The United States declared a state of emergency Friday as many European countries went on a war footing amid mounting deaths as the world mobilized to fight the widening coronavirus pandemic.
At the White House, where President Donald Trump made the emergency decree, drug company executives vowed to work together and with the government to quickly expand the country's coronavirus testing capabilities, which are far behind those in many countries.
"We will defeat this threat," Trump told a news conference. "When America is tested, America rises to the occasion."
While the aggressive spread of the virus in Europe, North America and the Middle East has dashed any hopes for quick containment, dozens of countries have imposed increasingly severe measures over the past couple days — shutting borders, expanding testing, closing school for tens of millions of children and ordering tens of thousands of businesses to close their doors — to try to face down the disease.
The U.S. emergency decree will open up $50 billion for state and local governments to respond to the outbreak, said Trump, who also gave the secretary of health and human services emergency powers to waive federal regulations to give doctors and hospitals "flexibility" in treating patients.
As the U.S. struggles to slow the spread of the virus, the governors of six states — Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, New York, Rhode Island and Washington – sought National Guard troops.
Trump's announcement came as tens of millions of students around the world faced weeks without classes, security forces went on standby to guard against large gatherings, and bars, restaurants and offices closed.
While the new coronavirus can be deadly, particularly for the elderly and people with other health problems, for most people it causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. Some feel no symptoms at all and the vast majority of people recover.
But the spreading pandemic showed that power and influence offer no protection. Among those testing positive were the Canadian prime minister's wife, a top aide to Iran's supreme leader, Miami's mayor, a Brazilian official who met with Trump, and an Australian Cabinet minister who met with the U.S. attorney general and Trump's daughter, Ivanka.
Pressed by reporters, Trump, who also met with the Brazilian official, said he will "most likely" be tested for the virus "fairly soon," reversing an earlier White House statement.
Channeling wartime rhetoric and tactics in the face of a microscopic enemy, leaders appealed for solidarity to battle a threat that appeared to expand exponentially. They vowed to protect not just the sick, but those sacrificing their livelihoods and education for the greater good. But new border checks were also on the rise, showing that solidarity had its limits in the face of a fast-moving threat.
In Europe, stocks clawed back some of their losses with promises of financial support from the European Commission, France and Germany, while in the U.S., stocks surged after Trump's announcement. The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped nearly 2,000 points — its biggest point gain ever.
At the same time, new infections in Italy soared by more than 2,500 and virus-related deaths made their biggest single-day jump there, increasing by 250. In the three weeks since the country identified its first virus cluster, Italy has reached a total of 17,600 confirmed cases, with 1,266 deaths. The government has ordered an unprecedented lockdown, ordering businesses to close and restricting movement.
"Europe has now become the epicenter of the pandemic," said World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. "More cases are now being reported every day than were reported in China at the height of its epidemic."
New infections also rose sharply in Spain, and the government put 60,000 people in four towns on a mandatory lockdown Friday that echoed Italy's. In Madrid, which is struggling with nearly 2,000 infections, many in nursing homes, the government was pooling intensive care units and considering offers by hotel chains to transform rooms into sick wards.
In just 24 hours, the numbers of confirmed cases spiked ominously in some places: France saw an additional 800 cases to reach more than 3,600 by Friday; Britain went from 590 to 798 and New York state jumped 30 percent, hitting 421. In Africa, where experts warn that containment is key because of the continent's already-strained health care systems, six new countries confirmed infections.
Cases topped 1,700 across the U.S., where thousands of schools have been closed, concerts and sporting events canceled and even Broadway theaters shut down. Trump has halted his trademark political rallies, following the lead of Democratic rivals Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.
The spread of the virus in Europe, North America and the Middle East has drawn contrasts with waning outbreaks in the hardest-hit nations in Asia. China, where the virus emerged late last year, still accounts for more than 60% of global infections but reported just eight new cases Friday and seven deaths.
In South Korea, which has had more than 8,000 cases overall, Friday marked the first day that recoveries outnumbered new infections. It reported another 107 cases Saturday.
In the U.S., hospitals were setting up circus-like triage tents, calling doctors out of retirement, guarding their supplies of face masks and making plans to cancel elective and non-emergency surgeries as they brace for an expected onslaught of coronavirus patients in the coming weeks.
Trump, who on Thursday ordered a 30-day travel ban for most foreign visitors coming to the U.S. from continental Europe, dismissed criticism that his administration has faced for the slow rollout of testing in the U.S., saying "I don't take responsibility at all" for the problem.
