While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, March 12

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WHO labels coronavirus a 'pandemic' as Europe scrambles to contain it

The World Health Organisation called the new coronavirus outbreak a pandemic on Wednesday, issuing a grim warning that the global spread and severity of the illness was due to "alarming levels of inaction".

The declaration came as Europe faced a mounting number of cases - including a slew of new countries clocking first deaths - prompting governments to roll out increasingly tough measures to slow the rapid spread of the virus.

The number of cases across the globe has risen to more than 124,000 with 4,500 deaths, including a jump in fatalities in Iran and Italy in particular, according to an AFP tally.

The majority of cases have been in China where the outbreak first emerged in December, but as the number of new infections has steadied in the country, hotspots have emerged elsewhere - namely Italy, Iran and Spain.


Former film producer Weinstein gets 23 years jail for sexual assault and rape

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Former movie producer Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison on Wednesday following his sexual assault and rape conviction last month in a case hailed as a victory for the #MeToo movement against sexual misconduct.

The sentence was handed down in Manhattan criminal court by Justice James Burke, who presided over Weinstein's trial. A jury on Feb 24 found Weinstein, 67, guilty of sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi and raping former aspiring actress Jessica Mann.

Once one of Hollywood's most influential producers, Weinstein had faced the possibility of a maximum sentence of 29 years in prison.


Bernie Sanders stays in White House race despite sweeping Joe Biden victories

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Democratic US presidential contender Bernie Sanders will stay in the White House race despite suffering a series of sweeping losses to front-runner Joe Biden, saying on Wednesday he looked forward to a debate with the former vice-president next week.

Sanders acknowledged he was falling behind Biden in the count of delegates needed to win the nomination, but said he was committed to the overarching goal of defeating Republican Donald Trump in November's general election.

On Tuesday, Biden notched decisive primary victories in Michigan and three other states, taking a big step toward the party's nomination to take on Trump in November and casting doubt on the future of Sanders' fading White House bid.


Pope Francis holds his first-ever virtual general audience with Italy on lockdown

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Pope Francis, holed up in the Vatican by Italy's coronavirus epidemic, held his first virtual general audience on Wednesday, thanking medical staff but urging the world not to forget the plight of Syrian refugees.

Most of Francis' general audiences are held in St Peter's Square and attract tens of thousands of people.

But the square was empty on Wednesday as the Vatican, which is surrounded by Rome, adhered to a national lockdown aimed at stopping the virus by outlawing gatherings in public.


Warriors to play behind closed doors, as NBA urged to bar fans over coronavirus

The Golden State Warriors will play behind closed doors to combat the spread of the coronavirus, the team said on Wednesday (March 11), as regional authorities began to issue blanket bans on spectators at sporting events.

The Warriors said in a statement the team would play before empty stands at their Chase Center home on Thursday when they take on the Brooklyn Nets - the first NBA game to be directly impacted by the Covid-19 outbreak.

All other events at the venue scheduled through March 21 would be postponed or cancelled, the team said.


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