“If we don’t put in place the strong public health measures now,” he said, “when those movement restrictions and lockdowns are lifted, the danger is the disease will jump back up.”
The Spanish government, meanwhile, is extending for another 15 days the country’s state of emergency, local reports said, as the death toll rose to 1,720 on Sunday amid over 28,000 confirmed cases in the country. And an earthquake hit the Croatian capital, Zagreb, Sunday morning, complicating quarantine measures to slow the spread of the outbreak. Spain’s nationwide state of emergency bars people from all but essential outings.
Lorenzo Sanz, the former president of the soccer powerhouse Real Madrid, died on Saturday, becoming the most prominent person to succumb to the virus in the country to date. Mr. Sanz, 76, led the soccer club from 1995 to 2000. He was taken to hospital with fever this past week and had kidney failure, according to local news reports. The Madrid region has been the epicenter of the Spanish coronavirus crisis, with more than 800 deaths.
The quake in Croatia struck during a partial lockdown. People have been warned to avoid public areas such as parks and public squares, but the tremors sent residents pouring into the streets. A 15-year-old was reported to be in critical condition and others were injured, news outlets reported.
The earthquake, measuring magnitude 5.3, hit around 6:30 a.m., and was followed by two aftershocks. Photos shared on social media showed extensive damage to the city’s center, with facades crumbling, cars crushed and the spire atop the city’s cathedral snapped off. There were also reports of power cuts and sporadic fires. It was the strongest earthquake to hit the city since 1880.
The police ordered residents to leave their homes and buildings, while the government asked residents to keep their distance from one another. The defense minister said the army would aid the rescue efforts. Croatia has experienced a spike in Covid-19 infections, with 78 new cases reported Saturday, bringing the total to 235, but no reported deaths.
Uzbekistan, which has reported 42 cases, said it would close its borders from Monday and require residents to wear masks if they leave their homes. The country’s commission to prevent the spread of the coronavirus said the country’s borders with Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan would be closed to everyone except foreign citizens leaving the country and international cargo haulers. From Wednesday, anyone not wearing a mask in a public place will be fined, the commission said.
In Iran, the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, rejected a reported offer of assistance from the United States to fight the coronavirus, citing an unfounded conspiracy theory that the virus is man-made. Ayatollah Khamenei on Sunday called the offer strange.
“Several times Americans have offered to help Iran to contain the virus. Aside from the fact that there are suspicions about this virus being created by America,” he said in a televised speech. “Their offer is strange since they face shortages in their fight against the virus. Iran has the capability to overcome any kind of crisis, including the coronavirus outbreak.”
On Sunday, a spokesman for Iran’s health ministry announced 29 new virus deaths, raising the total to 1,685. The spokesman, Kianush Jahanpur, said on state television that there had been 1,028 new confirmed cases in the past 24 hours, raising the total to 21,638, with 7,913 people recovered.
The French medical charity M.S.F., or Doctors Without Borders, said on Sunday that it was setting up a 50-bed emergency center to treat severe Covid-19 cases in Iran. A team of nine intensive-care medics will work at the facility on the grounds of Amin Hospital in the central province of Isfahan, the charity said, as Iran grapples with the worst outbreak of coronavirus in the region.
The number of coronavirus cases in the Czech Republic rose to 1,047 as of Sunday morning, Health Ministry data showed. Six people have recovered, and there have been no reported deaths. Health workers had tested 15,584 people as of Saturday.
Belgium is heading into “the peak of the epidemic, after which the curve will go down,” the country’s health minister, Maggie de Bock, said on Twitter on Sunday. “I think that this situation will last at least eight weeks, that would be the normal curve.”
The nation of 10 million, which hosts the European Union institutions, has seen confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths jump in the past few days despite adopting stringent measures to curb economic and social activities. There were 3,400 confirmed cases and 75 deaths as of Sunday. Over the weekend, police vans were deployed in Brussels neighborhoods asking people to stay indoors and to observe strict social-distancing measures.
Poland has reported fewer than 500 cases, but one of the country’s hospitals was shut down and evacuated on Saturday after 30 patients and staff members were found to have the virus. France, one of the countries in Europe hit the hardest, raised its totals to 14,459 confirmed cases and 562 deaths, and said it had ordered over 250 million face masks from French and foreign suppliers.
The Palestinian government on Sunday ordered residents of the Israeli-occupied West Bank to be confined to their homes for two weeks as a precaution against the spread of coronavirus. Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said the quarantine would go into force at 10 p.m. local time, with medical personnel, pharmacists, grocers and bakers exempt.
Italy has imposed a lockdown, deployed the army and risked its economy to try to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Yet the virus’s toll is growing more staggering by the day: On Saturday, officials reported 793 additional deaths, by far the largest single-day increase. Italy has surpassed China as the country with the highest death toll, becoming the epicenter of a shifting global pandemic.
Italy increasingly being seen as a tragic warning for other countries to heed, in part because it is paying the price of early mixed messages by scientists and politicians. The people who have died in staggering numbers recently — more than 2,300 in the last four days — were mostly infected during the confusion of a week or two ago.