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Coronavirus: Global cases top 90,000

March 2, 2020

COVID-19 is spreading at a slower pace in China, but global infections have topped 90,000. The World Trade Organization has warned of a "substantial" impact on trade while the EU raised the virus risk level.

A man in Beijing with a face mask
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/A. Wong

On another busy day of developments, here is the latest on coronavirus:

  • More than 90,000 cases confirmed globally, with over 3,000 deaths
  • More than 2,100 cases confirmed in the EU, and Senegal and Tunisia have reported their first cases
  • Coronavirus cases in Germany rise to 157, with a fresh death in France
  • The state of Washington in the US reported its sixth death on Monday
  • Beijing confident China will meet economic goals of 2020 despite "negative impact" of the coronavirus
  • Finance minister and central bank chief of G7 to meet on Tuesday amid global uncertainty

Read more: What you need to know about the coronavirus 

All updates in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC/GMT).

23:50 US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer on Monday said it has identified antiviral compounds with potential as coronavirus treatments, according to Reuters.

The company said it was working with a third party to screen the compounds, and if successful, will start testing by the end of the year.

23:40 LATAM Airlines Group, South America's largest carrier, has canceled its daily flight from Sao Paulo to Milan, Italy until April 16 amid the spread of coronavirus. The cancellation is the first from South America. Other major carriers such as Delta Air Lines and American Airlines have also canceled flights to Milan since the outbreak.

The COVID-19 virus is hitting travel worldwide in unprecedented ways. As business trips are being cancelled and tourists stay at home, the airline industry is facing the worst downturn since the 2008 financial crisis.

Read the full story here: Coronavirus set to infect global airlines' fragile health

23:20 China's ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun expressed confidence that Beijing will be able to meet its economic goals for 2020, despite the "negative impact" of the coronavirus on the country's economy.

"Definitely the epidemic, the coronavirus, has caused a negative impact on the Chinese economy. We definitely believe that with the coming of spring, we are nor far from the coming of the victory of the final defeat of COVID-19," Zhang said.

23:10 US Vice-President Mike Pence said the treatment for the coronavirus could be available by summer or early fall. 

"The vaccine may not be available until late this year or early next, but the therapeutics to give relief to the people who contract the coronavirus could be available by summer or early fall," Pence said at a news conference.

23:00 Twitter, in a blog, has said it "strongly encourages" all its employees globally to work from home if they're amid the coronavirus outbreak. The company also mandated work from home for its employees based in Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea.

Twitter's Jennifer Christie announced the company's police in a series of tweets.

22:50 The finance ministers and central bank chief of the G7 countries will hold talks on Tuesday to tackle the rising global uncertainty over the coronavirus epidemic.

"We are ready to take appropriate and targeted measures, as necessary and commensurate with the underlying risks," said Christine Lagarde, the European Central Bank chief. 

22:40 European holiday company TUI to cut its administrative budget and freeze hiring after weaker bookings since the coronavirus spreads rapidly across the continent. The bookings took a hit after the first cases were confirmed in northern Italy last month.

Here's a detailed report on the consequences for the tourism sector in Europe: Coronavirus cripples tourism in Europe 

22:30 Google has asked its 8,000 employees at its European headquarters in Dublin to work from home on Tuesday after one of the staffers reported coronavirus symptoms. Last week, Ireland confirmed its first case of COVID-19.

22:02  The International Ice Hockey Federation has cancelled six championships in March and April amid fears over the coronavirus. The tournaments are the latest among the international sporting events to be affected by the worldwide outbreak.

20:58 Moroccan state media has reported the country's first case of COVID-19, according to Reuters news agency.

20:36 First cases have been reported in the eastern German states of Thuringia and Brandenburg. Germany had over 150 confirmed cases as of Monday.

20:16 German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz discussed COVID-19 with his French counterpart in a meeting today.

"A very good meeting with Bruno Le Maire today," he wrote on Twitter. "We discussed the full range of European topics and of course the effects of coronavirus too. We are observing the situation very carefully and will act decisively if necessary." 

