The Iranian Red Crescent Society (IRCS) and other organizations are carrying out rescue and relief operations in the flood-hit provinces.
Heavy rainfalls have forced the authorities in a number of cities to declare state of emergency and order the evacuation of people from residential areas.
Governor of the port city of Chabahar in southeast Iran said torrential rains over the past 24 hours have caused serious damages to the urban and rural infrastructures of the region.
Meantime, the State Department warned Americans not to travel internationally and advised all Americans who are abroad to return to the United States or make preparations to shelter in place.
Here are some other significant developments:
Here are the LATEST Global Coronavirus Figures
The Spanish government is poised to declare a 15-day national lockdown on Monday to battle coronavirus.
Under the decree being finalised, people would be allowed out only for emergencies, to buy food, or for work.
With 191 deaths and 6,046 infections, Spain is the worst-hit country in Europe after Italy, which declared a nationwide lockdown on Monday.
The US is extending its European travel ban to the UK and the Republic of Ireland from Monday.
President Donald Trump confirmed the news in answer to a reporter's question at the White House.
On Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Europe was now the "epicentre" of the pandemic.
Italy has seen 1,266 deaths and 17,660 infections.
Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged countries to use aggressive measures, community mobilisation and social distancing to save lives.
Several European countries have reported steep rises in infections and deaths in recent days.
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez discussed the emergency measures at a meeting of his cabinet in Madrid. The restrictions are expected to come into force at 08:00 (07:00 GMT) Monday.
All public transport would be cut back with airline, train, bus and boat operators told they need to cut their services by at least half and that any plane, train, bus or other means of transport can only be a third full, Reuters news agency reports.
The interior ministry would control all police forces, including those at local and regional level.
Adding to the drama, Deputy Prime Minister Pablo Iglesias broke his own quarantine - which he went into after coming into contact with an infected colleague - to attend Saturday's talks.
It had not been possible for Mr Iglesias, who did not test positive for the virus, to attend remotely and his presence was agreed with the government after sanitary measures were taken, government sources told Efe news agency.
Two other ministers who are ill with coronavirus, Irene Montero and Carolina Darias, did not attend.
This will be the second state of emergency in the country since the transition to democracy began in 1975, the first being a 2010 air traffic controllers' strike.
Some measures have already been enforced at local level. The authorities in Madrid and its surrounding area have ordered the closure of most bars, restaurants and shops.
Shops selling foodstuffs, pharmacies and petrol stations are exempt. Similar measures have been brought in elsewhere, including the regions of Galicia and Catalonia.
The mayor of the southern city of Seville said he had suspended the famous Easter processions.
Catalan regional leader Quid Torra has said he wants to seal off the whole region, and has asked the authorities in Madrid to block access by air, rail and sea.
On Thursday the region's authorities locked down four towns north of Barcelona with a high number of cases.
Airlines are also stopping flights to Spain. Low-cost leisure airline Jet2 turned back planes in mid-air on Saturday as it announced it was cancelling all flights.
All but "essential travel" to parts of Spain should be avoided, says the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
More than 132,500 people have been diagnosed with Covid-19 in 123 countries around the world, according to the WHO.
The total number of deaths has reached about 5,000 - a figure Dr Tedros described as "a tragic milestone".
"Europe has now become the epicentre of the pandemic, with more reported cases and deaths than the rest of the world combined, apart from China," he said.
"More cases are now being reported every day than were reported in China at the height of its epidemic."
As well as the increases in Spain and Italy, France has now confirmed 3,661 cases and 79 deaths.
Germany has seen 3,675 cases and eight deaths. There have been 798 confirmed infections in the UK and 11 deaths.
A number of European states are enforcing border closures:
Belgium, France, Switzerland and parts of Germany are among the latest countries to close schools.
There are also widespread curbs on large gatherings and measures to close theatres, restaurants and bars.
The number of cases of coronavirus reported every day in Europe has surpassed China at its peak.
But Europe is in a worse position.
The overwhelming majority of China's cases were in one place, Hubei province, and those were largely concentrated in one city, Wuhan.
