The death toll from the new coronavirus has surpassed 5,000 in Europe, with Italy, Spain and Germany reporting a steep rise in infections.
Worldwide fatalities surged past 11,000 on Saturday, according to data collected by the Johns Hopkins University in the United States. More than 277,000 people have been infected, while some 88,000 have recovered.
Italy announced another 627 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 1,300, while in Iran, the number on fatalities hit another grim milestone of more than 1,500, as the country marks the beginning of the Persian New Year.
Saturday, March 21
11:48 GMT – Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church shuts churches for two weeks
Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church ordered all its churches to shut their doors and suspend masses for two weeks over coronavirus fears, it said in a statement.
The church also banned visits to monasteries and closed condolences halls attached to churches, it added.
Each parish will name only one church for funeral prayers and the sermons will be restricted to the family of the deceased.
11:40 GMT – Emirates suspends France, Germany, Nigeria and some US flights
Emirates, one of the world’s biggest international airlines, is suspending all flights to France, Germany, Nigeria, New York and New Jersey due to the coronavirus outbreak, according to internal emails seen by Reuters news agency.
France, Germany and Nigeria flights would be suspended from March 23 until further notice, a company email said.
Flights to New York JFK and New Jersey’s Newark EWR would be suspended from March 24 until further notice, another company email said.
11:35 GMT – DRC reports first virus death, five new cases
The Democratic Republic of Congo reported its first coronavirus death, along with five new cases that brought the total to 23.
“All are Congolese. Our teams are taking care of them,” Eteni Longondo, the country’s health minister, said on Twitter.
Though Congolese authorities did not offer information about the deceased patient, local media said he is a close relative of an unnamed minister who has herself tested positive.
11:31 GMT – UK’s Smiths makes ventilator available to other producers
British technology firm Smiths Group said it was making one of its ventilators available for other manufacturers to produce, part of a coordinated attempt to tackle a shortage of life-saving equipment as coronavirus spreads.
The group’s Smiths Medical unit was providing intellectual property and advice to other companies to make its PARAPAC Plus lightweight ventilators, and it was ramping up its own production at its site in Luton, just north of London.
Smiths said it was also talking to contract manufacturers to add production capacity in the United States and elsewhere.
11:27 GMT – Spain’s deaths surpass 1,300, close to 25,000 cases
Spain’s death toll from the coronavirus epidemic soared on Saturday to 1,326 from 1,002 on Friday, according to the country’s Health Ministry latest data.
The number of registered cases in the country rose to 24,926 on Saturday from 19,980 in the previous tally announced on Friday.