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Italy virus toll leaps as global deaths pass 6,000

16 March 2020, 4:05:26

Italy on Sunday recorded its biggest daily death toll from the novel coronavirus, which has now claimed over 6,000 lives worldwide, forcing European governments to further tighten controls.

The number of fatalities in Italy shot up by 368 to 1,809 — more than half of all the cases recorded outside China. The Vatican took the drastic step of cancelling Easter week celebrations as northern Italian leaders warned they were running out of beds and artificial respirators.

Pope Francis left Vatican City on Sunday “on foot, as if on a pilgrimage” to pray in one of Rome’s cathedrals for victims of the coronavirus pandemic, the Vatican said.

Across France and Spain, which have also become European virus hotspots, cafes, shops and restaurants closed. France had ordered the closure of all non-essential businesses, while Spain went a step further, banning people from leaving home except to go to work, get medical care or buy food.

Cases also spiked in Germany which will introduce border controls with France, Austria, Switzerland, Luxemburg and Denmark from Monday.

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