19:54 A sixth death has now been confirmed in Washington state in the US.

19:50 Earlier on Monday, South Korean authorities announced Lee Man-hee of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus faces possible murder charges after being accused of failing to cooperate in efforts to contain the virus. Many of the cases in South Korea have been linked to the "cult-like" religious group.

Read more: South Korea church leader apologizes for coronavirus spread

19:37 While Brazil only has two confirmed cases of COVID-19, the health ministry has said they are suspecting over 400 suspected cases, which would mark a massive spike in the South American nation.

"In Brazil, the epidemiological situation of the coronavirus on March 2 at 13:00 is as follows: 433 suspected cases under investigation; 2 confirmed cases; 162 ruled out," the Health Ministry confirmed on Twitter.

19:33 Three more people have died in the western state of Washington, bringing the total of deaths in the US to five. On the other side of the country, New York has confirmed its first case.

19:12 France now has 191 confirmed cases of COVID-19, up from 130 on Sunday.

17:54 German authorities have said that risk in Germany is now "moderate," on the same day that the European Union raised the risk level from "low to moderate" to "moderate to high."

There are 157 cases in Germany as of Monday, with 90 in the most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Germany and the coronavirus

17:22 Italy now has over 2,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 52 deaths.

17:19 French newspaper Le Parisien has corrected their earlier reports of two further deaths in northern France, saying that in fact only one died. This brings France's total death count to three.

16:49 Finance ministers from G7 countries plan to hold a conference call on Tuesday to discuss measures to deal with the growing economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

16:44 The west African nation of Senegal has reported its first case of COVID-19, according to the Health Ministry.

16:40 The Baltic nation of Latvia has reported its first case of COVID-19, its government announced.

16:25 "Stigma is more dangerous than the virus itself," WHO chief Tedros Ghebreyesus said, referring to racism and stigma that have been noted during the outbreak, particularly against Chinese people.

Coronavirus fuels racism in Africa

16:23 The Swiss football league has postponed large games until at least the end of the month amid fears over the spread of coronavirus. Switzerland has at least 24 confirmed cases.

16:16 Saudi Arabia has reported its first case of COVID-19, state-run media reported.

16:08 The vast majority of cases are concentrated within five countries and at least 90%are within China, Dr Mike Ryan reminded reporters at the WHO press briefing.

"This is not a one-way street. We can push this virus back," Tedros Ghebreyesus said.

16:04 Ecuador has confirmed six coronavirus cases, bringing Latin America's total to 14.

15:55 Ghebreyesus also confirmed during the briefing that a WHO mission to tackle the outbreak arrived in Iran on Monday.

15:43 Tedros Ghebreyesus, World Health Organization chief, is giving his daily live press briefing on coronavirus.

"The number of #COVID19 cases in China continues to decline," he said. "Yesterday, China reported 206 cases to WHO, the lowest since 22 January. Only 8 cases were reported outside Hubei province." The Hubei province is where the city of Wuhan is located, where the outbreak began.

15:35 Germany, France and the UK will give Iran medical and financial aid to fight COVID-19.

15:25 Tunisia has reported its first coronavirus case.

15:12 On the day of national elections, Tajikistan has closed the borders to citizens of 35 countries where many cases of COVID-19 have been reported. Nations include the US, the UK, China, Japan and Iran.

14:53 Football team RB Leipzig has apologized to Japanese football fans who were asked to leave the game 10 minutes into a match on Sunday.

"We apologize for the mistakes up to this point and would like to make good on what happened," the team wrote on Twitter, promising the group would be invited to a future game.

14:51 The World Copper Conference in Santiago, Chile has been canceled over travel risks.

14:34 The World Health Organization has told European ambassadors that "solidarity and preparedness are vital." COVID-19 has reached 18 EU member states.

14:18 The European Central Bank (ECB) called off a joint event with the European Commission planned for Tuesday.

