Deaths continue to mount from the ongoing coronavirus epidemic, with Australia, Thailand and Japan reporting new fatalities.In Australia, a 78-year-old man who had been quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship died in Perth, becoming that country’s first outbreak fatality, while in Thailand, a 35-year-old salesman described as having had contact with foreign tourists became that country’s first death from the disease. In Japan, a man in his 70s died on the northern island of Hokkaido.U.S. President Donald Trump said Saturday the United States was prepared for any circumstance arising from the coronavirus outbreak as U.S. health officials reported the first death in the U.S. from the virus.
While he said additional coronavirus cases in the United States were “likely” he said, “there is no reason to panic at all.”President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus in the press briefing room at the White House, Feb. 29, 2020, in Washington.Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Robert Redfield said there was “no evidence of a link to travel” in the case of the Washington state patient who died.
The governor of Washington state, Jay Inslee, declared a state of emergency Saturday, directing state agencies to use “all resources necessary” to respond to the virus outbreak.
The White House Saturday also announced tightened travel restrictions to Iran to include any foreign national who has visited the country in the last 14 days. Additionally, it raised to the highest level a travel advisory to avoid Italy and South Korea, countries most affected by the virus other than China.The spread of the virus has contributed to growing concern over the possibility of a global recession.
China reported Saturday that manufacturing activity declined dramatically in February, as the virus slowed the world’s second largest economy.In related news, there are indications that the economic slowdown in China caused by the outbreak has cut into pollution levels over that country.U.S. space agency NASA and the European Space Agency say they have found significant drops in nitrogen dioxide over China, pointing to “evidence that the change is at least partly related to the economic slowdown following the outbreak of coronavirus.”“This is the first time I have seen such a dramatic drop-off over such a wide area for a specific event,” said NASA air quality researcher Fei Liu.The two agencies said  Stocks reflect declines on monitors as people work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Feb. 27, 2020.Global stock prices finished the week sharply lower Friday, ending one of the worst weeks for world markets since the 2008 financial crisis.  In the Mideast, where markets opened Sunday after their Friday-Saturday weekend, stocks plunged, hit by fears the economic slowdown could hit demand for oil supplies.
Qatar reported its first case of the virus Saturday, three days after leader Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani ordered the evacuation of its citizens from Iran, the Middle East’s epicenter of the outbreak.French lab scientists in protective suits work on developing a quick test for detecting the coronavirus, at Pasteur Institute in Paris, France, Feb. 6, 2020.France announced 16 new coronavirus cases Saturday and a temporary ban on all public gatherings of more than 5,000 people, one day after Mexico, Nigeria, New Zealand, Lithuania, Belarus, Azerbaijan and Iceland reported their first cases.
In Italy, the civil protection agency said eight more patients had died, bringing the total deaths in the country to 29.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration moved Saturday to accelerate hospitals’ abilities to test for the deadly virus. The agency issued guidelines “enabling laboratories to use tests they develop faster in order to achieve more rapid testing capacity in the United States.”This undated photo provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows CDC’s laboratory test kit for the new coronavirus.The World Health Organization raised its global risk assessment of the coronavirus to its highest level on Friday.
“We have now increased our assessment of the risk of spread and the risk of impact of COVID-19 to very high at global level,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters.
China, where the virus originated, reported 523 new cases and 35 deaths Sunday. China has a total of 79,824 cases.
South Korea, the hardest-hit country outside China, reported the biggest surge Saturday with 376 new cases, raising the total to 3,526.
Iran confirmed 593 cases and 43 deaths, the highest death toll outside China.
The WHO said Saturday that more than 85,000 people worldwide have been infected in nearly 60 countries and that virus-related deaths topped 2,900.
The worldwide outbreak has led government and companies around the globe to implement closures and restrictions.
Switzerland canceled next week’s Geneva international car show, an important event for the auto industry. Amazon.com, the world’s largest online retailer, told its employees to defer all nonessential travel.
Saudi Arabia has closed off Islam’s holiest sites in Mecca and Medina to foreign pilgrims.
In Japan, Tokyo Disneyland and Universal Studios Japan announced closures. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has ordered schools to close at least through March.
The United States and South Korea called off joint military drills.
In Germany, about 1,000 people are being quarantined in the country’s most populous state. The number of confirmed cases in Europe’s biggest economy exceeded 50.

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