WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House has sent lawmakers a $2.5 billion urgent budget request to address the deadly coronavirus outbreak, whose rapid spread is spooking financial markets and restricting international travel.
People wear masks to help guard against the coronavirus on a street in downtown Tehran, Iran, Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020. There are concerns that virus clusters in the country, as well as in Italy and South Korea, could signal a serious new stage in its global spread. (Source: AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
That's according to the White House budget office, which said the funds are for vaccines, treatment, and protective equipment.
The request could advance quickly through Congress. It comes as coronavirus fears are credited with a 1,000-plus point drop in the Dow Jones index and are increasingly seen as a potential political threat to President Donald Trump.
Virus pushes beyond Asia, taking aim at Europe, Mideast
A new virus is taking aim at a broadening swath of the globe, with officials in Europe and the Middle East now scrambling to limit it.
Despite showing signs of stabilizing in China, where fewer new infections are being reported, worries are growing elsewhere.
In Italy, authorities have set up roadblocks, called off soccer matches and shuttered sites including the famed La Scala opera house.
In Iran, a report of dozens of deaths in a single city emerged as infections were reported to have spread for the first time to Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain and Afghanistan.
The leader of the World Health Organization says the recent developments have shown “just how quickly a new virus can spread around the world and cause widespread fear and disruption.”
As concern grows, China, South Korea report more virus cases
China and South Korea have reported more cases of a new viral illness that has been concentrated in North Asia. But concerns are growing about increasing clusters of the disease in the Middle East and Europe.
China reported 508 new cases and another 71 deaths, 68 of them in the central city of Wuhan, where the epidemic began in December.
The updates bring mainland China's totals to 77,658 cases and 2,663 deaths.
South Korea now has the second-most cases with 893.
Health workers continue to find batches in the southeastern city of Daegu and nearby areas, where panic has brought towns to an eerie standstill.
US and SKorea may cut back military moves due to coronavirus
U.S. and South Korean defense chiefs say the two allies are considering curtailing their joint military exercises due to concerns about the spread of coronavirus.
After a meeting Monday at the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo told reporters that coronavirus is a threat to their joint military exercises. They said commanders are considering their options for scaled-back maneuvers.
Esper and Jeong discussed a wide range of issues, including a standoff over the Trump administration’s demand that Seoul pay a much bigger share of the cost of hosting American forces.
Iran says 12 dead from new virus, rejects higher death toll
Iran’s government says 12 people have died nationwide from the new coronavirus, and it has rejected claims of a much higher death toll by a lawmaker from the city of Qom that has been at the epicenter of the virus in the country.
The conflicting reports raised questions about the Iranian government’s transparency concerning the outbreak.
Iran’s Health Ministry said total infections have risen to 61, with 12 deaths. But a lawmaker from Qom was quoted by a semi-official news agency as saying 50 had died.
Even with the lower toll, the number of deaths compared to the number of confirmed infections is higher in Iran than in any other country.
Judge orders talks about plan to move virus patients to California city
A federal judge has ordered U.S. and California officials to answer local concerns about plans to relocate coronavirus patients to Southern California.
After a contentious hearing Monday in Santa Ana, a judge ordered another hearing next week.
At issue is where to place patients who were evacuated from a cruise ship in Japan to Travis Air Force Base in Northern California, where they are under quarantine, if they test positive for the virus.
Costa Mesa officials say they weren’t consulted about plans to move them to a state-owned facility in their city.
Italy tries to contain virus as neighbors fear its spread
Police are manning checkpoints around sealed-off towns in Italy’s north as authorities seek to contain the virus from China.
At least 219 people in Italy’s north have tested positive for the virus and five people have died. But officials still haven’t pinpointed the origin of the contagion, which prompted Austria to temporarily halt rail traffic across the border.
Italy’s neighbors Slovenia and Croatia, which are popular destinations for Italian tourists and whose own citizens often travel to Italy, were holding crisis meetings Monday, although neither country has reported any cases.
European officials warned about scaremongering and the spread of disinformation about the virus.
Markets tank on concern about virus impact on world economy
Shares are down sharply and gold prices have surged following reports of a jump in new virus cases outside China.
Markets in South Korea and Italy led the decline on Monday, falling nearly as much as 4.6%.
Markets are down across Europe and Asia, while futures for U.S. benchmarks have also dropped sharply.
Tokyo’s markets are closed for a public holiday.
South Korea, Iran, and Italy reported a large jump in new cases, potentially disrupting the world economy more deeply than expected.
China’s leaders promised more help for companies and the economy. Economists note it will be hard to avoid a big hit to the global economy at least in the current quarter.
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