Desperate to stop virus' spread, countries limit travel
Chonnam National University staff wearing protective attire are on standby for special transportation for Chinese students studying at their university, at Incheon International Airport in Incheon, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. Chinese students of the university are to arrive from China after their holiday. China and South Korea on Tuesday reported more cases of a new viral illness that has been concentrated in North Asia but is causing global worry as clusters grow in the Middle East and Europe. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Police manned checkpoints in quarantined towns, governments issued travel warnings and more flights were suspended Tuesday as officials desperately sought to stop the seemingly inevitable spread of a new virus.

Clusters of the illness continued to balloon outside mainland China, fueling apprehension across the globe that was reflected in sagging financial markets.

The crisis pushed into areas seen as among the worst-equipped to deal with an outbreak as well as some of the world’s richest nations, including South Korea and Italy. As it proliferates, the virus is bringing a sense of urgency for local officials determined to contain it but often unsure how.

“It’s a matter of speed and time: We must create a clear turning point within this week,” said President Moon Jae-in of South Korea, where the caseload grew by 144, with a total of 977 people sickened.

Cases of people who could have infected many others spurred fears.

Korean Air said one of its tested positive, but the airline didn’t disclose the flights the employee had worked on. On a U.S. military base in Daegu, the center of infections in South Korea, officials said a servicemember’s spouse had also been infected. And in the tiny Persian Gulf nation of Bahrain, one of those infected was a school bus driver who had transported students as recently as Sunday.

Desperate to stop virus' spread, countries limit travel
Workers wearing protective gears spray disinfectant as a precaution against the new coronavirus at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. China and South Korea on Tuesday reported more cases of a new viral illness that has been concentrated in North Asia but is causing global worry as clusters grow in the Middle East and Europe. (Jin Yeon-soo/Yonhap via AP)

Also testing positive was the head of Iran’s virus task force, who just a day earlier gave a news conference in Tehran in which he tried to minimize the danger posed by the outbreak.

In Italy’s north, where more than 200 people were sickened, a dozen towns were sealed off and police wearing face masks patrolled.

Two neighbors of Italy—Croatia and Austria—reported their first cases of the virus.

Croatia, Hungary and Ireland advised against traveling to Italy’s affected area, one of a number of governmental moves seeking to limit further exposure. Bahrain suspended flights to Dubai while the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued its highest travel alert on South Korea, advising citizens to avoid nonessential trips. Japan urged citizens to avoid unessential trips to South Korea’s hardest-hit areas.

Desperate to stop virus' spread, countries limit travel
In this Monday, Feb. 24, 2020 photo, Shiite pilgrims wear masks outside the shrine of Imam Ali in Najaf, Iraq. The Health Ministry said four new cases of coronavirus were diagnosed in the northern province of Kirkuk. It said the afflicted were members of an Iraqi family who had returned from a recent trip to Iran. Iraq announced the discovery of the first coronavirus case in the country on Monday in Najaf. Iraq had earlier closed its border with Iran to Iranian nationals but apparently Iraqis can still cross the boundary. (AP Photo/Anmar Khalil)

A culture of long days at the office in Japan came to terms with the outbreak, with the government urging employers to allow workers to telecommute and have more flexible hours, simple moves Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed hope could help control the spread.

“We are at an extremely important time in ending the spread of infection at an early stage,” Abe said at a meeting of a task force on the outbreak.

Even in places where no cases have sprouted up, leaders kept a wary eye, such as Denmark, where two former military barracks were being prepared as quarantine centers. Still, uncertainty remained about how to effectively limit the epidemic.

Italy had taken Europe’s most stringent preventative measures against COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, and yet became home to the biggest outbreak outside Asia. Experts in Japan, with one of the world’s most sophisticated , acknowledged the country’s handling of the virus-stricken Diamond Princess cruise ship was flawed and could have allowed the problem to magnify.

Desperate to stop virus' spread, countries limit travel
A worker disinfects a public bus against coronavirus in the city of Ahvaz in southwestern, Iran, in early morning of Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. Iran’s government said Tuesday that more than a dozen people had died nationwide from the new coronavirus, rejecting claims of a much higher death toll of 50 by a lawmaker from the city of Qom that has been at the epicenter of the virus in the country. (Alireza Mohammadi/ISNA via AP)

In comments reflecting both defiance and dubiousness over what measures work, French health minister Olivier Veran said the country would not shut its border or call off mass gatherings.

“We don’t close borders because we would not be able to, we don’t do it because it would be meaningless,” he said on French radio RTL. “Should we ban gatherings? Should we stop the Fashion Week? Should we suspend matches? Should we close universities? The answer is no.”

China reported 508 new cases and another 71 deaths, 68 of them in the central city of Wuhan, where the epidemic was first detected in December. The updates bring mainland China’s totals to 77,658 cases and 2,663 deaths.

But while China remained home to the vast majority of the world’s cases, the world’s attention increasingly moved to where the outbreak would spread next. Iran was eyed as a source for new transmissions in the Middle East, including in Iraq, Kuwait and Oman, which were grappling with the spread past their borders.

Desperate to stop virus' spread, countries limit travel
A woman wearing a mask, goggles and rain coat comes down the escalator at Incheon International Airport in Incheon, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. China and South Korea on Tuesday reported more cases of a new viral illness that has been concentrated in North Asia but is causing global worry as clusters grow in the Middle East and Europe.(AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

In South Korea’s southeastern city of Daegu and surrounding areas, panic over the virus has brought towns to an eerie standstill. The country reported its 11th fatality from COVID-19 amid signs, big and small, of the problem that has magnified nearly 15-fold in a week.