The outbreak was dealt with by an authoritarian government that imposed the biggest quarantine in human history.
While there are hotspots in Europe, this is an outbreak across a continent, and different countries are adopting very different strategies for dealing with coronavirus.
All these figures are based on cases that have been detected, but scientists fear there could be large outbreaks going on unnoticed in countries that don't have the tools to spot them.
252 New Cases
6 New Deaths
ROME — Italy on Friday reported a record 627 new deaths from the novel coronavirus and saw its world-leading toll surpass 4,000 despite government efforts to stem the pandemic’s spread.
The Mediterranean country’s daily death rate is now higher than that officially reported by China at the peak of its outbreak around Wuhan’s Hubei province.
Italy’s previous one-day record death toll was 475 on Wednesday. Italy has seen more than 1,500 fatalities from COVID-19 in the past three days alone
It has now recorded the five highest one-day tolls officially registered around the world.
Italian media broadcast pictures it said was military vehicles brought into the Bergamo area to transport away the hundreds of coffins.
Italy’s total number of deaths now stands and 4,032. Infections rose by nearly 6,000 to 47,021.
The nation of 60 million currently accounts for 36.6 percent of the world’s coronavirus deaths after surpassing China’s total on Thursday.
The soaring numbers come despite a national lockdown that drastically limits when residents are allowed to leave their homes. Police have issued citations to thousands of people for being out and about without valid reasons, such as going to work or shopping for food.
Mayors and governors throughout the country have been demanding even stricter measures. Italy’s national government is widely expected to respond soon.
For days now, Italian authorities have said at daily briefings that the virus outbreak that emerged in northern Italy four weeks ago could reach its peak in a matter of days and the number of new infections might start going down.
“There are so many people walking around who have the virus and who are at risk of infecting others,” Matteo Bassetti, the director of the infectious diseases department at Genoa’s San Martino clinic, told Italy’s AGI news agency.
“The 40,000 cases we are talking about could actually be 100 times higher.”
The Italian government intends to extend a ban on public gatherings and the shutdown of almost all businesses past their March 25 deadline.
Regional leaders and city mayors are urging the Italian government to adopt even tougher restrictions such as a ban on outdoor exercises and the closure of all stores on Sundays.
The number of novel coronavirus cases around the world is over 328,000 worldwide with Italy and the United States behind China as the countries with the most cases of COVID-19 infections, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.
The number of U.S. cases has surpassed 31,000, and as the number rises, some states are acting quickly by ordering variations of stay-at-home orders for residents. Oregon issued such an order on Friday night, joining states that include California, Illinois and New York.
The respiratory virus, known officially as COVID-19, has reached every continent except Antarctica, and every state in America since emerging in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December.
Globally, there are at least 14,356 coronavirus-related deaths, according to Johns Hopkins. More than 95,000 people have recovered worldwide.
The National Guard will be deployed to assist in the fight against the coronavirus in the hard-hit states of New York, California and Washington, President Donald Trump announced.
The move, announced at Sunday evening's briefing of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, will include delivery of medical supplies and the establishment of medical stations in those states.
"The federal government will be funding 100% of the cost to deploy National Guard units to carry out approved missions to stop the virus while those governors remain in command," Trump said. "I spoke with all three of the governors today, just a little while ago, they're very happy with what we're doing."
Pete Gaynor of the Federal Emergency Management Agency said that medical supplies, including personal protective equipment, will be arriving in the affected states within 42 hours.
Members of the task force said that 254,000 Americans have been tested for COVID-19, with 30,000 of those -- 11.8% -- testing positive.
According to commercial testing labs, the U.S. should be caught up on the backlog in testing by midweek, officials said.
Following the announcement this afternoon by Sen. Rand Paul that he had contracted the coronavirus, there are now five U.S. senators under self-quarantine.
Sen. Mitt Romney said that he had quarantined himself after having contact with Sen. Paul.
