Reuters Health News Summary

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Saudi Arabia locks down Qatif region, suspends schools over coronavirus

Saudi Arabia imposed a temporary lockdown on Sunday on the eastern oil-producing province of Qatif, home to all 11 people in the kingdom who have tested positive for the coronavirus, and suspended all schools and universities nationwide. The interior ministry announced the lockdown in Qatif, which has a large Shi'ite Muslim population, after the four latest cases were confirmed in Saudi Arabia. It is not expected to have any impact on Saudi oil production, two industry sources said.

Coronavirus may force Americans to avoid crowds and cancel cruises, health official warns

Americans, especially those who are vulnerable, may need to stop attending big gatherings as the coronavirus spreads through U.S. communities, a top health official said on Sunday, as investors braced for another volatile week in financial markets. Anthony Fauci, the head of the infectious diseases unit at the National Institutes of Health, said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that after initial missteps distributing tests, there should be 400,000 more tests available by Monday and 4 million by the end of the week.

Italy locks down millions as its coronavirus deaths jump

Italy ordered a virtual lockdown across much of its wealthy north, including the financial capital Milan, in a drastic new attempt to try to contain a outbreak of coronavirus that saw the number of deaths leap again sharply on Sunday. The unprecedented restrictions, which aim to limit gatherings and curb movement, will impact some 16 million people and stay in force until April 3. They were signed into law overnight by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

Oregon declares emergency as coronavirus cases double to 14

Oregon Governor Kate Brown declared a 60-day state of emergency on Sunday as coronavirus cases in the state doubled to 14. "We will do everything in our power to keep Oregonians safe," Brown said at a news conference.

No hugs, handshakes as U.S. churches take new precautions against coronavirus

With a wide smile and arms outstretched, but quickly dropped into double elbow bumps, James Harper warmly greets fellow congregants at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church on Sunday in Atlanta's Old Fourth Ward neighborhood. "We're all tight here," said Harper, 51, a salesman. "Normally it's nothing but deep hugs. But it's a different day now."

U.S. church group in West Bank tests negative for coronavirus

Thirteen Americans quarantined in a West Bank hotel on suspicion of having caught the coronavirus have tested negative, a Palestinian official said on Sunday. "The American tourists will leave either later this evening or tomorrow morning," said Ibrahim Melhem, a spokesman for the Palestinian government.

Grand Princess cruise ship passengers bound for coronavirus quarantine in California, elsewhere

An ocean liner barred from returning to port in San Francisco due to a coronavirus outbreak on board will dock briefly at a nearby terminal in Oakland, where passengers will be screened and sent on to medical and quarantine sites elsewhere, officials said on Sunday. The cruise ship Grand Princess, whose guests have been largely confined to their staterooms since Thursday, is due to arrive at the Port of Oakland to begin disembarking its 2,400 passengers as early as Monday, according to a statement by the California Office of Emergency Services.

France reports three more coronavirus deaths, total 1,126 cases

French health authorities reported three new coronavirus deaths on Sunday, taking the country's death toll from the outbreak to 19, as the number of reported infections also rose. The total number of confirmed cases came to 1,126 as of 1400 GMT on Sunday, public health officials said. That represents an increase of 177 cases on the tally reported late on Saturday, which had risen by 336 over the previous 24 hours.

Israel considers broadening entry restrictions for coronavirus

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday Israel might broaden its entry restrictions over coronavirus fears to include visitors from all countries. Israel already requires travelers arriving from more than a dozen countries and territories in Europe and Asia to go into home quarantine for 14 days. The measure has effectively cut off tourism from those countries and led some foreign airlines to suspend flights to Israel.

Smoking or vaping increases vulnerability to coronavirus, says NYC mayor

Smoking or vaping makes people more vulnerable to becoming infected with the coronavirus, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Sunday. De Blasio also said people over the age of 50 and with heart disease, lung disease, cancer, immune system vulnerability or diabetes are at a higher risk of becoming infected with the virus.