Australia, Thailand report 1st COVID-19 deaths as coronavirus continues global spread

Coronavirus cases surged in Italy, and France closed the world-famous Louvre Museum as the epidemic that began in China hit more than 60 countries and the death toll worldwide reached at least 3,000.

Dominican Republic, Czech Republic recorded their 1st infections

A person with a mask is seen at the Hie Shrine in Tokyo on Sunday. (Jae C. Hong/Associated Press)

Coronavirus cases surged in Italy, and France closed the world-famous Louvre Museum as the epidemic that began in China sent fear rising across Western Europe, threatening its tourism industry.

New battle fronts in the battle opened rapidly, deepening the sense of crisis that has already sent financial markets plummeting, emptied the streets in many cities and rewritten the routines of millions of people. More than 88,000 have been infected, on every continent but Antarctica.

Australia and Thailand reported their first deaths Sunday, while the Dominican Republic and the Czech Republic recorded their first infections.

The United Nations said Sunday it is releasing $15 million US from an emergency fund to help countries with fragile health systems contain the virus.

The virus has spread to more than 60 countries, and more than 3,000 people have died from the COVID-19 illness it causes.

While the virus has caused serious illness mainly for the elderly and those with existing health problems, most have had mild illness and some infected apparently show no symptoms at all.

But attempts to contain the spread of the virus have been far-reaching.

Here's a look at the latest news from around the world.

Here's the latest in Asia

Mainland China, where the outbreak began two months ago, confirmed 202 new cases on Sunday, the country's National Health Commission said on Monday. The death toll rose by 42, to 2912.

The city of Wuhan had most of the new cases but also saw 2,570 patients released, continuing a trend that frees up patient beds in the prefabricated isolation wards and hastily built hospitals in the area where the disease has hit hardest.

South Korea has the world's second-highest number of cases with 4,212, mostly in and near the southeastern city of Daegu. It has reported 22 deaths.

Medical staff wearing protective suits are seen outside a hospital in Daegu, South Korea, on Sunday. (Kim Hyun-tae/Yonhap via AP)

Tourist sites across Asia and the Middle East were deserted. Islam's holiest sites in Saudi Arabia have been closed to foreign pilgrims. And governments have closed schools and banned big gatherings.

Iran's death toll climbed to 54 as the number of confirmed cases jumped overnight by more than half, to 978. The new figures represent 11 more deaths than reported on Saturday.

Here's the latest in Canada

Health officials have confirmed four new cases of coronavirus in Ontario, involving three men and one woman.

The men are in their 40s, 50s, and 60s, while the woman is in her 70s.

Three of latest cases are in York Region while the other is in Toronto. The confirmation comes a day after three other positive cases were confirmed in the province, one of them also in York Region.

On Saturday, health officials in B.C. announced the province's 8th case of coronavirus, a woman visiting the province from Tehran, Iran. Quebec has confirmed one case as well.

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Thus far, health officials have said, all of the cases of COVID-19 in Canada are either in people who had recently travelled abroad or who were in close contact with those who had. The first three of Ontario's 15 patients have since been cleared of the virus.

Here's the latest in Africa

Algeria confirmed two new cases of coronavirus infections, in a woman and her daughter aged 53 and 24 years respectively, the health ministry said early on Monday.

The cases brought to three the number of people infected with the virus in the North African country.

Meanwhile, Nigerian authorities have contacted around 100 people who may have been exposed to an Italian man who is the country's first coronavirus patient, a Lagos state official said on Sunday, in a bid to stop an outbreak in Africa's most populous country.

The case, the first in sub-Saharan Africa, has prompted fears the virus could spread quickly in Lagos. The densely populated commercial capital of 20 million people is the biggest city in a country of some 200 million inhabitants.

Here's the latest in the Americas

Health officials in the Dominican Republic reported the first confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in the tourist-rich Caribbean. Public Health Minister Rafael Sanchez Cardenas said Sunday that a 62-year-old Italian man was being treated in isolation at a military hospital and "has not shown serious complications."

Ecuador confirmed five cases in patients who all had direct contact with an elderly woman who brought the virus to the country from Spain, health minister Catalina Andramuno said on Sunday. The announcement brought the total number of confirmed cases in the country to six.

Mexico's Secretary of Health in Chiapas state reported the nation's fifth case on Sunday, describing the patient as an 18-year-old girl who had been studying in Milan, Italy.

In the U.S., authorities in the Seattle area said two more people had been diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus, both men in their 60s who were in critical condition; two health care workers in the San Francisco Bay area who cared for an earlier coronavirus patient were diagnosed with the virus; Illinois confirmed their third case; and Rhode Island and New York state both confirmed their first. 

Two Americans are now known to have died of the virus, one in Washington state on Saturday and one in China in February.

Here's the latest in Europe

Italian authorities announced that the number of people infected in the country soared 50 per cent to 1,694 in just 24 hours, and five more had died, bringing the death toll there to 34.

France raised its number of reported cases to 130, an increase of 30 from the day before, and said it has seen two deaths.

Medical staff wearing protective suits carry the coffin containing the body of a person who tested positive for COVID-19 in Laigueglia, northwest Italy, on Sunday. (The Associated Press)

The archbishop of Paris told parish priests to put the Communion bread in worshippers' hands, not in their mouths; officials advised people to forgo the customary kisses on the cheek upon greeting others; and the Louvre closed after workers who guard the Mona Lisa and the rest of its priceless artworks expressed fear of being contaminated by the stream of visitors from around the world.

Tourists stand outside the Louvre museum in Paris on Sunday. (Rafael Yaghobzadeh/Associated Press)

Travel restrictions against Italy and the rising alarm in France could deal a heavy blow to the countries' tourism industries. Spring, especially Easter, is a hugely popular time for schoolchildren to visit the two countries.

Tourism accounts for 13 per cent of the economy in Italy, with its art museums, archeological sites and architectural treasures.


With files from CBC News and Reuters