Coronavirus Spreading Fast Outside China

The new coronavirus appears to now be spreading much more rapidly outside China than within, and airports in hard-hit countries were ramping up screening of travelers, Reuters informs.

World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said almost eight times as many cases had been reported outside China as inside in the previous 24 hours, adding that the risk of coronavirus spreading was now very high at a global level.

At a briefing in Geneva, he said outbreaks in South Korea, Italy, Iran and Japan were the greatest concern, but that there was evidence that close surveillance was working in South Korea, the worst affected country outside China, and the epidemic could be contained there.

Vice President Mike Pence said that within 12 hours, airports across South Korea and Italy will screen all travelers for coronavirus. Pence, who has been put in charge of the U.S. response to the outbreak, also said U.S. travel restrictions may expand.

The head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said U.S. industry expects to have the capacity to perform 1 million coronavirus tests by the end of the week.

The global death toll exceeded 3,000, with the number of dead in Italy jumping by 18 to 52. Latvia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal and Morocco reported cases for the first time, bringing the total to more than 60 countries with the illness known as COVID-19.

But equity markets surged after their worst plunge since the 2008 financial crisis last week, encouraged by the prospect of government action to stem the economic impact. In the United States, the Dow jumped nearly 1,300 points, or 5%, while the S&P 500 closed 4.6% higher.

Finance ministers of the G7 group of leading industrialized democracies were expected to discuss measures in a conference call on Tuesday, sources told Reuters.

Oil prices jumped 4% amid hopes of a deeper output cut by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

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