Ten more people in the UK have died after testing positive for coronavirus, bringing the total number of deaths in the UK to 21, reports BBC.
The UK's chief medical officer, Prof Chris Whitty, said all of the latest to die were patients in "at-risk" groups.
All patients NHS England gave details of had underlying health conditions and were over the age of 60.
The reported deaths were from around England including London, Birmingham and Leicester.
Prof Whitty said: "I understand this increase in the number of deaths linked to Covid-19 will be a cause for concern for many. The public should know every measure we are taking is seeking to save lives and protect the most vulnerable."
He gave his "sincere condolences" to the friends and families affected, adding "every single one of us has a role to play" in reducing the spread of the virus.
The 10 patients were being cared for by nine NHS trusts in England including Buckinghamshire, Sandwell & West Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Leicester, Barts in London, North Middlesex and Chester.
From state emergency to financial help, several European countries on Thursday announced new measures to tackle COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, as caseload on the continent is approaching 30,000.
In Italy, which recorded the most cases outside China, over 15,000 accumulated COVID-19 cases have been confirmed by Thursday, while the number in Spain has climbed above 3,000.
Italy registered 2,249 more cases on Thursday, bringing the number of people who tested positive for the new coronavirus to 12,839. Recoveries grew as well on the daily basis to 1,258 cases from 1,045, while the death toll rose to 1,016 cases.
Considering all data (including deaths and recoveries), the total number of assessed cases -- since the epidemic appeared on Feb. 21 -- was 15,113 in the southern European country.
In Spain, where the parliament suspended all activities for the next 15 days due to the coronavirus, the number of confirmed cases has climbed above 3,000, and that of deaths approached 90.
France reported 2,876 cases and 61 deaths, and in Germany, the numbers are 2,369 and 5 respectively. The confirmed cases grew to 674 in Denmark and 614 in Netherlands.
Elsewhere in Europe, the cases had risen to 361 in Austria, 109 in Finland, 24 in Serbia, 23 in Bulgaria, 19 in Luxembourg, 16 in Slovakia, 12 in Cyprus, and 11 in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH).
Few people are seen on the shopping street Via dei Condotti in Rome, Italy.Xinhua Photo
The Czech government declared a 30-day state of emergency on Thursday to combat the coronavirus outbreak, a day after Hungary announced a similar move.
Public access to sports facilities, gyms, swimming pools, music and social clubs, libraries or galleries will be banned starting Friday in the Czech Republic. Access to catering services, including restaurants in shopping malls, will also be banned.
The country also introduced a travel ban to and from "risk countries," including neighboring Germany and Austria. Only rescuers and drivers of delivery services are immune from the ban.
In neighboring Slovakia, Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini said that all three international airports in the country will be closed, and border controls will be introduced. Schools will also be closed from Friday for at least 14 days.
The Latvian government also announced Thursday to introduce a national emergency till April 14. From Friday, all schools and universities in the country will be closed and public events gathering involving more than 200 people will be banned.
In neighboring Lithuania, the Vilnius City Municipality decided to shut down all schools and public entertainment places till April 17.
Calling the coronavirus pandemic "the most serious sanitary crisis that France has experienced in a century," French President Emmanuel Macron announced that from March 16 and until further notice, all nurseries, schools, colleges, high schools and universities in the country will be closed.
In Spain, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Thursday announced a series of measures to help both the country's public health service and its economy to combat COVID-19.
In the health service sector, 2.8 billion euros (3.1 billion U.S. dollars) are to be transferred to the country's 17 autonomous regions to guarantee the "supply of medicine and necessary materials." Another 400 million euros will set aside to help mitigate the losses in the tourism and restaurant sectors.
Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin announced in the day that a supplementary budget could be given at a short notice to alleviate the financial impact of the pandemic.
Also on Thursday, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced that the government would compensate the employers who give their employees time off to look after their children due to school closures.
The entrepreneurs could decide for themselves whether to release employees who have to stay at home taking care of their children. In this case, the government would pay one third of the labor costs of these employees for the duration of the time off, he said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday backed a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow him to seek re-election after his current term ends in 2024, ending uncertainty about his future.
