The coronavirus claimed its first victim in the U.S. Saturday as the number of cases shot up in Iran, Italy and South Korea and the spreading outbreak continued to shake the global economy.
The virus altered daily life around the world as governments moved to combat the contagion. Islam's holiest sites were closed to foreign pilgrims, while professional baseball teams played in deserted stadiums in Japan and officials in France advised residents to forgo customary greeting kisses.
The list of countries touched by the virus climbed to nearly 60, with Ireland and Ecuador among the countries reporting their first cases Saturday. More than 85,000 people worldwide have contracted the virus, with deaths topping 2,900.
A man in his 50s with underlying health conditions became the first coronavirus death on U.S. soil. Officials say they aren't sure how the man in suburban Seattle acquired the virus, as he had not traveled to any affected areas.
"Additional cases in the United States are likely, but healthy individuals should be able to fully recover," President Donald Trump said at a Saturday briefing, where officials announced heightened warnings about travel to certain regions of Italy and South Korea as well as a ban on travel to Iran.
Many cases of the virus have been relatively mild, and some of those infected are believed to show no symptoms at all. But that can allow for easier spread, and concern is mounting that prolonged quarantines, supply chain disruptions and a sharp reduction in tourism and business travel could weaken the global economy or even cause a recession.
South Korea, the second hardest hit country after China, reported 813 new cases Saturday — the highest daily jump since confirming its first patient in late January and raising its total to 3,150.
Italian authorities say the country now has more than 1,100 coronavirus cases, with 29 deaths so far.
Iran is preparing for the possibility of "tens of thousands" of people getting tested for the virus as the number of confirmed cases spiked again Saturday, an official said. So far, the virus and the COVID-19 illness it causes have killed 43 people out of 593 confirmed cases in Iran.
As governments scrambled to control the spread and businesses wrestled with interruptions, researchers working to better understand the disease reported that the death rate may be lower than initially feared as more mild cases are counted.
A study by Chinese researchers published Friday in the New England Journal of Medicine analyzing 1,099 patients at more than 500 hospitals throughout China calculated a death rate of 1.4%, substantially lower than earlier studies that focused on patients in Wuhan, where it started and has been most severe.
Assuming there are many more cases with no or very mild symptoms, "the case fatality rate may be considerably less than 1%," U.S. health officials wrote in an editorial in the journal.
That would make the new virus more like a severe seasonal flu than a disease similar to its genetic cousins SARS, severe acute respiratory syndrome, or MERS, Middle East respiratory syndrome.
Evidence of the virus' economic toll continued to mount Saturday, with a new report showing a sharp decline in Chinese manufacturing in February after efforts to contain the virus shut down much of the world's second-largest economy.
The survey, coming as global stock markets fall sharply on fears that the virus will spread abroad, adds to mounting evidence of the vast cost of the disease that emerged in central China in December and its economic impact worldwide.
The monthly purchasing managers' index issued by the Chinese statistics agency and an industry group fell to 35.7 from January's 50 on a 100-point scale on which numbers below 50 indicate activity contracting.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced a 270 billion yen ($2.5 billion) emergency economic package to help fight the virus. Abe said at a news conference that Japan is at critical juncture to determine whether the country can keep the outbreak under control ahead of the Tokyo summer Olympics.
Abe, whose announcement this past week of a plan to close all schools for more than a month through the end of the Japanese academic year sparked public criticism, said the emergency package includes financial support for parents and their employers affected by the closures.
"Frankly speaking, this battle cannot be won solely by the efforts of the government," Abe said Saturday. "We cannot do it without understanding and cooperation from every one of you, including medical institutions, families, companies and local governments."
Even in isolated, sanctions-hit North Korea, leader Kim Jong Un called for stronger anti-virus efforts to guard against COVID-19, saying there will be "serious consequences" if the illness spreads to the country.
China has seen a slowdown in new infections and on Saturday morning reported 427 new cases over the past 24 hours along with 47 additional deaths. The city at the epicenter of the outbreak, Wuhan, accounted for the bulk of both. The ruling party is striving to restore public and business confidence and avert a deeper economic downturn and politically risky job losses after weeks of disruptions due to the viral outbreak.
In other areas caught up in the outbreak, eerie scenes met those who ventured outside.
Streets were deserted in the city of Sapporo on Japan's northernmost main island of Hokkaido, where a state of emergency was issued until mid-March. Tokyo Disneyland and Universal Studios Japan announced they would close, and big events were canceled, including a concert series by the K-pop group BTS.
