ROME: Nearly one billion people around the world were confined to their homes on Sunday, as the coronavirus death toll crossed 13,000 and factories were shut in worst-hit Italy after another single-day fatalities record. The raging pandemic has forced lockdowns in 35 countries, disrupting lives, travel and businesses as governments scramble to shut borders and unleash hundreds of billions in emergency measures to avoid a widespread virus-fuelled economic meltdown. More than 300,000 infections have been confirmed worldwide, with the situation increasingly grim in Italy where the death toll spiked to more than 4,800 — over a third of the global total. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced a closure of all non-essential factories in a late-night TV address on Saturday. The Mediterranean nation of 60 million is now the epicentre of the disease, which first emerged in central China late last year before marching out to the rest of the world. Italy has now reported more deaths than mainland China and third-placed Iran combined, and it has a death rate of 8.6 percent among confirmed COVID-19 infections — significantly higher than in most other countries. Across the Atlantic, more than a third of Americans were adjusting to life in various phases of lockdown, including in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. Other parts of the United States are expected to ramp up restrictions as well.
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