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Live Reporting

Gary Kitchener, Victoria Lindrea and Joshua Nevett

All times stated are UK

  1. Our live page is closing for the day

    That's it for our live page today, a day that's seen momentous measures introduced in Italy to curb a still soaring infection rate. You will be able to follow the latest developments in our main story here:

    Italy death toll soars amid travel ban

  2. Round-up of Sunday's key events

    • Italy has placed up to 16 million people under quarantine in a drastic attempt to bring the coronavirus outbreak under control. The number of confirmed cases rose to 7,375 from 5,883 on Saturday. The deaths shot up by 133 to 366
    • Salvatore Farina, the Italian army's chief of staff, was among the latest people to test positive in the country
    • Several matches in Serie A, Italy’s top football league, were played behind closed doors on Sunday. Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora has called for an immediate suspension of the Serie A season
    • Pope Francis delivered his first live-streamed Sunday prayer to avoid the usual crowds. He said he was "close through prayer" with those living with the epidemic
    • In the UK, coronavirus cases rose to 273, up from 209 on Saturday - the biggest rise yet
    • More coronavirus deaths have been confirmed in the Netherlands (two), Spain (seven) and Switzerland (one)
    • A hotel being used as a coronavirus quarantine facility in the Chinese city of Quanzhou collapsed, killing at least 10 people
    • In the US, a cruise ship held off the coast near San Francisco after 21 people tested positive for the disease has been directed to the nearby port of Oakland and should arrive on Monday
    • An individual who attended a conservative political conference last week that President Donald Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence spoke at has been confirmed to have the virus. The person was not in contact with either

    More about the coronavirus:

  3. Pope 'caged in the library' for videolink blessing

    Video content

    Video caption: Coronavirus: Pope Francis delivers his blessing via videolink

    In a livestreamed address from the Vatican on Sunday, Pope Francis said: "It's a bit strange this Angelus prayer today, with the Pope caged in the library, but I see you and I am close to you."

    Today's unusual delivery was to "adhere to the precautionary measures", he said.

    Up to 16 million people have been placed in quarantine in Italy in a bid to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

    The Pope made a brief appearance in person, waving from one of the windows to crowds who had gathered outside in the Vatican.

  4. BreakingItaly's death toll surges by 133 to 366

    Italy's death toll from coronavirus surged on Sunday by 133 to 366.

    There was also a single-day record for increases in infections. A total of 1,492 were recorded, taking the total to 7,375.

    Italy has the most deaths of any country outside China, where the virus originated.

    Most of the latest deaths were in the Lombardy region in Italy's north.

  5. Ban events over 1,000 people, says German minister

    Germany’s health minister has called for large events to be cancelled across the country to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

    Jens Spahn said all events with more than 1,000 participants should be called off.

    He also urged members of the public to stay at home to help the healthcare system cope during the outbreak.

    A number of large events, including a travel fair in Berlin, have already been called off, but Mr Spahn said other organisers had been too slow to act.

    In a tweet, Mr Spahn said safety should be the first priority.

    "Coronavirus has been in Germany since Wednesday last week. Our priority now is to slow its spread," Mr Spahn said.

    Germany has the second largest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Europe, surpassed only by Italy. As of Sunday, 847 people in Germany had been tested positive, a rise of around 50 on the previous day.

    On Sunday, a 60-year-old German tourist was reported to have died in Egypt after being infected by coronavirus. The death is the first reported inside Egypt.

    Jens Spahn
  6. France raises infections and deaths

    France has raised the number of coronavirus cases in the country to above the 1,000 mark.

    Details carried on the Santé Publique France website list 1,126 cases and 19 fatalities as of Sunday afternoon.

  7. Saudis lock down virus-hit region

    We've got some more details now on the new restrictions in Saudi Arabia that we reported earlier.

    Authorities have put the governorate of Qatif in oil-producing Eastern Province into lockdown after a number of cases were confirmed there.

    Qatif is home to many of the Sunni-dominated kingdom's Shia minority. The interior ministry said no-one would be allowed to enter or to leave.

    Those infected in Qatif are reported either to have visited Iran - the worst-hit country in the Middle East - or interacted with people who had.

  8. Empty stadiums for Serie A matches

    Parma and Spal players line up before the Italian Serie A football match
    Image caption: SPAL beat Parma 1-0, but none of their fans were in attendance

    SPAL won 1-0 against Parma on Sunday in Italy’s top-fight football league, Serie A. But none of their fans were in attendance.

    That’s because Italy's government has ordered all sport in the country to be played behind closed doors until 3 April due to the coronavirus outbreak.

    Italy has seen the largest number of coronavirus cases in Europe and reported a steep rise in infections on Saturday.

    On Sunday, Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora called for an immediate suspension of the Serie A season, confusing players at the Parma-SPAL match, as we reported in an earlier post.

    In a Facebook post, Mr Spadafora suggested it was wrong to “endanger the lives of players, referees, coaching staff and fans who will surely gather to watch the matches”.

    His comments mirror those of Italian FA president Damiano Tommasi, who on Saturday called for football to be suspended.

