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Sunday, March 22, 2020

Global Coronavirus Infections Exceed 270,000

The number of confirmed coronavirus infections globally crossed 270,000 on Saturday and deaths topped 11,000, even as more governments resorted to drastic measures to contain the spread. 
President Trump approved a major disaster declaration for New York on Friday evening, unlocking federal funding and assistance for the state, which has the highest number of infections in the country. The decision came after Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered all nonessential businesses to close and urged residents to stay indoors to the greatest extent possible. 
Total cases in the U.S. surged to 19,624, almost 10 times their level a week ago, while deaths quadrupled to 260, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
The escalation has strained hospitals and medical resources in New York City and elsewhere. General Motors said it is lending logistics, purchasing and manufacturing support to Ventec Life Systems to help the medical-devices company ramp up production of ventilators.
As more states announced lockdowns, Starbucks said it would shut U.S. stores and use drive-through only for at least two weeks, except for cafes in or around hospitals and health-care centers. Starbucks said it would continue to pay employees for 30 days. The move followed shutdowns last week by companies including Apple Inc., which closed all its stores outside of Greater China.
In Spain, the number of people who have died from the virus rose by almost a third in the past day to 1,326, according to data released by the Spanish Health Ministry on Saturday. The total number of people infected jumped by 4,946 to bring the total to almost 25,000, making Spain the country with the third-most infections, behind only China and Italy.
New cases and deaths continued to arise in Asia, where many countries had appeared to have contained the outbreak in recent weeks. Singapore reported its first fatalities Saturday morning, a 75-year-old woman and a 64-year-old man. Both had a history of heart disease, local health officials said.
Several countries and territories in Asia are now seeing a second wave of infections from citizens and travelers who were recently in the U.S., Europe and parts of Asia where infection rates are climbing. 
Hong Kong stepped up efforts to enforce quarantine and social-distancing measures on Saturday, after a jump in imported cases over the past two weeks took the total number of infections to 294. Those who flout self-isolation rules will be prosecuted immediately, and could face fines or imprisonment. “The imported cases have made the situation in Hong Kong more severe than ever,” Chief Executive Carrie Lam said at a press conference. 
Civil servants in the semiautonomous Chinese city will work from home again starting Monday, after public services returned to normal in early March upon initial success in containing the spread. The city will postpone university entrance exams originally scheduled for next week. 
The number of confirmed cases in Australia topped 1,000 on Saturday after a jump in New South Wales state, where authorities identified more cruises where passengers contracted Covid-19 aboard. The ships are Ovation of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas—which had passengers test positive in two separate sailings—and Celebrity Solstice. The disclosure came a day after four people aboard the Ruby Princess cruise ship tested positive.
The jump in infections prompted authorities to close Sydney’s Bondi Beach, after beachgoers ignored rules limiting outdoor gatherings to 500 people. Separately, Crown Resorts Ltd.’s Melbourne casino lost its exemption from Australia’s rules limiting indoor gatherings to 100 people.
China reported no new local infections for the third straight day, though it said there were 41 new imported cases. The number of people still fighting the disease fell by 590 to about 6,000, according to the National Health Commission. Nearly 72,000 patients have recovered, representing 89% of the total infected people in the country, the commission said.
In Japan, where authorities are scrambling to proceed with the Olympic Games, infections topped 1,000 after the country registered the biggest daily increase in a week. South Korea’s death toll rose to more than 100, as the country added 147 cases over the past day.
The number of deaths in Iran rose by 123 over the past 24 hours to 1,556 on Saturday, health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said. Iran logged 966 new infections, bringing the total number of cases to 20,610.
In an attempt to avoid crowds in the streets as Iran celebrates the Persian New Year, President Hassan Rouhani said shopping malls would be closed from Saturday, and the government was looking into ways to provide discounts on online shopping. He also advised people with mild symptoms to stay at home and avoid seeking treatment at hospitals. 
Mr. Rouhani’s address on state television came a day after he wrote an open letter to Americans, calling on them to pressure Congress and the White House to repeal sanctions on Iran, which he said undermined its ability to combat the pandemic

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