France bans events with over 1,000 people amid coronavirus fears

France, which has the second largest number of cases in Europe after Italy, is banning events of more than 1,000 people to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

"The coming weeks will be difficult," Health Minister Olivier Véran said Sunday after President Emmanuel Macron held an emergency security meeting to develop anti-virus strategy.

Véran suggested that nationwide municipal elections coming in a week would go on as planned.

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Protests, exams and public transportation could be exempt from the ban on large gatherings, because they're "useful to the life of the country," Véran said.

"Prefects and ministries will come up with lists of events considered useful," he said.

French Health Minister Olivier Véran speaking at a news briefing in Paris on Sunday. (Pascal Rossignol/Pool via AP)

French Health Minister Olivier Véran speaking at a news briefing in Paris on Sunday. (Pascal Rossignol/Pool via AP)

France is also recruiting recently retired medics and medical students to help deal with growing numbers of infections.

"Our priority is to do everything to slow the spread of the virus in our national territory," Véran added.

The country reported 1,126 cases as of Sunday, up 19 percent from the day before.

So far, 19 people in France have died.

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COVID-19 has infected more than 100,000 people and killed more than 3,400 in 90 countries, and the toll has been growing.

China on Sunday reported 44 new cases over the past 24 hours, the lowest level since it began publishing nationwide figures on Jan 20, and 27 new deaths. Italy has become the No. 2 epicenter, surpassing South Korea.

China has suffered about three-fourths of the world’s 109,000 coronavirus infections and most of its 3,800 deaths. New infections in China have leveled off, however, and most of those infected, in China and globally, have already recovered.

Infections mounted higher Sunday in other epicenters -- South Korea, Iran and especially Italy.

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The outbreak globally has led to a nose-dive in tourist traffic and major disruptions to supply chains worldwide.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.