The coronavirus tightened its grip on day-to-day life around the world on Saturday as ports in several countries turned back ships with infected passengers, Iran declared a “sacred jihad” against the virus and the Vatican announced it would livestream the pope’s weekly blessing.
Around the world, more and more countries were bracing for a big increase in virus cases.
Western countries have been increasingly imitating China – where the virus first emerged late last year, and which has suffered the vast majority of infections — by imposing travel controls and shutting down public events.
After the city of Venice canceled its cherished Carnival and governments warned citizens against travel to Italy, the epicenter of Europe’s outbreak, the country is facing a possible recession. Hotel occupancy rates in the lagoon city are down to 1 per cent-2 per cent.
“The surface of the Grand Canal is like glass because the boats that transport merchandise are not there. On the vaporetti (water buses), there are only five or six people,” Stefania Stea, vice president of the Venice hoteliers association, said.
Italy saw its biggest one-day jump in infections, and the Vatican decided to livestream the pope’s Sunday blessing to prevent people gathering at St. Peter’s Square.
Passenger-packed cruise ships confronted their own virus problems.
Officials in California were deciding Saturday where to dock the Grand Princess cruise ship, after 21 tested positive for the virus. There is evidence the ship now idling off San Francisco was the breeding ground for a deadly cluster of almost 20 cases during an earlier voyage.
“Those that will need to be quarantined will be quarantined,” U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said.
“Those who will require medical help will receive it.” President Donald Trump said he would have preferred not to let the passengers disembark onto American soil but would defer to medical experts.
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