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Coronavirus: 60 countries affected

By AFP

Added 29th February 2020 08:43 PM

World stock exchanges, which fear the devastating consequences of the epidemic on the economy, have had their worst week since the economic crisis of 2008.

Coronavirus: 60 countries affected

A man walks on an empty street in Wuhan, in China's central Hubei province. (AFP picture)

World stock exchanges, which fear the devastating consequences of the epidemic on the economy, have had their worst week since the economic crisis of 2008.

A surge in the number of infections and countries affected; a black week for the world's stock exchanges; postponed football matches; numerous events cancelled as France bans gatherings of more than 5,000 people.

Here are the latest developments in the coronavirus crisis.

- Over 60 countries affected -

The new coronavirus has infected more than 85,919 people and killed 2,941 around the world, according to an AFP toll based on official sources as of 1700 GMT on Saturday.

The number of infections jumped by more 1,800 since the same time the day before.

Mainland China, where the epidemic started in late December, has 79,251 infected and 2,835 deaths. Elsewhere in the world, 61 countries and territories are affected.

The virus is spreading most rapidly in South Korea, which recorded another 813 new cases on Saturday -- its largest daily increase so far -- with the country now totalling 3,150 infections.

Europe's virus hotspot Italy reported 240 new cases on Saturday, bringing its total to 1,128 cases and 29 deaths.

Iran meanwhile reported nine new deaths from the virus, raising the death toll to 43 while its has 593 infected cases.

But the BBC's Persian-language service, citing unnamed sources in Iran's health system, has said that at least 210 people have died -- a report denied by the Iranian government.

In recent days a swathe of countries have announced their first coronavirus cases, including Azerbaijan, Belarus, Iceland, Lithuania, Monaco, Mexico and the Netherlands, New Zealand, and Nigeria.

Qatar confirmed its first case on Saturday.

In the US, health officials reported four more cases of the coronavirus transmitted to people who did not travel overseas or come in contact with anyone known to be ill.

- Highest risk -

The WHO has raised its global risk assessment of the new coronavirus to "very high", because of the continued increase in cases and the number of new countries affected in recent days.

The United Nations Security Council says it will adopt humanitarian exemptions to the heavy economic sanctions imposed on North Korea to help Pyongyang fight the epidemic.

Its members call on the hermit state to open its borders to allow its equipment in.

The country has not reported a single case of the virus known as COVID-19.

- Economic shock -

World stock exchanges, which fear the devastating consequences of the epidemic on the economy, have had their worst week since the economic crisis of 2008.

Oil prices have also been in free fall, plummeting to their lowest level in over a year, fearing a fall in world demand.

Official data released in China on Saturday showed manufacturing activity falling to its lowest level on record as key industries ground to a standstill under drastic containment measures.

US Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell meanwhile said the central bank was ready to intervene if needed.

Italy has announced measures to help its hard-hit tourism sector after the US urged its citizens to avoid unnecessary trips to Italy.

- Cancellations and bans -

France on Saturday cancelled all gatherings of 5,000 people or more, including a half-marathon scheduled for Sunday however football matches have not been affected.

Switzerland has suspended all events with more than 1,000 participants until March 15, forcing the cancellation of the Geneva International Motor Show.

Other events cancelled or postponed over coronavirus fears include Facebook's biggest annual event, Seoul concerts by K-pop megastars BTS, the world's leading property market conference MIPIM, Basel's watch fair, the Milan Furniture Fair and the world's top mobile trade fair in Barcelona.

Saudi Arabia has suspended visas for tourists from affected countries and barred citizens from the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council from entering two of Islam's holiest cities, Mecca and Medinah.

Lebanon has closed all schools and universities, as well as banning entry for people arriving from China, South Korea, Iran and Italy.

The US has delayed a regional summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) due in Las Vegas next month.

The world of sport has also been affected, with five Italian Serie-A football matches postponed, including Sunday's clash between title rivals Juventus and Inter Milan.

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