Xinhua world news summary at 0900 GMT, March 22

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WASHINGTON -- Italian general practitioners remember seeing strange pneumonia cases as early as November, which could mean the virus was circulating in parts of Italy before doctors became aware of China's COVID-19 outbreak, a U.S. radio outlet reported, citing a paper on Italy's coronavirus crisis.

The report published Thursday by U.S. media outlet National Public Radio (NPR) cited Giuseppe Remuzzi, co-author of a recent paper in The Lancet about Italy's epidemic. (US-Coronavirus-Italy)

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BUCHAREST -- The Romanian government late Saturday declared a curfew and required citizens to stay at home as much as possible during daytime in the latest move to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Interior Minister Marcel Vela said the curfew will be imposed between 22:00 and 06:00 beginning Sunday, with the exemptions for professional reasons, shopping of daily necessities, and necessary medical services. (Romania-Curfew-Coronavirus)

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KUNDUZ -- Four Afghan soldiers and 24 militants were killed and 27 people wounded in predawn Taliban attacks in northern Kunduz province on Sunday, the provincial government spokesman said.

"The clashes broke out after militants stormed security checkpoints in surrounding areas of Imam Sahib, Arch and Khan Abad districts on Sunday, triggering fierce clashes," spokesman Esmatullah Muradi told Xinhua. (Afghanistan-Taliban-Clash)

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CAIRO -- The total number of COVID-19 cases in Iran reached 20,610 on Saturday, though heath officials said the pandemic is showing signs of slowing down.

The Iranian Ministry of Health and Medical Education said that the death toll from the novel coronavirus increased to 1,556, while the number of the cured people rose to 7,635. (Mideast-Coronavirus) Enditem

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