"The ECB has decided, in close consultation with the co-organizing European Commission, to postpone for now the conference on European financial integration that was scheduled for Tuesday March 3 2020," the ECB said in a statement.

14:12 The UK has confirmed four new cases, bringing their total number to 40.

14:06 India has reported three more cases of coronavirus including an Italian national.

13:52 COVID-19 will have a "substantial" impact on trade, the head of the World Trade Organization announced in Geneva.

"The effects on the global economy are also likely to be substantial and will start to show up in the trade data in the weeks to come," Roberto Azevedo told heads of delegations.

13:34 French newspaper Le Parisien is reporting two more deaths in the country, bringing the total death toll there to four. 

13:24 Jordan confirmed its first coronavirus case. The patient is a Jordanian citizen who returned from Italy on February 15. A medical team is testing his family.

13:09 German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer refused Chancellor Angela Merkel's attempt to shake hands with him at the start of a meeting on migration in Berlin, amid coronavirus fears.

12:46 About 150 people at a BMW research and development center in Munich are being quarantined at home for two weeks after coming into contact with an employee who tested positive for coronavirus, according to a BMW spokesman. 

12:34 Italy is preparing a €3.6 billion ($4 billion) package of measures to counter the economic impact of coronavirus. "The package will be approved by the end of this week, we are the first country to do it," Deputy Economy Minister Antonio Misiani said. 

12:23 The Dubai International Boat Show has been postponed until November over coronavirus fears. The show is the largest marine event for luxury yachts in the Middle East and North Africa. All of the Gulf Arab states except for Saudi Arabia have reported cases of the virus. 

12:22 British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the country is "very well prepared" for coronavirus, and that authorities "have a plan for if and when it spreads." 

"It's very important to stress that this is a problem that is likely to become significant for this country in the course of the next days of weeks," he said. "We'll be making every possible preparation for that."

Supply shortages hit German pharmacies

12:20 Malaysia's health ministry said on Monday that two "high-profile individuals" who had been exposed to someone confirmed to have been infected with coronavirus tested negative. The individuals were not identified. Malaysia has reported 29 confirmed cases, 22 of whom have already recovered.

12:19 Fifty-eight people who had contact with an Italian man infected with the virus are now being monitored, Nigeria's health minister said. Nigeria confirmed its first case of the virus on Friday, in an Italian who had arrived from Milan on a business trip. 

12:07 Sweden has raised its risk assessment for coronavirus from "low" to "moderate."

12:04 Russian authorities confirmed the first case of coronavirus in Moscow. The patient had recently returned from Italy, according to a statement quoted by Russian news agencies. He reportedly fell ill on February 21 while on vacation in Italy, and returned to Russia on February 23. He later sought medical help when he noticed signs of a respiratory infection, and was hospitalized on February 27.

Two Chinese citizens in Russia were also infected and treated in Siberia. 

11:49 The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday sent its first aircraft to Iran to help fight coronavirus. Along with basic supplies, it dispatched six medics with medical equipment and test kits on a UAE military aircraft.

"Today's flight will carry 7.5 tonnes of medical equipment and supplies, primarily the critical items needed for infection prevention and control to support health care workers in Iran," said Robert Blanchard from the WHO in Dubai.

11:47 Japan confirms at least 15 new coronavirus cases, bringing the number of cases in the country up to 976, including passengers infected on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, Kyodo newswire reported.

Read more: Opinion: Are we facing a coronavirus epidemic or pandemic?

FAQs: Answers from a virologist at Germany's Robert Koch Institute

11:42 Bahrain has postponed two oil and gas conferences that were scheduled to take place this month, including a regional gathering for oil traders — the Middle East Petroleum and Gas Conference. The other conference, GEO 2020, was postponed until September 14-17. Bahrain has 47 cases of coronavirus so far.

11:41 French President Emmanuel Macron canceled two scheduled events this week to focus on the country's coronavirus response. 