“Since Senator Romney sat next to Senator Paul for extended periods in recent days and consistent with CDC guidance, the attending physician has ordered him to immediately self-quarantine and not to vote on the Senate floor," a Romney spokesperson said in a statement. "He has no symptoms but will be tested. He urges members to pass a relief package as quickly as possible that provides assistance for families, workers, and small businesses.”
Sen. Mike Lee is also under quarantine after coming in contact with Sen. Paul.
Sens. Rick Scott and Cory Gardner were already under self-quarantine after coming into contact with diplomatic delegations whose members had tested positive.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York Police Commissioner Dermot Shea announced they will be cracking down on large gatherings that linger in city parks, to prevent COVID-19 exposure.
The order comes after reports of people interacting too closely in parks over the weekend, despite a shelter-in-place order by the mayor. Cops will be in cars, bikes and other vehicles with a speaker, alerting parkgoers not to linger, and if crowds get too big, the officers will break them up, according to de Blasio and Shea.
The mayor said they will run this policy for a week, and reassess their procedures.
"If we feel people aren't following the rules... we will consider shutting [parks] down," he warned.
As of Sunday morning, New York City had 9,654 confirmed coronavirus cases, de Blasio said.
Earlier in the day, Gov. Andrew Cuomo asked the mayor to come up with a plan to reduce the density in parks and suggested that the city close certain streets to vehicular traffic and allow pedestrians.
De Blasio said he is mulling over closing the streets and will codify their plans in the next 24 hours, but warned that such a plan would require a gradual phase-in and strict police enforcement.
"If you put barriers at the end of a block and everyone comes out like it’s normal, we can’t have that,” the mayor said.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has gone into self-quarantine after she was exposed to the virus, according to her office.
The chancellor learned that a doctor who administered a precautionary pneumonia vaccine on Friday afternoon tested positive for COVID-19, her office said.
"In the next days she will be regularly tested in the coming days, as a test now would not yet be fully conclusive. From her quarantine at home, the Chancellor will continue to attend to her official business," a spokeswoman said in a statement.
Shortly before she learned about the exposure, Merkel issued an order earlier in the day that barred social gatherings of more than two people with the exemptions of families and people living in the same household. The order will be in effect for two weeks.
The International Olympic Committee's executive board said it will step up its planning for possible scenarios for the 2020 summer games in Tokyo.
The committee emphasized that it has no current plans to cancel the games, but said it will be discussing different options with its planning partners, including postponing the Olympics from its July 24 start date.
"The IOC is confident that it will have finalized these discussions within the next four weeks," the committee said in a statement.
Several teams around the world, including the U.S. Track & Field and USA Swimming teams, have called on the IOC to postpone the games out of concern of the pandemic
German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced a new order that bans social gatherings of more than two people.
Families and people living in the same household are exempt from the order, which will be in effect for at least two weeks.
“We are further reducing public life and social contact and ensuring that the measures will be nationwide,” the chancellor said at a news conference. “Everyone should organize their movements according to these regulations.”
Germany has 23,974 COVID-19 cases, the fourth highest outside of China, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Italy, which has the highest number of coronavirus fatalities outside of China, said there were 651 deaths recorded in in the last 24 hours, according to the country’s Civil Protection Agency.
The total number of fatalities in the country is now 5,476, the agency said.
Italy has 53,578 confirmed cases, 5,560 of which are newly recorded.
Emirates reversed a plan made earlier Sunday that would have suspended all of its flights this week.
The airline initially said Sunday morning that it would suspend all commercial flights on March 25, and only operate its cargo ships due to coronavirus concerns. Later in the day, Emirates tweeted it received several requests from world leaders who said they needed flights to repatriate its citizens, and the airline changed its course, allowing some flights to continue.
"We will operate passenger flights to UK, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Japan, Singapore, Australia, South Africa, South Korea, USA & Canada," Emirates tweeted.
The airline apologized to passengers for the inconvenience and said it will monitor the situation closely.
Spain’s Health Ministry announced that it recorded 394 coronavirus deaths on Saturday, bringing the country’s total death count to 1,720.
The country has now surpassed Iran for the third largest number of COVID-19 deaths.
