With borders slamming shut, schools and businesses closing and increasingly drastic restrictions on movement around the world, tens of millions of people hunkered down on Tuesday, heeding government calls to isolate themselves and slow the spread of the coronavirus.
From Southeast Asia to Europe to the Americas, people found their lives upended by lockdowns and social distancing.
Shoppers in Malaysia stood in long lines to stock up at picked-over supermarkets. Commuters in the Philippines waited in huge traffic jams at checkpoints set up to take their temperatures before entering the capital city.
Officials in seven San Francisco Bay Area counties issued a sweeping shelter-in-place mandate, ordering millions of residents to stay at home and go outside only for food, medicine and outings that were absolutely essential.
The cancellations of holidays and community events also continued to build.
Thailand said it would likely call off its water festival in April, and organisers of the Kentucky Derby reportedly preparing to postpone the horse race for the first time since World War II, pushing it from May to September.
Fresh moves to contain the virus came even as Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the virus was first detected late last year, and which has been under lockdown for weeks, reported just one new case on Tuesday.
The fronts in the battle have now shifted outside China, with its caseload now outnumbered by those outside its borders.
Spain is now the fourth-most infected country, surpassing South Korea, where new cases have been subsiding.
With the number of cases worldwide topping 181,000, a surge of patients in Madrid’s hospitals fuelled worries across Europe of what lies ahead.
“There is no easy or quick way out of this extremely difficult situation,” Mark Rutte, the prime minister of the Netherlands, said in the first televised speech by a Dutch premier since 1973.
The virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, for most people, but severe illness is more likely in the elderly and people with existing health problems. More than 79,000 people have recovered from the illness.
Nevertheless a growing sense of crisis has hit financial markets. Shares reversed early losses in Asia on Tuesday after the US stock market plunged to its worst day in more than three decades and huge swaths of many economies came to a standstill.
Only China, Italy and Iran have more infections than Spain, where the number increased by roughly 20%, to 9,191 and fatalities rose to 309, according to the Spanish Health Ministry. Spain has switched to a new reporting system, so the actual number may be higher.
A somber Rutte told viewers “a large part” of the Netherlands’ 17 million people were likely to contract the virus. So far, 1,413 people have tested positive there and 24 have died. The government closed schools, restaurants and bars and banned gatherings of more than 100 people.
Countries from Canada to Switzerland, Russia and Malaysia announced sharp new restrictions on the movement of people across their borders.
“We have a window of time at the moment to slow the spread of the virus,” said Ulrike Demmer, a spokeswoman for Germany’s government, which reversed its earlier insistence that border controls would not work.
Germany imposed new limits on crossings with France, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark and Luxembourg, after German infections increased by more than 1,000 over 24 hours.
Malaysia, which has seen a surge of new cases, banned foreign travel and is allowing only essential services to stay open.
France allowed people to leave home only to buy food, go to work, or complete other essential tasks, restrictions President Emmanuel Macron said were heightened because people had not complied with earlier guidelines.
The first confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Somalia were reported. The country has one of Africa’s weakest health systems after nearly three decades of conflict.
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As the pandemic expanded its reach, China and South Korea were trying to hold their hard-fought gains.
China is quarantining new arrivals, who in recent days have accounted for an increasing number of cases, and South Korea will increase screenings of all overseas arrivals from Thursday.
Italy reported another jump in infections, up more than 3,000 to 27,980. With 2,158 deaths — including 349 more in just the 24 hours to Monday night — Italy now accounts for more than a quarter of the global death toll. Cases, however, slowed in Lombardy, the hardest-hit region.
In the United States, officials urged older Americans and those with chronic health conditions to stay home, and recommended all group gatherings be capped at 10 people.
Americans returning from abroad encountered chaotic airport health screenings that clearly broke all virus-fighting rules against having packed crowds close together.
School closings in 56 countries kept more than 516 million students home, the United Nations said. New York City joined those ranks Monday, closing a school system with 1.1 million students.