Europe on alert as four more Covid-19 deaths reported in Italy – as it happened

Last modified: 11: 41 PM GMT+0

Switzerland, Austria and Croatia report first cases as outbreak worsens across Europe. This blog is closed.

Summary

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Here’s a summary of what has happened on Tuesday:

  • Italian authorities updated the death toll in the country to 11. Four additional deaths were reported in the country on Tuesday.
  • New cases were confirmed in Spain and Switzerland. Concerns were growing at the spread of the virus on mainland Europe.
  • A hotel in Tenerife where an Italian man who has tested positive for coronavirus was staying has been put on lockdown. One thousand guests at the H10 Costa Adeje Palace hotel have been placed in isolation to halt any further spread of the disease. One British holidaymaker has described the situation as a “holiday from hell”.
  • Travellers returning to the UK from northern Italy may need to self-isolate as part of measures to stop the spread of coronavirus. Official government advice has been changed to say that those who have been to northern Italy, north of Pisa, should self-isolate if they develop flu-like symptoms on their return to the UK.
  • Britons who have been in lockdown regions of Italy, including those in the Lombardy and Veneto region, should self-isolate at home for 14 days even if they have no symptoms.
  • Some schools in the UK have closed or sent pupils home because they had recently returned from skiing visits to northern Italy.
  • In Iran, the death toll due to the coronavirus has reached 16, a health ministry official told state TV on Tuesday. Iran has the highest number of deaths from coronavirus outside China, where the virus emerged late last year. The deputy health minister, Iraj Harirchi, has been infected and is under quarantine.
  • Italian authorities announced on Tuesday the first positive coronavirus case in the south of Italy. A woman from Bergamo, who was on holiday with her friends in Sicily, has tested positive for Covid-19.
  • Croatia and Austria became the latest European countries to confirm cases of coronavirus.

The Madrid regional government has just reported a new coronavirus case and activated the protocol, taking the number in Spain up to seven.

The spread of the coronavirus has accelerated across Europe with new cases in four countries and a rising death toll in Italy, which is desperately struggling to contain the outbreak, Denis Campbell, Helen Pidd and Sam Jones write.

Concern about the proliferation of cases prompted a dozen UK schools to send home pupils to self-isolate for 14 days after returning from half-term skiing trips in Lombardy.

The Irsh Rugby Football Union (IRFU) is seeking an urgent meeting with the country’s health minister as to why the Ireland vs Italy rugby match should be cancelled. Simon Harris has said the match should not go ahead on 7 March because of a coronavirus outbreak in northern Italy. The union has said:

The IRFU is seeking an urgent meeting with Minister Harris as to the specific reasoning behind calling for the cancellation of the Ireland v Italy Six Nations fixture in the context of the government’s overall travel policy to and from Italy and other affected countries.

Until such time as the IRFU has had contact with the minister and gets an understanding of the government’s strategic policy on travel to and from Ireland and the cancellation of mass gatherings, it is not in a position to comment further.

The number of coronavirus cases in Spain rose to six on Tuesday after a man in a hospital in Castellón, in the eastern region of Valencia, tested positive for the virus.

Spanish health authorities said that, in accordance with protocol, his tests had been sent to the National Microbiology Centre in Madrid for a second, definitive test. The Valencian regional government said it had activated its coronavirus protocol following the preliminary diagnosis.

Updated

Authorities in Palermo have announced the closure of all the schools at least until Monday, after a woman from Bergamo, who was on holiday with her friends in Sicily, tested positive for Convid-19. It is the first case in the south of the country. The mayor of Palermo, Leoluca Orlando, announced an investigation is ongoing to check and eventually test people she has been in contact with during her stay in the Sicilian capital. Her husband and a friend of the patient tested positive for Convid-19 too.

There have been 11 deaths as Italy’s coronavirus outbreak has spread from Lombardy and Veneto to Sicily, Tuscany and Liguria as Premier Giuseppe Conte said the country would emerge from the crisis with its head held high. Some 322 people have been infected with the virus in Italy, according to the Civil protection chief.

The first case of coronavirus has been registered in Liguria, the regional government said Tuesday.

Only 3% of Italian coronavirus patients have died, and all of them had pre-existing conditions, Walter Ricciardi of the World Health Organisation told a Rome press conference Tuesday. “We must scale back this great alarm,” said Ricciardi, a former director at Italy’s Higher Health Institute (ISS).

Of 100 sick people, 80 get well of their own accord, 15 have serious but manageable problems, 5% are extremely serious, of which 3% die. Furthermore, as you know, all the people who died already had serious health conditions.

He said the alarm “is right, is not to be underestimated, but the disease must be placed within the correct terms”.

A school in Liverpool has joined a growing list to have sent home pupils and staff over coronavirus fears following a trip to northern Italy.

Cardinal Heenan Catholic high school in West Derby said pupils and staff went on the ski trip during half term but did not visit any of the towns currently under quarantine in Italy.

All staff and pupils were medically screened on entry to and from Milan airport and, as a precautionary measure, the school has sent all of these pupils and staff home.

In a letter and email issued to all parents, the headteacher Karen Smyth said the latest advice from officials is that anyone who has visited the northern areas of Italy should isolate themselves if they show symptoms of the coronavirus, contact NHS 111 or their GP by phone but do not visit the surgery or any walk-in centres.

The school will monitor the potential symptoms within the pupil and staff populations, in particular those who travelled on the ski trip. The letter adds: “It is important to recognise that the risk of catching coronavirus is minimal.”

The new confirmed case takes the total number of coronavirus cases in Germany to 17. There have been no deaths.

The car supplier Webasto said last month a Chinese employee had tested positive for the virus upon returning to China following a visit to the headquarters near Munich. Several other German colleagues were apparently also infected during the visit.

Authorities in the southern German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg have confirmed the first case of coronavirus there after a 25-year-old man who had recently been in Milan tested positive.

The state’s health ministry said the man, who had likely become infected during a visit to Italy, had contacted authorities after coming down with flu-like symptoms. He was taken to a hospital later on Tuesday to receive treatment in isolation, the ministry added.

People in close contact with the patient will be kept in home isolation and be asked about their state of health every day. As soon as a contact person develops symptoms, they will also be isolated in hospital.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has advised against all but essential travel to the towns in northern Italy that local authorities have effectively quarantined. A spokesman has said:

We advise against all but essential travel to 10 small towns in Lombardy and one in Veneto, which are currently in isolation due to an ongoing outbreak of coronavirus. Any British nationals already in these towns should follow the advice of the local authorities.

Officials are advising British nationals returning to the UK from the area to follow advice from the chief medical officer and Public Health England. The new travel advice reads:

The FCO advises against all but essential travel to 10 small towns in Lombardy (Codogno, Castiglione d’Adda, Casalpusterlengo, Fombio, Maleo, Somaglia, Bertonico, Terranova dei Passerini, Castelgerundo and San Fiorano) and one in Veneto (Vo’ Euganeo) which have been isolated by the Italian authorities due to an ongoing outbreak of coronavirus.

The government of Italy has introduced extraordinary measures that allow regions to implement civil protection measures in response to coronavirus. This includes the isolation of 10 small towns in Lombardy and one in Veneto. The regions of Lombardy, Veneto, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Piemonte and Emilia Romagna have implemented measures including the suspension of public or private events, the suspension of schools and higher education and the suspension on the opening of museums and cultural institutions for seven days. If you are already in the regions affected you should follow the instructions of local authorities.

Updated

Algeria has confirmed its first case of the coronavirus, Reuters has reported, citing state television. The country’s health minister has reportedly said an Italian man who arrived in Algeria on 17 February has been put into quarantine.

Kuwait’s civil aviation authority has suspended all flights with Singapore and Japan over coronavirus fears, the nation’s state news agency KUNA reports.

A statement was issued in accordance with the Kuwaiti health ministry’s instructions on Tuesday. The day before, Kuwait suspended flights with South Korea, Iran, Thailand, Italy and Iraq over similar concerns. It has registered nine cases of coronavirus – all coming from Iran.

The Six Nations rugby union match between Ireland and Italy, which is due to take place this weekend in Dublin, should be cancelled over coronavirus fears. The Irish health minister, Simon Harris, told RTE news:

The very clear view of the public health emergency team was that this game should not go ahead and that it would constitute a significant risk, because a very large number of people will be travelling from what is now an affected region.

My department will be contacting the IRFU in relation to this. I know it will cause a great disappointment to many but it is important to make decisions in relation to public health above and beyond all other considerations.

Update: We initially said this game had been cancelled. This post has now been amended to more accurately reflect Harris’s comments. The Irish Rugby Football Union has yet to respond to the statement and confirm whether or not the match will be postponed.

Updated

It is a case of when, not if the coronavirus spreads to communities in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned. According to the New York Times, the director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Dr Nancy Messonnier, has said:

It’s not so much of a question of if this will happen in this country any more but a question of when this will happen.

She said public health officials could not say how severe the effect would be but peope in the country should prepare themselves for significant disruption.

We are asking the American public to prepare for the expectation that this might be bad.

Updated

Death toll in Italy rises again

A 76-year-old woman has died in the northern Italian city of Treviso, the Veneto region has said. She is the 11th victim in the country.

About 1,000 holidaymakers at the H10 Costa Adeje Palace hotel in south Tenerife have been ordered to remain in their rooms and will be tested for the coronavirus this evening, according to a guest.

Police officers have been pictured surrounding the building and guests were not served lunch, while hotel employees who arrived for work were made to wait outside and not let in, after health authorities in the Canary Islands ordered the hotel to be locked down on Monday after an Italian couple tested positive for the virus.

Police vans parked outside the Costa Adeje Palace hotel in Tenerife.
Police vans parked outside the Costa Adeje Palace hotel in Tenerife. Photograph: Handout

Rosie Mitford, an 18-year-old nursing student on holiday with her father and brother, said she was “a bit fed up”.

We’ve been in our rooms for about five hours now and had no food. We’re all a bit fed up and tired about this now, but we feel fine, physically, so that’s good.

We’ve just been updated they’re going to test us once tonight and once tomorrow morning, apparently they are temperature tests.

This morning, there was a breakfast buffet at 8am with fruit and yoghurt, and guests were told lunch would be brought to their rooms, but by 5.30pm at least some people were still waiting.

This was most likely down to staff shortages, according to Mitford, who made a picnic out of vending machine food with her brother.

Staff have not been allowed in for the whole day. They have been sat on the streets getting pretty angry as they had been in the sun for about six hours.

Staff inside wearing big proper masks, that we haven’t been given. They’ve been very helpful, they’re just trying to deal with it.

A medical tent erected outside the hotel, with a man who appears to be a doctor wearing a protective suit.
A medical tent erected outside the hotel, with a man who appears to be a doctor wearing a protective suit. Photograph: Handout

The nursing student said she is passing the time doing university work, but has been taking photos and watching events ensue outside the hotel.

Police are everywhere. There’s chains and padlocks on the gates outside, along with police vans.

She was meant to go home on Sunday but because of a sandstorm her flight got cancelled, and her flight on Monday was also cancelled as the crew had worked too long. On both occasions she spent about six hours in the airport.

The scene near the entrance to the hotel.
The scene near the entrance to the hotel. Photograph: Handout

Then, today, she woke up ready to go to the airport again and found a note left under her door saying not to leave, while the phones in their rooms have been cut off all day.

However, she is remaining calm and not allowing herself to become frustrated after the series of unfortunate events.

Its not really a panicking vibe. Everyone is just milling about staying in their rooms. But they are not telling us much, everything we have found out has been from looking online.

Updated

All pupils who went on Guernsey grammar school’s February half term skiing trip to Piedmont have been sent home after one began “showing the relevant symptoms”, local authorities have said.

Guernsey’s Public Health Services say the child will be tested for coronavirus and asked that all children who were on the trip isolate themselves at home until the results come back. Dr Nicola Brink, the local director of public health, has said:

The relevant symptoms for a coronavirus (cough, fever, shortness of breath) are common to many winter illnesses which are frequently seen at this time of year. The risk to the children and staff attending this ski trip is currently considered to be low and our actions at this stage are precautionary.

Updated

Every country in the world should learn from China’s successful experience of containing the coronavirus and treating those who fall sick, according to Dr Bruce Aylward, who led a visiting team of international experts. Speaking in a personal capacity at the World Health Organization in Geneva, he has said:

Access the expertise of China. They have done this at speed and they know what they are doing. They are really, really good at it.

China’s epidemic has peaked and the numbers are on their way down, thanks to an unprecedented engagement at every level by Chinese citizens, he added. The data they saw suggested it had saved many people from sickness and possible death. “Hundreds of thousands of people in China did not get Covid-19 because of this aggressive response,” he said.

Updated

Angelo Borrelli, the chief of the Civil Protection agency, has said the three people who died were all in their 80s and came from the worst impacted region: Lombardy.

Updated

Three more people die in Italy

There have been three further deaths in the coronavirus outbreak in northern Italy, according to a local official. The authorities say the number of virus cases in the country has grown to 322, with 10 deaths now confirmed.

Here is more from the WHO press conference earlier, courtesy of Reuters.

In Geneva, Dr Bruce Aylward, head of the joint WHO-Chinese mission on the coronavirus outbreak, said countries needed to shift their mindset to preparing for an outbreak of the novel coronavirus and be ready to respond rapidly when it arrived.

He told his reporters on his return to Switzerland that China’s “extraordinary mobilisation” to handle the virus outbreak showed how aggressive policy steps could curb the disease’s spread.

Authorities should prepare hospital beds, isolation zones and respirators for severe cases, Aylward said, adding: “China knows how to keep people alive.”

He also said the number of virus infections of Chinese health care workers was coming down, with supplies now largely in place for them after most of them were infected in the community.