The public-private partnership that Trump announced at the White House will include drive-thru testing in some areas — something already being done in South Korea and Germany — and an online portal to screen those seeking to get tested.
Late Friday, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a deal with the Trump administration for an aid package that would provide free tests, sick pay for workers and bolster food programs. The U.S. House was poised to vote on the deal.
Across America, where millions of children depend on school lunches as their main meals, schools were cobbling together ways to keep kids fed, from distributing grand-and-go meal sacks to cafeterias that remained open even as classrooms closed.
In Italy, the town of Codogno, which had all but shut down hours after recording the country's first locally spread coronavirus infection, showed that changing habits do make a difference. New infections have slowed drastically there compared to the rest of Italy, where draconian measures came far later.
"More than a sigh of relief, there was some concern over the risk that all of the sacrifices were in vain," said Mayor Francesco Passerini.
New travel restrictions sprang up practically by the hour on Friday: Switzerland, Sri Lanka, Portugal, the Czech Republic — all started barring entry to Europeans considered at risk. Ukraine announced it would halt all passenger air traffic, Poland said anyone entering the country will be put under a 14-day quarantine, while the Czech Republic and Slovakia have stopped almost all movement in and out of their countries. The European Union urged member countries to put health screening procedures in place at their borders.
Canada and Denmark joined the U.S. in advising citizens to avoid trips abroad, and Americans in Europe caught increasingly rare trans-Atlantic flights back home.
President Donald Trump said Friday he will "most likely" be tested for the novel coronavirus, as questions swirled about why he, his top aides and his family weren't doing more to protect themselves and others after repeated exposure to COVID-19.
Trump has now had multiple direct and indirect contacts with people who have tested positive for the pandemic virus, which on Friday prompted him to declare a state of emergency as schools and workplaces across the country shuttered, flights were canceled and Americans braced for war against the threat.
Trump spent time last weekend at his private club in Florida with a top Brazilian official who later tested positive. And late Friday, news broke that a second person at Mar-a-Lago — who attended a fundraiser with Trump Sunday — tested positive, according to two Republican officials who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss private health matters. Several top administration officials, including Attorney General William Barr and Trump's daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump, met last week with an Australian Cabinet minister who on Friday was confirmed positive.
Multiple lawmakers and citizens across the country who have had the same degree of exposure have opted to voluntarily quarantine themselves and get tested out of an abundance of caution.
But Trump, who has long tried to minimize the threat posed by the virus, insisted Friday — contrary to the advice of many medical professionals — that he did not need to isolate himself because he wasn't exhibiting symptoms. He conceded that he would "most likely" submit to testing "fairly soon," but continued to flout public health officials' advice by repeatedly shaking with attendees hands during a Rose Garden press conference on efforts to combat the pandemic.
Even so, Trump told the nation, "All Americans have a role to play in defeating this virus."
"Anyone can be a carrier for the virus and risk transmission to older Americans and those with underlying health conditions," Trump said, adding, "We must take all precautions and be responsible for the actions that we take and that we see other people take."
The president, according to two people close to the White House, has been reluctant to take the test for fear it would project weakness or worry. Trump has wanted to appear in full control during the crisis, especially as he tries to calm stock markets amid historic drops, and has expressed concerns that taking personal steps could undermine that appearance.
Asked whether he was being selfish by refusing to isolate himself to avoid potentially infecting others and what advice he had for people who may be receiving contradictory messages, Trump said, "I think they have to listen to their doctors."
Trump spent time last weekend with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's communications director, Fábio Wajngarten, who has tested positive for the virus. Wajngarten posed for a photo with Trump and attended a birthday party held for Kimberly Guilfoyle, who is dating the president's eldest son. Trump and multiple top administration officials were present.
The White House stressed that Trump "had almost no interactions" with Wajngarten while at Mar-a-Lago and therefore did "not require being tested at this time."
Republican officials declined to name the second person who had tested positive at the club and it was unclear how much time Trump had spent with that person.
In addition to his direct exposure, Trump has also had repeated contact with lawmakers who chose to isolate themselves after being exposed to people who later tested positive. That included Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, who traveled aboard Air Force One with the president Monday and found out about the positive test mid-flight; South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who was working from home after spending time at Mar-a-Lago and attending his own meeting with Peter Dutton, Australia's Minister for Home Affairs; and Florida Sen. Rick Scott, who also interacted with the Brazilian delegation.
