World battles coronavirus: Outbreak spreads to Asia, Europe and Middle East
Italy has in recent days become Europe's worst-affected country, with more than 300 coronavirus cases and 11 deaths. Meanwhile, a 60-year-old man in Paris has become the first French national to die from the virus.
The lethal coronavirus outbreak has spread to Europe and the Middle East, with Asia reporting hundreds of new infections on Wednesday, including the first American soldier to be infected in South Korea, as the US warned of an inevitable pandemic. There have been more than 80,000 global cases.
Several European countries have announced their first coronavirus cases, all apparently linked to the growing outbreak in Italy.
Austria, Croatia and Switzerland said the cases involved people who had been to Italy.
Italy has in recent days become Europe's worst-affected country, with more than 300 cases and 11 deaths.
Meanwhile, a 60-year-old man in Paris has become the first French national to die from the coronavirus, Director General of the French health authority, Jerome Salomon, told reporters on Wednesday, CNN reported. The man died at the Pitie Salpetriere hospital in the French capital, Salomon said.
Separately, two other new coronavirus cases were reported in the country.
Middle East cases rise
More cases were reported on Wednesday in Kuwait and Bahrain -- all people who had traveled from Iran, where there are now more than 90 cases and 15 deaths. Middle Eastern countries are battling to respond to the Iran outbreak with closed borders, travel restrictions, and other emergency measures.
Situation in South Korea
South Korea announced another 115 cases of the novel coronavirus on Wednesday, bringing the total number in the country to 1,261.
The cases were spread across Daegu city, the broader North Gyeongsang Province, and Busan. The death toll in the country stands at 12.
US soldier infected
A 23-year-old American soldier stationed in South Korea has tested positive for the coronavirus -- the first US service member to be infected. He is being isolated and monitored on a military base near the city of Pyeongtaek, CNN reported.
The US has reported 57 cases of the virus. On Tuesday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that the virus could bring "severe" disruption to the US, with one official saying it was not a question of if but when the virus would become a global pandemic.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged all nations to "tell the truth about the coronavirus", saying that Washington was concerned that Iran may have concealed "vital details" about its outbreak.
What is happening in China?
Most of the cases of the new coronavirus remain in China, where the virus originated last year. According to the latest figures published on Wednesday, 78,064 people have been infected since the outbreak began.
Health officials also reported 52 more deaths on Tuesday, the lowest daily total in more than three weeks. The overall death toll in mainland China is now 2,715.
Adding to a growing sense that a rapid spread of the virus in more places is inevitable, a top World Health Organization (WHO) official urged that preparations be made now.
In Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for sports and cultural events to be scrapped or curtailed for two weeks to stem the virus as concern mounted for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Japan has 164 virus cases and 691 linked to a quarantined cruise ship docked south of Tokyo.
There have been nearly 50 deaths outside China, including 11 in Italy and 16 in Iran, the most outside China, according to a Reuters tally.
Meanwhile, health officials in Hong Kong have confirmed four additional cases of the coronavirus, bringing the citywide total to 89.