The coronavirus pandemic continues to affect public life around the world, with more travel restrictions, more closures and rapidly growing caseloads in Europe, the new hotspot of the global outbreak.

The death toll in Spain, which is on a nationwide lockdown, doubled overnight, officials said Sunday. Other countries moved to close all nonessential businesses, introduce mandatory 14-day quarantines for inbound travelers and institute curfews.

Spain has placed tight restrictions on restaurants and bars in the nation of 46 million people as part of a two-week state of emergency to fight the sharp rise in coronavirus infections. Photo / AP
Spain has placed tight restrictions on restaurants and bars in the nation of 46 million people as part of a two-week state of emergency to fight the sharp rise in coronavirus infections. Photo / AP

In the United States, airports have been thrown into chaos as travellers from European countries included in President Donald Trump's travel ban were forced to wait for hours in congested lines for health screenings.

Here are some other significant developments:

The death toll in Italy from coronavirus has risen by 25 per cent in one day. The total number of fatalities in the European country, according to the Guardian, rose to 1809 on Sunday from 1441 a day earlier.

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The total number of confirmed cases in Italy is now at 24,747.

All incoming flights to Qatar stopped for two weeks.

Focus Live: Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield has confirmed New Zealand's seventh and eighth positive Covid-19 coronavirus cases.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged Trump to activate the Army Corps of Engineers to prepare emergency medical facilities, while New York City's comptroller, Scott Stringer, called for a complete city shutdown.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said on TV Sunday that schools there may remain closed for the rest of the academic year.

There will be no public audiences at Holy Week services led by Pope Francis in Vatican City next month.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he doesn't believe the United States is in a recession but added "we're clearly going to have a slowdown."

South Korean President Moon Jae-in declared the southeastern part of the country - the epicenter of its outbreak - "special disaster zones."

Parents and children across the country prepared for school closings that are set to begin this week.

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DeWine told CNN that health experts have advised him the spread of the novel coronavirus may not peak until late April or May.

"So we've informed superintendents that while we've closed schools for three weeks, the odds are this is going to be a lot longer. And it would not surprise me at all if schools did not open again this year," he said.

DeWine was the first governor to order schools closed statewide - in Ohio's case, for three weeks - and many others quickly followed. On Sunday, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz joined about a dozen states in ordering closures. In his case, Walz ordered public schools closed for eight days starting Wednesday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published guidance on Friday for schools on responding to the coronavirus pandemic. The CDC advised widespread closings only in the case of "substantial community transmission."

Workers in a market wears masks to the prevent spread of coronavirus in Vitoria, northern Spain. Photo / AP
Workers in a market wears masks to the prevent spread of coronavirus in Vitoria, northern Spain. Photo / AP

The statewide school closures that have been ordered are typically for two or three weeks. The CDC advised that closures for two to four weeks are appropriate in the case of significant absenteeism among staff or students. But it said longer shutdowns - four to eight weeks - are needed to affect the course of the disease's spread.


That's one of the reasons New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is resisting closing schools in the city, he told CNN.

"My blunt fear is, if the school shut down, they will be done for the year, done for the school year, maybe even for the calendar year," he said. De Blasio said he is also concerned about the ramifications of such a closure, including the effect on parents who need to be at work and on those children who rely on schools for meals.

Cuomo addressed the president in an op-ed in Sunday's New York Times in which he further urged Trump to let states take over testing patients rather than route tests through federal bureaucracy and to coordinate nationwide school, work and business closures before the state and local health-care systems are overwhelmed and - like Italy - forced to ration care.

"We believe the use of active duty Army Corps personnel would not violate federal law because this is a national disaster," Cuomo wrote. "Doing so still won't provide enough intensive care beds, but it is our best hope."

Pointing to the patchwork of current policies as state and local officials evaluate the outbreak differently, Cuomo called for "a uniform federal standard for when cities and states should shut down commerce and schools, or cancel events."

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Cuomo's letter comes after weeks of frustration with the response by the federal government.

The governor has repeatedly complained that federal entities like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have hamstrung his state's ability to get ahead of the fast-growing outbreak - particularly because of the requirement that presumptive positive samples be confirmed by the CDC in Atlanta rather than by state labs.

With at least 613 confirmed cases, New York has nearly eclipsed Washington state in the number of patients who have tested positive (though its death toll remains at two compared with Washington's 40).

In New York City, whose confirmed cases account for nearly half of the state's total, calls to close schools have grown especially fierce in recent days. De Blasio has resisted such calls, but Stringer amped up pressure Sunday, shortly after Cuomo's letter was published.

In tweets, Singer called for a complete city shutdown, including schools, exempting only essential services.

"We cannot go on with business as usual," he wrote.

Pedestrians pass an empty Gran Via street, in Bilbao, northern Spain. Photo / AP
Pedestrians pass an empty Gran Via street, in Bilbao, northern Spain. Photo / AP

Spanish health authorities reported 2,000 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours on Sunday, as the number of people who have died from the virus more than doubled.

The death toll climbed to 288 on Sunday, up from 136 a day earlier. A total of 7,753 people have tested positive.

Spain has emerged as a new coronavirus hot spot in recent days, with the country the second hardest hit in Europe after Italy. On Saturday, the government followed Italy in introducing a countrywide lockdown, with people permitted to leave their homes only for essential reasons, such as work, to buy food or to go to medical appointments.

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Streets and town squares nationwide were deserted Sunday morning as the measures took effect. Police patrols urged those out to go home. Electronic billboards along the highways read: Coronavirus: Stay Home. Some churches offered live-streaming of Sunday Masses.

