US Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen have tested negative for the coronavirus as three American states with a combined population of 70 million moved to restrict residents to their homes.
The couple were tested after a member of Mr Pence’s staff tested positive for the virus, with press secretary Katie Miller tweeting she was “pleased to report that the Covid-19 test results came back negative”.
The vice president had said the staffer, who did not have close contact with either Mr Pence or US President Donald Trump, was doing well.
The results came as California started restricting residents on Friday, and New York and Illinois are to follow this weekend. Connecticut and Oregon are preparing to do the same.
New York governor Andrew Cuomo said state officials had considered establishing temporary hospitals on college campuses and in New York City’s main convention centre in preparation for a possible deluge of patients.
He said the US government is seeking to increase hospital bed capacity by 50% – up to 25,000 more beds. Officials have also identified two million protective masks to send to hot spots.
The state is reviewing four possible locations for temporary hospitals, which would be operated by the Army Corps of Engineers.
New York has seen about 10,400 coronavirus cases, with about 1,600 people taken to hospital.
The spread of the rapidly advancing virus has strained healthcare systems across the globe.
Italy’s grim toll from the virus continues to soar, with officials announcing 793 deaths and 6,557 new cases in the space of one day.
The country, which is at the heart of western Europe’s outbreak, now counts 53,578 known cases, and 4,825 deaths in total.
More than 60% of the latest deaths occurred in the northern region of Lombardy, whose hospitals have been reeling under a staggering case load that has left intensive care beds hard to find and respirators in short supply.
Officials said that on Sunday a team of 65 Cuban doctors and nurses with experience in battling Ebola outbreaks will arrive in northern Italy to help in the hard-hit Lombardy town of Cremona.
Silvio Brusaferro, the head of the national superior health institute, said Italian health officials realise they need to shorten the time between emergence of symptoms and diagnosis. Currently that lag is about five days, he said.
The new increases come nearly two weeks into a national lockdown in Italy in a desperate bid to contain the contagion.
Health authorities in Spain said confirmed coronavirus infections have risen by more than 3,600 in one day.
The jump in cases from Saturday to Sunday is down from nearly 5,000 the day before.
Spain is Europe’s hardest hit country behind Italy and has 28,572 infections and 1,720 deaths.
Spain is completing its first week of lockdown measures to keep people at home. Non-essential stores have been closed.
In Germany’s southern state of Bavaria, town squares were empty. But shoppers still flocked to street markets, in a sign that restrictions were being interpreted in a patchwork fashion.
The number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 recorded in Africa rose above 1,000 on Saturday, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. At least 40 of Africa’s 54 countries now have cases.
Almost 287,000 cases have been confirmed globally, including more than 11,900 deaths, according to a running tally by Johns Hopkins University. Nearly 89,000 people have recovered.