HONG KONG: The coronavirus epidemic continued to escalate globally into the weekend, with Florida reporting the first two deaths on the U.S. East Coast and a number of countries across Asia experiencing their largest one-day jumps in new infections.
Japan logged 60 new cases on Friday, raising its tally to 408. Malaysia also reported its largest one-day increase with 28 new cases on Friday, lifting the Southeast Asian nation’s total to 83. The neighboring city-state of Singapore, meanwhile, said it discovered 13 new cases, also its biggest single-day increase, for a total of 130.
South Korea, the country worst hit by the coronavirus apart from China, said it found 483 new infections on Friday, bringing its total to 6,767 cases.
Italy remained the worst-hit country in Europe, reporting Friday evening that it logged 620 new coronavirus cases and 49 fatalities over the preceding 24-hour period. Its death toll of 197 is the highest outside of China.
In Iran, a further 21 people died of the virus, bringing the total dead to 145 on Saturday, health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said. The fatalities included newly elected lawmaker Fatemeh Rahbar. The number of confirmed cases also increased by 1,076 over the past 24 hours to 5,823 in total.
The two people who died in Florida had recently traveled abroad, according to the state’s Department of Health. Their deaths raised the number of fatalities in the U.S. to 16. Overall cases in the U.S. have shot past 300 to 338, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
The growth in infections around the world has worried China, where the epidemic first emerged late last year, about cases imported from abroad. The country’s National Health Commission logged 24 new imported cases on Friday, raising the total to 60. It counted 16 imported cases on Thursday and two such cases on Wednesday.
Municipal authorities in Beijing and other Chinese cities have in recent weeks stepped up health screenings of travelers arriving from abroad, even quarantining people who came from countries badly hit by the coronavirus—such as South Korea, Italy, Iran and Japan.
Overall, China continued to report success in slowing the domestic spread of Covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, which has sickened more than 100,000 people across the world—including more than 80,000 in China.
Chinese authorities logged 99 new cases on Friday, the lowest one-day figure since the country’s health commission started disclosing nationwide data on new infections in late January. The commission counted 28 deaths on Friday, raising China’s death toll to 3,070.
In a sign of Beijing’s growing confidence in overcoming the epidemic, Chinese President Xi Jinping sought to refocus the Communist Party’s attention on his signature campaign to eradicate extreme poverty, which was meant to conclude by the end of this year.
“The epidemic, like a natural disaster, will affect the progress in reducing poverty,” Mr. Xi said. “We must take effective measures to reduce the epidemic’s impact to a minimum.”
The fast spread of the new virus has suppressed business activity and trade, rattling markets.
hina on Saturday said its exports and imports tumbled in the first two months of the year. Official data showed exports plunged 17.2% in January and February compared with a year earlier, while imports dropped 4.0%. The poor showing followed official reports last week of a deep drop in the country’s manufacturing and service sectors.
Even as China struggles to ramp up production, it faces new pressures as the coronavirus epidemic spreads around the globe, depressing demand for Chinese-made goods. Exporters surveyed by China’s Ministry of Commerce said many foreign customers have suspended purchases or canceled orders.
Egypt’s authorities said Friday they detected 12 new coronavirus cases on a Nile cruise ship, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 15 so far.
The ship has been evacuated, according to state media. The 12 cases were Egyptians who worked on the ship and who have been transferred to an isolated hospital, while others who were on the ship are being quarantined for 14 days.
A Taiwanese woman, who had previously been on board the ship, was diagnosed with the virus upon returning home and is suspected of infecting others on the ship, health ministry spokesperson Khaled Megahed said Friday.
Write to Chun Han Wong at email@example.com