The death toll in China's novel coronavirus epidemic today climbed to 2,715 with 52 new fatalities while the confirmed cases rose to 78,064, amidst strong signs of COVID-19 slowing down even at its epicentre Hubei province.

Hubei and Wuhan together with over 50 million population continue to be under lockdown since January 23 with all public and private transportation remained suspended.

Catch all the latest updates of coronavirus and its global impact here:

Pakistan confirms its first two cases of coronavirus

Pakistan on Wednesday confirmed its first two cases of the novel coronavirus as the deadly infection reached the country despite all out efforts to keep it away.

"I can confirm first two cases of coronavirus in Pakistan. Both cases are being taken care of according to clinical standard protocols & both of them are stable," Dr Zafar Mirza, the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health, tweeted.

He said there was "no need to panic" as the "things are under control."Mirza said that he was currently at the country's Taftan border crossing with Iran and would return to Islamabad on Thursday and address a press conference.

Brazilian officials report first confirmed case of new coronavirus in Latin America

Brazil's government confirmed on Wednesday that a 61-year-old Brazilian man who travelled to Italy this month has Latin America's first confirmed case of the contagious new coronavirus.

"We will now see how this virus behaves in a tropical country in the middle of summer, how its behaviour pattern will be," Brazil's Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta said in a press conference.

The Brazilian man spent two weeks in northern Italy's Lombardy region on a work trip, where he contracted the contagious virus, the health ministry said.

Facebook to ban misleading ads about coronavirus

Facebook Inc said on Wednesday it would ban advertisements referring to any cures or prevention around the coronavirus outbreak, and those that create a sense of urgency around the situation.

The coronavirus disease, believed to have originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, has killed more than 2,700 people.

The announcement by the social-media giant comes as it faces increasing regulatory scrutiny over the type of content posted on its platform, specifically items reflecting extreme ideologies and fake news.

Last month, Facebook said that it would remove content about the virus "with false claims or conspiracy theories that have been flagged by leading global health organizations and local health authorities", joining companies like TikTok and Pinterest.

Coronavirus kills four in Iran, taking total to 19

Iran on Wednesday reported four more novel coronavirus deaths among 44 new cases in the past 24 hours, taking the total number of fatalities to 19 and infections to 139.

Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour called on Iranians to refrain from travel as he announced the new tallies on state television.

Fifteen new COVID-19 cases surfaced in the Shiite holy city of Qom, nine in Gilan, four in Tehran, three in Khuzestan, two each in Sistan and Baluchistan, Kohgiluyeh and Boyerahmad, and Fars, and one in Markazi, Kermanshah, Ardebil, Mazandaran, Lorestan, Semnan and Hormozgan, he said.

No reason to panic about coronavirus in Europe: EU

The novel coronavirus is concerning for Europe but there is no reason for alarm, the EU's health commissioner said on Wednesday as Italy battles the world's third-biggest outbreak.

"This is a situation of concern but we must not give in to panic," Stella Kyriakides told reporters in Rome after meeting Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza.

"We must also be vigilant when it comes to misinformation and disinformation as well as xenophobic statements which are misleading citizens and putting in question the work of public authorities."

On Wednesday Italian authorities announced a 12th death linked to the outbreak and another jump in the number of cases, which now stand at 374.

The new toll published by the civil protection department is a jump from the 322 cases and 10 deaths recorded on Tuesday evening -- the most serious outbreak so far in Europe.

Several cases in other European countries have been reported among people who had recently visited Lombardy, the region of northern Italy worst-hit by the outbreak.

Vistara to cancel 54 international flights next month

Carrier Vistara is set to cancel 54 international flights next month, including on routes connecting Delhi with Bangkok and Singapore, amid weak demand due to the coronavirus outbreak.

In a statement issued, the airline said it has made temporary adjustments to selected services to/ from Bangkok and Singapore for March.

Europe stocks wipe out 4-month rally in five days

European shares on Wednesday wiped out what was left of the sharp gains made since late October, extending the rout into a fifth day as the coronavirus spread in the region. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index tumbled as much as 2.9%, extending its weekly drop to 8.2% -- the biggest slump since the heat of the euro-area’s sovereign-debt crisis in August 2011 -- before trimming losses.

