(Reuters) - The rapid spread of the new coronavirus has increased fears of a pandemic, with the World Health Organization (WHO) raising its global spread and impact risk alert to “very high” on Friday.
** As of Saturday, there has been over 85,000 cases of the coronavirus globally, the majority in China, according to the WHO. Outside of China, it has spread to 53 countries, with over 6,000 cases and 86 deaths.
** Deaths in Iran from coronavirus hit 43, the highest number outside China, and the number of infected people rose to 593, an Iranian health official said on Saturday. He called on people to stay at home.
** In Italy, the number of deaths from the illness rose to 29 and the accumulated total of cases reached 1,128, authorities said. Schools and universities will stay closed for a second consecutive week in three northern Italian regions.
** South Korea urged citizens to stay indoors and warned of a “critical moment” in its battle to contain the coronavirus. As of Sunday, it had reported 3,526 cases.
** The United States is considering shutting the U.S.-Mexico border to control the spread, President Trump said. It announced new limits on travelers who have visited Iran and recommended against travel to hard-hit areas of Italy and South Korea.
** A man in Washington state became the first U.S. fatality from the coronavirus. The state has recorded two other “presumptive” cases at a long-term care facility.
** Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe asked the public to cooperate in a “tough battle” to contain the outbreak in coming weeks as the country prepares to hold the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer as planned.
** Qatar, Ireland and Ecuador reported their first cases of the virus.
** Mainland China, where the virus originated late last year, reported 573 new cases on Feb. 29, the highest daily increase in a week.
** Factory activity in China contracted at the fastest pace ever in February, highlighting the damage from the outbreak on the world’s second-largest economy.
** Taiwan’s foreign minister accused China of waging cyber war on the island to disrupt its fight against the virus by using fake news.
** The French government put a temporary ban on public gatherings with more than 5,000 people. France now has 100 confirmed cases. Of those, two have died.
** The number of people infected in the United Kingdom rose to 23, after three more patients tested positive. Greece confirmed its third case, and Brazil its second.
** A fourth player at Italian third-tier side Pianese tested positive for the coronavirus, the club said. Twenty of the 30 Serie C matches this weekend were postponed and five Serie A games were called off.
** Australia said it would deny entry to all foreign nationals traveling from Iran.
** The coronavirus outbreak is “getting bigger”, the World Health Organization said on Friday after Nigeria confirmed sub-Saharan Africa’s first case.
** Japan’s government plans to create a fund to help companies pay subsidies to workers who need to take days off to look after their children while schools are closed, the Nikkei business daily reported on Saturday.
Compiled by Timothy Heritage and Rosalba O'Brien