As of Sunday, Spain had 28,572 confirmed cases of the virus, with 3,646 confirmations made in the last 24 hours.
The government said it would take immediate actions to stop the spread of the virus including restricting flights to diplomats, repatriation of travelers, healthcare workers and flights that layover in Spain's airports.
Pharmaceutical company Merck said it will donate half a million masks to New York City’s Office of Emergency Management.
The city has over 9,000 cases of COVID-19 as of Sunday morning and elected officials said they are in desperate need of protective material for first responders and medical professionals.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo called on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and other leaders to come up with a plan to reduce density in parks, after he saw large gatherings in the green spaces over the weekend.
Cuomo called the crowds at the parks "reckless," "arrogant" and "selfish" because of the greater risk and said the city needed to take immediate action. He gave the mayor and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson 24 hours to come up with a plan and suggested they consider closing some streets to vehicular traffic and open it up to pedestrians.
"Get creative. Open up the streets" he said at a news conference.
Cuomo later said he had the power to make that move, however he didn't know the full situation about the density of the parks and would defer the planning to local leaders.
De Blasio's office did not have an immediate comment about the governor's call to action. Johnson tweeted that he supported closing down streets.
"We must #StopTheSpread. The @NYCCouncil will do all we can to make this happen," he tweeted.
Cuomo said there were 15,168 positive coronavirus cases in the state, with more than 9,000 within New York City. The governor announced said there are plans to open up spaces to treat patients, including the Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan, and the state would be undergoing trials for a malaria drug that could treat the disease.
Pope Francis announced he will be holding two major events of prayer this week to respond to the pandemic with "a universal prayer of compassion and tenderness."
During his Sunday noontime prayer, Francis called on the heads of all Christian churches and Christians across the world to recite the "Our Father" prayer at the same time on Wednesday, the feast of the Annunciation, at noon.
The pope will also will preside over a moment of prayer on the steps of St Peter’s Basilica to the empty square Friday at noon. The services will include the Urbi et Orbi, to the City [of Rome] and to the World, blessing, which is normally recited during Easter and Christmas.
During an appearance on ABC's "This Week," New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy stressed that his state and others in the northeast region needed more assistance from the federal government to fight the pandemic.
Murphy told co-anchor Martha Raddatz that New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Pennsylvania needed $100 billion direct cash assistance to fight against the pandemic. Specifically, he said the states needed more personal protective equipment, or PPE.
"We are in desperate for more PPE," Murphy said. "We’ve had a big ask into the strategic stockpile on the White House -- they’ve given us a fraction of our ask."
Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Peter Gaynor said on ABC's "This Week," that medical masks began shipping yesterday from the national stockpile.
Gaynor could not provide an exact number of masks or a timeline as to when they will reach individual states.
"All those supplies to all the demands, all the asks, all the governance, every day, we are -- we're prepared to go to zero in the stockpile to meet demand," Gaynor said.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez ordered that all boat ramps and marinas in the city would be closed for recreational use after images and videos of boat parties in the area circulated online Saturday night.
Gimenez chastised organizers and partygoers for violating the city's orders that limit crowds to 10 or fewer.
"We are in a state of emergency, and I cannot stress enough the need for personal responsibility," he said in a statement.
Only fishing boats will be able to use the docks and sail into the waters under the new order, which will be enforced by police boats, Gimenez said.
Russia’s military is sending medical aid to Italy to help in its fight against the coronavirus epidemic, including disinfection vehicles and military virologists.
Russia’s defense ministry in a statement announced military transport planes will be delivering eight mobile brigades of military medics, special disinfection vehicles and other medical equipment to Italy, starting from Sunday.
It followed a phone conversation between president Vladimir Putin and Italy’s prime minister Giuseppe Conte, during which Putin offered help.
The move obviously highlights the EU’s relative failure so far to aid Italy in the epidemic and follows China sending a plane-load of medics to help. The authoritarian governments see this as a diplomatic and PR opportunity. Italy was already one of the friendliest countries to Russia in the EU and this obviously won’t go unremembered.
