Coronavirus: latest developments worldwide

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PARIS: The situation improves in China while the list of countries hit globally grows, with the first case in Latin America. The WHO warns the world is “simply not ready”.

Here are the latest developments in the coronavirus crisis.

There have been more than 82,100 infections and 2,800 deaths worldwide, according to the latest toll from Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

Chinese companies tap ‘virus bonds’ but put cash to other users

The number of deaths in China — where the virus was first detected — has declined, with 29 more deaths reported on Thursday, the lowest daily figure in almost a month.

But the daily number of infections worldwide is higher than in China, the World Health Organisation has said.

More than 50 deaths have been reported outside mainland China since the start of the epidemic, out of more than 3,600 people infected, according to the Johns Hopkins Center.

Cases of the virus have appeared in nine new countries — Romania, Algeria, Austria, Croatia, Georgia, Greece, Norway, Pakistan, and Switzerland — bringing the number of countries hit to more than 45.

South Korea has announced more than 1,590 infections — by far the largest outside China — and 12 deaths.

The number of infections in Italy, the hardest-hit country in Europe, hits the 400 marks late on Wednesday, with 12 deaths.

Iran announces a total of 19 deaths and more than 130 infections, including the country’s deputy health minister.

In France, two people have died, with more than a dozen infected, after the death of a 60-year old French person on Wednesday.

Latin America records its first case in a Brazilian who returned home from Italy.

Praising China’s drastic quarantine and containment measures, Bruce Aylward, leader of a joint WHO-China mission of experts, also warns other nations are “simply not ready” to contain the outbreak.

“You have to be ready to manage this at a larger scale… and it has to be done fast”.

But US President Donald Trump attempts to play down fears that the virus could worsen in America, where 60 cases have been reported, saying “nothing’s inevitable”.

The State Department raised its travel advisory caution level for South Korea to the second-highest, now urging Americans to reconsider traveling there.

The US and South Korean militaries announce they are postponing forthcoming joint exercises.

Gulf countries announce new measures to cut links with Iran — the major hotspot in the Middle East — to stop the spread.

Iranian authorities for their part announce domestic travel restrictions for people with confirmed or suspected cases of the novel coronavirus.

Saudi Arabia announces it will temporarily suspend visas for pilgrims.

In Europe, countries neighboring Italy decide to keep their borders open despite the spread of the virus to Tuscany, Sicily, and Liguria. But several governments encourage their nationals to postpone trips.

The alpine skiing World Cup Finals scheduled for next month in Italy will take place without any fans on the slopes.

Italian golfers Edoardo Molinari and Lorenzo Gagli are quarantined in Muscat over fears they have the virus.

Ireland’s Six Nations rugby match against Italy planned for Dublin on March 7 is postponed to a later date.

Stocks tumble over China epidemic worries

Japan’s sumo governing body announces it will hold an emergency meeting to decide whether to go ahead with a major tournament in Osaka scheduled to start on March 8.

But organizers of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics say preparations are “continuing as planned”.

Several major companies say their sales will be hit by the epidemic, including British drinks group Diageo, the maker of Guinness stout and Smirnoff vodka, French food giant Danone, and American air company United Airlines.

German airline Lufthansa and Air France both say they will freeze new hires.

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