Iran:Two Test Positive For Virus, Death Toll Tops 2,000

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Iranian authorities reported two suspected cases of the coronavirus on Wednesday, according to the country’s semi-official ISNA news agency. A health ministry spokesperson said both cases were in the city of Qom ad the patients had been put into isolation.

Japan has reported a further 79 people aboard the Diamond Princess cruise liner have tested positive for coronavirus, taking the total number of on-board infections to 621.

It is thought this process will happen over several consecutive days, as people need certificates indicating they tested negative for the virus before they can leave.

The ministry said Wednesday that irregularities including the embezzlement or misallocation of funds allocated by the central government would be investigated, Reuters reported.

On Wednesday, China’s National Health Commission reported an additional 1,749 cases of the coronavirus nationwide, with 136 deaths. As of Feb. 18, the commission said there had been a total of 74,185 confirmed cases and 2,004 cumulative deaths. (See 8:09 a.m. update).

The gaming regulator for the special administrative region has reportedly imposed strict rules for staff and guests, with each casino ordered to carry out temperature checks, mask protection and health declarations.

China’s economic growth in the first quarter could fall to as low as 3.5% if the outbreak is not contained fast enough for manufacturing production to return to normal levels, Morgan Stanley analysts said in a note. While factories have started to come online, checks by Morgan Stanley analysts found that production had only reached 30% to 50% of normal levels as of last week.

The analysts said they expect production in China to reach 60% to 80% of the usual levels by the end of this month, and back to normal by middle to late March. But they warned of uncertainties surrounding the virus outbreak.

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