White House spokesman Judd Deere said Ivanka Trump, who met with Dutton, worked from home Friday "out of an abundance of caution," but said Dutton had been asymptomatic during their interaction, so the White House Medical Unit determined she was "exhibiting no symptoms and does not need to self-quarantine."
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said she'd received the same instructions, "in accordance with CDC guidance."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise those who have been in "close contact with a person with symptomatic laboratory-confirmed COVID-19" to remain home and practice social distancing, but experts' guidance has been mixed when it comes to those who are not exhibiting symptoms.
People who are exposed to the virus don't show symptoms immediately; there is an incubation period of anywhere from two to 14 days. And the CDC is most concerned with close contact, which it defines as being coughed on or within about 6 feet of someone who is sick for a prolonged period of time. The CDC doesn't consider it risky to walk past someone with the virus or to be briefly in the same room with them.
Many doctors across the country, however, have been advising those with any exposure to take precautions. And Trump, who is 73, is considered to be at higher risk of developing serious complications because of his age.
The president should get tested, even if he is not exhibiting symptoms, said Stephen Morse, a Columbia University expert on the spread of diseases.
"Anyone who's infected is a risk of spreading it to other people," he said. "That can be true of people who are infected but don't have symptoms."
Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and visiting professor at the George Washington University Milken School of Public Health who once served as the health commissioner for the city of Baltimore, said COVID-19 is "highly transmittable" and anyone who comes within six feet of someone who is infected could become infected and spread it, without even knowing they are sick.
"We are at a time of an international public health emergency," she said, so everybody should abide by public health guidelines, "no matter their position or their title."
Any administration official with known exposure, she said, "should follow the same guidance as anyone else" and be self-quarantining and monitoring their symptoms.
As for the president, she said, "in order to be the commander-in-chief of the country ... he needs to take care of himself."
The U.S. now has 50 coronavirus deaths, and cases in all but one state.
California's sixth death from the disease, reported south of San Francisco, put the nation at 50 deaths overall. Santa Clara County officials reported Friday that a woman in her 80s died from COVID-19.
Most deaths have occurred in Washington state, which reported six more on Friday, bringing its total to 37. Florida, New Jersey, South Dakota, Georgia, Kansas and Colorado also have reported deaths.
Also Friday, Alabama, Idaho and Montana reported their first coronavirus cases. That leaves West Virginia as the only state with no cases confirmed.
Montana's governor declared a state of emergency ahead of his announcement that the state had four cases.
In Seattle, the largest city in Washington state, Mayor Jenny Durkan said she would issue an emergency order for a temporary moratorium on residential evictions in the city because of COVID-19.
Jack Ma, founder of the Chinese tech giant Alibaba, announced says his foundation will donate 500,000 COVID-19 testing kits and 1 million masks to the U.S.
"Drawing from my own country's experience, speedy and accurate testing and adequate personal protective equipment for medical professionals are most effective in prevent the spread of the virus," Ma said in a statement Friday on Twitter. "At this moment, we can't beat this virus unless we eliminate boundaries to resources and share our know-how and hard-earned lessons."
Ma said the Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Foundation have already donated items to Japan, South Korea, Italy Iran and Spain, and he hopes the latest donation will help Americans fight against the pandemic.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has asked all 3,000 staff members at U.N. headquarters in New York to work from home for three weeks starting Monday unless they are needed to carry out essential services.
U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric, who made the announcement late Friday, said meetings of the Security Council, General Assembly and other key bodies and committees can still take place.
Dujarric said Guterres made the decision to drastically reduce the number of staff at U.N. headquarters in order to reduce social contact to a minimum in light of the new coronavirus.
Dujarric said Friday that no U.N. staff member has been reported testing positive for COVID-19, but a diplomat from the Philippines assigned to their U.N. mission did test positive.
A national memorial in New Zealand to commemorate the 51 people who were killed when a gunman attacked two mosques one year ago has been canceled due to concern over the new coronavirus.
Thousands of people were expected to attend the Sunday service in Christchurch to mark the anniversary of the March 15 shooting.
New Zealand has had just six confirmed cases of COVID-19. All of those cases have been connected to people returning from abroad and so far there haven't been signs of a local outbreak. The most recent case, involving a man in his 60s who recently returned from the U.S., was announced by health officials Saturday.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern the decision to cancel the service, also announced Saturday, was pragmatic and precautionary.
A cruise ship that docked in Oakland, California, on Monday after being struck with the coronavirus has disembarked 2,450 passengers and transported them to appropriate quarantine sites.
Princess Cruises said only 14 international passengers remained on board while waiting to be repatriated to their home countries.
