Coronavirus: latest developments worldwide


PARIS, Feb 24, 2020 (BSS/AFP) – Infections jump sharply outside China.
Italy locks down several cities. Stocks tumble on world markets. Here are the
latest developments in the new coronavirus crisis.

– 2,592 dead in China –

Mainland China’s official death toll hits 2,592, with more than 77,000
people now reported infected.

For the first time since the Cultural Revolution, China postpones its
annual parliament session when Communist Party leaders including President Xi
Jinping gather to rubber-stamp bills and budgets.

Chinese officials declare an immediate and “comprehensive” ban on the
trade and consumption of wild animals.

– Alerts in S Korea, Iran –

South Korea emerges as the worst new hotspot outside mainland China.

Some 161 new cases are reported, putting the number of infections to 763
and seven dead. President Moon Jae-in raises the virus alert to the highest

An outbreak cluster in a religious sect in the southern city of Daegu
contributes to the recent sharp jump of cases in the country.

In Iran, the confirmed death toll climbs to 12 — the highest number of
fatalities for any country outside China.

Armenia, Turkey, Jordan, Pakistan and Afghanistan close their borders or
restrict trade with Iran.

– Italy lockdown –

Italy, the country with the most confirmed cases in Europe, reports its
fifth death and the number of people contracting the disease continues to
mount, with 219 people now testing positive.

Over 50,000 residents in 11 towns are under lockdown — 10 in the Lombardy
region and one in neighbouring Veneto.

The spread of the virus disrupts high-profile events including Milan
Fashion Week and the Venice Carnival. Serie A football matches have been
postponed and operas are cancelled at Milan’s La Scala.

– Stocks nosedive –

World stock markets and oil prices tumble on growing fears from the
crisis. Milan’s stock market dives almost five percent and Seoul 3.9 percent.

Elsewhere in Europe, Frankfurt falls 3.7 percent, London loses 3.5
percent, Madrid is down 3.3 percent and Paris sheds 3.8 percent.

Meanwhile, gold hits a seven-year peak as investors turn to the precious
metal as a safety measure.

The International Monetary Fund warns the epidemic could put an already
fragile global economic recovery at risk.

The outbreak will shave about 0.1 percentage points from global growth and
constrain China’s growth to 5.6 percent this year, it says.