The rapid rise in coronavirus infections raised fears of a pandemic on Friday, with five countries reporting their first cases and the World Health Organization (WHO) warning it could spread worldwide.
World share markets crashed again, winding up their worst week since the 2008 global financial crisis and bringing the global wipeout to $5 trillion.
Hopes that the epidemic that started in China late last year would be over in months and that economic activity would quickly return to normal have been shattered as the number of international cases has spiraled.
“The outbreak is getting bigger,” WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier told reporters in Geneva. “The scenario of the coronavirus reaching multiple countries, if not all countries around the world, is something we have been looking at and warning against since quite a while.”
Switzerland joined countries banning big events to try to curb the epidemic, forcing cancellation of next week’s Geneva international car show, one of the industry’s most important gatherings.
The United States asked its military in Saudi Arabia to avoid crowded venues, including malls and cinemas.