California officials said after they get off, the ship will be anchored somewhere in San Francisco Bay while crew members wait for chartered flights to their destination.
The State Department on Friday summoned China's ambassador to the U.S. to complain about recent comments from a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman suggesting that the U.S. Army may have introduced the coronavirus to Wuhan.
The department said it had protested the comments from deputy ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian and noted that China's storyline about the COVID-19 virus "has been shifting away from the Wuhan Huanan market since mid-January indicating that China is trying avoid responsibility for the outbreak."
"The U.S. is not interested in assigning blame, but asks the Chinese government to offse full access and transparency in order to prevent further loss of lives inside and outside the PRC," the department said.
President Donald Trump is tweeting that four major cruise ship companies have agreed to suspend trips from the U.S. for 30 days, effective at midnight.
Trump says that Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and MSC Cruises all agreed to the suspensions.
The U.S. State Department advised Sunday against any travel on cruise ships, particularly for those with underlying health conditions.
Utah is dismissing public school classes for at least two weeks to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, Gov. Gary Herbert said Friday.
The "soft closure" starts Monday, though doors will stay open to allow kids to get things like meals and tutoring if needed.
Teaching for Utah's 667,000 public school students will move online or to take-home packets. The state has a handful of cases, including high-profile Utah Jazz NBA players Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell.
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser, who had previously declared a state of emergency in the nation's capital, asked that all gatherings of more than 250 people be avoided.
That's down from the original request earlier this week, which set the requested limit at 1,000 people. Bowser has shut down the District of Columbia's schools through the end of March and all non-essential Washington government officials will begin teleworking starting next week.
Washington DC has 10 identified case of coronavirus infection.
The Kosovar government on Friday decided to close the country's land border points and air routes in an effort to prevent further spread of the coronavirus.
Earlier Friday authorities reported two coronavirus cases, the first in the tiny Western Balkan country, a 20-year old Italian woman and a 77-year old Albanian man.
Idaho has its first confirmed case of coronavirus, state health officials announced Friday afternoon.
The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare said Gov. Brad Little would make an official announcement about the case at the end of the business day Friday. The news came several hours after he declared a state of emergency because of coronavirus.
The Republican governor said he wanted the state to be prepared and guard against healthcare systems being overwhelmed.
Oklahoma used more than half its testing capacity Wednesday to test 58 members of the Utah Jazz basketball organization after a player tested positive. Those tests results showed a second player, Donovan Mitchell, also tested positive.
Oklahoma state epidemiologist Laurence Burnsed said it would have been too risky to transport the team back to Utah for testing without knowing who might be positive.
Oklahoma State Commissioner of Health Gary Cox said the state's testing capacity was 100 per day at the time the team was tested.
A spokeswoman for the Oklahoma State Department of Health said the tests on the members of the Utah Jazz did not disrupt testing of any Oklahoma patient samples.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has ordered the closing of every school in the state until March 30 starting Tuesday amid concerns over the spread of coronavirus.
Pritzker announced his decision Friday in Chicago where more than 355,000 public school students will be affected. Statewide, nearly 2 million students will not be returning to the classroom for two weeks.
Illinois officials also reported an additional 14 cases of people who had tested positive for the virus on Friday, bringing the state's total number of cases to 46.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers on Friday ordered all of the state's public and private K-12 schools closed from March 18 until April 5, saying they could close earlier if they wished and the reopening date may be delayed.
There were 19 confirmed cases in Wisconsin, including one who had recovered.
The number of people who have died from the new coronavirus in the U.S. jumped by eight on Friday – from 41 to 49.
Washington state health officials reported six new COVID-19 deaths on Friday making the state's total 37. Three of the new fatalities were associated with a nursing home in Kirkland, Washington, that has been the epicenter of the disease in the state.
Colorado health officials reported the state's first coronavirus death. A woman in her 80s with underlying health conditions died in El Paso County.
California Department of Public Health announced Friday that the state now has 247 confirmed cases and one new death, bringing the fatality total to five.
Gov. Kate Brown said Friday that Oregon will help find childcare for the children of frontline medical workers and first responders as schools statewide are closed for two weeks to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.
Oregon also obtained a federal waiver Friday to allow districts to serve free and reduced-price lunches to lower-income students outside a school setting, at places such as bus stops, churches and community centers.
About half of the 580,000 children in Oregon affected by the two-week closure of all school statewide receive meal subsidies, Oregon Department of Education Director Colt Gill said.
As for childcare for doctors and nurses, Brown equated it to a wartime effort to make medical workers available.
