In international COVID-19 developments, two countries announced major new steps aimed at controlling the spread of the virus, with Italy shuttering all schools and universities and Saudi Arabia temporarily banning all Umrah pilgrims.

Three more European countries reported their first novel coronavirus cases, and—as three countries on three continents continue to grapple with large outbreaks—the World Bank yesterday announced $12 billion to immediately support countries that are coping with the health and economic impacts of the epidemic.

The World Bank said the package will make funds available to developing countries on a fast-track basis. It includes a combination of grants and low-interest loans for low-income countries and loans for middle-income countries, and it said the support will cover a range of interventions, from strengthening health services to conducting surveillance to training frontline health workers.

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Italy’s deaths top 100

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Photo credit:  Al Jazeera English [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons