New cases in China, S.Korea slow; Italy-wide lockdown

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Infections climbed across Europe and Italy attempted a nationwide lockdown, but the situation in Asia showed improvements. China announced only 19 new cases, the lowest since Jan 18 according to official figures, while South Korea added 131 new infections, extending a declining trend. Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the coronavirus epicentre of Wuhan for the first time since the disease emerged. Trump said he will seek a payroll tax cut and “substantial relief” for industries that have been hit by the coronavirus. The economic package will leave out for now any aid for the travel industry, according to people familiar with the matter, raising the risk that the plan won’t go far enough to satisfy investors.

China reported 19 additional coronavirus cases as of March 9, according to a statement from the National Health Commission, bringing the total number of infections to 80,754. The new cases are the lowest since Jan 18. The death toll in China rose by 17 to 3,136, with all of the latest fatalities occurring in Hubei. Discharged patients rose by 1,297 to a total of 59,897.

The spread of the new coronavirus is very close to being a pandemic after the disease has reached more than 100 countries, Mike Ryan, head of the World Health Organization’s Health Emergencies Program, said at a daily briefing. “The threat of a pandemic has become very real,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “But it would be the first pandemic in history that could be controlled.” The mortality rate for people 80 and over exceeds 20%, said Maria Van Kerkhove, a WHO epidemiologist, citing figures from the WHO’s mission to China.

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