Saudi Arabia announced 48 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, bringing the total to 392, with five of the new infections being healthcare workers in Riyadh, according to a health ministry spokesman.
All domestic flights, buses, taxis and trains in the Kingdom have been suspended for at least 14 days to help stem the spread of the coronavirus, an Interior Ministry official told the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan early on Sunday did his best to reassure his people about the nation’s efforts to control the coronavirus pandemic, saying Turkey is doing its duty to protect citizens. "I hope we will get over these difficult times together. Just follow the rules and guidance and also continue staying at homes," Erdogan posted on Twitter while reiterating that those older than 65 and anyone with a chronic disease should not go outside.
Turkey imposed a partial curfew on Saturday for senior citizens and those with chronic diseases, but stopped short of a blanket curfew. Earlier on Saturday, Turkey suspended flights from 46 additional countries and banned picnics and barbecues, as the number of cases has roughly doubled every day for the past week.
Turkey now has 947 confirmed cases of the virus, with 21 deaths.
Posting on his Instagram account Saturday night, Amazon's Jeff Bezos wrote a letter to all Amazon employees announcing that Amazon will be hiring for 100,000 new roles and raising wages for hourly workers while also detailing how the company plans on working through the crisis.
The New York Air Route Traffic Control Center and New York's LaGuardia Control Tower will now be closed overnight for sanitization, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
During this time other air traffic facilities will provide needed key services and some flights will be rerouted around the airspace, but the FAA expects a minimal impact on traffic since the volume during these hours is low.
Flights were briefly suspended at New York City and Philadelphia airports Saturday afternoon when an air traffic controller trainee at New York Air Route Traffic Control Center in Ronkonkoma, New York, tested positive for coronavirus.
More than 407,000 cases have been confirmed in 169 countries and regions, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
The number of confirmed novel coronavirus cases around the world has surpassed 400,000, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
The map that tracks COVID-19 cases, built by the university’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering, showed more than 407,000 confirmed cases in 169 countries and regions as of Tuesday afternoon, with more than 18,000 deaths.
China, where the outbreak began in late December, still holds the largest number of cases overall, with more than 81,000 and more than 3,200 deaths.
Several other countries are experiencing a surge in confirmed cases, including Italy, which has the second largest number of cases overall at more than 69,000. Italy also is the country with the highest number of fatalities at more than 6,800.
The United States has surged to third in the total number of cases with more than 49,000 cases and more than 600 deaths.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said Tuesday that coronavirus cases in his state, which has been hit the hardest in the nation, are doubling every three days.
On Monday, the World Health Organization (WHO) said the increasing pace of cases shows that the pandemic is accelerating.
“It took 67 days from the first reported case to reach the first 100,000 cases. 11 days for the second 100,000. And just four days for the third 100,000,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a news conference.
WHO officials said the U.S. has the potential to become the new epicenter of the coronavirus crisis.
“We are now seeing a very large acceleration in cases in the U.S. So, it does have that potential,” WHO spokeswoman Maragaret Harris told reporters Tuesday.
The Johns Hopkins University tracker shows that more than 107,000 people have recovered from the coronavirus since the outbreak began in December.
The White House released its first official models of the course of the coronavirus, and the C.D.C. said it was reviewing its guidance on wearing masks as new data suggests people with no symptoms are infecting others.
Right Now The top government scientists battling the coronavirus estimated on Tuesday that the deadly pathogen could kill between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans.
There have been at least 811 new coronavirus deaths reported in the US on Tuesday, according to a count from CNN Health.
This is the most reported deaths in the United States in a single day since the coronavirus outbreak began.
There have been a total of 3,815 deaths reported in the US.
The top government scientists battling the coronavirus estimated Tuesday that the deadly pathogen could kill between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans, in spite of the disruptive social distancing measures that have closed schools, banned large gatherings, limited travel and forced people to stay in their homes.
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, and Dr. Deborah L. Birx, who is coordinating the coronavirus response, displayed that grim projection at the White House on Tuesday, calling it “our real number” but pledging to do everything possible to reduce those numbers even further.
