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Latest on coronavirus spreading in China and beyond

International concern about the spread of coronavirus outside China grew on Sunday with sharp rises in infections in South Korea, Italy and Iran.

* China has reported a total of 76,936 cases of the disease caused by the virus, known as COVID-19, including 2,442 deaths.

* Mainland China had 648 new confirmed cases on Saturday, up from 397 a day earlier. The death toll was up by 97. The virus epicentre of Hubei province reported 96 new deaths, of which 82 were in the provincial capital Wuhan.

* South Korea raised its infectious disease alert to its highest level on Sunday as confirmed coronavirus cases in the country jumped to 602 and the death toll rose to six.

* Italy said known infections had risen above 130, mostly in the wealthy northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto, where almost a dozen towns have effectively been placed under quarantine. Two people have died.

* Authorities have banned public events, including halting the Venice Carnival.

* The European Union said it shared concern for possible contagion but there was “no need to panic”.

* Hong Kong said it had 74 confirmed cases, up from 69 on Saturday. The death toll is three.

* Iran confirmed 15 new cases of the new coronavirus, taking the total to 43 with a death toll of eight. Several neighbouring countries imposed border restrictions.

* France said it currently had one patient with the virus but new cases were very likely and it was particularly watchful of the situation in Italy.

* Japan’s health minister has apologised after a woman who was allowed to leave a coronavirus-infected cruise ship docked near Tokyo tested positive for the virus. A third elderly passenger died and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe instructed government agencies to draft a comprehensive plan to curb the spread of the virus.

* The World Athletics Indoor Championships, scheduled for Nanjing from March 13-15, were postponed until next year. Soccer matches in northern Italy and China were among other sporting events postponed.

* The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Saturday it was concerned about the number of cases with no clear epidemiological link.

* Outside China, there have been more than 1,200 cases in 26 countries, the WHO said. That includes one confirmed case on the African continent, in Egypt.

* The International Monetary Fund predicted on Saturday the outbreak would lower China’s growth this year to 5.6% and shave 0.1 percentage points from global growth.

* Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said the yen’s recent declines were largely driven by a strong dollar, shrugging off some market views that the virus epidemic is triggering an outflow of funds from Asia.

* Japan’s factory activity suffered its steepest contraction in seven years in February, reinforcing the risk of a recession in the world’s third-largest economy.

* China’s banking sector may face a surge of non-performing loans in 2020 if the virus doesn’t peak until April.

* Beijing’s containment measures look set to delay the rollout of 5G as tenders for six big projects have been postponed since Jan.31.

* Asian shares were under water on Friday as coronavirus fears sent funds fleeing into the safety of U.S. assets, lifting the dollar to three-year highs.



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