COVID-19 outbreak: Here’s what’s happening around the world Friday


The world prepared for a coronavirus pandemic on Friday as hopes the disease could be contained to China vanished and investors dumped equities in expectation of a global recession.

Asian stock markets plunged further Friday amid spreading virus fears, deepening an global rout after Wall Street endured its biggest one-day drop in nine years.

Tokyo’s benchmark plummeted by an unusually wide margin of 3.7 per cent and Seoul and Sydney dropped by more than three per cent; Hong Kong and Shanghai saw losses of over 2.5 per cent. Oil prices slumped on expectations industrial activity and demand might contract.

Investors had been confident the disease that emerged in China in December might be under control. But outbreaks in Italy, South Korea and Iran have fuelled fears the virus is turning into a global threat that might derail trade and industry.

The global count of those infected exceeds 83,000, with China still by far the hardest-hit country. But South Korea has surged past 2,000 cases, and other countries have climbing caseloads and deaths. Iran, with 26 deaths and more than 250 cases, has the most in the Middle East.

Mainland China — where the virus originated late last year — reported 327 new cases on Friday, the lowest since Jan. 23, taking its total cases to more than 78,800 with almost 2,800 deaths.

“This virus has pandemic potential,” World Health Organization (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in Geneva on Thursday. “This is not a time for fear. This is a time for taking action to prevent infection and save lives now.”

1st cases for Nigeria, New Zealand

Nigeria’s health authorities reported the country’s first case of the new coronavirus in Lagos, the first confirmed appearance of the disease in sub-Saharan Africa. Cases of the virus were already confirmed in Egypt and Algeria in north Africa.

The Commissioner for Health for Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city, said Friday that an Italian citizen who entered Nigeria on Feb. 25 from Milan on a business trip fell ill the next day.

Commissioner Akin Abayomi said the man was transferred to Lagos State Biosecurity Facilities for isolation and testing. The patient was clinically stable with no serious symptoms and was being managed at the Infectious Disease Hospital in Yaba, Lagos.

He said officials were working to identify all of the man’s contacts since he arrived in Nigeria.

WATCH: Infectious disease doctor explains what’s happening with COVID-19

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch looks at the implications of COVID-19’s global reach and asymptomatic transmission of the disease. 2:18

New Zealand health officials also said on Friday that the country had its first case, found in a person in their 60s who recently returned from Iran.

Health officials said the results of a test came through positive on Friday afternoon. The person was being treated at the Auckland City Hospital and the person’s household members had also been isolated as a precaution.

New Zealand’s Ministry of Health said in a statement it was confident the public health risk from the infection was being well managed.

Here’s what’s happening in South Korea

South Korea reports 315 more virus cases, bringing its increase for Friday to 571 and total infections to 2,337. Most cases in the country have been found in the region around the city of Daegu; many cases there have connections to a church and health workers are testing thousands of its members.

Thirteen people have died.

WATCH: South Korea launches roadside tests

Amid soaring demand for virus testing, Goyang, South Korea, is reducing wait times with a roadside test. 0:25

A Hyundai worker tested positive for the virus on Friday, leading to a suspension of production at one the automaker’s factories in the southeastern city of Ulsan

The country’s National Assembly has passed a law strengthening the punishment for those violating self-isolation, more than tripling the fine and adding the possibility of a year in prison.

The military also called off joint drills planned with U.S. troops.

The outbreak has prompted South Korean boy band BTS to cancel its scheduled April concerts in Seoul, according to its music label, Big Hit Entertainment.

BTS had scheduled a “Map of the Soul” tour for April 11-12 and 18-19 at Seoul’s Olympic Stadium.

Here’s what’s happening in Japan

Japan’s schools prepared to close for almost a month, in a move that would send nearly 13 million children home and leave few people untouched by the virus in the world’s third-biggest economy.

Sporting events and concerts in Japan have already been cancelled, and Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea said, too, they would close until mid-March. The closure of Disney resorts in Japan will last through March 15, their Japanese operator, Oriental Land Co., said Friday. Disney parks in Hong Kong and Shanghai remain closed.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had called for all schools to close until late March, though the decisions to do so were being made locally.

“The most important thing is to prevent infections, so there aren’t many other options,” said Norinobu Sawada, vice principal of Koizumi primary school.

Here’s what’s happening in Canada

Quebec’s first presumptive case of the coronavirus was detected in a woman who recently returned from a trip to Iran, the provincial health minister said Thursday evening. 

The woman took a plane from Iran to Qatar before arriving at the Montreal airport on Monday, Health Minister Danielle McCann said at an impromptu news conference.

WATCH: How Canada is preparing for a coronavirus outbreak

Canadian public health officials detailed plans for preparations for a coronavirus outbreak here. 1:52

Earlier, Ontario reported a sixth case of COVID-19 on Thursday. The other seven cases in the country are in British Columbia.

Canada’s public health agency is taking stock of the need for personal protective equipment and other supplies to make sure there are enough to go around in case of a pandemic.

The virus, which does not yet have a cure or a vaccine, keeps spreading to new places around the world.  Read on for a look at what’s happening in some of the countries dealing with the most cases of the novel coronavirus.

 

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