Italy’s government is considering the extraordinary step of locking down entire sections of the country’s north, restricting movement for a quarter of the population in a sweeping effort to fight the coronavirus not seen outside of China.
The Italian outbreak, already the worst in Europe and the worst outside of Asia, has already inflicted serious damage on one of the Continent’s most fragile economies and triggered the closing of Italy’s schools.
A Lombardy official confirmed that the measures being discussed would essentially close down the northern region of Lombardy, Italy’s largest and most productive, accounting for a fifth of Italy’s GDP, and would come into force on Sunday and last until April 3. Media have reported they would also ban weddings, funerals, sporting and cultural events, and criminalize bars that did not enforce strict rules about patrons keeping distance.
Italy’s cases more than doubled this week from about 2,500 infections on Wednesday to more than 5,800 on Saturday, according to Italian authorities and the World Health Organization. Deaths rose by 36 to 233.
Nicola Zingaretti, the leader of Italy’s governing coalition’s Democratic Party, announced that he was now a patient. “Well, it’s arrived,” he said in a Facebook video from his home. He said he would follow all the protocols suggested by the authorities, who have urged infected people to self-quarantine.
France is also now one of the main centers of the epidemic in Europe. Health authorities on Saturday reported two more deaths, both in northern France, and 103 new infections, since Friday. France now has a total of 949 cases, including a member of the French Parliament.
France, Germany and other countries have imposed limits on the export of protective medical equipment, some of which is badly needed but in short supply.
In Spain, about 470 people have the virus, and fatalities reached 10 on Saturday. Barcelona officials have called off a marathon scheduled for March 15, but a big street rally on Sunday in Madrid for International Women’s Day will go ahead as planned.
The smallest E.U. nation, Malta, reported its first confirmed case on Saturday: a 12-year-old girl recently returned from a vacation in northern Italy. Her condition was described as good.
The police in London said they had arrested two teenagers in connection with a racially aggravated assault, days after a 23-year-old student from Singapore said he was attacked by a group of men, one of whom shouted “I don’t want your coronavirus in my country.”
With 76 cases, New York State declares an emergency.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo declared a state of emergency in New York on Saturday as the state’s number of confirmed cases rose to 76, 11 of them in New York City, the latest of which is an Uber driver.
The declaration of emergency will allow the state to speed up the purchasing of supplies and the hiring of workers to assist local health departments that have been handling the monitoring of thousands of quarantined patients, Mr. Cuomo said.
“Somebody has to go knock on their door, once a day,” he said during a midday briefing in the state Capitol. “This is labor intensive.”
The epicenter of the cases in New York continued to be just north of the city, in Westchester County, where there were 57 in total, the governor said. These cases were mostly, if not all, related to a cluster in Westchester that first came to the authorities’ attention after a New Rochelle resident, a 50-year-old lawyer, was confirmed as New York’s second coronavirus patient.
But there were also signs of wider spread, including a pair of cases in Saratoga County, north of the state capital of Albany — the first such confirmed cases outside of the New York City region.
The Uber driver, 33, walked into St. John’s Episcopal Hospital in the Far Rockaway section of Queens on Tuesday and reported flulike symptoms. He went home and returned later when his symptoms worsened, an official said.
He tested positive on Friday night, prompting more than 40 doctors, nurses and other workers at the hospital where he has been isolated to go into self-quarantine and seek testing, officials said on Saturday.
A spokesman for Uber said the driver was licensed to drop off passengers in the city, but not to pick them up in the five boroughs or city airports.
Cases grow across the U.S., with trouble spots on a cruise ship off California and a Starbucks in Seattle.
Washington State raised its count of cases to more than 100 on Saturday and added two more deaths, bringing the state’s toll to 16 and the nation’s to 19.
New cases were also announced in Florida, Arizona, Oregon and other states, but most caseloads remain in the single digits.
California, which, after Washington State, has the country’s most confirmed cases, announced one new case in Madera County that health officials said was tied to the Grand Princess cruise ship.
That ship is currently off the coast of California with 3,500 people on board, 21 of whom have tested positive for the virus. Of those, 19 are crew members and two are passengers. The ship became a focus of concern after it was discovered that a 71-year-old man who had been on a previous leg of the cruise had died of the coronavirus after disembarking.
Oregon health officials said four more people had tested positive, bringing the total number of people being treated there to six. In Georgia, three people in three separate counties were confirmed to have the virus, doubling the state’s positive cases.
Officials in Arizona announced that two people who lived in the same household of a previously confirmed case also tested positive for the virus, bringing the state’s total to five, and Florida reported its eighth case. Florida also announced the East Coast’s first deaths on Friday, those of two people who had traveled internationally.
On Friday night Starbucks reported that one of its employees in downtown Seattle had tested positive. The company said the store has been closed for cleaning.
Also in the Seattle area, two Microsoft employees were being treated for the coronavirus, a company spokesman said on Friday. Microsoft did not close its campus, but it had already advised employees to work from home if possible.
A strain on a blood bank serving the Pacific Northwest.
As businesses have encouraged employees to work from home in the Seattle area, institutions have canceled blood drives. Seniors, among the highest-frequency donors, have been urged to stay home. Residents are practicing social distancing that might keep them from a donation site.
That confluence of factors “has the potential to become extremely dangerous,” warned Curt Bailey, who leads the nonprofit Bloodworks Northwest, which supplies some 90 hospitals in the Pacific Northwest.
