TOKYO (AP) — The coronavirus has claimed its first victim in the United States as the number of cases shot up in Iran, Italy and South Korea and the spreading outbreak shook the global economy.
Governments stepped up efforts to contain the disease. Saudi Arabia closed Islam’s holiest sites to foreign pilgrims. In Japan, professional baseball teams played in deserted stadiums. The French government advised the public to forgo customary greeting kisses.
Ireland and Ecuador among the countries reporting their first cases Saturday. More than 85,000 people worldwide have contracted the virus, with deaths topping 2,900.
China recorded 573 new virus cases and 35 more deaths in the 24 hours through midnight Saturday, according to the National Health Commission. That raised the total for the country where the disease emerged in December to 2,870 deaths and 79,834 cases.
In the United States, a man in his 50s in suburban Seattle became the first coronavirus death on U.S. soil. Officials say they aren’t sure how the man acquired the virus because he had not traveled to any affected areas.
“Additional cases in the United States are likely, but healthy individuals should be able to fully recover,” President Donald Trump said. Officials announced heightened warnings about travel to certain regions of Italy and South Korea as well as a ban on travel to Iran.
Many cases of the virus have been relatively mild, and some of those infected are believed to show no symptoms at all. But that can allow for easier spread, and concern is mounting that prolonged quarantines, supply chain disruptions and a sharp reduction in tourism and business travel could weaken the global economy or even cause a recession.
South Korea, the second hardest hit country after China, reported 376 new cases on Sunday morning, raising its total to 3,526. Most of the cases in South Korea have been reported in the southeastern city of Daegu and nearby towns.
Italian authorities say the country now has more than 1,100 coronavirus cases, with 29 deaths so far.