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The virus is now spreading more rapidly outside China, where the epidemic started, with mainland China recording just 119 new confirmed cases while hundreds of cases were reported globally.
South Korea alone recorded an additional 516 cases of coronavirus Wednesday, bringing the total to 5,328 confirmed cases, the largest outbreak outside of mainland China.
Governments around the world are introducing a range of measures to stop the spread of the disease. In Italy, where there have been more than 2,000 cases, all schools and colleges are shut for 10 days.
The CDC and WHO have both noted that at present there is no evidence that pets like dogs and cats can be infected by the virus.
"However, it is always a good idea to wash your hands with soap and water after contact with pets,'' WHO noted on its website. "This protects you against various common bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella that can pass between pets and humans."
Amazon restricts employees from non-essential travel
Amazon told employees on Friday to defer non-essential travel. The restriction applies to roughly 750,000 people in Amazon’s employee ranks. An Amazon spokesperson said in an email that they could not speak to timelines for the restrictions.
Google has also restricted travel to Iran, two regions in Italy, and beginning in March it will ban travel to Japan and South Korea. The announcement came as it alerted employees that a colleague had tested positive for the virus.
Nestlé, L'Oreal, Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, and Cargill are among other multinational companies that have restricted travel in response to the spreading virus.
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34d ago / 8:26 PM UTC
Fed chair: The virus presents 'evolving risks' to U.S. economy
“The fundamentals of the U.S. economy remain strong,” Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said in a statement released Friday afternoon.
“However, the coronavirus poses evolving risks to economic activity. The Federal Reserve is closely monitoring developments and their implications for the economic outlook. We will use our tools and act as appropriate to support the economy.”
Officials warn about election meddling amid outbreak
Internet trolls backed by foreign governments interested in meddling in the U.S. election could try to exaggerate the threat of the coronavirus to keep Americans from going to the polls in upcoming elections, according to government officials and experts.
The world's largest tourism fair has been cancelled
ITB Berlin, the world's largest tourism trade fair, has been canceled amid concerns over the outbreak, the event's organizers said on Twitter. The fair was slated to take place on March 4.
++++ ITB Berlin 2020 cancelled. +++ Our team deeply regrets the circumstances & looks forward to welcoming you next year at ITB Berlin, 10 to 14 March 2021. Thanks to all visitors, exhibitors & partners around the world who have supported us in the past days and weeks. #ITBBerlinpic.twitter.com/5ApQn6dOTv
Is there a right or wrong way to wash your hands to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus?
When it comes to protecting yourself from the coronavirus, masks aren’t the answer, according to the World Health Organization. What is? Something as routine as washing your hands. But it’s not as simple as running them under water with a bit of soap and calling it a day.
The decision was reportedly made out of an abundance of caution. The virus has not affected anyone directly involved with the show, Variety reported.
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Margot Haddad and Erik Ortiz
34d ago / 8:00 PM UTC
France sees 'new stage in the epidemic' with 57 cases
French health officials said Friday that a "new stage in the epidemic has been reached" with 57 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, up from 38.
The country is grappling with new cases in Annecy, a city of more than 126,000 people in southeastern France, and in Montpellier, a city of 285,000 near the southern coast, French Health Minister Olivier Véran said. Some of the new cases involve people who returned from organized trips to Egypt.
Veran also recommended people refrain from shaking hands in order to prevent infection, Reuters reported.
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Rosemary Guerguerian, M.D.
34d ago / 7:33 PM UTC
Hand hygiene, not face masks, should be main focus for coronavirus prevention
Frequent hand-washing, not wearing a face mask, is the most important step the public can take to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the World Health Organization said Thursday.
Michael Ryan, the executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, addressed the use of face masks during a media briefing Thursday. The WHO stance regarding surgical masks being worn by the general public is that only those who are already sick with a respiratory illness should wear them.