A lawmaker who is revered in Russia as the first woman to fly in space proposed either scrapping Russia's two-term limit for presidents or resetting the clock so Putin's four terms wouldn't count. Putin and the Kremlin-controlled State Duma quickly endorsed the proposal put forward by former Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova.
Kremlin critics denounced the move as cynical manipulation and called for protests. Lawmakers also passed a sweeping set of constitutional changes Putin proposed in January that Kremlin foes saw as intended to keep him in power.
In a speech to lawmakers Tuesday, Putin spoke against scrapping presidential term limits altogether but backed the idea that if the constitution is revised, the two-term limit only would apply from 2024 on. The president's current six-year term expires in 2024.
A vote on the constitutional amendments is scheduled for next month.
Putin, 67, has been in power for more than 20 years and is Russia's longest-serving leader since Soviet dictator Josef Stalin. After serving two presidential terms in 2000-2008, he shifted to the Russian prime minister's office while protege Dmitry Medvedev served as a placeholder president.
After the length of a presidential term was extended to six years under Medvedev, Putin reclaimed the presidency in 2012 and won another term in 2018.
Observers had speculated that Putin could use the constitutional amendments he unveiled in January to scrap term limits; move into the prime minister's seat with strengthened powers; or continue calling the shots as the head of the State Council.
However, it wasn't clear until Tuesday how Putin would try to achieve that goal. The Russian leader finally revealed his cards after Tereshkova, a legendary figure widely revered for her pioneering 1963 space flight, offered her ideas.
"I propose to either lift the presidential term limit or add a clause that after the revised constitution enters force, the incumbent president, just like any other citizen, has the right to seek the presidency," she said to a raucous applause.
After Tereshkova spoke, Putin quickly came to parliament to address lawmakers.
He said he was aware of public calls for him to stay on as president and emphasized that Russia needs stability above all.
"The president is a guarantor of security of our state, its internal stability and evolutionary development," Putin said. "We have had enough revolutions."
However, he said that since the constitution is a long-term document, scrapping the term limit wasn't a good idea.
Then he dropped the bombshell, saying he positively viewed Tereshkova's alternate proposal to restart the term count when the revamped constitution enters force.
"As for the proposal to lift restrictions for any person, any citizen, including the incumbent president, to allow running in future elections ... this option is possible," Putin said.
He added that the Constitutional Court would need to judge if the move would be legal, although the court's assent is all but guaranteed.
Putin's statement came as lawmakers were considering the amendments in a crucial second reading when changes in the document are made.
The Kremlin-controlled lower house, the State Duma, quickly endorsed the proposed amendments by a 382-0 vote with 44 abstentions. A vote on a third reading will be a quick formality. A nationwide vote on the proposed amendments is set for April 22.
Russia's leading opposition figure, Alexei Navalny, mocked the proposed change.
"Putin has been in power for 20 years, and yet he is going to run for the first time," Navalny tweeted.
A group of opposition activists called for a protest rally in Moscow on March 21, saying in a statement, "The country where the government doesn't change for 20 years has no future,. they said in a statement.
Putin's approval ratings have remained high despite a recent drop amid Russia's economic troubles and stagnant living standards. It's unclear if the fragmented and disorganized Russian opposition can mount a serious challenge to the Kremlin.
The ruble's sharp drop this week, caused by a steep fall in global oil prices in the wake of the collapse of OPEC's agreement with Russia to control crude output, could herald deeper economic problems and hurt Putin's popularity.
"It looks like this crisis situation has made Putin drop his mask and do something he had originally planned, and to do it quickly," Abbas Gallyamov, an independent political analyst said.
In a speech to lawmakers, Putin vowed that the new coronavirus and plummeting oil prices would not destabilize Russia.
"Our economy will keep getting stronger and the key industries will become more powerful and competitive," he said.
Italy enters its first day under a nationwide lockdown after a government decree extended restrictions on movement from the hard-hit north to the rest of the country. As the numbers of infected surged in Italy, there were more signs of normality returning to China, where President Xi Jinping' made his first trip to the virus' epicenter of Wuhan. The contrast illustrated the global east-to-west spread of the virus.