The conclusions generally match those from similar models by public health researchers around the globe.
As dire as those predictions are, Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx said the number of deaths could be much higher if Americans do not follow the strict guidelines to keep the virus from spreading, and they urged people to take the restrictions seriously.
The data released on Tuesday was the first time that Mr. Trump’s administration has officially estimated the breadth of the threat to human life from the coronavirus, and the disease it brings, known as Covid-19. In the past several weeks, Dr. Birx and Dr. Fauci have resisted predicting how many people might die in the pandemic, saying that there was not enough reliable data.
That is no longer, the case, they said. As of Tuesday afternoon, at least 173,741 people across every state, plus Washington, D.C., and four U.S. territories, have tested positive for the virus, according to a New York Times database. At least 3,433 patients with the virus have died.
A startlingly high number of people infected with the new coronavirus may not show symptoms, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, complicating efforts to predict the pandemic’s course and strategies to mitigate its spread.
In particular, the high level of symptom-free cases is leading the C.D.C. to consider broadening its guidelines on who should wear masks.
“This helps explain how rapidly this virus continues to spread across the country,” the director, Dr. Robert Redfield, told National Public Radio in an interview broadcast on Tuesday.
The agency has repeatedly said that ordinary citizens do not need to wear masks unless they are feeling sick. But with the new data on people who may be infected without ever feeling sick, or who are transmitting the virus for a couple of days before feeling ill, Mr. Redfield said that such guidance was “being critically re-reviewed.”
Researchers do not know precisely how many people are infected without feeling ill, or if some of them are simply presymptomatic. But since the new coronavirus surfaced in December, researchers have spotted unsettling anecdotes of apparently healthy people who were unwitting spreaders.
“Patient Z,” for example, a 26-year-old man in Guangdong, China, was a close contact of a Wuhan traveler infected with the coronavirus in February. But he felt no signs of anything amiss, not on Day 7 after the contact, nor on Day 10 or 11.
Already by Day 7, though, the virus had bloomed in his nose and throat, just as copiously as in those who did become ill. Patient Z might have felt fine, but he was infected just the same.
Researchers now say that people like Patient Z are not merely anecdotes. For example, as many as 18 percent of people infected with the virus on the Diamond Princess cruise ship never developed symptoms, according to one analysis. A team in Hong Kong suggests that from 20 to 40 percent of transmissions in China occurred before symptoms appeared.
The high level of covert spread may help explain why the novel coronavirus is the first virus that is not an influenza virus to set off a pandemic.
Across Asia, countries and cities that seemed to have brought the epidemic under control are suddenly tightening their borders and imposing stricter containment measures, fearful about a wave of new infections imported from elsewhere.
The moves portend a worrisome sign for the United States, Europe and the rest of the world still battling a surging outbreak: Any country’s success with containment could be tenuous, and the world could remain on a kind of indefinite lockdown.
Even when the number of new cases starts to fall, travel barriers and bans in many places may persist until a vaccine or treatment is found. The risk otherwise is that the infection could be reintroduced inside their borders, especially given the prevalence of asymptomatic people who might unknowingly carry the virus with them.
Following a recent uptick in cases tied to international travelers, China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan barred foreigners from entering altogether in recent days. Japan has barred visitors from most of Europe, and is considering denying entry to travelers from countries including the United States. South Korea imposed stricter controls, requiring incoming foreigners to quarantine in government facilities for 14 days upon arrival.
In China, international flights have been cut back so severely that Chinese students abroad wonder when they will be able to get home. In Singapore, recently returned citizens must share their phones’ location data with the authorities each day to prove they are sticking to government-ordered quarantines. In Taiwan, a man who had traveled to Southeast Asia was fined $33,000 for sneaking out to a club when he was supposed to be on lockdown at home.
“Even countries that have been relatively successful in managing the pandemic are only as safe as the weakest links in the system,” saidKristi Govella, an assistant professor of Asian studies at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, who added that in the absence of cooperation among countries, “closing borders is one of the ways that individual governments can control the situation.”
