Millions worldwide urged to stay home to combat coronavirus spread

    Millions worldwide urged to stay home to combat coronavirus spread

    Varying degrees of government orders telling people to either stay home or at least avoid crowds are altering the daily lives of tens of millions of people around the world as authorities seek to make or maintain progress in controlling a coronavirus outbreak.

    South Korea is implementing tighter checks on people coming into the country to prevent imported cases at a time when the spread of the virus within the country has significantly slowed.

    China is taking the same approach. It announced 21 new confirmed cases, with all but one involving someone who arrived from abroad.

    Those two countries have made vast improvements in recent weeks, while other parts of the world, most notably Europe, rocket up the worldwide rankings in terms of number of coronavirus cases.

    Italy saw its total rise by more than 3,000 in a single day. As of Tuesday it has the second highest case number, about double that of third place Iran.

    Communities across the United States are implementing some of the lockdown measures relied on already in China, South Korea and Italy, while the White House urged people to avoid gathering in groups larger than 10.

    In the area around the western city of San Francisco, about 7 million people were told to shelter in place, leaving their homes only for the most important tasks.

    Elsewhere in the world, Venezuela said it will implement a nationwide quarantine to try to stop the virus, while Finland planned to close its school and universities.

    Worldwide, the United Nations says more than 500 million students are out of school right now.

    Calls by world health officials to keep people from packing into busy areas has led many governments to shut down bars, restaurants and movie theaters, while sports leagues postpone games.

    India on Tuesday took the step of closing the Taj Mahal to visitors.

    Later Tuesday, organizers of the Kentucky Derby horse race in the United States were expected to announce the event will be held later in the year.

    The World Health Organization Monday said it welcomes social distancing as a necessity.

    But WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said more importantly, every suspected case must be tested.

    “If they test positive, isolate them and find out who they have been in close contact with up to two days before they developed symptoms, and test those people too,” Tedros said.

    There are about 180,000 confirmed cases in the world, with 7,100 deaths. More than 79,000 people have already recovered.

    For most people, the virus brings mild or moderate symptoms, with more severe illness likely in people who are older or have existing health problems.