In France, the archbishop of Paris advised parish priests not to administer communion by placing the sacramental bread in worshippers' mouths. Instead, priests were told to place the bread in their hands. The French government cancelled large indoor events.
Saudi Arabia closed off Islam's holiest sites in Mecca and Medina to foreign pilgrims, disrupting travel for thousands of Muslims already headed to the kingdom and potentially affecting plans later this year for millions more ahead of the fasting month of Ramadan and the annual hajj pilgrimage.
Tourist arrivals in Thailand are down 50% compared with a year ago, and in Italy — which has the most reported cases of any country outside of Asia — hotel bookings are falling and Premier Giuseppe Conte raised the specter of recession.
The head of the World Health Organization on Friday announced that the risk of the virus spreading worldwide was "very high," while U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the "window of opportunity" for containing the virus was narrowing.
Economists have forecast global growth will slip to 2.4% this year, the slowest since the Great Recession in 2009, and down from earlier expectations closer to 3%. For the United States, estimates are falling to as low as 1.7% growth this year, down from 2.3% in 2019.
Despite anxieties about a wider outbreak in the U.S., Trump has defended measures taken and lashed out at Democrats who have questioned his handling of the threat.
At a political rally Friday night in North Charleston, South Carolina, Trump asserted that Democratic complaints about his handling of the virus threat are "their new hoax," echoing similar past complaints by the president about the Russia investigation and his impeachment.
Trump accused Democrats of "politicizing" the coronavirus threat and boasted about preventive steps he's ordered in an attempt to keep the virus from spreading across the United States.
A viral outbreak that began in China has infected more than 86,000 people globally. The World Health Organization has named the illness COVID-19, referring to its origin late last year and the coronavirus that causes it.
The latest figures, based on WHO and national counts:
— Mainland China: 2,870 deaths among 79,824 cases, mostly in the central province of Hubei
— Hong Kong: 94 cases, 2 deaths
— Macao: 10 cases
— South Korea: 3,526 cases, 17 deaths
— Italy: 1,128 cases, 29 deaths
— Japan: 947 cases, including 705 from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, 11 deaths
— Iran: 593 cases, 43 deaths
— France: 100 cases, 2 deaths
— Singapore: 98
— Germany: 66
— United States: 62 cases, 1 death
— Spain: 46
— Kuwait: 45
— Thailand: 42
— Taiwan: 39 cases, 1 death
— Bahrain: 38
— Malaysia: 24
— Australia: 23
— United Kingdom: 23 cases, 1 death
— Canada: 20
— United Arab Emirates: 19
— Vietnam: 16
— Norway: 15
— Iraq: 13
— Sweden: 13
— Switzerland: 10
— Lebanon: 7
— Netherlands: 7
— Croatia: 6
— Oman: 6
— Austria: 5
— Israel: 5
— Russia: 5
— Greece: 4
— Mexico: 4
— Pakistan: 4
— Finland: 3
— India: 3
— Philippines: 3 cases, 1 death
— Romania: 3
— Brazil: 2
— Denmark: 2
— Georgia: 2
— Algeria: 1
— Afghanistan: 1
— Azerbaijan: 1
— Belarus: 1
— Belgium: 1
— Cambodia: 1
— Ecuador: 1
— Egypt: 1
— Estonia: 1
— Iceland: 1
— Ireland: 1
— Lithuania: 1
— Monaco: 1
— Nepal: 1
— New Zealand: 1
— Nigeria: 1
— North Macedonia: 1
— Qatar: 1
— San Marino: 1
— Sri Lanka: 1
The U.S. is banning travel to Iran in response to the outbreak of the new coronavirus and elevating travel warnings to regions of Italy and South Korea.
Vice President Mike Pence announced the new restrictions and warnings as President Donald Trump said 22 people in the U.S. have been stricken by the new coronavirus, including four deemed "very ill" and that additional cases are "likely." Trump added that he was considering additional restrictions, including closing the U.S. border with Mexico in response to the virus' spread.
"We're thinking about all borders," Trump said.
Trump provided an update on the virus from the White House press briefing room for the second time this week after the first reported U.S. death Saturday, of a woman he described as being in her late 50s and having a high medical risk. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there was "no evidence of link to travel" in the case of the woman who died.
On Friday, health officials confirmed a second case of coronavirus in the U.S. in a person who didn't travel internationally or have close contact with anyone who had the virus. The U.S. has a total of about 60 confirmed cases. Trump's tally appeared to exclude cases of Americans repatriated from two cruise ships in Asia.
Trump said healthy Americans should be able to recover if they contract the new virus, as he tried to reassure Americans and global markets spooked by the virus threat.