Bruce Aylward, team Lead WHO-China joint mission on covid-19, speaks to the media.
Bruce Aylward, team lead WHO-China joint mission on Covid-19, speaks to the media. Photograph: Salvatore Di Nolfi/EPA

Updated

Trinity Catholic College in Middlesbrough has announced it will close for the rest of the week after some pupils and staff “began showing flu-like symptoms” following a school skiing trip to northern Italy last week.

The school had earlier said that the 36 pupils who went on the trip would be sent home but in an afternoon update sent to parents it announced the decision to close the school for deep cleaning.

A statement from the Nicholas Postgate Catholic Academy Trust, which runs the school, told parents:

Following a ski trip by pupils and staff from Trinity Catholic College to northern Italy over the half-term, a small number of pupils and staff began showing mild flu-like symptoms today.

As a trust we are advising the school to ensure that the pupils and staff who visited Italy last week self-isolate, regardless of whether they are showing symptoms of being unwell. All pupils who attended the trip have been asked by the school to inform NHS 111 and insist on being tested for the coronavirus, even if displaying very mild symptoms.

Regardless of the current Department for Education and Public Health England advice that the school should remain open to all other pupils, the headteacher has decided, in discussion with the senior leadership team and the CEO of the [Nicholas Postgate Catholic Academy Trust] to completely minimise possible spread of infection amongst families and close the school for the remainder of the week.

During this time, the school will be able to conduct a precautionary deep clean of the school buildings.

We appreciate that there will be many views on this action amongst parents, and hope that everyone understands the ongoing fluidity of the situation. There are a number of pupils and staff who have vulnerable family members and it is the school’s duty of care to put in place the most secure of measures to minimise any possible infection.

Elsewhere, Penair School in Cornwall was thrown into confusion at 9.30am today when the headmaster, James Davidson, sent home a group of children and teachers who had been on a half-term school trip to the Lombardy region where the coronavirus has hit Italy hardest.

Davidson said that on the advice of Public Health England they should remain at home “to self-quarantine for 14 days”, but just hours later he reversed the order saying that updated PHE advice meant they could return. In any event they had been at school for the whole of Monday. The party had returned from Ponte di Legno at the weekend.

In a statement the school said:

[PHE has] stated if students or staff develop any symptoms relating to the coronavirus they should isolate immediately and call 111.

If they have no symptoms they do not need to isolate and can return to school. Once again we apologise for any disruption caused, however students wellbeing is always our first priority.

Updated

Although WHO earlier praised China’s response to the outbreak of the coronavirus, US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, has hit out at China and Iran over their handling of the crisis.

He accused the two governments of censorship and of trying to cover up the severity of the spread of the deadly illness.

At a State Department news conference, Pompeo criticised Beijing for expelling three Wall Street Journal reporters and said a free press was needed to ensure accurate information about the virus is available to the public and medical personnel, the Associated Press reported.

He also said Iranian authorities must tell the truth about the virus, amid signs the outbreak there may be far wider than officially acknowledged.

Pompeo addresses a news briefing at the State Department in Washington.
Pompeo addresses a news briefing at the State Department in Washington. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Expelling “our journalists” exposes once again the government’s issue that led to Sars and now the coronavirus, namely censorship, Pompeo said of China.

Had China permitted its own and foreign journalists and medical personnel to speak and investigate freely, Chinese officials and other nations would have been far better prepared to address the challenge, he claimed.

On Iran, which now has the second highest number of infections after China and where the head of the country’s counter-coronavirus task force has tested positive for the virus, Pompeo said the US is “deeply concerned” that the government may have suppressed vital details about the outbreak.

“All nations, including Iran, should tell the truth about the coronavirus and cooperate with international aid organisations,” he said.

Updated

In another sign of growing global alarm over the coronavirus outbreak, a prominent Brazilian journalist is today reporting that Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, has been told he should cancel plans to travel to Italy and Hungary in the coming weeks.

“The Bolsonaro family is being advised to cancel trip to Italy, a foreign office source has just told me. Hungary trip also in trouble,” Vera Magalhães tweeted on Tuesday.

“The reason: the assessment that the coronavirus outbreak is going to get worse in Europe.”

Its worth noting here that there have not yet been any cases confirmed in Latin America.

Updated

Greece, one of the countries in Europe which has not yet recorded a case of coronavirus, has unveiled emergency measures after mounting alarm over the steep jump in cases in Italy.

In the event of an outbreak, the centre-right government said it would enforce draconian steps to contain the disease, including restricting travel on any form of public transportation.

Air, sea and rail services would also be limited to prevent the virus spreading.

Under the emergency act, authorities will have the right to use private clinics and medical services, government spokesman Stelios Petsas told reporters.

Citizens suspected of having the virus could also be placed in quarantine to prevent infections spreading.

The measures were announced as officials banned school trips to Italy, saying schoolchildren currently in the country would be returned to Greece with immediate effect.

Given its proximity to Italy, Greece has stepped up surveillance of ports with regular ferry connections to the neighbouring EU state.

However, infectious disease experts fear the worst should Covid 19 arrive in Greece, with the country’s austerity-hit public health system still reeling from almost a decade of budget cuts.

Meanwhile, a man suspected of displaying flu-like symptoms upon arrival from Italy was declared healthy by doctors in the western port city of Patras on Tuesday.

Updated

The four chief medical officers across the UK have updated their self-isolation health advice for travellers returning from certain countries to cover a wider area.

Anyone who has arrived in the UK since 19 February from Iran, specific areas of northern Italy and South Korea, plus the Hubei province in China, is now advised to stay indoors and avoid contact with other people.

This guidance has been issued to people even if they do not have symptoms, and they should phone their GP – or NHS24 on 111 out of hours.

Anyone who visited the two cities at the centre of the outbreak in South Korea, Daegu and Cheongdo, is advised to self-isolate for a fortnight.

All travellers returning from Iran are requested to self-isolate, even if they do not have symptoms.

For northern Italy, all travellers returning from specific lockdown areas identified by the Italian government are advised to self-isolate regardless of whether they have developed symptoms.

People returning from parts of Italy north of Pisa, Florence and Rimini in the past week are asked to monitor their health, and self-isolate if they develop symptoms.

Anyone who has travelled to the UK from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam is also now advised to monitor their health, and self-isolate if they develop symptoms.

Scotland’s chief medical officer Dr Catherine Calderwood said:

Scotland remains well-equipped to deal with any positive cases of coronavirus. While all tests here have so far been negative, we have established plans in place to ensure a rapid response in the event of a confirmed case.

However, early detection of any positive cases will be vital, to contain the virus and stop it spreading.

That’s why it’s vital people stay up to date with the latest health and travel advice, and take the same basic precautions they would to avoid colds or influenza, such as washing hands and covering their nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.

Existing advice from the four UK CMOs to stay indoors remains in place for anyone who has travelled to the UK in the last 14 days from mainland China, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia or Macau.

Updated

At least a dozen UK schools close or send pupils home

The popularity of half-term skiing trips in Lombardy has seen at least 12 schools across the UK either close or send pupils home today, after updated advice from Public Health England widened the regions affected by Covid-19 to include northern Italy.

The 12 schools hit so far, including one in Wales and three in Northern Ireland, appear to have all travelled to ski resorts via Milan’s airports, close to one of Italy’s virus hotspots.

Darren Christian, principal of Salendine Nook high school in Huddersfield told parents:

Our ski trip returned from northern Italy (Milan airport) on Saturday 22 February. This is an area which is affected by the virus.

As a result of this, we have sent home 19 children and four staff, as a precautionary measure in line with Public Health England’s advice. These children and staff will be returning to school on Monday 9 March.

Hall Cross academy in Doncaster asked staff and students who attended the school’s half-term ski trip to Italy to “remain at home and self-isolate for 14 days”.

A third school in Cheshire, Sandbach high school, has also sent pupils home as a precaution.

Meanwhile, 36 pupils from Trinity Catholic College in Middlesbrough were also told to stay home. Its head teacher, Louise Dwyer, told parents:

The health and safety of our pupils is of paramount importance to us, therefore I have taken the decision to send home the pupils that have travelled to northern Italy whilst I await further guidance.

Treatharras secondary in Newquay and Crispin School in Street, Somerset, have also sent pupils and staff home as a precaution following ski trips to Italy.

Updated

Italy’s prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, has defended the measures his country has taken to contain the outbreak and predicted the number of new cases would stabilise soon, after a 27% increase in cases on Tuesday – from 222 to 283.

Obviously I can’t say I’m not worried because I don’t want anyone to think we’re underestimating this emergency. But we trust that with the measures we’ve implemented there will be a containing effect in the coming days.

Italy has not yet identified the source of the outbreak, and Croatia, Austria and Switzerland have now recorded cases.

Many of the cases in Italy have been confined to Lombardy, and Conte claimed that an alleged failure to completely follow official protocol at hospitals in the region contributed to its spread.

However, Lombardy’s chief health official, Giulio Gallera, defended the region’s handling of the crisis and rebutted Conte’s criticism. “It’s offensive,” he said. “It’s unacceptable.”

Updated

About 40,000 healthcare workers, many of whom volunteered, are in Wuhan helping with the response, according to Aylward.

This is a modern city of 15 million people. It’s a ghost town but behind every window there are people cooperating with this response. People have said there is a big presence forcing them, but there isn’t.

It’s staggering. Every person you talk to there has a sense they are mobilised in a war against a virus, and they’re organised.

He added that China has “repurposed the machinery of government”, such as check points, toll booths and tightly controlled transportation networks, to address the disease outbreak while taking multiple hospitals out of general use.

Everyone has a role and it has been repurposed to fit into this machinery and it works through a prevention and control task force that answers straight to the state council and president.

It’s a technologically turbocharged response. They are using big data and AI in places. They’ve had to manage massive amounts of data and map huge numbers of contacts, 70,000 people over vast areas.

Updated

Bruce Aylward, head of the WHO-China joint mission on Covid-19, has paid tribute to health workers in China who delivered “life-saving” crisis response services as the virus began to spread.

He praised the approach taken by China to the “frightening” never-seen-before virus.

They used standard, old-fashioned public health tools and applied these with a rigour and innovation of approach on a scale that we’ve never seen before in history.

They have taken case findings, contact duration, social distancing, movement restriction and used that approach to try and stop a new emergent, respiratory born pathogen.

Here, there was no vaccine, there was no therapeutic, the Chinese took a very pragmatic approach in deciding we are going to go after containment of this virus using that set of tools.

A lot of people, myself included, were maybe concerned as to whether or not you can truly stop that kind of pathogen ... and isolate the cases ... but China took a very systematic approach.

Updated

Coronavirus spreads to Switzerland

Switzerland has confirmed its first case of coronavirus, the country’s federal office of public health has announced.

Further details will be provided at 5pm CET (4pm GMT), the health department said, declining to say where the first case had been detected.

The Swiss public broadcaster, RTS, said authorities in Ticino, on the border with Italy, had confirmed the case occurred in their region.

Updated

The World Health Organization is delivering an update on the coronavirus at a news briefing, as it continues to spread.

You can watch it here, and we will keep abreast of developments.

Updated

Italy has taken appropriate measures to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, with a focus on halting further person-to-person transmission, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday.

Italy has seen the biggest outbreak of the disease in Europe, with more than 260 cases and seven deaths reported, most in the north of the country, according to Reuters.

After talks with Italian officials in Rome about the response, WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier said:

WHO experts are providing support in the areas of clinical management, infection prevention and control, surveillance and risk communication. At this stage the focus is on limiting further human-to-human transmission,” the WHO said in a statement posted overnight.

Several clusters of infections in different regions had already been detected, it said, while noting that based on current data, in the majority of cases – four out of every five – people experience mild or no symptoms.

“The measures taken by the Italian government or the regional governments have been pretty strong and most likely should help in containing this virus as good as possible,” Lindmeier added.

A separate WHO mission to Iran, which had been announced for Tuesday, has been delayed, he said, adding that he had no date for its departure.

He urged countries to boost their readiness, saying the virus is “knocking at their door”.

Updated

First confirmed case in mainland Spain – report

The first case of coronavirus in mainland Spain has been identified by health authorities in Catalonia, according to the La Vanguardia newspaper.

It would be the country’s fourth confirmed case, if the report is correct, after three tourists from Germany, Italy and Britain were diagnosed with the illness in the Canary Islands and in Mallorca.

Updated

Donald Trump has played down fears of the coronavirus spreading in the US, after requesting an additional $2.5bn to reinforce defences “in case something should happen”.

On Tuesday, during his two-day visit to India, the US president told a news conference that the situation was “very well under control in our country”, as his administration asked Congress for funds to prepare for the possibility of an outbreak – and to assist other nations.

Donald Trump arrives for a press conference in New Delhi on Tuesday.
Donald Trump arrives for a press conference in New Delhi on Tuesday. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

The Associated Press reported that he referenced a group of 14 Americans who tested positive for the coronavirus and were among hundreds of their fellow citizens recently evacuated from a cruise ship off the Japanese coast and brought to US facilities.

Trump said those individuals were placed into quarantine and “we think they’ll be in very good shape very, very soon.” Meanwhile, he said China was getting the epidemic under control.

They’ve had a rough patch and ... it looks like they’re getting it under control more and more. They’re getting it more and more under control so I think that’s a problem that’s going to go away, but we lost almost 1,000 points yesterday on the [stock] market.

However, Democrats criticised his response and highlighted how the Trump administration is shifting money from various public health accounts, including the Ebola preparedness fund to make up the $2.5bn figure.

Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, said there were a shortage of kits to test for the virus and condemned Trump’s proposed budget cuts to health agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

All of the warning lights are flashing bright red. We are staring down a potential pandemic, and the administration has no plan.We have a crisis of coronavirus, and President Trump has no plan, no urgency, no understanding of the facts or how to coordinate a response.

