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.