Latest Covid-19 update: France Cancels Paris Race; Xi Scraps Japan Visit

Medical members wearing protective gear take samples from a driver with suspected symptoms of the coronavirus, at a "drive-through" virus test facility in Goyang, north of Seoul, on Saturday (Feb 29). South Korea reported on Saturday its biggest surge in new coronavirus cases and concerns grew of a possible epidemic in the United States as the World Health Organization raised its risk alert to its highest level. - AFP

SEOUL: Iran and South Korea reported hundreds of new coronavirus cases while unexplained infections in California, Oregon and Washington indicated the disease is spreading on the US West Coast on Saturday (Feb 29).

Iran reported another 205 cases, including five lawmakers, while the number of infections in South Korea soared 35%, or by more than 800, in 24 hours. China’s factory activity fell to a record low after weeks of closures caused by the virus.

More events were cancelled and postponed, from a Paris half-marathon to a French Riviera property conference to Greece’s Delphi Economic Forum, as companies and nations try to discourage travel. Chinese President Xi Jinping canceled a rare state visit to Japan in April, Sankei reported.

Confirmed cases worldwide pass 85,000; deaths top 2,900.

The governments of Japan and China are set to delay the state visit to Japan by Chinese President Xi Jinping, which was planned for early April, Sankei reports, citing multiple unidentified people.

The governments have concluded that the spread of coronavirus means the environment is not suitable for a visit. The trip is likely to be rescheduled for the autumn or later.

Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and top Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi agreed at a meeting on Friday that the visit to Tokyo would go ahead as planned.

Biden Blasts Trump for ‘Hoax’ Comment (9:50 a.m. NY)

Joe Biden criticised Donald Trump for describing the coronavirus as a "hoax” by Democats to derail his presidency.

"The president of the United States said it’s a hoax?” Biden said Saturday in Greenville, South Carolina, as Democrats voted in a primary. "For him to start talking about it being a hoax is absolutely dangerous. It’s just not a decent way to act.”

Trump, at a South Carolina rally Friday, said Democrats were "politicizing the coronavirus” after he overcame the "impeachment hoax” and allegations about his campaign’s ties with Russia. "This is their new hoax,” Trump said.

Biden told reporters: "When you say things like that it just so diminishes the faith that people around the world have in the United States.”

France has banned indoor gatherings of more than 5,000 people and cancelled the Paris half-marathon that was expected to attract 40,000 runners on Sunday, Health Minister Olivier Veran said. The country reported 16 new cases of coronavirus, bringing the total to 73.

Schools in two clusters stricken by the coronavirus, in the Alps and north of Paris, won’t reopen Monday. The government asked people to restrict journeys as much as they can, and to work from home when possible.

The new measures aim to prevent or delay a wider spread of the virus "to win as much time as possible” and avoid an overlap with the flu epidemic, which has started to recede, Veran said. - Bloomberg
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