South Korea declares ‘war’ on coronavirus


Governments pledged urgent action Tuesday as the novel coronavirus spread unpredictably and Americans braced for an increasing toll at home, amid hopes that global policymakers would announce financial crisis-style stimulus measures to ward off the threat to the economy.

South Korean leader Moon Jae-in declared “war” on the coronavirus, with government staff on 24-hour alert and health tests expanded in virus-hit areas, as the number of confirmed cases in the country neared 5,000, the worst outside of China.

In Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said his government was ready to take further stimulus measures to reassure the economy, while Australia’s central bank cut interest rates to a record low 0.5 percent. But markets in Tokyo slipped as a wave of optimism that propelled U.S. markets higher on Monday appeared to peter out. Finance ministers from the Group of Seven major economies were due to hold a call Tuesday to discuss how to respond to the growing economic storm.

Meanwhile, the virus continued to spread far outside of its original epicenter in China, with around 70 countries reporting cases and clusters of diseases. The U.S. death toll rose to six overnight, with the number of cases across the country topping 100 across 15 states.

  • China, the epicenter of the outbreak and still the worst hit, announced its lowest number of new cases since late January, with 125 new cases in the past 24 hours and 31 deaths, bringing its totals to 80,151 and 2,943 deaths. The country has pledged to help others hit by the outbreak, offering advice to Iran, which has 1,501 confirmed cases and 66 deaths.
  • South Korea aims to expand its testing in coronavirus-hit areas like Daegu as it announced Tuesday that more than two-thirds of its 4,812 confirmed cases were in the southeastern city. South Korea has tested 121,039 people for the virus, far more than most countries.
  • The number of confirmed cases in the United States surged past 100 in 15 states, with six people dead. There are at least 18 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington state, with evidence suggesting the virus may have spread undetected there for weeks.
  • Asian stocks pared earlier gains but investors continued to pin hopes on coordinated stimulus measures from central banks to stave off a global recession. U.S. markets jumped sharply on Monday, recovering from their worst week since the financial crisis last week.



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