U.S. braces for coronavirus spread as outbreaks worsen in Italy, Iran

Coronavirus
A woman wearing a face mask walks past a screen showing a video about protective measures against the new coronavirus in Beijing, China, February 26, 2020. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

The United States told Americans on Tuesday to begin preparing for coronavirus to spread within the country as outbreaks in Iran, South Korea and Italy escalated and fears that the epidemic would hurt global growth rattled markets.

Iran’s coronavirus death toll rose to 16 on Tuesday, the most outside China, while Italy reported its 11th death. The virus has jumped to about 30 countries and territories, with some three dozen deaths outside China, according to a Reuters tally.

Worsening infections in Iran, Italy and South Korea are of particular concern, world health officials said. South Korea and Italy stepped up emergency measures to help curb the virus’ global spread.

Believed to have originated from wildlife in Wuhan city late last year, the flu-like disease has infected 80,000 people and killed close to 2,700 in China. But the World Health Organization (WHO) said the outbreak there has been declining since Feb. 2.

An official at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told reporters that data on the virus’ spread over the past week had heightened the agency’s expectations of transmission within the United States.