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Millions quarantined in Italy as D.C reports first case

Here's the latest on the coronavirus outbreak.
Image: Ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses.
Ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses.Alissa Eckert/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention / AFP - Getty Images

Italy's government has placed more than 16 million people — a quarter of the population — under lockdown in a drastic bid to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The Lombardy region, including the city of Milan, has been quarantined, as have other cities, including Venice, Parma and Modena.

Meanwhile in the U.S., the first case has been confirmed in the capital, Washington, D.C., and hundreds of other cases have been reported around the country.

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This live coverage has ended. Continue reading March 9 Coronavirus news.

1055d ago / 10:53 AM UTC

Maldives confirms first two cases of coronavirus

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The Maldives has curbed movement on several resort islands, authorities said Sunday, after the country reported its first two cases of coronavirus.

The pair, both foreign nationals, were working at the Kuredu Island Resort. Both were confirmed to have the virus Saturday, according to the country’s Health Protection Agency (HPA). They were in direct contact with an Italian tourist who has returned to Italy and tested positive there, the agency said. 

In a statement released on its website, the resort confirmed two positive test results, saying all guests and employees will remain on the island and follow guidance from health authorities.

“The temporary restrictive measures will continue until such time that the authorities release the island from its quarantine period. At this time there will be no flight in or out of the island,” the statement said, adding that the island is well stocked with essentials.

The economy of the Maldives is heavily dependent on foreign tourists who stay in its luxury resorts. 

1055d ago / 10:39 AM UTC

Coronavirus divides one family while driving another closer together

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HONG KONG — Sitting 10 feet apart on a bench in Hong Kong’s Tuen Mun Park, Dr. Alfred Wong and his pregnant wife briefly remove their protective masks before tucking into their take-out dinners and talking about their days.

It is a brief respite and return to normality for Wong, 38, a member of the “dirty team” at the Tuen Mun Hospital nearby. There, he is tasked with treating patients infected with the coronavirus.

Wong told NBC News that he was so concerned about his wife and unborn child that he would not go any closer to her than 10 feet. 

“Of course, it makes sense to the brain,” Wong said. “But doesn’t make sense to the heart.”

Less than 600 miles away in Wuhan — the Chinese city where the disease is believed to have originated — Benjamin Wilson has the opposite problem. A English teacher and restaurateur from Alexandria, Louisiana, he can only spend time with his wife, Lulu, 36, and 7-year-old daughter, Jasmine.

“Trapped,” Wilson, 38, told NBC News. “Couldn’t leave if we wanted to.”

He said that he felt like "astronauts being in space,” as they were “completely cut off and isolated" in their apartment.

Read full story here. 

1055d ago / 10:15 AM UTC

Czech PM calls for Italy travel ban

Italy should ban all its citizens from travelling to Europe in order to curb the new coronavirus outbreak, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said on Sunday.

Italy imposed a virtual lockdown across a swathe of its wealthy north earlier on Sunday, including the financial capital Milan, in a drastic new attempt to try to contain a rapidly growing outbreak of coronavirus.

"Italy should ban all its citizens from travelling to Europe, because we are not able to order such a thing within (the European Union's borderless area) Schengen," Babis said on Czech Television.

The Czech Republic has reported 26 confirmed cases of the coronavirus infection as of Saturday evening, most involving persons either travelling from Italy or in contact with someone who has been there.

1055d ago / 8:50 AM UTC

WHO explains differences between novel coronavirus and influenza

1055d ago / 8:35 AM UTC

Australian police charge two Sydney women over toilet paper feud

Shelves usually stocked with toilet rolls are seen empty in a supermarket following panic buying in Sydney on Sunday.SAEED KHAN / AFP - Getty Images

Two women involved in violent brawl over toilet roll have been charged by police in Australia. 

The pair, aged 23 and 60, were issued court attendance notices for affray “following an altercation at a supermarket” in Sydney, New South Wales police said Sunday. They are due to appear at a local court on April 28.

Major supermarket chains in Australia have restricted supplies to one pack per person amid panic buying by residents as people worried about the coronavirus epidemic have stocked up and fears of supply shortages grow.

The number of coronavirus cases in Australia has topped 70 while a man in his 80s became the third person to die from COVID-19 in the country.

