Coronavirus live updates: IMF lowers global growth forecast; cases surge in South Korea

By | February 22, 2020

Workers assemble cars at the factory of Chang’an Automobile in Dingzhou, north China’s Hebei Province, Feb. 16, 2020.

Xinhua News Agency

This is a live blog. Please check back for updates.

All times below are in U.S. Eastern time.

The World Health Organization confirmed that over 77,794 people are infected with the coronavirus, with 2,348 deaths in China and 11 deaths outside of China.

3:58 pm: Virus cases surge in South Korea

The number of coronavirus cases tripled in South Korea on Saturday, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with the number of confirmed cases in the country surging to 433 from 156 over a 24-hour period. The surge in cases adds to fears among health officials that the virus, which has spread to 28 countries, could turn into a global pandemic.

More than half of the cases in South Korea are connected to the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, and over a thousand members have reported potential symptoms of the virus. The area surrounding the Christian sect’s church in Daegu, a major city in South Korea, has become empty as businesses there shutter.

12:20 pm: WHO fears spread of virus to countries in Africa

World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus met with African officials from Geneva on Saturday morning to urge them to prepare for a potential spread of the coronavirus across Africa.

Just one case has been confirmed on the continent, but health officials fear the increasing global spread of the virus, especially to countries with less developed health-care systems.

WHO says it has shipped more than 30,000 sets of personal protective equipment to six countries in Africa, and is set to ship 60,000 more sets to 19 countries in upcoming weeks. It has also provided online training courses to 11,000 African health workers, as well as advice to countries on how to conduct screening, testing and treatment.

7:00 am: IMF says virus outbreak will slow global growth

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Saturday that the virus will likely cut off 0.1% from global growth, and drag down growth for China’s economy to 5.6%, which is 0.4% lower from its January outlook.

“But we are also looking at more dire scenarios where the spread of the virus continues for longer and more globally, and the growth consequences are more protracted,” said International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva at the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.

6:30 am: Iran reports fifth death among 10 new confirmed cases

Iranian health authorities said on Saturday that five people are now dead out of the 28 infected with the virus, which may have reached most of Iran’s major cities, including Tehran.

The fifth death was among the 10 new confirmed cases of the virus in Iran. The reported cases there suggest that the virus is being transmitted much farther than previously known or acknowledged. Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour, who made the announcement on state television, did not say when the fifth person died.

The rise in virus cases outside of China is threatening to turn the outbreak into a global pandemic, with more countries starting to shut down travel across borders.

2:46 am: China transportation sector to resume operations by late February or early March

China’s transportation sector is expected to start up operations again in late February or early March, a Ministry of Transport official told reporters on Saturday. Delivery service companies China Post, SF Express and jd.com have all resumed operations. The services are in high demand during the outbreak as people would prefer to order food and supplies online or have them delivered.

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