U.S. death toll climbs to 6 as viral crisis eases in China

Monday, March 2, 2020

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The death toll from the coronavirus in the U.S. climbed to six Monday and the disease spread to ever more countries and world capitals, even as new cases in China dropped to their lowest level in six weeks.

A shift in the crisis appeared to be taking shape, as hundreds of patients were released from hospitals at the epicenter of the outbreak in China and the World Health Organization reported that nine times more cases were reported outside the country than inside it over the past 24 hours.

At the same time, the virus popped up for the first time in New York, Moscow and Berlin, and clusters of the disease surged around the world. In the U.S., health officials announced four more people died, bringing the total to six, all in Washington state, where researchers said the virus may have been circulating undetected for weeks.

The global death toll pushed past 3,000, and the number of people infected topped 89,000, with fastexpanding outbreaks in South Korea, Italy and Iran.

Dr. Mike Ryan, the WHO’s chief of emergencies, pointed out that even regions that have taken less aggressive measures than the extraordinary lockdowns implemented by China have managed to keep the virus in check. Ryan said that because COVID-19 is not as easily transmitted as the flu, “it offers us a glimmer ... that this virus can be suppressed and contained.”

Around the world, the virus reshaped people’s routines, both at home and at work, from the millions of Japanese schoolchildren facing four weeks without class to special voting booths for Israelis under quarantine. Mobile hospitals were planned in Iran, and the “Mona Lisa” hung in a vacant room of the shuttered Louvre in Paris.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development warned that the world economy could contract this quarter for the first time since the international financial crisis more than a decade ago.

“Global economic prospects remain subdued and very uncertain,” the agency said.

Wall Street nonetheless opened higher after the worst week for stocks since the 2008 crisis.

In New York City, a health care worker who had returned from Iran was in quarantine at home, according to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. He said the city is ramping up preparations and cautioned against panic. The virus has reached at least 10 states, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The fear, in my opinion, is outpacing reason at this point,” Cuomo told “CBS This Morning.”

Four Americans who were quarantined in Nebraska after being exposed on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan were released. “My only question is, will my friends shun me after this?” said one of the, Joanne Kirkland.

Malaysia, Tunisia, Senegal, Jordan and Portugal were among the newest places to detect the virus. More than 60 countries, including nine of the 10 most populous, have reported infections.

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