March 3, 2020 / 6:49 PM / a month ago

What you need to know about coronavirus right now

(Reuters) - Here’s what you need to know about coronavirus:

A man wearing a face mask rides a kick scooter through an intersection in Wuhan, the epicentre of the novel coronavirus outbreak, Hubei province, China March 3, 2020. REUTERS/Stringer

U.S. central bank jumps in

The Fed cut interest rates by half a percentage point on Tuesday in an attempt to stem the economic fallout from the coronavirus epidemic.

Stock markets, which began factoring in central bank responses on Monday, fell. Analysts and investors are questioning if the Fed’s booster will be enough in the long run if the virus continues to spread.

Meanwhile, the G7 released a statement vowing to use “all appropriate tools” to combat risks to the global economy.

The spread

Overnight tallies of new confirmed cases underline just how much the outbreak has evolved from its Chinese origins.

The number of cases globally now exceeds 90,911 across 77 countries and territories with at least 3,123 deaths reported. Just 125 new cases were reported in China on Tuesday. There were more than 600 in South Korea, 542 in Iran and 523 in Italy.

In Iran, where the death toll has risen to 77, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged people to wash their hands in a state address, where he also described the outbreaks as “not something extraordinary.”

In the United States, more than 100 cases have been reported with two cases in New York. Six deaths in Washington have prompted fears for elderly patients in nursing homes.

See a graphic of the spread here: here

Containment still top priority

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the risk of the epidemic spreading was now very high at a global level, but there was evidence that surveillance was working in South Korea and containment was possible.

“We are in uncharted territory. We have never before seen a respiratory pathogen that is capable of community transmission, but which can also be contained with the right measures,” he said.

“Containment of COVID-19 is feasible and must remain the top priority for all countries.”

Fewer hugs, kisses and handshakes

Fears of infection are changing aspects of everyday life, including greeting habits: from NBA basketball to international cricket, fist bumps are replacing handshakes and even high-fives. Personal contact such as employees hugging is being discouraged by U.S. companies, who are also shelving conferences and testing technologies for the possibility of off-site relocations.

Editing by Leela de Kretser and Janet Lawrence

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