(Reuters) – In Italy, scene of Europe’s worst Coronavirus outbreak with infections and deaths still soaring, the government took its most drastic steps yet to contain the outbreak, affecting some 60 million people. It ordered everyone across the country not to move around other than for work and emergencies, banned all public gatherings and suspended sporting events, including soccer matches.
Deaths in Milan’s Lombardy region – which had already been on lockdown with cinemas, theaters and museums closed and restaurant hours restricted – jumped 25% in a day to 333, while the national death toll soared by 97 to 463, the highest in the world after China.
In the United States, which has reported over 600 cases and 26 deaths, the administration scrambled yesterday to assure Americans it was responding to the outbreak as stock markets plunged and top health officials urged some people to avoid cruise ships, air travel and big public gatherings.
U.S. President Donald Trump, who continued to play down the threat posed by the flu-like virus, said he would announce economic measures today and would discuss a payroll tax cut with Congress to bolster the economy.
Britain, with five deaths from almost 300 confirmed cases, said it would remain in that phase for now, allowing major gatherings and sporting events to continue, while making extensive preparations to move to the “delay phase.”
In the Gulf region, where most cases stem from travel from Iran, the emphasis has been on border control. Saudi Arabia said it would fine people who did not disclose health information and travel details at entry up to $133,000.
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