Europe on high alert; first case found in Greece

Italy reported more coronavirus cases from the Lombardy region, Iran confirmed 44 additional infections, while 700 people are still confined in a hotel in Tenerife, the Canary Islands. Greece reported its first case.

IAF's C-17 Globemaster leaves for rescue mission to Wuhan

The C-17 Globemaster aircraft of the Indian Air Force has left for a medical mission to rescue Indian citizens, residents of friendly neighbouring countries and also to deliver about 15 tonnes of medical equipment to China's Wuhan, which has been reeling under novel coronavirus outbreak, on Wednesday. Talking to reporters, Group Captain AK Patnaik said: "The C-17 Globemaster aircraft of the Indian Air Force is presently on a medical mission to Wuhan, China. We are carrying about 15 tonnes of medical equipment. On our way back, we shall be carrying Indians and citizens of friendly neighbourhood countries."

Sensex closes 392 points lower on coronavirus fears

Equity indices tracked their global peers and closed deep into the red on Wednesday as effects of coronavirus outbreak reverberated beyond China. Profit-booking accelerated with automobile and metal sectors bearing the brunt as market undertone remained weak since opening following fears of deepening adverse economic impact of coronavirus pandemic. The BSE S&P Sensex closed 392 points or 0.97 per cent lower at 39,889 while the Nifty 50 was down by 119 points to 11,679.

Six countries, including China, pull out of shooting World Cup in Delhi

The novel coronavirus outbreak has prompted six countries, including the deadly disease's epicentre China, to withdraw from next month's shooting World Cup in New Delhi, the National Rifles Association of India (NRAI) revealed on Wednesday. The ISSF World Cup is slated to be held from March 15 to 26 at the Karni Singh Shooting Range.

"There were some countries which were coming but because of the Coronavirus outbreak, their national policies dictate that they can't come," NRAI President Raninder Singh told reporters.

Coronavirus cases rise in Italy, with children among new cases

An outbreak of coronavirus in northern Italy worsened, with more than 30 new cases confirmed in the two worst-hit regions and children found to have the illness for the first time. Officials in Lombardy, which includes Italy's financial capital Milan, said cases had risen overnight to 259 from 240 on Tuesday, with four children, including a 4-year-old girl, infected in the first such cases in the country.

France reports second coronavirus death

A 60-year-old man has become the first French victim of the coronavirus in the country, the health ministry announced. The man died overnight after being rushed to a Paris hospital in serious condition on Tuesday evening, bringing the death toll in the country to two, said the ministry's deputy head Jerome Salomon. The first victim was an 80-year-old Chinese tourist, who died in hospital in mid-February.

Iran president Hassan Rouhani slams US for spreading 'fear' over virus

President Hassan Rouhani accused the United States of trying to spread "fear" in Iran over a deadly outbreak of the novel coronavirus. Coronavirus has claimed the lives of 19 people among 139 infections in Iran, including the deputy health minister -- making it the deadliest outbreak outside China.

Worried Chinese turn to online doctor consultations

Spooked by a sneeze or a cough, Chinese consumers are turning to online consultations in droves for advice about possible coronavirus symptoms - a boon for a fledgling industry that has struggled to win over customers.Due to the epidemic, hundreds of millions of Chinese are stuck at home due to quarantine restrictions imposed by authorities or companies. Even if not under quarantine, many are too worried to venture for long outside or to visit a hospital for other ailments as they fear they might catch the highly contagious virus.

South Korea starts virus checks on 200,000-plus sect members

More than 200,000 members of a shadowy religious sect were being checked for coronavirus symptoms by South Korean authorities, as US commanders reported the first case among American forces in the country. Most of South Korea's novel coronavirus are linked to the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, an entity often accused of being a cult.

Lufthansa says to freeze hiring, cut costs

German airline Lufthansa said it would freeze new hires and use unpaid leave and additional short-time work to cut costs to help cushion the economic impact of the novel coronavirus. "To counteract the economic impact of the coronavirus of the early stage," the group, which also owns carriers Austrian and Swiss, said in a statement that "all new hires... will be reassessed, suspended or deferred".

