Coronavirus transmission 'locally blocked in China;' Italy's death rate drops

By Allen Cone
A public security person wearing a protective face mask stands in front of a lake in Wuhan, on Sunday. Photo by Roman Pilipey/EPA-EFE
1 of 3 | A public security person wearing a protective face mask stands in front of a lake in Wuhan, on Sunday. Photo by Roman Pilipey/EPA-EFE

March 29 (UPI) -- The original epicenter of the coronavirus, mainland China, is "basically blocked," according to an official as the outbreak continues to increase worldwide with more than 33,000 deaths reported.

And in some other good news, the biggest cluster of the virus, Italy, reported 7.5 percent more deaths, compared with 11.2 percent the day before. Cases also dropped to a 5 percent increase from 6.4 percent.


China, which led the world in deaths until March 19, has about one-tenth of the fatalities at 3,300, China's Health Commission said Sunday.

Worldwide, the death count is 33,509 with 704,095 cases, according to Johns Hopkins' tracking.

In all, 145,696 have recovered from the virus worldwide.

National Health Commission spokesperson Mi Feng said the additional deaths and virtually all cases have been imported from other countries -- meaning the victims caught the virus from elsewhere.


On Sunday, China reported five additional deaths, bringing the toll to 3,300 and 45 cases, all but one imported, for a total of 81,439.

It was the fourth consecutive day that Hubei province recorded no new confirmed cases. The deaths from Saturday, however, were in Hubei.

Feng confirmed 693 of those cases have come from 42 countries, including from seven nations that account for 83.4 percent of the total.

As the number of active confirmed cases had dropped to 3,300, he cautioned there is a possibility of a new wave of transmission.

China has temporarily suspended the entry into China by foreign nationals holding visas or residence permits as of Saturday.

But life is beginning to get back to normal in Hubei province, including Wuhan, which has been on virtual lockdown for several weeks.

And China has been helping other nations, including sending a plane loaded with medical personnel and supplies to Pakistan.

Domestic flights in China's Hubei province resume Sunday, except from Wuhan.

In addition, China is boosting air freight capacity to stabilize supply chains as air passenger services are minimal.

"Recently, domestic epidemic prevention and control measures have continued to improve [...] the appropriate increase in all-cargo aircraft and related support policies, and measures have been introduced, and the current tension in international air cargo capacity has been alleviated to some extent," said Zhang Qing, spokesperson for the Civil Aviation Administration of China, according to CGTN, the nation's television network.


She added there are 930 all-cargo flights per week, which is close to the pre-epidemic level.

Worldwide, up to one-third of the world's population is now under lockdown. That has led to the loss of jobs, ban on gathering of people, including cultural and sporting events, and strain on medical resources. Nations have sought to provide economic relief, led by a $2.2 trillion aid package signed by U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday.

China has dropped to third in deaths, behind No. 1 Italy with 10,023 and No. 2 Spain with 6,528. In terms of cases, the United States has reported the most in the world with 132,637, outdistancing Italy with 97,689. Spain is fourth with 78,799. The United States passed the 2,000 death toll milestone Saturday and was at 2,384 at midday Sunday.

Italy reported its totals on Sunday night. New deaths declined to 756 deaths from 919 the day earlier. New cases also dropped to 5,217 from 5,974 for a total of 97,689.

In Italy, Pope Francis, who canceled appearances at St. Peter's square since early March, including Easter, said in his weekly Angelus streamed from inside the Vatican that nations must work together in peace to thwart the outbreak.


"I join all those who have accepted this appeal and invite everyone to follow by stopping all forms of war, hostility and promote the creation of corridors for humanitarian aid, openness to diplomacy, attention to those who are in a situation of great vulnerability," he said.

Weeks ago, the pandemic spread into Spain, fueled by nearly 3,000 Valencia football fans who traveled from Spain to Milan to watch their team play Atalanta in a European Champions League game on Feb. 19, CNN reported.

Days later, people who had traveled from Italy began coming down with the symptoms, including a cough and difficulty breathing.

Despite rising cases, bars and cafes remained opened and thousands of people took to the streets for International Women's Day on March 8, including 120,000 in Madrid.

Spain recorded the highest increase of deaths -- 838 -- but the increase fell from 27 percent to 14 percent, which is the lowest since March 16.

The cases rose 6 percent and 14,709 people have recovered from the illness to 14,709. Of those hospitalized, 4,907 people are now in intensive care.

On Saturday, health officials predicted "stabilization phase," though restrictions on people's movements have tightened for the next two weeks.


In other developments:

Britain: Cabinet minister Michael Gove said the public should prepare for a "significant period" of lockdown measures.

