Ships are being held in waters off California, Malaysia, Egypt and Malta as those aboard are tested or confined to cabins.
Moscow has announced a prison term of up to five years for those who fail to self-isolate, as governments around the globe ramped up measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
The number of people worldwide who have now tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, has passed 107,000 – with more than 3,600 deaths.
Officials in the Russian capital, where cases total 15, on Sunday announced a “high alert regime” and a jail term of up to five years for anyone who fails to self-isolate at home for two weeks after visiting countries most severely hit by the coronavirus outbreak.
This includes people returning from China, South Korea, Iran, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, with checks carried out via CCTV.
Meanwhile, Iran has declared a “sacred jihad” against the virus after more than 1,000 infections were confirmed overnight, bringing the country’s total to 6,586 cases, including 49 new fatalities, bringing the death to 194.
This was shortly followed by a report by the state-controlled IRNA news agency that IranAir had stopped all flights to European destinations.
In Italy, the government has introduced tough new measures to try to stop the spread of coronavirus, which includes ordering a lockdown across the hardest-hit region of Lombardy, plus 14 other northern and central provinces.
It followed a 1,247 rise in COVID-19 cases – the country’s biggest daily increase since the outbreak started in the north of the country on 21 February.
In China, a hotel being used to house people in coronavirus quarantine collapsed killing at least 10 people and trapping more than 20 others. So far, at least 47 people have been rescued from the building in the city of Quanzhou, in southeastern Fujian Province.
It also reported 44 new cases on Sunday over the past 24 hours, the lowest level since it began publishing nationwide figures on 20 January 20, and 27 new fatalities.
South Korea, the hardest-hit country outside China, reported 272 new cases, taking the total to 7,313, with 50 deaths overall.
Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun urged citizens to “actively cooperate” and “show a mature sense of civil awareness” with the efforts to make sure healthcare workers and the sick “who really need face masks can buy them”.
As Argentina announced the first death from the disease in Latin America – a 64-year-old patient from Buenos Aires – Western countries looked to imitate Chinese containment measures by imposing travel controls and shutting down public events.
Spain deployed police to enforce a quarantine. Austria confiscated 21,000 disposable masks that a Turkish company smuggled aboard a tour bus, seeking to profit from soaring demand.
Police in Turkey, meanwhile, threatened legal action against social media accounts accused of spreading false virus information.
And this month’s Formula One race in Bahrain has become the latest sports event to be affected by the outbreak after Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad announced the grand prix would go head – but without spectators.
Two more people died in the United States, taking its death toll to 19 – as New York declared a state of emergency as the number of confirmed cases statewide rose by 13 to a total of 89.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said: “It allows expedited purchasing and expedited hiring, which is what we need right now.”
More than half of all US states have reported cases of people testing positive for COVID-19.
The US Army has restricted travel to and from Italy and South Korea, and banned foreign troops from participating in US exercises, exchanges and visits in the most affected countries.
It follows a sailor in Italy, a Marine at Fort Belvoir in Virginia, and a soldier in South Korea testing positive for the disease.
Sports events with spectators and school trips have been banned for two weeks – and recreational centres for pensioners shut down for four weeks in Greece – after cases there rose by seven to 73.
Bulgaria on Sunday confirmed its first four cases of the coronavirus, while Paraguay and Moldova each confirmed their first cases of the virus.
Even islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean have not been spared, as the Maldives reported its first two cases and authorities locked down two tourist resorts.
Cruise ships have increasingly been in the spotlight as they seek safe harbour on four continents amid fears they are spreading the virus.
At the weekend, they faced trouble in waters off California, Malaysia, Egypt and Malta as those aboard were tested or confined to cabins.
Officials in California are deciding where to dock the Grand Princess cruise ship, after 21 people on board tested positive for COVID-19.
There is evidence the ship, now idling off San Francisco, was the breeding ground for a deadly cluster of almost 20 cases during an earlier voyage.
Hundreds of people were also forced to remain on a Carnival Panorama cruise ship docked in Long Beach, California, while tests were carried out on a sick passenger.
In Egypt, a cruise ship on the Nile with more than 150 people on board is under quarantine in the southern city of Luxor after 12 positive tests.
In the port of Penang in Malaysia, the Costa Fortuna has been turned away because 64 of the 2,000 passengers aboard are from Italy. The ship had already been rejected by Thailand, and is now heading to Singapore.
And in Malta, which recently reported its first case of the virus, the MSC Opera ship agreed not to enter the Mediterranean country’s port amid local concerns – even though there are no infections suspected on board.
The ship continued on to Messina, Sicily, where passengers were allowed to disembark after officials reviewed medical records.
While many scientists say the world is clearly in the grip of a pandemic – a serious global outbreak – the World Health Organisation (WHO) is not calling it that yet, amid concerns the word might cause more alarm.
The virus is still much less widespread than annual flu epidemics, which cause up to five million severe cases around the world and up to 650,000 deaths annually, according to the WHO.[Sky News]