Central China's Hubei Province reported four newly confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and 10 deaths Saturday, the provincial health commission said Sunday.
All of the newly confirmed cases were reported in Wuhan, the provincial capital and epicenter of the outbreak.
The latest report brought the total confirmed COVID-19 cases in the hard-hit province to 67,794.
As of Saturday, Hubei had seen no new infections for 10 consecutive days in its 16 cities and prefectures outside Wuhan. The city of Wuhan has also seen single-digit daily increases for four days.
The province also saw 1,335 patients discharged from hospital after recovery Saturday, bringing the total number of discharged patients in the province to 54,278.
Among the 9,376 hospitalized patients, 2,551 were still in severe condition and another 612 in critical condition.
The commission also said Hubei still had 18 suspected cases after ruling out 17 suspected cases but including one newly-added suspected case Saturday.
The Chinese mainland reported 16 newly imported cases of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Saturday, bringing the total number of imported cases to 111, according to the National Health Commission.
Of the 16 newly imported cases, five were reported in Beijing, four in Zhejiang Province, three in Shanghai and Gansu Province respectively, and one in Guangdong Province, according to the commission.
The commission said it received reports of 20 newly confirmed cases on the mainland Saturday, including four from Hubei's provincial capital Wuhan.
The number of people who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus since the epidemic hit Italy reached 17,750 as of Saturday, the Italian authorities said.
The figure marked an increase of 2,795 cases over that of the previous day, and did not include recoveries or fatalities, according to the latest update provided at a press conference by the Civil Protection Department which is coordinating the national emergency response. The death toll also grew by 175 cases on a daily basis to 1,441.
An upward trend was confirmed also for recoveries. Some 527 people were dismissed in the day, bringing the total to 1,966, Civil Protection Department chief Angelo Borrelli told a televised press conference.
Among the 17,750 people positive for COVID-19, some 1,518 were currently in intensive care (190 new cases), while 8,372 were hospitalized with symptoms, and 7,860 under home confinement as they were asymptomatic or with light symptoms.
Considering all data (including deaths and recoveries), the total number of assessed coronavirus cases in Italy was 21,157, Borrelli added.
One of the latest cases was Italy's Deputy Minister of Health Pierpaolo Sileri, who issued a statement on Saturday confirming that he had tested positive.
By making his infection known, Sileri joins a growing list of high-profile officials infected that includes Nicola Zingaretti, president of the region of central Lazio and head of the Democratic Party; Alberto Cirio, president of the northern region of Piedmont; Army Chief of Staff Salvatore Farina, and Deputy Minister of Education Anna Ascani.
According to the latest data provided by the Civil Protection Deptartment, in terms of geographical distribution of infections, Lombardy (9,059), Emilia Romagna (2,349), Veneto (1,775), Marche (863), and Piedmont (814) remained the most affected regions.
Lombardy's regional authorities sounded particularly concerned over the situation on Saturday, in terms of burden on the regional health system.
In a televised press conference in Milan, Lombardy's Welfare Councillor Giulio Gallera explained they currently had 4,898 people hospitalized -- with a daily increase of 463 new cases -- and 732 people in intensive care, including 85 new cases.
"We are working miracles, and the fact we have been so far able to find new beds in intensive care every day is quite unbelievable," Lombardy's regional president Attilio Fontana said at the same press conference.
In related news, the Transport Ministry said all regular connections and passenger transport between the mainland and major Sardinia Island were suspended, following a specific request by the regional president.
"Only maritime transport of goods is allowed... and the maritime transport of people can possibly take place only after authorization of the regional governor, and for urgent needs that cannot be delayed," the ministry said in a statement.
"The same goes for air passenger transport, with one connection only between Rome Fiumicino Airport and Cagliari Airport, as long as the reasons for moving are proven and cannot be postponed," it added.
Italy's National Health Institute (ISS) provided insights related to lethality (number of deaths out of total number of infected people) on the base of data updated until Friday.
"The lethality of COVID-19 in Italy is currently 5.8 percent," the ISS said in a statement on Friday.
"The average age of deceased patients positive to COVID-19 is 80 years, about 15 years higher than the average age of those infected (living)."
"Stratified by age group, lethality is not higher than that in other countries," explained Graziano Onder, director of the ISS department of cardiovascular, endocrine-metabolic, and aging diseases.
With the coronavirus confirmed actively spreading across the country, France entered "stage 3" of its epidemic response plan, which means the country is now at highest epidemic alert at national level, announced Director-General of Health Jerome Salomon on Saturday evening.
As of Saturday, France has confirmed 4,500 cases of coronavirus infection, "twice as much as 72 hours previously", 91 people died and 300 patients are now hospitalized in intensive care, said Salomon.
Africa is seeing a steady spread of the coronavirus across the continent, with five new countries confirming cases on Saturday, so that 24 of Africa's 54 countries have COVID-19 patients.
Eswatini, Equatorial Guinea, Mauritania, Namibia and Rwanda reported their first cases Saturday. All were brought to the continent by travelers from overseas, as with almost all the other cases reported in Africa, according to health authorities.
African governments and health officials are racing to try to contain the spread of the new virus on the continent of 1.3 billion people. If the disease spreads locally within the continent, health officials warn that several countries with fragile health systems could see higher mortality rates.
Namibia, which confirmed two cases of people who arrived from Spain, canceled its independence celebrations planned for March 21. The funds that were to have been spent on the independence festivities will now be used to fight the further spread of the coronavirus, said officials.
President Hage Geingob will be sworn into a second term of office, but all other large gatherings have been suspended for the next 30 days. Flights linking Namibia to and from Qatar, Ethiopia and Germany have been suspended for 30 days.
In response to two cases it confirmed on Saturday, Mauritania closed schools for a week, reduced border crossing points, placed a ban on public gatherings and called for travelers from countries at risk to voluntarily confine themselves at home.
In South Africa, 14 new cases were confirmed Saturday, bringing the country's total to 38.
A South African military plane repatriated 121 South African students who had been stranded in Wuhan, China, where the outbreak first became a crisis. The South African jet landed at the Polokwane airport in the country's north. All passengers had tested negative before the flight back from China but as a precautionary measure the group, including the crew, will be in quarantine for 21 days at a nearby hotel. The roads leading to both entrances of the Ranch Resort are being patrolled by the army and police, authorities said.
The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.
Africa's hospitals may not be adequately prepared to care for large numbers of people who may need intensive care and ventilators, say health experts.