A second person has died of covid-19 in Louisiana, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Sunday.

The latest fatality was a 53-year-old person with underlying health conditions.

"As the number of positive cases continues to rise, we need every person to take the necessary actions to help reduce the spread of this virus," the governor said in a statement, requesting residents in the state to send prayers to the person's loved ones. "Our elderly and those with chronic health conditions are the most vulnerable, but we all need to act responsibly and look out for ourselves and our neighbors."

Louisiana has 91 confirmed coronavirus cases.

The United States has more than 2,952 confirmed cases, with 57 deaths resulting from infection, according to Johns Hopkins University and Medicine.

Mnuchin said Sunday that he doesn't believe the United States is in a recession.

"I think the real issue is not the economic situation today," Mnuchin said on ABC News's "This Week." "The real issue is what economic tools are we going to use to make sure we get through this. Because this is a unique situation; we have a situation where travel has been grinding to a halt. We're clearly going to have a slowdown. … And later in the year, obviously, the economic activity will pick up as we confront this virus."

He made similar comments during an appearance on "Fox News Sunday."

"If the medical professionals are correct and we're doing all the things, I expect we'll have a big rebound later in the year," Mnuchin said. He added that "some businesses" are "booming" while others are suffering.

"I mean, you look at the stores and people who are buying certain consumer products," he said. "What we've seen from the credit card data is travel is down extraordinary. Almost corresponding is an increase in purchases of food, pharmacy goods and supplies."

Mnuchin also denied that Trump misspoke several times during his Oval Office address last week and instead said that people had "misinterpreted" the president's comments.

"I don't think he got things wrong at all. … We were very clear that people misinterpreted the comments on cargo, and we immediately put out a statement to clarify that," Mnuchin said on ABC News. "So, the president said this is similar to China, and China cargo is not banned."

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Sunday that the Trump administration is not considering imposing domestic travel restrictions at the moment as the coronavirus crisis intensifies.

"Travel restrictions within the country have not been seriously discussed," Fauci said on ABC News' "This Week."

"I mean, they've been discussed, but not seriously discussed," he said. "I don't see that right now or in the immediate future. But remember, we are very open-minded about whatever it takes to preserve the health of the American public."

Amid the closings of schools, businesses and institutions across the country, Fauci said, "it's going to be a matter of, you know, several weeks to a few months" until the crisis abates. He added that it's "possible" that China - which has taken significant steps to limit the domestic spread of the virus - may see a "second blip" once people resume normal life.

Fauci spoke on "Fox News Sunday" about Europe's efforts to contain the virus, explaining that countries there are battling an "escalation phase" that is forcing them into "playing catch-up."

"We feel that with rather stringent mitigation and containment, without necessarily complete lockdown, we'll be able to prevent ourselves from getting to where, unfortunately, Italy is now," he said.

Fauci defended the Trump administration's handling of the crisis, noting that he's "absolutely" confident that it is doing all it can. When people say that the government is "overreacting," he added, that is a good sign.

"If you think you're in line with the outbreak, you're already three weeks behind. So you've got to be almost overreacting a bit to keep up with it," he said.

During his ABC News appearance, Fauci weighed in on reports that the country has only 13,000 respirators, acknowledging it "may not be enough if we have a situation where we really have a lot of cases."

"People need to understand that things will get worse before they get better," he said. "What we're trying to do is to make sure they don't get to the worst-case scenario. That's what we need to do."

On "Fox News Sunday," Fauci said that a "worst-case scenario" could lead to the health system becoming "overwhelmed."

"Are we going to have a worst-case scenario?" he said. "I don't think so, I hope not."

On CNN's "State of the Union," Fauci also urged travelers returning to the United States from Europe to not rush back all at once.

"Unfortunately, that's not what we like to see, but human nature is human nature," he said, responding to photos of travelers returning from Europe massed at an airport, with thick lines of people snaking up stairways. "You don't need to get back right now. You can pace getting back."

If the government can reduce crowding by rationing how Americans can return home, it should, Fauci said.

Pope Francis will lead services for Holy Week next month before a largely virtual audience rather than the tens of thousands who typically pack Vatican City as public participation in the Easter events has been canceled because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The pope, who is 83, has not had a public audience at his services for a week. They won't resume until at least after Easter Sunday, on April 12. In the meantime, he will continue to live-stream certain services or worshipers can listen to his audio addresses.

"In this situation of pandemic, in which we find ourselves living more or less isolated, we are invited to rediscover and deepen the value of the Communion that unites all the members of the church," the pope said after Sunday's Angelus prayer.

Outside Vatican City, Italy has been in lockdown for a week as it suffers the worst of the coronavirus outbreak in Europe with more than 21,157 reported cases and at least 1,441 deaths. Public life has ground to a halt and Masses have been canceled, though churches remain open for individual prayer.

The coronavirus outbreak has had a striking effect on worshipers from all religions as social-distancing efforts and government-mandated suspensions of large gatherings force temples, churches and mosques to cancel services or temporarily shutter.

The Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque, the third-holiest site in Islam, have been closed to worshipers over coronavirus concerns, representatives of the Waqf, the Islamic religious trust that manages the Jerusalem site, said Sunday.

Prayer services at mosques in Israel and the Palestinian territories were limited to 10 minutes but still drew about 5,000 worshipers Friday, The Washington Post reported.

Sarah Bartel, a Catholic worshiper in Seattle, previously told The Post that not being able to attend Mass created a "a sense of deprivation."