Coronavirus cases top 100,000 as China exports dip

The number of cases from the new coronavirus has topped 100,000 worldwide as official Chinese data showed a significant hit to the country’s exports after the outbreak caused massive disruptions to business operations and economic activity.

The World Health Organization (WHO) called the spread of the virus “deeply concerning” as a wave of countries reported on Saturday their first cases of the COVID-19 disease, which has now killed nearly 3,500 people and infected more than 100,000 across 92 nations and territories.

In South Korea, authorities reported hundreds of new cases of infections on Saturday, bringing the total above 7,000, while the United States was battling to contain an outbreak on the Grand Princess cruise ship where 21 people have tested positive for the virus.

Saturday, March 7
08:23 GMT – South Korea reports 274 new cases
The total number of people infected in South Korea has risen to 7,041, as the country confirmed 274 more cases.

The announcement came hours after South Korean authorities had reported 483 new cases of infections.

08:11 GMT – Philippines confirms community transmission
The health ministry of the Philippines said it had confirmed its first case of community transmission for the new coronavirus, prompting officials to call on the president to declare a public health emergency to contain its spread.

The case involves a 62-year-old male Filipino who had not travelled abroad recently. His 59-year-old wife has also been infected, bringing the number of confirmed cases in the country to six, the health ministry said, adding that both are being treated at a government hospital.

The health ministry declared a code red alert which calls on medical professionals to be prepared to report for duty and recommended that President Rodrigo Duterte declare a public health emergency which would help with the procurement of critical supplies as well as with quarantine measures.

“This is a preemptive call to ensure that national and local governments and public and private healthcare providers can prepare for possible increase in suspected and confirmed cases,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque told reporters.

07:56 GMT – Qatar reports 12th case
Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health announced the country’s 12 case: a Qatari citizen who returned from Iran recently and subjected to quarantine upon his arrival.

The patient is in stable condition, the ministry said in a statement, adding that the infected person “has not had contact with community members since his arrival”.

“The risk of outbreaks of the disease in the wider community in Qatar is still low,” the statement noted.

07:34 GMT – China trade takes major hit
China’s exports fell by double digits in the first two months of the year as anti-virus controls closed factories, while imports sank by a smaller margin.

Overseas shipments tumbled 17.2 percent from a year earlier to $292.4bn, a sharp reverse from December’s 7.8 percent rise, customs data showed. Imports declined 4 percent to $299.5bn, down from the previous month’s 16.3 percent gain.

Trade was poised for a boost after Beijing and Washington removed punitive tariffs on some of each other’s goods in a trade truce signed in January. But that was offset by Chinese anti-virus controls that shut down much of the world’s second-largest economy in late January.

Exports to the US plunged 27.7 percent in January and February to $43bn, worsening from December’s 12.5 percent decline. Imports of US goods crept up 2.5 percent to $17.6bn, but China still recorded a $25.4bn trade surplus with the US.

China’s global trade balance fell to a $7.1bn deficit for the first two months of the year.

07:15 GMT – US tourist is Costa Rica’s first coronavirus case
A US woman on a tourist trip to Costa Rica has tested positive for the coronavirus, the first confirmed case in Central America, the country’s health minister has announced.

The 49-year-old woman had contracted the virus before entering the country on March 1, Health Minister Daniel Salas said, according to the AFP news agency.

The woman is currently “in strict isolation” in a hotel in the capital San Jose with her husband, who Salas said had contact with people in New York who had tested positive for the virus.

“The man has not manifested symptoms. The lady has, but they are very mild flu symptoms, diarrhea and abdominal pain,” the minister told a news conference hosted jointly with President Carlos Alvarado.

04:00 GMT Saturday – Florida: 2 dead after testing positive for coronavirus
Florida health officials has announced that two people who tested positive for the new coronavirus have died in the state.

The Florida Department of Health said the two people who died were in their 70s and had travelled overseas.

One was a man with underlying health issues in Santa Rosa County, in Florida’s Panhandle, according to the statement. It added that the second death was that of an elderly person in Lee County, in the Fort Myers area.

The statement did not indicate where the two had travelled.

As of Friday, Florida authorities said seven people in the state have tested positive for coronavirus.

02:54 GMT Saturday – US raises travel alert levels for Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan
The US State Department has raised its alert level for travel to Azerbaijan, warning Americans to reconsider travel there due to a coronavirus outbreak and response measures implemented by the country’s government.

The State Department also raised its alert level for travel to Turkmenistan due to travel restrictions and quarantine procedures instituted in response to the virus.

Neither country has reported many cases but both border Iran, which has been hard hit by the coronavirus.

The US State Department slapped a travel advisory warning on Iran last month, urging Americans not to travel there.

02:25 GMT Saturday – South Korea confirms 483 new coronavirus cases, taking total to 6,767
South Korea on Saturday reported 483 additional coronavirus cases from late on Friday, taking the national tally to 6,767, Yonhap news agency quoted the Korea Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (KCDC) as saying.

The death toll also rose to 46 from 44, Kwon Jun-wook, the KCDC deputy director told a briefing.

Most of the cases of infections were traced from a religious sect in Daegu, a city of 2.5 million people.

01:38 GMT Saturday – 2 US health screeners at LAX positive for coronavirus
Two federal health screeners at Los Angeles International Airport have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to an email sent to their colleagues late on Friday, according to a Reuters report on Saturday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention employees were conducting secondary screenings of passengers arriving from overseas, including from China, and have been directed to self-quarantine until March 17, the email said.

“At this time, we cannot confirm where these two screeners were exposed,” said the email, which was sent by a senior CDC official.

“Let us keep our colleagues in our thoughts during this period.”

00:56 GMT Saturday – AIPAC lobby group says 2 attendees of conference tested positive for coronavirus
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee lobbying group, also known as AIPAC, reported late on Friday that two attendees of its recent conference in Washington, DC have tested positive for the coronavirus.

The group earlier this week hosted a conference attended by Vice President Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

00:22 GMT Saturday – China reports 28 new deaths, 99 new confirmed cases
China’s National Health Commission reported on Saturday at least 28 new coronavirus deaths as of the end of Friday, bringing to 3,070 the death toll nationwide.

The government also reported 99 new confirmed cases on March 6, down from 143 the previous day, with a total of 80,651 cases nationwide. Most of the new cases and deaths were from Hubei, the epicentre of the outbreak in China.

Meanwhile on Friday, China’s health agency reported that at least 53,726 people have recovered and have been discharged from hospital.

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