Coronavirus: US and Australia record first deaths as Trump takes 'aggressive actions'

Sporting events and music concerts could be affected

The US and Australia have recorded their first deaths from COVID-19 - the disease caused by the coronavirus.

In Australia, authorities said a 78-year-old man died in a Perth hospital, and in the US state of Washington a man in his late 50s died.

The Australian victim had been evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which had been quarantined in Japan .

The man's widow is also infected but is in a stable condition, according to health officials.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a tweet he was saddened to hear of the elderly man's death and said the government would continue to do all it could to protect citizens.

He wrote: "We are monitoring and responding to the information we are receiving every day. We are not immune, but we are as prepared as any country can be and we will get through this."

As fears grow of an escalation in the number of US cases, the country is using a federal defence law to boost the production of gloves, masks and gowns.

President Donald Trump has announced an extension of travel restrictions banning foreign nationals from entering the US from Iran, and warned against going to badly affected areas of Italy and South Korea.

Mr Trump also said officials were discussing bringing in travel restrictions across the southern border of the US.

He said: "We've taken the most aggressive actions to confront the coronavirus. They are the most aggressive taken by any country. And we're the number one travel destination anywhere in the world. Yet we have far fewer cases of the disease than even countries with much less travel or a much smaller population.

"On Monday, I'll be meeting with the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. Actually, they'll be coming to the White House and we're talking about a vaccine and developing very quickly and they've already started working on it, developing very rapidly a vaccine for the virus to combat the virus."

Meanwhile, France has banned all public gatherings with more than 5,000 people in a confined space, as the number of coronavirus cases there rises and the list of countries hit by the illness climbs.

Sporting events and music concerts could be affected as France raised the number of confirmed cases to 100.

Five Serie A football games, which were going to be played without fans, have been postponed in Italy, which is struggling to contain a rapid spread in cases.

Officials there said the death toll had risen to 29 with more than 1,100 infected.

In the German city of Bonn a primary school teaching assistant has reportedly tested positive for the virus, forcing around 185 children to be quarantined at home.

Four children have also tested positive in Germany at a nursery in Heinsberg, North Rhine-Westphalia, after their teacher became unwell.

South Korea has urged its citizens to stay indoors this weekend and warned of a "critical moment" in the coronavirus battle.

The country is the worst-hit by the outbreak after China.

On Sunday it reported 376 new infections, taking the total to more than 3,500.

"Please stay at home and refrain from going outside and minimise contact with other people," urged vice health minister Kim Kang-lip.

The South Korean outbreak has been linked to a large religious sect based in the city of Daegu.

In other developments:

Mainland China - where the virus began - reported 570 new cases and 34 deaths in its most recent 24-hour figures.

Most were confined to the city of Wuhan - the origin of the outbreak in December - and the surrounding province.

Authorities say the number of patients being discharged from hospital is now far more than those being admitted.

In total, nearly 2,900 people have died from the outbreak in China with about 80,000 infected.

As more cases are identified outside Asia - including countries such as Ireland, Ecuador and Qatar recording their first cases - the World Health Organisation (WHO) raised the risk level to the highest level.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom has warned it would be a "big mistake" to switch from a public health strategy of containment to mitigation - where authorities accept the coronavirus is spreading.

The United Nations chief, Antonio Guterres, also urged governments to "do everything possible".

"We know containment is possible, but the window of opportunity is narrowing," he told reporters in New York.

Italy is by far Europe's worst-affected country with a number of areas in the north of the country on lockdown.

The prime minister has warned the outbreak could push the country into recession and schools and universities in the affected regions will remain closed for a second week.

An Italian national staying at a hotel in Tenerife - on lockdown after four cases of the coronavirus were detected - has now tested positive for the virus.

The economic repercussions have also seen a nightmare week on world stock markets.

More than £200bn was wiped from the UK's FTSE 100 on Friday after the US Dow Jones also suffered its biggest one-day drop this week.

COVID-19 has been fatal in 2% of reported cases, with the elderly and ill the most vulnerable, according to WHO.

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There is no vaccine yet for the new viral infection, which health officials think spreads mainly from droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

The symptoms include fever, coughing and difficulty breathing.

Advice is for people to wash their hands with soap and water and avoid close contact with people who are sick.