Global recession likely if coronavirus becomes pandemic: Moody's

A global recession is likely if coronavirus becomes a pandemic, and the odds of that are uncomfortably high and rising with infections surging in Italy and Korea, Moody's Analytics said on Wednesday. "The coronavirus has been a body blow to the Chinese economy, which now threatens to take out the entire global economy," Chief Economist at Moody’s Analytics Mark Zandi said.

New virus has infected 80,000 globally

A viral outbreak that began in China has infected more than 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 Wednesday in Beijing:

— Mainland China: 2,715 deaths among 78,064 cases, mostly in the central province of Hubei

— Hong Kong: 81 cases, 2 deaths

— Macao: 10 cases

— South Korea: 1,146 cases, 11 deaths

— Japan: 861 cases, including 691 from a cruise ship docked in Yokohama, 5 deaths

— Italy: 323 cases, 11 deaths

— Iran: 95 cases, 15 deaths

— Singapore: 91 cases

— Thailand: 40 cases

— United States: 57 cases

— Taiwan: 31 cases, 1 death

— Australia: 23 cases

— Malaysia: 22

— Bahrain: 26

— Vietnam: 16 cases

— Germany: 17

— United Arab Emirates: 13 cases

— United Kingdom: 13

— France: 14 cases, 1 death

— Canada: 11

— Kuwait: 12

— Iraq: 5

— Philippines: 3 cases, 1 death

— India: 3

— Spain: 6

— Russia: 2

— Israel: 2

— Oman: 2

— Austria: 2

— Lebanon: 1

— Belgium: 1

— Nepal: 1

— Sri Lanka: 1

— Sweden: 1

— Cambodia: 1

— Finland: 1

— Egypt: 1

— Algeria: 1

— Afghanistan: 1

— Croatia: 1

— Switzerland: 1

— Greece: 1

China rolls out fresh data collection campaign

China's local governments are ramping up surveillance efforts with new data collection campaigns to better trace residents' moves in public areas, seeking to curb the coronavirus outbreak but heightening privacy concerns. At least 15 provinces and cities with a combined population of over 358 million have announced such "big data" measures this month, adding to a host of monitoring tools already being used, such as facial recognition and phone data tracking.

Kazakhstan to suspend Iran flight routes

Kazakhstan plans to suspend flights to and from Iran from March 1 because of the spread of coronavirus in the Gulf nation, Kazakhstan's chief sanitary doctor, Zhandarbek Bekshin, said today.

Coronavirus cases rise in Bahrain

Coronavirus cases rise to 26 in Bahrain as three more people diagnosed with disease, reports state news agency

Iran virus deaths rise to 15, deputy minister among infected

Iran said Tuesday its coronavirus outbreak, the deadliest outside China, had claimed 15 lives and infected nearly 100 others -- including the country's deputy health minister. Iran has been scrambling to contain COVID-19 since Wednesday last week when it announced the first two deaths in Qom.

China orders disinfection of banknotes in coronavirus fight

China has told lenders to disinfect and store banknotes in a dry area for 7 days, as part of the battle to contain the contagious coronavirus, a newspaper reported on Wednesday. The guidelines on how banks can help reduce the transmission of the virus were circulated by the Beijing branch of China's banking and insurance regulator (CBIRC), according to the China Securities Journal. The newspaper did not say how the notes would be cleaned.

Yuan eases on fears of coronavirus pandemic

China's yuan eased against the dollar on Wednesday, shrugging off a higher midpoint fixing by the central bank, as investors feared that the fast-spread of the coronavirus overseas could turn into a pandemic. Despite signs that virus risks may be receding in parts of China, and reports that more businesses are slowly resuming operations, its rapid spread outside China weighed on investor confidence.

