China’s National Health Commission reported on Friday at least 44 new deaths from the coronavirus infection as of the end of Thursday, bringing to 2,788 the number of fatalities nationwide.
The agency also reported 327 new confirmed cases during the same period, down from 433 on Wednesday, raising the total number of infections to 78,824.
Most of the reported new deaths and infections were from the province of Hubei, the epicentre of the deadly disease.
Meanwhile, South Korea reported 256 new coronavirus cases on Friday, bringing the total number of infected in the country to 2,022.
In the United States, public health officials were retracing the steps of a Northern California woman on Thursday believed to be the first person in the US to contract the highly contagious coronavirus without having travelled internationally, or coming into close contact with anyone who had.
Hopes that the virus would be contained to China vanished, with countries beginning to stockpile medical equipment and investors taking flight in expectation of a global recession.
Here are the latest updates:
Friday, February 28
Lithuania confirms first case of coronavirus
Lithuania’s government has reported on Friday the country’s first confirmed case of coronavirus, as the disease continues to spread rapidly worldwide.
New Zealand limits entry of travellers from Iran
New Zealand said on Friday that it was placing temporary restrictions on incoming travellers from Iran as a precautionary measure to protect against the coronavirus outbreak.
“This means people will not be able to travel from Iran to New Zealand and anyone who has been in Iran in the last 14 days will need to self-isolate,” Health Minister David Clark said in a statement.
The death toll in Iran from coronavirus had risen to 26, by far the highest number outside China.
K-pop group BTS cancel concerts over coronavirus scare
K-pop megastars BTS on Friday cancelled four Seoul concerts due in April as the number of novel coronavirus cases in South Korea passed 2,000.
The seven-piece boy band – currently one of the biggest acts in the world – had scheduled four gigs at the capital’s Olympic Stadium to promote their new album, Map of the Soul: 7.
More than 200,000 fans were expected to attend, their agency Big Hit Entertainment said in a statement, with “a number of global production companies and a large group of expert international crew” also involved.
Tokyo Disneyland to close through mid-March on coronavirus concerns
Tokyo Disneyland will be closed starting on Saturday through to March 15 amid an outbreak of coronavirus infections in Japan, operator Oriental Land Co Ltd said on Friday.
Both Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea will be affected, the company said.
The move comes after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for all schools to close to stop the coronavirus from spreading. The government has also urged that big gatherings and sports events be scrapped or curtailed for two weeks.
Nigeria reports first case of coronavirus in sub-Saharan Africa
Nigeria has reported on Friday that a coronavirus case was detected in the country – the first in the sub-Saharan African region.
South Korea reports 256 new coronavirus cases, total 2,022 – KCDC
South Korea reported 256 new coronavirus cases on Friday, bringing the total number of infected in the country to 2,022, the Korea Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention said.
Of the new cases, 182 were in the southeastern city of Daegu, the location of a church at the centre of South Korea’s outbreak, the KCDC said in a statement.
The death toll from the virus stood at 13, unchanged from the day earlier.
The coronavirus, which originated in China, has rapidly spread to more than 40 other countries and territories.
A worker disinfects journalists visiting the Mengniu dairy factory in Beijing on Thursday [Ng Han Guan/AP]
US grants sanctions waiver for humanitarian trade to Iran
The US on Thursday granted a licence to allow for certain humanitarian trade transactions with Iran’s sanctioned central bank, a move it said was in step with the formalisation of a Swiss humanitarian trade channel.
The newly created channel, which the US Treasury Department said became fully operational on Thursday as it granted the licence, would allow for companies to send food, medicine and other critical supplies to Iran.
This comes as Iran is grappling with a rapidly increasing number of coronavirus cases which have already killed at least two dozen people.
Coronavirus risk to Americans low, but can change: US health secretary
The risk to American people from coronavirus is low, but that could change, US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said on Thursday.
“We have really been able to keep the risk to the Americans low right now so that everyday Americans don’t need to be worried, but that can change and that’s why it’s important for all of us to prepare,” Azar said at a White House event with President Donald Trump.
Click here to read updates from Thursday, February 27.