    AC Milan also played behind closed doors on Sunday, losing to Genoa 2-1 at the San Siro. In total, 10 Serie A matches are scheduled to take place this weekend.

    Genoa players celebrate after the Italian Serie A soccer match against AC Milan
    Image caption: Genoa's players clapped towards an empty stand
  9. Concern at exodus from Italy's quarantined zones

    Passengers get off the train arriving from Milan, in Naples

    An actor and Venice resident has told one news agency that many people fled after word got out that Lombardy and 14 other central and northern provinces were being locked down late on Saturday night.

    "My cousins, my friends, they packed bags and left last night," Vincenzo Tosetti told AFP. "This is going to test the Italians' ability to behave responsibly, and I have to say that up until now they've been failing. There's been an exodus".

    Television showed hundreds of travellers flowing into Milan's central station overnight to catch trains out. Under the new measures, people are not supposed to be able to enter or leave the so-called red zone, except in emergencies or for health reasons.

    On Sunday, the governor of the southern Italian region of Puglia, Michele Emiliano, urged those who had left the locked down zone for their family homes in the south of Italy to turn back.

    "Get off at the first train station, do not catch planes... turn your cars around, get off your buses. Do not bring the Lombard, Veneto and Emilia epidemic to Puglia," he wrote in a post on Facebook.

    He said any arriving must self-isolate for 14 days.

  10. Aid agencies fear outbreak in Syria

    Syria’s fragile health system may struggle to respond to an outbreak of the coronavirus in the country, a World Health Organization (WHO) official has said.

    Hedinn Halldorsson said medical officials and facilities were being prepared to “safely test and diagnose the virus” in parts of Syria.

    No cases of coronavirus have been confirmed but humanitarian agencies fear an outbreak would be difficult to contain.

    Concerns of a coronavirus epidemic are particularly acute in Syria's north-west, where the government of President Bashar al-Assad is trying to recapture the last-remaining rebel-held province of Idlib.

    Fighting in Idlib has driven almost a million civilians from their homes since last December - the biggest single displacement of Syria's nine-year civil war.

    Misty Buswell of the International Rescue Committee said the situation in Idlib was "especially ripe for a spread" of the virus.

    "An outbreak would be devastating for thousands whose health status is already compromised due to lack of sufficient food, clean water and exposure to cold weather," she told AFP.

    Want to know more about the battle for Idlib? Here are some links to our coverage:

    An aerial view shows the rubble of buildings following air strikes in Syria's north-western Idlib province
    Image caption: Syrian government forces have been pushing into Idlib with the help of Russian air strikes
  11. Diagnosed Brit 'shocked' at lack of info

    Radio 4's Broadcasting House

    A British man who has been diagnosed with the coronavirus has told Radio 4's Broadcasting House that he was "shocked" at the lack of information and testing when he arrived back in the UK from a skiing holiday in northern Italy.

    He flew home from the Austrian city of Innsbruck, just across the border from Italy, to Manchester Airport last weekend.

    "It was rather strange... when, we got in to Manchester [airport] there was no mention of coronavirus whatsoever - no advice, no checks... I was a little shocked to be honest," he told the BBC's Luke Jones.

    He said he and his wife took the decision to self-isolate after being in a ski resort packed with local tourists.

    He describes the illness as starting with "a bit of a dry cough - and then suddenly feeling feverish".

    He attended a pod for a swab test after speaking to NHS 111 and learned he had tested positive three days later.

    "By self-isolating, think of all the lives we've saved," he said, on the radio.

    He says he is now "well-recovered". His wife did not test positive, but both remain in self-isolation.

    "We are both self-employed and this is affecting our income a little, but you've got to do what you've got to do - and we did the right thing."

    Video content

    Video caption: The man was "shocked" he wasn't tested or given information when he landed back in the UK.
  12. Italian army chief tests positive

    The Italian army's chief of staff, Gen Salvatore Farina, has tested positive for coronavirus.

    Gen Farina said he was well and in solitary confinement in his quarters.

    He said: "I extend a warm greeting and heartfelt thanks to the women and men of the army who are working to deal with this emergency."

  13. Latest on the affected cruise ships

    The Grand Princess cruise ship off the coast of San Francisco, California
    Image caption: The Grand Princess cruise ship has been stuck for several days

    The quarantine of cruise ships has been a common feature of the coronavirus outbreak. Here's the latest on vessels currently affected:

    Grand Princess

    • The Grand Princess has been held at sea off California for days after an outbreak on board involving 21 people. It is now being allowed to dock at Oakland on Monday, and those with the virus will be treated and quarantined. The 2,400 passengers on board will be tested for the virus and moved to isolation. The crew of hundreds will be quarantined on the ship.