Coronavirus will 'certainly' spread in US

Federal health officials on Tuesday (local time) warned that the new coronavirus that has claimed thousands of lives will certainly spread in the United States. "It is not so much of a question of if this will happen anymore but rather more of a question of exactly when this will happen," said Dr Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunisation and Respiratory Diseases, reported The New York Times. Dr Messonnier, in a news briefing, said that the cities and towns should plan for "social distancing measures" like dividing school classes into smaller groups of students or closing schools altogether.

Coronavirus infects US soldier in South Korea

China and South Korea reported 500 new coronavirus cases today, including the first US soldier to be infected, as the United States warned of an inevitable pandemic and an outbreak in northern Italy spread to several European countries.

El Salvador bars visitors from Italy and South Korea

El Salvador will bar the entry of foreign nationals arriving from Italy and South Korea to prevent the spread of the coronavirus that has killed more than a thousand people worldwide, President Nayib Bukele said.

Australia to close schools, cancel sports

Australia will close schools and cancel sporting events in the event of an uncontained coronavirus outbreak, Minister for Health Greg Hunt said on Wednesday, as the government accelerates plans to cope with a possible pandemic. Australia has had 23 cases of the coronavirus but has managed to head off widespread transmission.

South Korea coronavirus cases may peak at 10,000, says JPMorgan

The coronavirus might infect as many as 10,000 people in South Korea at what could be a peak next month, according to a report from JPMorgan Chase & Co. citing its insurance team’s epidemiology model.

Japan PM Shinzo Abe urges two-week curbs on sports events

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe today called for sports and cultural events to be scrapped or curtailed for two weeks as the country battles to stem coronavirus contagion amid mounting concerns the 2020 Tokyo Olympics could be cancelled.

Thailand has three new cases; total of 40

Thailand reported three new cases of a coronavirus today, taking total infections to 40, a health ministry official said. Two of the new patients, all Thai nationals, had returned from vacation in Japan's northern island of Hokkaido and came into contact with the third, said Sukhum Kanchanapimai, permanent secretary at the ministry.

Hong Kong unveils HK$10,000 handout as part of stimulus package

Hong Kong Financial Secretary Paul Chan announced a HK$120 billion ($15.4 billion) relief package with tax cuts and a cash handout, in an effort to shore up economic confidence in a city battered by political unrest and the coronavirus.The main feature of Chan’s annual budget announced Wednesday is a payment of HK$10,000 to each permanent resident of the city aged 18 or older. He unveiled an official forecast for economic growth this year of between -1.5% and 0.5%, and confirmed a contraction of 1.2% in 2019.

Jet fuel’s luster tarnished by virus

Once the demand star among oil products, the coronavirus has pushed jet fuel to the bottom of the barrel in the near term at least. As travel plans are put on hold and flights are cut, profits from producing the fuel are plummeting. Margins for the fuel at Singapore refineries have tumbled 44% since Jan. 23 when markets first began taking notice of the virus. They lurched 13% lower over Monday and Tuesday on signs the outbreak is going global.

Global funds load up on Indian stocks as virus shelter in Asia

India’s $2.1 trillion stock market is drawing increasing foreign investment as the country remains relatively unscathed from the coronavirus outbreak threatening lives and economies around the world. Fund management firms including Eastspring Investments and Northcape Capital are flagging the defensive qualities of India’s domestic-focused market amid softening energy prices and signs of an economic recovery.

Gold edges up as US warning heightens virus concerns

Gold edged higher on Wednesday after a sharp drop in the previous session, as investors sought safe haven assets following a warning from the United States over the potential domestic spread of the coronavirus.

Chinese minister blames police force for prison coronavirus cases

A top leader of China's justice ministry blamed law enforcement on Monday for the hundreds of coronavirus cases discovered in prisons, calling them instances of poor disease control efforts.

Authorities have revealed 555 infections in Chinese prisons, but no deaths among them, in an epidemic that has killed more than 2,700 and infected more than 78,000 on the mainland.

San Francisco declares emergency over coronavirus

San Francisco declared a local emergency over the coronavirus on Tuesday, despite having no cases, as US officials urged Americans to prepare for the spread of infections within their communities. California's fourth-largest city said it made the move to boost its coronavirus preparedness and raise public awareness of risks the virus may spread to the city.

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