11:35 Paris' annual book fair, which was set to take place later this month, has been canceled. "Following the government's decision to forbid any gathering of more than 5,000 people in a closed space, it is with regret that we have taken the decision to cancel the 2020 edition of the Paris' book fair", the French publishers' union said in a statement.

11:27 The Bank of England said Monday that it is working with international partners and Britain's finance ministry to ensure "all necessary steps are taken" to offset the economic hit from coronavirus. 

11:25 Despite a decrease in cases in Hubei province, control of China's outbreak remains at a cirtical stage, and strict prevention and control measures must be maintained, according to Premier Li Keqiang. 

11:24 The Louvre museum has remained closed for the second day after staff refused to work over coronavirus fears. 

11:21 Nepal has called off its tourism advertising campaign due to the impact of coronavirus. The "Visit Nepal Year 2020" campaign was launched on January 1 with the aim of attracting two million tourists.

11:17 The Swedish Public Health Agency has asked to withdraw Iran Air's license to fly to Sweden. 

11:15 The European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, said there are 2,100 coronavirus cases across 18 EU member states. As of this morning, 38 EU citizens have died from coronavirus, she said.

11:06 Russia said a Russian citizen who came from Italy has coronavirus.

11:06 European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the risk of coronavirus in the EU has risen from "low to moderate" to "moderate to high."

10:21 Iran's Health Ministry reported an additional 12 deaths, bringing the toll up to 66, while the number of cases in the country reached 1,501.

10:13 The impact of coronavirus on the Russian economy will be deeper than originally anticipated, according to Economic Development Minister Maxim Reshetnikov. The rouble has been in a state of depreciation following a virus-spurred drop in oil prices.

10:05 Saudi Arabia's health minister said the country has not recorded any coronavirus cases so far.

Read more: German supermarkets report coronavirus panic buying

10:03 Global economic growth is expected to stall by about 0.5 percentage points, due to the impact of the virus, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said. The think tank revised its forecast for world growth in 2020 down from about 3% to 2.4%. 

Projected growth could even be halved to 1.5% worldwide, if current assumptions about the economy are too optimistic. Such a figure would push Japan and the eurozone into a recession. The decline "would weaken prospects considerably," the group said. 

Governments must take quick action in order to combat the decline, according to the OECD. Central banks should signal "accommodations to support market confidence" and "stand ready to provide liquidity if it dries up on the market," said OECD chief economist Laurence Boone. 

10:03 Portugal has confirmed its first two cases of coronavirus. One patient is a 60-year-old doctor from the northern city of Porto, who is suspected to have been infected during a stay in Italy. His condition is stable, according to Health Minister Marta Temido. A second man, a 33-year-old from Porto, is also suspected to have been infected after a recent trip to Spain, where the number of cases stands at 110.

09:44 Wuhan has closed the first of 16 hospitals built to treat coronavirus patients. The closure coincided with a rapid drop in new cases in Hubei province. "The rapid rising trend of virus cases in Wuhan has been controlled," Mi Feng, a spokesman for China's National Health Commission, told a briefing.

09:41 Andorra has announced its first coronavirus case. The patient is a 20-year-old man with mild symptoms. He had recently traveled to Milan.

09:37 Macau's casino industry took an 88% plunge in February — its worst monthly downturn on record, following city-wide closures.

Read more: Coronavirus: Are Japan's school closures a political move to save the Olympics?

09:30 The 17 members of Italy's Lombardy regional government are undergoing tests after the commissioner for economic development in the region tested positive for coronavirus.

09:25 Iceland has confirmed three new cases. All three patients had returned from northern Italy. 

09:20 Iraq has confirmed two new cases in Baghdad, bringing the total number in the country to 21. Both of the patients had recently visited Iran. 

09:18 India confirmed two new cases of coronavirus — one in the capital New Delhi, and another in the southern state of Telangana. The patients have a travel history from Italy and the United Arab Emirates. Both patients were in stable condition. The new cases took the total number in the country to five.

