The World Health Organization (WHO) has just sounded the alarm over the fast spreading COVID-19 VIRUS, urging governments around the world to fight the virus. So far, more than 80,000 people from around the world had reported to show symptoms of COVID-19, a new strain of the all familiar corona virus which already claimed 3,300 lives.

” This is not a drill. This is not the time for giving up. This is not a time for excuses. this is a time for pulling out all the stops, ” says WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus based in Geneva, Switzerland.

” Countries have been planning for scenarios like this for decades.” The UN health organization urges all countries to push the virus back and act on their contingency plans in swift fashion.

While China had managed to curb the rise of COVID-19 cases, other countries are not so lucky. On Friday, March 6, the Philippines reported two new COVID-19 cases bringing the number to 7 cases with two deaths.

In Italy, the epicenter of Europe’s outbreak, government decided to shutdown the educational system for 10 days and had barred people from attending stadium events until April 3.

Government also urged people to stay at least one meter (3 feet) apart from each other, restricted visits to nursing homes and advised old people to stay inside their homes. Italy’s death toll had climbed to 148, with 3,858 confirmed COVID-19 cases, third behind South Korea and China.

The Islamic state of Iran is fast closing the gap with 107 confirmed deaths despite closing schools and universities and setting up checkpoints to limit travel between major city centers.

Iranian state TV also reported that Hossein Sheikholeslam, a 68-year-old diplomat who was an adviser to Iran’s foreign minister, had died of the virus.

Amid the string of bad news, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani urged state television to offer “happier” programs to entertain those stuck at home.

Palestinian officials closed the storied Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem indefinitely, weeks ahead of the Easter holiday. And virus fears may dull India’s vibrantly colorful spring festival of Holi. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other leaders said they wouldn’t attend Holi events and the Holi Moo Festival in New Delhi was canceled.

In the United States, where 12 have died from the virus, hundreds were placed in self-quarantines due to cases in a New York suburb. A suburban Seattle school district with 22,000 students will close for up to two weeks because of coronavirus concerns, and Seattle’s highways were nearly vacant for Thursday’s morning commute as large tech employers like Amazon encouraged employees to work from home. (with reports from AP)

In Seattle, health officials recommended that the elderly and people with weak immune systems not attend games after an employee at the 72,000-seat football stadium tested positive for the coronavirus.

Off the coast of California, a cruise ship carrying about 3,500 people was ordered to stay put until passengers and crew could be tested because a traveler from its previous voyage died and another three were infected. A helicopter lowered testing kits by rope to the Grand Princess, where people on board have flu-like symptoms.

Financial markets remained volatile, as investors continued to weigh the size of the epidemic’s dent on the global economy. Outbreak fears led to a sharp US stock selloff, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling 969 points, or 3.6 percent, nearly wiping out gains from a day earlier. Analysts said more yo-yo moves on global markets are likely.

Opec called for a deep production cut to keep crude oil prices from falling further as business disruptions globally slash demand from air travel and industry — deciding Thursday to push for a cut of 1.5 million barrels a day, or about 1.5 percent of total world supply.

As travelers faced ever-greater disruptions, the outlook for the industry was increasingly grim. The International Air Transport Association said the outbreak could cost airlines as much as $113 billion in lost revenue. British airline Flybe collapsed amid sinking demand.

Australia, Indonesia, and the United Arab Emirates banned entry of travelers coming from countries with large outbreaks. Japan announced a quarantine of people from China and South Korea, prompting Seoul to warn of countermeasures for the “excessive” restrictions.

Germany’s Lufthansa and its subsidiaries Austrian Airlines and Swiss warned of flight cancellations to and from Israel after it announced tough restrictions on travelers from several countries because of the virus.

As the impact deepened globally, China is releasing more and more patients from the virus-dedicated hospitals it hastily built at the peak of its crisis. It has released 53,726 people who were declared cured, while about 6,000 virus patients are still hospitalized in serious condition.

On Friday, China reported 143 new cases of infection and 30 new deaths, almost all in the epicenter of Wuhan and surrounding Hubei province. That brings China’s totals to 3,042 deaths and 80,552 cases, more than 80 percent of the world’s cases. (AP)

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