While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, March 22

A woman is seen wearing a mask embellished with petals in the central Iraqi holy city of Najaf on March 21, 2020
A woman is seen wearing a mask embellished with petals in the central Iraqi holy city of Najaf on March 21, 2020 PHOTO: AFP

Coronavirus: Nearly one billion confined to homes as virus toll tops 12,000

Almost one billion people were confined to their homes worldwide on Saturday as the global coronavirus death toll topped 12,000 and US states rolled out stay-at-home measures already imposed across swathes of Europe.

More than a third of Americans were adjusting to life in various phases of virtual lockdown - including in the US's three biggest cities of New York, Los Angeles and Chicago - with more states expected to ramp up restrictions.

New Jersey became the latest US state to restrict movement as the fast-spreading pandemic upends lives across the planet, closing businesses, shutting schools and forcing millions to work from home.

The virus death toll surpassed 12,000 worldwide as worst-hit Italy reported a one-day record numbers of deaths at 793 - the overall total shot past 4,800 - and Spain reported a 32 per cent spike in new deaths.

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Coronavirus: Italy deaths surge by 793 in a day

Italy on Saturday reported 793 coronavirus deaths and saw its toll for the past month reach 4,825 - well over a third of the world's total and a grim reminder that the pandemic remains out of control.

The Mediterranean nation has notched a rapid succession of records that seemed unimaginable when a retired Italian builder became the first person in Europe to die of the new illness exactly a month ago.

Italy on Thursday overtook China as the global epicentre of Covid-19.

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Amazon.com to stop shipping non-essentials to consumers in Italy and France

Amazon.com will stop shipping non-essential products to consumers in Italy and France, the company said on Saturday, representing an escalation in the e-commerce giant's response in regions hard hit by the coronavirus outbreak.

An Amazon spokesman said the company made the decision due to a spike in orders and the need to respect anti-coronavirus safety measures in the workplaces.

"We will temporarily stop taking orders on some non-essential products on Amazon.it and Amazon.fr," Amazon.com said in a statement.

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Coronavirus: Shame on you, says Britain, as panic-buyers drive nurse to tears

Britain on Saturday told people who were panic-buying and hoarding food due to the coronavirus outbreak to calm down, pointing to a video on social media showing an exhausted nurse driven to tears by finding shelves bare after her shift.

Shoppers have been emptying the shelves in many supermarkets over the past week, with some wrestling over toilet roll and others hoarding everything from pasta to frozen peas as the government told people to stay home and avoid contact.

A billion pounds (S$1.6 billion) of extra food have been squirrelled away over the past three weeks, putting massive pressure on supermarkets, environment and food minister George Eustice said.

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Olympics: Clamour grows to postpone Tokyo Games

Calls from sporting organisations for this year’s Tokyo Olympics to be postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic gathered pace on Saturday with USA Track and Field (USATF), the French Swimming Federation and Brazil’s Olympic Committee the latest to join the throng.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Tokyo 2020 organisers still insist the July 24-Aug 9 showpiece will go ahead as planned despite Europe and the US struggling to control the spread of the flu-like virus.

Their optimism that the show will go on, however, is looking increasingly out of step with countries in lockdown and athletes around the world unable to train.

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