09:15 The leader of a Christian sect that officials say is responsible for over half of South Korea's roughly-4,000 virus cases is facing criminal charges, including murder. Lee Man Hee, 88, the founder and leader of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, and 12 of his followers are being accused of withholding the names of church members who may have been infected with the virus — and therefore obstructing efforts to contain the outbreak. 

The worst-affected area in South Korea is the southeastern city of Daegu, where many members of the sect live. On Monday, the church said it had closed all of its branches throughout South Korea, and shared all of the names of its members with authorities. 

09:05 Germany's Robert Koch Institute says there are 150 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Germany. The number on Sunday afternoon was 129. Authorities were able to trace the origin of 140 of the cases.  More than half of the cases, 86, are in Germany's most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Several schools in the state will also be closed on Monday in an attempt to prevent the spread of the virus. The institute is Germany's federal research entity responsible for disease control and prevention. 

08:53 The Louvre Museum in Paris kept its doors shut to the public while they held a meeting over the risks associated with the coronavirus. A sign on the entrance read, "Today the opening of the Louvre is delayed. We will inform you about a potential opening time as soon as possible. Thank you for your understanding."

Louvre staff voted "almost unanimously" not to open the museum on Sunday. 

08:48 Algeria has reported its second and third cases. They include a 53-year-old woman and her 24-year-old daughter, who tested positive after hosting an 83-year-old man from France and his daughter. The French pair tested positive when they returned from their trip, prompting Algerian authorities to test the two women.

Read more: Coronavirus: Consequences for tourism in Germany

08:48 Egypt's Health Ministry has confirmed the country's second case of coronavirus, while the first patient, a Chinese national, has recovered and has been released from isolation. The second patient, a foreigner, is showing "minor symptoms" and has been quarantined, the ministry and World Health Organization said in a joint statement.

Other people who had contact with the patient are undergoing medical tests. Egypt announced its first confirmed case on February 14.

08:46 Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis says the country will halt flights from South Korea and northern Italy over the outbreak. 

08:39 Foreign tourist arrivals to Thailand may drop by as much as 6 million, to 33.8 million, the lowest rate in four years, according to the country's tourism authority. 

08:38 The Biathlon World Cup, which is set to take place in the Czech Republic this week, will be held without spectators in order to prevent the spread of the virus. 

08:26 Armenia will temporarily suspend its visa-free regime for Iranian citizens within the next five days, and will extend the closure of its border with Iran, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said on Monday. The country reported its first infection on Sunday, in an Armenian citizen who was returning from a trip to Iran. 

08:23 South Korea has reported 123 new coronavirus cases, taking the total number of infections to 4,335.

08:14 A member of a council that advises Iranian Supreme Leader of Iran Ali Khamenei has died after becoming infected with coronavirus, according to Iranian state radio. The report Monday said Expediency Council member Mohammad Mirmohammadi died at the age of 71. 

Mirmohammadi's council advises Khamenei and settles disputes between the supreme leader and the parliament. Iran has so far reported 978 confirmed cases and 54 deaths from the virus.

Read more: How long is the coronavirus incubation period?

08:09 Japan has confirmed five more cases of coronavirus in Hokkaido, days after the island declared a state of emergency. The total number is now at 77, public broadcaster NHK said.

08:06 Vietnam will temporarily suspend visa-free travel for Italians from Tuesday. The move comes after the death toll in Italy rose to 34.

07:56 Ten people who had been in contact with the first coronavirus patient in Berlin have been placed in isolation in their homes in Berlin and North Rhine-Westphalia. The contact persons include his parents, roommates and friends. The patient, a young man, is currently in stable condition but is still in isolation. 

07:45 G7 and eurozone finance ministers will hold conference calls on Wednesday to "coordinate their responses" to the impact of the coronavirus on the global economy, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Monday. "We will have that meeting by phone — because you need to avoid traveling too much — for the G7 to coordinate its response," he said. 

07:39 The International Air Transport Association says airlines are set to lose $1.5 billion (€1.3 billion) this year due to the virus.