As of Tuesday, the US had 35 of about 80,000 known cases, while one American citizen has died in China.

Updated

Matt Hancock 'not planning' to visit northern Italy, though flights continue

Hello all, its Mattha Busby here, taking over from my colleague Martin Belam.

The health secretary, Matt Hancock, has said he is not planning a trip to northern Italy, as flights continue to the country despite those returning from affected areas being told to self-isolate.

The government has been forced into a defence of its approach to the coronavirus outbreak after people have complained of conflicting messages, since the Foreign Office has not changed its travel advice or suggested Britons should avoid travelling to Italy.

Hancock told Sky News:

We don’t think there are any Brits in the area that has been quarantined by the Italian government but the government does not track where people move around Europe, so if people are in that area then they should get in contact and we will do what we can to help.

He said travelling to southern Italy would be “perfectly reasonable”, but he was not planning to travel to the north of the country amid what he described as a “significant outbreak” of the coronavirus.

We have not changed the official government travel advice but I’m not planning on going.

If people go and then they come back and feel ill with flu-like symptoms then we are asking them to self-isolate and stay at home for two weeks and try not to come into contact with anybody else.

So that is obviously quite a significant imposition on people, we get that, but of course the top priority is to keep the public safe.

No 10 also insisted there was not a contradiction between the health advice and travel advice in place for northern Italy.

In both instances the advice which we issue is based on the evidence and on the professional opinion of medical experts. We have been led by medical expertise from the beginning of this outbreak and we will continue to be so. In terms of travel advice, that is kept continuously under review.

Please email me on mattha.busby.freelance@guardian.co.uk or message me on Twitter @matthabusby if you have any news related to the coronavirus.

Updated

About 50 pupils and staff at a school in County Antrim have been sent home as a precaution against coronavirus after they went on a ski trip to northern Italy.

The Cambridge House grammar school group are showing no symptoms and did not visit any of the affected towns – but they were in the Lombardy region and were sent home as a “precautionary” measure, the principal, Elma Lutton, said.

Two schools in Cheshire have also taken precautionary steps after half-term ski trips to Italy, with Cransley school in Northwich completely closing and Brine Leas academy in Nantwich closing its sixth form due to staff shortages as a result of teachers self-isolating.

Updated

Summary

Here is a summary of what has happened so far today. There have now been 80,000 people affected by the virus around the world.

  • A hotel in Tenerife where an Italian man who has tested positive for coronavirus was staying has been put on lockdown. One thousand guests at the H10 Costa Adeje Palace hotel have been placed in isolation to halt any further spread of the disease. One British holidaymaker has described the situation as a “holiday from hell”.
  • Travellers returning to the UK from northern Italy may need to self-isolate as part of measures to stop the spread of coronavirus. Official government advice has been changed to say that those who have been to northern Italy, north of Pisa, should self-isolate if they develop flu-like symptoms on their return to the UK.
  • Britons who have been in lockdown regions of Italy, including those in the Lombardy and Veneto region, should self-isolate at home for 14 days even if they have no symptoms.
  • Some schools in the UK have closed or sent pupils home because they had recently returned from skiing visits to northern Italy.
  • In Iran, the death toll due to the coronavirus has reached 16, a health ministry official told state TV on Tuesday. Iran has the highest number of deaths from coronavirus outside China, where the virus emerged late last year. The deputy health minister, Iraj Harirchi, has been infected and is under quarantine.
  • Italian authorities announced on Tuesday the first positive coronavirus case in the south of Italy. A woman from Bergamo, who was on holiday with her friends in Sicily, has tested positive for Covid-19.
  • Croatia and Austria became the latest European countries to confirm cases of coronavirus.

Updated

Expatriates in Italy have told of confusion in the north of the country, as it battles to contain the coronavirus that appears to have spread to the south.

Jodie, a beautician who has lived in Dolo, between Venice and Padua, for 15 years, said the atmosphere is strange and “no one knows what is going to happen”.

Will they block the whole of northern Italy? Surely the virus has had enough time to spread by now as everyone was carrying on with life as normal up until this weekend.

We mostly think they won’t quarantine us, even though there has been a case of a person in Mira testing positive – 20 mins away – as it’s too late.”

Schools have been closed for the week and the mayor has been keeping residents updated on her Facebook page, while the WhatsApp group she shares with her children’s schoolfriends’ mothers has “started going crazy with panicked messages about the number of cases”.

Health workers wear protective face masks outside a hospital in Padua, Veneto region, northern Italy
Health workers wear protective face masks outside a hospital in Padua, Veneto region, northern Italy. Photograph: Nicola Fossella/EPA

My friend complained of ‘racism’ after the hotel she had booked saw she lived in Dolo and called her to say they had cancelled her stay. Another had a job interview in Padua centre and basically got the job as no one else turned up.

Others from different parts of Italy have been calling to check we’re OK and you can’t find any antibacterial products anywhere, hand wipes, soap, face masks as they all sold out on Saturday.

She is among countless other families sat at home with their children, trying to limit going out as much as possible. However, now some delivery services are said to have been suspended, too.

One of my friends works as an Amazon driver and told us that Amazon has stopped delivering to certain areas. It must be serious.

Pedestrians walk through a local market in the Corvetto district of Milan on Tuesday.
Pedestrians walk through a local market in the Corvetto district of Milan on Tuesday. Photograph: Andrea Fasani/EPA

Mick Parker, who works at an English-language school in Milan that has been closed for the week upon the instruction of the local government, said he is “quite impressed” at how quickly the Italian authorities took action.

The shelves in Lidl are almost empty and only had about five people going around. Most bars are closing at 6pm but restaurants appear to be open. Many of the streets are empty and Chinatown seems to be in lockdown, though whether it was self-imposed or due to a loss of business is unclear.

He likened the exodus from the city to the month of August, when many people go on holiday.

People are clearly concerned but I’m actually quite impressed how quickly the Italian government took action. A lot of people are jokingly talking in apocalyptic terms, but it does feel a bit like one walking around. The sense of concern seems more palpable now.

A man wearing a respiratory mask checks his smartphone next to a closed store in the Chinese district of Milan.
A man wearing a respiratory mask checks his smartphone next to a closed store in the Chinese district of Milan. Photograph: Miguel Medina/AFP via Getty Images

Kirsten King, who lives about 20 miles away from Vò, Venuto, said the fact a nearby town is closed off with patrols on the road feels “medieval”. Her area has not been locked down, but schools and cinemas are closed and sports events have been cancelled, while most people are staying at home.

My husband is the GP in our village, Veronella, so he’s been inundated with communications from the ministry of health since Saturday and has had to impose strict containment procedures.

He has to wear a mask when receiving patients and has forms to fill in for suspect cases, no more than one or two people in the waiting room which is kept unheated and well ventilated, no access to patients with flu-like symptoms – only phone contact or home visits as necessary.

Obviously he and all our family risk quarantine should a patient be diagnosed with Covid-19.

“I am sickened by the attempts to manipulate the crisis by the poisonous Matteo Salvini,” she added, after he attempted to politicise the coronavirus outbreak in the country by attacking the Italian government for not defending the country’s borders.

An Italian police officer talks to a farmer on a tractor at a road block in Zorlesco, northern Italy.
An Italian police officer talks to a farmer on a tractor at a road block in Zorlesco, northern Italy. Photograph: Claudio Furlan/AP

Josie, who is British and has lived in Brescia for two years, said that despite the museums and schools being closed for the week many Italians continuing life as normal she feels anxious.

As soon as I saw what was happening on Friday, and heard the rumours about containment measures, I went to the supermarket and stocked up on food and water filters just in case.

Some people here don’t see the point of the precautions, but I think we all have a responsibility to protect the most vulnerable people in our communities, like the elderly and those with weakened immune systems.

She teaches English and is worried about going back to work too soon, amid false reports on Monday that a person with the coronavirus died at the local hospital.

I wish I didn’t live alone. My friends here live with their partners and have a sounding board, but being at home alone without someone to talk to about my deeper fears is hard.

I live next to the Capitolium temple and would expect hoards of tour groups around the afternoon, and there is nobody. I don’t know how this is going to progress, but it feels like the start of a horror movie in many ways.

A woman wearing a protective mask walks in Brescia, Italy.
A woman wearing a protective mask walks in Brescia, Italy. Photograph: Simone Venezia/EPA

Jamie Wakefield, who is from Eastbourne and lives in Rimini, said that despite there being two cases of the coronavirus in Emilia-Romagna, all schools have been closed until next week.

What is surprising is the people panicking and queuing at the supermarkets, emptying the shelves of pasta and almost everything else. The news reports are somewhat sensationalist with no real practical advice of what to do in order to avoid contamination.

The media doesn’t seem to want to offer the reassuring notion that the virus is not as devastatingly destructive as many people seem to be making out.

To be honest, I don’t know what the authorities intend to do in a week’s time when the schools are supposed to reopen and the cases will have risen. Will everything slowly get shut down completely? I don’t see any other way.

Updated

England’s chief medical officer, Prof Chris Whitty, has said that if coronavirus becomes a global pandemic, then schools could be shut and public transport reduced.

Speaking to reporters Whitty said: “There’s no secret there’s a variety of things you need to look at, you look at things like school closures, you look at things like reducing transport.

“The expectation is not that we will do all these things, the expectation is we will be looking systematically, using the science, at all the building blocks and balancing the effects against costs to society.”

He also suggested that if the situation worsened, whole families could be asked to self isolate if one of them had symptoms of the virus. He added: “We might want to look at things like should people stay at home with their families in that situation.”

Some schools in England have already shut today because of fears that pupils may have brought coronavirus back with them from skiing trips in northern Italy. [See 13:17 and 12:11]

Updated

In scenes that are becoming increasingly familiar around the world here are some pictures of public places in South Korea being disinfected. With nearly 1,000 confirmed cases, the country now has the highest incidence of coronavirus outside of mainland China.

Workers in protective suits spray disinfectant at an indoor gymnasium in Seoul, South Korea
Workers in protective suits spray disinfectant at an indoor gymnasium in Seoul, South Korea. Photograph: Lee Jin-man/AP
Workers spray disinfectant at Seoul station in South Korea
Workers spray disinfectant at Seoul station in South Korea. Photograph: Kim Chul-Soo/EPA
A worker from the Korea Pest Control Association sprays disinfectant as part of preventive measures against the spread of coronavirus at the National Assembly in Seoul
A worker from the Korea Pest Control Association sprays disinfectant as part of preventive measures against the spread of coronavirus at the national assembly in Seoul. Photograph: YONHAP/AFP via Getty Images

Updated

Schools across the UK are sending pupils home as they struggle to comply with the latest official advice on Covid-19 for students and staff who spent last week’s half-term holiday in northern Italy.

Penair School in Truro this morning told parents to collect children who had been on a skiing trip to Ponte di Legno, which is near the Swiss border and well away from the towns currently under lockdown by the Italian authorities.

In a message sent to parents the Truro school said: “Following an announcement at 8am this morning, regarding the coronavirus, by the health secretary and having sought guidance from Public Health England (PHE) we are required to send all children and staff home who attended the ski trip, to self-quarantine for 14 days. Please be assured this is a precautionary measure.”

Meanwhile Brine Leas Academy in Nantwich said it was temporarily closing its sixth form after teachers and students also returned from a half-term trip to Italy. Cransley School, an independent school also in Cheshire, announced it would close for a week after some pupils reported feeling ill after a skiing trip to Bormio in Lombardy.

The decisions followed today’s updated advice from PHE for travellers returning from northern Italy – defined as north of Pisa, Florence and Rimini – to self-isolate if they felt symptoms of Covid-19, including fever or shortness of breath. PHE also said any travellers who had visited the 11 “specific lockdown areas” in northern Italy since 19 February should call 111 and avoid contact with others.

Other parents report being told to keep their children home from school after returning from family holidays in northern Italy over the half-term break.

We’ve got a video of schoolteacher Marzio Toniolo describing life under lockdown in San Fiorano, one of the northern Italian towns under quarantine as coronavirus cases rise.

Around 50,000 residents of 11 towns across Lombardy and Veneto have been quarantined for at least the next 15 days as Italian authorities scramble to contain the worst outbreak of the virus in Europe and the third worst in the world.

One British tourist at the H10 Costa Adeje Palace in Tenerife has told PA Media that she was enduring the “holiday from hell”.

Hannah Green, 27, from Hertfordshire, said she has been stuck inside with her boyfriend and one-year-old son twice since they arrived on Sunday – first because of a sandstorm that swept the Canary Islands, and now because of the positive coronavirus test at the hotel.

She described the communication from the hotel on Tuesday as “non-existent”, telling the news agency: “We woke up to a note under our door this morning saying for health reasons not to leave our room. I called downstairs to reception as soon as I saw it and they wouldn’t tell us anything.

“So I quickly got on my phone and Googled and saw a man had tested positive for coronavirus, so I basically assumed it was that. But since then we’ve had nothing from the hotel – no one has told us anything or what’s going to happen.”

She said that while some people were moving around the hotel, she was staying put, adding: “We’re in our room with the baby. We’re worried for the baby.”

She now hopes to leave as soon as possible, adding: “If we’re allowed to leave we’re going to go home, but I don’t think we’ll be allowed to leave. We don’t want to be here. We’re fed up now. We had the sandstorm earlier and now this. Holiday from hell, honestly.”

Here’s a map of where the hotel is in Tenerife.

Map of Tenerife

Updated

The UK government has updated the advice it is giving to people who have recently been travelling.

The full advice is now as follows:

Based on the scientific advice of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) the UK chief medical officers are advising anyone who has travelled to the UK from mainland China, Thailand, Japan, Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia or Macau in the last 14 days and is experiencing coughing or fever or shortness of breath, to stay indoors and call NHS 111, even if their symptoms are mild.