The World Health Organization's chief has launched a global fund on Friday to raise money to help the world's nations respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: "Every dollar donated is a dollar towards saving lives."
President Donald Trump has said he is likely to take a test for the coronavirus after all.
Trump over the weekend was near Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's communications director, Fábio Wajngarten, who tested positive for the virus just days later.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement Thursday that "both the President and Vice President had almost no interactions with the individual who tested positive and do not require being tested at this time."
Trump was asked at a press conference Friday if he was being selfish by not undergoing testing, prompting Trump to reply: "I didn't say I wasn't going to be tested."
"Most likely, yeah," Trump added while downplaying his interaction with the Brazilian official at this resort in Florida. "Not for that reason, but because I think I will do it anyway. Fairly soon, we're working out a schedule."
The Catalan government wants to fully isolate the northeastern region of 7.5 million to stop the spread of the new coronavirus, its regional chief said late on Friday, urging central authorities in Spain to help enforcing the total lockdown.
Quim Torra spoke in a televised address on the same day when some 70,000 residents were confined to four towns of the region where a virulent cluster of the COVID-19 has infected dozens in a matter of days.
Central authorities in Spain announced Friday a state of emergency that will give the government extraordinary powers from Saturday and until the end of March to take over private facilities, restrict freedom of movement and impose mandatory supply of food and medicines.
Authorities in the Madrid region, with nearly half of the country's more than 4,200 infections, have also urged the central government to order the total lockdown there.
In a press conference late in the evening, regional president, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, confirmed that hotels had been designated to be used as makeshift hospitals in order to reach at least 1,000 rooms with intensive care capabilities in coming weeks.
Hungary is closing schools starting Monday.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Friday night in a video posted on the government's Facebook page that classes will be held for students only through distance learning.
He also asked that children staying at home not be left in the care of grandparents, who, because of their age, are among those most at risk regarding the coronavirus.
Hungary already suspended university classes earlier this week because of the large number of foreign students.
Hungary has reported 19 cases of the coronavirus.
Washington's governor has ordered a six-week closure of all public and private schools in the state, which has seen the most COVID-19 deaths in the United States.
Gov. Jay Inslee had previously ordered all greater Seattle area schools to shut down. Inslee's order requires schools to close from March 17 to April 24. In Washington state, there are more than 1.1 million public school students.
At least 31 deaths from coronavirus have occurred in Washington, most in the Seattle area.
President Donald Trump is criticizing legislation in the House designed to help Americans dealing with the new coronavirus, saying, "we just don't think they're giving enough."
Trump claimed that Democrats, in the end, "didn't agree to certain things they agreed to."
Central to the House package is free testing for the virus and guaranteed sick pay for workers who are taking time away from jobs, along with an infusion of dollars to handle unemployment benefits and boost food programs for children, families and seniors.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday the House would approve the aid package and implored the Trump administration and congressional Republicans to "put families first" by backing the effort.
Morocco announced a temporary nationwide school shut down amid concerns of the spread of the coronavirus.
Lessons will be conducted digitally, as the educational staff is required to continue providing lessons over the net, according to a statement from the education ministry.
Morocco introduced a range of other measures, including banning all gatherings of more than 1,000 people, prohibiting religious events and suspending flights to China, Italy, Spain and France.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says all passenger air traffic abroad will be halted on Tuesday.
Earlier Friday, the country banned entry by foreigners for two weeks.
The speaker of parliament, Dmytro Razumkov, told a Ukrainian TV station that Ukrainian citizens will still be able to enter the country by land and sea entry points.
President Donald Trump says he will waive interest on student loans being held by the federal government "until further notice" as part of an emergency action to help Americans deal with the new coronavirus.
Trump says he has also instructed his secretary of Energy to purchase large quantities of crude oil for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which stores fuel for emergency use.
Trump says "we're going to fill it right up to the top" and the move would save American taxpayers and help the oil industry. Trump made the announcements during a White House press conference on Friday.
Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a ramp-up Friday in testing for the new coronavirus in Florida, where more than 50 people have been infected with the virus including the Miami mayor.
DeSantis said the state was purchasing kits that allow for testing up to 625,000 people, with 40 percent of them already in hand and 60 percent of them on the way.
So far, people have tested positive for COVID-19 in at least 20 counties in Florida, most of them after traveling internationally or to other affected U.S. states. Two people in Florida have died.
Guatemala President Alejandro Giammattei says the country has its first confirmed case of coronavirus.
