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Angela Merkel quarantined, Rand Paul tests positive, Ohio on lockdown

Here are the latest updates from around the world.
Image: The nearly empty 42nd Street in New York on March 22, 2020.
The nearly empty 42nd Street in New York on March 22, 2020.Spencer Platt / Getty Images

The number of global coronavirus cases surged past 300,000 on Sunday, with more than 13,000 deaths worldwide, according to John Hopkins University, which reported that China, Italy and the U.S. had the most people diagnosed with the respiratory illness.

The news came as the number of Americans under virtual lockdown grew to over 80 million on Saturday, and Ohio issued new shelter-in-place orders.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is herself in quarantine after a doctor who treated her tested positive for coronavirus, her press office announced Sunday.

And Sen. Rand Paul became the first known U.S. Senator to test positive for coronavirus.

“He is feeling fine and is in quarantine. He is asymptomatic and was tested out of an abundance of caution due to his extensive travel and events,“ the senator’s Twitter account said on Sunday.

Elsewhere, China ended a three-day streak of reporting no new coronavirus cases after 46 people tested positive positive for COVID-19. On the same day, China's National Health Commission also reported six new deaths. Five of the deaths occurred in Wuhan in Hubei province, where the outbreak originated late last year.

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Spain reports 394 new coronavirus deaths bringing the total to 1,720

Spain has reported 394 new coronavirus deaths, bringing the total to 1,720, country's health officials said Sunday. 

Spain has so far confirmed 28,572 coronavirus cases, of which 1,785 require intensive care. 

The country is grappling with Europe’s second-worst coronavirus outbreak after Italy.


Italian doctor at epicenter of outbreak warns the world to act now

An Italian doctor treating patients at the center of the worst coronavirus outbreak in Europe has issued a stark warning to other countries yet hit by the full force of the pandemic: lock down.

“We know what happens," Dr. Emanuela Catenacci told British broadcaster Sky News as she took a break from treating patients in an intensive care ward in the Cremona Hospital in Lombardy. "Don’t think it is happening here and it can’t happen everywhere else … because it will."

The death toll in Italy jumped by 793 to 4,825 on Saturday, by far the largest daily rise in absolute terms since the contagion emerged a month ago in this country.

Last week, the number of those killed in Italy's outbreak surpassed those who died in China, where the disease first emerged late last year.

Read the full story here. 

Pope Francis to hold special service to pray for end of coronavirus pandemic

Pope Francis will host a special service to pray for an end to the coronavirus pandemic later this week. 

The pope announced the service during Sunday mass saying that as "humanity trembles with the threat of the pandemic," he will preside over a prayer at St Peter's Square in Vatican City in the evening of Friday, March 27, inviting Catholics from around the world to join him spiritually.

"Let’s make our closeness be felt by the loneliest and most experienced people," the pope said. "Our closeness to doctors, health workers, nurses and volunteers. Our closeness to the authorities who must take tough measures, but for our own good. Our closeness to the policemen, to the soldiers who always try to maintain order on the road, so that the things the government asks to do, for the good of all of us, are accomplished."

The prayer will be broadcast live, the Holy See Press Office later said. 

Italy, hit hardest by the coronavirus epidemic in Europe, reached the highest daily death toll record on Saturday, with 793 deaths in 24 hours.

Iran's Supreme Leader says country rejected U.S. offer of help

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei AFP - Getty Images

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has refused America’s offer of assistance to tackle the virus and described the U.S. as his country’s “most sinister” enemy.

In a speech aired live on Iranian state TV,  Khamenei said the United States has been accused of producing the virus and the assistance being offered may in fact make it “long-lasting."

Khamenei made his comments after he canceled his regular Persian New Year speech at the Imam Reza Shrine in the city of Mashhad in line with precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the virus. 

Confirmed cases in Iran have reached 21,638 with a death toll of 1,685.

Australian government to consider draconian measures on social distancing

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Sunday that states and territories will consider draconian measures to enforce social distancing to combat the coronavirus.

