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COVID-19: Here's what's happening around the world March 4

In Italy, the number of COVID-19 cases has now topped 3,000, with more than 100 dead. South Korea reported hundreds of new coronavirus cases today, as many sick people waited for hospital beds in Daegu, the city at the centre of the worst outbreak outside China.

Italy cases top 3,000 with over 100 dead, as the sick in South Korea wait for beds

Seniors' homes are making sure they take necessary precautions to prevent an outbreak of COVID-19 and are prepared if one occurs. 2:02

The latest:

  • Globally, there are 93,090 cases of COVID-19 and 3,198 deaths, according to WHO on Wednesday.
  • Italy reports 3,089 cases, up from 2,502 on Tuesday. Officials say 107 people who tested positive have died. The country's schools and universities to be closed to mid-March.
  • South Korea struggling to treat patients in Daegu as case numbers rise.
  • There have now been 11 deaths in the U.S.; 10 in Washington state and one in California. 
  • California's governor declares statewide emergency after state's first fatality.
  • Cabinet committee to oversee coronavirus response in Canada.
  • B.C. and Ontario report additional cases Tuesday, bringing total coronavirus cases in Canada to 34.

The death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in Italy has risen by 28 over the past 24 hours to 107, the Civil Protection Agency (CPA) said Wednesday, with the contagion showing little sign of slowing.

Globally, there are now 93,090 cases of COVID-19 and 3,198 deaths, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). 

In Italy, which has been hardest hit by the virus in Europe, the accumulative number of cases totalled 3,089, up from 2,502 on Tuesday. Of those originally infected, 276 had fully recovered versus 160 the day before, CPA's head said.

Italy's education minister confirmed Wednesday that universities and schools will close tomorrow until March 15 because of the outbreak. All sporting events in the country must take place behind closed doors without fans present until April 3, the government announced.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said the government was doing all it could to contain the virus, adding that the health service risks being overwhelmed due to the high number of infected people.

On Wednesday, South Korea reported hundreds of new coronavirus cases as many sick people waited for hospital beds in Daegu, the city at the centre of the worst outbreak outside China.

The new cases bring South Korea's total to 5,621, with at least 32 deaths, the Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said.

Most cases were in and around Daegu, the country's fourth-largest city, where the flu-like virus has spread rapidly through members of a fringe Christian group.

Health officials expect the number of new cases to be high for the near future as they complete the testing of more than 200,000 members of the sect, as well as thousands of other suspected cases from smaller clusters.

Medical staff wearing protective suits talk with people with suspected symptoms of the novel coronavirus at a testing facility in Seoul on Wednesday. South Korea is struggling to make enough space for COVID-19 patients who need to be admitted to medical facilities. (Ahn Young-joon/The Associated Press)

"We need special measures in times of emergency," South Korean Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun told a cabinet meeting, referring to extra medical resources for hotspots and economic measures, including a $9.8 billion US stimulus.

Hospitals in South Korea's hardest-hit areas were scrambling to accommodate the surge in new patients.

In Daegu, 2,300 people were waiting to be admitted to hospitals and temporary medical facilities, Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip said. A 100-bed military hospital that had been handling many of the most serious cases was due to have 200 additional beds available by Thursday, he added.

COVID-19 is the illness caused by the new coronavirus, which emerged from China late last year to spread around the world. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, said Tuesday that globally "about 3.4 per cent of reported COVID-19 cases have died."

The WHO — which has been urging countries to work on containment and simultaneously prepare for increased case numbers — on Tuesday warned of a global shortage and price gouging for protective equipment to fight the virus and asked companies and governments to rapidly scale up production.

"We can't stop COVID-19 without protecting our health workers," Tedros said.

Read on for what's happening in Canada and the United States, as well as some of the harder-hit regions around the world.

Here's what's happening in Canada

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau describes the creation of a new cabinet committee to co-ordinate the government's reaction to COVID-19. 0:44

In Canada, public health officials have reported 34 cases. On Wednesday, officials in Ontario said the number of cases in that province hasn't changed, but noted that the number of cases they are investigating has gone up.

The Public Health Agency of Canada, which has been assessing risk as the global outbreak progresses, says the risk is low in Canada.

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, said on Twitter yesterday that it's "important for each of us to be prepared for all scenarios." She urged people to make a plan for what they would do if there's an outbreak in their community, including making plans around work and child care and ensuring they have enough prescription medicine.

Here's what's happening in the U.S.

Officials in Washington state are ramping up spending and preparations to ensure it's ready for more cases of coronavirus. 2:04

Virus clusters in the U.S. led schools and subways to sanitize, while fears spread among nursing home residents, who are especially vulnerable. The number of infections in the U.S. was at least 129. There have now been 11 deaths; 10 in Washington state and one in California. 

Most of the deaths in Washington were residents of a Seattle-area nursing home, while an elderly person died Wednesday in Northern California after apparently contracting the virus while on a San Francisco-Mexico cruise last month. After the state's first fatality was announced, California's governor declared a statewide emergency, a measure intended to help procure supplies quickly.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said the government is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and health-care partners to contact the 2,100 passengers on the Grand Princess cruise, half of whom were Californians. That same ship set sail a few days after the Feb. 21 trip to Hawaii and was due back Wednesday evening in San Francisco.

