The death toll from the new coronavirus has surpassed 5,000 in Europe, the new epicentre of the pandemic, with Italy, Spain and Germany reporting a steep rise in infections, and as worldwide fatalities surged past 11,000 on Saturday.
Italy announced 627 more deaths on Friday, the biggest day-to-day increase in the country’s four-week epidemic, a day after surpassing China’s death toll. The total number of deaths in Italy has now reached 4,032.
Spain’s death toll has also increased to more than 1,000, while in Iran, the number on fatalities hit another grim milestone of more than 1,400, as the country marks the beginning of the Persian New Year.
An estimated 235,000 people have been infected by the coronavirus globally and close to 10,000 have been confirmed dead, according to the World Health Organization.
But the data collected by the Johns Hopkins University in the United States, showed that more than 260,000 have already been infected in 166 countries, while 87,000 have recovered mostly in China, where the outbreak first erupted.
The same Johns Hopkins coronavirus monitor showed that the death toll has now surpassed 11,300 worldwide as of mid-Saturday, with the possibility of breaching 12,000 by the end of the day.
Here are all the latest updates:
Saturday, March 21:
05:05 GMT – Colombia imposes mandatory lockdowns
Colombia is joining a growing list of nations that have imposed mandatory lockdowns for citizens in an effort to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
President Iván Duque has announced that Colombians will be required to isolate in their homes beginning on Tuesday and running through April 13.
Peru, Ecuador and Venezuela are among other Latin America countries that have already taken similar measures.
Colombia has confirmed 158 cases of coronavirus infections thus far, with no deaths, and officials are hoping that imposing drastic measures now will help reduce the number of cases in the weeks ahead.
Colombia’s capital city, Bogota, began its own lockdown on Friday, leaving the city’s usually traffic-filled streets largely empty.
04:30 GMT – Australia shuts Sydney’s Bondi Beach after crowds defy order
Australian officials closed Sydney’s iconic Bondi Beach on Saturday after thousands of people flocked there in recent days, defying social distancing orders to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, amid an unusually warm autumn spell.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said the crowds on the country’s most famous strip of sand were “unacceptable” as he reported the number of infections across Australia had risen to 874. The death toll was seven, unchanged from a day earlier.
New South Wales state police minister David Elliott announced Bondi’s closure, warning “this is going to become the new norm” if people did not comply with regulations that prohibit more than 500 people gathering at a non-essential event.
“This is not something we are doing because we are the fun police,” Elliott said in a televised news conference. “This is about saving lives.”
04:10 GMT – Filipino professor and China expert dies of coronavirus
A University of the Philippines professor and leading expert on China-Philippines relations has died of coronavirus early on Saturday, according to the country’s top university.
Professor Aileen San Pablo Baviera, former dean of the university’s Asian Center, died at San Lazaro Hospital in Manila following a severe pneumonia caused by COVID-19.
As of Friday, there were 230 confirmed cases in the Philippines, with at least 18 fatalities.
The government has been criticised for the slow pace of testing, following reports that there were only 2,000 initial test kits for the country of more than 100 million people. The government has vowed to ramp up the test with the promised arrival of 120,000 kits from different countries in the coming days.
03:50 GMT – Singapore reports first two coronavirus deaths
Singapore’s Ministry of Health reported on Saturday the first two deaths linked to the coronavirus.
The first fatality was a 75 year-old female Singaporean, while the second victim was a 64 year-old man from Indonesia. At least 16 patients are in critical condition, the health ministry said.
Before the announcement, there were 385 cases confirmed in Singapore, 131 of whom have recovered.
02:40 GMT – Canadian man aboard Diamond Princess cruise ship dies in Japan
Japan’s health ministry says a Canadian man who was a passenger infected with the coronavirus while on board the cruise ship Diamond Princess died of COVID-19 pneumonia on Saturday.
The ministry offered condolences to the man, who is only identified as a man in his 70s.
The ship that had carried an infected passenger early in its voyage returned to its home port Yokohama near Tokyo in early February.
The 3,711 on board remained on the ship for a two-week quarantine that was much criticized as ineffective as allegedly making the vessel “an incubator.”
The Canadian is the eighth confirmed death from among those on the ship, where 712 people were infected and transferred to hospitals during the quarantine. A total of 551 have recovered and left hospitals.