After thousands of people flocked to Australia’s beaches in recent days amid an unusually warm autumn spell in defiance of government orders, Morrison said proposals would be considered Sunday.  

Most of Sydney’s main beaches, including Bondi Beach, were closed on Sunday.

Australia has recorded 873 cases of coronavirus and seven deaths so far. 

The empty Bondi Beach after it was closed to help stop the spread of coronavirus in Sydney on Sunday. Jenny Evans / Getty Images

Powerful earthquake strikes Croatian capital Zagreb amid coronavirus epidemic

A strong earthquake shook Croatia and its capital on Sunday, causing widespread damage and panic as the country is facing a growing number of coronavirus cases.

Officials said there were injuries, but gave no other immediate details.

The earthquake struck amid a partial lockdown of the capital because of the spread of the coronavirus. People were told to avoid public areas, such as parks and public squares, but had no choice as they ran out of their apartments.

The country has so far recorded 206 coronavirus cases and one death. 

Singapore to ban on all short-term visitors

Singapore will not allow any short-term visitors to transit or enter the city-state from Monday to curb the spread of the coronavirus and conserve health care resources. 

The measure was taken in view of the heightened risk of importation of coronavirus cases into Singapore, its ministry of health said Sunday, adding that nearly 80 percent of new cases in the last three days were imported, most of them Singapore residents returning home from abroad.

The city-state, with a small and open economy, reported its first fatalities from the virus on Saturday and has confirmed 432 cases of the infection.



Global coronavirus cases top 300,000 as 13,000 deaths recorded

The number of global coronavirus cases surged past 300,000 on Sunday, with more than 13,000 deaths worldwide, according to John Hopkins University.

China, Italy and the United States, were the three countries with the most cases according to the university's coronavirus resource center. 

Italy has recorded 4,825 deaths, followed by China, where the pandemic began, with 3,144, and Iran with 1,556. 

India starts 14-hour curfew to curb coronavirus spread

India launched a 14-hour long curfew on Sunday to limit the fast-spreading coronavirus epidemic in the country, where 315 people have so far been found to have contracted the disease.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in an address to the nation last week urged citizens to stay indoors from 5 p.m. local time (9:30 p.m. ET) until Monday morning  - a move that he said would be a crucial test for a country to assess its abilities to fight the pandemic.

“Let us all be a part of this curfew, which will add tremendous strength to the fight against the COVID-19 menace,” Modi tweeted minutes before the curfew commenced. “The steps we take now will help in the times to come. 

So far, 195 coronavirus cases and four deaths have been confirmed in India. 

First coronavirus cases confirmed in Gaza

Health officials in the densely-populated Gaza Strip confirmed the first cases of coronavirus Sunday. 

Two Palestinians who had traveled from Pakistan and entered Gaza through Egypt had tested positive for the virus late on Saturday and have been in quarantine in Rafah, a town near the Egyptian border, since their arrival on Thursday, the Gaza health ministry said.

Schools and public markets have all been shut in Gaza over the past two weeks to minimize the risk of coronavirus transmission.

The coastal enclave, measuring 145 square miles is home to around 2 million Palestinians.

U.K.'s Johnson urges Brits to avoid 'unnecessary physical contact' on Mother's Day

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson looks on during a coronavirus news conference inside 10 Downing Street in London on Thursday, March 19. Leon Neal / Reuters

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson advised the public to “avoid any unnecessary physical contact” on Mother’s Day.  

“This time the best thing is to ring her, video call her, Skype her, but to avoid any unnecessary physical contact or proximity,” Johnson said in an open letter published in The Sunday Times newspaper. “And why? Because if your mother is elderly or vulnerable, then I am afraid all the statistics show that she is much more likely to die from coronavirus, or COVID-19. We cannot disguise or sugarcoat the threat.”

Johnson told reporters Friday he hoped to see his own mother on Sunday, but he later changed his mind, according to media reports in the country, where his government told restaurants, pubs, gyms and cinemas to close down on Friday in a bid to contain the epidemic.