Virus cases top 100,000 in 90 countries as markets take dive

Crossing more borders, the new coronavirus hit a milestone, infecting more than 100,000 people worldwide as it wove itself deeper into the daily lives of millions, infecting the powerful, the unprotected poor and vast masses in between.
The virus, which has killed more than 3,400 people and emerged in more than 90 countries, edged into more US states on Friday and even breached the halls of the Vatican. It forced mosques in Iran and beyond to halt weekly Muslim prayers, blocked pilgrims from Jesus’ birthplace in Bethlehem and upended Japan’s plans for the Olympic torch parade.

As financial markets dived again, repercussions from the virus also rattled livelihoods in the real economy.
“Who is going to feed their families?” asked Elias al-Arja, head of a hotel owners’ union in Bethlehem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where tourists have been banned and the storied Church of the Nativity was shuttered.

At the White House, President Donald Trump signed a US$8.3 billion bill to fight the coronavirus a day after Italy said it would double its own spending to ¤7.5 billion ($8.5 billion). In Geneva, the UN health agency said it had received applications for 40 possible virus tests, had 20 vaccine candidates in development and reported that numerous clinical trials of experimental drugs for the new coronavirus were under way.
“We’re all in this together. We all have a role to play,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, chief of the World Health Organization, urging more global cooperation from the business world and solidarity with the poorest.

The news wasn’t all bad: more than half of those who contracted the virus have now recovered. It’s retreating in China, where it first emerged, and in nearby South Korea. China on Saturday morning reported just 99 new cases, the first time it has had only a double digit increase since January 20. It also reported another 28 deaths. Overall, China now counts 22,177 patients currently in treatment, while it has released 55,404. South Korea on Saturday morning reported 174 new cases. The virus continued popping up in new places, however, with countries like Colombia and Togo reporting their first confirmed cases. Questions swirled around whether Iran could control its outbreak, as the number of reported infections jumped beyond 4,700 on Friday, with 124 deaths. Iran set up checkpoints to limit travel and had firefighters spray disinfectant on an 18-kilometer stretch of Tehran’s most famous avenue.

“It would be great if they did it every day,” grocery store owner Reza Razaienejad said. “It should not be just a one-time thing.”
The 100,000 figure of global infections is largely symbolic, but dwarfs other major outbreaks in recent decades, such as SARS, MERS and Ebola. The virus is still much less widespread than annual flu epidemics, which result in up to five million annual severe cases around the world and from 290,000 to 650,000 deaths annually, according to WHO. But the epidemic’s economic impact snowballed, with world stocks and the price of oil dropping sharply again Friday.

The travel decline and a broader economic downturn linked to the outbreak threatened to hit already-struggling communities for months. In response to plummeting demand, German airline Lufthansa announced a reduction of its capacity in coming weeks to as much as 50 percent of pre-coronavirus outbreak levels. Slovakia banned all flights to and from Italy.
The head of the UN’s food agency, the World Food Program, warned of potential for “absolute devastation” as the outbreak’s effects ripple through Africa and the Middle East.

Source: https://www.mmtimes.com/news/virus-cases-top-100000-90-countries-markets-take-dive.html

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