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1st case confirmed in nation's capital

Here's the latest on the coronavirus outbreak.
Image: Countries around the world work to contain and delay the spread of the novel coronavirus that has already claimed more than 3,000 lives worldwide, including nine in the U.S.
Countries around the world work to contain and delay the spread of the novel coronavirus that has already claimed more than 3,000 lives worldwide, including 17 in the U.S.Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

The number of deaths from coronavirus in the U.S. has climbed to 19, nearly all of them in Washington state.

Two people have died in Florida, one in California and 16 in Washington state as hundreds of cases of infection have been reported around the country.

Worldwide, more than 100,000 people have been infected, according to Johns Hopkins University. Huge swathes of Italy have been locked down and health experts are continuing to urge people to practice preventative measures, such as routine hand-washing, in order to avoid COVID-19.

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Pope Francis cancels live Sunday blessing to prevent crowds gathering

Pope Francis has canceled his live Sunday blessing from a window overlooking the Vatican's St. Peter's Square, to avoid the risk of coronavirus transmission. 

Instead the Pontiff will deliver his weekly sermon via an internet livestream, the Vatican said in statement Saturday. It added that similar measures will also be put in place when he addresses an audience on Wednesday. 

The decision was taken after a request from Italian authorities, it said. 

In total, 197 people have died in Italy, making it the worst hit European country. 

Pope Francis was advised not to deliver his weekly speech live, to prevent crowds gathering. Vincenzo Pinto / AFP - Getty Images

Leader of Italy's co-ruling Democratic party has coronavirus

The leader of Italy's co-ruling Democratic Party Nicola Zingaretti said on Saturday he had tested positive for coronavirus.

"I have coronavirus too", Zingaretti said in a video posted on Facebook, adding he was in self-isolation at home and that all the people he had been in contact with in the latest days were being contacted for checks. He said he was well.

Italy has been the hardest hit country Europe by the epidemic, with a total of 4,636 cases and 197 deaths on Friday, and is currently reporting more deaths per day form the virus than any other country in the world.

The government this week ordered the closure of schools, universities, cinemas and theaters to stem infections.

More than half of all states have reported COVID-19 cases

With the coronavirus outbreak spreading across the country, more than half of all U.S. states have now reported cases.

As of Friday night, officials in 28 states confirmed positive tests for the coronavirus illness COVID-19. In total, more than 330 cases have been reported.

The majority of those cases were in New York, California and Washington state.

Earlier this week, a vehicle maintenance worker Thiphavanh "Loui" Thepvongsa wipes down an off-duty bus with a disinfectant during a routine cleaning at the King County Metro Atlantic and Central Base in Seattle.JASON REDMOND / Reuters, file

Read the full story here.

Outbreak used by European populists to challenge open borders

The coronavirus outbreak has emptied streets, closed universities and filled hospitals around the world, but it has taken a more ominous turn in Europe, where right-wing populists are renewing calls to crack down on immigration. 

Some have even made unsubstantiated claims that migrants from Africa brought the virus to the continent.

People wearing protective face masks walk at as they arrive at Charles de Gaulle airport in late February in Paris, France.Gonzalo Fuentes / Reuters

"The government has underestimated the coronavirus," said Matteo Salvini, the former interior minister of Italy, which has been Europe's epicenter of the coronavirus. "Allowing the migrants to land from Africa, where the presence of the virus was confirmed, is irresponsible."

Salvini is one of Europe's most hard-line voices on immigration, but no evidence has emerged that migrants brought the virus to Italy, where more than 4,500 people have been infected and almost 200 people have died.

Read the whole story here.

WHO director offers praise to Facebook and Instagram for 'playing their part'

The Director-General of the World Health Organization commended Facebook and Instagram in a tweet Saturday for "stepping up and playing their part" in making sure equipment is reserved for those who most need it in the fight against the coronavirus outbreak. 

Facebook's head of ads and business products said Friday that the social media giant is banning ads and commerce listings for medical masks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend masks or respirators for the general public.

Here is some expert advice on how to stop touching your face

Uber to compensate drivers diagnosed with illness or force to self-quarantine

Uber said in a memo Friday that it plans to compensate drivers and delivery workers who are required to self-quarantine, or if they are diagnosed with the coronavirus.

Employees “in these situations” will receive compensation for a period of up to 14 days, Senior Vice President Andrew Macdonald said in a statement, although he did not say how much they would receive. 

“This has already begun in some markets and we are working to implement mechanisms to do this worldwide,” he added.

Cruise ship on river Nile placed under quarantine by Egyptian authorities

A cruise on the Nile river has been quarantined by Egyptian health authorities after 12 people tested positive for coronavirus. 

A Taiwanese-American tourist likely caused the spread on board the ship, as she tested positive for the virus after returning to Taiwan late in February, officials said.

They added that American, French and Indian nationals were among the 150 passengers and crew on board. 

Those confirmed to be infected with the respiratory had been isolated on board, officials said, adding that the remaining passengers and crew were awaiting their test results.  

Philippines to declare health emergency, minister says

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte plans to declare a nationwide public health emergency following confirmation of the country's first community transmission of the disease, the country's health minister said Saturday. 

Francisco Duque told a news conference that the decision was a preemptive measure to prepare for a possible increase of cases.

His comments came after health officials said the first case of the disease being transmitted locally had been recorded when a 62-year-old Filipino man who had not traveled abroad recently was diagnosed with the respiratory illness.

His 59-year-old wife has also been infected, bringing the number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian nation to six.

Italy to hire 20,000 healthcare workers: reports

The Italian government plan to hire 20,000 new medical personnel in order to bolster the health service and tackle coronavirus, local media reported Saturday.

They intend to recruit 5,000 doctors, 5,000 social workers and 10,000 nurses.

As of Saturday, 148 people have died from the respiratory illness in Italy and the country has highest death toll outside of China, where the disease originated. 

Entire towns have been quarantined northern Italy, which is expected to weigh heavily on the country's economy, with tourism particularly affected.

Majority of South Korean cases linked to secretive church, health director says

More than 60 percent of the cases in South Korea can be linked to a secretive church at the center of South Korea's outbreak, the deputy director of the Korea Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention said Saturday. 

The Korea Center for Disease Control said that the number of confirmed cases had risen by 448 to 7,041. Two more people had died from the respiratory illness, bringing the total number of COVID-19 linked deaths to 46. 

South Korea — which has one of the worst outbreaks outside of China — has seen a spike in cases since mid-February when a 61-year-old woman known as "Patient 31" tested positive after attending religious services at a branch of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in the southeastern city of Daegu.

Lee Man-hee, the founder of the church, apologized earlier this week, calling the epidemic a "great calamity."