But after a number of passengers and crew developed symptoms, Newsom​​​​​​ said the government had asked it not dock until testing kits can be flown to the ship.

In Washington, lawmakers reached bipartisan agreement on an $8.3 billion emergency bill to help fund efforts to contain the virus in the U.S., a congressional aide said. The bill would be introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives later Wednesday.

Once the full House approves the bill, the Senate is expected to act quickly so that President Donald Trump can sign the measure into law, putting funds into the pipeline to fight the virus.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Federal Reserve announced the biggest interest-rate cut in over a decade to try to counter the expected damage to the economy, and stocks rose briefly on Wall Street in reaction before slumping again. 

As federal, state and local health organizations planned for a broader outbreak, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave health-care workers the OK to use an industrial type of respirator mask often used to protect construction workers from dust and debris.

Here's what's happening in mainland China and Hong Kong

A worker wearing a protective suit disinfects the departure area of the railway station in Hefei, in China's eastern Anhui province, on Wednesday. China reported 38 more deaths from the new coronavirus but a fall in fresh cases for a third consecutive day. (Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images)

In China, authorities on Thursday reported 31 deaths over the previous 24 hours and another 139 cases of infection, all but five in the hardest-hit province of Hubei. That compares with 119 new cases on Wednesday. The update brings China's totals to 80,409 cases and 3,012 deaths. 

China has faced questions about its handling of the outbreak, including questions about its numbers and changes it made in how it reported cases.

"We scrutinized this data, and we believe this decline is real," said WHO outbreak expert Maria Van Kerkhove, who travelled to China as part of a team from the UN agency. She said the extraordinary measures taken there, including the lockdown of more than 60 million people, had a significant effect on the direction of the outbreak.

"We believe that a reduction of cases in other countries, including Italy, Korea, Iran, everywhere, that this is possible," she said.

Here's what's happening in France and Europe

A nurse stands guard at the entrance of the pre-triage medical tent located in front of the Cremona hospital in northern Italy on Wednesday. (Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images)

In France, which has 212 confirmed cases, a fourth person with COVID-19 died. President Emmanuel Macron warned that the health crisis could last several months.

This picture taken on March 3, 2020 shows a placard reading 'no more masks' in front of a pharmacy in Montpellier, southern France. France, another coronavirus hotspot in Europe, has registered some 130 people infected since late January, three of whom have died. The 27-nation EU raised the coronavirus risk to 'moderate to high.' (Pascal Guyot/AFP/Getty Images)

Louvre Museum employees who had stayed off the job since Sunday for fear of infection voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to resume work, allowing the world's most-visited museum to open its doors again in the afternoon.

Spain reported its first death from the outbreak in Valencia, a local health official said on Tuesday, when around 150 people had been diagnosed and some 100 health workers in the Basque region were isolated in their homes.

In the U.K., case numbers rose to 85 Wednesday from 51 on Tuesday.

Sixteen new cases of the coronavirus were confirmed in Stockholm, regional authorities said Wednesday, taking the total number of cases in Sweden to 52.

Here's what's happening in Iran and the Middle East

The World Health Organization says Iran lacks supplies such as ventilators and respirators needed to treat patients with coronavirus. 1:01

Iran on Wednesday said the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak there was at 92.

The number of cases in Iran has been on the rise, with 586 new cases reported Wednesday, bringing the total reported case count in Iran to 2,922. Iran has faced questions about its case reporting after local officials offered figures earlier in the outbreak that didn't align with the government's count.

President Hassan Rouhani said that the coronavirus outbreak has affected almost all provinces in the country.

On Tuesday, Dr. Mike Ryan, director of WHO's emergency program, said Iran has a "very, very strong" workforce in the health-care system, but there are concerns about equipment, supplies and critical tools like ventilators.

"Those needs are more acute for the Iranian health system than they are for most any other health system," Ryan said. 

Ryan also noted that the rapid uptick in cases is not unheard of in outbreaks and that things often look worse before they start to get better.

In Saudi Arabia, officials temporarily suspended Umrah pilgrimages to the two holy cities of Mecca and Medina for Saudi citizens and the kingdom's other residents due to coronavirus concerns, the state news agency SPA said.

Election monitors wearing protective gear count votes cast by Israelis in home-quarantine over coronavirus concerns following Israel's national election. (Ronen Zvulun/Reuters)

In Israel, workers tallying the results of the presidential election had to wear masks and gloves as they handled ballots cast by people under quarantine due to possible exposure to the virus.

Israeli health authorities have ordered everyone from a regional high school and dozens of soccer fans into home quarantine after their possible exposure to a teenage boy who tested positive for the coronavirus.

Here's what's happening in Japan

Children wearing face masks, following an outbreak of the coronavirus, are seen on a street in Tokyo on Wednesday. (Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)

Japan's confirmed infections topped 1,000, mostly from the Diamond Princess cruise liner. Twelve people have died in the country, six from the ship.

Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda on Wednesday said the coronavirus outbreak could inflict big damage on the economy, stressing the central bank's readiness to take "appropriate action" to underpin a fragile recovery.

With files from The Associated Press

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