Hundreds of millions of people worldwide are confined to their homes as the global coronavirus death toll shot past 11,000 and US states rolled out lockdown measures already imposed across parts of Europe.

The pandemic has completely upended lives across the planet, restricting movement, shutting schools and forcing millions to work from home.

While President Donald Trump insisted the United States was "winning" the war against the virus, individual states dramatically ramped up restrictions, with New York and Illinois joining California in ordering residents to stay home.

The virus death toll surged past 11,000 worldwide, with 4,000 alone in worst-hit Italy where the daily number of fatalities has shot up relentlessly over the past week.

An estimated 900 million people are now confined to their homes in 35 countries around the world - including 600 million hemmed in by obligatory government lockdown orders - according to an AFP tally.

While the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions are the hardest hit by the virus, the World Health Organization warned that young people were also vulnerable.

"Today I have a message for young people: you are not invincible. This virus could put you in hospital for weeks - or even kill you," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

"Even if you don't get sick, the choices you make about where you go could be the difference between life and death for someone else", he added.

Hong Kong reported 48 suspected cases yesterday - its biggest daily jump since the crisis began. Many of them have a recent history of travel to or from Europe.

Italy reported its worst single day death toll Friday, adding another 627 fatalities and taking its reported total to 4,032 despite efforts to stem the spread.

The nation of 60 million now accounts for 36% of the world's coronavirus deaths and its death rate of 8.6 percent among confirmed infections is significantly higher than in most other countries.

France, Italy, Spain and other European countries have ordered people to stay at home, threatening fines in some cases, while Bavaria became the first region in Germany to order a lockdown.

Britain, falling in line with its EU neighbours, also announced tougher restrictions, telling pubs, restaurants and theatres to close and promising to help cover the wages of affected workers.

"This is not something we are doing because we are the 'fun police'... this is about saving lives," New South Wales state Police Minister David Elliott told reporters.

Times Square seen nearly empty in New York City

US 'hotbeds' 

With virus fears gripping the United States, its largest state California - with over 1,000 cases and 19 deaths - told its 40 million residents to stay at home.

New York state, which has reported over 7,000 cases and 39 deaths, followed suit on Friday, ordering its nearly 20 million residents to do the same from Sunday evening.

Mr Trump applauded the New York and California decisions, but said he did not think a nationwide lockdown was needed.

"Those are really two hotbeds," he said. "I don't think we'll ever find (a US-wide lockdown) necessary."

Shortly after the president spoke, the governor of Illinois ordered residents of the midwestern state to stay at home and the Connecticut governor did the same.

The restrictions so far imposed in seven states cover around 100 million people, with the country's three most populous cities -New York, Los Angeles and Chicago - under lockdown.

Mr Trump also announced that the US and Mexico have agreed to restrict non-essential travel across their border.

At present, the US Senate is negotiating a $1.3 trillion emergency economic package to help the country deal with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

There was some optimism that Democrats and Republicans could reach a deal with Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer saying "good progress" was being made.

 An emergency tent set up in Rome, Italy

China sends help

Strict confinement measures across Europe follow the template set by China, as a lockdown imposed in Hubei province, of which Wuhan is the capital, appeared to have paid off.

Europe now accounts for more than half of the world's fatalities linked to Covid-19.

Accurate figures are difficult to come by, however, as many of those who die suffer from other illnesses and infection rates are uncertain because of a lack of testing in many countries.

In a sign of the shifting centre of the crisis, China has sent medical supplies to European nations struggling to cope with the pandemic, including Greece which received 500,000 medical masks from China.

The shadow of the virus is lengthening across Africa and the Middle East too.

The Democratic Republic of Congo reported its first death, while Burkina Faso reported two new deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities in sub-Saharan Africa to five.

Cases stand at over 1,000 across Africa, where health care systems are fragile and social distancing is not possible in many crowded cities.

In Iran, which reported 123 new deaths Saturday, both supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani promised the country would overcome the outbreak - but still refused to join the rest of the world in imposing heavy restrictions.

The country has more than 1,500 deaths and some 20,000 infections. 

In Latin America, Cuba and Bolivia both announced they were closing their borders, and Colombia said it would begin mandatory isolation from Tuesday.

Rio de Janeiro's beaches will be off-limits to sunseekers today, leaving street vendors worried how they will survive with limited government support.

"As long as I can, I will continue to come here and try to sell cocktails. I still have not thought about what I will do when it is no longer possible," said Jorge Martins on Ipanema beach.

Read more: Latest on the Coronavirus

Pedestrians cross the street in the Loop business district

China reports no new cases for third successive day

China reported no new local cases of the deadly coronavirus for a third consecutive day today, but confirmed the highest yet increase in infections from abroad.

