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Coronavirus: Worst-hit countries boost containment efforts

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The worst-hit countries are intensifying their efforts to contain the deadly coronavirus as the number of cases globally surpassed 80,000.

In South Korea, there have been 60 new infections, taking the total to nearly 900. Americans have been warned against all but essential travel to the nation.

Italy and Iran are both battling to contain outbreaks of the virus.

In Japan shares slumped on Tuesday, reacting to a global plunge on Monday sparked by fear of further outbreaks.

Wall Street and London had both suffered big drops.

The World Health Organization said on Monday the world should do more to prepare for a possible pandemic – a situation where an infectious disease spreads easily between people in many countries.

The WHO said it was too early to label the outbreak as such, but countries should be "in a phase of preparedness".

More cases of the virus, which causes respiratory disease Covid-19, continue to emerge. The proportion of infected people who die from Covid-19 appears to be between 1% and 2%, although the WHO cautions that the mortality rate is not known yet.

What's the latest from China?

The Chinese government has announced a ban on the consumption of wild animals and a crackdown on the hunting, transportation and trade of prohibited species, state media say.

It is thought that the outbreak originated at a market in the city of Wuhan, Hubei province, selling wild animals.

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China also said it would postpone the annual meeting of the National People's Congress next month, to "continue the efforts" against the coronavirus.

On Monday, the country reported 508 new infections, compared with 409 on Sunday. The bulk of the new cases were in Wuhan.

The death toll in China rose by 71 to 2,663. More than 77,000 people in the country have been infected.

The state-run Global Times reported that scientists had made progress on developing an oral vaccine, with a professor at Tianjin University taking four doses with no side effects.

But experts warn that until full clinical trials have taken place it is unclear how safe or effective the vaccines will be and it could still be months before they can be made widely available.

What about other countries?

In South Korea, a ninth person has died after contracting the virus.

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Nearly 900 people are confirmed to have been infected across the country. Most of them are members of the secretive religious sect known as the Shincheonji Church of Jesus.

Health authorities have now been given the details of a quarter of a million members of the church to check they have no symptoms of the virus.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned Americans to avoid all but essential travel to the country.

Japan on Tuesday urged companies to introduce staggered working hours and teleconferencing to prevent the spread of the virus, the country's NHK broadcaster reported.

Japan has now confirmed more than 850 infected people, most of them on the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise liner.

NHK also reported a fourth death among the ship's passengers.

Italy has the largest number of cases in Europe, 229, and announced a series of drastic measures over the weekend to try to contain the outbreak.

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In the regions of Lombardy and Veneto, a lock-down is in place in several small towns. For the next two weeks, 50,000 residents will not be able to leave without special permission.

A number of top-flight football matches will be played in empty stadiums next weekend.

Iran has introduced school closures and the daily disinfecting of the Tehran underground system. Local media quoted the head of a university in Saveh as saying two more people had died, raising the nation's fatalities to 14, although this has not been officially confirmed.

What did the WHO say?

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters on Monday that the number of new cases in recent days in Iran, Italy and South Korea Read More – Source

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