Chinese President Xi Jinping traveled Tuesday to the city of Wuhan for his first visit since the area became the center of a coronavirus outbreak that has infected more than 80,000 people and killed 3,100 in China.
Chinese state media said Xi would be visiting medical workers and patients, as well as inspecting efforts to control the outbreak.
His visit came as health officials reported 19 new cases Tuesday, part of a continuing trend of fewer and fewer infections in China as the virus spreads more rapidly in other countries. About 70% of China's cases have already recovered.
Part of China's response was to lock down large areas to try to prevent the virus from spreading at large gatherings or among travelers going to other areas in the country.
Italy is now taking the same strategy after becoming one of the largest outbreak sites outside of China with more than 9,000 cases and 460 deaths.
The Italian government initially put restrictions on the northern part of the country, but Tuesday brought the start of travel restrictions to the entire country of 60 million people.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said in a televised address Monday evening that the quarantine measures could be summarized by the phrase "I'm staying home."
In Iran, officials said Tuesday the coronavirus has killed 54 more people, bringing the death toll in the Islamic Republic to 291
The head of the World Health Organization said Monday that the coronavirus has gained a foothold in so many countries that "the threat of a pandemic has become very real." But WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus voiced optimism as well, saying it "would be the first pandemic in history that could be controlled."
In the United States, which has about 600 cases and 26 deaths from the virus, several areas with outbreaks are banning large gatherings, while major universities, including: Stanford, the University of Washington and Ohio State University are holding classes only online.
The outbreak has prompted Defense Secretary Mark Esper to cancel an upcoming overseas trip. “Out of an abundance of caution, the Secretary of Defense has decided to postpone his travel to India, Uzbekistan, and Pakistan until a later date to remain in the US to help manage the DoD response” to COVID-19," his press secretary said.
Four members of the U.S. Congress are self-quarantining after having contact at a recent political conference with someone who has tested positive. Incoming White House chief of staff Mark Meadows may have had contact and is also isolating himself until Wednesday.
President Donald Trump, who spoke at the conference and had contact with several people who had direct contact with the infected person, has not been tested for the coronavirus.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement late Monday the president "has neither had prolonged close contact with any known confirmed COVID-19 patients, nor does he have any symptoms," and that White House doctors will monitor him.
Elsewhere, Germany reported its first two deaths from coronavirus, but Chancellor Angela Merkel warned against thinking that it is in vain to try to halt the spread of the virus.
"We are working for valuable time," Merkel said, "time in which scientists can research medicines and a vaccine" and governments can stockpile protective gear.
French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron took a hand-in-hand walk down Paris's famed Champs-Elysees boulevard as a message of confidence, but kept a one-meter security distance from other people.
"I'm shaking hands using my heart," he said as he waved at people.