The Guatemalan man had arrived in the country Wednesday from Italy with relatives. There were also five citizens of El Salvador who arrived on the same flight and were immediately redirected to that country.
The man was taken to a local hospital that had been prepared to treat those with the illness. The man's relatives were being monitored.
Neighboring Honduras confirmed its first two cases earlier this week.
President Donald Trump has announced that he is officially declaring a national emergency over the new coronavirus.
The president spoke at Rose Garden press conference and said no resource will be spared in responding to the virus. He says that the declaration will free up nearly $50 billion to help the states and cities.
Trump says he is also asking every hospital in the U.S. to activate their emergency preparedness plan.
He is facing growing criticism about his mixed messages on the severity of the outbreak and over the administration's scattershot response.
But the president is defending the administration's response, particularly its temporary ban on travel from Europe, saying it will save lives. He says of the virus that "this will pass" and the nation will emerge stronger.
Thunderstorms and flooding around Egypt entered a second day Friday, interrupting daily life in much of the country, including the capital Cairo, as the death toll rose to 18, authorities said.
Most of the fatalities took place in the country's rural areas and run-down slums. At least six children died, either from electrocution or rubble after heavy rains knocked down their houses.
Since the rains hit late Wednesday and early Thursday, social media has been inundated with images and video showing flooded roads and villages as well as water-filled apartments in some of Cairo's richest neighborhoods.
Chaos always accompanies bad weather in Egypt, raising questions about the country's poor infrastructure and dilapidated sewage and drainage systems. To minimize the impact of bad weather, the government closed down schools and suspended work in businesses and government offices after forecasters warned of heavy rains and flooding across much of the country through Saturday.
Late on Thursday, Cairo's Water Authority announced it had suspended water service to the entire megacity because heavy rain had overwhelmed the vast sewage system. Water would return when the weather improved, it said, without offering an exact time. By Friday morning water had returned to some parts of the city.
The floods forced the country's railway authorities to suspend train service nationwide. Power outages were also reported in several parts of the country, including parts of Cairo.
Greece's first female president, a former high court judge, was formally sworn in to office Friday, nearly two months after the country's parliament voted overwhelmingly to elect her.
The swearing-in ceremony for Katerina Sakellaropoulou, 63, took place in an almost empty parliament, as part of measures to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus. Only a handful of officials and a limited number of journalists were present.
Greece has shut down schools, universities, cinemas, theaters, gyms and nightclubs, and authorities have warned people to stay home and avoid large gatherings in an effort to contain the outbreak. The country so far has 117 confirmed cases and one death. The ceremony was being covered live on state television.
After the swearing-in, Sakellaropoulou lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the square outside parliament, before a presidential honor guard. Despite the warnings about the virus, a small crowd gathered to watch, standing behind a security cordon across the street.
The new president headed the Council of State, the country's highest administrative court, since 2018. She takes over the five-year presidency from veteran conservative politician Prokopis Pavlopoulos.
In a brief speech at the presidential palace, Sakellaropoulou spoke of the battle against the coronavirus and the recent migration crisis as the country's two main challenges.
Greece must continue to adhere to its democratic principles and the state of law, moving toward "a future of prosperity that will have room for us all," she said.
In a clear reference to neighboring Turkey, Sakellaropoulou said Greece was being called on to "thwart the aggression of those who, using human pain, want to harm our national sovereignty."
Turkey recently declared its borders to Europe were open, and encouraged thousands of refugees and other migrants to try to push into Greece. Clashes with Greek border guards have frequently broken out, and Greece has come under criticism for occasionally using heavy-handed tactics in response.
Greece, Sakellaropoulou said, must "secure the integrity of our borders while also defending and fulfilling our humanitarian duty toward defenseless and desperate people, a difficult but not impossible equation."
She also called on all Greeks to strictly adhere to all guidance given by health authorities to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis nominated Sakellaropoulou as a non-partisan candidate who would enjoy broad support from across the political spectrum. All major parties voted in favor, with Sakellaropoulou being elected to the largely ceremonial post in a 261-33 vote in January, well above the 200 votes required. Six lawmakers were absent.
Greece has a low number of women in senior positions in politics, and Mitsotakis had been criticized for selecting a nearly all-male Cabinet after he won general elections in July 2019. In the current Greek Cabinet, all but one of the 18 senior positions are held by men.
"I hope that the election of a woman for the first time to the highest position of the country will improve the position of all women in the country, both in the family and in society," Sakellaropoulou said.
"It is time for the women of this country to realize that they can attain their dreams, on their own merits, without facing obstacles simply because they were born women."