We are carrying out enhanced monitoring of direct flights from these areas. Passengers will be told how to report any symptoms they develop during the flight, at the time of arrival, or after leaving the airport.

These areas have been identified because of the volume of air travel from affected areas, understanding of other travel routes and number of reported cases. This list will be kept under review.

If you have returned from these specific areas since 19 February, you should call NHS111 and stay indoors and avoid contact with other people even if you do not have symptoms:

  • Iran.
  • Specific lockdown areas in northern Italy as designated by the government of Italy.
  • Special care zones in South Korea as designated by the government of the Republic of South Korea.
  • Hubei province (returned in the past 14 days).

If you have returned from these areas since 19 February and develop symptoms, however mild, you should stay indoors at home and avoid contact with other people immediately and call NHS111. You do not need to follow this advice if you have no symptoms:

  • Northern Italy (defined by a line above, and not including, Pisa, Florence and Rimini).
  • Vietnam.
  • Cambodia.
  • Laos.
  • Myanmar.

Updated

If you’re staying in the H10 Costa Adeje Palace hotel in Tenerife, which has been quarantined after an Italian guest tested positive for coronavirus, we’d like to hear from you. You can tell us about the situation by responding to this encrypted form or via WhatsApp by clicking here or adding the contact +44(0)7867825056.

Updated

A school in Cheshire has been forced to close amid concerns that students returning to the UK from a ski trip to Italy could be infected with coronavirus.

Cransley School, in Northwich, took the decision to close the school after NHS clinical services advised any staff or pupils who went on the trip to Bormio to self-isolate.

A number of students are believed to be experiencing symptoms of the virus after visiting the area in the Lombardy region, where hundreds of residents have contracted the deadly infection.

The school has closed to all pupils to undergo a “deep-clean” and has advised those returning from the excursion to self-contain regardless of whether they are showing symptoms.

The headteacher, Richard Pollock, used the school’s official Facebook page to share his decision to close the school, adding that he would visit Warrington General hospital tomorrow.

He said: “Regardless of the current Public Health England advice (that the school should remain open to all other pupils) I have decided, in discussion with the SMT and the chair and vice-chair of governors, to completely minimise possible spread of infection and close the school for the remainder of the week.

“During this time, the school will be able to conduct a deep clean, and monitor the results of tests amongst those pupils who are currently showing flu-like symptoms.

“I understand that there will be a variety of reactions to this decision amongst parents, and hope that all families will understand the developing situation and the changing and inconsistent advice given to the school. The staff, pupils and families of Cransley are our highest concern.”

A second school in Cheshire, Brine Leas Academy in Nantwich, has also been affected by travel to Italy. The school said on Twitter it would remain open but that the sixth form college would close due to “staff shortages”.

Updated

Croatia latest European country to confirm coronavirus case

Croatia’s prime minister, Andrej Plenković, has confirmed its first case of coronavirus infection, in a patient who is hospitalised in the capital.

“The patient is in the Zagreb clinic for infectious diseases. It is a younger person and he has milder symptoms. He is in isolation and his condition is good at the moment,” Plenković told a news conference.

The health minister, Vili Beroš, said the patient had stayed in Milan from 19 to 21 February.

Updated

Iran's deputy health minister tests positive for coronavirus - reports

In Iran, it is being reported that the deputy health minister has tested positive for coronavirus. According to the semi-official news agency ILNA, the spokesman for Iran’s health ministry confirmed in an interview with state television that Deputy Minister Iraj Harirchi has been infected and is now under quarantine.

Iraj Harirchi had been working as normal on Monday, and gave a news conference with journalists in Tehran about the virus during which he reportedly had been sweating and looking uncomfortable.

Updated

Austria reports first two cases of coronavirus

It appears that Austria has its first two cases of coronavirus, in the province of Tyrol. There’s no indication yet of the source of the outbreak, but Tyrol borders northern Italy where officials are struggling to contain a growing number of cases.

Updated

Back in the City, the FTSE 100 index of leading blue-chip shares has fallen to a new four-month low.

The small gains reported earlier didn’t last. Traders have been spooked again by the latest coronavirus cases in Iran, Italy and the Canary Islands, which have pushed down markets across Europe.

The engineering group Meggitt and chemicals firm Croda are leading the FTSE 100 fallers, after they both warned shareholders this morning that Covid-19 will hit their businesses.

Neil MacKinnon, a global macro strategist at VTB Capital, says investors are alarmed by the economic damage caused within China, and the rising infections in other countries.

“Once travel restrictions inside China are lifted there is a risk of the virus increasing again and/or a reluctance of people to return to work. This looks like more of an ‘L-shaped recovery’ as far as the Chinese economy is concerned and full-capacity working is unlikely to happen before the third quarter.”

“The ramifications are certainly global, given that China has accounted for a third of global GDP growth over the past decade. The disruption to global supply chains and disruption to trade and investment flows is considerable,” MacKinnon warns.

The FTSE 100 is down 55 points, or 0.7%, at 7101 – its weakest level since 4 October. That’s on top of the 247 points lost in Monday’s rout. The Stoxx 600 index, which tracks Europe’s largest companies, has dropped by almost 1% today.

Our business liveblog has more details:

Updated

Italian authorities are investigating the skyrocketing online prices for hygienic masks and sanitising gels after the coronavirus outbreak in northern Italy, according to two senior magistrates.

“We have decided to open an investigation after media reports of the insane prices fetched up by these products on online sales websites in the last two days,” the Milan deputy chief prosecutor, Tiziana Siciliano, told Reuters.

The biggest outbreak in Europe has hit Italy, with more than 260 cases and seven deaths reported, most in the north of the country.

Many pharmacists have run out of hygienic masks and hand sanitisers, with people going online to buy them. “The price of masks online has risen from one cent to €10 each and a one-litre bottle of disinfectant that last week was on sale for €7, was up to €39 yesterday,” Siciliano said.

As the emergency has spread, police have also issued warnings that criminals posing as health inspectors have been using false identity papers to try to gain access to people’s houses to steal money or other valuables.

Updated

88,000 hit by virus: a summary of the news

I will be passing over the live blog to my colleague shortly, so here is a summary of updates so far. There have now been 80,000 people hit by the virus.

  • A hotel in Tenerife, part of the Canary islands – where an Italian man who has tested positive for coronavirus was staying – has been put on lockdown. One thousand guests at the hotel have also been placed in isolation to halt any further spread of the disease. The H10 Costa Adeje Palace hotel on the south of the island is under quarantine and it was reported that police were “ensuring that none of the customers staying at the hotel left or entered the hotel”.
  • Travellers returning to the UK from northern Italy may need to self-isolate as part of measures to stop the spread of coronavirus, the health secretary, Matt Hancock, said. He said that official advice, updated on Tuesday, had been changed to say that those who have been to northern Italy, north of Pisa, should self-isolate if they develop flu-like symptoms on their return to the UK.
  • Hancock also said Britons who have been in lockdown regions of Italy, including those in the Lombardy and Veneto region, should self-isolate at home for 14 days even if they have no symptoms.
  • In Iran, the death toll due to the coronavirus has reached 16, a health ministry official told state TV on Tuesday. Iran has the highest number of deaths from coronavirus outside China, where the virus emerged late last year.
  • Four new cases of coronavirus have been detected in Iraq in Kirkuk province, the health ministry said. This means there are now five cases in the country.
  • Italian authorities announced on Tuesday the first positive coronavirus case in the south of Italy. A woman from Bergamo, who was on holiday with her friends in Sicily, has tested positive for Covid-19. The patient, who is not in a serious condition, has been transferred to the Hospital Cervello in Palermo.

Updated

The holiday package firms Tui and Jet2holidays use the Tenerife hotel at the centre of the coronavirus scare.

The H10 Costa Adeje Palace is a four-star seafront hotel with nearly 500 rooms, and has four pools and a gym. A letter sent by managers to guests says they must stay in their rooms after a man there was diagnosed with coronavirus.

A spokesman for the firm Jet2, which has its headquarters in Leeds, said in a statement to the PA Media news agency:

We are aware of reports that a non-Jet2holidays customer staying at the H10 Costa Adeje Palace in Tenerife has tested positive for coronavirus. Under the advice of the regional and the Spanish government authorities, the hotel has been placed under quarantine.

The health and safety of our customers is our absolute priority, and we will release more information as it becomes available. In line with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice, our flying programme remains unchanged.”

Updated

Measures announced to delay arrival of coronavirus in Ireland

Irish authorities are expected to announce more stringent measures against coronavirus on Tuesday in an effort to delay what is considered its almost inevitable arrival in Ireland.

The national public health emergency team (NPHET) is to meet this afternoon to review preparations and recommendations related to travel and mass gatherings.

The outbreak in Italy has significantly increased the chance of a coronavirus case reaching Ireland, the health minister, Simon Harris, said on Monday. Ryanair shares tumbled 13% on the ISEQ index of Irish shares on Monday.

A Pro 14 rugby game between Ulster and Benetton, which was due to take place in the northern Italian city of Treviso on Saturday, has been postponed.

Ireland’s Six Nations game against Italy at Dublin’s Aviva stadium on 7 March – which is expected to draw up to 5,000 Italian visitors - is still scheduled to go ahead. That may change depending on whether Italy manages to contain its outbreak.

Organisers of an international James Joyce symposium in June in Trieste, northern Italy, told the Times they planned to go ahead in hope that by then the outbreak will be contained.

Updated

Closing borders, blanket travel bans and more extreme government policies will not stop the spread of coronavirus, according to the head of the World Travel and Tourism Council.

It comes as travel companies face huge economic losses amid fears about the virus. In the UK, the biggest faller in the FTSE 100 was EasyJet, which sank 16.7%, while Tui and British Airways owner IAG were both down by more than 9% at the close.

Gloria Guevara, the president and chief executive of the World Travel and Tourism Council, called for governments and authorities worldwide not to overreact with disproportionate measures in a bid to control Covid-19.

She said: “Governments and those in authority must not seek to choke travel and trade at this time. Closing borders, imposing blanket travel bans and implementing extreme policies are not the answer to stopping the spread of coronavirus.

“Past experience shows that taking such extreme action has been ineffective at best. We urge governments to explore fact-based measures which don’t affect the vast majority of people and businesses for whom travel is essential.”

As infection numbers continue to grow, the World Health Organization spokesman said on Tuesday that many countries have pandemic plans ready, and some may act on them depending on their situation but WHO itself does not plan “a big announcement”. He added that countries have to be prepared “literally knocking at every door”.

wing of an easyjet plane

Updated

People could be banned from gathering in large numbers to contain coronavirus, Scotland’s chief medical officer has said.

Dr Catherine Calderwood looked to how cases have been dealt with in Italy, with football matches called off and church services in the affected regions cancelled .

Speaking on BBC Good Morning Scotland, she said the government and NHS were working on “containment first” and then – if coronavirus was discovered in this country – a range of measures to try to limit the number of people infected.

“If we do have a cluster, as has happened in Italy, then we move into delaying the spread,” Dr Calderwood said.

“Delaying the spread would mean some of the measures that have happened already in Italy – stopping people coming together in large groups so that one or a few individuals do not spread to many, many more around them.”

Updated

Singapore will ban visitors with recent travel history to Cheongdo and Daegu in South Korea amid fears over the virus.

The country has stepped up its “maximum measures” to contain the coronavirus with plans to test around 200,000 members of a secretive church believed to be at the centre of the country’s outbreak.

Two more people infected with the new coronavirus have died, taking the toll in Iran to 16, a health ministry official told state TV on Tuesday. Iran has the highest number of deaths from coronavirus outside China, where the virus emerged late last year.

Updated

Rory Stewart, the former international development secretary and independent candidate for mayor of London, has criticised the World Health Organisation for being “far too slow” to describe the new coronavirus outbreak as a global pandemic.

At an event in London, run by Christian Aid on Monday night, Steward said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the WHO was “not getting this response right.”

“They have been far too slow to declare a public health emergency of international concern, a month too late, and they have been far too slow to declare a global pandemic,” he said.

rory stewart

On Tuesday, he told the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the WHO’s failure to declare the outbreak a global pandemic, was “big problem” as it held up World Bank funds to developing countries and thus had increased the chance of the virus spreading to countries like Britain.

Stewart said: “Tedros has been unbelievably slow, firstly to declare a world health emergency and then a global pandemic.”

“And that’s a big big problem, because until the pandemic’s declared, you can’t release the World Bank’s funds, so that poorer countries can put the processes in place to be able to deal with the virus and that increases the chance of it spreading to countries like Britain. And that was purely for political reasons, the desire not to offend the Chinese government.”

He said that “huge amounts” of pressure should be placed on the WHO, to ensure they do not make the same mistakes they made with Ebola.

“So we are a member of the World Health Organisation I was actually there when Tedros was appointed, huge amounts of pressure needs to be put on the WHO to sort this out. They made the same mistake with Ebola, they are making it again at the moment with coronavirus.”

He said the second thing needed was to “reassure people”.

“What you don’t want is conspiracy theories spreading because we are not communicating clearly enough and regularly enough, that this is well understood, that actually the Chinese situation is unusual because of the way it was handled in China. And that we have good procedures in place to make sure we handle it better in Britain and that we are thinking about what we can do about transport, about policing, in a worse case scenario.”

Updated

A Turkish Airlines plane flying from Iran has been diverted to Ankara at the request of the government, an aviation source said.

An aviation news website said one passenger was suspected of being infected by coronavirus. Turkey’s Demiroren news agency broadcast video showing ambulances lined up beside the plane, with personnel wearing white protective suits on the tarmac.

The plane was flying from the Iranian capital, Tehran, and had been scheduled to land in Istanbul. Turkey shut its borders to Iran on Sunday and cut flights due to the spread of the virus in that country.

Updated

The Guardian’s Madrid correspondent, Sam Jones, reports on the latest below.