These are some of the latest developments on Tuesday:
ITALY BEGINS LIFE UNDER NATIONWIDE LOCKDOWN
Italy enters its first day under a nationwide lockdown after a decree signed late Monday by Premier Giuseppe Conte extended restrictions on movement from hard-hit northern regions to the rest of the country. Panic buying erupted, prompting the government to assure citizens that supermarkets will remain open and stocked. Conte's office said runs on supermarkets went counter to the intent of the new decree, which aims to prevent Italians from congregating. Soldiers and police enforced the travel ban and Carabinieri teams patrolled cafes to make sure owners were keeping customers a meter (about three feet) apart. Meanwhile, neighbors Malta and Italy slammed their borders with Italy shut.
CHINA'S PRESIDENT VISITS VIRUS EPICENTER
Chinese President Xi Jinping made his first visit to the coronavirus' epicenter of Wuhan — his first since the start of the outbreak — as parts of the nation appeared to be returning to normal. It was one of several recent signs of the diminishing threat the coronavirus presents in China as the illness spreads west. In mainland China, where the outbreak emerged in December, almost three quarters of the more than 80,000 patients who contracted the virus have recovered. Employees have been returning to work, but with new routines that include workers wearing protective face masks and not facing each other while eating.
VIRUS INFECTING POLITICAL AND MILITARY LEADERS
A growing number of military and political leaders are getting sick with the virus. Poland's top army commander, Gen. Jaroslaw Mika, was diagnosed after returning from a meeting in Germany. Many other officials are in self-isolation after potential exposure, including President Donald Trump's new chief of staff, the German interior minister and the Norwegian defense minister. The Spanish parliament's lower house canceled its activities for a week after a far-right Vox party member tested positive as cases in the country surged to 1,600. This follows the French culture minister and several French lawmakers testing positive for the virus. In Italy, Nicola Zingaretti, the governor of the Lazio region who is also head of the Democratic Party, is also recovering.
STOCKS STEADY AFTER PLUNGE
Global stock markets rebounded and oil prices recovered some after a torrid day on Monday. Markets in Europe and Asia were higher and stocks on Wall Street also surged. Monday's global selloff reflected alarm over the potential economic pain in the wake of factory closures and strict controls on travel. Israel, for example, has decided to quarantine all visitors to the country, while Austria says it will be barring entry to most travelers from Italy.
ITALY'S PATIENT NO. 1 GETTING BETTER
Italian doctors celebrated one small victory in their battle against the coronavirus after a 38-year-old man was moved out of intensive care for the first time since he tested positive Feb. 21. He is considered to be the first Italian to have contracted the coronavirus — Patient No. 1. But in the rest of northern Italy, the virus' spread was growing so exponentially that doctors were having to decide who gets priority in care and access to intensive care unit beds. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, and the vast majority of people recover. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
As of Sunday morning, a total of 273 patients have been tested positive for the novel coronavirus in Britain, according to the latest figures released Sunday afternoon by the Department of Health and Social Care.
The figures stood at 206 at the same time yesterday.
By far, two patients who tested positive for the virus have died in Britain and the majority of the confirmed cases of COVID-19 are in England, said the department.
The British government also outlined further details on proposed measures expected to be included in an upcoming COVID-19 Emergency Bill.
For example, volunteers who have already played a central role in helping the health and social care system function will be given additional employment safeguards, so that they can leave their main jobs and temporarily volunteer in the event of a widespread pandemic, said the government.
New NHS (National Health Service) data released this week showed that telephone calls to NHS 111 have increased by more than a third compared to the same period last year, with 120,000 extra calls in the first week of March, the department said.
"We plan for the worst and work for the best, and the NHS is working 24/7 to fight this virus," said Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is scheduled to chair a second meeting of the government's COBRA emergency committee on Monday in response to the growing number of infected cases.
Johnson on Friday announced a new funding package of 46 million pounds (around 60 million U.S. dollars) for urgent work to find a coronavirus vaccine and develop a rapid test for the disease.
The government has set out an action plan to tackle the spread of the virus. The plan has four strands: containing the virus, delaying its spread, researching its origins and cure, and finally mitigating the impact should the virus becomes more widespread.