Lockdowns, mass gatherings and travel bans to curb the spread

A woman wearing a protective face mask stands next to the mural, on the sixth day of an unprecedented lockdown across of all Italy imposed to slow the outbreak of coronavirus in Milan, Italy March 15, 2020. REUTERS/Daniele Mascolo

France and Spain joined Italy in imposing lockdowns on tens of millions of people, Australia ordered self-isolation of arriving foreigners and other countries extended entry bans as the world sought to contain the spreading coronavirus.

Several countries imposed bans on mass gathering, shuttered sporting, cultural and religious events, while medical experts urged people to practice “social distancing” to curb the spread.

Globally more than 162,000 are infected and over 6,000 have died. Mainland China had 16 new confirmed cases on Sunday, down from 20 a day earlier. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in China so far to 80,860.

All of Pope Francis’ Easter services next month will be held without the faithful attending, the Vatican said on Sunday, in a step believed to be unprecedented in modern times.

The services, four days of major events from Holy Thursday to Easter Sunday, usually draw tens of thousands of people to sites in Rome and in the Vatican. 

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said from midnight Sunday international travellers arriving in the country would need to isolate themselves for 14 days, and foreign cruise ships would be banned for 30 days, given a rise in imported cases.

Australia’s latest restrictions mirror those announced by neighbouring New Zealand on Saturday.

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