The Tenerife hotel where the Italian man who has tested positive for coronavirus was staying has been put on lockdown and its thousand guests placed in isolation to halt any further spread of the disease.

A well-placed source on the island confirmed to the Guardian that the hotel, theH10 Costa Adeje Palace hotel on the south of the island, was under quarantine.The Diario de Avisos, a Tenerife-based newspaper, said that strict protocol was being followed at the hotel.

It reported that police were “ensuring that none of the customers staying at the hotel left or entered the hotel”.Spain’s national health ministry declined to comment, referring queries to the regional health ministry, which could not be contacted for comment.

Updated

Japan’s largest advertising agency, Dentsu, has said one of the employees at its headquarters has been infected with coronavirus and that it has instructed all HQ-based employees to work from home.

Updated

Zoe McLean, 43, from Herefordshire – who i due to travel to Venice soon – said that she felt government advice about travel to northern Italy was unclear.

“My partner and I have a two-week holiday planned in northern italy, flying next Sunday but we are now in limbo. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office says it is safe to travel but today the health secretary, Matt Hancock, said those returning may have to self-isolate themselves,” she said.

“It all seems a bit conflicted and leaves us uncertain about what to do. If we cancel out trip at the moment we won’t get any money back – lots of flights and hotels have been paid for in advance. But if we go … we do worry about the risk of picking up the virus and bringing it home to elderly relatives and neighbours.”

On Tuesday, Hancock said the official advice around coronavirus is being updated so that people returning to the UK from any areas quarantined by the Italian government should self-isolate whether they show symptoms or not.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast on Tuesday, Hancock said: “Yes, the official advice which will be formally updated at 8am is going to change so that those who have been to northern Italy – north of Pisa – if they have flu-like symptoms should self-isolate.

“If people have been to the affected areas that the Italian government have quarantined then they should self-isolate whether or not they have symptoms.”

Updated

The British couple who were diagnosed with coronavirus onboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan have said they are recovering from the disease .

Speaking live from a specialist infectious diseases hospital in Japan, David Abel said: “We have had a fever, our temperatures were high – that’s all worked its way out quite naturally in our body, which we’re very thankful for.

“The best course of treatment for us is allowing the body’s natural immunity to get rid of whatever is there.”

The couple were both diagnosed with pneumonia, and have been tested for the Covid-19 infection again today, with the results expected tomorrow.

David said although he has lost weight, he is gaining strength every day, and his wife Sally, who is being treated in the same room, is “virtually over” her pneumonia.

“They were talking a few days ago about putting me on a respirator. Thank God that was not needed,” said David. “Language is a barrier […] but they are lovely nurses and doctors, and we laugh about it.

“It’s very difficult when you’re confined to four walls, and you lose your normal freedom and you lose your normal communication and there’s no natural daylight. It’s really hard going but we’re alive.

“We’ve got memories from the fabulous cruise and we’ve got a real hope of seeing our friends and family back in the UK in the not too distant future, and that’s what is keeping us going.”

Updated

The outbreak of the coronavirus has killed 15 in Iran and there have been 95 confirmed cases, according to the health ministry. Latest figures show the virus, which started in China, has now infected more than 80,000 people globally.

Updated

Health authorities in the Canary islands have activated their coronavirus protocol after an Italian man staying in Tenerife tested positive for the virus.

In a statement issued late on Monday night, they said “an Italian citizen has tested positive during initial tests at the University hospital of Our Lady of Candelaria” in Tenerife, adding that samples would now be sent to the National Microbiology Centre near Madrid for definitive tests.

“The man is in isolation and under medical supervision,” the statement said. “The Canary Islands have, in coordination with the national health ministry, activated the same protocol undertaken in other parts of the country where other suspected cases of the disease have been detected.”

If the tests are positive, Spain will have three confirmed cases of the coronavirus – one on the remote Canary island of La Gomera and another on the Balearic island of Mallorca.

Updated

Stock markets have steadied after falling on Monday amid fears over the spread of coronavirus.

However, experts have warned of further drops as the outbreak rages on. The FTSE 100 Index opened with small gains on Tuesday as it pulled out of the biggest fall for four years.

More than £62bn was wiped off the value of Britain’s top share index in the previous session after news of the first major outbreak of coronavirus in Europe, with Italy suffering hundreds of cases.

Indices across Europe showed signs of stabilising as investors looked to pick up bargains after the heavy falls, thanks also to a cautious rise on the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong overnight.

The Dax in Germany and France’s Cac 40 were just over 20 points lower each within the first hour of trading on Tuesday, having both fallen 4% on Monday.

Russ Mould, an investment director at AJ Bell, said:

While stocks still have a long way to go to make up for Monday’s losses, it is encouraging to see share prices starting to move up. It would suggest there are plenty of investors confident enough to go shopping for bargains rather than widespread fear.”

But Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, said it was likely markets were only pausing for breath. He said:

There is no question financial markets are coming round to the realisation that this particular crisis is likely to have a slightly longer shelf life than many thought was the case a couple of weeks ago.

There appears little prospect that financial markets look likely to settle down in the short term, which means investors will have to get used to an extended period of uncertainty and volatility.”

Updated

If you want to share any thoughts or news tips with me about the coronavirus then please email: sarah.marsh@theguardian.com or tweet me @sloumarsh. My direct messages are open. Thanks

A health expert has said that he is sceptical about a vaccine being created to deal with the coronavirus before the situation has been brought under control.

The director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Prof Peter Piot, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I don’t expect that there will be a vaccine available for millions of people who would need it before the end of the year.

“I am very sceptical that we will have a vaccine before this epidemic is brought under control. But it may be very useful to have one if this becomes seasonal and every year we have a wave of this.”

Updated

Four new cases of coronavirus have been detected in Iraq in Kirkuk province, the health ministry said. This means there are now five cases in the country.

The patients are an Iraqi family who had been on a trip to Iran, the ministry said in a statement. They have been placed in quarantine. Iraq reported its first case of the virus on Monday, an Iranian theology student in the holy Shia city of Najaf.

Updated

The new coronavirus is a “game changer” that will require a rethink of global supply networks especially in the health and medicine, the French finance minister said.

“The coronavirus epidemic is a game-changer for globalisation,” Bruno Le Maire said during a visit to Athens, adding that the outbreak had highlighted an “irresponsible and unreasonable” reliance on China.

“We cannot continue to rely on China for 80 to 85% of pharmaceutical active ingredients,” said Le Maire. And the resulting industrial slowdown in China would have a “direct impact” on industrial resupply, he added.

The minister said the virus that has killed nearly 2,600 people worldwide would have an impact on travel, given the number of Chinese tourists to Europe. France alone attracts more than 2.5 million Chinese visitors a year, an “important” share of the French tourism sector, Le Maire said.

In France, one person has died from the virus so far – an elderly Chinese tourist. A further 11 have been treated in hospital , with 10 recovering.

Updated

Canary Islands: hundreds of tourists tested after case in hotel

Spanish health authorities are carrying out tests on hundreds of tourists in a Canary Islands hotel after a coronavirus case has been identified.

Holidaymakers have reportedly been quarantined inside a complex in Tenerife, and local reports have named the hotel as the H10 Costa Adeje Palace in Adeje, in the south of the island. It’s a region that is extremely popular with British tourists at this time of the year.

Spanish health authorities could not immediately confirm the lockdown but said hundreds of tourists and staff in the hotel were being tested for the virus. “We are checking people who had contact with the patient including the people in the hotel,” said a spokeswoman for Canary Island’s health department.

Updated

Iran latest: 61 cases and 15 deaths

The novel coronavirus has claimed three more lives in Iran, state media reported, taking the country’s overall death toll to 15.

Two of those who died were elderly women in the central province of Markazi. Another patient in the northern province of Alborz has also died, the state news agency Irna reported.

An Iranian worker carrying medical stuff as wearing face mask on a street of Tehran, Iran.
An Iranian worker carrying medical stuff as wearing face mask on a street of Tehran, Iran. Photograph: Abedin Taherkenareh/EPA

“One was an 87-year-old woman with a history of cardiovascular, pulmonary, liver and kidney diseases who passed away after being hospitalised for two days,” Abbas Nikravesh, head of Saveh city’s medical university, told IRNA.

The other was an 82-year-old with “serious blood and cardiovascular diseases” who died after being hospitalised for a day, he added, noting that she had a history of visiting Qom as her children live there.

“Three cases of coronavirus infection have been confirmed in Saveh city so far, with two dead,” Nikravesh said. “There is now one infected 78-year-old woman from Afghanistan under special care.”

IRNA did not name the patient in Alborz or detail any underlying health conditions. ‘This patient was under special care in recent days when he passed away,” Hassan Inanlou, deputy head of Alborz’s medical university, was quoted as saying.

According to IRNA, there are two more confirmed cases hospitalised in Alborz. Iran has confirmed 61 cases of coronavirus infection so far.

Updated

First infection confirmed in south of Italy

Here is the latest from Lorenzo Tondo, a Guardian correspondent covering Italy and the migration crisis. He reports from Palermo.

Italian authorities have announced on Tuesday the first positive coronavirus case in the South of Italy.

A woman from Bergamo, who was on holiday with her friends in Sicily, has tested positive for Convid-19. The patient, who is not in serious conditions, has been transferred to the Hospital Cervello in Palermo.

She had been on holiday in Palermo since before the outbreak of the virus in the country. Her husband and friends have been quarantined for at least the next 15 days as Italian authorities scramble to contain the worst outbreak of the virus in Europe and the third worst in the world.

In the meantime, a 60-year old Italian entrepreneur from Florence, who came back from Singapore, has also tested positive for Convid-19, as the number of confirmed cases in the country rises to over 220, with seven deaths.

All those who have died had underlying health problems.

On Monday, the country’s prime minister Giuseppe Conte blamed the surge on a hospital he did not name, citing that the disease had spread ‘’because safety protocols were not respected’’.

“The economic impact of the virus could be very strong’’, Conte added, “At this moment, we can calculate that there will be a negative economic impact, we are not yet in a position to forecast what will happen’’.

On Saturday, the Italian authorities implemented draconian measures to try to halt the coronavirus outbreak in the north of the country, including imposing fines on anyone caught entering or leaving outbreak areas.

More than 3,000 tests for coronavirus have been carried out over the last few days, although authorities are still trying to identity “patient zero” – the person who brought the virus to the region. The first man infected, a researcher at Unilever, came down with symptoms after attending a dinner at which there was a colleague who had recently returned from China, who tested negative for the virus.

“The peak in Italy is partly due to all the tests being done,” said Roberta Siliquini, a former president of Italy’s higher health council. “We have found positive cases in people who probably had few or no symptoms and who may have overcome the virus without even knowing it.”

Meanwhile, Maltese chandlers and port workers in Paola and Valletta, in Malta, have stopped their operations over coronavirus fears, refusing to board vessels coming from Italy to unload cargo, Malta Today has reported.

According to MaltaToday, “port workers are complaining of a lack of medical staff in the area as they handle cargo that has arrived from Italian ports.’’

The Italian government has been criticised for hastily cancelling flights to and from China as, without coherence across Europe, people have been able to fly to other European cities and enter Italy from there.

A Tenerife hotel withs 1,000 guests is reportedly in lockdown after an Italian tourist tested positive to contracting the new coronavirus.

The holidaymakers have been quarantined inside the complex, and local reports have named the hotel as the H10 Costa Adeje Palace in Adeje, south of the island. It’s a region that is extremely popular with British tourists at this time of the year.

Police are said to be surrounding the hotel to make sure no one enters or leaves to control the virus’ spread.

Italy may need to call on the European Union to offer leeway on its budget targets as it struggles with the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, a senior official said.

Deputy economy minister, Laura Castelli, made the comments a day after prime minister Giuseppe Conte warned that the fallout from the outbreak, which has concentrated in the economic powerhouses of northern Italy, would be “very strong”.

The country’s economy is already on the brink of recession, with one of the highest debt burdens in the eurozone.

“There are resources that the EU can give us in relation to economic events that could lower GDP considerably. We hope we won’t need it but it’s a situation in which the EU should,” Castelli told RAI radio.

Officials from the World Health Organization and the European Union were due to meet in Rome on Tuesday to discuss the crisis.

Italy, the country in Europe worst affected, has reported more than 220 cases and seven deaths, mostly in Lombardy, the northern region that includes the financial capital Milan and Veneto.

The tourist industry, which accounts for about 13% of GDP, fears a plunge in bookings as the government has ordered a clampdown on public events including soccer matches. The Venice carnival – one of the world’s premier tourist attractions –was shut early for the first time in decades and airlines began restricting flights to Italy.

A man wearing a protective facemask plays with pigeons in the Piazza del Duomo in central Milan.
A man wearing a protective facemask plays with pigeons in the Piazza del Duomo in central Milan. Photograph: Miguel Medina/AFP via Getty Images

If you want to share any thoughts or news tips with me about the coronavirus then please email: sarah.marsh@theguardian.com or tweet me @sloumarsh. My direct messages are open. Thanks

Fans of Japanese girl group Perfume wait in line for fan merchandise before the start of the group’s concert outside Tokyo Dome on Tuesday.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that new measures like companies letting their employees work from home and hospitals expanding their capacity to treat many patients will determine if Japan could control its coronavirus outbreak.

Fans of Japanese girl group Perfume wait in line for fan merchandise before the start of the group’s concert outside Tokyo Dome on Tuesday.

Iran's death toll reaches 14

Two more Iranians infected with coronavirus have died, media website Eghtesad online said on Tuesday, taking the death toll to 14 – the highest tally of deaths outside China.

“Tests showed they had the new coronavirus,” the head of the medical science university of Saveh said, according to the website.

Iran’s state TV said a team from the World Health Organisation (WHO) will arrive in the country on Tuesday.

