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Moscow Bans Large-Scale Events Over Virus Fears, Ukraine Receives Rapid Test Kits

Italian soldiers in Milan, Italy check train passengers on March 9.

Moscow authorities have banned all mass public events of more than 5,000 people for a month to fight the coronavirus.

The announcement came just hours after Russia's lower chamber of parliament, the State Duma, approved a constitutional amendment that would allow President Vladimir Putin to run for a new term in 2024, a move that could spark the opposition to rally.

Moscow said it will ban all such large-scale assemblies until April 10. Russia has 20 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 disease as of March 10 and no recorded deaths.

In neighboring Ukraine, Kyiv Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko announced that the nation’s capital received rapid test kits for the new virus, which originated in China late last year.

“Right now, there are 1,200 [kits], by the end of the week we’ll have 5,000. The test kits will be distributed to seven designated hospitals that will accept patients suspected of being ill with the coronavirus,” said Kyiv’s mayor in a social-media post.

Seven people have been hospitalized in Ukraine’s southwestern region of Chernivitsi over illness concerns, six of whom have tested negative for COVID-19.

Four Ukrainians aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship docked off the coast of Japan have recovered from the illness, the Ukrainian Health Ministry said on March 10.

In total, there are 47 Ukrainian crew members and two passengers, according to the Ukrainian Consulate General in San Francisco.

Cases of the virus have surpassed 118,000 worldwide and deaths have reached nearly 4,300.

Russian low-cost airline Pobeda also suspended flights to Italy amid the outbreak in the Mediterranean country.

One of the biggest virus clusters outside China, 631 people have died in Italy, the Civil Protection Agency said on March 10.

The EU member state has more than 10,000 cases.

China, the epicenter of the outbreak, reported 24 new cases over the past 24 hours on March 11, along with 22 more deaths.

That brings China's totals to 80,778 cases and 3,158 deaths since the outbreak began in December 2019.

Iran, where another outbreak cluster exists, has seen its death toll rise to 291 and the number of cases reach 8,042.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei announced that medical staff who die after contracting the virus will be considered martyrs.

The families of those designated martyrs, typically from the security forces, receive financial aid and other benefits from the state.

Khamenei also canceled his annual speech in the city of Mashhad next month to mark the Persian New Year due to concerns about the virus outbreak.

The United States saw its known coronavirus cases surpass 1,000 on March 10, signaling the virus was spreading widely in communities on both the western and eastern coasts, and in the center of the country.

Thirty-seven states and Washington, D.C. have reported confirmed cases and at least 31 patients with the disease have died.

Clusters have emerged in California and Washington state, as well as in a New York community.

With reporting by Bloomberg, The New York Times, AP, Reuters, TASS, and AFP
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