01:49 GMT – South Korea reports 147 new cases
South Korea reported 147 new coronavirus infections on Saturday, according to Reuters news agency quoting the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The new cases bring the country’s total to 8,799.
The newly reported cases rose back up to above 100, from the 87 recorded on Friday, although South Korea has been experiencing a downward trend in new cases from the peak of 909 cases reported on February 29.
At least 100 people have died of the disease in the country.
01:21 GMT – New Zealand confirms first local outbreak; PM introduces alert system
For the first time in New Zealand, health authorities say there might be a local outbreak.
Health authorities on Saturday announced 13 new cases of the coronavirus infection, bringing the number of confirmed cases to 52. They say two of the cases cannot be linked immediately to overseas travel, as has been the situation for all the previous cases, accoriding to an AP news agency report.
In a rare address to the nation, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern urged people aged over 70 to stay home and all other New Zealanders to avoid non-essential travel.
She introduced a new alert system, placing the country at 2 on a scale where 4 is the highest. The country has already closed its borders to everybody but citizens and residents and placed restrictions on public gatherings. Ardern said most schools will remain open, for now.
01:15 GMT – Mexico coronavirus cases rise to more than 200
Mexico’s health ministry said on Friday that confirmed coronavirus cases in the country now total 203, up by nearly a quarter from the previous day’s tally of 164, accoring to a Reuters news agency report.
On Friday, US President Donald Trump has announced that the US border with Mexico will be closed to non-essential travel to help contain the spread of the deadly disease.
00:50 GMT – No new coronavirus cases in Wuhan for third straight day
The virus outbreak’s epicentre of Wuhan in China reported no new or suspected cases again for a third consecutive day.
Overall, China on Saturday reported 41 new cases detected over the previous 24 hours, all among people traveling from overseas, and another seven deaths, six in Wuhan.
China now has a total of 81,008 cases and 3,255 deaths. A total of 71,740 people have been declared cured and released from hospital.
00:10 GMT – Cuba imposes temporary ban on tourist
Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel says the country is temporarily barring tourists in order to prevent the introduction of more cases of coronavirus, the Associated Press news agency reported.
Diaz-Canel and Prime Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz said in an announcement on state television that only residents of the island would be allowed to enter for the next 30 days starting Tuesday.
As of Friday, Cuba had announced 16 cases of COVID-19 and one death, all in people who had traveled overseas or been in direct contact with a traveler.
Exceptions would be made for people involved in commercial importation, like crews of merchant ships, and for tourism industry workers who need to help tourists leave the country.
Marrero said there were about 60,000 tourists in Cuba as of Friday evening.
The Cuban economy is heavily dependent on tourism, which had already slowed dramatically due to US sanctions tightened by the Trump administration.
23:45 GMT Friday – Trump invokes wartime act to fight coronavirus
US President Donald Trump announced on Friday he had put the wartime Defense Production Act into action to aid the fight against coronavirus after saying earlier this week he would invoke the measure when needed.
The measure is meant to allow the US government to speed production of masks, respirators, ventilators and other needed equipment.
Trump said he put the measure into action on Thursday evening. Asked why he was putting it into action now, the president told reporters it would be used to ensure that US states could get masks and other equipment needed to fight the virus.
23:15 GMT – US vice president’s staff member tests positive of coronavirus
The White House has announced that a member of Vice President Mike Pence’s staff has tested positive for coronavirus.
Pence’s spokeswoman Katie Miller said Friday that the staff member, who is not being identified, did not have “close contact” to either the vice president or President Donald Trump.
Miller says Pence’s office was notified Friday evening of the positive test result.
20:23 GMT – Turkey’s death toll rises, 670 confirmed cases
The death toll in Turkey due to the coronavirus rose to nine, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.
The number of confirmed cases increased to 670 from 359
Koca said 3,656 tests had been conducted in the past 24 hours, 311 of which came back positive.
20:11 GMT – Israel reports first fatality from coronavirus
Israel reported its first death from the coronavirus, an 88-year-old man who also suffered from previous illnesses.
The health ministry said in a statement the man had been brought to the hospital about a week ago in serious condition.
Israel has so far reported 705 cases of coronavirus, the large majority with mild symptoms. About 10 patients are in serious condition and 15 have recovered completely.
I am Ted Regencia in Kuala Lumpur with Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the unfolding coronavirus pandemic.
For all the updates from yesterday (March 20), please click here.