Mr. Bailey said that his organization has scrambled to keep an overall blood supply of about four days, and that supplies of O-negative blood are already down to just two days’ worth.
A national network of blood banks could help support the Northwest, Mr. Bailey said, but as coronavirus spreads, he worries that they will face their own resource strains.
While blood is vital to those needing surgery or fighting cancer, Mr. Bailey said coronavirus patients themselves who end up in critical care may also need blood support.
Stanford and other universities shift classes online.
At Stanford University, officials announced late Friday that classes would not meet in person as of Monday, and that any looming exams would be changed to a take-home format.
The University of Washington, with 50,000 students, said that it would cancel in-person classes from Monday through at least March 20, and have students take classes and final exams remotely.
Seattle University, with about 7,300 students, also said it would move to online classes for the rest of the winter quarter, and Northeastern University in Boston will do the same for students on its Seattle campus.
A Chinese hotel used to quarantine people collapses.
A hotel in Fujian Province in China where officials had placed people who might have had contact with coronavirus patients collapsed on Saturday night, trapping scores in the rubble, according to officials and local news outlets.
The toll was not immediately clear, but at least 35 people were pulled from the rubble and a total of about 70 people may have been buried under the building, officials said. More than 140 emergency responders were involved, they said.
Early reports did not give a reason for the collapse of the Xinjia Hotel, which is in Quanzhou, roughly 60 miles northeast of the city of Xiamen. A statement from Quanzhou City officials confirmed the collapse.
The hotel, which opened in June 2018, had been designated as a medical observation and quarantine site for people who had been in contact with others potentially infected with the coronavirus, The People’s Daily and other news media said.
That would make it part of an extensive network of quarantine zones and buildings set up by China since January, when the coronavirus outbreak spread from the central Chinese city of Wuhan to the rest of the country and then the world.
The rate of new infections and deaths in China has dropped and is now lower than in other hotspots like Italy. That, and praise from officials at the World Health Organization, has bolstered Chinese officials’ campaign to portray the country as the world’s leader in the fight against the coronavirus.
How to quarantine yourself. (Don’t even pet the dog.)
If you’re returning from an area that’s had a coronavirus outbreak, or if you’ve been in close contact with someone who tests positive, you may be asked to isolate yourself at home for two weeks, the presumed incubation period for the coronavirus.
It’s not easy to lock yourself away from your family and friends. These are the basics.
Isolation If you are infected or have been exposed to the coronavirus, you must seclude yourself from your partner, your housemates, your children, your older aunt and even your pets. If you don’t have your own room, one should be designated for your exclusive use. No visitors unless it’s absolutely essential. Don’t take the bus, subway or even a taxi.
Masks If you must be around other people — in your home, or in a car, because you’re on your way to see a doctor (and only after you’ve called first) — wear a mask. Everyone else should, too.
Hygiene Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue to cough or sneeze, and discard it in a lined trash can. Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. You can use sanitizer, but soap and water are preferred. Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, if you haven’t just washed them.
Disinfecting Don’t share dishes, drinking glasses, eating utensils, towels or bedding. Wash these items after you use them. Use a household cleaner to wipe down countertops, tabletops, doorknobs, bathrooms fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets and bedside tables. That also goes for any surfaces that may be contaminated by bodily fluids.
A church group from Alabama is among dozens of guests and workers who have been quarantined at a hotel outside the West Bank city of Bethlehem, after a Greek tourist who had stayed there came down with the coronavirus.
All told, some 40 people, most of them Palestinians, are being quarantined at the Angel Hotel, officials said, with Palestinian security officers in masks standing guard outside on Saturday.
The 13-member Alabama group, which includes pastors, other church workers and several spouses, arrived in Beit Jala on Monday and visited Bethlehem and Jerusalem before checking out on Thursday morning and heading to the West Bank, expecting to continue on to the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan River and Petra.
But they were summoned back to their hotel by the authorities, said the Rev. Chris Bell, the lead pastor of 3Circle Church in Fairhope, Ala.
The group was tested for the virus on Friday but had not been told the results as of midday on Saturday, he said in an interview.
“We’re heartbroken in a million different ways,” he said.
Another Diamond Princess passenger dies, while Malaysia and Thailand turn away an Italian vessel.
Japan announced that a man from Hong Kong who was a passenger on the Diamond Princess cruise ship died of the coronavirus on Friday, making it the eighth death associated with the vessel that was quarantined off Yokohama for two weeks in February.
On Saturday, another cruise ship, the Costa Fortuna, became the latest luxury liner to be kept at sea over coronavirus fears, after Malaysia and Thailand denied it entry for fear that 64 passengers from Italy could have brought the virus on board. The operator of the Costa Fortuna, Costa Cruises, said none of the ship’s passengers were suspected of having Covid-19, the illness caused by the virus.
Reporting and research were contributed by David Halbfinger, Mohammed Najib, Jason Horowitz, Claire Fu, Eric Schmitt, Margaret Ho, Eliza Shapiro, Katie Rogers, Roni Caryn Rabin, Keith Bradsher, Thomas Fuller, Richard C. Paddock, Elian Peltier, Sarah Mervosh, Tim Arango, Jenny Gross, Ben Sisario, Julia Jacobs, Amy Qin, Sopan Deb and Marc Stein.