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Factbox: Latest on the coronavirus spreading in China and beyond

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(Reuters) – The coronavirus outbreak that began in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, in the province of Hubei, has killed 106 people in China so far and infected more than 4,520 globally, most of them in China.

FILE PHOTO: A woman wearing a mask walks past a quarantine notice about the outbreak of coronavirus in Wuhan, China at an arrival hall of Haneda airport in Tokyo, Japan, January 20, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

The virus has caused alarm because it is still too early to know how dangerous it is and how easily it spreads between people. Also because it is new, humans have not been able to build immunity to it.

Here is what we know so far:

* As of Jan. 27 the death toll in China had risen to 106, with 100 in Hubei province, authorities reported. Another 4,515 people in China had been infected. There were 2,714 confirmed cases in Hubei province, up from 1,423 on Jan. 26.

* Thailand and Hong Kong have each reported eight cases of infection; the United States, Australia, Taiwan, Singapore and Macau have five each; Japan, South Korea and Malaysia each have reported four; France three; Vietnam and Canada two each, and one each in Germany, Sri Lanka and Nepal.

* No fatalities have been reported outside China.

* The previously unknown coronavirus strain is believed to have emerged late last year from illegally traded wildlife at an animal market in Wuhan, a city of 11 million people.

* Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visited Wuhan on Monday in an apparent effort to boost morale in the city as Beijing moved to display its intent to tackle the crisis seriously.

* The World Health Organisation said that while the outbreak was an emergency for China, it was not yet a global health emergency.

* Severe travel restrictions have been put in place in several Chinese cities. In Wuhan, urban transport is shut and outgoing flights suspended.

* Tangshan, China’s largest steelmaking city in northern Hebei province, suspended all public transit within the city.

* Beijing suspended most bus services to Hebei province.

* Among other measures to contain the virus, China halted all group tours, affecting tourism both at home and to other countries, from Jan. 27.

* China’s Tibet Autonomous Region has temporarily closed all tourist sites to prevent the virus spreading.

* The United States warned against travel to China, while Canada issued a warning against travel to Hubei province.

* Asian stocks extended a global selloff on Tuesday as China took more drastic steps to combat the virus, raising concerns about a drag on global economic growth.

* South Korea said it was going “all out” to contain the outbreak and vowed to stabilize financial markets should volatility worsen.

* Countries including France, Italy, Japan, Australia and the United States are working to evacuate citizens from Wuhan.

* Some experts believe the virus is not as dangerous as the 2002-03 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) that killed nearly 800 people, or the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), which has killed more than 700 people since 2012.

Compiled by Stephen Coates; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.



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Donald Trump in India: US president addresses massive India rally

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India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) embraces US President Donald Trump upon his arrival at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport in Ahmedabad on February 24, 2020.Image copyright
Getty Images

US President Donald Trump has arrived to a thunderous reception in Gujarat on his first official visit to India.

Mr Trump is addressing a massive public rally with PM Narendra Modi at the Motera stadium, the world’s largest cricket venue.

More than 100,000 people present at the venue burst into applause as the two leaders entered.

Mr Trump’s visit will focus on deepening ties between the world’s two largest democracies.

The event at Motera stadium is being compared to the “Howdy, Modi!” event the two men held in Houston last year, which was attended by 50,000 people.

On his way to the stadium, Mr Trump participated in a 22km (13.5 miles) roadshow, as thousands of people lined the roads. Billboards along the route were emblazoned with pictures of the men and carry slogans such as “two dynamic personalities, one momentous occasion”.

He entered to the music of Elton John playing on the speakers. Mr Trump’s love of his songs is well documented.

The road show also featured performers from across the country, showcasing the arts from different Indian states.

Image caption

More than 100,000 people packed Motera stadium for the rally

Mr Trump earlier made a quick stop at the Sabarmati Ashram, where Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi, who was born in Gujarat, lived for 13 years.

Mr Trump and First Lady Melania Trump tried their hand at the charka or spinning wheel, which is used to spin cloth. Gandhi popularised the act as a form of protest against foreign-made cloth during India’s independence movement.

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Getty Images

Image caption

Mr and Mrs Trump tried their hand at spinning cloth, while Mr Modi (left) looked on

“To my great friend Prime Minister Modi, thank you for this wonderful visit,” Mr Trump wrote in the ashram visitor’s book.

Ahead of his visit, Mr Trump had said he was looking forward “to being with the people of India”.

“We are going to have many millions and millions of people. It’s a long trip. I get along very well with Prime Minister Modi. He is a friend of mine,” he said.

“I hear it’s going to be a big event… the biggest event they ever had in India.”

But amid the fanfare, a much-talked about trade deal is unlikely to happen during the visit.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionTrump: ‘I look forward to being with the people of India’

What is at stake during this visit?

The US is one India’s most important trade partners, with bilateral trade totalling $142.6bn (£110.3bn) in 2018. The US had a $25.2bn goods and services trade deficit with India, its 9th largest trading partner in goods.

Despite growing political and strategic ties, there’s been tension over trade issues. Mr Trump has said India’s tariffs – taxes on imports – are “unacceptable”, and has described India as the “king” of tariffs.

In June 2019, the US ended preferential trade status for India, the largest beneficiary of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) – a scheme that allows some goods to enter the US duty-free.

The move caused a diplomatic rift between the two countries after India imposed retaliatory tariffs on 28 US products.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionModi to Trump: “My honour to introduce you to my family”

An official US report last year said India’s tariff rates on other members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) remain “the highest of any major economy”.