By the hundreds of thousands, Americans are asking for help for the first time in their lives, from nail technicians in Los Angeles to airport workers in Fort Lauderdale, from bartenders in Phoenix to former reality show contestants in Minnesota.
Biting back shame, and wondering guiltily about others in more dire straits, they are applying for unemployment, turning to GoFundMe, asking for money on Instagram, quietly accepting handouts from equally strapped co-workers, and showing up in unprecedented numbers at food banks, which in turn are struggling to meet soaring demand as volunteers, many of them retirees, stay home for safety.
The United States’ coronavirus death toll has moved past China’s official count, a bleak milestone hours before the Trump administration planned to release the models that fueled fears that as many as 200,000 Americans could die because of the pandemic.
Although the count from mainland China — 3,305 deaths — has been a subject of intense skepticism, and although Italy and Spain have reported more than 20,000 fatalities between them, the swelling toll in the United States is a grim indication of the outbreak’s scale.
The U.S., despite widespread concerns about the availability of testing for the virus, already had the highest known number of infections in the world, and the American toll was at least 3,430 deaths, as of late Tuesday morning.
But there are mounting concerns that some countries, including China, North Korea and Indonesia, are not being forthcoming about the scope of their outbreaks.
China on Tuesday announced more than 1,500 coronavirus cases that had not previously been made public, giving in to pressure for greater transparency nearly two weeks after officials there first announced zero new local infections.
Questions about the accuracy of China’s numbers have circulated since the start of the outbreak there, even as the country has touted its apparent success in bringing it under control. The 1,541 newly announced cases were people who had tested positive but were asymptomatic, according to an official at China’s National Health Commission.
China had not previously included asymptomatic patients in its public tallies of confirmed cases, even though the World Health Organization recommends doing so, and many within China and abroad had expressed fear about the true scale of the epidemic.
GENEVA (AP) — The World Health Organization declared Wednesday that the global coronavirus crisis is now a pandemic as U.S. stocks plunged into bear market territory and several American cities joined European counterparts in banning large gatherings.
By reversing course and using the charged word “pandemic” that it had previously shied away from, the U.N. health agency sought to shock lethargic countries into pulling out all the stops.
“We have called every day for countries to take urgent and aggressive action. We have rung the alarm bell loud and clear,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO chief.
“All countries can still change the course of this pandemic. If countries detect, test, treat, isolate, trace and mobilize their people in the response,” he said. “We are deeply concerned by the alarming levels of spread and severity and by the alarming levels of inaction.”
After downplaying the threat of the virus for days, U.S. President Donald Trump was considering a national disaster declaration and new travel advisories. He was scheduled to deliver an Oval Office address to the nation Wednesday night.
In Italy, soccer club Juventus said defender Daniele Rugani tested positive and in the U.S., the battle to contain the epidemic prompted the NCAA to announce its championship basketball tournament would be played later this month without fans. Several other U.S. college and professional sports events have been either cancelled or ordered played in empty venues.
Iran and Italy are the new front lines of the fight against the virus that started in China, the WHO said.
“They’re suffering but I guarantee you other countries will be in that situation soon,” said Dr. Mike Ryan, the WHO’s emergencies chief.
For the global economy, virus repercussions were profound Wednesday, with increasing concerns of wealth- and job-wrecking recessions. U.S. stocks wiped out more than all the gains from a huge rally a day earlier as Wall Street continued to reel.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 1,464 points, bringing it 20% below its record set last month and putting it in what Wall Street calls a “bear market.” The broader S&P 500, which professional investors care more about, is just 1 percentage point away from falling into bear territory and bringing to an end one of the greatest runs in Wall Street’s history.
Wall Street’s plunge followed a steep decline by markets across Asia, and was spurred in part by concerns over whether any economic response from the Trump administration will be effective.
WHO officials said they thought long and hard about labeling the crisis a pandemic — meaning a new virus causing sustained outbreaks in multiple regions of the world.
The risk of employing the term, Ryan said, is “if people use it as an excuse to give up.”
