 other areas in the north, affecting a total of 16 million people.

“We want to protect the health of all citizens,” Conte told a news conference in Rome.

“We are aware that this will create unease and that these measures will be a sacrifice, big and small. But this is the time to be responsible. We should not counter these measures or dodge them, we must think about protecting our health, the health of our loved ones, the health of our parents but mainly the health of our grandparents.”

The quarantine will be the most extreme outside China, which sealed off Hubei province in January.

Nobody will be allowed to move in or out of the designated territories, although exceptions will be made for reasons of health, professional needs and “exceptional” cases, Conte said.

02:45 GMT – South Korea to ration face masks

South Korea is to start rationing face masks from Monday, limiting the number each person can buy each week. 

South Korea’s Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun on Sunday issued a public message, asking citizens to “actively cooperate” with the efforts to make sure healthcare workers and sick people have access to enough masks.

“Even if you feel inconvenient, I ask you to show a mature sense of civil awareness, based on concessions, consideration and cooperation so that people who really need face masks can buy them,” he said, according to Yonhap news agency.

The government has imposed export restrictions on masks and urged factories to increase production.

02:15 GMT – Rescue efforts continue at collapsed hotel in China

Rescue efforts continue at the collapsed hotel in the southeastern city of Quanzhou.

Chinese media say that 49 people had been rescued at 00:20 GMT. About 20 people are feared to be trapped in the rubble.

The hotel, which opened in 2018 and had 80 rooms, was being used to house people in isolation over fears they may be infected with the coronavirus.

02:00 GMT Hubei issues digital clean bills of health for people to get back to work

China’s Global Times has reported that the province of Hubei, where the coronavirus first emerged late last year, has issued its first green digital health certificates – clean bills of health – that will allow people in the still sealed-off province to return to work.

01:45 GMT – Conservative Political Action Conference confirms attendee tested positive

Organisers of the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, said an attendee of its annual Washington, DC-area conference last month has tested positive for coronavirus.

“A New Jersey hospital tested the person, and CDC confirmed the positive result,” said a statement by the American Conservative Union, the host of the event.

The conference was attended by numerous high-profile conservative political figures, including President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The organiser said the affected person had “no interaction” with Trump or Pence and did not attend events in the conference’s main hall.

The conference took place from February 26 to 29.

01:36 GMT – Elderly man becomes Australia’s third COVID-19 death

An elderly man has died in a hospital in Sydney after being confirmed to have COVID-19.

He is the third person in the country to die after being diagnosed with the coronavirus.

Australia currently has 74 confirmed cases, but authorities worry it is spreading within the community.

Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt said on Sunday the government had secured an additional 54 million face masks to help protect medical workers.

The masks are scheduled to arrive in Australia between now and the end of April, he added.

01:27 GMT – South Korea reports 93 more cases of coronavirus

South Korea, the country grappling with the largest outbreak outside China, reported 93 new cases of coronavirus on Sunday morning.

While that was lower than the previous day, the authorities have said numbers could fluctuate as more people are tested.

South Korea now has 7,134 confirmed cases of the virus.

South Korea Coronavirus
A couple wearing face masks ride a tandem bicycle around a park in Seoul on Saturday. More than 7,000 people in South Korea have been diagnosed with the virus [Ahn Young-joon/AP Photo]

01:17 GMT – Bulgaria reports first cases of coronavirus

Bulgaria has reported its first cases of coronavirus in a 27-year-old man and a 75-year-old woman.

Neither had travelled recently or been in contact with anyone returning from a country with a coronavirus outbreak, Chief State Health Inspector Angel Kunchev told journalists.

“Samples from two patients – a man from the northern town of Pleven and a woman from the central town of Gabrovo – tested positive,” said Todor Kantardzhiev, director of the National Center of Infectious and Parasitic Diseases.

They had been admitted to hospital several days ago with severe respiratory problems. 

Their condition has improved and both will undergo further tests overnight to verify the result.

Authorities said they had already tracked down and started testing approximately 40 people who were known to have been in contact with the two people.

01:15 GMT – Argentina confirms first COVID-19 death in Latin America

Argentina has reported its first death from COVID-19, the first in Latin America.

Paraguay, Colombia, Chile and Peru have announced their first confirmed cases of coronavirus in recent days, and several cases have been confirmed in neighbouring Brazil.

Coronavirus Argentina
Daniel Ferrante, secretary of health planning of the city of Buenos Aires, and Sergio Auger, director of the Hospital Cosme Argerich, speak outside Hospital Cosme Argerich after the first death from COVID-19 was confirmed in Argentina [Mariana Greif/Reuters]

00:42 GMT – China cases continue to slow

The spread of the coronavirus continues to slow in China.

The country reported 44 new cases on Saturday, most of them in Hubei where the outbreak originated. There were only three cases elsewhere on the mainland, in people who had arrived from overseas.

A further 27 people died from COVID-19, bringing the national toll to 3,097.

00:35 GMT – New York state declares emergency as US death toll rises

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has declared a state of emergency over the coronavirus after the number of confirmed cases there rose by 13 to 89.

“It allows expedited purchasing and expedited hiring, which is what we need right now,” Cuomo told a news conference.

More than half of US states have now reported cases of the virus, which causes COVID-19. Two more people in the western state of Washington died from the disease on Saturday, bringing the total death toll across the country to 19.

Coronavirus how to stay safe

00:00 GMT – Italy planning to impose unprecedented quarantine

Italy is set to impose an unprecedented quarantine on the northern region of Lombardy, including Milan, as it steps up efforts to tackle the coronavirus.

According to a draft decree seen by Reuters, under the new rules, people will not be able to enter or leave Lombardy, which is home to some 10 million people, as well as 11 provinces in four of Italy’s 19 other regions.

All museums, gyms, cultural centres, ski resorts and swimming pools will be closed in the targeted areas, according to the decree.

“The government is appealing to a sense of responsibility among all Italian citizens,” Sabina Castelfranco, an Italian journalist based in London, told Al Jazeera. “I think Italians are very concerned [about the virus].”

The governors of Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna, another region affected, have expressed reservations over the plan, so Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has not yet signed it. That could happen on Sunday.

So far, only a few limited areas of northern Italy, known as “red zones”, have been quarantined.


Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s live updates on the coronavirus outbreak. I’m Kate Mayberry reporting from our bureau in Kuala Lumpur.

Click here to read all the updates from March 7.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies