Coronavirus live updates: WHO officials say Iran outbreak worrisome, Lebanon confirms first case

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All times below are in Eastern time.

  • Total confirmed cases: More than 76,700
  • Total deaths: At least 2,249

World health officials said the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak in Iran, where there are 18 confirmed cases and 4 deaths in just two days, is “very worrisome.” Earlier in the day, Iran confirmed 13 new coronavirus cases, bringing its total to 18. Seven people found to have contracted the flu-like virus were diagnosed in Qom, four people in Tehran and two in Gilan. Tedros said a 45-year-old woman in Lebanon has been linked to the outbreak in Iran. “The cases that we see in the rest of the world, although the numbers are small, but not linked to Wuhan or China, it’s very worrisome,” he said. “These dots are actually very concerning.” — Lovelace

While Chinese authorities try to control the spread of the new virus, they are moving quickly to stall its impact on the economy, especially on people’s jobs. This past Tuesday, the powerful State Council decided at a meeting to waive some business’ contributions to social insurance plans through June, and emphasized that “stable employment” must be a priority. These policy moves also come as the country begins a gradual return to work in manufacturing, technology and other major industries. The coronavirus forced more than half of the country to shut down for at least a week longer than planned for Lunar New Year’s celebrations. About a third of 1,000 Chinese companies surveyed in the last week by research firm China Beige Book remain closed, and roughly another third are operating remotely. — Cheng

The coronavirus has spread to several Iranian cities, a health ministry official said on Friday, as an outbreak that the authorities say began in the holy city of Qom caused two more deaths. Iran confirmed 13 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total in the country to 18, with four of the total having died. The majority of coronavirus cases in Iran have been in Qom, a Shiite Muslim holy city 75 miles south of the capital Tehran. The new cases comprised seven people diagnosed in Qom, four in the capital Tehran and two in Gilan province, Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said in a tweet. Health officials had called for the suspension of all religious gatherings in Qom. “It’s clear that new coronavirus has circulated in the country and probably the source of this illness was Chinese workers who work in the city of Qom and had traveled to China,” health ministry official Mohrez said, according to the official IRNA news agency. — Reuters

World Health Organization officials are holding a press conference at 10 a.m. ET Friday to update the public on the outbreak. WHO officials declared the virus a global health emergency last month, while urging the public against over-reacting to the virus. However, the COVID-19 epidemic in China has not yet met world health officials’ designation of a global pandemic that spreads far and wide throughout the world. While it has spread to more than two dozen countries, international health officials say there’s little transmission on local levels outside of China right now. They have warned that could quickly change. Watch the live press conference here. — Feuer


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