Iran has yet to say how many people it has quarantined but the semi-official Mehr news agency said 320 people had been hospitalised in the Shi’ite holy city of Qom, where Tehran confirmed its first two deaths last week.

The outbreak in Iran comes as its clerical rulers face mounting U.S. pressure that has hit the economy hard. The outbreak threatens to isolate Iran even further, with several countries suspending flights after coronavirus cases in travellers from Iran were confirmed in Canada, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Some neighbouring countries have closed their borders. Six arab countries have reported their first cases of coronavirus. Kuwait said on Tuesday the total number of infected people there had risen to eight. Bahrain said it also had eight cases, four of whom were Saudi nationals and two Bahrainis.

To prevent the spread of the virus, Iranian authorities have ordered the nationwide cancellation of concerts, soccer matches, closures of schools and universities in many provinces as a precaution.

Number of infections in South Korea approaching 980

South Korea reports 84 more cases of new virus, bringing total number of infections to 977.

Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, said on Tuesday that new measures – including companies letting their employees work from home – will determine whether Japan can control its coronavirus outbreak.

“We are at an extremely important time in ending the spread of infection at an early stage,” Abe said at a meeting of a task force on the outbreak.

He said sporadic cases of unknown transmission routes and small clusters were occurring, but slowing down the pace of new infections was crucial to stopping its spread.

Japan has confirmed 850 cases, third highest among nations behind China and South Korea.

They include people infected on the Diamond Princess cruise ship. Abe’s government has been widely criticized after the quarantine of the ship was seen to have failed to stop the virus from spreading.

Three former passengers on the ship died, and more than a dozen people who were evacuated from it by their home countries later tested positive for new coronavirus.

Updated

Hancock added that the government was not aware of any Britons who were in the quarantined areas of northern Italy.

However, he said that anyone who is should make contact with the embassy in Rome. “We are not aware of any British citizens who are within the quarantined area, if they are we would ask them to get in contact with the consulate in Rome,” he said.

The health secretary, Matt Hancock, has said the official advice around coronavirus is being updated so that people returning to the UK from any areas quarantined by the Italian government should self-isolate whether they show symptoms or not.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast on Tuesday, Hancock said: “Yes, the official advice which will be formally updated at 8am is going to change so that those who have been to northern Italy – north of Pisa – if they have flu-like symptoms should self-isolate.

“If people have been to the affected areas that the Italian government have quarantined then they should self-isolate whether or not they have symptoms.”

Updated

Caitlin Fletcher, an Australian living and studying in Seoul, said:

The South Korean government has automatically extended foreign f4 visas – which are mainly for students – to prevent immigration offices from being overwhelmed. Those registered all received text messages yesterday and I checked the website this morning. Most classes have been pushed back at least a fortnight and foreign students enrolled in courses in Daegu have been un-enrolled.

I am a student in Seoul, the capital. Schools in South Korea at the moment are currently on holidays, so the government has just extended the break. Many of the planned university graduation ceremonies last week had to be cancelled in Seoul. I know that the government asked the universities to delay the start of the next semester, particularly at the language schools, to account for foreign students.

Over the last few days, it has been noticeable that the numbers of infection cases is rising. There are less people out on the streets but there are still people around, and shops and restaurants are still open. One of the bigger department stores had to close so that they could disinfect the food court last weekend. I can only imagine the damage the virus has had on the economy.

General travel is not advised. Seoul is quite far from Daegu – about four hours by car – so it’s not like the infections are in the capital of South Korea. However, people are concerned … I have friends in Hong Kong and I know face mask prices there are skyrocketing. Here they are more expensive than normal but still available. A common misconception is that you can buy one mask and wear if for a while. Most masks last just a few hours so it’s actually better to wear two a day.

I caught the subway on Sunday and I would say 85% of people are wearing masks, not 100%.

Updated

One of three Wall Street Journal reporters ordered to leave China has been told by the government that she can remain.

China’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Zhao Lijian, told a daily briefing that Chao Deng, who has been unable to leave the Wuhan –the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak – following a lockdown that sought to contain the spread of the virus, is being allowed to remain on humanitarian grounds.

Sign lies on the ground at the parking area of a closed bus terminal in Wuhan, the epicentre of the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Sign lies on the ground at the parking area of a closed bus terminal in Wuhan, the epicentre of the novel coronavirus outbreak. Photograph: Reuters

She can comply with the order to leave China after the epidemic ends, he said, adding that she cannot do any reporting work while there.

Deng and two other Wall Street Journal reporters were ordered to leave last week after the newspaper did not comply with Beijing’s repeated demands for an apology and investigation into a Feb 3 column that called China the “real sick man of Asia.”

Kuwait reports three new cases of coronavirus, raising total to eight.

Global statistics: there have now been 80,000 people hit by the virus

The outbreak has now affected 80,000 people globally. The World Health Organization has named the illness COVID-19, referring to its origin late last year and the coronavirus that causes it.

The latest figures reported by each government’s health authority as of Tuesday in Beijing:

Mainland China: 2,663 deaths among 77,658 cases, mostly in the central province of Hubei.

Hong Kong: 81 cases, two deaths.

Macao: 10 cases.

Japan: 850 cases, including 691 from a cruise ship docked in Yokohama, four deaths.

South Korea: 893 cases, eight deaths.

Italy: 229 cases, seven deaths.

Singapore: 89 cases.

Iran: 61 cases, 12 deaths.

United States: 35 cases; separately, one US citizen died in China.

Thailand: 37 cases.
Taiwan: 30 cases, one death.

Australia: 23 cases.

Malaysia: 22 cases.

Vietnam: 16 cases.

Germany: 16 cases.

France: 12 cases, one death.

United Arab Emirates: 13 cases.

United Kingdom: 13 cases.

Canada: 11 cases.

Philippines: 3 cases, one death.

Kuwait: 3 cases.

There have been three cases in India, two in Russia, three in Spain, two in Israel, two in Oman, two in Bahrain, one in Lebanon, one in Belgium, one in Nepal, one in Sri Lanka, one in Sweden, one in Cambodia, one in Finland, one in Egypt and one in Afghanistan.

Updated

The number of novel coronavirus cases in south Korea is approaching 900 as the president Moon Jae-in said the outbreak is “very grave”.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) confirmed 60 new cases in its morning update – after three days of triple-digit increases – taking the tally to 893, the largest national total anywhere outside China.

The latest numbers come as the country announced its smallest rise in cases for several days.

On Tuesday, president Moon Jae-in visited the outbreak’s epi-centre in South Korea’s fourth-largest city Daegu. More than 80% of the infections have been in Daegu and neighbouring North Gyeongsang province.

“The situation is very grave,” President Moon Jae-in said, wearing the uniform of a government emergency official. “We will achieve a victory in the fight against this virus,” he added.

The streets of Daegu - which has a population of 2.5 million - have been largely deserted for days, apart from long queues at the few shops with masks for sale.

South Korea’s parliament cancelled sessions Tuesday as it closed for cleaning after confirmation a person with the coronavirus had attended a meeting last week.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised travellers to “avoid all nonessential travel” to South Korea.

Hong Kong has said it will not allow arrivals from South Korea other than returning residents, while a Mongolian ban on flights to and from the South came into force Tuesday.

I am now taking over the live blog from the Guardian’s London office. If you want to share any thoughts or news tips with me about the coronavirus then please email: sarah.marsh@theguardian.com or tweet me @sloumarsh.

Dubai International airport, the world’s busiest for international travel, says UAE will limit Iran flights over the virus outbreak.

Updated

The British engineering company Meggitt warned that its growth in 2020 would be constrained by factors including the disruption caused by coronavirus.

The company said organic revenue growth in 2020 would come in at between 2% to 4%. That compares with the 8% rise in organic revenue growth for 2019 which it posted on Tuesday, helping drive underlying operating profit up by 10% to £402.8m.

Updated

Summary

Here’s a summary of what we know about the coronavirus so far:

Updated

US raises travel alert level to South Korea

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has raised its warning level for trips to South Korea to “avoid non-essential travel”.

Updated

Iran raises death toll to 14

Two more people have died in Iran from Covid-19, according to the Reuters news agency, taking the number of fatalities in the country to 14.

On Monday, Iranian officials scrambled to deny that 50 people had died of the virus in the shrine city of Qom, which is thought to be a hub of the disease in the country.

You can read our full story on fears gripping the Middle East over the virus outbreak below:

South Korea's catholic church suspends services in capital

Catholic churches in the South Korean capital have suspended all masses and events until 10 March.

“All churches of the archdiocese of Seoul will stop holding masses and all indoor and outdoor events for the next 14 days from 26 February through 10 March,” the archbishop of Seoul, Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, said in a statement.

This includes the city’s Myeongdong cathedral. Seoul’s archdiocese has 232 chapels and churches under its jurisdiction.

Earlier, the Seoul city government banned all gatherings of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, a minor Christian sect believed to be responsible for a surge in the number of coronavirus infections in the country.

Updated

Chinese university says it has developed vaccine for virus

At Tianjin University, near Beijing, scientists say they have developed an oral vaccine for Covid-19, according to the Global Times.

The professor who led the project, Huang Jinhai, said the vaccine could also serve as a potential therapy for infected patients. The outlet said Huang had taken four doses himself and had not experienced any side-effects.

“The oral vaccine uses food-grade saccharomyces cerevisiae as a carrier and the spike protein of the coronavirus as a target spot to produce antibodies to fight Covid-19, according to a statement from Tianjin University,” the Global Times said.

The university is reported to be looking for partners to run clinical trials.

A woman wearing a protective face mask walks on an overpass in Shanghai.
A woman wearing a protective face mask walks on an overpass in Shanghai. Photograph: Noel Celis/AFP via Getty Images

Updated

Vietnam's clothing industry hit by coronavirus disruption

Vietnamese garment makers will face a severe shortage of materials in the second quarter of this year, because of disruption to their supply chains, the chairman of the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association says.

Garments and textiles are Vietnam’s third-largest export earner, and the industry is heavily reliant on materials from China. An estimated 50% of materials are shipped from China.

Japan postpones J-League football games

Japan’s J-League says it has postponed seven Levian Cup matches scheduled for Wednesday due to concerns about the coronavirus outbreak and is considering postponing all domestic soccer games through the first half of March.

The J-League said the decision to postpone Wednesday’s matches was part of efforts to contain the spread of the virus. “The J-League will make maximum efforts to prevent infection and prevent its spread,” it said in a statement.

The spread of the coronavirus has forced the cancellation of many sports events in recent weeks, including Serie A soccer matches in Italy, and raised alarm bells for Tokyo 2020 organisers.

Japan’s health minister, Katsunobu Kato, said on Tuesday it was still too early to talk about cancelling the Olympics, which are due to start on 24 July.

The International Olympic Committee has said it had been advised by the World Health Organization that there is no case for contingency plans to cancel or relocate the Games.

Updated

You may recall that yesterday we reported that Wuhan was lifting some restrictions for people who wanted to leave the city. However, it was reversed a few hours after being announced and Ying Yong, the newly appointed party chief in Hubei, called for strict control of the exit routes. The province’s health commission has reiterated that on Tuesday.

Strictest control of personnel outflow continues in #COVID19 epicenter #Wuhan, Central China's Hubei Province, the National Health Commission announced Tuesday. pic.twitter.com/tm6N9VzJcq

— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) February 25, 2020

Updated

Hong Kong schools closed until after Easter – report

Schools in Hong Kong will stay closed until after the Easter holidays have finished in April, according to a report in the South China Morning Post.

They were due to reopen on Monday 16 March but the Post says the government will keep them shut until after Easter, which is the weekend of 11/12 April.

Coronavirus: Hong Kong school closures to extend beyond Easter https://t.co/krOnmRwti5

— SCMP News (@SCMPNews) February 25, 2020

However, they may allow students to sit university exams set to start on 27 March.

South Korea cases rise to 893

South Korea’s numbers for coronavirus infections has gone up again – 60 new infections were announced on Tuesday, bringing the country’s total to 893. Nine people have died in the country.

Updated

Hubei remains on lockdown – health commission

China’s national health commission says strict control and prevention measures will remain in place in Hubei province, the epicentre of the global outbreak.

An official rides a bike filled with food supplies in Wuhan on Monday.
An official rides a bike filled with food supplies in Wuhan on Monday. Photograph: Reuters

The national health commission added it would also strictly control the outbound movement of people in Wuhan and other cities in Hubei province with existing traffic controls.

It follows an announcement yesterday – later reversed – that non-infected people who required medical operations would be able to leave Wuhan.

Here are some more figures from state media on the scale of the fight against the virus in China.

As of Monday, China's daily output of protective medical clothing reached 330,000 sets, medical protective masks reached 844,000, nucleic acid test kits reached 1.7 million units and virus antibody test kits reached 350,000 units: National Medical Products Administration pic.twitter.com/h52xfAQxAw

— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) February 25, 2020

Six per cent of Chinese firms face bankruptcy, state media says

Some sobering statistics from Chinese state media on the economic impact of the virus – 60% of firms face difficulties, with 6% facing bankruptcy.

About 60% of Chinese firms face operational difficulties due to the novel #coronavirus. 6% of them face bankruptcy and 20% see a temporary suspension. Just 5% see no obvious impact from #COVID19: survey pic.twitter.com/QwKrvQHWu1

— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) February 25, 2020

Updated

The China Global TV network has made an interesting graphic on the spread of the virus in Italy.

#COVID19 in #Italy: how did it spread so quickly?

more: https://t.co/tAE5WZHX7i pic.twitter.com/ifGFxU3G22

— CGTN (@CGTNOfficial) February 25, 2020

The Wall Street Journal reporter in Beijing makes a good point about the difficult choice facing Chinese migrant workers: stay at home without a job, or return to cities where they will face quarantine.