07:38 Coronavirus has decreased Europe's tourism revenues by €1 billion ($1.1 billion) per month since the start of the outbreak, said. European Union internal market commissioner Thierry Breton.

07:16 French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said that the impact of the coronavirus on France's economy will be "much more significant" than previous estimates. France estimated a 0.1% reduction in growth two weeks ago.

07:15 South Korea will postpone the start of the new school semester by two weeks, until March 23. "Two weeks are essential for the coronavirus outbreak to ease," said education minister Yoo Eun-hae. 

07:13 Kuwait's Health Ministry has confirmed 10 new cases of coronavirus over the past 24 hours.

06:33 The Shincheonji Church of Jesus' leader Lee Man-hee says he tested negative for the virus, and made an official apology for not encouraging members of the church to take preventive measures to stop the spread of COVID-19. "I would like to offer my sincere apology to the people on behalf of the members," he told reporters, calling the epidemic a "great calamity."

The South Korean sect is linked to around half of the country's roughly 4,000 coronavirus cases. Yesterday, he denied responsibility for the sect's role in the outbreak, saying that authorities were trying to "exaggerate" its involvement to shift blame.

Read more: Coronavirus: How can I protect myself from infection?

Myths about coronavirus
Myths about coronavirus

06:33 Germany's Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said on Monday that Germany must not allow the coronavirus outbreak to infect its economic growth. "That's what we're talking about in government," he told ARD public broadcaster.

06:11 Australia's New South Wales government says a doctor who was treating a coronavirus patient has contracted the virus.

05:46 A Chinese man has been sentenced to death for fatally stabbing two officials at a virus checkpoint. The 23-year-old man, Ma Jianguo, was found guilty of stabbing the officials at a local village checkpoint on February 6 in Honghe, southwestern Yunnan province. Although Ma had "voluntarily surrendered and truthfully confessed," the killings were "extremely vicious," according to the court statement. 

05:14 Indonesia has confirmed its first two coronavirus cases. Indonesian President Joko Widodo said two Indonesians — a 64-year-old woman and her 31-year-old daughter — tested positive for the virus after coming into contact with an infected Japanese national. The two were hospitalized in Jakarta. Indonesia is the world's fourth most populous country.

04:41 Thailand has reported one new coronavirus case, bringing the total number in the country to 43. The patient is a 22-year-old Thai woman who works with another patient, a driver for foreign tourists.

04:14 Health officials in Washington state in the US confirmed a second death due to coronavirus. The victim was a man in his 70s, who was in a nursing home near Seattle where dozens of people were sick. 

01:20 Officials in the Dominican Republic and France reported the first confirmed cases of coronavirus in the Caribbean. Dominican Public Health Minister Rafael Sanchez Cardenas said a 62-year-old Italian man had arrived in the country on February 22 without showing symptoms, but was now in isolation.

France confirmed three cases on the Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe.

01:00 Israel's Health Ministry is urging citizens to not be fearful and turn out to vote in Monday's parliamentary elections. Officials are fighting back against the spread of "fake news" about suspected coronavirus cases.

Some 5,630 quarantined Israelis have received instructions from the health ministry on how to vote at 16 polling stations.

00:00 Mainland China confirmed 202 new cases of coronavirus infections, which brings the total number of confirmed cases in mainland so far to 80,026. According to the latest figures, the virus is spreading at a slower pace in China.

Chinese officials also said the death toll had reached 2,912 as of March 1, an increase of 42 deaths from the previous day. All of the victims were in the central province of Hubei, the epicenter of the outbreak.

23:45 Germany's capital Berlin has confirmed its first case of the virus. The patient is in isolation and is receiving medical treatment. Authorities have started to trace those who have had contact with the patient.

23:30 A nursing home near Seattle in the US state of Washington is locked down after a resident and worker were found to have the coronavirus. Two other cases in the area were confirmed on Sunday.

23:00 Read how things unfolded on Saturday here: Coronavirus latest: Germany's COVID-19 cases almost double

ed, lc, jcg/msh (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)

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