While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, March 20

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Coronavirus: Italy passes China’s death toll, prepares to extend lockdown

Italy’s death toll from coronavirus overtook that of China, where the virus first emerged, on Thursday as hospitals said they were being overwhelmed and the government prepared to prolong emergency lockdown measures.

A total 427 deaths were registered in Italy over the past 24 hours, bringing the total nationwide tally to 3,405 since the outbreak surfaced on Feb 21. China has recorded 3,245 deaths since early January.

However, Italy has far fewer confirmed cases – 41,035 as of Thursday against 80,907 in China.

Officials and experts believe the total number of infections here is significantly higher, with testing largely limited to those arriving for hospital care. The country’s large, elderly population, who are particularly vulnerable to the virus, is also seen as factor for the high number of fatalities.

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Coronavirus: Trump says virus could have been 'stopped' in China

President Donald Trump again suggested China is responsible for the global coronavirus outbreak, complaining at a news conference that the disease “could have been stopped” before it spread globally.

“If people would have known about it, it could have been stopped in place,” Trump said at a White House news conference on Thursday.

As he opened his news conference, Trump again called the disease the “Chinese virus,” a term that officials in Beijing have said is offensive.

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Canada-US border to close as early as Friday; millions trying to return home

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Thursday that he expected the closure of the US-Canada border to take effect overnight on Friday and was working with domestic carriers to bring home citizens stranded overseas.

Canada, which closed its borders this week to most foreign nationals, agreed with the United States to close their shared border to “non-essential traffic” to curb transmission of the novel coronavirus.

Canada to date has 801 cases of the Covid-19 respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, and 10 deaths. Some 55,000 people have been tested across the country so far, chief medical officer Theresa Tam said.

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Monaco Grand Prix cancelled as coronavirus hits more F1 races

Monaco cancelled its showcase Formula One Grand Prix, the sport’s most famous and glamorous race, in another high-profile casualty of the coronavirus epidemic on Thursday.

The race was on the first world championship calendar in 1950 and has been held without fail since 1955.

Formula One earlier said the May 24 race was postponed, along with Dutch and Spanish races scheduled for the same month, and pushed back a major technical rules revamp from 2021 to 2022.

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Coronavirus: Cannes Film Festival postponed

The Cannes film festival, one of the entertainment industry's most prestigious events, will be postponed as the coronavirus forces France into lockdown.

The festival joins a long list of events worldwide that have been scrapped because of the deadly pandemic.

The Cannes gathering was slated to run May 12-23 in the French Riviera resort. Organisers are now considering pushing it to the end of June or the beginning of July.

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