CORONAVIRUS

Virus spreads to more counties as worldwide deaths top 3,000

However, China sees drop in number of new cases reported there

Trader Steven Kaplan watches the numbers at the closing bell Monday on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. The Dow
Trader Steven Kaplan watches the numbers at the closing bell Monday on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. The Dow Jones industrial average surged more than 1,200 points, or 5 percent, on hopes that central banks will take action to shelter the global economy from the effects of the coronavirus outbreak. (Richard Drew/Associated Press)

The coronavirus spread to more countries Monday and the U.S. death toll climbed to six as a shift in the international crisis appeared to be taking shape.

While hundreds of patients were released from hospitals at the epicenter of the outbreak in China, the World Health Organization reported that nine times as many new infections were recorded outside the country as inside it in 24 hours.

Alarming clusters of the virus continued to swell in South Korea, Italy and Iran, and it turned up for the first time in New York, Moscow and Berlin, as well as Latvia, Indonesia, Morocco, Tunisia, Senegal, Jordan and Portugal. The worldwide death toll topped 3,000, and the number of those infected rose to about 89,000 in 70 countries on every continent but Antarctica.

Health officials sought to reassure the public that the virus remains a manageable threat.

The vast majority of those infected display only mild symptoms, and thoroughly and often washing your hands for at least 20 seconds is likely the single most important thing anyone can do to avoid it.

“Containment is feasible and must remain the top priority for all countries,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

Citing two sources it did not name, the Washington Post reported bipartisan negotiators on Capitol Hill are reaching a deal on a $7.5 billion emergency spending bill to fight the coronavirus.

The figure dwarfs the $1.25 billion the White House had asked for. But the sources told the Post that congressional negotiators are basing their figure on needs assessments from federal agencies and health experts.

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Included will be money for vaccine development, procuring protective and medical equipment, and aid to state and local governments that have contended with the virus.

Around the world, the crisis reshaped the routines of millions as governments issued travel advisories and closed some gathering spots.

Across Japan, children stayed home after the government announced the closing of schools until April. In Paris, the galleries of the Louvre museum were off limits. With Israel holding a national election, special voting booths were set up for those under quarantine. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel was rebuffed by her interior minister when she extended her hand to greet him.

At the United Nations, officials said they were postponing a major conference on women that had been expected to bring up to 12,000 people from 193 countries next week to New York.

Nevertheless, the Dow Jones industrial average soared nearly 1,300 points, or 5 percent, as stocks roared back from a seven-day rout on hopes that central banks would take action to shield the global economy from the effects of the outbreak.

Health officials in Washington state, where a particularly troubling cluster of cases surfaced at a nursing home outside Seattle, said four more people had died from the coronavirus, bringing the number of deaths in the United States to six — all in Washington state.

In Seattle, King County Executive Dow Constantine declared an emergency and said the county is buying a hotel to use for patients who need to be isolated.

“We have moved to a new stage in the fight,” he said.

Over 100 cases have been confirmed in the United States, with more almost certain in the coming weeks. Thousands of test kits were on their way to state and local labs, and new guidelines intended to expand screening were enacted.

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Because the virus is not transmitted as easily as the flu, “it offers us a glimmer ... that this virus can be suppressed and contained,” said Dr. Mike Ryan, the WHO’s emergencies chief.

China reported just 202 new cases, its lowest daily count since Jan. 21, and the city at the heart of the crisis, Wuhan, said 2,570 patients were released. But in other places, problems continued to multiply.

South Korea, with the worst outbreak outside China, reported 599 new cases, bringing its total to 4,335. The death toll rose to 26.

In Iran, a confidant of Iran’s supreme leader died from the virus. The Islamic Republic confirmed 1,501 cases and 66 deaths, but many believe the true number is larger.

Italy’s caseload rose to 2,036, including 52 deaths. Officials said it could take up to two weeks before they know whether measures including quarantining 11 towns in northern Italy are slowing the spread.

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