Health officials said they were working to finish testing hundreds of members of a church that has the country’s biggest cluster of infections. The church agreed to hand over a list of 200,000 members nationwide so screenings could widen.

“We are creating and refining our system as we go along,” said Dr. Kim Jin-hwan of Keimyung University Dongsan Medical Center in Daegu.

South Korea’s professional basketball league said it will ban spectators until the outbreak is under control, while Busan City said the world team table tennis championships it planned to host in March would be postponed until June.

  • Desperate to stop virus' spread, countries limit travel
    Workers in protective suits spray disinfectant as a precaution against the COVID-19 at an indoor gymnasium in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. China and South Korea on Tuesday reported more cases of a new viral illness that has been concentrated in North Asia but is causing global worry as clusters grow in the Middle East and Europe. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
  • Desperate to stop virus' spread, countries limit travel
    A worker wearing protective gears sprays disinfectant as a precaution on a train against the new coronavirus at Suseo Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. China and South Korea on Tuesday reported more cases of a new viral illness that has been concentrated in North Asia but is causing global worry as clusters grow in the Middle East and Europe. (Lee Ji-eun/Yonhap via AP)
  • Desperate to stop virus' spread, countries limit travel
    A man sits alone outside a bar at the Naviglio Grande canal in Milan, Italy, Monday, Feb. 24, 2020. Italy has been scrambling to check the spread of Europe’s first major outbreak of the new viral disease amid rapidly rising numbers of infections, calling off the popular Venice Carnival, scrapping major league soccer matches in the stricken area and shuttering theaters, including Milan’s legendary La Scala. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
  • Desperate to stop virus' spread, countries limit travel
    In this photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, President Hassan Rouhani, center, speaks while visiting a new highway that connects Tehran to the north of the country, Iran, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. Rouhani sought to reassure the nation in a speech on Tuesday, calling the new coronavirus an “uninvited and inauspicious passenger.” “We will get through corona,” Rouhani said. “We will get through the virus.” (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)
  • Desperate to stop virus' spread, countries limit travel
    Workers in protective suits spray disinfectant as a precaution against the COVID-19 at an indoor gymnasium in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. China and South Korea on Tuesday reported more cases of a new viral illness that has been concentrated in North Asia but is causing global worry as clusters grow in the Middle East and Europe. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
  • Desperate to stop virus' spread, countries limit travel
    Workers wearing protective gears spray disinfectant as a precaution against the new coronavirus at Korean Air’s Incheon Operation Center at Yeongjong Island, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. China and South Korea on Tuesday reported more cases of a new viral illness that has been concentrated in North Asia but is causing global worry as clusters grow in the Middle East and Europe. (Choe Jae-koo/Yonhap via AP)
  • Desperate to stop virus' spread, countries limit travel
    A protester holds a sign to denounce government’s coronavirus responses in Daegu, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. China and South Korea on Tuesday reported more cases of a new viral illness that has been concentrated in North Asia but is causing global worry as clusters grow in the Middle East and Europe. The signs read “Save Daegu.”(Lee Moo-ryul/Newsis via AP)
  • Desperate to stop virus' spread, countries limit travel
    South Korean President Moon Jae-in, second from left, speaks during a special government meeting to discuss measures to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 at the Daegu City Hall in Daegu, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. China and South Korea on Tuesday reported more cases of the new viral illness that has been concentrated in North Asia but is causing global worry as clusters grow in the Middle East and Europe. (Han Sang-kyun/Yonhap via AP)
  • Desperate to stop virus' spread, countries limit travel
    A thermal camera monitors shows the body temperature of people at the gate of an indoor gymnasium in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. China and South Korea on Tuesday reported more cases of a new viral illness that has been concentrated in North Asia but is causing global worry as clusters grow in the Middle East and Europe. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
  • Desperate to stop virus' spread, countries limit travel
    A worker hangs up a price tag for oranges as residents wearing masks line up to enter the supermarket which is controlling the numbers of shoppers in Beijing, China on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. The new virus took aim at a broadening swath of the globe Monday, with officials in Europe and the Middle East scrambling to limit the spread of an outbreak that showed signs of stabilizing at its Chinese epicenter but posed new threats far beyond. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
  • Desperate to stop virus' spread, countries limit travel
    Empty bars and pubs at the Naviglio Grande canal in Milan, Italy, Monday, Feb. 24, 2020. Italy has been scrambling to check the spread of Europe’s first major outbreak of the new viral disease amid rapidly rising numbers of infections, calling off the popular Venice Carnival, scrapping major league soccer matches in the stricken area and shuttering theaters, including Milan’s legendary La Scala. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
  • Desperate to stop virus' spread, countries limit travel
    Residents wear masks and line up to enter a supermarket which is controlling the numbers of shoppers in Beijing, China on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. The new virus took aim at a broadening swath of the globe Monday, with officials in Europe and the Middle East scrambling to limit the spread of an outbreak that showed signs of stabilizing at its Chinese epicenter but posed new threats far beyond. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
  • Desperate to stop virus' spread, countries limit travel
    Fans wearing masks pose for photos before the start of a concert by Japanese girl group Perfume outside Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tuesday that new measures like companies letting their employees work from home and hospitals expanding their capacity to treat many patients will determine if Japan could control its coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

South Korea’s military confirmed 13 troops had contracted the virus, resulting in quarantines for many others and the halting of field training.


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