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COVID-19: Italy reports largest one-day death toll of 627

By Darryl Coote & Danielle Haynes & Don Jacobson
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COVID-19: Italy reports largest one-day death toll of 627
Public health warning displays are put up on roads and bus stops due to the threat of the deadly coronavirus in Beijing on Monday. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

March 20 (UPI) -- Italy on Friday announced its biggest one-day death toll increase from the coronavirus -- 627 -- bringing the country's death toll to 4,032.

Italy's Civil Protection Department said that in addition to the deaths, 37,860 people now have the virus, most in the Lombardy region. Some 5,100 people have recovered from the illness.

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The update out of Italy came on the same day the global death toll from COVID-19 surpassed 10,000. According to Johns Hopkins University figures from around noon Friday, 11,113 people have died worldwide and 263,071 have been sickened.

As figures rise in Italy, China, the epicenter of the disease, has seen a decrease in its new cases and deaths.

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The World Health Organization on Friday confirmed that no new local cases of the coronavirus had been reported in China for the second consecutive day, and said the development shows the virus can be defeated.

"Wuhan provides hope for the rest of the world that even the most severe situation can be turned around," Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

"It's a message that the virus can be suppressed; we can break chains of transmission," added Dr. Michael Ryan, executive director of the U.N. agency's emergency health programs. "It takes a huge effort, an all-of-society effort.

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"And if it's done, this virus can be turned around."

Ghebreyesus urged further safeguards as global totals continue to rise.

"The situation can reverse," he said. "However, the experience of cities and countries that have pushed back this virus give hope and courage to the rest of the world."

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The WHO chief warned that even though older populations have been hardest hit by the disease, younger people are not being spared.

"Data from many countries clearly show that people under 50 make up a significant portion of people requiring hospitalization," he said. "Today, I have message for young people: You're not invincible."

China's National Health Commission said in its Friday daily update that 39 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded over the previous 24 hours, but all were imported from overseas.

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Hubei province, the former center of the global outbreak and home to Wuhan city were the virus emerged in December, also recorded no new confirmed or suspected infections.

The commission reported three deaths, a low number not seen since the early days of China's outbreak.

"This is an amazing achievement, which gives us all reassurance that the coronavirus can be beaten," Ghebreyesus said via Twitter on Friday.

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The new figures increase China's total infections to 80,967 and 3,248 deaths.

In Israel on Friday, the prime minister's office announced the Cabinet unanimously approved emergency regulations to restrict the movement of its citizens.

The office said in a statement that under the framework, "activities in the public sphere will be reduced and restricted; restrictions have also been set for commercial and leisure activities for a period of seven days."

According to the Ministry of Health, the restrictions limit people to leaving their house for commuting to and from work, buying essentials such as food and medicine, obtaining medical services, protest, and attend legal meetings, among others.

The new rules also prohibit certain commercial and recreational activities, including visiting bars, pubs, fitness centers, movie theaters and the like.

"Under these restrictions, you, citizens of Israel, are required to stay home," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a televised speech. "It is no longer a recommendation. It is a binding directive that will be enforced by the enforcement authorities."

Israel reported 244 new infections in the previous 24 hours, increasing its total to 677.

In India, the world's second-most populated country with 1.3 billion people, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a curfew for Sunday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. to slow the spread of the coronavirus, which has infected 163 people nationwide, according to the Ministry of Health.

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"During this curfew, we shall neither leave our homes nor get onto the streets or roam about our localities," he announced in a televised speech on Thursday. "Only those associated with emergency and essential services will leave their homes."

Sunday, he said, will be "a symbol" of the nation's effort to "fulfill our duty in service of the nation."

On that day, Modi encouraged all Indians to stand at their doors, balconies and windows at 5 p.m. and clap, bang pots and ring bells to show gratitude to those working in the emergency sector.

"Today, these people run the risk of getting infected themselves," he said. "Yet, they continue to fulfill their duties, serving others. As defenders of the nation, they stand firmly between us and the corona pandemic. The nation is grateful to them all."

During his speech, Modi also encouraged people to stay home over the next few weeks, especially those above 65 years of age.

Scenes from a pandemic: World copes with COVID-19

A health worker with the Israeli national emergency service, Magen David Adam, wears protective gear while taking swabs to test for COVID-19 at a drive-through testing center in East Jerusalem on August 26. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo

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