The two sides have also differed over price controls on medical equipment and India’s new rules on data storage.

The trade deal was likely to resolve some of these issues. But just days before the visit, Mr Trump announced that he was “saving the big deal for later on”.

Reports say negotiations continued between the two sides until last week, but they were not able to reach a consensus on issues like the restoration of the GSP for Indian goods, and India agreeing to open some of its key markets for US goods.

The two sides are also expected to sign a clutch of other agreements relating to intellectual property rights, trade and homeland security.

In a clear sign of ever closer defence relations, India is expected to sign two big deals with the US to acquire 30 American defence helicopters – MH-60R Seahawk and AH-64E Apache – worth more than $2.6bn.

Image copyright
Reuters

Image caption

A massive reception has been planned for Trump and Modi in Gujarat

Also, the US energy firm Westinghouse is expected to sign a new agreement with state-run Nuclear Power Corporation of India for the supply of six nuclear reactors, according to Reuters news agency. The US has been discussing the sale of nuclear reactors to India since a 2008 landmark civil nuclear energy deal.



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Italy stocks set to plummet as virus prompts shutdown

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Italian stocks are set to plunge Monday morning as the euro zone’s third-largest economy grapples with the largest coronavirus outbreak outside of Asia.

European markets are set for sharp declines at the open as investors weigh up the extent of the coronavirus outbreak but not nearly as much as in Italy, where the FTSE MIB index is set to open 904 points lower at 23,835, according to IG.

There are widespread concerns over the spread of the virus in northern Italy; the country has now 152 confirmed cases and three deaths due to the virus, with a sharp spike in cases over the weekend.

The government has placed around a dozen towns in the north under quarantine with the wealthy regions of Lombardy and Veneto — where the cities of Milan and Venice are located respectively — the focus of the rise in coronavirus cases. The regions make up around 30% of Italy’s economic output, while the majority of the quarantined towns are just south of the financial hub of Milan.

Schools, museums, universities and cinemas have been closed while other public events, including Serie A soccer matches, have been canceled. Milan’s opera house, La Scala, canceled performances and while Giorgio Armani’s fashion show went ahead as part of Milan Fashion Week, no buyers or media were present.

Venice’s world-famous Carnival, which attracts thousands of visitors every year, was due to end on Tuesday but was cut short on Sunday as the government introduced “urgent measures” to contain the virus, including restricting access in and out of affected areas.

A woman wear a protective mask in Venice, Italy, on February 23, 2020 due to concerns over coronavirus infection. The carnival was suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak in northern Italy.

NurPhoto

Meanwhile, concerns over the virus and quarantine measures have prompted panic-buying with Twitter users showing various supermarkets in the north with empty shelves. Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera reported Monday that latex gloves, hand disinfectant gel and bleach products were in short supply as inhabitants sought to protect themselves.

Italy’s authorities have scrambled to contain the spread of the virus but the head of the country’s Civil Protection Agency, Angelo Borrelli, conceded Sunday that it was still trying to find “patient zero,” the first carrier of the virus in the country.

“We still cannot identify patient zero, so it’s difficult to forecast possible new cases,” Borrelli told a press conference. The World Health Organization is sending a special mission to Italy to try to track down more details on the source of the infections.

Paolo Gentiloni, European commissioner for the economy and a former prime minister of Italy, told CNBC Sunday that “there is absolutely no reason for panic.”

“There is a reason to have confidence in institutions and Italian authorities. They know the situation. They are taking the good measures. So the European Union is perfectly confident on what the Italians are doing. But I repeat, there is no reason for panic.”



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Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia’s Prime Minister, Submits Resignation Letter

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They were the strangest of political colleagues: a nonagenarian onetime autocrat and the former protégé he had jailed for sodomy.

Mahathir Mohamad, the 94-year-old prime minister of Malaysia, and his perennial presumptive heir, Anwar Ibrahim, joined forces in 2018 to oust a governing party to which both had once belonged. That party, the United Malays National Organization, known as UMNO, was at the center of the 1MDB scandal, the brazen looting of billions of dollars of Malaysia’s public funds.

But the unwieldy coalition that brought Mr. Mahathir and Mr. Anwar together crumbled on Monday, the latest twist in a caustic rivalry that goes back decades.

After a flurry of meetings that had political analysts feverishly analyzing whose car was pulling up in which driveway, Mr. Mahathir submitted his letter of resignation as prime minister on Monday afternoon.

The move, however, does not appear to be designed to result in Mr. Mahathir actually giving up leadership of Malaysia, a job that he has held twice.

If Malaysia’s constitutional monarch accepts the resignation letter, the two vying political blocs in the country both appear to support Mr. Mahathir continuing as prime minister — jilting Mr. Anwar.

“The wonderful thing for Mahathir is that it is impossible for him to lose because heads he wins, tails he wins,” said James Chin, director of the Asia Institute Tasmania at the University of Tasmania.

It was a sleight of hand characteristic of Asia’s shrewdest veteran politician — and it left Mr. Anwar fuming, yet again, about a political elder who has repeatedly broken promises that he would eventually step aside to allow Mr. Anwar to become prime minister.

The realignment also raises questions about the future of political and economic overhauls in a country where Malay nationalist politics were promoted during Mr. Mahathir’s first term in office, from 1981 to 2003, and look to be gaining ground again.



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