He encouraged Americans not to alter their daily routines, saying the country is "super prepared" for a wider outbreak, adding "there's no reason to panic at all."
He added he wasn't altering his routine either. "You're talking about 22 people right now in this whole very vast country. I think we'll be in very good shape."
Trump spoke a day after he denounced criticism of his response to the threat as a "hoax" cooked up by his political enemies. Speaking at a rally in South Carolina he accused Democrats of "politicizing" the coronavirus threat and boasted about preventive steps he's ordered in an attempt to keep the virus that originated in China from spreading across the United States. Those steps include barring entry by most foreign nationals who had recently visited China.
"They tried the impeachment hoax. ... This is their new hoax," Trump said of Democratic denunciations of his administration's coronavirus response.
Trump said Saturday he was not trying to minimize the threat of the virus.
"Again, the hoax was used in respect to Democrats and what they were saying," he said.
Some Democrats have said Trump could have acted sooner to bolster the U.S. response to the virus. Democratic and Republican lawmakers also have said his request for an additional $2.5 billion to defend against the virus isn't enough. They've signaled they will provide substantially more funding.
Trump said Democrats want him to fail and argued that steps he's taken so far have kept cases to a minimum and prevented virus deaths in the U.S.
As global markets plunged this week, Trump predicted they will come back, and encouraged the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates.
"The markets will all come back," he said. "I think the Fed has a very important role, especially psychological. If you look at it, the Fed has a massive impact."
The patter of tiny feet is coming to Downing Street.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson revealed Saturday that he and his girlfriend, Carrie Symonds, are engaged to be married and expecting a baby in the early summer.
A wedding date wasn't announced.
Johnson, 55, and Symonds, 31, made history as the first unmarried couple to openly live together at the British prime minister's official London residence when they moved in last year.
Symonds, a conservationist and former communications chief for the Conservative Party, which Johnson now leads, was romantically linked to Johnson when Theresa May still served as prime minister.
Johnson has four children with his second wife, Marina Wheeler, a lawyer he married in 1993. They announced their separation in September 2018 and said they planned to divorce. Johnson has fathered at least one other child.
The wives of two of the last four British prime ministers, David Cameron and Tony Blair, had babies while their husbands were in office.
Officials in Ecuador on Saturday confirmed the first case of the new coronavirus in the South American nation and Mexico reported two more to raise the country's total to four.
Ecuador's Health Minister Catalina Andramuño Zeballos said a more-than-70-year-old Ecuadoran woman who lives in Spain arrived in the country on Feb. 14 showing no symptoms of illness.
"In the following days she began to feel badly with a fever," Andramuño said at a news conference, adding that she was taken to a medical center. The National Institute of Public Health and Investigation in Ecuador confirmed the virus.
The deputy minister of health, Julio López said that the patient's condition was "critical."
It was the second case in South America, following a Brazilian case reported on Wednesday.
President Lenín Moreno sent out a tweet urging people to stay calm, and the Interior Ministry announced it was barring mass gatherings in the cities of Guayaquil — where the infected woman was located — and Babahoyo.
Mexico's Health Department said late Friday that a new case had been confirmed in Mexico City, adding to the first two confirmed cases announced earlier that day. One of those was also in the capital, and the other in the northwestern state of Sinaloa.
Miguel Riquelme Solís, the governor of the northern border state of Coahuila, said Saturday that federal health officials had confirmed a fourth case: a 20-year-old woman who traveled to Europe, including Milan, Italy, in January and February and returned to Mexico on Feb. 25.
"Two days later she began to have symptoms," Riquelme told Milenio television. "She came with two other young people whom we are now looking for ... to do the necessary review."
Mexican health officials said the country is not currently facing a national emergency over the virus.
Assistant Health Secretary Hugo López-Gatell said that as long as the country is seeing only isolated cases there's no need to take "extreme measures such as canceling mass events."
Mexico was ground zero for the 2009 outbreak of the H1N1 virus, also called swine flu, and many in the country have vivid memories of that time.
Back then many stayed home as much as possible and avoided gatherings out of fear. Shops, restaurants and other businesses closed. In the capital, streets were eerily quiet compared with the usual chaotic traffic.
So far there has been no repeat of that sort of fear.
There were reports of increased purchases of items like face masks and hand sanitizer, and the National Alliance of Small Businesses said shortages of those items would likely cause prices to rise.
The Roman Catholic Bishops Conference in Mexico said parishioners should avoid physical contact during the ritual exchange of wishes for peace and said communion wafers should be placed in Mass-goers' hands instead of their mouths.