More than 100 million Chinese migrant workers, who often make less than $1,000 a month, have two bad options: Stay in their hometowns without jobs, or return to cities where they must quarantine for 14 days before returning to work.https://t.co/LszE1HjvgV

— Stu Woo (@stuwoo) February 25, 2020

Fourth Diamond Princess passenger dies as Japan closes some schools

A passenger from the Diamond Princess in their 80s has died, the Japanese broadcaster NHK has reported. The country’s education minister has also asked asked education boards with reported coronavirus cases to temporarily close schools.

Koichi Hagiuda told reporters on Tuesday that education boards of Hokkaido in northern Japan and Chiba City near Tokyo have been told to take this preventive measure, NHK says.

He also said some schools without confirmed infections should also consider closing.

Trading is now well under way in Hong Kong where the index is down slightly, and China where the Shanghai Composite is off 1.17%.

#CNBCTV18Market | Asian indices recover from lows; Nikkei jumps 1.7% from lows but still trading in the red. #HangSeng more than 150 points off lows pic.twitter.com/zqiADkjc4x

— CNBC-TV18 (@CNBCTV18Live) February 25, 2020

But Asia Pacific has continued to recover lost ground elsewhere with the Nikkei down a mere 2.84% and Australia off 1.3%. Seoul is up 0.5%.

Australian Olympic team doctor warns of ‘significant challenge’ posed by virus

We heard in that news conference questions about the impact of the virus on the Olympics. Brendan Murphy, the country’s chief medical officer said it was too early to tell, but the Australian Olympic team’s medical director, David Hughes, has told the Sydney Morning Herald that human-to-human transmission of Covid-19 in Japan was a “far from ideal” situation.

He has warned that the next two weeks will be “the real test” in assessing what risk the coronavirus poses to this year’s event in Tokyo, and says the Australian team has begun drawing up contingencies for training in “safe areas”.

Dr Hughes told the news outlet the virus was a “significant challenge that we would rather not have” but was proceeding on the basis the Games would go ahead.

“The next couple of weeks is going to be the real test in seeing whether this local transmission can be brought under control,” he said.

Japan has 851 confirmed cases of the virus. Of those, 691 were passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

The Tokyo Olympics are due to be held from 24 Jul to 9 August.

Nearly 700 people on board the Diamond Princess tested positive for Covid-19.
Nearly 700 people on board the Diamond Princess tested positive for Covid-19. Photograph: Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP via Getty Images

Global economy could shrink this quarter – AMP

Shane Oliver, chief economist of the wealth manager AMP in Sydney, says in a note today that he now expects the global economy to stagtnate or possibly shrink a bit in this quarter.

His base case is that the outbreak will be contained by March and that markets will bounce back.

Rows of bicycles from bike-sharing companies wait for users outside an office building in Beijing on Monday.
Rows of bicycles from bike-sharing companies wait for users outside an office building in Beijing on Monday. Photograph: Andy Wong/AP

But there is still uncertainty as he notes that “some estimates suggest that as much as 50% of China’s economy has been locked down for the last three weeks which means nearly 12% knocked off Chinese GDP this quarter”. Containment measures across large economies such as Italy and South Korea “will spread the economic disruption globally”.

As such, he says:

Our rough estimate is that March quarter global GDP could now be zero or slightly negative.

He concludes:

The increasing global spread of the coronavirus has increased the risk of greater economic disruption for longer resulting in say a 20% fall in share markets. However, our base case of containment is that Chinese, global and hence Australian growth will rebound in the June quarter (avoiding recession in Australia’s case) although the risk of a delay is significant. Against this background share markets, commodity prices and the $A remain at high risk of more downside in the short-term, but assuming some containment and a growth rebound in the June quarter markets should rebound by then. Easier than otherwise monetary and fiscal policies - with ever more stimulus measures announced in China and more monetary and fiscal easing globally - would add to this. The key things to watch for remain a further downtrend in the daily number of new cases globally and a peak in new cases in developed countries.

In a big picture sense, the fall in share markets should be seen as just another correction after markets ran hard and fast into record highs this year from their last decent correction into August last year.

Australia’s chief medical officer is asked about the impact on the Olympics of the virus. He says it’s too early to tell.

Virus impact on Australian economy will be worse than recent bushfires

“The impact (of the coronavirus) will be more significant than the bushfires and it plays out more broadly across the Australian economy,” says Australia’s treasurer, Josh Frydenberg.

He says the Treasury has not finalised their analysis of the impact of the virus and that there’s “considerable uncertainty” about it.

Updated

Australia says it's prepared for global pandemic

We are now hearing from Australia’s health minister, Greg Hunt.

“No country has a guarantee. No country is immune,” he says referring to the outbreaks in South Korea, Japan and Iran.

He says Australia is following a “long-prepared plan”.

The chief health officer Prof Brendan Murphy has the microphone now. He says he is concerned about the outbreaks in South Korea, Japan and Iran.

“Whilst the numbers aren’t very high in Iran, the death rate would suggest that the numbers are probably higher than being reported,” he says.

He repeats that there is no community transmission in Australia, but adds: “If there is a global pandemic we are prepared”.

Updated

South Korea is planning more measures to contain the virus, including more powers to enforce quarantine and a range of stimulus for the economy.

The government is clearly very worried on the latter score and is preparing an emergency budget to help tackle the outbreak. But a slowdown in South Korea is also a big concern for the rest of us because it plays a key role in the world economy.

The national assembly in Seoul being sanitised.
The national assembly in Seoul being sanitised. Photograph: Reuters
  • South Korea is the 12th biggest economy in the world – bigger than Spain, Mexico and Australia. But it is the 6th biggest exporter in the world and because it doesn’t have many natural resources most exports are things that are used to make other stuff – known as intermediate goods.
  • South Korea is one of the world’s biggest manufacturers of semiconductors, the key electronic component of so many everyday devices. Samsung – a conglomerate or chaebol, made up of dozens of separate companies – not only makes phones and TVs, it it is the No 2 maker of semiconductors after Intel. Another Korean firm, SK Hynix, is fourth on the list.
  • Carmaking is also a huge part of the Korean economy with Hyundai ranked third in the world behind Toyota and VW. It suspended production at its massive Ulsan site earlier this month because of a shoretage of parts from China and has warned that dealerships can expect delays to delivery of new models as a result.

Read more here on how global businesses are suffering:

We’re now hearing from the Australian treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, on the economic impact of the virus. He has just returned from the G20 finance minister’s meeting.

“Here in Australian the economic impact has been significant,” he says, “not just the tourism and education sectors, which together contribute around $16bn to the Australian economy, but also agriculture, and the destruction to end-to-end supply chains.”

Morrison says the outbreak is affecting the building and supply chain industries, in addition to the education and tourism sectors in Australia.

This is a global health crisis. And the world economy has become increasingly interconnected and interdependent over many, many years. And what this impact is is putting up walls and blockages between those connections, between all of these countries. Even without a travel ban, there would have been a significant reduction in the movement of people, as we’re seeing all around the world.

Australian PM Scott Morrison says no human-to-human transmission in country

We’re hearing a news conference from the Australian PM, Scott Morrison. He says that 15 patients who had been diagnosed with the virus have now been discharged. The seven remaining cases are returnees from the stricken Diamond Princess cruise ship. He says all those cases are mild.

He says there is no human-to-human transmission in Australia.

Updated

Hong Kong closes border to South Korea arrivals

Hong Kong has closed its borders to anyone arriving from South Korea, except for Hong Kong residents, who will have to undergo two weeks of medical surveillance.

John Lee, Hong Kong secretary of security, told reporters the security bureau would issue a travel red alert in response to the outbreak in South Korea and anyone who had been there in the past fortnight would be denied entry.

South Korea has seen the biggest outbreak outside of mainland China. Eight people have died, and more than 830 are infected.

Two people have died in Hong Kong after contracting Covid-19, out of 79 confirmed cases.

Claudia Mo, a pro-democracy legislator, appeared to criticise the chief executive, Carrie Lam, on Twitter.

#CarrieLam says Hong Kong cannot close all its border with China and ‘target’ mainland travellers as that could amount to BIAS
She shuts Hong King’s door on Korean travellers today #WuhanCoronavirus pic.twitter.com/NrgAbStQnB

— Claudia Mo 毛孟靜 (@ClaudiaMCMo) February 24, 2020

In late January, amid protests by medical workers calling for Hong Kong to close all of its land borders with mainland China, Lam said it “may fuel discrimination”.

Hong Kong eventually closed all but a few of the border crossings, and implemented compulsory quarantine for arrivals from mainland China, but the administration’s response since the outbreak has been criticised.

Updated

South Korea reports 833 cases, 8 deaths

In South Korea, the government has called for “extraordinary” measures to contain the virus, including the creation of a supplementary budget, as cases of the virus jump to 833, with 8 deaths.

There will be a crackdown on the illegal hoarding of face masks, with officials saying the next 7-10 days will be crucial in containing the outbreak.

Footage from Daegu, the centre of the outbreak in the country, shows lengthy lines to buy face masks.

Aerial footage shows hundreds of people lining up around the block to buy face masks in Daegu as most of the new South Korean cases of coronavirus were traced to the city. https://t.co/HWkIJRHiCY pic.twitter.com/cvnsskN2i1

— ABC News (@ABC) February 24, 2020

Share market losses ease in Asia Pacific

Stocks are fighting back a bit in Asia Pacific after that ugly start today.

The Nikkei is off 3.1% compared with more than 4% at the beginning of trading.

In Australia, the ASX200 is down 1.6% after falling 2.4% earlier. The Australian dollar is clinging on around 11-year lows of US66.15c.

Here’s my colleague Ben Butler with another update:

The Australian market has clawed back some of its early losses. After falling as much as about 2.5% in early trade, by lunchtime the benchmark ASX200 index was trading at about 1.6% down from yesterday.

But coronavirus fears continue to flay stocks that are heavily exposed to China or sell to Australia’s debt-laden consumers. Airline flight website Webjet is down 6.8%, softdrinks company Coca-Cola Amatil is off 5.25% and telco TPG - which has recently been given the green light to merge with rival Vodafone Hutchinson - has fallen about 2.6%.

Miner Rio Tinto, which reports its results tomorrow, is down 1.9% while rival BHP is down 1.75%. Both rely heavily on selling iron ore to Chinese customers.

China virus deaths half from day before

Let’s have a look at how today’s numbers compare with previous days ... I have added the past few days statistics below, but today’s announced deaths are less than half of Monday’s (71 compared to 150).

This seems to confirm WHO chief’s comments that the epidemic has“peaked” inside China.

  • Tuesday 25 February: 71 deaths, 508 new cases
  • Monday 24 February: 150 deaths, 409 new cases
  • Sunday 23 February: 97 deaths, 648 new cases
  • Saturday 22 February: 109 deaths, 397 new cases
  • Friday 21 February: 118 deaths, 889 new cases
  • Thursday 20 February: 114 deaths, 394 cases (China stopped counting clinically diagnosed cases this day as confirmed cases and instead counted only cases that had tested positive)
  • Wednesday 19 February: 136 deaths, 1,749 new cases
  • Tuesday 18 February: 98 deaths, 1097 new cases
  • Monday 17 February: 105 deaths, 2,048 new cases
  • Sunday 16 February: 142 deaths, 2,009 new cases
  • Saturday 15 February: 143 deaths, 2,641 new cases
  • Friday 14 February: 121 deaths, 5,090 new cases
  • Thursday 13 February: 254 deaths, 15,152 new cases (On this day China began including cases diagnosed by doctors and scans in addition to patients who had tested positive to virus).
Airline staff and passengers wear protective masks for their flight to Shanghai from Bangkok.
Airline staff and passengers wear protective masks for their flight to Shanghai from Bangkok. Photograph: Héctor Retamal/AFP via Getty Images

Updated

The White House is preparing an urgent request for $2.5bn in funds from Congress to address the deadly coronavirus outbreak. The request is still being developed but is likely to come this week, a senior administration official said.

The Department of Health and Human Services has already tapped into an emergency infectious disease rapid response fund and is seeking to transfer more than $130m from other HHS accounts to combat the virus but is pressing for more.

Evacuees from China arriving at a US Marinebase California for quarantine.
Evacuees from China arriving at a US Marinebase California for quarantine. Photograph: Krysten I Houk/AP

“We need some funding here to make sure that we protect all Americans,” deputy White House press secretary Hogan Gidley said on Fox News. “We need to combat this, we need to make sure our people are safe and the president is always going to take action to do that.”

Among the funding requirements is money to reimburse the Pentagon, which is housing evacuees from China who are required to undergo 14-day quarantines at several military bases in California.

Updated

China reports 71 new deaths and 508 new cases

We’re getting the Chinese Health Commission figures for new deaths and cases, and here are the headline points:

  • 71 new deaths (68 in Hubei [56 in Wuhan]. Two cases in Shandong, one in Guangdong)
  • 508 new cases (499 in Hubei, of which 464 in Wuhan)
  • 530 suspected new cases
  • 2,589 new cases recovered and discharged

This means cumulatively, there have been 77,658 confirmed cases and 2,663 deaths.

Chinese state media has given some new figures for prison infections of Covid-19 in Hubei province. We heard last week that there were more than 200 infections in the women’s prison, a figure that the People’s Daily says now stands at 279. There are also 43 cases of the infection in Shayang Hanjin prison, but no fatalities have bene reported.

Hubei province has confirmed 323 cases of #COVID19 from prisons as of Feb 23, including 279 cases from Wuhan Women's Prison and 43 cases from Shayang Hanjin Prison. No deaths have been reported. pic.twitter.com/3Z660eRt8y

— People's Daily, China (@PDChina) February 25, 2020

US Fed expected to cut rates, markets suggest

The losses in Tokyo aren’t quite as steep as futures were pricing in and that might have something to do with signs that the market expects central banks to come to the rescue with renewed stimulus in the shape of interest rate cuts.