"There are different projections as to how long the lockdown might last," Gove told Sky News' Sophy Ridge on Sunday.

"I can't make an accurate prediction, but everyone does have to prepare for a significant period when these measures are still in place."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who on Monday imposed the strongest measures in Britain since the end of World War I, has tested positive for the virus.

On Sunday, Britain reported 209 deaths in the past 24 hours for a total of 1,228. An additional 2,433 tested positive for a total of 19,522.

France: A well-known politician has died after contracting coronavirus, the Department of Hauts-de-Seine said Sunday.

Patrick Devedjian, a Cabinet minister and adviser to former presidents Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy, said in a tweet Thursday, that he had contracted Covid-19 and was hospitalized: "Tired but stable [thanks to doctors and health workers], I'm recovering."

The nation was fifth in number of deaths climbing 292 to 2,314. The cases increased 2,599 to 40,174.


Canada: The wife of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau posted on Facebook on Saturday she has recovered from coronavirus after announcing on March 12 she had tested positive for the virus. She had returned from a trip to London.

"I am feeling so much better and have received the all clear from my physician and Ottawa Public Health," she wrote.

The prime minister said he is remaining in self-isolation at his home in Ottawa for close to two more weeks.

Trudeau announced Sunday the government has pledged $7.5 million in funding to the Kids Help Phone to provide mental health support to children and youth impacted by school closures and reduced access to social support and community resources. In addition, the government will also help seniors with $9 million through United Way Canada to help them get groceries, medication and other critical items.

The nation has reported 5,655 cases and 63 deaths.

India: Prime Minister Narendra Modi apologized for a 21-day nationwide lockdown during his monthly radio address to the nation on Sunday morning.

"Let me seek forgiveness from all the countrymen. My conscience tells me that you will definitely forgive me as I had to take certain decisions which have put you in a lot of difficulty," Modi said.


Modi ordered the complete lockdown, requiring all nonessential establishments, including shops, factories and places of worship, to remain closed starting Wednesday. People have resorted to commuting on foot.

"Especially when I look at my poor brothers and sisters, I definitely feel that they must be thinking, what kind of prime minister is this who has placed us in this difficulty? I especially seek their forgiveness," Modi said. "I understand your troubles but there was no other way to wage a war against corona for a country like India with a population of 1.3 billion. It is a battle of life and death and we have to win it, therefore, such strong measures were absolutely necessary. Nobody likes to take such strong measures, however, looking at the situation all over the world, it seems this is the only option."

The number of cases climbed to 979 in India on Sunday with the death toll rising to 25 from 19, according to the Union health ministry.

Japan: The nation reported its biggest increase in cases -- 194 -- for a total of 2,211, including 712 from the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was docked in Fukushima near Tokyo for weeks. The death toll rose by three to 62, including 10 from the cruise ship.

The new date for the start of the Summer Olympics in Japan has been targeted for July 23, 2021, after the International Olympic Committee postponed it for this July, The New York Times reported.


South Korea: All travelers entering the nation will be subjected to two weeks of mandatory quarantine starting midnight Wednesday, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun announced Sunday. Previously, the mandatory quarantine order was for travelers coming from the United States and Europe.

South Korea confirmed 105 new coronavirus cases for a total of 9,583, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Sunday. The death toll increased by eight to 52.

Australia: Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced limits of gatherings to two people, which is down from 10, starting Monday. All residents "must stay home," except to shop for necessities, he said.

Australia has reported 3,980 cases, 431 more than in the previous day, according to the health ministry. Sixteen deaths were attributable to the virus, health officials said.

New Zealand: The nation, which is currently under a one-month lockdown, recorded its first death related to the coronavirus with cases rising to 514 confirmed infections. Iran: President Hassan Rouhani warned Sunday that "the new way of life" in Iran was likely to be prolonged. The nation is fourth in deaths at 2,640 with 38,309 cases. The report included 123 more deaths and 2,901 cases in the past 24 hours.

Russia: Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin announced Sunday that starting Monday all residents will be ordered to stay home expect to travel for work, shop at the "nearest existing store or pharmacy," walk pets or take out the garbage.


According to a statement from his office, people will be ordered to observe a social distance of about five feet when outside.

Nigeria: President Muhammadu Buhari announced a 14-day "cessation of all movements" for its capital of Lagos and the Federal Capital Territory that will begin late Monday.

Guatemala: President Alejandro Giammattei announced via Twitter he was extending a nationwide curfew until April 12 that prevents citizens from leaving their homes unless absolutely necessary from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m.

Syria: The Ministry of Health announced the war-torn country's first death on Sunday, state-run Sana News Agency reported. The ministry said it has recorded 10 cases of the virus since March 22 when it recorded its first infection.

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