But the benefit is “potentially of galvanizing the world to fight.”
Underscoring the mounting challenge: The case count outside China has multiplied 13-fold over the last two weeks to over 118,000, with the disease now responsible for 4,291 deaths, WHO said.
With officials saying that Europe has become the new epicenter, Italy’s cases soared again, to 12,462 infections and 827 deaths — numbers second only to China.
“If you want to be blunt, Europe is the new China,” said Robert Redfield, the head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In response to the mounting crisis, Italy announced that all shops and businesses except pharmacies and grocery stores would be closed nationwide beginning Thursday and designated billions in financial relief to cushion economic shocks from the virus, its latest efforts to adjust to the fast-evolving crisis that silenced the usually bustling heart of the Catholic faith, St. Peter’s Square.
In Iran, by far the hardest-hit country in the Middle East, the senior vice president and two other Cabinet ministers were reported to have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus. Iran reported another jump in deaths, by 62 to 354 — behind only China and Italy.
Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte said it was necessary to “go another step″ in toughening the already unprecedented travel and social restrictions that took effect Tuesday by shuttering pubs, restaurants, hair salons, cafeterias and other businesses that can’t operate with a meter (yard) of space between workers and customers.
“In this moment, all the world is looking at us for the number of infections, but also... see great resistance,” Conte said on Facebook Live.
These measures are on top of travel and social restrictions that imposed an eerie hush on cities and towns across the country.
Still, the effectiveness of travel restrictions and quarantines will likely drop substantially as COVID-19 spreads globally, making it impossible for countries to keep the virus out. Health officials will also need to be more flexible in their coordinated response efforts, as the epicenters are likely to shift quickly and dramatically — as demonstrated by the recent eruptions in Iran and Italy.
Earlier, Conte emphasized fighting the outbreak must not come at the expense of civil liberties, suggesting that Italy is unlikely to adopt the draconian quarantine measures that helped China push down new infections from thousands per day to a trickle and allowed its manufacturers to restart production lines.
China’s new worry is that the coronavirus could re-enter from abroad. Beijing’s city government announced that all overseas visitors will be quarantined for 14 days. Of 24 new cases reported Wednesday, five arrived from Italy and one from the United States. China has had over 81,000 virus infections and over 3,000 deaths.
For most, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for a few, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illnesses, including pneumonia. More than 121,000 people have been infected worldwide and over 4,300 have died.
But most people recover. People with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while more severe illness may take three to six weeks, the WHO says.
In the Mideast, most of the nearly 10,000 cases are in Iran or involve people who traveled there. Iran’s semiofficial Fars news agency said they include Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri. Iran’s ministers for cultural heritage, handcrafts and tourism, and for industry, mines and business were also infected, the agency said.
Italy’s government announced Wednesday it was dedicating 25 billion euros (nearly $28 billion) to boost anti-virus efforts and soften economic blows, including delaying tax and mortgage payments by families and businesses.
Britain’s government announced a 30 billion-pound ($39 billion) economic stimulus package and the Bank of England slashed its key interest rate by half a percentage point to 0.25%.
Normal life was increasingly upended, with Pope Francis live-streaming prayers from the privacy of his Vatican library as police barred access to St. Peter’s Square, emptying it of tens of thousands of people who attend the weekly papal address. In Denmark, Prime Minister Minister Mette Frederiksen announced that all schools, preschools and universities will close as of Monday.
And in the U.S., the caseload passed 1,000, and outbreaks on both sides of the country stirred alarm. Officials in Seattle announced that public schools would close for about 53,000 students and large gatherings were banned in San Francisco and in Washington state, the hardest-hit U.S. state, with 29 deaths.
The virus upended the U.S. presidential campaign, with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders canceling primary election rallies Tuesday and leaving open the possibility that future campaign events could be impacted. Trump’s campaign insisted it would proceed as normal, although Vice President Mike Pence conceded future rallies would be evaluated “on a day to day basis.”
And at a Congressional hearing in Washington Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, sounded an alarm: “Bottom line, it’s going to get worse.”