The rate of infection has been slowing for weeks in China, while the rest of the world steps up measures to try and battle the raging pandemic.

The World Health Organization yesterday praised China's success in controlling the outbreak in the central city of Wuhan, where the virus first emerged late last year.

China has been praised by the WHO for its aggressive measures to suppress the virus

"Wuhan provides hope for the rest of the world that even the most severe situation can be turned around," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual news conference in Geneva.

Some 56 million people in Wuhan and surrounding Hubei province were locked down in late January, but authorities are progressively easing the travel curbs as cases have dwindled.

However, China has stepped up controls to tackle infections brought in from other countries, with another 41 cases reported today - the highest one-day tally yet.

In total, 269 cases have now been brought into China from abroad. Beijing and other regions are forcing international arrivals to go into a 14-day quarantine, while the civil aviation ministry said this week it would limit passenger numbers on inbound international flights.

There have been over 81,000 cases in China, but the health commission said only 6,013 were still ill with the disease.

The number of deaths has also slowed dramatically, with seven new fatalities reported today, all in Hubei province.

Bolsonaro warns against 'hysteria'

Brazil's largest state Sao Paulo will essentially shut down for two weeks to help fight the coronavirus, its governor said on Saturday, as President Jair Bolsonaro again claimed that "hysteria" over the outbreak could cause more harm than the virus itself.

Sao Paulo state Governor Joao Doria said a statewide quarantine order would take effect on Tuesday and last until 7 April.

All but non-essential businesses and services, including bars and restaurants, will remain closed across the country's most populous state, which includes its financial hub, for the duration.

Bolsonaro, meanwhile, signed an executive order guaranteeing the continued national provision of a wide range of essential public services. These included internet, health and medical services, defense, water, sanitation and postal services.

Doria said the coronavirus-related death toll in Sao Paulostate now stood at 15. With the state of Rio de Janeiro announcing its third death on Saturday, the total across Brazil is at least 18, up from 11 confirmed on Friday.

Health ministry figures on Friday showed 904 confirmed coronavirus cases in Brazil, with the tally expected to rise above 1,000 when the next set of official figures are released.

Sao Paulo state is home to some 46 million people and is Brazil's industrial, business and financial engine, accountingf or around a third of the nation's economic output.
In a TV interview aired on Friday night, Bolsonaro voicedhis frustration over business and commercial closures affecting the economy and called a decision to close churches to stop the spread of coronavirus "absurd."

"What I see in Brazil is not all, but many people taking absurd steps ... closing shopping malls, there are people who want to close churches, people's last refuge," the right-wing former army captain said in an interview with SBT's Programa do Ratinho.

"I don't want to bring panic to the Brazilian population. I don't want hysteria because it gets in the way... it hurts the economy," he said.

Bolsonaro is under huge pressure for his handling of the crisis. His own health minister, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, has warned that the country's fragile healthcare system could collapse as early as next month.

Approval of Bolsonaro's government fell to a record low this week, according to an XP Investimentos poll, and Brazilians across the country have been banging pots and pans nightly in protests against him.

On top of that, Brazilian media reported that Bolsonaro attempted to call Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday but he refused to answer.  Bolsonaro's office declined to comment on the reported snub.

Virus spreading in Africa

Angola has confirmed its first two cases of coronavirus, while Mauritius recorded its first death as the virus spreads across Africa.
The continent has been slower to feel the impact than Asia or Europe, and most of its reported cases have been foreigners or people who have returned from abroad.

But confirmed infections have started to accelerate, with more than 830 across Africa, according to a Reuters tally, and concerns are growing about its ability to handle a surge incases without the depth of medical facilities available in more developed economies.

Angola's first cases were two male Angolan residents who flew back from Portugal on March 17 and 18, Health minister Silvia Lutucuta told a briefing.

Graffiti in Senegal showing a man sneezing into his elbow as a preventive measure against the COVID-19

Zimbabwe reported its first case on Friday, and a second on Saturday, while the island of Mauritius, with 14 cases, reported its first death, a person who had travelled from Belgium via Dubai.

Many African countries have already shut borders, closed schools and universities and barred large public gatherings to curb the spread of the virus, which has infected over 250,000 people around the world and claimed more than 10,000 lives.

South Africa, which has the most cases in sub-Saharan Africa, confirmed 38 news cases, taking its total to 240.

Africa's most populous country, Nigeria, plans to close its two main international airports in the cities of Lagos and Abujafrom Monday night as the number of reported coronavirus cases rose to 22 from 12 on Saturday.

Around 80% of cases of Covid-19 will be a mild to moderate illness, close to 14% have severe disease and around 6% are critical.

Generally, a person needs to be 15 minutes or more in the vicinity of an infected person, within 1-2 metres, to be considered at-risk or a close contact.