February 27, 2020 / 4:30 AM / a month ago

Latest on coronavirus spreading in China and beyond

(Reuters) - The rapid spread of the coronavirus increased fears of a pandemic on Friday, with six countries reporting their first cases and the World Health Organization (WHO) raising its global spread and impact risk alert to “very high”.

FILE PHOTO: The ultrastructural morphology exhibited by the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China, is seen in an illustration released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. January 29, 2020. Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM/CDC/Handout via REUTERS

**Four more people have died in Italy from coronavirus, the civil protection agency said on Friday, bringing the total to 21, while the number of those testing positive for the illness jumped to 821 from 650 the day before.

**In Europe, Germany warned of an impending epidemic and Greece, a gateway for refugees from the Middle East, announced tighter border controls. Germany has nearly 60 cases, France about 38 and Spain 23, according to a Reuters count.

**A man who had been aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship has become the first British national to die from the coronavirus.

**Iran announced on Friday the closure of all schools for three days from Saturday as its death toll rose to 34 with 388 people infected.

**South Korea reported its largest daily increase yet as the total number of infections rose by 571 to 2,337 on Friday. The death toll stood at 13, unchanged from a day earlier.

**Mainland China - where the virus originated late last year - reported 327 new cases on Friday, the lowest since Jan. 23.

**The coronavirus outbreak is “getting bigger”, the World Health Organization said on Friday after Nigeria confirmed sub-Saharan Africa’s first case, reiterating its warning that the virus could reach most “if not all countries”.

**The Italian man who was confirmed as Nigeria’s first case was in the country for almost two full days before being isolated, traveled through Lagos and visited another state.

**Lithuania, Belarus, Azerbaijan and New Zealand reported their first cases on Friday. Romania confirmed two more cases following its first on Wednesday and Israel reported its second infection.

**Guests at two Abu Dhabi hotels who interacted with two Italian professional cyclists with coronavirus have been placed under quarantine in the hotels.

**Three small groups of guests left a Tenerife hotel on Friday on its fourth day of quarantine and at least two people could be seen leaving in an ambulance, but around 700 holidaymakers remained in the compound.

**Japan’s confirmed cases topped 200 on Friday, including four deaths. Working parents, local authorities, companies were stunned by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s call to close schools and Hokkaido prefecture declared state of emergency.

**The virus has caused nearly 80,000 infections and almost 2,800 deaths, according official Chinese figures. It has spread to another 46 countries, where about 3,700 cases and 57 deaths have been reported, according to the World Health Organization.

**Recovered patients who were discharged from hospitalization but later tested positive again have been found not to be infectious, an official at China’s National Health Commission said on Friday.

**The United States asked its military in Saudi Arabia to avoid crowded venues including malls and cinemas, according to a document from the U.S. embassy seen by Reuters on Friday.

**Cyprus will shut four checkpoints linking the two sides of the ethnically-split island for seven days as a precaution against the spread of the virus.

**Russia on Friday temporarily barred Iranians from entering the country and said it would also restrict the entry of South Koreans from March 1 as a precaution.

**Vietnam plans to suspend visa-free travel for South Koreans starting on Saturday.

**Hong Kong authorities quarantined a dog of a coronavirus patient after it tested “weak positive” for the virus, but said they did not yet have evidence that it can be transmitted to pets.

**Switzerland joined countries banning big events, forcing cancellations of next week’s Geneva international car show and all of the weekend’s football matches in the Swiss league.

**Tokyo Disneyland and Osaka-based theme park Universal Studios Japan will be closed from Saturday to March 15, while Tokyo Olympics organizers will make a call next week on how they plan to hold the ceremonial torch relay.

**Coronavirus panic sent world share markets skidding again on Friday, compounding their worst crash since the 2008 global financial crisis and pushing the week’s wipeout in value terms to $5 trillion. [MKTS/GLOB]

Compiled by Amy Caren Daniel, Sarah Morland, Milla Nissi and Shailesh Kuber

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