$USD Forecast: US Dollar Drops on Fed Cuts, Consumer Confidence Eyed

Full Analysis: https://t.co/SKzULM6l9P#Forex #FX #Trading #FOMC #DXY pic.twitter.com/Cv7j8FHN2n

— Rich Dvorak (@RichDvorakFX) February 24, 2020

Futures for the Federal Reserve funds rate – a measure of what might happen with US rates – have surged in the last few days to price in a better-than-even chance of a quarter-point rate cut in April, Reuters reports. They imply more than 50 basis points of reductions by year end which may be enough to keep the show on the road – and, of course, the current occupant of the White House in place.

Central banks across Asia have already been easing policy, while governments have promised large injections of fiscal stimulus, something western countries might have to consider.

China has unleashed all manner of stimulus in the past month while South Korea has followed suit.

China 'comprehensively' bans trade and consumption of wild animals

China has “comprehensively” banned the trade and consumption of wild animals, according to Chinese state media.

On Monday the standing committee of the National People’s Congress adopted a proposal to prohibit wildlife trade and transportation, and to end the consumption of wild animals.

The move makes the suspension announced in January, permanent.

“The move aims to safeguard biological and ecological security and effectively prevent major public health risks,” Xinhua news reported.

The consumption of any terrestrial world animal, including those bred in captivity, was “thoroughly prohibited”, it said, and subject to severe punishment.

The use of wild animals in medicine or for scientific research is also now subject to strict conditions and approval processes.

China’s government has banned the trade and consumption of wild animals during previous outbreaks, including SARS, after the disease was linked to the consumption of wild animals.

The source of the coronavirus outbreak has not been confirmed, and scientists are working to decode its origins. One theory is that a wild animal like the pangolin – a widely trafficked animal which is high demand in Asia – ate infected bat droppings, and then was sold at the market at Wuhan.

A woman collects mail outside of an apartment compound in Beijing.
A woman collects mail outside of an apartment compound in Beijing. Photograph: Betsy Joles/Getty Images

Updated

Mission Impossible film halts production over virus fears

Filming on the latest Mission Impossible film has been stopped over over fears of the coronavirus outbreak in Italy, Press Association reports.

The action movie, which stars Tom Cruise, was scheduled for a three-week shoot in Venice, but that has now been stopped after more than 200 people tested positive for the virus in Italy.

It is the largest number of confirmed cases of the disease outside Asia.

In a statement, Paramount Pictures said it was following the advice of the Venetian government and using an “abundance of caution” in halting production.

“During this hiatus we want to be mindful of the concerns of the crew and are allowing them to return home until production starts. We will continue to monitor this situation, and work alongside health and government officials as it evolves,” the studio said.

It is understood Hollywood star Cruise, 57, was not in Italy for filming.

The seventh “Mission: Impossible” film’s production has been stopped due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The seventh “Mission: Impossible” film’s production has been stopped due to the coronavirus outbreak. Photograph: Chiabella James/AP

Updated

Tokyo's Nikkei average down 4.5%

A big fall in Tokyo as expected.

Seoul, where the Kospi took a hammering of 3.87% yesterday, is off 0.3%.

Japan's #Nikkei 225 (#CFD) down 4.50% at the open; S. Korea's #KOSPI opens down 0.30% and Australia's #ASX200 showing marginal losses of 2.00%. #Equities

— IC Markets (@IC_Markets) February 25, 2020

As we look at the precipitous falls on markets around the world, it’s important to remember that indices have been pushed to record highs from Wall Street to London and from Frankfurt to Sydney.

For example, even after today’s renewed battering, the ASX200 is still in positive territory for the year so far.

Many would argue they were long overdue a correction so in some ways it’s not a massive surprise that there is finally a reaction to concerns about what the coronavirus might mean for the global economy.

Well they should be. Even after the falls of today, ASX200 still up 10% since last year. Add in your dividend yield of 4% and you are still way ahead of term deposits.

— Scottythegoat (@scottythegoat) February 24, 2020

Considering last year the asx200 was up 25% in 2019 and then started this year with 5+% why is the sky falling in with some days of volatility. Do people expect 25% gains YoY for eternity?

— electricboogaloo (@electricBAU) February 24, 2020

And it’s worth noting that futures trading is pricing in a rise on Wall Street later on today. Many traders will see this fall simply as “buying opportunityu”. Could the Donald be right?

S&P 500 futures up 8.5 points in Asia early Tuesday

— David Ingles (@DavidInglesTV) February 24, 2020

The virus is affecting businesses all over the world. Here’s a roundup of some of the main points in the last few hours:

  • Investment banks including Citigroup, Credit Suisse and Nomura have curbed trips to Italy because of the outbreak, according to Reuters.
  • Mastercard says the virus will knock 2-3% off its revenues as travel and e-commerce is curbed by the outbreak.
  • United Airlines withdrew its earnings estimate for 2020 because of uncertainty over how long the virus outbreak will last.
  • Kuwait has suspended flights to South Korea, Italy and Iran.
  • Bahrain civil aviation authority has suspended all its flights from Dubai airport and Sharjah airport for 48 hours.
  • However, Apple is reopening half its stores in China, according to Bloomberg..

Apple is reopening more than half of its retail stores in China that were closed in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak https://t.co/h2TwuKEU8O

— Bloomberg Next China (@next_china) February 24, 2020

WHO says virus has 'peaked' in China

The World Health Organization has said the new coronavirus epidemic has “peaked” in China its chief but warned that a surge in cases elsewhere was “deeply concerning”.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the peak in China occurred between 23 January and 2 February and the number of new cases there “has been declining steadily since then”.

Although Tedros said “the sudden increase in new cases is certainly very concerning”, he said: “using the word pandemic now does not fit the facts, but it may certainly cause fear”.

The word pandemic is used to describe a serious disease that is spreading in an uncontrolled way around the world.

Some experts believe that a pandemic is inevitable.

“We now consider this to be a pandemic in all but name, and it’s only a matter of time before the World Health Organization starts to use the term in its communications,” said Dr Bharat Pankhania, from the University of Exeter Medical School.

You can read our full story below.

Italy moves Serie A and Europa League games to stop virus spread

Italy has moved all Serie A football games and Europa League games behind closed doors to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

“Following the demands of the sports world and knowing that the ban on sporting events open to the public remains in force in six regions of northern Italy, we have agreed to the holding of matches behind closed doors,” said sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora after a meeting of the Council of Ministers.

Italy reported its seventh death from the virus on Monday and it has the most confirmed cases in Europe.

The Italian sports newspaper La Gazzetta Sportiva that says ‘The Serie A Football League closed for Virus.
The Italian sports newspaper La Gazzetta Sportiva that says ‘The Serie A Football League closed for Virus. Photograph: Laura Lezza/Getty Images

Inter Milan announced their Europa League match with Ludogorets on Thursday would be played with no fans present.

“In agreement with UEFA, the Lombardy regional health authorities and Milan city council, our return game with Ludogorets will be played behind closed doors,” an Inter statement said.

The sports minister did not specify which Serie A matches at the weekend would be included in the ban.

There are six games in the regions he mentioned, including the clash on Sunday evening between leader Juventus and third-place Inter.

Mastercard predicts hit of 2-3% on virus fears

With economic uncertainty gripping the markets, the credit card giant, Mastercard, has said it will likely take a hit of between 2% and 3% due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The company said it now expects revenue growth between 9% and 10% in the current quarter as the virus impacts travel and e-commerce across borders.

The credit card giant also expects that net revenue growth on a year-over-year basis in 2020 would be at the low end of the low-teens range.

Nikkei set for fall of almost 7%

As losses in Sydney extend to 2.4%, traders are braced for a huge fall of almost 7% in Tokyo when trading starts there in about 35 minutes.

Live Market Update from the CMC dealing desk - APAC Opening Calls:#ASX 6808 -2.44%#Nikkei225 22212 -6.92%#HSI 26498 -1.2%#Hshares 10464 -0.98%
Prices are indicative only. $ASX $NIKKEI $HSI $Hshares

— CMC Markets UK (@CMCMarkets) February 24, 2020

It’s partly because there was a bank holiday yesterday so there’s some pent-up selling to be done. But that’s a big drop in anyone’s terms. It shows that the complacency of recent weeks, when some indices such as the Dow and the ASX hit nrecord highs, is being swiftly replaced by a selling frenzy.

Oil also sold off 4% overnight so the gloom is stretching across different assets.

Bond yields are heading for the floor as well as money shifts into the safety of government securities. Yields - or the interest rate - move in the opposite direction to bond prices. So the more demand for bonds, the more they cost but the lower the yield goes.

In contrast safe haven markets extended recent gains. US ten-year bonds traded down to 1.36%, and thirty-year bonds hit their lowest point ever at 1.83%. Gold lifted towards $1,700 an ounce, and the Japanese yen gained a big figure. @MicMcCarthy_CMC

— CMC Markets AusNZ (@CMCMarketsAusNZ) February 24, 2020

Updated

My colleague Ben Butler has this:

The benchmark ASX200 is down 2.3% shortly after the market’s open, with falls across all sectors.

Logistics company Qube has taken the biggest hit, shedding more than 10%. The company unveiled a 15% fall in profits this morning, but says the drop is due to accounting standards changes.

Other stocks taking a big hit include troubled financial services group IOOF, down 6.1%, funds manager Magellan, down 5.7%.

All the big four banks - ANZ, Commonwealth, NAB and Westpac - are down more than 2%.

Airline comparison site Webjet is getting slaughtered, falling more than 6.3%, while travel agency Flight Centre is off by 3%.

#ASX200, sell-off continues this morning after last night's plunges.
Price down a further 2.40% in early trade.#asx #trading pic.twitter.com/5Eoefk0XyB

— EightCap (@EightCap_FX) February 24, 2020

The falls in Sydney have deepened to 2.3% which is in line with what futures trading suggested.

#ASX 200 slumps by 2.33% or 162pts to 6815 on the open (worst day in 6 months). All sectors are losing ground Tuesday morning on concerns of coronavirus spread. Tech falling most (-4.6%), Energy (-2.9%) #ausbiz

— CommSec (@CommSec) February 24, 2020

Australian stock market opens down 1.11%

The ASX200 in Sydney is down 1.11% in the first minutes of trade.

Not everyone is gloomy though. Donald Trump has tweeted from India that the virus was under control in the United States.

And, more boldly, he said that he thought the stock market was “starting to look very good to me!”.

#Dow tests positive for #coronavirus pic.twitter.com/YPvqvmhAF9

— jeremy (@HeyJermz) February 24, 2020

Updated

There’s a lot of markets chatter around this morning. Chris Weston from Pepperstone in Melbourne says Asia is heading for a “dark and sinister” opening and the first half hour will be the key, he says.

Asia equities face a dark and sinister open, with Aussie SPI futures some 2.6% from the official ASX200 close. We can use that as a guide, and while some of the move lower in US equities was already discounted, we see S&P500 futures 1.9% lower from the same time. It takes a brave soul to be buying these markets, but the opening 30 minutes will be key to psychology – it could well be a buyer strike and another day where order book dynamics take hold and the sellers exasperate the move. Expect moves of 2% for the Nikkei 225 and Hang Seng too.

Restaurant staff hand food to a customer in Beijing.
Restaurant staff hand food to a customer in Beijing. Photograph: Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images

Michael McCarthy of CMC Markets said stock market investors had pressed the panic button after a couple of weeks of gains in the face of mounting signs that the virus was going to have a big negative impact on the global economy. Investors had been “forced to acknowledge both supply and demand shocks” he writes:

Share markets tanked in overnight trading as equity investors finally moved into line with other markets. European and US indices fell by 3% to 4%. Crude oil dropped 4%, and base metals fell. In contrast safe haven markets extended recent gains. US ten-year bonds traded down to 1.36%, and thirty-year bonds hit their lowest point ever at 1.83%. Gold lifted towards $1,700 an ounce, and the Japanese yen gained a big figure.

Significant viral outbreaks in Japan, Korea and Italy raised pressure and forced investors to acknowledge both supply and demand shocks. The disruption to supply chains if countries close borders to contain outbreaks could see global trade grind to a halt.

Strong rallies in bonds and gold over the last two weeks reflected growing worry about the economic impact of the Covid-19 virus. Many share markets hit all-time highs over the same period, despite these clear warning signs. An important driver of the overnight damage in stocks was the sharp reversal in sentiment from complacency to concern.

Asia Pacific stocks braced for more huge falls

The world’s trading day kicks off in Sydney shortly where the benchmark ASX200 index is expected to fall sharply for the second day running.

It lost 2.3% on Monday and futures trade points to a dip of 2.4% this morning after heavy losses in Wall Street, where the Dow Jones average had its worst day since December 2018.

A traders work on the floor of the New York stock exchange on MOnday.
A trader on the floor of the New York stock exchange on MOnday. Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

In Japan, where the Nikkei was closed on Monday for emperor’s day, futures point to a fall of 5% at the opening later today.

Eurozone shares -4%
US shares -3.4% on concerns re rising number of Covid-19 cases outside China, mkt back to initial Feb low on virus concerns
US 10 yr yld -10bp to 1.37%
Oil -4%
Gold +1%
Iron ore -0.7%
ASX futures -2.4%$A 0.6604 (surprisingly stable) with $US index +0.1% pic.twitter.com/WWIg6ykKke

— Shane Oliver (@ShaneOliverAMP) February 24, 2020

Welcome to the rolling coverage of the coronavirus outbreak as concerns continues to build about the spread of the disease outside China.

The main developments are:

Updated

Contributors

Mattha Busby, Martin Belam, Sarah Marsh, Alison Rourke, Kevin Rawlinson and Martin Farrer

The GuardianTramp

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