COVID-19 outbreak: South Korea reports more new cases than China for 1st time

The latest: 

  • British passenger who was aboard Diamond Princess cruise ship dies from virus. 
  • South Korea reports 571 new cases in a day, surpassing China’s daily increase of 327 new cases.
  • Asian stock markets down amid growing fear over global spread of coronavirus.
  • Nigeria reports a case of COVID-19, the 1st reported case in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Quebec reports its 1st presumptive case. Read more about how Canada is preparing.

The world prepared for a coronavirus pandemic on Friday as hopes the disease could be contained to China vanished and investors dumped equities in expectation of a global recession.

South Korea reported 315 more virus cases, bringing its increase for the day to 571 and total number of infections to 2,337. For the first time, its daily increase surpassed that of mainland China, which reported 327 new cases — bringing its total cases to more than 78,800 with almost 2,800 deaths.

Asian stock markets plunged further Friday amid spreading virus fears, deepening a global rout after Wall Street endured its biggest one-day drop in nine years.

Investors had been confident the disease that emerged in China in December might be under control. But outbreaks in Italy, South Korea and Iran have fuelled fears the virus is turning into a global threat that might derail trade and industry.

“The outbreak is getting bigger,” WHO spokesperson Christian Lindmeier told reporters in Geneva.

“The scenario of the coronavirus reaching multiple countries, if not all countries around the world, is something we have been looking at and warning against since quite a while.”

The virus does not yet have a cure or a vaccine, and health experts say development of a vaccine would likely take at least a year. Here’s a look at what’s happening in some of the countries dealing with COVID-19.

Here’s what’s happening in Canada

From stocking up on supplies to changing travel plans, The National looks at how Canadians can prepare for a coronavirus outbreak and what may be unnecessary. 1:52

Quebec’s first presumptive case of the coronavirus was detected in a woman who recently returned from a trip to Iran, the provincial health minister said Thursday evening. 

The woman took a plane from Iran to Qatar before arriving at the Montreal airport on Monday, Health Minister Danielle McCann said at an impromptu news conference.

Earlier, Ontario reported a sixth case of COVID-19 on Thursday. The other seven cases in the country are in British Columbia.

Canada’s public health agency is taking stock of the need for personal protective equipment and other supplies to make sure there are enough to go around in case of a pandemic.

1st cases for Nigeria, New Zealand and Mexico

Nigeria’s health authorities reported the country’s first case of the new coronavirus in Lagos, the first confirmed appearance of the disease in sub-Saharan Africa. Cases of the virus were already confirmed in Egypt and Algeria in north Africa.

The Commissioner for Health for Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city, said Friday that an Italian citizen who entered Nigeria on Feb. 25 from Milan on a business trip fell ill the next day.

Commissioner Akin Abayomi said the man was transferred to Lagos State Biosecurity Facilities for isolation and testing. The patient was clinically stable with no serious symptoms and was being managed at the Infectious Disease Hospital in Yaba, Lagos.

He said officials were working to identify all of the man’s contacts since he arrived in Nigeria.

WATCH: Infectious disease doctor explains what’s happening with COVID-19

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch looks at the implications of COVID-19’s global reach and asymptomatic transmission of the disease. 2:18

Mexican authorities on Friday confirmed the first case of coronavirus in that country, in what is only the second case in Latin America. The first was reported in Brazil.

New Zealand also confirmed its first case, found in a person in their 60s who recently returned from Iran.

Here’s what’s happening in South Korea

South Korea and Japan are taking measures to curtail fear while trying to contain a rise of coronavirus cases. 2:00

South Korea said the southeastern city of Daegu and surrounding areas accounted for most of its new infections. Officials have been mobilizing public health tools to contain the outbreak to the Daegu area, but the gradual increase of cases elsewhere has raised concern that authorities are losing control of the virus.

Thirteen people have died so far in the country.

A Hyundai worker tested positive for the virus on Friday, leading to a suspension of production at one the automaker’s factories in the southeastern city of Ulsan.

The country’s National Assembly has passed a law strengthening the punishment for those violating self-isolation, more than tripling the fine and adding the possibility of a year in prison. The military also called off joint drills planned with U.S. troops.

Here’s what’s happening in Japan

Tokyo Disneyland will be closed starting Saturday through to March 15, its operator, Oriental Land Co., said on Friday. (Issei Kato/Reuters)

Kyodo, a local news outlet in Japan, reported Friday that a British traveller who was a passenger aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship died from the coronavirus. More than 700 people on the ship, including more than 50 Canadians, contracted the virus while on the ship, which was under quarantine at a Japanese port for two weeks.

The Japanese island of Hokkaido declared a state of emergency on Friday over the rapid spread of the new virus. The governor said the emergency will continue until mid-March and urged all residents to stay home this weekend, which he said is a critical time to keep the situation from worsening.

The number of cases in Hokkaido has risen rapidly in recent days to 63.

The country’s schools prepared to close for almost a month, in a move that would send nearly 13 million children home and leave few people untouched by the virus in the world’s third-biggest economy.

Sporting events and concerts in Japan have already been cancelled, and Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea said they, too, would close until mid-March. The closure of Disney resorts in Japan will last through March 15, their Japanese operator, Oriental Land Co., said Friday. Disney parks in Hong Kong and Shanghai remain closed.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had called for all schools to close until late March, though the decisions to do so were being made locally.

Here’s what’s happening in Iran and the Middle East

All schools in Iran will close for three days starting Saturday over coronavirus concerns, Iran’s health minister announced on state TV.

“Based on assessments it was felt that there was a need for closing all the schools in the country and for this reason all the schools in the country will be closed for three days starting from tomorrow,” Health Minister Saeed Namaki said.

Kianoush Jahanpour, a spokesperson for Iran’s Health Ministry, said on Friday the new coronavirus has killed 34 people amid 388 confirmed cases in Iran.

As case numbers increased in Iran this week and more countries reported cases with links to travel to Iran, questions emerged over whether the case count coming out of the country was accurate.

The new total pushes the confirmed cases of the virus in the Mideast above 500.

A major cycling race in the United Arab Emirates was cancelled Friday after two Italians tested positive for the new coronavirus, setting off a quarantine that also ensnared four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome of Britain.

Just a day earlier, Saudi Arabia took the unprecedented step of closing off Islam’s holiest sites to foreign pilgrims to stop the virus’s spread

Here’s what’s happening in Europe

A man wearing a protective mask is seen in the subway on Thursday in Milan. (Marco Di Laura/Getty Images)

In Europe, France’s reported cases doubled, Germany warned of an impending epidemic and Greece, a gateway for refugees from the Middle East, announced tighter border controls.

Switzerland joined countries banning big events, while the death toll in Italy, Europe’s worst-hit country, rose to 17 and the number testing positive increased by more than 200 to 655.

The United Kingdom now has 19 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus after Wales identified its first case and two new cases were found in England, health authorities said on Friday.

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