1055d ago / 6:56 AM UTC

Grand Princess cruise ship to dock in Oakland, California

Image: The Grand Princess cruise ship carrying passengers who have tested positive for coronavirus is seen in the Pacific Ocean outside San Francisco
The Grand Princess cruise ship carrying passengers who have tested positive for coronavirus is seen in the Pacific Ocean outside San Francisco on Saturday.Stephen Lam / Reuters

The Grand Princess cruise ship carrying 21 people who have tested positive for coronavirus was cleared by state and federal officials  to dock in Oakland, California, Princess Cruises said late Saturday.

The cruise ship with more than 3,500 passengers, was initially supposed to dock Sunday but then amended its statement to say the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made changes to the plan, and it will dock sometime Monday.

At that time officials will "begin disembarking guests who require acute medical treatment and hospitalization," Princess said. "These guests will be transported to medical facilities in California."

The cruise line, citing the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, said Californians would be screened, tested and isolated; non-Californians will be taken to facilities in other states; and staff will remain aboard for quarantine and treatment.

The ship traveled to Mexico in February. A Sacramento-area man who had been aboard died of COVID-19, the disease from coronavirus. Two other passengers were hospitalized with the virus in Northern California, officials said. And two Canadians who had been on-board subsequently tested positive.

1055d ago / 5:12 AM UTC

4 dead in collapse of Chinese hotel used for virus control

A boy is rescued from the rubble of a collapsed hotel in Quanzhou, in China's eastern Fujian province early Sunday. Four people were killed following the collapse of a hotel used as a coronavirus quarantine facility.STR / AFP - Getty Images

At least four people were killed in the collapse of hotel in southeastern China that was being used for medical observation of people who had arrived from areas hit by the coronavirus outbreak, authorities said Sunday.

The sudden collapse of the building on Saturday evening trapped 71 people, the Ministry of Emergency Management said. Thirty-eight had been rescued as of 10:30 a.m. Sunday, including one person in critical condition and four others in serious condition, the ministry said.

More than 1,000 firefighters and seven rescue dogs were dispatched to the site, according to the ministry. News photos showed rescue workers with flashlights climbing over the debris and bringing people out. Rubble was left piled on cars in front of the building.

The Xinjia Express Hotel is in Quanzhou, a coastal city in Fujian province. The city government said it was housing people who had come from coronavirus-hit areas. Most parts of China are quarantining people from such areas for 14 days.

1055d ago / 4:23 AM UTC

Millions locked down as Italy announces sweeping quarantine


Image: Milan
A woman wearing a respiratory mask stands in front of an empty bar in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, on Thursday.Piero Cruciatti / AFP - Getty Images

Over a quarter of Italy's population were locked down by the country's government Sunday as it closed off the entire Lombardy region, including the city of Milan and more than a dozen other provinces. Around 16 million people were affected. 

The government took the drastic action after the country saw its biggest daily increase in coronavirus cases since an outbreak erupted there last month. The number of cases confirmed in the country now stands at 5,883, with close to half that number — 2,651 — hospitalized. More than 230 people have died from COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus.

"We want to protect the health of all citizens," Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said. "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."

Sunday's decree restricts anyone from leaving or entering designated red zones except for ''undeferrable work needs or emergency situations'' starting Sunday through at least April 3, Conte added. 

Read the full story.

1056d ago / 3:39 AM UTC

People are changing their normal routines

Image: A man wearing a face mask reads his phone on the subway in New York on Feb. 2, 2020.
A man wearing a face mask reads his phone on the subway in New York on Feb. 2.Robert Nickelsberg / Getty Images file

People are altering their normal routines in ways large and small to keep the virus at bay.

We give you 10 tips for changes you can make. They include: Don't take your reusable cup to Starbucks, listen to music at home instead of going to shows and try not to shake hands.

Read the full list.

1056d ago / 2:17 AM UTC

Washington, D.C., reports its first coronavirus case

Image: Muriel Bowser
District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser announces the first case of coronavirus in Washington on SaturdayPatrick Semansky / AP

District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Washington's first coronavirus case Saturday.

The patient was described as a resident in his 50s who appears to have contracted the virus in late February, when he started feeling ill, she said.

She said it was not known how the man contracted the virus. He "appears to have no history of international travel and no close contacts with a confirmed case," Bowser said.

Bowser said local health officials were monitoring 11 residents who had symptoms consistent with the coronavirus illness, COVID-19. Tests for nine of them were negative, she said, and results for another were pending.