There are now 102,000 coronavirus cases and more than 3,480 deaths across the world, according to a Reuters tally of government announcements.
Most cases and deaths have been in China but numbers are mounting outside its borders. Italy has reported the second highest number of fatalities at 197, followed by Iran at 124, then South Korea at 42.
Around 90 countries outside China have reported infections, with Colombia, Costa Rica, Cambodia and Malta reporting first cases in the past 24 hours.
China is now putting more efforts into preventing infections coming back into its territory from abroad. About a quarter of China’s new confirmed cases and almost all of those outside the epicenter in Wuhan originated outside the country on Friday, according to official data.
The economic bad news continues: a trade report on Saturday showed China’s exports contracted sharply in the first two months of the year, and imports slowed, as the health crisis caused massive disruptions to business operations, global supply chains and economic activity.
Cases surge in Iran and South Korea
Iran reported more than 1,000 new cases overnight and South Korean infections jumped by 448, taking it over the 7,000 mark.
More than half of South Korea’s total was linked to a secretive church – the numbers have exploded since a woman tested positive after attending services at a branch of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in mid-February.
The United States was considering ways to discourage its citizens from taking cruises, as part of a package of measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
Vice President Mike Pence said elderly people should use “common sense and caution” and remember that the huge floating hotels pose a particular challenge for health officials.
Twenty-one people aboard a cruise ship that was barred from docking in San Francisco have tested positive for coronavirus, U.S. officials said on Friday.
Another event is called off
Adding to a long list of sporting, business and other events canceled or postponed around the world, the South by Southwest (SXSW) music and technology festival in Austin, Texas, was called off on Friday.
Religion, at a distance
Pope Francis has canceled his regular appearances in public to avoid crowds gathering to see him and will stream them on the internet from inside the Vatican because of the coronavirus outbreak in Italy, the Vatican announced.
And a Spanish pre-Easter tradition, where Catholics flock in droves to kiss statues of Jesus and Mary, fell victim to the epidemic this week as churches with some of the most sought-after statues told worshippers not to touch or kiss them.