Coronavirus: latest developments worldwide

Wednesday February 26 2020

The situation improves in China while the list of countries hit globally grows and the WHO warns the world is "simply not ready". Here are the latest developments in the coronavirus crisis.

There are some 80,000 infections worldwide, including nearly 2,800 outside China and more than 2,700 deaths worldwide, according to the latest toll from the World Health Organization on Wednesday.

The number of deaths in China has declined, with 52 deaths in the last 24 hours, the lowest count in more than three weeks.

But the daily number of infections worldwide is higher than in China, the WHO said.

In its latest count some 40 people had died outside mainland China since the start of the epidemic.

Cases of the virus have appeared in five new countries: Algeria, Austria, Croatia, Greece and Switzerland, bringing the number of countries hit to around 40.


South Korea announces more than 1,000 infections -- by far the largest outside China -- and 12 deaths.

Italy, the hardest hit country in Europe, has more than 370 cases and 12 deaths.

Iran announces a total of 19 deaths and 139 infections, including the country's deputy health minister.

Praising China's drastic quarantine and containment measures, Bruce Aylward, leader of a joint WHO-China mission of experts, also warns other nations are "simply not ready" to contain the outbreak.

"You have to be ready to manage this at a larger scale... and it has to be done fast".

He warns the new coronavirus may be around "for months".

Gulf countries announce new measures to cut links with Iran -- the major hotspot in the Middle East -- to stop the spread.

In Europe, countries neighbouring Italy decide to keep their borders open despite the spread of the virus to Tuscany, Sicily and Liguria. But several governments encourage their nationals to postpone trips.

In the United States, health authorities urge local governments, businesses and schools to develop plans such as cancelling mass gatherings or switching to teleworking.

Ireland's health ministry recommends cancelling the country's Six Nations rugby match against Italy to be held in Dublin on March 7.

Japan's sumo governing body announces it will hold an emergency meeting to decide whether to go ahead with a major tournament in Osaka scheduled to start on March 8.

But organisers of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics say preparations are "continuing as planned".

Several major companies say their sales will be hit by the epidemic, including British drinks group Diageo, the maker of Guinness stout and Smirnoff vodka, and French food giant Danone.

German airline Lufthansa says it will freeze new hires and offer unpaid leave to employees.