Governments around the world are scrambling to introduce measures to contain the spread of COVID-19, which is growing globally even as transmission in China where the virus originated at the end of last year continues to show signs of slowing.
There are more than 90,000 cases confirmed around the world – the overwhelming majority in China – but as deaths are reported in Italy, Iran and the United States authorities are considering new quarantine zones and travel restrictions.
In South Korea, where the president has declared “war” on COVID-19, some 516 new cases were announced on Wednesday morning, bringing the total to 5,328.
Meanwhile, Poland, Morocco, Andorra, Armenia and Argentina have all confirmed their first cases of the virus in the past 24 hours.
Timeline: How China’s new coronavirus spread
Coronavirus: Which countries have confirmed cases?
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Here are the latest updates:
Wednesday, March 4
08:19 GMT – France to regulate price of antibacterial gel
France will regulate the price of antibacterial gels after prices were reported to have increased heavily since the coronavirus outbreak began in December last year, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said.
A decree regulating the price would be published during the day, Le Maire told French BFM Business radio.
A pharmacists’ union on Wednesday told franceinfo radio that the price rise was unacceptable, and called for government intervention.
08:12 GMT – Russia suspends export of masks amid concerns over coronavirus
Russia has suspended the export of surgical masks and medical gear including bandages and one-use chemical protection suits, according to a government resolution, amid fears over the the spread of the coronavirus. It added that the suspension would not affect exports being made for humanitarian reasons.
Russia has not reported any confirmed cases of people contracting coronavirus while inside the country, though six people who got infected elsewhere have received or are receiving treatment in Russia.
“It is mainly necessary to prevent a so-called ‘artificial deficit’ in certain medical items – masks, respirators, antiviral agents that speculators can export abroad,” Industry Minister Denis Manturov said.
08:02 GMT – Poland confirms first case of coronavirus
Poland has confirmed its first coronavirus infection, Poland’s Health Minister Lukasz Szumowski said.
Szumowski said the patient is in hospital in Zielona Gora, western Poland, adding that he is in good condiiton.
07:55 GMT – India confirms new cases, bringing total number of cases to 28
India’s health minister has announced that 14 out of 21 Italian nationals have tested positive for the coronavirus.
In remarks to ANI news agency, Harsh Vardhan said the total number of cases in the country now stood at 28. All flights and passengers will now be part of universal screening, he added.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan: 14 out of 21 Italian nationals have found positive for coronavirus. They have been sent to at Indo-Tibetan Border Police’s (ITBP) quarantine facility in Chhawla. pic.twitter.com/IJqP1e13tT
— ANI (@ANI) March 4, 2020
07:47 GMT – Hong Kong residents due to arrive from Wuhan in first chartered flight
The first chartered flight evacuating residents of Hong Kong from Wuhan – the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak – is scheduled to arrive in Hong Kong at 09:10 GMT.
07:04 GMT – Greece confirms eighth case of coronavirus
Greece’s health ministry has confirmed one more case, bringing the total number of people infected with coronavirus in the country to eight.
The new case in the second city of Thessaloniki involves a Greek citizen who is closely related to an earlier infected person.
06:47 GMT – Japan’s Hokkaido island reports three new cases
Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido reported three more cases of coronavirus infections, bringing the total to 82 in the prefecture.
The new cases all involve men, one in his 50s and the other two in their 60s, the prefecture said on its website.
Hokkaido accounts for the highest number of infections among Japan’s prefectures.
06:42 GMT – Ireland confirms second case of coronavirus
Irish health authorities have confirmed a second case of the coronavirus.
The patient is a woman in the east of the country who recently travelled to Italy, according to Ireland’s Department of Health.
“Today we are confirming that Ireland has diagnosed one new case of COVID-19. The case arises in a female in the east of the country and is associated with travel from Northern Italy,” Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer with the Department of Health told reporters.
This is Farah Najjar in Doha taking over from my colleague Kate Mayberry .
03:50 GMT – Air New Zealand deep-cleaning three planes after COVID-19 case
Air New Zealand is deep cleaning three of its planes after it was confirmed a woman diagnosed with the country’s first case of COVID-19 travelled on its flight from Singapore to Auckland, as well as on two regional flights.
In a statement on its website, the airline’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Ben Johnston said the airline was working with the Ministry of Health to identify and contact passengers who were on the flights.
He added that its aircraft are already subject to a thorough cleaning process, including tray tables and inflight entertainment screens, with a disinfectant that kills viruses.
“We also remove all headsets, headrest covers, pillow covers, and blankets after every international flight. Domestic and regional services surfaces and bathrooms are wiped with disinfectant spray.”
02:50 GMT – South Korea’s Moon calls off Middle East trip
South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in has called off a planned trip to the UAE, Egypt and Turkey in mid-March because of the coronavirus, according to the presidential Blue House.
“In response to the recent nationwide spread of COVID-19, we have decided not to go ahead with trips,” spokesman Kang Min-seok said in a statement.
The outbreak in South Korea is the largest outside China.