    • The Carnival was delayed at Long Beach port in California on Saturday morning after a passenger fell ill. A test for the virus returned negative, allowing passengers to disembark on Saturday night

    MSC Lirica

    • The MSC Lirica was denied permission to dock at New Mangalore Port in India’s Karnataka state on Saturday. India’s ministry of shipping has directed all ports to deny entry to cruise ships until 31 March. It is not yet clear where the MSC Lirica will go

    MSC Opera

    • In Malta, the MSC Opera agreed not enter the country's port on Friday after doctors threatened industrial action if it docked. Instead, the ship was diverted to Messina, Sicily, where passengers were allowed to disembark after receiving medical checks

    River Nile cruise

    • On Saturday, Egypt confirmed 33 new cases of coronavirus on a cruise ship that is quarantined in the port of Luxor, bringing the total to 45. None are showing symptoms of the virus, health authorities said

    And of course you may remember the Diamond Princess, which was the first big cruise ship to be quarantined due to this virus.

    You can read more about Japan's heavily-criticised handling of that outbreak here.

  14. 'Full support' for NHS as UK cases rise

    We brought you some breaking news a few minutes ago that the number of cases in the UK have jumped significantly - from 209 to 273.

    Earlier today UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak told the BBC that the National Health Service would "get whatever resources it needs to get us through this crisis".

    Mr Sunak, who was appointed chancellor last month after the resignation of Sajid Javid, has pledged to address the outbreak in his first budget on Wednesday.

    The government's medical advisers say the UK is still in the "containment" phase of tackling Covid-19, but they expect to move to a "delay" phase soon, in which the focus will be on trying to slow down the spread.

    This phase could see the introduction of "social distancing" measures such as closing schools and urging people to work from home.

    You can read more details here.

    Video content

    Video caption: WATCH: NHS to get 'whatever it needs' to cope, says chancellor
  15. Greece reacts to spike in cases

    Greece has banned sporting events with spectators and school field trips for two weeks after the number of coronavirus cases in the country rose tenfold, from seven to 73.

    In a statement, the health ministry said conference events would also be suspended - for four weeks.

    Greece reported its first case of coronavirus on 26 February, after a woman returning from a trip to northern Italy tested positive.

    Many of the more recent cases were pilgrims who had been on a tour of religious sites in Egypt and Israel.

    Patras University Hospital
  16. Four ways to protect yourself

    Video content

    Video caption: Coronavirus: How do I protect myself?

    If you're wondering how long you should wash your hands for or if wearing a mask really offers any protection from this virus, you're not alone.

    Luckily, BBC online health editor Michelle Roberts and BBC digital health reporter Laura Foster have looked at the most effective ways that you can protect yourself and your family - based on advice from Britain's National Health Service.

  17. More deaths in the Netherlands and other figures

    We said earlier that the figures from countries around the world were changing quickly - and they are. Here is some of the latest information we're getting:

    • Netherlands: Two more deaths from Covid-19 have been reported taking the total to three. The number of infections jumped on Sunday to 265, from 188 a day earlier
    • Switzerland: A person being treated in hospital in Liestal for the disease has died, taking the national death toll to two. The country has 281 confirmed infections
    • Singapore: Twelve new cases have been confirmed taking the total to 150. So far Singapore has not reported any deaths from the virus
    • Belgium: Another 31 cases were reported on Sunday taking the national total to 200. A second case was detected at the European Council in Brussels, Reuters news agency reported. The patient had previously attended a meeting of EU ambassadors on 2 March, according to an internal email
  18. Anxiety alive and well in China

    Celia Hatton

    BBC Asia Pacific Regional Editor

    Passengers wearing face masks arrive at Changsha railway station in Changsha, the capital of Hunan province on March 8, 2020.

    Millions of people are heading back to work in China and news sites and social media platforms are carrying information about how people can protect themselves.

    “Open your office windows for thirty minutes at least twice a day,” one popular article says, although it notes there’s no need to wear goggles when going outside. It's proof that even though the number of new infections have dramatically slowed, the anxiety caused by Covid-19 is alive and well in China.

    And staying inside for weeks on end will have other long-lasting effects, too: for weeks, people in China have been predicting a baby boom – the result of enforced one-on-one time, they suspect. That’s been coupled with the news that at least one government office that processes divorces was swamped when it reopened to the public on Friday.

  19. BreakingUK cases rise by 64 in 24 hours

    A total of 273 people in the UK have tested positive for coronavirus, latest figures from the UK's Department of Health and Social Care revealed on Sunday - up from 209 on Saturday.

    As of 09:00 on Sunday, 23,513 people have been tested in the UK.

    The current death toll inside the UK is two.

  20. Serie A match delayed amid suspension confusion

    The match at the Stadio Ennio Tardini was delayed on Sunday
    Image caption: The match at the Stadio Ennio Tardini was delayed on Sunday

    Parma's Serie A tie against SPAL on Sunday kicked off 75 minutes late following mixed messages over whether or not the game should go ahead amid the coronavirus outbreak.

    Up to 16 million people have been placed under quarantine in Italy as the country battles to contain the spread of the virus.

    The match was due to kick off at 12:30 local time (11:30 GMT) but players were told to return to the dressing room from the tunnel after the country's sports minister suggested the league be suspended with immediate effect.

    The match eventually got under way at 13:45 local time (12:45 GMT).

    Italy's government announced last week that all sport in the country would be played behind closed doors until next month.