The threat of a pandemic has become increasingly real as coronavirus spreads across the world – from Asia, to Europe, the Middle-east, now parts of the United States and even Africa.
The World Health Organisation had last week raised the global virus risk to maximum level after the outbreak spread to sub-Saharan Africa and stock markets around the world plummeted.
Worldwide, there are over 110,000 confirmed cases of the new virus, with more than 3,800 deaths attributed to it.
While the virus is slowing down in China, where it originated in December last year, it is picking up elsewhere. The total number of cases have seen an unprecedented spike in the recent days in several countries, especially Iran, the epicentre of the crisis in the Middle-east.
Iran said Tuesday that 54 more people have died due to COVID-19, raising the death toll to 291. Nearly 8,000 cases have been reported in the Islamic Republic. Iran is the hardest-hit country in the Middle-east by the new coronavirus.
China to ease travel curbs within the locked-down province
Hubei, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in China, will relax travel restrictions to allow healthy people to move within the province, officials said on Tuesday.
Hubei has been under lockdown since January with some 56 million people under quarantine, but the number of cases has declined in recent weeks.
According to the provincial government, a mobile app will be used to give residents a coloured health code, and people labelled "green" – meaning no contact with any cases - in medium and low-risk areas will be allowed to travel within the province.
There is no indication that people can leave the province, and the measures also did not appear to loosen restrictions in Hubei's capital, Wuhan.
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday made his first visit to the city since it emerged as the epicentre of the coronavirus crisis in January.
Confirmed or suspected cases will get a red code, while a yellow code indicates close contact with a confirmed case.
On Tuesday there were only 17 new cases reported in Hubei province, all in Wuhan.
Most of China's 3,136 coronavirus deaths and 80,754 cases came from Hubei, with the majority in Wuhan.
Nationwide lockdown in Italy
Hours after Italy was placed on a nationwide lockdown, Pope Francis urged Catholic priests on Tuesday to “have the courage” to go out and help those sickened by the novel coronavirus.
"Let us pray to the Lord also for our priests, that they may have the courage to go out and visit the sick... and to accompany the medical staff and volunteers in the work they do," the pontiff said during a mass in Vatican City.
St Peter's Square in the Vatican -- in the centre of the Italian capital Rome -- was almost empty on Tuesday with only a few dozen people walking around, most of them without masks.
Officials passed a decree late Monday extending nationwide restrictive measures that had been put in place at the weekend in the hardest-hit northern regions.
The restrictions -- including checkpoints on roads and in railway stations -- are set to remain until April 3.
Italy is the epicentre of the European virus outbreak with more than 9,000 cases and 463 deaths so far.
Coronavirus cases rise to 16 in Pakistan
In neighbouring Pakistan, a sudden spike in the number of cases on Tuesday saw the total infected in the country rise to 16, officials said.
"I can confirm 9 new cases of #COVID19 in Karachi. This makes a total of 16 cases in Pakistan," Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza tweeted.
According to officials, five of the new patients came to Karachi from Syria via Doha while three persons came from London via Dubai during the past week.
Thirteen of the total 16 victims belong to Sindh, according to Meeran Yousuf, the media coordinator to the Sindh health minister.
Authorities were trying to track down all their contacts for further testing in order to contain the spread of the virus.
Trump has not been tested for coronavirus: White House
President Donald Trump remains in excellent health and has not been tested for coronavirus, the White House has said, even though he was in contact with multiple lawmakers who have since gone into self-imposed quarantine due to their proximity to someone with the virus.
"The President has not received COVID-19 testing because he has neither had prolonged close contact with any known confirmed COVID-19 patients nor does he have any symptoms," White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said.
"President Trump remains in excellent health, and his physician will continue to closely monitor him," Grisham added.
Earlier during a news conference, Trump assured the country that his administration is taking all necessary steps to bring the virus under control.
"We are going to take care of, and have been taking care of, the American public and the American economy," he said.
About 755 people in the US have been confirmed to have the virus. Of those, 26 people have died.
(With inputs from agencies)