Italian authorities on Saturday said that the country has more than 1,100 COVID-19 cases and that 29 people infected with the virus have died.
The total number of infected has reached 1,128, civil protection agency chief Angelo Borrelli told a news conference.
Officials also reported eight more deaths in the previous 24 hours, bring the total to 29.
Fifty-two percent of the people who tested positive for the virus are being isolated in their homes and not hospitalized, Borrelli said.
Health authorities said they suspect that the new cases confirmed since Friday involved infections acquired before Italy shut down 11 towns in the country’s north on Feb. 21.
It would take at least two weeks — the period of incubation — for the effect of the containment measures to show up in fewer new cases, they said.
Meanwhile, France has banned all indoor public gatherings of more than 5,000 people to slow its snowballing spread of coronavirus cases and recommending that people no longer greet each other with kisses.
The number of French cases almost doubled, to 100, on Saturday.
Of those, 86 are hospitalized, two have died and 12 have recovered, said the head of the French national health service, Jerome Salomon.
The cancelation of large gatherings in confined spaces was announced by French Minister of Health Olivier Veran after special government meetings that focused on responses to the outbreak.
Having previously recommended that people avoid shaking hands, the minister said they should also cut back on la bise, the custom in France and elsewhere in Europe of giving greetings with kisses, or air kisses, on the cheeks.
The tightened restrictions on public gatherings had an immediate effect. A major four-day trade show in Cannes for property investors was postponed from this month to June.
A half-marathon that was scheduled for yesterday in Paris was also canceled, as was a carnival in the Alpine town of Annecy, Veran said.
Other outdoor events and gatherings that might lead to a mixing of people from infected areas could also be canceled, he said.
Public gatherings are being banned completely in the Oise region north of Paris that has seen a cluster of cases and in a town in the foothills of the Alps that has also seen infections, Veran said.
The outbreak also affected the Paris fashion industry and the French capital’s Catholic churches.
French designer Agnes b. announced the cancelation of her Paris Fashion Week show, originally scheduled for today, “in view of the current international health context.”
The archbishop of Paris asked priests to change the way they administer communion to prevent spread of the virus.
Bishop Michel Aupetit instructed that priests should no longer put the sacramental bread in the mouths of the faithful and instead place it in their hands.
He also asked worshipers not to drink wine directly from a shared chalice or shake hands at Mass and requested to have church fonts emptied of holy water.
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